Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/632

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


620

��SONG.

��peculiarity is, that in the case of the Chorale, the words were either written expressly for a chosen melody, or the melody was selected for its ap- propriateness to particular words. The melody of that just mentioned, 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,' is undoubtedly secular, but what melody could better express a deep and poignant religious sorrow ?

It is well known that some of the most famous folk-songs of different countries are founded on the same subject, whether it be a legendary or historical event, or an incident of ordinary life. The accessories of course vary, and impart a local colouring to each version of the song ; but the central theme is in all the same. In like manner the same tunes are the property of different countries. Their identity may not, perhaps, be detected at first beneath the dis- guises in which it is enveloped by national va- rieties of scale and rhythm and harmony; but it cannot elude a closer examination, and it is probable that careful study would establish many identities hitherto unsuspected. A good ex- ample of these cosmopolitan songs is ' Ach Elslein liebes Elselein.' Its subject is the legend of the Swimmer, the classical story of Hero and Leander ; and it has a local habitation in Hol- land, Sweden, Russia, etc., as well as in Ger- many. 1 * Der Bettler,' also, which is still sung in many parts of Germany and in Sweden, is identical with The Jolly Beggar ' of Scotland.' 2

During the I5th, i6th, and i;th centuries the spirit and power of the Volkslieder were felt in every branch of music. Not only did great masters introduce them into their polyphonic works, both sacred and secular, but lutenists were supplied from the same source with tunes for their instruments, and organists with themes for their extemporary performances. The pro- gress of polyphonic music in Germany had been checked by the discontinuance of the Mass after the Reformation, as has been shown in another part of this work [see SCHOOLS OF COMPOSITION], but a new impetus was given to it by the con- trapuntal treatment of secular songs by great composers. As examples of such treatment we may mention 'Allein dein g'stalt,' 'Ach herzigs herz,' by Heimich Finck; 'Mir ist ein roth Goldfingerlein'; 'Ich soil und muss ein Bulen haben,' by Ludwig Senfl ; ' Elend bringt Pein,' by Benedict Ducis ; ' Es wollt ein alt Mann,' by "Stephan Mahu ; ' Der Gutzgauch auf dem Zaune sass,' by Lorenz Lemlin; 'Ich weiss mir ein hiibschen grunen Wald,' by Sixt Dietrich ; ' Es geht gen diesen Sommer,' by Arnold von Bruck; 3 -etc.

This brings us to the Kunstlied, which in its primary sense signified only the contrapuntal treatment of the Song by learned musicians. 4 With the polyphonic Kunstlied we have here

1 As to the Swedish version of the song, see Svenska Volksvisor, vol. i. p. 108, and vol. ii. p. 210.

2 See Crosby's ' Scottish Songs,' p. 58.

3 All these songs, and numerous others, are contained In the different numbers of Johann Olt's and Georg Forster's collections.

4 The very much wider signification which the term Kunstlied afterwards acquired has been referred to at the outset of this article.

��SONG.

no concern, beyond what just suffices to point out the changes through which it successively passed. The composers who used the Volks- lied in polyphonic works were masters of every contrapuntal form ; sometimes they worked one melody with another, as Arnold von Bruck, who combined the song ' Es taget vor dem Walde ' with ' Kein Adler in der 5 Welt' ; or if they did not treat the selected melody as a canon (as Eckel treated ' Ach Jungfrau, ihr seid wolgemuth,' 6 ), they broke it up into fragments for imitation. When composing their own melodies, they always adhered to the church scales; and used the new system only when adopting a Volkslied. The contrapuntal treatment had, however, one great disadvantage it constantly necessitated the severance of the melody into fragments, and thus the clear concise form of the Song, which the Volkslied had done so much to establish, was in danger of disappearance. But happily at this juncture (about 1600) Hans Leo Hassler came to its rescue. Having studied in Italy, he breathed into his songs the light secular spirit of Italian VillaneUe and Fa-la-las, and gave more prominence to the melody than to the other voice-parts. His dance-songs also, with their short rhythmical phrases, did much to restore the concise form of the Song. Similar characteristics are noticeable in Melchior Franck's and Reg- nart's collections of songs. 7 In the beginning of the 1 7th century solo songs were first heard in Germany ; and there, as everywhere else, the introduction of the monodic system was due to the influence of Italy.

The revolution begun by Italy would seem to have first affected the church music rather than the secular music of Germany. Innovations of Italian origin are plainly discernible in the sa- cred works of Pratorius and Heinrich Schutz ; but neither of these composers improved the secu- lar monodic song. German poetry had now fallen to a debased condition. It produced no- thing better than songs of vapid and artificial sentiment addressed to a conventional Phyllis or Amaryllis. And the language which it employed was a nondescript mixture of French, Latin, and stilted German. Since Luther's death the simple vernacular had ceased to be in repute. But on the 24th August, 1617, a meeting of German patriots was held, who set themselves to restore their native tongue to honour, and with that view to study the introduction of method and rule into its grammar and poetry. Other patriotic groups were soon formed with a like purpose, and by the year 1680 these associations num- bered 890 members. Their labours quickly bore good fruit. The success of a group of Kb'nigsberg poets was specially remarkable, and was doubt- less due in a great measure to the skill with which one of the best of them, Heinrich Albert

6 See Reissmann. Gesch. d. deutschen Liedes, p. 69.

Ibid. p. 72.

1 See Tricinia nova lieblicher amorosischer GesSn? e mit schOnen poetischen Texten gezieret und etlicher Massen nach Italienischer Art mit Fleiss componirt durch Melchior Francken,' Nurnberg, 1611 ; and 'Kurzweilige teutsche Lieder zu dreien Stimmen nach Art der Neapo'.itanen oder Welschen Villanellen durch Jacobus lieguart iu Druck verfertigt,' .Number^, 157s.

�� �