Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

either from education under that master, or from having been prompted, by congeniality of mind, to a study of his works, they have insensibly acquired some of the chief characteristics of his style, modified by the peculiarities of their own genius. In this sense we have mentioned Hummel and Cramer, as being of the school of Mozart; and, in the same way, Ries and Moscheles may be considered as belonging to the school of Beethoven.

FERDINAND RIES was a disciple of Beethoven. He resided in England from 1813 to 1824. His compositions for the piano-forte are, in general, masterly, and full of striking effects; but many of them smell too much of the lamp, and are deficient in the attraction of graceful melody. Among the most elegant of his productions are his Swedish Airs for the piano-forte, with accompaniments for an orchestra, and his Russian Airs for the piano-forte and violoncello. In his public performances, he commanded the attention and admiration of the audience by the strength of his hand, the freedom and boldness of his execution, and his vigorous and energetic style. Since his return to Germany, he has produced one or two dramatic pieces, which do not appear to have acquired much popularity.

IGNATZ MOSCHELES, though not a disciple of Beethoven, is deeply imbued with the spirit of that great man, from a profound study of his works. Mr. Moscheles has resided in London for the last fourteen years, and has contributed to the progress of the piano-forte in this country, not only by his public performances, but by the number of excellent players whom he has formed by his instructions, both in the fashionable circles, and

among our professional musicians. In the earlier part of his career, he astonished the musical world by his unbounded powers of execution; and, having "a giant's strength," he was prompted by his youthful fire to

66

use it like a giant." But being also a man of strong intellect, and capable of thinking deeply on the principles of his art, he has chastened his style, by using his prodigious power of hand, and rapidity of finger, only as the means of adding to the effect of his great and original conceptions. Moscheles has always been distinguished for the volume of tone he draws from the instrument, his grand and imposing masses of harmony, and his boldness and fire. But with these qualities he now blends a great deal of the delicate softness and tender expression which so peculiarly distinguish the style of Cramer. His compositions are very numerous, and consist chiefly of concertos, sonatas, and other pieces, for his own instrument. They are full of learning, imagination, and feeling, and show how much the inventive faculty is enlarged by an extensive knowledge of the classical productions of the art. His different books of Studies for the piano-forte, in particular, are unrivalled in excellence and value. He has lately produced some orchestral works, the last of which, the overture to the German tragedy of Joan of Arc, is worthy of Beethoven himself.

SIGISMUND NEUKOMM was a disciple of Haydn, and may be considered as the representative of his school. After having gained a high reputation on the Continent, he came, for the first time, to England in 1829; and his reception has been such as to induce

him to pass a large portion of his time in this country. His greatest works, the oratorios of Mount Sinai and David, have been produced in England. Mount Sinai, originally composed to German words, selected by himself from the Scriptures, was afterwards adapted by him to an English version of the words, and performed for the first time at the Derby Musical Festival, in 1831. David, the poem of which was originally written in English, was performed at the Birmingham Festival of 1834. Mount Sinai is a noble specimen of the true oratorio style. The manner in which the Commandments are delivered at intervals from the holy mountain, in the tones of the ancient ecclesiastical canto fermo, accompanied by the sounds of the brazen instruments, is full of awful grandeur; while the more earthly strains which intervene, even those which relate to affections and feelings purely human, though graceful, sweet, and tender, are always in accordance with the solemnity of the subject. From the subject of the oratorio of David, the music necessarily assumes, in many places, a dramatic character; and thus, (as in the Mount of Olives,) there are some scenes, such as the mutual defiance of David and Goliah, and the scene in which David appears before Saul while under the influence of the evil spirit, which would require theatrical action to give them their full effect. The triumphal march, too, of the victorious Israelites, with its barbaric clang of warlike instruments, though excellent in itself, recalls, through associations, the sights and sounds of the theatre. The chorusses of this oratorio are models of the ecclesiastical style: they are profound and mas

terly in their construction, and full of those great masses of harmony which impress the mind with the ideas of majesty and power.

During his residence in England, M. Neukomm has been a prolific writer in various styles. His sacred cantatas, Miriam, The Prophecy of Babylon, and Absalom, are remarkable for the loftiness of their style, their varied expression, and the fine adaptation of the music to the English poetry. His cantata entitled Napoleon's Midnight Review, is a wild and fantastic picture, of which the outline, drawn (as it were) by the voice, is filled up by the richest and most beautiful instrumental colouring that can be imagined. His English songs are very numerous, and many of them are admirable. The popularity of The Sea has hardly ever been surpassed. M. Neukomm is a great organist; and his last work is a collection of voluntaries for that instrument.

MEYERBEER is celebrated as the author of several operas, particularly Il Crociato in Egitto, one of the best and most successful pieces of the present day. Though the composer is a native of Berlin, the music of this opera is more in the Italian than the German style. His French opera of Robert le Diable was written for the Grand Opera of Paris, where it had an extraordinary run. It was brought out at the King's Theatre, in London, in 1832, with the utmost splendour, and with the original French performers; but it disappointed the public expectation. The music is brilliant and striking; but the stunning noise which proceeds both from the stage and the orchestra, from the beginning to the end of an excessively long piece, is quite overpowering. His last work of magnitude is also a French

VOL. II.

opera, Les Huguenots, the success of which at Paris has been equal to that of Robert le Diable.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY, (grandson of Moses Mendelssohn, the celebrated Jewish philosopher,) though a young man, has already taken his place among the greatest musicians of the age. Before he was fourteen he had produced several works of surprising genius, particularly an opera, The Wedding of Camacho, which was brought out with great success at Berlin. He has been several times in England, where he first became known from several of his instrumental compositions having been performed by the Philharmonic Society. His beautiful and imaginative overture to The Midsummer Night's Dream has become a stock piece at our concerts. Another piece, in the form of an overture, called The Isles of Fingal, suggested by a visit to the Western Islands of Scotland, and written under the impressions produced by the grand phenomena of nature in those wild regions, is a fine specimen of the descriptive powers of music; but its difficulty and peculiarity of style have prevented it from being so popular as it will one day become. Mendelssohn has latterly turned his attention to sacred music, and has composed many pieces for the church which are in the highest estimation. His last (and greatest work, the oratorio of St. Paul, after having been received with the utmost admiration in Germany, was performed, under his own direction, at the Birmingham Festival of 1837, when its reception by the English public was equally enthusiastic. It is a work of the highest order, full of grandeur and beauty, and uniting the chaste simplicity of the old ecclesiastical writers with the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »