Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/40

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24 SYMPHONY.

celebrity about this time and a little later, such as Krommer (beloved by Schubert), the Rombergs, and Eberl (at one time preferred to Beethoven), require no more than passing mention. They certainly furthered the branch of art very little, and were so completely extinguished by the ex- ceptionally great writers who came close upon one another at that time, that it is even difficult to find traces of them.

The greatest of all masters of the Symphony followed so close upon Haydn, that there is less of a gap between the last of Haydn's Symphonies and his first than there was later between some of his own. Haydn's last was probably written in 1795. When Beethoven wrote his first can- not be ascertained ; sketches for the Finale are found as early as the year last mentioned ; but it was not actually produced in public till April 2, 1800. Like Schumann and Brahms in later days, he did not turn his attention to this branch of composition till comparatively late. The opus-number of his first symphony is 21. It is preceded by eleven pianoforte sonatas, several works for pianoforte combined with other instruments, the well-known Septuor in Eb, and several chamber compositions for strings. So that by the time he came to attacking Symphony he had had considerable practice in dealing with structural matters. The only works in which he had tried his strength with the orchestra were the two concertos the Bb, op. 19, which was written in or about 1795, and the C major, op. 15, which was written about 1796. He showed himself at once a master of the orchestra ; but it is evident that at first he stepped cautiously in expressing himself with such resources. The ist Symphony is less free and rich in expression, and has more elements of formality, than several works on a smaller scale which preceded it. This is explicable on the general ground that the orchestra, especially in those days, was not a fit exponent of the same kind of things which could be expressed by solo violins, or the pianoforte. The scale must neces- sarily be larger and broader; the intricate development and delicate or subtle sentiment which is quite appropriate and intelligible in the intimacy of a domestic circle, is out of place in the more public conditions of orchestral performance. This Beethoven must have in- stinctively felt, and he appears not to have found the style for full expression of his personality in either of the first symphonies. The second is even more curious in that respect than the first, as it comes after one of the richest and most interesting, and another of the most perfectly charming and original of the works of his early period, namely the Sonatas in D minor and Eb of op. 31. However, even in these two sym- phonies there is a massiveness and breadth and seriousness of purpose, which mark them as pro- ducts of a different and more powerfully consti- tuted nature than anything of the kind produced before. At the time when the ist Symphony appeared, the opening with the chord of the minor 7th of C, when the key of the piece was

��SYMPHONY.

C major, was looked upon as extremely daring ; and the narrow-minded pedants of the day felt their sensitive delicacy so outraged that some of them are said never to have forgiven it. The case is very similar to the famous introduc- tion to Mozart's C major String Quartet, about which the pedants were little less than insulting. Beethoven had to fight for his right to express what he felt to be true ; and he did it without flinching; sometimes with an apparent relish. But at the same time, in these early orchestral works he seems to have experimented with caution, and was content to follow his predecessors in a great deal that he put down. There are characteristic things in both symphonies ; for in- stance, in the ist the transitional passage which begins at the 65th bar of the Allegro, passing from G to G minor and then to Bb and back again, and the corresponding passage in the second half of the movement. The working out of the Andante cantabile and the persistent drum rhythm are also striking points. In the 2nd Symphony the dimensions of the Introduction are unusual, and the character of all the latter part and the freedom of the transitions in it are decisive marks of his tendencies. The Slow move- ment has also a warmth and sense of genuine sympathy which is new; the Scherzo, though as yet short, has a totally new character about it, and the abrupt sforzandos and short striking figures and still more the coda, of the Finale, are quite his own. In the orchestra it is worth noting that he adopted clarinets from the first, apparently as a matter of course ; in the first two symphonies he continued to use only the one pair of horns, as his predecessors had done ; in the third he expanded the group to three. In the 4th he went back to two, and did not use four till the 9th. The disposition of his forces even in the first two is more indepen- dent and varied than his predecessors. The treatment of the several groups of instruments tends to be more distinct and appropriate, and at the same time more perfectly assimilated in the total effect of the music. The step to the 3rd Symphony is however immense, and at last shows this branch of composition on a level with his other works of the same period. It is sur- rounded on both sides by some of his noblest achievements. Opus 47 was the Sonata in A for violin and pianoforte, known as the 'Kreutzer.' Opus 53 is the Sonata in C major, dedicated to Count Waldstein. Opus 54 is the admirable little Sonata in F major. Opus 55 is the Symphony, and opus 57 the Sonata known as the 'Appas- sionata.' It appears that Beethoven had the idea of writing this symphony as early as 1798, but the actual work was probably done in the summer and autumn of 1803. There seems to be no doubt that it was written under the influence of his admiration for Napoleon. His own title-page had on it ' Sinfonia grand e, Napoleon Bonaparte/ and, as is well known, the name ' Eroica ' was not added till Napoleon became Emperor ; after which event Beethoven's feelings about him naturally underwent a change. To call a great

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