Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/68
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
of operas sung from one end to the other, and in Handel's time Addison endeavoured to voice this national repugnance in his Spectator.
It was a good thing that Handel had an altogether different idea of opera, and that his personality differed greatly from that of Purcell, which left him no point for profiting (as he had done with others) by the genius of his predecessor. Arriving in a strange country, of which he did not even know the language or the spirit, it was natural that he should take the English master as his guide. Hence the analogies between them. Purcell's Odes often give one the impression of being merely a sketch of the cantatas and oratorios of Handel. One finds there the same architectural style, the same contrast of movements, of instrumental colours, of large ensembles, and of soli. Certain dances, some of the heroic airs, with irresistible rhythms and triumphant fanfares, are there already before Handel, but they are only there as brilliant flashes with Purcell. Both his personality and his art were different. Like so many fine musicians of that time, he has been swallowed up in Handel, just as a stream of water loses itself in a river. But there was nevertheless in this little spring a poetry peculiar to England, which the entire work of Handel has not—nor can have.
Since the death of Purcell the fount of English music had dried up. Foreign elements submerged
- King Arthur: Grand Dance, or final Chaconne; Dioclesian: trio with final chorus.
- Particularly the famous song of St. George in King Arthur—"St. George, the patron of our isle, a soldier and a saint."