Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/675

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�� �� ��SPOHR.

grand Introduction to Jessonda' and the Witches scene in Faust. Some of the airs and duets in these and others of his operas are perfect gems of melody and gracefulness. His oratorios, still enjoying a certain popularity in England, are but rarely heard in other countries. They con- tain no doubt much beautiful music, and occa- sionally rise even to grandeur and sublimity. Yet one cannot help feeling a certain incon- gruity between the character of the words and their musical treatment between the stern solemnity of such subjects as 'Calvary' or 'the Last Judgment' and the quiet charm and sweet- ness of Spohr's music, which even in its most powerful and passionate moments lacks the all- conquering force here demanded.

Of his many songs a few only have attained great popularity, such as ' The Maiden and the Bird,' and some more. A characteristic specimen of his peculiar way of writing for pianoforte, and at the same time of his extreme mannerism, is given in the PF. solo sonata, op. 125, dedicated to Mendelssohn.

As an executant Spohr counts amongst the greatest of all times. Through Franz Eck he received the solid principles of the Mannheim School, and Rode's example appears afterwards to have had some influence on his style. He was

wever too original to remain fettered by any school, still less under the influence of a definite model. He very soon formed a style of his own, which again like his style as a composer was a complete reflex of his peculiar individuality. It lias often been remarked that he treated the violin pre-eminently as a singing instrument, and we can readily believe that the composer of the Scena Cantante and of the slow movements in the pth and other Concertos, played with a breadth and beauty of tone and a delicacy and refinement of ex- pression almost unequalled. A hand of exceptional size and strength enabled him to execute with threat facility the most difficult double-stops and stretches. His manner of bowing did not mate- rially differ from that of the old French School ( Viotti, Rode). Even in quick passages he pre- served a broad full tone. His staccato was most brilliant and effective, moderately quick, every note firmly marked by a movement of the wrist. 1 The lighter and freer style of bowing, that came in with Paganini, and has been adopted more or less by all modern players, was not to his taste. He appears to have had a special dislike to the use of the ' springing bow,' and it is a character- istic fact that, when he first brought out Men- delssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture at Cassel, he insisted on the violins playing the quick passage at the opening with firm strokes.

If Spohr's compositions for the violin do not present abnormal difficulties to the virtuoso of the present day such was not the case at the time when they were written. They were then con- sidered the ne plus ultra of difficulty. We must also remember that he was too great an

An amusing and characteristic passage in his Autobiography (ii. 203) relates the pleasure with which Mendelssohn drew his sister's attention to this staccato, in the Concertino In E, in 1834.



��artist and musician to care for display of execu- tive skill for its own sake, and that in consequence the difficulties contained in his works do not by any means represent the limit of his powers as an executant. He had a large number of pupils, the best known of whom are St. Lubin, Pott, Ferd. David, Kompel, Blagrove, Bott, Bargheer. Henry Holmes belongs to his school, but was never his pupil. Spohr was considered one of the best conductors of his time. An unerring ear, imperturbable rhythmical feeling, energy and fire, were combined with an imposing personal appearance and great dignity of bearing.

As a man he was universally respected, although, owing to a certain reserve in his character and a decided aversion to talking, he has not rarely been reproached with coldness and brusqueness of manner. At the same time he gained and kept through a long life certain intimate friend- ships with Hauptmann 2 and others and in many instances showed great kindness, and ex- tended not a little courtesy, to brother artists. That this was not incompatible with an extra- ordinary sense of his own value and importance is evident in every page of his Autobiography, a most amusing work, deserving a better transla- tion than it has yet found. 8

His works, of which a catalogue is given below, comprise 9 great Symphonies ; a large number of Overtures ; 1 7 Violin-Concertos and Concertinos ; many other Concert pieces (Potpourris, Varia- tions, etc.) for the violin, for violin and harp ; 15 Violin-Duets ; Duets for violin and PF. ; 4 Concertos and other pieces for clarinet ; 33 String Quartets ; 8 Quintets ; 4 Double Quartets ; 5 PF. Trios ; 2 Sextets ; an Octet ; and a Nonet ; 4 great Oratorios ; a Mass ; several Psalms and Cantatas ; 10 Operas ; a great many Songs, Part-Songs and other vocal pieces over 200 works in all.

Catalogue of Spohr's printed Works.

Founded on the Catalogue edited by H. M. Schlet- terer(B.&H., 1881).*

��Op.l. Concerto for Violin (no. 1, Amln.). B. * H.

2. Concerto forV. (no. 2. Dmln.).


3. 3 Duos Concertants for 3 V.


4. 2 String Quartets (0, 6).


6. First Potpourri on Air of Dalayrac for V. with ace. of 2nd V.. Viola, and Bass. Peters.

6. Variations (no. 1. D) for V.

solo. 2nd V., V lola, and Bass. Peters.

7. Concerto for V. (no. 3, Cmin.).


8. Variations (no. 2, A roin.) for

V. solo, 2nd V., Viola, and Bass. Peters.

9. 2 Duos Concertants for 2 V.

(nos. 4, 5). Peters.

10. Concerto for V. (no. 4, B mln.).


11. Quatuor Brillant for 2 V.,

��Viola, and Cello (no. 3, D min.). Simrock.

12. Overture (no. 1, C mln.). Sim


13. Grand Duo for V. and Viola

(no. 6;. Peters.


16. 3 String Quartets (nos. 4, B;

C, A). 1'eters. 15o. Overture (no. 2, D), 'Die

Prttfung. 1 Simrock.

16. Grande Sonate for PF. (or

Harp) and V.(B). Simrock.

17. Concerto for V. (no. 5. Eb).



19. *

20. First Symphony (Bb). Peters.

21. Overture (no. 3, Kb), 'Alruna.'


22. Potpourri on themes of Mo-

zart (no. 2, Bb) for V. with ace. of 2nd V., Viola, and Bass. Andr<.

��2 Hauptmann's letters to Spohr have been published by Schocna and Hlller. 3 Louis Spohr's Autobiography,* Longmans, 1865.

An earlier catalogue, Imperfect but very useful in its time, was that of Jantzen ' Verze'chniss,' etc. Cassel, Luckhardt.

Unknown and not to be found in Schletterer's Catalogue. Prob- ably represented by works left in manuscript.

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