Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

just idea of the private studies and practice of the pupils. The musical world is indebted to Lord Burghersh, not only for the formation of the Royal Academy, but for his constant and zealous attention to its interests.

The VOCAL SOCIETY, founded in 1832, is an association of the most eminent vocal performers in the metropolis, for the cultivation of vocal music. They admit music of every denomination, whether ancient or modern, sacred or secular, foreign or English, provided it is of a high degree of excellence; and bestow the utmost care upon the correctness and purity of its performance. As might be expected, they give peculiar attention to some branches of music which have experienced unmerited neglect, particularly the madrigals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the works of Purcell and other old English masters. The concerts of this society afford a most classical and elegant entertainment, and have already had a beneficial influence on the public taste.

The SOCIETY OF BRITISH MUSICIANS was established in 1834. Its object is the advancement of native talent in composition and performance; and its prospectus thus states the views with which it has been formed:

"In an age like the present, so zealous in exertions for the advancement of the liberal arts and sciences, and in a metropolis so abundant in institutions to promote that desirable object, it is an extraordinary fact, that British music alone has escaped attention,-British musicians alone have hitherto been destitute of the advantages such institutions are calculated to afford.

THE SOCIETY OF BRITISH MUSICIANS.

271

While the Royal Academy of Arts, and various other establishments, have shed their fostering influence on painting, sculpture, and their tributary arts, the British musician has been left to his unaided endeavours to combat the unjust prejudices of the unthinking, and to compete with the composers of Continental Europe, provided as they are with every assistance necessary for the development of their genius and the display of their talents. The overwhelming preponderance of foreign compositions in all musical performances, while it can scarcely fail to impress the public with the idea that musical genius is an alien to this country, tends also to repress those energies, and to extinguish that emulation in the breast of the youthful aspirant, which alone lead to pre-eminence. With a view to supply this deficiency in our public institutions, to encourage the cultivation of the higher branches of the art and science of music, and to rescue merit from obscurity, by affording to all British musicians the means of improvement and publicity, this Society has been established."

A society with such objects as these cannot fail to have the best wishes of every lover of British music. Its concerts have exhibited proofs of considerable, indeed, in some instances, great, talent among the members. The policy of excluding from the society all musicians but natives of Great Britain, and from its concerts all music but the compositions of its members, seems, at least, questionable. But the working of the institution will, in time, show the tendencies of its regulations; and where errors are found to have been committed, they will doubtless be corrected.

The improvement of music, in all its branches, is

much promoted by numberless societies, clubs, and other associations of a private nature, both in the metropolis and the provinces. These form a bond of union, mutually advantageous, between the professional musicians and the amateurs, by establishing among them a social intercourse, and combining them for an object equally interesting to all,-the cultivation of the art to which they are all attached.

An effect of this improvement, and, at the same time, a cause of its further progress, is the increased stimulus which it has given to the publication of valuable and important musical works. The splendid publications of Mr. Novello, particularly his great selection from the ecclesiastical works of the old Italian masters, published under the title of The Fitzwilliam Music, his collections of the masses of Haydn and Mozart, and his voluminous edition of the works of Purcell, are evidences, not only of the zeal and talent of this eminent musician, but of a degree of enterprise which would have exceeded the bounds of prudence, unless warranted by the spirit of the time. The recent edition of The Messiah, in full score, including the additional accompaniments of Mozart, and of some of Handel's other works; Mr. Edward Taylor's English editions of The Last Judgment and The Crucifixion, of Spohr; the new and improved edition of The Creation, lately produced under the superintendence of Neukomm; the publication of that composer's oratorios of Mount Sinai and David,—and of Mendelssohn's St. Paul; the translation of the theoretical works of Albrechtsberger; and the fine edition of the works of Beethoven now in progress under the superintendence of Moscheles,-form but a part of the works of magni

tude which have appeared within these very few years. The Harmonicon, a monthly journal, commenced in 1823, and continued for ten years, has contributed greatly to the diffusion of musical taste and knowledge, and forms a record of the present state of music throughout the world, which will be of the utmost value hereafter to historians, and other writers on the art. It was succeeded by The Musical Library, which, for some time, furnished the public with a monthly selection of the most classical compositions of every school, with the musical intelligence of the day, and much sound and judicious criticism. The Musical World, a weekly journal recently established, is calculated, from the cheapness of its form, to draw increased attention to musical matters.

The diffusion of a taste for music, and the increasing elevation of its character, may be regarded as a national blessing. The tendency of music is to soften and purify the mind. The cultivation of a musical taste furnishes to the rich a refined and intellectual pursuit, which excludes the indulgence of frivolous and vicious amusements, and to the poor, a "laborum dulce lenimen," a

relaxation from toil more attractive than the haunts of intemperance. All music of an elevated character is calculated to produce such effects; but it is to sacred music, above all, that they are to be ascribed. Music may sometimes be the handmaid of debauchery; but this music never can. Bacchanalian songs and glees may heighten the riot of a dissolute party; but that man must be profligate beyond conception, whose mind can entertain gross propensities while the words of inspiration, clothed with the sounds of Handel, are in

VOL. II.

T

his ears. In the densely peopled manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire, music is cultivated among the working classes to an extent unparalleled in any other part of the kingdom. Every town has its choral society, supported by the amateurs of the place and its neighbourhood, where the sacred works of Handel and the more modern masters are performed with precision and effect by a vocal and instrumental orchestra consisting of mechanics and work people; and every village church has its occasional holiday oratorio, where a well-chosen and wellperformed selection of sacred music is listened to by a decent and attentive audience of the same class as the performers, mingled with their employers and their families. Hence the practice of this music is an ordinary domestic and social recreation among the working classes of these districts; and its influence is of the most salutary kind. The people, in their manners and usages, retain much of the simplicity of "the olden time;" the spirit of industrious independence maintains its ground among them, and they preserve much of their religious feelings and domestic affections, in spite of the demoralizing effects of a crowded population, fluctuating employment, and pauperism. Their employers promote and encourage so salutary a recreation, by countenancing and contributing to pay the expenses of their musical associations; and some great manufacturers provide regular musical instruction for such of their work-people as show a disposition for it. "It is earnestly to be wished," says a late writer, "that such an example were generally followed, in establishments where great numbers of people are employed. Wherever the working

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »