Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/280

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Rome. Pope Pius VIII. died while he was there, and He came in for all the ceremonies of Gregory XVI.'s installation, in addition to the services of Holy Week, etc. These latter he has described in the fullest manner, not only as to their picturesque and general effect, but down to the smallest details of the music, in regard to which he rivalled Mozart's famous feat. [See Miserere.] They form the subject of two long letters to Zelter, dated [1]Dec. 1, 1830, and June 16, 1831; and as all the particulars had to be caught while he listened, they testify in the strongest manner to the sharpness of his ear and the retentiveness of his memory. Indeed it is impossible not to feel that in such letters as these he is on his own ground, and that intense as was his enjoyment of nature, painting, society, and life, he belonged really to none of these things—was 'neither a politician nor a dancer, nor an actor, nor a bel esprit, but a [2]musician.' And so it proved in fact. For with all these distractions his Italian journey was fruitful in work. The 'Walpurgisnight,' the result of his last visit to Weimar, was finished, in its first form, at Milan (the MS. is dated 'Mailand, July 15, 1831'); the 'Hebrides,' also in its first form, is signed 'Rome, Dec. 16, 1830.' The Italian and Scotch Symphonies were begun and far advanced before he left Italy. Several smaller works belong to this period—the Psalm 'Non Nobis' (Nov. 16, 1830); the three church pieces which form op. 23; a Christmas Cantata, still in MS. (Jan. 28, 1831); the Hymn 'Verleih' uns Frieden' (Feb. 10); the 3 Motets for the nuns of the French Chapel: and although few, if any, of these minor pieces can be really said to live, yet they embody much labour and devotion, and were admirable stepping-stones to the great vocal works of his later life. In fact then, as always, he was what Berlioz [3]calls him, 'un producteur infatigable,' and thus obtained that facility which few composers have possessed in greater degree than Mozart and himself. He sought the society of musicians. Besides Berlioz, Montfort, and Benedict, we find frequent mention of Baini, Donizetti, Coccia, and Madame Fodor. At Milan his encounter with Madame Ertmann, the intimate friend of Beethoven, was a happy accident, and turned to the happiest account. There too he met the son of Mozart, and delighted him with his father's Overtures to Don Juan and the Magic Flute, played in his own 'splendid orchestral style' on the piano. Not the least pleasant portions of his letters from Switzerland are those describing his organ-playing at the little remote Swiss churches at Engelberg, Wallenstadt, Sargans, and Lindau—from which we would gladly quote if space allowed.

Nor was his drawing-book idle. Between May 16 and August 24, 1831, 35 sketches are in the hands of one of his daughters alone, implying a corresponding number for the other portions of the tour. How characteristic of his enormous enjoyment of life is the following passage (Sargans, Sept. 3): 'Besides organ playing I have much to finish in my new drawing-book (I filled another completely at Engelberg); then I must dine, and eat like a whole regiment; then after dinner the organ again, and so forget my rainy day.'

The great event of his second visit to Munich was the production (and no doubt the composition) of his G minor Concerto, 'a thing rapidly thrown [4]off,' which he played on Oct. 17, 1831, at a concert which also comprised his Symphony in C minor, his Overture to the Midsummer Night's Dream, and an extempore performance. Before leaving he received a commission [5]to compose an opera for the Munich Theatre. From Munich he travelled by Stuttgart (Nov. 7) and Heidelberg to Frankfort, and thence to Düsseldorf (Nov. 27), to consult Immermann as to the libretto for the Munich opera, and arranged with him for one founded on [6]The Tempest. The artistic life of Düsseldorf pleased him extremely, and no doubt this visit laid the foundation for his future connection with that town.

He arrived in Paris about the middle of December, and found, of his German friends, Hiller and Franck settled there. He renewed his acquaintance with the Parisian musicians who had known him as a boy in 1825, especially with Baillot; and made many new friends, Habeneck, Franchomme, Cuvillon, and others. Chopin, Meyerbeer, Herz, Liszt, Kalkbrenner, Ole Bull, were all there, and Mendelssohn seems to have been very much with them. He went a great deal into society and played frequently, was constantly at the theatre, and as constantly at the Louvre, enjoyed life thoroughly, saw everything, according to his wont, including the political scenes which were then more than ever interesting in Paris; knew everybody; and in fact, as he expresses it, 'cast himself thoroughly into the [7]vortex.' His Overture to The Midsummer Night's Dream was performed at the Société des Concerts (Conservatoire) on Feb. 19, 1832, and he himself played the Concerto of Beethoven in G at the concert of March 18. His Reformation Symphony was rehearsed, but the orchestra thought it too [8]learned, and it never reached performance. His Octet was played in church at a mass commemorative of Beethoven, and several times in private; so was his Quintet (with a new [9]Adagio) and his Quartets, both for strings and for piano. The pupils of the Conservatoire, he writes, are working their fingers off to play 'Ist es [10]wahr?' His playing was applauded as much as heart could wish, and his reception in all circles was of the very best.

On the other hand, there were drawbacks. Edward Ritz, his great friend, died (Jan. 23) while he was there; the news reached him on his birthday. Goethe too died (March 22). The rejection of his Reformation Symphony, the centre of so many [11]hopes, was a disappointment

  1. This was added to the Reisebriefe in a subsequent edition, and is not included in the English translation.
  2. L. Dec. 28, 1831.
  3. Voy. mus. i. 78.
  4. Briefe, ii. 22.
  5. L. Dec. 19. 1831.
  6. L. Dec. 19, 1831; Jan. 11. 1832.
  7. L. Jan. 11, 1832; Dec. 28. 1831.
  8. H. 21.
  9. Written in memory of E. Ritz, and replacing a Minuet in F sharp minor, with Trio in double Canon.
  10. The Lied embodied in the A minor Quartet. See above, p. 260.
  11. H. 21.