Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/286

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

time the paper became the organ of Wagner and Liszt. Brendel certainly had a rare power of appreciating the ideas of the real leaders of the movement, and of illustrating and developing them effectively, and thus materially assisted the movement. His treatment is dry, logical, and didactic; but what it wants in directness and poetical force is made up for by the perseverance with which he urges his arguments.

In 1850 he began to issue another periodical, entitled 'Anregungen für Kunst, Leben, und Wissenschaft,' which for several years supported the propaganda of the Zeitung in favour of Liszt and Wagner. But the most open exposition of the views of the party is to be found in his 'Musik der Gegenwart und die Gesammtkunst der Zukunft,' which must be regarded as a completion of his History, and is not free from considerable party spirit. With the year 1859 Brendel began to labour for the reconciliation of the contending parties, on the basis of the general progress of modern times. The field for this effort was the 'Allgemeine deutsche Musik-Verein,' or 'German musical union,' which arose out of a festival of musicians held on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 'Neue Zeitschrift,' and was founded in 1861. Brendel was not only one of the chief founders of the 'Verein,' but as its president he worked for it with restless energy to the time of his death, and his Zeitung was its official organ. Brendel died Nov. 25, 1868. The Zeitung continued to follow the same path as before, but lost its old eminence. Besides the works already mentioned Brendel issued various smaller publications, all more or less distinguished by a tendency for the New German School—'Liszt als Symphoniker' (1858), 'Organisation der Musik durch den Staat' (1866). An abridgment of his history, for schools, was published under the title of 'Grundzüge der Geschichte,' etc., and has been translated into several languages.

[ A. M. ]

BREVE (Fr. Carrée; Ital. Breve). A note of the value of two semibreves, rarely met with in modern music, in which there is no place for it, as the longest bar commonly used (viz. a bar of 12-8 time) has but the value of a semibreve and a half. Although now nearly obsolete from its great length, the breve was originally (as indicated by its name, derived from brevis, short) the shorter of the two notes of which the earliest measured music, invented about A.D. 1200, was composed. These two notes, which corresponded to the long and short syllables of the text to which they were sung, were termed longa and brevis, and were written thus, (Symbol missingsymbol characters) and (Symbol missingsymbol characters). The proportion which they bore to each other was not always constant, the longa containing sometimes three breves, in which case it was called perfect, and sometimes only two, when it is said to be imperfect. So likewise, after the introduction of a still shorter note called semibrevis, the brevis could be either perfect or imperfect, and consist of three or two semibreves. These variations of proportion, which, together with many others, remained in use until about the middle of the 17th century, and which could not but have added immensely to the difficulty of the study of music, were dependent on the order in which the longer and shorter notes followed each other, and also upon the appearance of certain time-signatures which were placed at the beginning of the composition. For a full account of these the reader is referred to Bellermann's treatise 'Die Mensuralnoten und Taktzeichen des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts,' Berlin, 1858.

The breve, together with other notes belonging to the same epoch, was originally written black, the more modern white notes (Fr. blanches) written in outline being introduced by Dufay about the end of the 14th century. After this period black notes (Fr. noires) were exclusively used to express diminution, the note made black losing a portion of its value, either one-third or one-fourth, according to circumstances. A relic of this custom survives in modern music in the method of writing minim and crotchet.

In modern music the breve, in the rare cases in which it is used, is always written white, and either of an oblong form, thus 𝆸, or oval with two small vertical strokes at each end, thus (Symbol missingsymbol characters).

The expression alla breve, placed at the commencement of a composition, has been variously interpreted. Some have understood it to mean a rhythm of one breve to a bar, while others, translating the words 'alla breve' literally into 'in short fashion,' understand by it a rhythm of either two or four beats in a bar, but at a double rate of movement, semibreves being taken at about the speed of ordinary minims, and so on. In favour of this latter view is the fact that the signature of alla breve time is always the semicircle crossed by a vertical stroke, Allabreve.svg, which is the 'diminutio simplex in tempus imperfectum' of the ancient measured music, where it served precisely the same purpose, i. e. by reducing each note to half its proper value it doubled the rate of movement. Both views agree in the most important particular, namely, that compositions marked 'alla breve,' or, even when not so marked, if provided with the distinctive time-signature, must be performed twice as fast as if simply marked with the sign of common time, Commontime inline.png or 4-4. And with regard to the opinion which holds that compositions alla breve ought to be written in bars of the value of a breve, it may be urged that in spite of the undoubted fact that most of such compositions have but one semibreve in the bar, it is possible that this method of writing may have been intended to represent merely the division of the original alla breve bar into two halves, for convenience of reading, a division which has actually been made in certain cases, as for example in Handel's chorus 'All we like sheep' [App. p.564 "'And with his stripes'"] (Messiah), which was originally written in bars of the value of two semibreves, and marked 'alla breve,' although now printed in bars of half that length. Moreover, it is certain that the expression alla breve has never been applied to movements in triple time, although if it had had reference merely to