Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/622

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



�� ���It may safely be asserted that 9 out of every 1 2 Scandinavian songs are in the minor. Many begin in the major and end in the minor, or vice versa. Others recall the old church scales, espe- cially the Mixolydian and Phrygian Modes ; for instance, this Danish song which begins and ends thus


��They are also more frequently in simple time (usually 2-4) than any other. 1 The affinity be- tween Danish songs and those of Wales, Scotland, and even England, is very remarkable. Many of the tunes are almost identical, and the words often relate to the same subjects.

The so-called Scandinavian school of music is of very recent birth, for until the close of the hist century it was greatly under foreign influences. Thus during the i6th century the court-music of Denmark was chiefly in the hands of Flemish musicians ; whilst in the 1 7th, Dowland and many other Englishmen, besides French, Polish, and Italian musicians, visited the capital. The latter part of the i;th and the first half of the i8th were monopolised by the ballet, and French melodies were heard to the exclusion of all others. A fresh impulse was given to northern music by the operas and Singspiele of German composers, such as B. Keiser, J. A. P. Schulz, and Kunzen. The imitations of these by Weyse and Kuhlau, and Kuhlau's romantic play, ' Der Elfenhugel' (1828), were the first to introduce the Scandinavian Volkslied on the stage. The first compositions in which the vernacular was used were the sacred and secular cantata.

But the chief impulse towards a national Scandinavian school was given by the literature of the country. Towards the end of the i8th century the didactic school of poetry began to give way to a fresher, more natural and lyrical style, and by the beginning of the igih (in- fluenced perhaps by the Romanticism ' of Ger- many), a great intellectual and national movement

i See Engei. 'National Music,' pp. 84. 174.


began in Northern poetry. It was greatly pro- moted in Denmark by Oehlenschliiger ; and in Sweden by the founding of the so-called Gotiska forbundet (or Gothic union). About this time the first collections of Swedish and Danish national songs appeared. Poets and musicians became interested in the old epics and ballads with their beautiful melodies and their wealth of new materials, both in ideas and form, and hastened to avail themselves of the treasure. Thus, within the last hundred years a new school of music has arisen, containing in its ranks the distinguished names of Lindblad, Gado, Grieg, Kjerulf, and others.

Sweden. The Song first received artistic treat- ment in Sweden in the latter decades of the last century. Among the earliest song-writers is Carl M. Bellman, the author of the celebrated Bell- manslied. 3 Olof Ahlstrom, Dupuy, and Crusell, all wrote songs in the early part of this century, but the first composers who drank in the romantic, national spirit, and sang the beautiful cha- racteristic song-melodies of Sweden, were Nord- blom, Blidberg, Arlberg, Arrhen von Kapfelmann, Handel, Wennerberg, Josephson, Sodermann, T. Soderberg, Runeberg, L. Norman, and above all A. F. Lindblad. The songs of the latter com- poser have a widespread and well-merited fame, for not only do they bear a strong national stamp, but are also, apart from their nationality, really beautiful and poetical compositions. Among the most interesting are those to Atterbom's words, especially ' Trohet ' ; 3 and others worthy of men- tion are 'Nara,' 'Brollopp-farden,' 'Saknad,' 'O kom, nej drb'j ' (one of Mendelssohn's especial favourites), 'Am Aarensee,' 'En Vardag,' 'En Sommardag.' Great service was also rendered to the Song by the collections of Swedish Volks- lieder made by Afzelius, Dybeck, Arwidsson, and others.

Norway. The same service was rendered to Nor- wegian national airs by L. M. Lindemann, who also composed several sacred songs. Pre-eminent among Scandinavian composers are the two Norwe- gians, Kjerulf (1815-1868) and Grieg. Kjerulf s exquisite lyrics are at last receiving their due share of attention. Their long neglect is the more strange when we examine his two books of ' Sanger och Visor,' Lately published by Hirsch (Stockholm). The beauty of such songs as 'Lok- kende Toner ' ; ' Karlekspredikan ' ; ' Ved Sjoen den morke,' op. 6, no. 2 ; 'Natten paa Fjorden,' op. 15, no. 6 ; ' Mit Hjerte og min Lyre ' (My heart and lute 4 ), op. 1 6, no. 2; 'Serenade,' op. 16, no. 4 ; 'Saknaden,' op. 18, no. i; 'Eremiten,' op. 18, no. 2, can hardly be overrated.

Grieg's lyrical songs are universally known;

2 Carl Michael Bellman, 1740-1795, was a very remarkable and original lyrical genius. It is true that he was more of a poet than a musician, for he himself wrote most of his wonderful ' Fredmans Bpistlar ' and ' Singer ' (among which the splendid humorous pictures from the life of the people in Stockholm are especially noticeable) ; but he set them chiefly to popular French melodies, which were at that time greatly in vogue. His original melodies are inferior to those he borrowed from foreign sources.

3 On the death of the poet's wife, whose friend he was.

4 Kjerulf seems to have had a special prelerence for English poets, many of his finest songs being set to the words of Moore, Bjron, Burns, and Mackay.

�� �