Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/581

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�� ��SONATA.

and energy are apparent, and make his treatment of the form a model in its particular line.

The slow movements of all the composers of sonatas till Beethoven's time are rather artificial and inclined to pose, owing partly to tha weakness and want of sustaining power in their instru- ments. They contain too little of the deep and liberal feeling which is necessary to make the highest impression, and too much decorative fin- ger-play, corresponding no doubt to the roulades and vocal gymnastics for which operatic singers found such admirable opportunities in the slow beats of adagios. Haydn's management of such things is artistic, and he occasionally strikes upon an interesting subject, but hardly any of the movements approach to the qualities expected in the ideal slow movement of modern times.

His distribution of the keys of the movements is simple. In some of the earlier Sonatas all three are in the same, or major and minor of the same key. In more mature examples he adopts the familiar antithesis of subdominant, which in later works preponderates so strongly. In one case he adopts a very unusual antithesis. This is in the largest and most elaborate of all the sonatas, of which the first and last movements are in E b, and the middle movement in E P.

One point requires notice in connection with his violin sonatas, viz. that they are the very re- verse of those of the great school of half a century earlier ; for inasmuch as with them the violin was everything, with Haydn it was next to nothing. Except in obviously late sonatas it does little more than timidly accompany the pianoforte. It was in this manner that the violin, having departed grandly by the front door in the old style, crept back again into modern instrumental music by the back. But small as such beginnings were, Haydn's later and fuller examples are the osten- sible starting-point of a class of music which in the present century has extended the domain of the solo sonata, by enlarging its effective scope, and obtaining a new province for experiment in the combination of other instruments with the pianoforte upon equal terms, and with equal respect to their several idiosyncrasies.

John Christian Bach, the youngest son of John Sebastian, was Haydn's contemporary and junior by three years. In his day he was con- sidered an important composer for the pianoforte, and his style is held to have had some influence upon Mozart. A sonata of his, in Bb, op. 17, is fluent and easily written, but not particularly interesting, and thoroughly in the style of the latter part of the i8th century. It consists of three movements, all in binary form of the older type. Another sonata, in C minor, is, for the date, in very singular form; beginning with a slow movement, having a fugue in the middle, and ending with a 'Tempo di Gavotta.' Its style is not strikingly massive, but there are many traits in it which show that his parentage was not entirely without influence. The fugue, though ably written, has too much of the hybrid effect common in such works, after the harmonic structural ideas had laid strong hold of men's



��minds, to be worthy of comparison with the genuine achievements of his father. The style of the work is broad, however, and some ideas and turns of expression may not unreasonably be taken to justify the influence attributed to him.

The difference of age between Haydn and Mozart was twenty-four years, but in this interval there was less change in the form of the sonata than might be expected. It was, in fact, an almost stationary period, when the attainment of satis- factory structural principles by the labours of a century and more of composers left men time to pause and contemplate what appeared to them to be perfection ; the rhythmic wave of progress poised almost balanced for a short time before the rush which brought about an unexpected culmination in Beethoven.

The difference between Haydn and Mozart is plainly neither in structure nor altogether in style of thought and expression, but in advantages of temporal position. Haydn began nearer to the time of struggle and uncertainty. He found much ready to his hand, and he tested it and applied it, and improved it ; and when Mozart came there was little to do but adapt his supreme gifts of fluency, clearness, and beauty of melody to glorify the edifice.

The progression of artistic instinct is at pre- sent an unexplained phenomenon; it can only be judged from observation that the children of a later generation are born with a predisposed facility to realise in perfect clearness the forms which preceding generations have been wander- ingly and dimly striving after. It is possible that the affinity between genuine music and the mental conditions of the race is so close that the progress of the latter carries the former with it as part of the same organic development. At all events, Mozart was gifted with an extraordinary and hitherto unsurpassed instinct for formal per- fection, and his highest achievements lie not more in the tunes which have so captivated the world, than in the perfect symmetry of his best works. Like Haydn, his ideas are naturally restricted within limits which simplify to the utmost the development of the form which follows from them. They move in such perfect obedience to the limits and outlines of the harmonic progressions which most certainly characterise the key, that the structural system becomes architecturally patent and recognisable to all listeners that have any understanding. In his time these formal outlines were fresh enough to bear a great deal of use without losing their sweetness ; and Mozart used them with remarkable regularity. Out of thirty- six of his best-known sonatas, twenty-nine are in the now familiar order of three movements, and no less than thirty-three have the first movement in binary form. That binary form is moreover so regular, that the same pauses and the same suc- cessions of harmony, and the same occurrences of various kinds, may often be safely anticipated at the same point in the progress of the move- ments. He makes some use, often conspicuously, of the device of repeating short phrases con-

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