Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/413

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

Of three Kinderlieder (529, 596, 598) the second, 'Komm' lieber Mai,' still survives; nor will the 'Wiegenlied' (350) be forgotten. Goethe's 'Veilchen' (476) is perfection, and shows what Mozart could have produced in this direction. Many spurious Lieder have been published under his name; there are 38 in Köchel's Catalogue (Anhang V. Nos. 246–283). The canons require sifting; even Byrd's 'Non nobis Domine' has been set to German words, and ascribed to him. Several are composed to words in the Viennese dialect, and the effect is quite neutralised by the modern drawing-room text which is often substituted. 'Difficile lectu mihi Mars' (559) is a comic canon, followed on the reverse side of the sheet by 'O du eselhafter [1]Peyerl' (560). The double canon on 'Lebet wohl, wir sehn uns wieder' and 'Heult noch gar wie alte Weiber,' written on taking leave of Doles at Leipzig, is well-known.

As we have seen already, he was frequently called upon to write airs for concerts, and for insertion in operas: many of these still bear repetition; for instance, the soprano-airs 'Mi sera dove son' (369), 'Non temer amato bene' with P.F. [App. p.720 "violin"] obligato (505), 'Un moto di gioja' (579), 'Bella mia fiamma' (528), one of his finest airs; the tenor air 'Per pietà' (420), and the bass airs 'Non so d'onde viene' (512), 'Mentre ti lascio' (513), and 'Per questa bella mano' with double-bass obligato (612).

To prepare the way for his Masses we must first consider his Church music of various kinds. First and foremost come the Litanies and Vespers, each a complete whole formed of several independent parts. The chief characteristic of the Litania de venerabili is solemnity, and of the Lauretanae or Marienlitanei, tenderness; and these Mozart has succeeded in preserving. [See Litany.] Of the latter, the first, in B♭, composed in 1771, already shows fluency in partwriting, and mastery of form and modulation; but the second, in D (195), composed in 1774, is far more important, the voices being treated contrapuntally with independent orchestra. We have also two litanies de venerabili in B♭ and E♭ (125, 143), composed in 1772 and 1776, the lapse of time between the two being clearly marked in the compositions themselves. The fine choruses in Nos. 3 and 5 of the latter, point to the Requiem, and like the fugue 'Pignus futurae' almost startle by their power, as does also the opening of the 'Panis vivus,' identical with the 'Tuba mirum ' in the Requiem. A still stronger sense of the dignity of church music is shown in two vespers in C (321, 339) composed in 1779 and 1780, the greater part of both thoroughly deserving a place among his most important works. The 'Confitebor' in the first, and 'Laudate pueri' and 'Laudate Dominum' in the latter, are real gems. The motet 'Misericordias Domine' (222), an exercise for Padré Martini, who gave him a brilliant testimonial for it in 1775, is in strict counterpoint throughout. In 1776 he composed a 'Venite populi' for double chorus; the parts are in imitation, strict or free, and the whole work teems with force and freshness. A list of innumerable small pieces of church music closes with the angelic motet 'Ave verum' (618), composed on the 18th of June, 1791, at Baden, near Vienna.

His first Masses (49, 65, 66), written while he was still a mere boy, show how thoroughly he had mastered the forms then in use for that style of music. We pass at once to the 6th [2]Mass, in F (192), the whole of which is in counterpoint, with only two violins, bass, and organ as accompaniment. This mass, in which the master-hand is clearly discernible, recalls the finest models of the old Neapolitan school, and justly ranks next to the Requiem; the Credo is based throughout on the subject so well-known in the finale to the Jupiter Symphony. The next, [3]in D (194), is also next in order of merit; it has perhaps more grace, but less earnestness and ideality. These two masses show what he was capable of in church music when unfettered; but in the [4]five which followed (220, 257–259, 262) he was forced to suit his patron's taste by aiming at display, and the result is less fortunate. Unhappily these being his best-known masses, are generally taken as his standard church works. Hardly more important are the next [5]three (275, 317, 337), although Mozart himself seems to have had a preference for the first, in B♭, since he chose it to conduct himself in 1791. The second, in C, composed in 1779, is called the 'Coronation-mass,' why, nobody knows; the third, also in C, was composed in 1780, and all three fulfil the conventional requirements, but seldom show a glimpse of the true Mozart, and then only in court uniform. We have already mentioned the last mass, in C minor (427), and the circumstances under which it was written. It is broadly designed, each section being treated as a separate movement, and the whole bears clear traces of his studies at the time (1783) with van Swieten. It is to be regretted that it was never finished; the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus alone are complete; the Credo is only half done. Very remarkable are the inequality of the different movements, the large dimensions of the choruses and fugues, and the bravura style of the solos. The Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus are excellent, the five-part Gratias, and the eight-part Qui tollis, of incomparable beauty.

We now come to the Requiem, that work of pain, which he was not permitted to finish. The following pieces are in his own handwriting: (1) Requiem and Kyrie, complete; (2) voice-parts, organ, and notes of the accompaniment of Nos. 2 to 9, as follows—'Dies irae, 68 bars; Tuba mirum, 62; Rex tremendae, 22; Recordare, 130; Confutatis, 40; Lacrymosa, 8; Domine,

  1. Referring to the defective utterance of Peyerl, the tenor.
  2. Mozart's Masses, arranged by V. Novello. No. 3.
  3. Novello, No. 6.
  4. The second, in B♭ (257; Novello 2), is called the 'Credo Mass,' from the peculiar treatment of the Credo. It is printed in a very mutilated form; even the characteristic subject to the Credo itself being left out whenever possible. The much-used subject from the Jupiter Symphony is introduced again in the Sanctus.
  5. Novello 10, 1, 14.