The date and origin of the expression are unknown to Littré; but it is tempting to believe the image to be that of a flask falling and breaking or, as our own slang has it, 'coming to utter smash.'
FIDDLE. The old English word, before 'viol' came in, and still the more idiomatic of the two. Both are possibly derived from the same root—vitula, a calf, from the springing motion of dancers (Dies and Littré; and compare the connection of Geige and jig). Fiddlestick is the violin-bow, as in the Epigram on a Bad Fiddler:—
Old Orpheus play'd so well he mov'd Old Nick,
Whilst thou mov'st nothing—but thy fiddlestick.
The Germans have three terms for the instrument—Fiedel, Geige, and Violine.
FIDELIO, ODER DIE EHELICHE LIEBE. Beethoven's single opera (op. 72); the words adapted by Joseph Sonnleithner from Bouilly's 'Léonore, ou l'Amour conjugal.' He received the text in the winter of 1804, and composed the opera at Hetzendorf in the summer. It was produced (1.) at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1805, in 3 acts; the overture was probably that known as 'Leonora No. 2.' Cherubini was in the house. (2.) It was played again on the 21st and 22nd, and then withdrawn. (See p. 185a.) The libretto was then reduced by Breuning to 2 acts; 3 pieces of music—said to have been an air for Pizzaro with chorus; a duet, Leonore and Marzelline; and a terzet, Marzelline, Jaquino, and Rocco—were sacrificed, and the overture 'Leonora No. 3' composed. It was played again at the Imperial private theatre on Saturday, March 29, 1806, and April 10, and again withdrawn. [App. p.636 "(3.) After the death of Guardasoni, the Italian Director of the Prague opera, in 1806, and the appointment of Liebich, and the adoption of the German opera there, Beethoven, with the view to a probable performance of 'Fidelio,' wrote the overture known as 'Leonora, no. 1,' as an 'easier work' than either of the two preceding. The performance, however, did not come off, and the overture remained in MS. and unknown till after Beethoven's death, when it was sold in the Sale of his effects and published in 1832 (Haslinger) as 'Overture in C, op. 138' (Aut. 'Characteristische Ouverture'). See Seyfried, p. 9; Thayer, iii. 25."] (3.) [App. p.636 "(4.)" Early in 1814 the opera, as again revised by Treitschke, was submitted to Beethoven; he at once set to work, and it was produced a third time, in 2 acts, at the Kärnthnerthor theatre, Vienna, on May 23, 1814, as Fidelio. The overture was that of the 'Ruins of Athens,' but on the 26th the overture in E, known as the 'Overture to Fidelio,' was first played. It was Beethoven's wish that the opera should be called Leonora, but it was never performed under that name. (4.) [App. p.636 "(5.)" It was produced in Paris, at the Théâtre Lyrique, translated by Barbier and Carré, and in 3 acts, May 5, 1860. In London by Chelard's German company (Schröder, etc.) at the King's Theatre, May 18, 1832. In English (Malibran) at Covent Garden, June 12, 35. In Italian (Cruvelli and Sims Reeves, Recitatives by Balfe) at Her Majesty's, May 20, 1851. (5.) [App. p.636 "(6.)" The chief editions are—a P.F. score of the 2nd arrangement (by Moscheles under B.'s direction) without Overture or Finale, 1810; with them, 1815; both entitled 'Leonore.' A ditto of the 3rd arrangement, entitled 'Fidelio' Aug. 1814. A critical edition by Otto Jahn of the complete work as 'Leonora,' in P.F. score, showing the variations and changes (Breitkopf & Härtel, 1851). An English translation by Oliphant (Addison ft Hollier), and another by Soane, with Preface (Boosey). The 4 overtures are given in the Royal Edition (Boosey).
FIELD, Henry, called 'Field of Bath,' was born Dec. 6, 1797, and died May 19, 1848. Pupil of Coombs of Chippenham. Beyond these facts, and that he was a careful pianist and greatly esteemed as a teacher, there is nothing to explain why he should require to be distinguished from his greater namesake.
FIELD, John, known as 'Russian Field' to distinguish him from Henry Field. Born at Dublin July 26, 1782, died Jan. 11, 1837, at Moscow. To a modern pianist who is aware of Chopin and Liszt, the name of John Field recalls little or nothing beyond 'Field's Nocturnes,'—not the seven concertos, so much admired in their day, nor the three sonatas dedicated to his master Clementi, nor the pianoforte quintet with strings, nor the 'Airs variés,' or 'Polonaise en rondeau,' or similar more or less sentimental inanities,—but Field's Nocturnes pure and simple. And here again, not the entire lot of twenty little sentimental effusions bound up into a nocturnal sheaf, but about half a dozen delicate little lyrics—the nocturnes in A, E♭, C minor, A♭, and B♭ (nos. 4, 7, 2, 3, and 5, in Liszt's edition), the very essence of all idylls and eclogues, 'Poésies intimes' of simple charm and inimitable grace, such as no undue popularity can render stale, no sham imitation nauseous. Both as a player and as a composer Chopin, and with him all modern pianists, are much indebted to Field. The form of Chopin's weird nocturnes, the kind of emotion embodied therein, the type of melody and its graceful embellishments, the peculiar waving accompaniments in widespread chords, with their vaguely prolonged sound resting on the pedals, all this and more we owe to Field.
Field's method of playing, as was to be expected from Clementi's best pupil, was distinguished by the most smooth and equable touch, the most perfect legato, with supple wrists and quiet position of the hands, a suave and singing tone, capable of endless modifications and delicate shades of expression. He is reported to have played his nocturnes with an inexhaustible variety of embellishments, and, like Chopin after him, is said to have preferred the smaller square and upright pianofortes to grands. Schuberth & Co.'s edition of his Nocturnes is prefaced by a charming essay in French on Field and his musical ways, by Franz Liszt, well worth reading.
Field came of a family of musicians. He was the son of a violinist engaged at a theatre in Dublin, who again was the son of an organist. His grandfather taught him the rudiments of music and grounded him on the piano. He told Fétis that both his father and grandfather forced him to practice so unmercifully, that he attempted to run away from home—to which, however, abject misery soon brought him back. The elder Field, who was subsequently engaged as violinist at Bath, and afterwards at the Haymarket Theatre, brought young John to London and apprenticed him (for a premium of 100 guineas) to Clementi, with whom he became a sort of musical salesman in the pianoforte shop of Cle-