It is to be regretted that the same amount of reverence for the author's intentions shown in the above arrangement has not always been evinced even by great musicians in dealing with the scores of others. Mozart, in his arrangement of the 'Messiah,' thought fit to re-write the song 'The trumpet shall sound,' though whatever obstacle it may have presented to his trumpeter it has been often proved by Mr. Thomas Harper and others that Handel's trumpet part, though difficult, is certainly not impossible. Mendelssohn, in his score of the 'Dettingen Te Deum,' has altered (and we venture to think entirely spoilt) several of the very characteristic trumpet parts which form so prominent a feature of the work. As one example out of several that might be quoted, we give the opening symphony of the chorus 'To thee Cherubin.' Handel writes
These trumpet parts are assuredly not easy; still they are practicable. Mendelssohn however alters the whole passage thus:—
and, still worse, when the symphony is repeated in the original by oboes and bassoons, the arranger gives it to the full wind band with trumpets and drums, entirely disregarding the ideas of the composer. The chief objection to be urged against such a method of procedure as the above—so unlike Mendelssohn's usual reverence and modesty—is not that the instrumentation is changed or added to, but that the form and character of the passage itself is altered. Every arrangement must stand or fall upon its own merits; but it will be generally admitted that however allowable it may be, nay more, however necessary it frequently is, to change the dress in which ideas are presented to us, the ideas themselves should be left without modification.
7. Besides the cases already referred to, passages are frequently to be found, especially in
- The Te Deum and Acis were instrumented by Mendelssohn as an exercise for Zelter. The date on the MS. of Acis is January 1829. He mentions them in a letter to Devrient in 1833, speaking of his additions to the Te Deum as 'Interpolations of a very arbitrary kind, mistakes as I now consider them, which I am anxious to correct.' It is a thousand pities that the work should have been published.