Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/762

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��SUBJECT.

��Anthem,' he treats the Chorale, 'Herr Jesu Christ' first as a Canto fermo and then, in shorter notes, as a regularly-worked Subject. 'As from the power of sacred lays' is founded upon a Chorale, sung in Plain Counterpoint by all the Voices ; it therefore stands as the Sub- ject of the Movement, while the Counter-Subject is entirely confined to the Instrumental Accom- paniment. In ' O God, who from the suckling's mouth,' in the 'Foundling Anthem,' the Melody of 'Aus tiefer Noth' is treated as an orthodox Canto fermo, after the manner of the Motet, ' Ich lasse dich nicht,' already quoted. But, this was not Handel's usual practice. His Cantifermi are more frequently confined to a few notes only of Plain Chaunt, sung slowly, to give weight to the regularly- developed Subject, as in ' Sing ye to the Lord,' the 'Hallelujah Chorus,' the last Chorus in the ' Utrecht Te Deum,' the second in the 'Jubilate,' the Second Chandos Anthem, 'Let God arise, 'the last Chorus in 'Esther/ and other places too numerous to mention. 1

The use of the long-drawn Canto-fermo is fast becoming a lost art ; yet the effect with which Mendelssohn has introduced 'Wir glauben all' an einen Gott,' in combination with the primary Subject of ' But our God abideth in Heaven,' in 1 S. Paul,' has not often been surpassed. Mozart also has left us a magnificent instance, in the last Finale of 'Die Zauberflote,' where he has en- veloped the Chorale, 'Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein,' in an incomparable network of in- strumental Counterpoint : and Meyerbeer has introduced two clever and highly effective imit- ations of the real thing, in ' Les Huguenots,' at the ' Litanies,' and the ' Conjuration.'

V. The similarity of the Cantifermi, and even of the true Subjects, used by great Composers, and handed on, from generation to generation, has given rise to much ingenious speculation. i. A remarkable instance of this is a passage of slow notes, rising from the Tonic to the Sub- Dominant, and then descending towards the note from whence ib started. This passage is con- stantly found in old Ecclesiastical Melodies; among others, in that of the Hymn 'Sterna Christi munera.' Zarlino used it as a Theme for his examples in Counterpoint. In Morley's ' Plain and easie Introduction,' Philomathes gives it to Polymathes, as a Point 'familiar enough, and easie to bee maintained' i.e. de- veloped : while the ' Master ' calls it ' a most common Point,' which 'though it were giuen to all the Musicians of the world, they might compose vpon it, and not one of their Com- positions bee like vnto that of another.' Byrd used it, in 'Non nobis' [which see] ; Palestrina, in the first ' Agnus Dei ' of his ' Missa brevis '; Bach, in the 'Gratias agimus' and 'Dona' of his Mass in B minor ; Handel, in ' Sing ye to the Lord,' the ' Hallelujah Chorus,' the last Chorus in the ' Utrecht Te Deum,' the Chamber Duet,

  • Tacete, ohime !' and many other places ; Steffani,

i A learned modern critic finds fault with Burney for calling the Canto-fermo in ' Sing ye to the Lord' a Counter-Subject ; but falls Into the same error himself in describing the Utrecht ' Jubilate.'

��SUBJECT.

in his Duet, 'Tengo per infallibile '; Perti, in a Fuga a 8, ' Ut nos possimus ' ; Mendelssohn, in 'Not only unto him,' from 'S. Paul'; and Bee- thoven, in the Trio of the 9th Symphony. And, in strange contrast to all these grand Composi- tions, an unknown French Composer used it, with remarkable effect, in ' Malbrook s'en-va-t-en guerre.' The truth is, the passage is simply a fragment of the Scale, which is as much the com- mon property of Musicians, whether Fuguists, or Composers of the later Schools, as the Alphabet is the common property of Poets. 2

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��2. Another Subject, scarcely less universal in its application, embraces a more extended portion of the scale. Bach uses this in the ' Weihnachts Oratorium.' Handel, in the 'Hailstone Chorus'; in a remarkable Concerto for two Orchestras, of which the only known copy is the original Auto- graph at Buckingham Palace; in 'Worthy is the Lamb ' ; in ' When his loud Voice,' and in many other places. Mozart used it, in a form all but identical with Handel's, and also in the inverted form, in the Jupiter Symphony. Beethoven used it in his First Symphony; in his Sonata, Op. 31. No. i ; and in the inverted form, in his Symphony in C minor. Schumann, in his Stringed Quartet, No. i, and his PF. Quartet, Op. 47 ; and Brahms, in the Finale to his Symphony in C Minor.

��3. These examples deal only with the Scale. But there are certain progressions which are as much common property as the Scale itself; just as there are certain combinations of letters which are as much common property as the Alphabet. First among these stand the leaps of Fifths or Fourths, with which countless Subjects begin ; and scarcely less common are the Sequences of ascending Fourths and descending Fifths, which we so frequently find associated with them : as in Bach's Fugue in Eb No. 31 of the XL VIII ; Mozart's Overture to 'Die Zauberflote,' and a hundred other cases.

��4. Closely allied to these Sequences of Fourths and Fifths, is a form in which a descending Third is followed by an ascending Fourth. This was used for a Canon, by Turini, in the iyth cen- tury ; in Handel's Second Hautboy Concerto, and third Organ Fugue ; Morley's Canzonet, 'Cruel, you pull away too soon'; Purcell's ' Full fathom five'; and numerous other cases, including a Subject given to Mendelssohn for improvisation at Eome, Nov. 23, 1830.

��2 In the following exa raples, we give the primary form, only ; leaving our readers to compare it, for themselves, with the Composi- tions to which we have referred.

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