Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/709

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ChrysanJer speaks of an opera ' Der siegende Alcides,' as probably of the year 1694, but it is not in the collections of scores, nor is it mentioned in the five volumes of favourite arias and duets by Stetfani brought from Hanover by George I., and now in the musical library at Buckingham Palace. It was however given in Hamburg two years later as an opera by Mauro and Steffani ; the book arranged from Quinault's ' Alceste,' as written for Lulli.

It was in the next year that Steffani issued his celebrated pamphlet, entitled ' Quanto certezza h;ibbia da suoi Principii la Musica, ed in qual premie fosse percio presso gli Antichi. Amster- dam, 1695. Risposta di D. A. Steffani Abbate di Lepsing Protonotario della San Sede Aposto- lica. Ad una lettera del S". March . A. G. In difesa d'una Proposizione sostenuta da lui in una Assemblea Hannovera Sett. 1694. 72 pp. in 12.' It was translated twice into German ; in 1699 by Andreas Werckmeister at Quedlinburg; in 1760 by Jean Laurent Albrecht at Mil hlhausen . Padre Martini says it was printed ' da otto volte,' which h;is been assumed by Burney to mean that it was printed eight different times, whereas it simply signifies that it was printed in octavo ! In this pamphlet he ably discusses the question whether music exists only in the imagination, or is grounded on nature and science. It is need- less to say that he upholds the dignity of the art in all its bearings. In 1695 we have the opera ' I trionfi del Fato, o le glorie d'Enea,' another charming work. It found its way to Hamburg in 1699. An P era * n l ac * 'Bac- canali,' was also composed this year for the small theatre in Hanover. It is a work of great beauty, and contains the first notes of Handel's 4 Let the bright Seraphim/ 2 m . Air de Ballet.

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��For the Carnival of 1696 the grand opera of ' Briseide ' was composed, the words by Palmieri, Comes Italus. No composer's name is mentioned, and Chrysander thinks it is not by Steffani; but the two scores and collections of Steffani's songs at Buckingham Palace leave little doubt on ex- amination that it is his work, and in his usual manner. We may add that it contains the first ideas of Handel's ' ruddier than the cherry ' and 'How beautiful.' These were the golden days of the opera in Hanover.

A change was now about to take place in Steffani's circumstances. He was no longer to be the active composer of operas, and Kapell- meister, but from this time forth was destined to devote his time chiefly to diplomacy, though lie never forsook the art of which he was so great an ornament. Ernst August had sent 5000 men to assist the Emperor against the Turks, and some 8000 against the French ; his

��two eldest sons, George (afterwards king of England) and Frederick Augustus, had served in the field, and three others had been killed in the wars. The Emperor as a reward determined, in 1692, to create a 9th Elector, and raise the younger branch of the house of Brunswick- Luneburg to the Electorate. This was generally deemed just, but many difficulties stood in the way, and during four years the position of Ernst August as Elector became more and more dif- ficult, so that, in 1696, it was determined to send an Envoy Extraordinaire round to the various German Courts to smooth matters over, and Ernst August and Leibnitz could find no one among the court personnel in Hanover so well fitted for the post as Abbate Steffani. With the title of ' Envoye* Extraordinaire ' he set out on his mission, and so admirably did he succeed, that at the end of the mission he was not only granted a considerably larger salary than he had hitherto had at Court, but Innocent XI. was induced to raise him to the dignity of Bishop (in partibus infideliuiri) of Spiga in Anatolia, Asia Minor the ancient Cyzicus. This was also, perhaps in recognition of Steffani's services, aided by the tolerant Leibnitz, in procuring for the Roman Catholics in Hanover the privilege of holding public worship. Steffani was now an accom- plished courtier and diplomatist. In the early part of 1698 he was sent to Brussels as Ambas- sador, and there had his first audience on March i. In this year the Elector Ernst August died, and Steffani afterwards transferred his services to the Elector Palatine at Diisseldorf, where he became a Privy Councillor as well as the Pope's Protonotarius for North Germany, though at what time this occurred is not known. For some thirteen years after 1696 there is no record of there having been any operas composed for the Court of Hanover, except two by a Signer Mancia, one in 1697, another undated; but in 1 709 we find Steffani again with two new operas, one for the Court at Hanover, the other at Dusseldorf. Both are stated in the scores at Buckingham Palace to be by Gregorio Piva his secretary, whose name he adopted for his compositions after he became a statesman, and this is the earliest date at which it occurs in any of the MSS. of his works, as far as I know. The opera given at Hanover is called ' Enea, or Amor vien dal destine,' in the large copy, but in the conducting score 'II Turno' in 3 acts, and is a very fine work ; again an advance on any previous effort. The second movement of the overture has a masterly chorus sung on the stage before the rise of the curtain, foreshadowing the grand choruses which Handel afterwards brought forward in his oratorios; also antedating the same feature in Meyerbeer's ' Dinorah.' Handel, indeed, is indebted for one or two ideas to this opera, notably the opening of the Presto move- ment in the second Suite de Pieces, and again for a phrase in the chorus ' For unto us.' The theme before referred to as being like ' Let the bright seraphim,' is here found in the minor key. One air is to be accompanied, ' deve esser

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