Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/765

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


for PF. in Eb it is very elaborately developed. The Second Subject which almost always makes its first appearance in the Key of the Dominant, or Relative Major, to re-appear, after the last Reprise, in the primitive Key is, in most cases, little less complete and extended than the First, though its construction is generally less homo- geneous, consisting, frequently, of two, three, or even more distinct members, marked by consider- able diversity of figure and phrasing, as in Weber's Rondo in Eb, already cited. This Sub- ject, like the First, is seldom broken up to any great extent, or very completely 'worked,' though, as we have seen, it is again employed, in its en- tirety, in a transposed form. The Third Subject is usually of a less extended character than the First and Second; or, if equally complete and continuous, is at least more easily broken up into fragmentary phrases, and therefore more capable of eifective working. The Third Subject of Beethoven's 'Senate Pathdtique' (Op. 13), is al- most fugal in character, and rendered intensely interesting by its fine contrapuntal treatment, though destined nevermore to re-appear, after the second reprise of the principal Theme. In- deed, each of the three Subjects of the typical Rondo is nearly always so designed as to form the basis of an independent section of the Move- ment; and, though the First must necessarily appear three, or even four times, in the original Key, and the Second twice, in different Keys, the Third, even when elaborately worked in its own section, is very seldom heard again in a later one. In the Rondo of Beethoven's Sonata, Op. 26, the Third Subject is as complete in itself, and as little dependent on the rest of the Movement, as the Second, or the First ; and is summarily dismissed after its first plain statement. But there are, of course, exceptions to this mode of proceeding. In the Rondo of the Sonata in C Major, Op. 53, all the Subjects, including even the First, are worked with an ingenuity quite equal to that displayed in the First Movement of the work. Still, these Subjects all differ en- tirely, both in form and character, from those employed in the First Movement ; and this will always be found to be the case in the Rondos of the great Classical Composers.

There remains yet another class of Subjects to which we have as yet made no allusion, but which, nevertheless, plays a very important part in the ceconomy of Musical Composition. We allude to the Subjects of Dramatic Move- ments, both Vocal and Instrumental. It is obvious, that in Subjects of this kind the most important element is the peculiar form of dramatic expression necessary for each individual Theme. And, because the varieties of dramatic expression are practically innumerable, it is impossible to fix any limit to the varieties of form into which such Subjects may be consistently cast. At certain epochs in the history of the Lyric Drama, con- sistency has undoubtedly been violated, and legitimate artistic progress seriously hindered, by contracted views on this point. In the days of Hasse, for instance, a persistent determination

VOL. III. PT. 6.



�� ��to cast all Melodies, of whatever character, into the same stereotyped form, led to the petrifaction of all natural expression in the most unnatural of all mechanical contrivances the so-called ' Con- cert-Opera.' Against this perversion of dramatic truth all true Artists conscientiously rebelled. Gluck, with a larger Orchestra and stronger Chorus at command, returned to the principles set forth by Peri and Caccini in the year 1600. Mozart invented Subjects, faultlessly propor- tioned, yet always exactly suited to the character of the dramatic situation, and the peculiar form of passion needed for its expression. These Sub- jects he wrought into Movements, the symmetry of which equalled that of his most finished Con- certos and Symphonies, while their freedom of development, and elaborate construction, not only interposed no hindrance to the most perfect scenic propriety, but, on the contrary, carried on the Action of the Drama with a power which has long been the despair of his most ambitious imitators. Moreover, in his greatest work, ' II Don Giovanni/ he use,d the peculiar form of Subject now known as the ' Leading Theme' 1 with unapproachable effect; entrusting to it the responsibility of bringing out the point of deepest interest in the Drama a duty which it performs with a success too well known to need even a passing comment. In 'Der Frei- schiitz,' Weber followed up this idea with great effect; inventing, among other striking Subjects, two constantly-recurring Themes, which, applied to the Heroine of the piece and the Daemon, invest the Scenes in which they appear with special interest.

At the present moment, the popularity of the* 'Leading Theme' exceeds that of any other kind of Subject ; while the danger of relapsing into the dead forms of the School of Hasse has ap- parently reached its zero. But, the constructive power of Mozart, as exhibited in his wonderful Finales, still sets emulation at defiance.

The different forms of Subject thus rapidly touched upon, constitute but a very small pro- portion of those in actual use ; but we trust that we have said enough to enable the Student to judge for himself as to the characteristics of any others with which he may meet, during the course of his researches, and the more so, since many Subjects of importance are described in the articles on the special forms of Composition to which they belong. [W.S.R.]

SUBMEDIANT. The sixth note of the scale rising upwards. The note next above the domi- nant, as A in the key of C. The submediant of any major scale is chiefly brought into prominence as the tonic of its relative minor. [C.H.H.P.]

SUBSIDIARY, in a symphonic work, is a theme of inferior importance, not strictly form- ing part of either first or second subject, but subordinate to one or the other. The spaces between the two subjects, which in the early days before Beethoven were filled up by ' padding ' in the shape of formal passages and modulations,

i See LEIT Morir.

�� �