Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/221

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

solemn and elaborate choruses into some of his operas ; but, though excellent in their kind, they never had a good effect; the mixture of English singers with the Italian, as well as the awkward figure they cut as actors, joined to the difficulty of getting their parts by heart, rendered those compositions ridiculous which in still life would have been admirable.' In Paris they managed these things better, for in all the operas of Sac- chini's which were composed or arranged for the French stage, choruses are used largely and with admirable effect, while in ' (Edipe ' they are the principal feature. A somewhat similar transition to this is apparent in comparing Piccinni's earlier and later works ; but his French operas are only Italian ones modified and enlarged. Sacchini had far more dramatic spirit, and took more kindly to the change. He bears the kind of relation to Gluck that Piccinni does to Mozart, but he approached his model more nearly, for he handled Gluck's theory almost as well as Gluck himself: had he possessed the one thing lacking force of originality, there might have been more in his works for ' criticism to censure,' but they might not now have been forgotten. As it was, they made a hard struggle for life. The ' (Edipe ' was continuously on the boards of the Acade'mie for 43 years (from 1787 to 1830), which can be said of no other opera. During this time it had 583 representations. It was revived in July 1843, and was performed six times in that year and once in May, 1844.

Sacchini understood orchestral as well as choral effect. His scores are small, oboes, horns, and sometimes trumpets and bassoons, being the only additions to the string quartet, but the treat- ment is as effective as it is simple. His part- writing is pure and good, while the care and finish evident in his scores is hard to reconcile with the accounts of his idle and irregular ways. The same technical qualities are shown in his compositions for the church, which in other ways are less distinguished than his operas from con- temporary works of a similar kind.

Much of Sacchini's music is lost. Fe'tis gives a list of 21 sacred compositions, and the names of 41 operas, the chief of which have been mentioned here, but Burney puts the number of these much higher. The last of them, 'Arvire et Evelina,' was left unfinished. It was completed by J. B. Rey, and performed with success after the composer's death (April 29, 1788). He also left six trios for two violins and bass ; six quartets for two violins, tenor and bass ; and two sets, each of six harpsichord sonatas, with violin, as well as twelve sonatas (ops. 3 and 4) for clavier aolo. These were all published in London. One of the sonatas, in F, is included in Pauer's 'Alte Meister.' [See the list, vol. ii. 247 6.] A couple of cavatinas are given by Gevaert in his ' Gloires d'ltalie,' and an antiphon for two voices by Choron in his ' Journal de Chant.' [F.A.M.]

SACKBUT (Fr. Saguebute, Samlmque ; Span. Sacabuche ; Ital. Trombone ; Ger. Posaune). An old name for the Trombone or Bass-trumpet. There is good evidence that, besides the Tuba and Lituus, the Romans had instruments of the trumpet family, provided with a slide for altering their pitch. Indeed a fine specimen, discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum, and presented to George III. is now in possession of Her Majesty the Queen. Some such instrument was known to Shakespeare, who has the passage :

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes Make the sun dance. Coriolanut.

It is also named by Burton in his ' Anatomy of Melancholy': 'As he that plaies upon a Sagbut by pulling it up and down alters his tones and tunes.' The word translated Sackbut in the English Bible is sdbeca, which was probably a stringed instrument, and which some identify with the ffafji&vKr) of the Greeks.

It is a singular fact that the sackbut or trom- bone, though known in Germany, a century ago had in this country fallen into disuse. This is clearly proved by the following extract from Dr. Burney's 'Account of the musical performances in Westminster Abbey and the Pantheon on May 26, 27, 29, and June 3 and 5, 1784' :

In order to render the band as powerful and complete as possible it was determined to employ every species of instrument that was capable of producing grand effects in a great orchestra and spacious building. Among these the SACBUT or DOUBLE TRUMPET was sought: but so many years had elapsed since it had been used in this kingdom, that neither the instrument nor a performer upon it could easily be found. It was how- ever discovered . . that in his Majesty's private military band there were six musicians who played the three several species of sacbut, tenor, bass, and double bass. 1

On referring to the band-list the following entry is found :


Mr. Karst.


Mr. Moeller. Neibour.

Mr. Pick.


These performers played on other instruments when the Sacbuts were not wanted.

For musical details, see TROMBONE. [W.H.S.]

SACRED HARMONIC SOCIETY. This Society was originated by Thomas Brewer, Joseph Hart, W. Jeffreys, Joseph Surman, .and Cockerell, who first met, with a view to its establishment, on Aug. 21, 1832. Its practical operations did not however commence until Nov. 20 following. Its first meetings were held in the chapel in Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, many years since converted into a music hall. Its first concert was given in the chapel on Tuesday evening, Jan. 15, 1833. The pro- gramme comprised selections from Handel's 'Messiah' and 'Funeral Anthem,' and from Perry's 'Fall of Jerusalem' and 'Death of Abel,' with Attwood's Coronation Anthem, ' O Lord, grant the king a long life,' and the hymn

1 'The most common S&cbut, which the Italians call Trombone, and the Germans Posaune, is an octave below the common trumpet ; its length eight feet when folded, and sixteen straight. There is a manual by which a note can be acquired a fourth lower than the usual lowest sound on the trumpet, ar<d all the tones and semitones of the common scale.' (Footnote in the original.)