Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/439

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WEBER.

distance, then louder and louder; the Chorus listens,

Auf Windes Flttgeln On wings of the wind

Sprengts von den Hflgeln Down from the hills

Die Flur entlang! It rushes along the plalnl

Die Fahnen wallen, The banners wave,

Die HOrnor schallen. The trumpets blare.

and then bursts into the air of Weber's Lied, ' Liitzows wilde Jagd,* to the words

O Htmmelslust nach Todesdrang,

Das 1st Preussens muthlger Schlachtgesangl

O heavenly joy from deadly pain. Tis Prussia's rousing battle-song I

This passage, and the redoubled violence with which the onslaught is renewed, produce a dramatic effect of the strongest kind. From this point the voices are employed continually. The Qa ira,' at first so loud and bold, is now, as it were, hustled and put down by the rest of the orchestra; it is at length wholly silenced, the enemy flies with the victors at his heels, till at last ' God save the King!' 1 peals solemnly forth from the orchestra, and the colossal tone- picture is at an end. The same dramatic treat- ment may be discerned in all the episodical pieces, especially the orchestral introduction, which is not an abstract piece of music, but is intended as a picture of the state of mind of the nations, who, after a brief foretaste of peace, are again plunged into the horrors of war by Napoleon's return from Elba. 'The introduc- tion is of a rugged, stormy, mournful, angry spirit, broken in its accents; rising in force towards the end, and dying in dry, hard, sullen strokes.' So says Weber in his explanatory notice written for the first performance at Prague. 8 The closing chorus alone is wholly lyric in character j though not absolutely free from technical imperfections, it is full of fire and inspiration, and contains some grand pas- sages. The cantata however as a whole too far exceeds ordinary limits to take its due place in the concert-room. There is in it a certain contra- diction of styles. Although at first frequently performed, and never failing to make a great impression, it has gradually slipped out of the musical world, now that the events which gave it birth are less vividly remembered. The 'Leyer und Schwert* choruses are still in full life, because they are in all respects true to their species. And yet the enthusiasm for liberty, with all its impetuosity and all its pathos, is expressed quite as forcibly in the cantata. Its popularity may be less great, but it is an even more valuable piece of evidence for the history of Weber's development as a dramatic composer.

13. Between 1810 and 1815 Weber wrote six grand Concert-airs with Italian words, and these also have their share in explaining the extraor- dinary maturity of ' Der Freischutz.' Several are of high artistic merit, notably the fourth ('Signer, se padre sei '), composed in 1 81 2 for Prince Frede-

1 The Volkshymne ' Hell dlr im Slegeskranz ' Is sung to this air In Germany, and Weber evidently had the words in his mind here. He used the same tune for the finale to the Jubel-ouverture. [See GOD BAVE THE KINO, vol. i. p. 6OTa.]

2 Reprinted complete in the ' Lebensbild,' ill. M.

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��ric of Gotha.* It is written for tenor and double horus, and is in fact a grand dramatic scena. None of these Italian airs however come up to a Ger- man scena written in 1818 for insertion in Che- rubini's ' Lodoiska.' It was intended for Frau YLilder-Hauptmann, then in Berlin, and was to )e the 1st number in the 2nd act. It is a work of the first rank, and of itself proves that the creator of 'Der Freischutz' had now attained lis full stature. How it comes to be now wholly 'orgotten it is difficult to understand.

14. Among Weber's remaining vocal composi- iions we have still some Cantatas and the two Masses to consider. 'Der Erste Ton* (1818), words by Rochlitz, must be mentioned among the cantatas, although the term scarcely applies to it. The greater part of the poem is declaimed to an orchestral accompaniment, but a 4-part chorus is ntroduced near the end. The form is peculiar and new. It cannot be called a melodrama, be- cause the poem is narrative and not dramatic. The nearest approach to it is in some of the descriptive recitatives in Haydn's oratorios. The descriptive part of the music shows already, though indistinctly, that plasticity which he was presently to make use of in such an incomparable way. The closing chorus does not satisfy the requirements of art, and Weber himself spoke of it as 'rough' part- writing. Another hymn of Rochlitz' s, 'In seiner Ordnung schafft der Herr,' is a fine work of art. It was composed in 1812, and dedicated to the ' Musik-Gesellschaft' of Zurich, which had elected him an honorary member. At first the composer has evidently had difficulty in warming to his work, on account of the half-dogmatic, half-descriptive nature of the words ; and the hearer, though occasionally in- terested, is not carried away by the earlier move- ments. The introduction of the chorale ' Drum lerne still dich fassen ' (to the tune of ' Haupt voll Blut und Wunden') is scarcely to be jus- tified on aesthetic grounds. But then comes the chorus 'Gelobt sei Gott,' and all that has hitherto failed to please is forgotten, and the hearer swept away in the rushing torrent of foamy music. The fugue of this chorus, ' Im Wettersturm, im Wogendrang,' is a character- piece of the first rank. To criticise each detail of this polyphonic movement would be pedantic ; it is a work of genius, and its flashing enthusiasm bears comparison, at a distance of course, to cer- tain parts of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.*

Of the six occasional cantatas composed for the Court of Saxony, the Jubel-Cantata, written for the 50th anniversary of Friedrich August's accession (1818) is the most important, both in size and matter. The four choral movements, Nos. i, 4, 7, and 9 are ripe examples of Weber's talent for delineating a specific situation, and make one regret that the work as a whole, from the circumstances of its origin, is unavailable .for general use. It is essentially a Saxon, nay, almost a Dresden composition, and no sympa- thy is now felt for Friedrich August. Wendt's

Op. 53, Schlesinger, Berlin, vocal score.

Score, parts, and PF. score, published by Scalesinger of Berlin.

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