Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/304

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intendence of its author. It is plain, therefore, that he took care to study the rules, before he broke them : and, that his Counterpoint, at any rate, was not uninfluenced by his predecessors. In like manner, he is constantly glorified for his 'freedom from set forms.' Yet no one ever more thoroughly understood, or more deeply valued, the orthodox Sonata-form, than he. Here, again, he was neither ashamed to learn from his predeces- sors, nor to acknowledge the obligation. How, then, can a writer, who hands down no new prin- ciple, be said to have founded a new School ? Our answer to this question involves no anomaly : for, the School of which we are now speaking differed from those which preceded it in its aesthetic character only. Beethoven was, em- phatically, a Child of Genius not a Votary of Science. His fathomless Imagination the most prominent feature of his style was the free gift of Nature. His power of conception cost him nothing. But, for the Art which enabled him to set forth his ideas with such perfect logical ac- curacy that no intelligent mind can fail to under- stand them, he found it necessary to work and that with the most indefatigable industry. And, in acquiring that Art, he discovered what no one else had before suspected that the Sonata- form was not only the most symmetrical, but also the most elastic in existence. These con- siderations enable us to sum up the results of our enquiry in a very few words. In his mechanism, Beethoven was influenced by the Schools of the i8th century. In his imaginative power, he stood alone. In the elasticity he im- parted to the Forms of his predecessors, he laid the foundation of a Style before unknown. And the influence of that Style not only separated the later School of Vienna from every system that had preceded it, but extended rapidly to every other centre of production in Europe, and before many years had passed, exercised an authority which may fairly be described as universal.

XXXI. THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL followed the profoundly Imaginative Style of which we have been speaking, so closely, that it may almost be said to form part of it. We have, indeed, mentioned Weber as the undoubted Founder of Romantic Opera. But, Romanticism exhibits itself in Instrumental, as well as in Dramatic Music : and, without the elasticity of Form suggested by Beethoven, its manifestation, in the Sonata, the Symphony, or even the Overture, would have been impossible. 1

Let us clearly understand the distinction be- tween Romantic Music, properly so called, and Music that is purely Imaginative. In poetical expression, in depth of feeling, in direct appeal to the varied emotions which excite the human soul to highest exaltation or profoundest de- pression, the two styles possess so many at- tributes in common, that the superficial observer is in constant danger of mistaking the one for the other: but no careful critic can be thus easily misled, for, even when both styles are

l See Tol. . pp. 520-523 ; vol. ill. pp. 148-152.


present as they very frequently are in the same work, they are separated by a line of de- marcation as clearly recognisable as that which distinguishes the Major from the Minor Mode. The actual thought may be as wild, as visionary, as mysterious, as far removed from the surround- ings of ordinary life, in the one case, as in the other. The Imaginative Composer's idea is fre- quently even more ' romantic ' using the word in its every-day sense than that of his brother Artist. But, it is not treated in the same way. The Romantic Composer paints his picture with the richest colours his orchestral palette can command; horrifies us with the depth of his sombre shadows ; enthrals our senses with his most delicious fancies ; excites us to delirium with a crash of Trumpets ; or drives us to despair with the roll of a muffled Drum. If he be a true Master, he depicts the Scene before him with such exceeding clearness that it becomes a visible reality to the dullest of his hearers ; a living truth presented to the eye, through the medium of the ear. But, he neither expects nor desires that his audience shall see the picture in any other light than that in which he presents it : and, in point of fact, his influence over others will generally be found to bear a direct relation to the clearness of his power of definition. The Imaginative Composer, on the other hand, de- fines nothing. The Scene he would depict has no real existence. Its details, drawn entirely from the region of his own individual Fancy, can be comprehended only by those who are able to follow him into that region. Unable to commu- nicate the thought which underlies them, in words, he expresses it in Music ; enduing sound with all the passionate yearnings denied to human language ; conveying his hearers into a world filled with utterances of a meaning too subtle to be clothed in speech ; and thus for ever dwelling in depths of Poetry accessible only to those who can think, and feel, while the vulgar are content to stare. There is nothing anta- gonistic between these two great phases of modern musical thought. They both have the same high aim; and they both deal with the same lofty subjects. But, the treatment of the one is ob- jective ; and that of the other, subjective. The one busies itself with the Seen ; the other, with the Unseen. Yet, strange to say, the greatest Masters have been Masters of both. We need only cite two Symphonies of Beethoven, in illus- tration of our meaning. The man who, listening to the ' Sinfonia Pastorale,' cannot see the beau- tiful landscape, sit down beside the brook, dance with the peasants, get drenched through and through with the storm, and give thanks to God when the rainbow first gleams in the sky, must be dead alike to every sense of Poetry and of Art. How different is the Symphony in A! We cannot tell no human tongue can tell, in words the meaning of the wonderful Allegretto. No language can express the depth of thought enshrined in that awful episode in the delicious Scherzo, universally recognised as the highest manifestation of the Sublime as yet afforded by

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