Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/594

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582

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��point of time over the keyed instruments used for similar purposes ; and its qualities and re- quirements so reacted upon the character of the music as to make it appear almost a dis- tinct species from the Clavier Sonata. But in fact the two kinds represent no more than divergence from a similar source, owing to the dissimilar natures of the instruments. Thus the introductory slow movement was most ap- propriate to the broad and noble character of the violin, and would appeal at once by its means to an audience of any susceptibility; whereas to the weak character of the early keyed instru- ments, so deficient in sustaining power, it was in general inappropriate, and hence was dropped very early. For the same reason in a consider- able proportion of the early clavier sonatas, the third or principal slow movement was also dropped, so that the average type of sonatas for clavier was for a time a group of two move- ments, both generally in a more or less quick time. In these the canzona movement was early supplanted by one more in accordance with the modern idea, such as is typified in the clavier sonata of Galuppi in four movements [see P- 563], and by occasional allemandes in the earlier sonatas. As keyed instruments improved in volume and sustaining power the central slow movement was resumed ; but it was neces- sary for some time to make up for deficiencies in the latter respect by filling in the slow beats with elaborate graces and trills, and such orna- ments as the example of opera-singers made rather too inviting. The course of the violin solo-sonata was meanwhile distinctly maintained till its climax, and came to an abrupt end in J. S. Bach, just as the clavier sonata was ex- panding into definite importance. In fact the earliest landmarks of importance are found in the next generation, when a fair proportion of works of this class show the lineaments of clavier sonatas familiar to a modern. Such are the dis- position of the three movements with the solid and dignified allegro at the beginning, the ex- pressive slow movement in the middle, and the bright and gay quick movement at the end; which last continued in many cases to show its dance origin. From this group the fugal element was generally absent, for all the instinct of composers was temporarily enlisted in the work of per- fecting the harmonic structure in the modern manner, and the tendency was for a time to direct special attention to this, with the ob- ject of attaining clear and distinct symmetry. In the latter part of the i8th century this was achieved ; the several movements were then generally cast on nearly identical lines, with undeviating distribution of subjects, pauses, modulations, cadences, and double bars. The style of thought conformed for awhile sufficiently well to this discipline, and the most successful achievements of instrumental music up to that time were accomplished in this manner. Ex- trinsically the artistic product appeared per- fect ; but art could not stand still at this point, and composers soon felt themselves precluded

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from putting the best and most genuine of their thoughts into trammels produced by such regular procedure. Moreover the sudden and violent changes in social arrangements which took place at the end of the century, and the transformation in the ways of regarding life and its interests and opportunities which resulted therefrom, opened a new point of public emotion, and introduced a new quality of cosmopolitan human interest in poetry and art. The appeal of music in its higher manifestations became more direct and immediate ; and the progression of the idea became necessarily less amenable to the control of artificialities of structure, and more powerful in its turn of reacting upon the form. This is what lies at the root of much which, for want of a more exact word, is frequently described as the poetic element, which has become so prominent and indispensable a quality in modern music. By this change of position the necessities of structural balance and proportion are not sup- planted, but made legitimate use of in a different manner from what they previously were; and the sonata-form, while still satisfying the indis- pensable conditions which make abstract music possible, expanded to a fuller and more coordinate pitch of emotional material. Partly under these influences, and partly no doubt owing to the improvements in keyed instruments, the Clavier Sonata again attained to the group of four move- ments, but in a different arrangement from that of the Violin Sonata. The slow introduction was sometimes resumed, but without represent- ing an ingredient in the average scheme. The first movement was usually the massive and dignified Allegro. The two central portions, consisting of a highly expressive slow movement and the scherzo, which was the legitimate de- scendant of the dance movement, were ruled in their order of succession by the qualities of the first and last movements, and the work ended with a movement which still generally main- tained the qualities to be found in a last move- ment of Corelli or Tartini. The tendency to- unify the whole group increased, and in so far as the influence of intrinsic character or of the idea became powerful it modified the order and quality of the movements. For particular purposes which approve themselves to musical feeling the number of movements varied considerably, some exceedingly fine and perfect sonatas having only two, and others extending to five. Again, it is natural that in certain moods composers should almost resent the call to end with the conventional light and gay movement ; and con- sequently in later works, even where the usual form seems to be accepted, the spirit is rather ironical than gay, and rather vehement or even fierce than light-hearted. The same working of the spirit of the age had powerful effect on the intrinsic qualities of the Scherzo ; in which there came to be found, along with or under the veil of ideal dance motions, sadness and tenderness, bitterness, humour, and many more phases of strong feeling ; for which the ideal dance rhythms, when present, are made to serve as a vehicle;

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