Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/528

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



��institution has been faithfully adhered to. Its exertions for the spread of Handel's oratorios throughout Germany have been most successful, and indeed the promotion of this special branch of art is the most essential feature of the Sing- akademie. Less favourable results have been at- tained with regard to Bach, whose church com- positions have been treated as concert pieces, which in many cases puts them in an entirely wrong aspect. The first performance of Bach's Matthew- Passion in 1829 is well known, and indeed marks an epoch, but the chief credit is due, not to the Singakademie, but to the con- ductor of the performance, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

The Berlin Singakademie has served as a model for most of the vocal unions of Germany. Its structure is exceedingly simple, the governing body consisting of a director, who has charge of all musical matters, and a committee of members (ladies as well as gentlemen) who manage the business. All of these are elected at general meetings. Since 1815 the director has had a fixed salary out of the funds of the society. New members are admitted by the director and the committee. There is a special practice on Wed- nesdays for less advanced members, who must attain a certain amount of proficiency at this, before being allowed to join the main body. The numbers rose in 1788 to 114, in 1813 to 301, in 1827 to 436, and in 1841 to 618. At the present moment there are 600 members.

Fasch died in 1800, and was succeeded in the directorship by his pupil Carl Friedrich Zelter. An attempt to bring in Mendelssohn having failed, Zelter was succeeded by Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen (1832 to 1851) and he by Eduard August Grell, who relinquished the directorship in 1876 on account of his advanced age, but re- tains a seat and vote in the committee, with the title of honorary director. Martin Blumner, the present conductor, was born in 1827, an( ^ a P' pointed in 1876. [P.S.]

SINGSPIEL. This term has been in use in Germany for the last 300 years to denote a dra- matic representation with music ; not any one particular kind singing being capable of being employed in such various ways but any enter- tainment in which spoken dialogue and singing alternate. In time speech gave way at intervals not only to singing, but to singing by several voices at once. Later, when the spoken dialogue had been brought into entire subjection to music, as was the case in Italy after the revolution effected in the whole nature of dramatic representation by the rise of opera, not only concerted vocal pieces were introduced into the German Singspiel, but instrumental music and its protege" monody as well. We find the earliest traces of the Singspiel in the German miracle-plays, which were gra- dually developed outside the churches from the Passions given inside them. The Passions were sung throughout, while in the miracle-plays spoken words in German were introduced, the singing still being in Latin, as for example in the 'Ludus paschalis de passione Domini, MS. of


the 1 3th century. In course of time the Latin text, and consequently the music, was thrust into the background. In a 14th-century MS. called ' Marienklage,' preserved in the convent of Lichtenthal near Baden, Mary sings in Ger- man. Indeed we already find the typical Ger- man miracle-play in the ' Spiel von den zehn Jungfrauen' performed at Eisenach in 1322, in which all the words sung are German. These plays were generally performed on the eves of the great festivals, such as Whit Sunday, Epi- phany, etc. Gradually the ecclesiastical element disappeared, leaving only the secular, and thus originated the Shrove Tuesday plays, in which the characteristics of whole classes of society, priests, doctors, travelling scholars, etc., were held up to ridicule. Nuremberg and Augsburg were specially celebrated for these plays, written for the most part by Hans Bosenblut (about 140.5), Hans Folz of Worms (about 1480), both living in Nuremberg, and Nicolaus Mercator. They gra- dually however degenerated into obscene pieces, until in the i6th century Hans Sachs and Jakob Ayrer (both of whom introduced music into their plays) started the movement which ended in the reformation of the German stage. By Ayrer we still have a ' Schb'ns neus singets Spiel,' ' Der Munch im Kesskorb,' sung in 1618 by five per- sons 'entirely on the melody of the English Roland.' This melody is repeated 54 times, and one cannot help suspecting that the English stage was to some extent Ayrer' s model. A reaction from these 'people's plays' (as they might be called) was caused by the ' school plays ' in Latin, annually performed by the pupils of the Jesuits. Between the acts Ger- man interludes with music were introduced, and these were virtually Singspiele in the modern sense. The first Singspiel in imitation of the Italian opera without any spoken dialogue was ' Dafne,' written by Martin Opitz and com- posed by Heinrich Schiitz in 1627; unfortun- ately this has been lost. The earliest instance of an independent German Singspiel with singing and spoken dialogue was 'Seelewig,' a sacred Waldgedicht or Freudenspiel. In a spoken play of Harsdorffer's (1644) were introduced Arias after the Italian manner, composed (see Eitner's 'Monatsheft fur Musikgeschichte,' 1881, nos. 4, 5, 6), by Siegmund Gottlieb Staden (born in 1607 at Nuremberg, succeeded his father as organist of St. Sebald in 1634, and died in 1655). The piece is intended for private perform- ance, and written for 3 trebles, 2 altos, 2 tenors, I bass, 3 violins, 3 flutes, 3 reeds, and one large horn, the bass being taken throughout by a theorbo. No two voices ever sing at the same time, and the instruments have short sympho- nies to themselves. The only regular stage at that time was the Italian opera-house of each capital (that of Vienna being built in 1651, and that of Dresden in 1667) and of Nuremberg and other Imperial cities. The German Singspiel found a home in Hamburg in the theatre built in 1678, but soon encountered a formidable rival in German opera, founded by Reinhard Keiser.

�� �