Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/595

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




�� �� ��but in some cases also are supplanted by different though kindred forms of expression. In other respects the last movement moved fur- ther away from the conventional type, as by the adoption of the fugal form, or by new use of the Variation-form in a more continuous and con- sistent sense than in early examples. In many cases the movements are made to pass into one another, just as in the earlier stages the strong lines which marked oft' the different sections in the movements were gradually toned down ; and by this means they came to have less of the appearance of separate items than limbs or divi- sions of a complete organism. This is illustrated most clearly by the examples of slow movements which are so modified as to be little more than Intermezzi, or introductory divisions appended to the last movement ; and more strongly by a few cases where the distinct lines of separation are quite done away with, and the entire work becomes a chain of long divisions representing broadly the old plan of four distinct movements with kindred subjects continuing throughout. Since Beethoven the impetus to concentrate and individualise the character of musical works has driven many genuine composers to the adop- tion of forms which are less hampered by any suspicion of conventionality ; and even with sonatas they seemed to have grasped the object in view with less steadiness and consistency than in previous times. Some have accepted the artifice of a programme, others admit some doubtful traits of theatrical origin ; others de- velop poetic and aesthetic devices as their chief end and object, and others still follow up the classical lines, contenting themselves with the opportunities afforded by new and more elabo- rately perfect treatment of details, especially in music for combinations of solo instruments. In the latter case it is clear that the field is more open than in sonatas for single instruments, since the combination of such instruments as the pianoforte and violin or pianoforte and cello in large works has not been dealt with by the great masters so thoroughly and exhaustively as the solo sonata. But in any case it is ap- parent that fresh works of high value on the classical lines can hardly be produced without increasing intellectualism. The origin and reason of existence of abstract music are, at least on one side, intellectual; and though up to a cer- tain point the process of development tended to reduce the intellectual effort by making the structural outlines as clear and certain as pos- sible, when these were decisively settled the current naturally set in the direction of compli- cation. The inevitable process of cumulating one device of art upon another is shown in the free range of modulation and harmony, and in the increasing variety and richness of detail both in the subjects and in the subordinate parts of works. In such cases the formal outlines may cease to be strictly amenable to a definite external theory ; but if they accord with broad general principles, such as may be traced in the history of abstract music so far, and if the total effect is

��extrinsically as well as intrinsically complete and convincing, it appears inevitable to admit the works to the rank of 'Sonatas.' The exact meaning of the term has in fact been enforced with remarkable uniformity during the whole period from the beginning to the present day, and decisively in favour of what is called abstract music. Fair examples of the successful disregard of form in favour of programme or a dramatic conception can hardly be found ; in fact, in the best examples extant, programme is no more than the addition of a name or a story to an otherwise regular formal sonata ; but on the other hand there is plenty of justification of the finest kind for abstract works in free and more original forms, and it rests with composers to justify themselves by their works, rather than for reasoning to decide finally where the limit shall be. [C.H.H.P.]

SONATINA. This is a work in the same form and of the same general character as a sonata, but shorter, simpler, and slenderer. The average form of the sonata appears to be the most successful yet discovered for pure instrumental works of large scope. It is admirably adapted for the expression and development of broad and noble ideas ; and the distribution of the various move- ments, and the clearness with which the main sections and divisions of each movement are marked out, give it a dignity and solidity which seem most appropriate in such circumstances. But the very clearness of the outlines, and the strength of contrast between one division and another, make the form less fit for works of smaller scope. As long as such a work is laid out on a scale sufficiently large to admit variety of treatment and freedom of movement within the limits of these divisions, there is fair chance of the work having musical value proportionate to the composer's capacity; but if the limits are so narrow as to admit little more than mere statement of the usual form, and no more than the conventional order of modulations, the possibilities of musical sense and sentiment are reduced to a minimum, and a want of positive musical interest commonly re- sults. Consequently sonatinas form one of the least satisfactory groups of musical products. The composers who have produced the greatest impression with short and concise movements in modern times have uniformly avoided them, and adopted something of a more free and lyrical cast, in which there is a more appropriate kind of unity, and more of freedom and individuality in the general outlines. It might be quite possible to group these small pieces so as to present a very strong analogy to the sonata on a small scale ; but it has not been attempted, owing possibly to a feeling that certain limitations of style and character are generally accepted in the musical world as appropriate for works of the sonata class, and that it would be superfluous to violate them.

The sonatina form has however proved pe- culiarlv convenient for the making of pieces intended to be used in teaching. The familiar

�� �