Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/46

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SYMPHONY.

���Nevertheless, the whole effect of the move- ment is not what its title implies. The scoring is fuller, and the inner parts richer and freer in their motion than in the prototypes, and the harmonization is more chromatic, after Spohr's manner. The Scherzo professes to be in Bee- thoven's style, and some of his characteristic devices of harmony and rhythm and treatment of instruments are fairly well imitated (e.g. the drums in G, D, and Eb), though in a manner which shows they were but half understood. Curiously enough, one of the most marked figures does not come from Beethoven, but from Mozart's G minor Symphony :

��The last movement, representing the then ' latest period,' has of course no names appended. Spohr probably did not intend to imitate any one, but was satisfied to write in his own manner, of which the movement is not a highly satisfactory example. It is perhaps rather to the composer's credit that his own characteristics should peep out at all corners in all the movements, but the result can hardly be called an artistic success. However, the experiment deserves to be recorded and de- scribed, as unique among works by composers of such standing and ability as Spohr ; and the more so as it is not likely to be often heard in future. His next Symphony (No. 7, in C major, op. 12 1) is in many respects as great a curiosity of a totally different description. It is called ' Irdisches und Gottliches in Menschenleben,' and is a double symphony in three movements for two orches- tras. The first movement is called 'Kinderwelt,' the second 'Zeit der Leidenschaften,' and the last (Presto) 'Endlicher Sieg des Gottlichen.' In the first two the second orchestra, which is the fuller of the two, is little more than an accompaniment to the first. In the last it has a good deal of work to do, uttering chiefly vehe- ment and bustling passages in contrast with quiet and sober passages by the first orchestra ; until near the end, when it appears to be sub- dued into consonance with the first orchestra. The idea seems to be to depict the divine and the worldly qualities more or less by the two orchestras ; the divine being given to the smaller orchestra of solo instruments, and the worldly to the fuller orchestra. The treatment of the instru- mental forces is on the whole very simple ; and no very extraordinary effects seem to be aimed at.

Spohr wrote^ yet another programme sym- phony after this (No. 9, in B, op. 143) called ' Die Jahreszeiten,' in which Winter and Spring are joined to make Part I, and Summer and Autumn to make Part II. The work ap-

��SYMPHONY.

proaches more nearly to the ordinary outlines of the Symphony than his previous experiments in programme, and does not seem to demand so much detailed description. In fact, but for his having been so early in the field as a writer of thoroughgoing programme-music, Spohr's position in the history of the Symphony would not be an important one ; and it is worthy of remark that his being so at all appears to have been an accident. The 'Weihe der Tone' would not have been a programme symphony but for the fact that Pfeiffer's poem did not turn out to be very suitable for a musical setting. It is not likely that the work would have attained such popularity as it did but for its programme ; but after so good a result in relation to the public, it was natural that Spohr should try further experiments on the same lines; and hence he became one of the earliest representatives of artistic speculation in a direction which has become one of the most conspicuous subjects of discussion among modern musical philosophers. As far as intrinsic qualities are concerned it is remarkable how very little influence he has had upon the subsequent history of the Symphony, considering the reputation he enjoyed in his life- time. His greatest excellence was his treatment of his orchestra, which was delicate, refined, and extremely clear ; but it must be confessed that he erred on the side natural to the virtuoso violinist, and was too fond of bringing his first violins into prominence. His. ideas and style generally were not robust or noble enough to stand the test of time. His melodies are not broad or strong ; his harmonisation, though very chromatic to look at, is not radically free and vigorous; and his rhythm, though sometimes complicated and ingenious, is neither forcible nor rich in variety. None of his works however can be said to be without their good points, and the singularity of his attempts at programme-music give them an interest which the unlikelihood of many performances in the future does not by any means diminish.

An interesting fact in connection with Spohr and the history of the Symphony is that he seems to have been the first to conduct an orchestra in England with a baton; the practice having previously been to conduct 'at the pianoforte.* The occasion was one of the Philharmonic Con- certs in 1820. The habit of conducting at the pianoforte was evidently a tradition continued from the days when the Symphony was an appendage of the Opera, when the principal authority, often the composer in person, sat at the principal clavier in the middle of the orchestra giving the time at his instrument, and filling in the harmonies under the guidance of a figured bass. Almost all the earlier independent symphonies, including those of Philip Emanuel Bach of 1776, and some of Haydn's earlier ones, have such a figured bass for the clavier player, and an extra bass part is commonly found in the sets of parts, which may be reasonably surmised to be for his use. 1 The practice was at last

i Mendelssohn's early Symphonic* are marked 'KlaTler mit clem Basse.' iSee vol. 11. 265, note 3.)

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