Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/639
��Th ler tin
��the songs of a set, as Beethoven had clone in the cycle of ' An die ferae Geliebte, 1 but bound them to one another by community of spirit. They can all be sung separately ; but the ' Mill-
lieder' and * Winterreise,' which tell a con- .inuous tale, lose much of their dramatic power if they be executed otherwise than as a whole. The publication known as the ' Schwanenge- sang ' * contains some of Schubert's most beau- tiful songs, and among them his settings of Heine's words. Heine appeared on the stage of literature too late to have much to do with Schubert ; his influence was more deeply felt by Schumann : but Schubert at once recognised, as did Schumann after him, the extreme import- ance of a musical accompaniment for his words. Other poets for whom Schubert composed were Klopstock, Matthison, Holty, Riickert, Rellstab, Craigher, Kosegarten, Schober, Miiller, Schmidt, etc. ; and some of these are perhaps indebted to the composer for all the fame now left to them.
Many of Schubert's finest songs are strophical in form, and resemble the best Volkslieder ; with this difference however, that where the latter rigidly adhered to the simple tonic and domi-
nt harmony, Schubert uses the most varied "ulations. He was the equal of the com- posers of the Volkslieder in strict regard to the accents of the verse, and their superior in at- tention to the meaning of the words. When he wishes to mark an important word, he does so by giving it two or three notes, or a striking harmony ; but rarely departs from the concise strophical form. And he can raise a song with the simplest melody to dramatic level by the power of rhythm in the accompaniment. But none knew better than Schubert that the strophical form is not applicable to all poems, and that some require different music for every stanza. 3 Without being ballads or narrative poems, such songs range over too broad and varied a field for the strophical form ; but through all diversities they retain a true lyric unity, and this unity as a whole, with variety in parts and details, has been faithfully reproduced by Schubert. Reissmann 3 has shown how he pre- served the unity by returning to the melody of the first strophe as a refrain as in 'Meine Huh* ist hin' or by keeping the same figure in the accompaniment, as in * Waldesnacht,' or by simple development of the same melody in each stanza. All the resources of Schubert's genius displayed in the durchkomponirtes Lied.
Enough, however, has been said to indicate his merits as a song-writer, and it is time to turn to another name. In Mendelssohn the charac- of the Berlin school of song-writers are seen at their best. His songs exhibit all the care
.d effort of that school to combine the volksthum- lichesform with a minutely faithful representation of the words ; but the object at which he aimed, nd which indeed he attained, tended sometimes
��rigic nant mod
��These, however, have no cyclical intention, but were put together by the publisher after Schubert's death.
2 Of this kind is the ' durchkomponirtes Lied,' i.e. through-com- posed song, in which each stanza is differently treated.
3 See his ' Gesch. d. deutsch. Liedes/ pp. 220 to 242.
�� ��to hamper the free play of his art. And with all his comprehension and finished culture, Mendels- sohn could not, like Schubert, 4 surrender himself completely to the poet whose words he was setting, and compose with such identity of feeling that words and music seem exactly made for each other, and incapable of separate existence. Men- delssohn remained himself throughout, distinct and apart. The poet's words were not to him, as they were to Schubert, the final cause of the song; they were only an aid and incentive to the composition of a song preconceived in his own mind. In his songs, therefore, we miss Schubert's variety ; and his influence upon the Song in Germany has been limited. In Men- delssohn's op. 9, three songs especially deserve mention ' Wartend,' a true Romanze ; the ' Herbstlied,' concise in form, and expressive of deep melancholy; and 'Scheiden,' which is a song of tranquil beauty. The ' Friihlingslied ' of op. 19 reminds one of Berger, and ' Das erste Veilchen ' is suggestive of Mozart. The ' Reise- lied* inclines more to the scena-form, but is marked by some of Mendelssohn's most charac- teristic modulations and transitions in the har- mony. The songs which produced most effect were, ' Auf Flugeln des Gesanges ' of op. 34, and ' Wer hat dich, du schoner Wald ' of op. 47 ; both volksthumlich in the best sense of the word, melodious, pure, and refined, but withal bril- liant and striking. The most perfect, perhaps, of his songs is the ' Venetian Gondellied,' op. 57, without a blemish either in melody, accompani- ment, harmony, or rhythm. And the truest Volkslied of modern birth is the little song ' Es ist bestimmt in Gottes Rath.' All Mendelssohn's other songs, with few exceptions, are simple and pleasing. Take as an eminent instance, 'Lieb- lingsplatzchen ' (op. 99, no. 3). Nevertheless, with all their charms, his songs for one voice are inferior to his part-songs, and indeed to his com- positions in other branches of music.
If any song-writer could dispute Schubert's pre-eminence, it would be Robert Schumann. His songs are the very breath of romantic poetry elevated by austere thought. Where Schubert is completely one with the poet, his exact alter ego, Schumann is wont to be a little more than the poet's counterpart or reflection. With scru- pulous art he reproduces all that runs in the poet's mind, be it ever so subtle and delicate, but permeates it with a deeper shade of mean- ing. This may be seen especially in his settings of the poems of Heine, Reinick, Burns, Kerner, Geibel, Chamisso, Riickert and Eichendorff. Of these poets the last five were thoroughly ro- mantic writers, and exercised a great influence on Schumann's kindred imagination. It was stimulated into full activity by the supernatural splendour and mystic vagueness of their con- ceptions. Visions of midnight scenes arise in prompt obedience to the spell of Schumann's
��It has been remarked that the mere playing through of a song ot Schubert enables a practised ear to recognise at once the poet to whose words the music was written. It would be quite Impossible to do this with regard to Mendelssohn's songs.