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whom the uneasy condition of affairs on the continent has thrown upon our shores. Although the English, both in the choir and orchestra, form a good solid substratum of talent, yet as the art has never known here the protection of princely establishments, or of conservatories in which music is made daily without care for the material wants of life, we are necessarily at a disadvantage in the finer accomplishments of orchestral playing. The national energy, how ever, does not permit us to be long in the rear in any department of the arts. When we are once sensible of any solid improvement or advance in practical skill, we do not easily rest till we have made it our
It was to take advantage of the immense mass of floating talent now upon the town, in the persons of disbanded and wandering artists from France, Italy, and Germany, mingled with the best of our resident performers, that Mr. F. Beale formed his happy project of the New Philharmonic Society. People at first seemed inclined to discredit his orchestra from the new names it contained. Who, for instance, is Politzer ?' said one, casting his eyes doubtfully on the list of first violins.
Oh! I'll tell you something about him,' was the reply. When the triple concerto of Beethoven was to be rehearsed, Sivori was absent, having gone on a professional excursion with M. Jullien, and Politzer just took his place and played the concerto of Beethoven at sight.' The passages for first violins alone, which open the second part of the Romeo and Juliet symphony, taken with unimpeachable truth and delicacy by the whole body of these performers, showed the powers of the whole set to be nearly of the same calibre. In fact, we never heard such remarkably finished playing in that department.
Other doubts concerned the new locality for full symphonies and other instrumental pieces. Would a band, of a scale proportioned to thirty-two violins, twelve tenors, &c., amply fill Exeter Hall with tone? Would the vibratory character of that extensive concert-room, which is usually so inconveniently felt at rehearsals when the place is empty, be sufficiently corrected by the admission
of a full audience? The first performance satisfactorily answered both these questions. Hearing is as much the slave of habit as any other of our senses; and at first the new medium through which the combinations reached us, we confess, seemed to diminish their force considerably; but as the night wore on, and we came to those parts in the overture to Oberon where, when the trombones level their tubes at the audience in Hanover-square, we have mostly endured the terrific chords of brass with a degree of pain, we now found the violence of these tones mitigated, veiled, and far from intolerable. In fact, the players of the brass instruments, instead of blowing them full into the ear of the audience, as is usual, were made by the judicious conductor to stand in profile, by which the harsh preponderance of their notes was effectually corrected.
Misgivings were even affected respecting Berlioz himself; certainly not in those who engaged him, but from the natural effervescence of party-spirit on the foundation of a new and important institution. It was given out that he could conduct no music but his own, but how truly, let Mozart's symphony, Beethoven's concerto, Gluck's Iphigenia in Tauride, and Weber's Oberon overture, answer for him. That these things were never produced before an audience more accurately and effectively, we appeal to the experience of all present, The quantity of new music encountered in the course of this first concert rendered it not only highly honourable to the artists engaged, but, including the Romeo and Juliet symphony, a triumph over difficulty such as Berlioz alone could have achieved.
As a conductor, Berlioz has obtained a greater practical experience than any musician who has appeared within this century. His travels have made him acquainted with every principal theatre and musical locality throughout Europe. He has encountered, in the mere diversity of languages, especially in his Russian and Hungarian campaigns, enormous difficulties in the produc tion of his compositions; but he has yielded to no obstacles; and every one must respect a position gained
by the force of genius, courage, and singleness of purpose, in which none of the sordid or selfish motives of public men find place. He has the art of conciliating musicians, and of engaging their best efforts in his behalf, perhaps beyond any composer of our time; his demeanour being perfectly simple, free from airs of superiority, or any assumption of the great man; and his ready acknowledgments of the services and attention of his orchestra are the sincere tribute of a benevolent and
friendly disposition. Indeed, the personal regard which is felt for Berlioz by artists, is found in the care which they bestow on his works, and is greatly enhanced by his polished and winning manners. It is pleasant to see an orchestra and their chief established in such mutual relations as must conduce to the highest efforts of each towards the general success.
In every new organization of an orchestra and new locality in which concerts are attempted, there occurs something fresh for the conductor himself to learn; yet it excited some surprise to see a man so remarkable for the imaginative character of his compositions, so minute in his attention to the details of the orchestra, examining every desk, learning each player's name, and preparing himself for the exact spot whence each sound expressed in his score should issue. All this, however the reverse of poetical, is a very sensible preparation for the production of poetical efforts. It would never do for him to be looking in the wrong place for horns or cornets; and Berlioz, like a prudent general before he begins a grand attack, looks well to the marshalling of his forces, and knows exactly where he has posted his cavalry and artillery.
In conducting begins the active life of this interesting composer, whose time seems to be divided be tween silent cogitating and musing, on the one hand, devising new effects in composition, and new harmonies which he has never heard but with the ear of the mind, for he plays no instrument; and on the other, at rare intervals, by realizing them. One day he may be seen a solitary student, writing music, silent and alone in his chamber, and the next directing some hundreds of musi
cians with the ease and promptitude of one whose daily habit it is to lead great orchestras and choruses through the labyrinth of intricate novelty. The eapacity of deep reflection and of practical activity-of thought and action, which nature so often disjoins in people, forms a powerful feature of the musical individuality of Berlioz. Even his hours of lonely meditation have a social purpose; he is then probably maturing the fruit of his experience, and devising plans to improve and heighten the character of public musical entertainments. Notwithstanding the eccentric path of his composition, and the wild and imaginative subjects that he has selected for musical treatment, his mind is eminently practical and intelligent, adapting means to ends, and never betraying him into absurdity by the excess of enthusiasm. The balance of the inventive and of the practical is always well preserved in him, as becomes a man of this world, and not one living in wild dreams and abstractions impossible to realize.
We have an instance of this in the published scores of Berlioz, wherein, knowing the novelty of his system of instrumentation and effects, and how unwise it would be to leave the performance to chance, or the superintendence of a conductor brought up in the old orchestral school, he has indicated the number of performers requisite in each part, the best method of placing the chorus, with what else may facilitate rehearsal. He is the first composer who has thought of giving to the public more than the mere notes of his music; and considering how new and bold his conceptions are, this is an act of judgment dictated by sound practical experience.
The symphony, Romeo and Juliet, which has been heard in partthat is, as far as the instrumental scherzo Queen Mab,-has no correspondence with the old forms of the symphony. It challenges for instrumental music that unlimited scope for the imagination, and that freedom from conventions, of which Beethoven was in his later works the
perpetual advocate and the highest authority. But Berlioz enters upon his Shaksperean theme with inconceivable audacity, defying all prepossessions, - now using instru
ments, now voices, or both, as his subject seems to require. His score demands the most accomplished players and, each movement being variously instrumented, the fullest resources of the modern orchestra. The hearers of this music should not be those who are willingly lulled to sleep by some tune like some other tune which they know extremely well, and who are discontented if they don't know what is coming; but on the contrary, such as, being well prepared in the classics of the art, listen with conscientiousness and activity to new developmentsnot too ready, if they do not fully comprehend the idea at first, to place their own deficiency to the charge of the master. Experience reminds us how gradually some of the most admired works of Beethoven acquired their hold on public favour-but the slow process which has disclosed their beauties has fixed them more firmly in the affections. It must ever be thus with fine instrumental music. The originality of an individual master-mind is not a matter for very speedy, general, and facile comprehension. Berlioz is heard with profound attention, his instrumentation is generally admired, and the independence of his style is confessed. How is it possible that musicians should listen so intently to beauties of instrumentation, if they were not connected with beauty of ideas, with the vitality of the art? The attentive listening given to the composer, but particularly to the exquisite adagio which he calls scene d'amour, is of most favourable augury; for as nothing exhausts the patience like a failing slow movement, the mere physical excitement of sensation obtained, shows a triumph in the most difficult department of the instrumental art.
The introduction to the new Symphony is called a Prologue, and has for its subject the contentions and animosities of the rival houses of the Montagues and Capulets. This music is of a fugal character in B minor-the altos lead off, the subject is answered by the violoncellos, and the whole orchestra is brought in by degrees. An opening so extremely unusual may ap pear at first like the research of capricious novelty; but as in this
work the interest is essentially dramatic the passion gradually reaching a climax, and then subsid ing to receive its hues of melancholy and solemnity, in accordance with the events of the drama-it is obvi ous that the mind of the hearer requires as much preparation for the due influence of the music upon him, as is required in the reading of the play. Music like this enters more particularly into the domain of poetry and painting, and must form itself on their æsthetical principles. In the prologue we observe several novelties of instrumentation: four bassoons instead of two, and violoncellos employed in first and second parts. All the stringed instruments divide on occasion as far as four parts, by which an im mense accession of orchestral effects is gained. The first violins some times play in octaves and double stops, and even sometimes in harmonies. We may be sure that Berlioz depends on good artists. Then he employs horns and cornets in keys quite remote from that of his piece, surprising the hearer with unexpected tones and combinations. The vocal prologue, which succeeds the instrumental one, is exquisitely fanciful music, on the theme, 'Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you. It is a light, sportive, and delicate creation. The tenors in the orchestra are in incessant triplets, while the violoncellos in two parts play even notes, C hitting against D flat with piquant effect. There are no double basses in this movement. A tenor voice, accompanied by a semi-chorus of very original combination, prepares us for the scene which is to open in the second part.
This is an andante malinconico e sostenuto in F, depicting a situs tion expressed in these words: 'Romeo seul, tristesse. Concert et bal. Grande fête chez Capulet." After a few phrases by the violins alone, without harmony, the parts thicken, and the music assumes a large and majestic character. At this part of the score, very high interest is excited; the effect produced by iterated notes of the tenors, in contrast with the measured movement of the second violins, and the grand march of the basses accompanying a melody given by the
clarionet and bassoon in octaves, is of an elevating and noble character. This movement is interrupted by a solo of a melodious melancholy style, the air of which is afterwards mixed up, and blended, though in a dif ferent measure, with the joyous music of the ball-room. Of course not even the ears of a musician, without intimacy with the music, will penetrate amid such a mass of sound this ingenious part of the author's fabric; but the design, melancholy in the midst of gaiety, is true to the story, and speaks for itself. The composer has even qualified the style of ball-room music, so as to make it not unworthy the dignity of the symphony, by interfusing with it many solid and scientific features of accompaniment. There is one progression of notes of a chromatic character, which enters in minims on the flat seventh in the bass, and attracts much attention from its iteration, and the various passages of the superstructure to which it forms an accompaniment. This perhaps means no more than to sustain, by its elevated and energetic character, the elevation of the symphony throughout a subject which might compromise it. The numerous harps introduced for the ball-room music, play only in first and second parts redoubled; but the revelry is heightened by cymbals, triangles, and tambours de Basque.
The sounds of the ball die away, and we enter upon the third part, which is thus entitled in the printed score, Nuit sereine. Le jardin de Capulet silencieux et desert. Les jeunes Capulets sortant de la fête, passent en chantant des reminiscences de la musique du bal.' In the management of this difficult scene, there is evidence of very profound art. The composer does not begin the melodious dialogue of the lovers at once, but introduces it with due preparation and circumstance. Chords, sustained pianissimo, on the stringed instruments, with an occasional pizzicato of the double bass, form the opening. There is no attempt at rhythm or phrasing, and the modulation is eccentric. Even bars of silence help to depict the stillness and serenity of the Italian moonlit landscape. With the quiet harmonies which now steal upon the ear, the distant chorus of
Capulet youths returning from the ball gradually mingles, and the themes they sing give the first rhythmical character to this singular prelude. Then commences the adagio in which Juliet confides her love to the night.
We are compelled, in giving an account of this musical structure, to mingle the material with the poetical. This is a delicate and a new creation in music. The key is A, and the time six-eight. The two flutes are used in their middle tones with new and beautiful effect. The other wind instruments are one oboe, one corno Inglese (tenor oboe), two clarionets, four bassoons, horns in E, in F, in A alto, and in D. When the Capulet chorus has ceased in the distance, the principal subject is begun by tenors, violoncellos in two parts, and the double bass. The two violin parts are at first left free for accessory phrases of accompaniment. There is something masterly and original, and extremely beautiful, in this disposition of the score. The wind instrument phrases, formed of fragments of the tunes sung by the Capulets, show great constructive art. The principal melody, which is sung in tenths, by violins and violoncellos, is accompanied above and in the middle by wind instruments, in redoubled octaves, giving the phrases of a most uncommon harmony to the melody, and gratifying the ear ever and anon by a suspension extremely passionate and expressive. There is all the voluptuous beauty in the tones of the instruments which the sentimental compositions of Mozart and Beethoven have accustomed the ear to in the slow movement; but the expression here is attained through a new medium: extraordinary modulation, unusual rhythm, unheard accents and syncopations, depict the passion of the original. The independence of all other music is most remarkable in this adagio. Without a reminiscence, or borrowing a single phrase, it supports, at a due elevation, the subject which it aims to paint in sounds. As there is no medium in the success of so high an effort, the deep attention given to M. Berlioz' symphony proves the most satisfactory tribute to his genius. After the instrumental scherzo, whose fine gossamer web
baffles verbal description, there remain three movements to be heard, including a grand choral finale, of a length which renders this symphony almost equal in development to an opera. But we shall have to wait for this, as music without scenic aid can hardly be trusted to run at once to such an extent; and it would be injurious to the interests of the art to attempt it.
At the second concert, two English musicians performed new compositions: Dr. Wylde, a pianoforte concerto, in F minor, and Mr. Loder, a new masque, with solos and chorus, entitled the Island of Calypso. Neither of these works is entitled to much praise. There is a monotony of ideas in Dr. Wylde's concerto, and the orchestral accompaniments in it are confused and ineffective. The solos for the pianoforte were well played by M. Billet, but they wanted more novelty of construction and character. If the subject had been less worked, the hearer would have been more entertained. Mr. Loder's composition comes decidedly into the class of manufactured music, such as hundreds, acquainted with certain technicalities of the orchestra, may write, without the least suggestion or inspiration of genius. We applaud the impartiality which gives native composers a fair hearing; but if they have nothing better to produce, or fitter to promote the interests of the new concerts, their enforced silence hitherto can scarcely be considered an injustice.
The vocal interest of the New Philharmonic Concerts has been sustained rather by refined choral singing than by any remarkable displays in the solo. This also gives a favourable direction to taste. Unaccompanied music, especially the tutti pianissimo of a large choir, is so seldom heard in public, that it is a novelty which creates earnest attention. Very fine of its kind was a religious piece, from the Greek chapel, by the Russian Bortniansky -massive, solemn, and subdued in its tones, and exhibiting, with fine effect and contrast, the deep notes of a body of well selected doublebass voices. We have rarely heard the deep diapason of the human voice so admirably displayed. A ballad, by Gumbert, for a tenor voice,
accompanied by a chorus pianissimo, was very nicely performed, and to most present was completely new.
The two Italian Opera Houses have opened with small note of preparation. After the protracted season of the Exhibition year, which turned out less profitable than had been expected, some languor in musical dramatic matters is but natural. The chief deficiency, however, is in a new face and a new individuality of talent, such as of late seasons has raised the standard of public admiration almost too high for the inte rests of managers. Fed and pampered with delicates, the public appetite is not easily satisfied with meaner viands; and the diverting struggle between the houses for the exclusive right to Mdlle. Wagner, is a present proof of the great demand for an idol, to re-animate our torpid stalls and boxes during the
next six months.
Her Majesty's Theatre opened with Donizetti's opera, Maria di Rohan, a work which has employed many of the same performers in Paris since January, and may there. fore be considered to have received all due benefit of preparation. Neither the story nor the music are, however, likely to make any permanent impression. The interest of this opera is based on painful and revolting incidents, to which the powers of a skilful actor may impart some force, but sufficient, alone, to excite feelings of terror and commiseration, without the aid of music. The part of Chev reuse, the husband of Maria, who, while he is engaged in an act of kindness for his friend, Chalais, discovers that he has been dishonoured by him, and pistols him with savage revenge, within the hearing of the audience, was originally intended for Ronconi, an actor of very indif ferent musical qualifications and most uncertain intonation, but who excels greatly in wild and terrific delineations. It is the scene whats Chevreuse tells, by a fierce glanc the eye, that his vengeance fied, in which the audienc whole interest of the trated. But let those excitement have drama, rather three acts of the heavy