Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/430

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��of the last scene of the fifth act (Faust's glori- fication) divided into seven numbers. The ex- periment of constructing a work of art, without central point or connection in itself, but entirely dependent for these on another work of art, could only be successful in the case of a poem like ' Faust ' ; and even then perhaps, only with the German people, with whom Faust is almost as familiar as Luther's Bible. But it really was successful, and Schumann's name will be eternally linked with that of Goethe. This is the case more particularly in the third division, which consists of only one great scene, and is the most important from a musical point of view. In this scene Goethe himself desired the co-operation of music. Its mystic import and splendid expres- sion could find no composer so well fitted as Schumann, who seemed, as it were, predestined for it. He threw himself into the spirit of the poem with such deep sympathy and understand- ing, that from beginning to end his music gives the impression of being a commentary on it. To Schumann is due the chief meed of praise for having popularized the second part of Faust. In musical importance no other choral work of his approaches the third division of his work. In fresh- ness, originality, and sustained power of invention it is in no way inferior to * Paradise and the Peri.' Up to about the latter half of the last chorus it is a chain of musical gems, a perfectly unique contribution to concert literature, in the first rank of those works of art of which the German nation may well be proud. The second division of the Faust music, consisting of three other scenes from the Second Part of the poem, is also of considerable merit. It is, however, evident in many passages that Schumann has set words which Goethe never intended to be sung. This is felt still more in the scenes from the First Part, which are moreover very inferior in respect of the music. The overture is the least important of all; in fact the merit of the work decreases gradually as we survey it backwards from the end to the beginning ; a circumstance corre- sponding to the method pursued in its compo- sition, which began in Schumann's freshest, hap- piest, and most masterly time of creativeness, and ended close upon the time when his noble spirit was plunged in the dark gloom of insanity.

There exist only two dramatic works of Schu- mann's intended for the theatre : the opera of ' Genoveva ' and the music to Byron's ' Manfred.' The text of the opera may justly be objected to, for it scarcely treats of the proper legend of Genoveva at all ; almost all that made the story characteristic and touching being discarded, a fact which Schumann thought an advantage. This may perhaps be explained by remembering his opinion that in an opera the greatest stress should be laid on the representation of the emo- tions, and that this object might most easily be attained by treating the external conditions of an operatic story as simply and broadly as possible. He also probably felt, that a great part of the Genoveva legend is epic rather than dramatic. He was mistaken, however, in thinking that


after the reductions which he made in the plot, it would remain sufficiently interesting to the general public. He himself, as we have said, arranged his own libretto. His chief model was Hebbel's 'Genoveva,' a tragedy which had affected him in a wonderful way ; though he also made use of Tieck's 'Genoveva.' Besides these he took Weber's ' Euryanthe ' as a pattern. The mixture of three poems, so widely differing from one another, resulted in a confusion of motives and an uncertainty of delineation which add to the uninteresting impression produced by the libretto. The character of Golo, particularly, is very in- distinctly drawn, and yet on him falls almost the chief responsibility of the drama. The letails cannot but suffer by such a method of compilation as this. A great deal is taken word for word from Hebbel and Tieck, and their two utterly different styles appear side by side with- out any compromise whatever. Hebbel however predominates. Tieck's work appears in the finale of the first act, and in the duet (No. 9) in the second act, e. g. the line ' Du liebst mich, holde Braut, da ist der Tag begonnen.' Genoveva's taunt on Golo's birth is also taken from Tieck, although he makes the reproach come first from Wolf and afterwards from Genoveva herself, but without making it a prominent motive in the drama. Beside this several Volkslieder are interspersed. This confusion of styles is sur- prising in a man of such fine discrimination and delicate taste as Schumann displays else- where. The chief defect of the opera, however, lies in the music. If ' Paradise and the Peri,' as we have said, may be compared with Weber's ' Oberon,' the one holding the same place in the concert-room that the other does on the stage, Schumann's opera may be compared to one of Weber's concert cantatas say to * Kampf und Sieg.' As Weber always shows himself a dramatic artist even where it is not required, so does Schumann show himself a lyric artist. In the opera of 'Genoveva, 'the characters all sing more or less the same kind of music ; that which Schumann puts to the words is absolute music, not relative, i.e. such as would be accordant with the character of each individual. Neither in outline nor detail is his music sufficiently generated by the situations of the drama. Lastly, he lacks appreciation for that liveliness of con- trast which appears forced and out of place in the concert-room, but is absolutely indispensable on the stage. 'Genoveva' has no strict recita- tives, but neither is there spoken dialogue ; even the ordinary quiet parts of the dialogue are sung in strict time, and usually accompanied with the full orchestra. Schumann considered the recitative a superannuated form of art, and in his other works also makes scarcely any use of it. This point is of course open to dispute ; but it is not open to dispute that in an opera, some kind of calm, even neutral form of expression is wanted, which, while allowing the action to proceed quickly, may serve as a foil to the chief parts in which highly-wrought emotions are to be de- lineated. The want of such a foil in ' Genoveva'

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