Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/306

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290

��VIOLIN-PLAYING.

��of the services of the Church. This was probably nothing new as regards the organ, but the violin was now introduced into the Church as a solo- instrument, and the Violin Sonata then almost the only form of violin-composition thereby re- ceived the serious and dignified character which exercised a decisive influence upon the future development, not only of violin-playing, but of instrumental music generally. The influence of this connexion with the Church afterwards ex- tended to sec ular violi n -music. The Dances pure and simple soon made room for more extended pieces of a Dance character, and afterwards almost entirely disappear from the Chamber So- nata, which begins more and more to partake of the severer style of the Church Sonata, so that at last a difference of name alone remains, the Church-Sonata-form dominating in the Chamber as much as it did in the Church. The first great master of the Violin-Sonata is GIOVANNI BATTISTA VITALI (1644-1692). He cultivated chiefly the Chamber-Sonata, and his publications bear the title of ' Balletti, Balli, Correnti, etc. da Camera,' but in some of his works the transition from the Suite-form to the later Sonata da camera, so closely allied to the Church-Sonata, is already clearly marked. In musical interest, Vitali's compositions are greatly superior to those of his predecessors and contemporaries. His dances are concise in form, vigorous in character, and in some instances especially in a Ciaconna with variations he shows high powers as a composer. [See VITALI.] His demands on execution are in some instances not inconsiderable, but on the whole he does not represent in this respect any material progress.

The first beginnings of violin-playing in an artistic sense in GERMANY were doubtless owing to Italian influence. As early as 1626 Carlo Farina was attached to the Court of Dresden. About the middle of the century a certain JOHANN WILHELM FuRCHHEiM is mentioned in the list of members of the Dresden orchestra, under the title of *Deutscher Concertmeister,' implying the presence of an Italian leader by his side. Gerber, in his Dictionary, mentions two publica- tions of his for the violin: (i) ' Violin-Exerci- tium aus verschiedenen Sonaten, nebst ihren Arien, Balladen, Allemanden, Couranten, Sara- banden und Giguen, von 5 Partieen bestehend, Dresden, 1687'; and (2) Musikalische Tafel- bedienung (Dinner-Service), Dresden, 1674.' THOMAS BALTZAR was, according to Burney and Hawkins, the first violinist who came to England. He appears to have greatly astonished his au- diences, especially by his then unknown efficiency in the shift, in which however he did not exceed the 3rd position. It is amusing to read, that a certain D. Wilson, who was then considered the best connoisseur of music at Oxford, confessed that, when he first heard Baltzar play, he had looked at his feet to see whether he had a hoof, as his powers seemed to him diabolic. Baltzar's compositions consist of Chamber Sonatas in the sense of Suites of Preludes, Dances and Varia- tions. Burney, in the fourth volume of his

��VIOLIN-PLAYING.

History, gives an Allemande of his. Two sets of 'The Division Violin' were published in London in 1688 and 1693. [See vol. i. p. 451 a]. Of far greater importance than Baltzar are two German violinists, JOHANN JACOB WALTHER (born 1650), and FRANZ HEINRICH BIBER (died 1698). WAL- THER [see that article] appears to have been a sort of German Farina, with a technique much further developed ; he ascends to the 6th position and writes difficult double-stops, arpeggios and chords. His compositions are, however, clumsy and poor in the extreme, and if we consider that he was a contemporary of Corelli, we cannot fail to notice the much lower level of German art as compared with that of Italy. BIBER was no doubt an artist of great talent and achievement. [See vol.i.p. 240.] His technique was in some respects in advance of that of the best Italian violinists of the period, and from the character of his compositions we are justified in assuming that his style of playing combined with the pathos and nobility of the Italian style that warmth of feeling which has ever been one of the main characteristics of the great musical art of Germany.

In tracing the further progress of violin-play- ing we must return to Italy. After Vitali it is TORELLI (1657-1716) who chiefly deserves our attention, as having added to the Sonata a new and important kind of violin-composition, the Concerto. In. his Concerti da Camera and Con- certi grossi we find the form of the Sonata da Chiesa preserved, but the solo-violins (one or two) are accompanied not only by a bass, as in- the Sonata, but by a stringed band (2 orches- tral or ripieno violins, viola and bass), to which a lute or organ part is sometimes added, an arrangement which on the whole was followed by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Handel. If no remark- able progress in the technique of the instrument was effected by the introduction of the Concerto, it is all the more striking to notice how hence- forth the best composers for the Church contri- bute to the literature of the violin. We have, in fact, arrived at a period in which the most talented musicians, almost as a matter of course, were violinists just as in modern times, with one or two exceptions, all great composers have been pianists. The most eminent representative of this type of composer- violinist is ARCANGELO CORELLI (1653-1713). His works, though in the main laid out in the forms of his pre- decessors and, as far as technique goes, keeping within modest limits, yet mark an era both in musical composition and in violin-playing. He was one of those men who seem to sum up in them- selves the achievements of their best predeces- sors. Corelli's place in the history of instrumental music is fully discussed elsewhere. [See CORELLI, vol. i. p. 400; SONATA, vol. iii. p. 556.] Here it remains only to state that in both main branches of violin-composition, in the Sonata and the Con- certo, his works have served as models to the best of his successors. They are distinguished chiefly by conciseness of form and logical structure. There is nothing tentative, vague or experimental in them; the various parts seem balanced to a

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