Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/84

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and at the last performance of 'Dardanus' (Nov. 9, 1760) he received a perfect ovation from the audience. At Dijon the Académie elected him a member in 1761, and the authorities exempted himself and his family for ever from the municipal taxes. The king had named him composer of his chamber music in 1745; his patent of nobility was registered, and he was on the point of receiving the order of St. Michel, when, already suffering from the infirmities of age, he took typhoid fever, and died Sept. 12, 1764. All France mourned for him; Paris gave him a magnificent funeral, and in many other towns funeral services were held in his honour. Such marks of esteem are accorded only to the monarchs of art.

Having spoken of Rameau as a theorist and composer, we will now say a word about him as a man. If we are to believe Grimm and Diderot, he was hard, churlish, and cruel, avaricious to a degree, and the most ferocious of egotists. The evidence of these writers is however suspicious; both disliked French music, and Diderot, as the friend and collaborateur of d'Alembert, would naturally be opposed to the man who had had the audacity to declare war against the Encyclopedists.[1] It is right to say that, though he drew a vigorous and scathing portrait of the composer, he did not publish it.[2] As to the charge of avarice, Rameau may have been fond of money, but he supported his sister Catherine[3] during an illness of many years, and assisted more than one of his brother artists—such as Dauvergne, and the organist Balbâtre. He was a vehement controversialist, and those whom he had offended would naturally say hard things of him. He was scrupulous in the use of his time, and detested interruptions; at the rehearsals of his operas he would sit by himself in the middle of the pit, and allow no one to speak to him; in the street he would walk straight on, and if a friend stopped him, he seemed to awake as if from a trance. Tall, and thin almost to emaciation, his sharply-marked features indicated great strength of character, while his eyes burned with the fire of genius. There was a decided resemblance between him and Voltaire, and painters have often placed their likenesses side by side. Amongst the best portraits of Rameau may be specified those of Benoist (after Restout), Caffieri, Masquelier, and Carmontelle (full length). In the fine oil-painting by Chardin in the Museum of Dijon, he is represented seated, with his fingers on the strings of his violin, the instrument he generally used in composing. The bust which stood in the foyer of the Opéra was destroyed when the theatre was burnt down in 1781; that in the library of the Conservatoire is by Destreez (1865). A bronze statue by Guillaume was erected at Dijon in 1880. The fine medal of him given to the winners of the grand prix de Rome was engraved by Gatteaux.

There are many biographies of Rameau; the most valuable are, among the older, Chabanon's 'Eloge' (1764); Maret's 'Eloge historique' (1766); and the very curious details contained in De Croix's 'L'Ami des Arts' (1776); among the more modern, the notices of Adolphe Adam, Fétis, Poisot (1864), and Pougin (1876).

Rameau had one son and two daughters, none of them musicians. He left in MS. 4 cantatas, 3 motets with chorus, and fragments of an opera 'Roland,' all which are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in the Rue Richelieu. None of his organ pieces have survived; and some cantatas mentioned by the earlier biographers, besides two lyric tragedies 'Abaris' and 'Linus,' and a comic opera, 'Le Procureur dupé,' are lost; but they would have added nothing to his fame.

Some of his harpsichord pieces have been published in the 'Trésor des Pianistes'; in the 'Alte Klaviermusik' of Pauer (Ser. 2, pt. 5) and of Roitsch; also in Pauer's 'Alte Meister,' and in the 'Perles Musicales' (51, 52).

[ G. C. ]

RAMM, Friedrich, eminent oboe-player, born Nov. 18, 1744, in Mannheim. He was a member of the Elector's celebrated band under Cannabich, first in Mannheim, and then in Munich, whither the court removed, and where he celebrated his fiftieth year of service in 1808. His tone was particularly pure and true, with great roundness, softness, and power in the lower notes; and he was also a master of the legato style. 'Ramm is a downright good fellow,' writes Mozart, 'amusing and honourable too; he plays finely, with a pretty delicate tone.' Mozart sent him the oboe-concerto (Köchel, 293) composed for Ferlendi (which became his cheval de bataille), and when in Paris composed a symphonic concertante for Wendling, Ramm, Punto, and Ritter, to be played at the Concerts Spirituels. It was however never performed, and all trace of it is lost (Jahn, i. 476).

Ramm played in London at the Professional Concerts in 1784. In Vienna he gave a concert at the Karnthnerthor Theatre in 1787, and played three times at the concerts of the Tonkünstler-Societät between the years 1776 and 81.

He was in Vienna again, after April 1797, and assisted to accompany Beethoven at a performance of his PF. Quintet, op. 16. At one of the pauses of the Finale Beethoven went off into a long improvisation, and it was, says Ries,[4] most amusing to see the players putting up their instruments to their lips as they thought that Beethoven was approaching the reprise of the theme, and as regularly putting them down in disappointment as he modulated off in another direction. Ramm was especially annoyed.

[ C. F. P. ]

  1. Rameau was asked to correct the articles on music for the Encyclopédie, but the MSS. were not submitted to him. He published in consequence: 'Erreurs sur la musique dans l'Encyclopédie' (1755); 'Suite des Erreurs etc.' (1756); 'Réponse de M. Rameau à MM. les éditeurs de l'Encyclopédie sur leur Avertissement' (1757); 'Lettre de M. d'Alembert à M. Rameau, concernant le corps sonore, avec la réponse de M. Rameau' (undated, but apparently 1759)—all printed in Paris.
  2. We refer to Diderot's violent satire on the morals and philosophic tendencies of the 18th century, entitled 'Le Neveu de Rameau.' It is a curious fact that this brilliantly written dialogue was only known in France through a re-translation of Goethe's German version. The first French edition, by Saur, appeared in Paris only in 1821.
  3. A good player on the clavecin; she lived in Dijon, and died there 1762.
  4. Biogr. Notizen, p. 80. The beginning of this anecdote—Am nämlichen Abend—on the same evening—would seem to show that Ries's recollections are not printed in the order in which he wrote them.