Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/774

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762

��SULLIVAN.

��a short oratorio on the story of the 'Prodigal Son,' for the Worcester Festival, where it was produced (Mr. Sims Reeves taking the prin- cipal part) on Sept. 8. In 1870 he again con- tributed a work to the Birmingham Festival, the graceful and melodious ' Overture di Ballo ' (in Eb), which, while couched throughout in dance-rhythms, is constructed in perfectly classical form, and is one of the most favourite pieces in the Sydenham repertoire. To continue the list of his commissioned works : in 1871, in company with Gounod, Hiller, and Pinsuti, he wrote a piece for the opening of the 'Annual Inter- national Exhibition* at the Albert Hall, on May I a cantata by Tom Taylor called 'On Shore and Sea,' for solo, chorus, and orchestra. On the recovery of the Prince of Wales from his illness, he composed, at the call of the Crystal Palace Company, a Festival Te Deum, for so- prano solo, orchestra, and chorus, which was performed there May I, 1872. At this time he was closely engaged in editing the collection of 'Church Hymns with Tunes' for the Christian Knowledge Society, for which he wrote 2 1 original tunes. In 1873 Mr. Sullivan made a third appear- ance at Birmingham, this time with the leading feature of the Festival, an oratorio entitled 'The Light of the World,' the words selected from the Bible by himself. The success of this very fine work at Birmingham was great, and it has often since been performed, but the very solemn treatment naturally adopted in the parts which relate the sufferings of the Redeemer will always restrict its performance. Mr. Sullivan succeeded Sir Michael Costa as conductor of the Leeds Festival of 1880, and wrote for it 'The Mar- tyr of Antioch,' to words selected from Milman's play of that name. The work lies between an oratorio and a cantata, and was enthusiastically received. Mr. Sullivan has accepted the same post for the Festival of 1883. It may here be said that in 1869 he wrote additional accompani- ments to Handel's ' Jephtha ' for the opening of Barnby's 'Oratorio Concerts,* Feb. 6.

We will now go back to those works which have made Mr. Sullivan's name most widely known, not only in Europe but in Australia and America his comic Operettas, and his Songs. ' Cox and Box, a new Triumviretta,' was an adaptation by Mr. F. C. Burnand of Madison Morton's well-known farce, made still more comic by the interpolations, and set by Mr. Sullivan with a brightness and a drollery which at once

��[t was first heard at Moray Lodge (Mr. Arthur J. Lewis's) on April 27, 1867, and produced in public at the Adelphi a fortnight after, on May ii. The vein thus struck was not at first very rapidly worked. 'The Contrabandista ' (2 acts, words by Burnand) 2 followed at St. George's Opera House on Dec. 18, 1867, but then there was a pause. ' Thespis, or the Gods grown old ; an operatic extravaganza ' by Gilbert (Gaiety,

1 See ' Times ' of May 13, 1867.

2 This opera was written, composed, and produced In the extra- ordinarily short space of 16 days.

��SULLIVAN.

Dec. 26, 1871), and 'The Zoo, an original musical folly,' by B. Rowe (St. James's, June 5, 1875), though full of fun and animation, were neither of them sufficient to take the public. 'Trial by Jury, an extravaganza,' and a very extravagant one too, words by W. S. Gilbert, produced at the Royalty, March 25, 1875, had a great suc- cess, and many representations, owing in part to the very humorous conception of the character of the Judge by Mr. Sullivan's brother Frederick. But none of these can be said to have taken a real hold on the public. ' The Sorcerer, an original modern comic opera,' by W. S. Gilbert, which first established the popularity of its composer, was a new departure, a piece of larger dimensions- and more substance than any of its predecessors. It was produced at the Opera Comique, Strand, Nov. 17, 1877, and ran uninterruptedly for 175 nights. The company formed for this piece by Mr. Doyly Carte, including that admirable artist Mr. Grossmith, was maintained in the next, 'H. M.S. Pinafore/ produced at the same house, May 25, 1878. This not only ran in London for 700 con- secutive nights, but had an extraordinary vogue in the provinces, and was adopted in the United States to a degree exceeding all previous record. To protect their interests there, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Gilbert visited the United States in 1879, and remained for several months. An attempt to bring out the piece at Berlin as 'Amor an Bord' 3 failed, owing to the impossibility of any- thing like political caricature in Germany. But it was published by Litolff in 1882. The vein, of droll satire on current topics adopted in the two- last pieces has been kept up in ' The Pirates of Penzance' (April 3, 1880, 350 nights), ' Patience, an aesthetic opera' (April 25, 1881,* 578 nights), and 'lolanthe' (Nov. 25, 1882) which is still running as prosperous a course as any of the others. 5 Such unprecedented recognition speaka for itself. But it is higher praise to say, with a leading critic, that ' while Mr. Sullivan's music is as comic and lively as anything by Offenbach, it has the extra advantage of being the work of a cultivated musician, who would scorn to write ungrammatically even if he could.' We might add ' vulgarly or coarsely,' which, in spite of all temptations, our countryman has never done. ' His refinement,' as a writer of our own has well said, 'is a thousand times more telling than any coarse utterances.' 6 But may we not fairly ask whether the ability so conspicuous in these operettas is always to be employed on works which from their very nature must be even more fugitive than comedy in general ? Surely the time has come when so able and experienced a master of voice, orchestra, and stage effect master, too, of so much genuine sentiment may apply his gifts to the production of a serious opera on some subject of abiding human or national interest.

The 'Tempest' music has never so far as the writer is aware been used in a performance of

Arranged for the German stage by Ernst Dohm. On Oct. 10, 1881, the company removed from the Ope>a Comique, to the new ' Savoy Theatre ' in the Strand. 6 232 performances to July 16, 1883. < See the whole passage in pp. 306, COT of this volume.

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