Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/29
take more pains both in the structure and in the choice of their musical material. The Sym- phony had however reached a considerable pitch of development before the emancipation took place ; and this development was connected with the progress of certain other musical forms be- sides the Sonata, already referred to.
It will accordingly be convenient, before pro- ceeding further with the direct history of the Symphony, to consider some of the more im- portant of these early branches of Musical Art. In the early harmonic times the rela- tionships of nearly all the different branches of composition were close. The Symphony was related even to the early Madrigals, through the ' Sonate da Chiesa,' which adopted the Canzona or instrumental version of the Madrigal as a second movement. It was also closely related to the early Fantasias, as the earliest experiments in instrumental music, in which some of the technical necessities of that department were grappled with. It was directly connected with the vocal portions of the early operas, such as airs and recitatives, and derived from them many of the mechanical forms of cadence and harmony which for a long time were a necessary part of its form. The solo Clavier Suite had also something to do with it, but not so much as might be expected. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the suite-form, being very simple in its principle, attained to definition very early, while the sonata-form, which characterised the richest period of har- monic music, was still struggling in elementary stages. The ultimate basis of the suite-form is a contrast of dance tunes ; but in the typical early symphony the dance-tunes are almost in- variably avoided. When the Symphony was ex- panded by the addition of the Minuet and Trio, a bond of connection seemed to be established ; but still this bond was not at all a vital one, for the Minuet is one of the least characteristic elements of the suite-form proper, being clearly of less ancient lineage and type than the Alle- mande, Courante, Sarabande, or Gigue, or even the Gavotte and Bourre'e, which were classed with it, as Intermezzi or Galanterien. The form of the Clavier Suite movements was in fact too inelastic to admit of such expansion and development as was required in the or- chestral works, and the type did not supply the characteristic technical qualities which would be of service in their development. The position of Bach's Orchestral Suites was somewhat dif- ferent; and it appears that he himself called them Overtures. Dehn, in his preface to the first edition printed, says that the separate MS. parts in the Bach archives at Hamburg, from which he took that in C, have the distinctive characteristics of the handwriting of John Se- bastian, and have for title 'Ouverture pour 2 Violons,' etc. ; and that another MS., probably copied from these, has the title 'Suite pour Orchestre.' This throws a certain light upon Bach's position. It is obvious that in several departments of instrumental music he took the
French for his models rather than the Italians. In the Suite he followed Couperin, and in the Overture he also followed French models. These therefore appear as attempts to develop an in- dependent orchestral work analogous to the Symphony, upon the basis of a form which had the same reason for existence and the same general purpose as the Italian Overture, but a distinctly different general outline. Their chief connection with the actual development of the modern symphony lies in the treatment of the in- struments ; for all experiments, even on different lines, if they have a common quality or principle,, must react upon one another in those respects.
Another branch of art which had close con- nection with the early symphonies was the Concerto. Works under this name were not by any means invariably meant to be show pieces for solo instruments, as modern concertos are ; and sometimes the name was used as almost synonymous with symphony. The earliest con- certos seem to have been works in which groups of * solo ' and * ripieno ' instruments were used, chiefly to obtain contrasts of fullness of tone. For instance, a set of six concertos by Alessandro Scarlatti, for two violins and cello, ' soli,' and two violins, tenor, and bass, 'ripieni,' present no distinction of style between one group and the other. The accompanying instruments for the most part merely double the solo parts, and leave off either to lessen the sound here and there, or because the passages happen to go a little higher than usual, or to be a little difficult for the average violin-players of that time. When, the intention is to vary the quality of sound as well, the element of what is called instru- mentation is introduced, and this is one of the earliest phases of that element which can be traced in music. The order of movements and the style of them are generally after the manner of the Sonate da Chiesa, and therefore do not present any close analogy with the subject of this article. But very soon after the time of Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti the form of the Italian overture was adopted for concertos, and about the same time they began to show traces of becoming show-pieces for great performers. Allusions to the performance of concertos by great violin - players in the churches form a familiar feature in the musical literature of the i8th century, and the three- movement-form (to all intents exactly like that of the symphonies) seems to have been adopted early. This evidently points to the fact that this form appealed to the instincts of com- posers generally, as the most promising for free expression of their musical thoughts. It may seem curious that J.S.Bach, who followed French models in some important departments of in- strumental music, should exclusively have fol- lowed Italian models in this. But in reality it appears to have been a matter of chance with him; he always followed the best models which came to his hand. In this department the Italians excelled ; and Bach therefore fol- lowed them, and left the most important early