Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/33

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


nection with the complete musical establishment which Prince Esterhazy set up at his great palace at Esterhaz ; where Haydn certainly had op- portunities which have been the lot of scarcely any other composer who ever lived. He is de- scribed as making experiments in orchestration, and ringing the bell for the band to come and try them ; and, though this may not be absolutely true in fact, there can scarcely be a doubt that the very great improvements which he effected in every department of orchestration may to a great extent be attributed to the facilities for testing his works which he enjoyed. At the same time the really important portion of his compositions were not produced till his patron, Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy, was dead, and the musical establishment broken up ; nor, it must be remembered, till after that strange and important episode in Haydn's life, the rapid flitting of Mozart across the scene. When Haydn wrote his first symphony, Mozart was only three years old; and Mozart died in the very year in which the famous Salomon concerts in London, for which Haydn wrote nearly all his finest symphonies, began. Mozart's work there- fore comes between Haydn's lighter period and his greatest achievements ; and his symphonies are in some respects prior to Haydn's, and cer- tainly had effect upon his later works of all kinds.

According to Kochel, Mozart wrote altogether forty-nine symphonies. The first, in Eb, was written in London in 1764, when he was eight years old, and only five years after Haydn wrote his first. It was on the same pattern as those which have been fully described above, be- ing in three movements and scored for the usual set of instruments namely, two violins, viola, bass, two oboes and two horns. Three more followed in close succession, in one of which clarinets are introduced instead of oboes, and a bassoon is added to the usual group of eight instruments. In these works striking originality of purpose or style is hardly to be looked for, and it was not for some time that Mozart's powers in instrumental music reached a pitch of development which is historically important ; but it is nevertheless astonishing to see how early he developed a free and even rich style in managing his orchestral resources. With regard to the character of these and all but a few of the rest, it is necessary to keep in mind that a symphony at that time was a very much less important matter than it became fifty years later. The manner in which symphonies were poured out, in sets of six and otherwise, by numerous composers during the latter half of the eighteenth century, puts utterly out of the question the loftiness of aim and purpose which has become a necessity since the early years of the present century. They were all rather slight works on familiar lines, with which for the time being composers and public were alike quite content ; and neither Haydn nor Mozart in their early specimens seem to have specially exerted themselves. The general survey of VOL. IV. FT. I.



��Mozart's symphonies presents a certain number of facts which are worth noting for their bearing upon the history of this form of art. The second symphony he wrote had a minuet and trio; but it is hardly possible that he can have regarded this as an important point, since he afterwards wrote seventeen others without them ; and these spread over the whole period of his activity, for even in that which he wrote at Prague in 1 786, and which is last but three in the whole series, the minuet and trio are absent. Besides this fact, which at once con- nects them with the examples by other com- posers previously discussed, there is the yet more noticeable one that more than twenty of the series are written for the same peculiar little group of instruments, viz. the four strings, a pair of oboes or flutes, and a pair of horns. Although he used clarinets so early as his third symphony, he never employed them again till his thirty-ninth, which was written for Paris, and is almost more fully scored than any. In the whole forty-nine, in fact, he only used clari- nets five times, and in one of these cases (viz. the well-known G minor) they were added after he had finished the score. Even bassoons are not common ; the most frequent addition to the little nucleus of oboes or flutes and horns being trumpets and drums. The two which are most fully scored are the Parisian, in D, just alluded to, which was written in 1778, and that in Eb, which was written in Vienna in 1788, and stands first in the famous triad. These facts explain to a certain extent how it was possible to write such an extraordinary number in so short a space of time. Mozart's most con- tinuously prolific period in this branch of art seems to have been when he had returned to Salzburg in 1771; for between July in that year and the beginning of 1773, it appears to be proved that he produced no less than fourteen. But this feat is fairly surpassed in another sense by the production of the last three in three suc- cessive months, June, July, and August, 1788; since the musical calibre of these is so immensely superior to that of the earlier ones.

One detail of comparison between Mozart's ways and Haydn's is curious. Haydn began to use introductory adagios very early, and used them so often that they became quite a characteristic feature in his plan. Mozart, on the other hand, did not use one until his 44th Symphony, written in 1783. What was the origin of Haydn's employment of them is uncertain. The causes that have been sug- gested are not altogether satisfactory. In the orthodox form of symphony, as written by the numerous composers of his early days, the open- ing adagio is not found. He may possibly have observed that it was a useful factor in a certain class of overtures, and then have used it as an experiment in symphonies, and finding it answer, may have adopted the expedient generally in succeeding works of the kind. It seems likely that Mozart adopted it from Haydn, as its first appearance (in the symphony which is believed

�� �