Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/57

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SYMPHONY.

the world ouly two examples, 1 they have that mark of intensity, loftiness of purpose, and artistic mastery which sets them above all other con- temporary work of the kind. Like Beethoven and Schumann he did not produce a sym- phony till a late period in his career, when his judgment was matured by much practice in other kindred forms of instrumental com- position, such as pianoforte quartets, string sextets and quartets, sonatas, and such forms of orchestral composition as variations and two serenades. He seems to have set himself to prove that the old principles of form are still capable of serving as the basis of works which should be thoroughly original both in general character and in detail and development, without either falling back on the device of programme, or abrogating or making any positive change in the principles, or abandoning the loftiness of style which befits the highest form of art ; but by legitimate expansion, and application of careful thought and musical contrivance to the develop- ment. In all these respects he is a thorough de- scendant of Beethoven, and illustrates the highest and best way in which the tendencies of the age in instrumental music may yet be expressed. He dif- fers most markedly from the class of composers re- presented by Raff, in the fact that his treatment of form is an essential and important element in the artistic effect. The care with which he deve- lops it is not more remarkable than the insight shown in all the possible ways of enriching it with- out weakening its consistency. In appearance it is extremely free, and at available points all possible use is made of novel effects of transition and in- genious harmonic subtleties ; but these are used in such a way as not to disturb the balance of the whole, or to lead either to discursiveness or tautology. In the laying out of the principal sections as much freedom is used as is consistent with the possibility of being readily followed and understood. Thus in the recapitulatory por- tion of a movement the subjects which charac- terise the sections are not only subjected to considerable and interesting variation, but are often much condensed and transformed. In the first movement of the second symphony, for instance, the recapitulation of the first part of the movement is so welded on to the working- out portion that the hearer is only happily con- scious that this point has been arrived at with- out the usual insistance to call his attention to it. Again, the subjects are so ingeniously varied and transformed in restatement that they seem almost new, though the broad melodic outlines give sufficient assurance of their representing the recapitulation. The same effect is obtained in parts of the allegrettos which occupy the place of scherzos in both symphonies. The old type of minuet and trio form is felt to underlie the well- woven texture of the whole, but the way in which the joints and seams are made often escapes observation. Thus in the final return to the

��i A third, In F, was produced at Vienna on Dec. 2. 1883, but the facts ascertainable about it are not yet sufficiently full to base any discussion upon (Dec. 31).

��SYMPHONY.

��41

��principal section in the Allegretto of the 2nd Symphony, which is in G- major, the subject seems to make its appearance in Ffl major, which serves as dominant to B minor, and going that way round the subject glides into the prin- cipal key almost insensibly. 2 In the Allegretto of the Symphony in C the outline of a charac- teristic feature is all that is retained in the final return of the principal subject near the end, and new effect is gained by giving a fresh turn to the harmony. Similar closeness of tex- ture is found in the slow movement of the same symphony, at the point where the prin- cipal subject returns, and the richness of the variation to which it is subjected enhances the musical impression. The effect of these devices is to give additional unity and consist- ency to the movements. Enough is given to enable the intelligent hearer to understand the form without its appearing in aspects with which he is already too familiar. Similar thorough- ness is to be found on the other sides of the matter. In the development of the sections, for instance, all signs of ' padding ' are done away with as much as possible, and the interest is sustained by developing at once such figures of the principal subjects as will serve most suitably. Even such points as necessary equivalents to cadences, or pauses on the dominant, are by this means infused with positive musical in- terest in just proportion to their subordinate relations to the actual subjects. Similarly, in the treatment of the orchestra, such a thing as filling up is avoided to the utmost possible ; and in order to escape the over-complexity of detail so unsuitable to the symphonic form of art, the forces of the orchestra are grouped in masses in the principal characteristic figures, in such a way that the whole texture is endowed with vitality. The impression so conveyed to some is that the orchestration is not at such a high level of per- fection as the other elements of art ; and certainly the composer does not aim at subtle combinations of tone and captivating effects of a sensual kind so much as many other great composers of modern times ; and if too much attention is concentrated upon the special element of his orchestration it may doubtless seem at times rough and coarse. But this element must only be considered in its relation to all the others, since the composer may reasonably dispense with some orchestral fascinations in order to get broad masses of harmony and strong outlines ; and if he seeks to express his musical ideas by means of sound, rather than to disguise the absence of them by seductive misuse of it, the world is a gainer. In the putting forward and management of actual subjects, he is guided by what appears to be inherent fitness to the occasion. In the first movement of the Symphony in C, atten- tion is mainly concentrated upon one strong subject figure, which appears in both the prin- cipal sections and acts as a centre upon which the rest of the musical materials are grouped ; and

^ For a counterpart to thla see the first movement of Beethoren'i Sonata in F, op. 10, no. 2.

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