The fathers of English Cathedral Music treated Magnificat in a manner peculiarly their own clear in design, pure, solemn, and richly harmonious, but differing in no wise from their rendering of the other Canticles, and demanding no slower Tempo than the rest. The finest of these, which may well bear comparison with the works of the great Flemish and Italian Schools, are to be found in the 'Services' of Tallis, Byrd, Farrant, Tomkins, Bevin, Batten, and Orlando Gibbons. Their number is comparatively small: but it is to be feared that many invaluable compositions of the Elizabethan Æra have been lost to us, through the spoliation of Cathedral Libraries, during the great Rebellion. After the Restoration, the style rapidly deteriorated: and, notwithstanding the efforts of a few talented Composers—especially, Drs. Creyghton, and Croft—who conscientiously followed the precepts of the earlier School, it sank, eventually, so low, that even the platitudes of Kent, and Jackson, fail to represent its latest stages of degradation. Happily, the number of fine examples still remaining is quite sufficient for all practical purposes; and all are now published in cheap, and easily accessible forms.
The text of Magnificat has also been grandly illustrated, by Bach, Mendelssohn, and other Composers of the modern School, in the Oratorio style, with full orchestral accompaniments. For some particulars respecting the history of a Magnificat of this description, which has lately given rise to discussions of more than ordinary interest, see Erba, don dionigi; and Handel (vol. i. p. 491b, and 654, note). [App. p.708 "Add to references at end of article, Israel in Egypt, vol. ii. p. 25, Oratorio, vol. ii. p. 546, and Handel, vol. iv. p. 664."]
[ W. S. R. ]
MAGYAR (Hungarian) MUSIC. The most important part of the national music of Hungary is so called because it proceeds from the Magyar portion of the inhabitants. 'The so-called Hungarian style of music,' says the writer of two excellent articles on this subject in the Monthly Musical Record for February and March, 1877, 'as it has come to be recognised, cannot by any means be regarded as indigenous, but may most properly be briefly defined as the product of a commixture of several races. More than one-fourth of the population of Hungary proper (i.e. Transleithan Hungary, as it has come to be called since its union with the Austrian empire in 1869) consists of Magyars, the descendants of the ancient Scythians of the Tartar-Mongolian stock, who, after wandering from the Ural mountains to the Caspian Sea, and thence to Kiov, established themselves in Hungary in the ninth century. The remainder of the population is made up of Slavs, Germans, Wallachians, Jews, and Gipsies. Of this mixed population, the Magyars, as the dominant lords of the soil, and the Gipsies, as the privileged musicians of the country, are in the main to be regarded as the joint originators of the national style.'
The union of these two latter races resulted in the combination of their musical characteristics. That of the Magyar music is the peculiarity of its rhythms, and that of the Gipsy music is the presence of turns, embellishments, and 'grace-notes' added to and built upon the melody, and eventually becoming a most important feature in it.
This latter peculiarity, together with the scale which is characteristic of Hungarian music—a scale with two superfluous seconds, or the harmonic minor with a sharp fourth—
seem to indicate an Asiatic origin. (The ordinary European scales are also in use.) These two chief characteristics will be examined in order.
I. The rhythms, of Magyar origin. The great distinctive feature of the bar-rhythms is syncopation, generally consisting of the accentuation of the second quaver in the bar of 2-4 time (the rhythm known as alla zoppa, 'in a limping way'), but sometimes extending over larger spaces, as in No. 2 of the Ungarische Tänze of Brahms, bars 1-2, 5-6, etc., where the syncopation extends over two bars. Even where the melody is without syncopation, the accompaniment almost always has it. The phrase-rhythms are not confined to strains of 4 and 8 bars, but phrases of 3, 5, 6, and 7 bars are not unfrequently to be met with. There is no more beautiful example of 7-bar rhythm (although not professedly Hungarian in character) than the second of Schumann's Stücke im Volkston for piano and violoncello, in F major. As examples of 3- and 6-bar rhythms may be cited the third and first of Brahms's Ungarische Tänze, and of 5-bar rhythm, the second part of the following melody ('Beszegödtem Tarnóczàra'), the first part being a phrase of 6 bars.
3-4 time, and consequently 6-8, is unknown in genuine Magyar music, although some modern Hungarian composers have introduced it in slow movements. A very beautiful rhythm of seven in a bar (written, for greater clearness, as a bar of 3-4 followed by a bar of common time) occurs in the 'Hungarian Song' on which Brahms has written variations, Op. 21, No. 2.
II. The turns and embellishments added to the melody, of Gipsy, and hence Oriental, origin.
This peculiarity has been observed by travellers in India, who say that in the performance of the natives any embellishments and 'fioriture' are permitted to be introduced at the will of the performer, provided only that the time of
- The proportion appears to be more like one half than a quarter.