The Project Gutenberg eBook of The art of music, Vol. 03 (of 14), A narrative history of music. Book 3, modern music

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The art of music, Vol. 03 (of 14), A narrative history of music. Book 3, modern music

Editor: Daniel Gregory Mason

Edward Burlingame Hill

Ernest Newman

César Saerchinger

Release date: September 14, 2022 [eBook #68990]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: National Society of Music, 1915

Credits: Andrés V. Galia and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)



In the plain text version Italic text is denoted by _underscores_. The sign ^ represents a superscript; thus ^e represents the lower case letter “e” written immediately above the level of the previous character, while ^{text} means the word “text” is written as surperscript.

This volume includes a subject index for this and for the previous two volumes of this collection. In the HTML version only the material covered in this volume was possible to link to the corresponding page numbers.

Obvious punctuation and other printing errors have been corrected.

The book cover has been modified by the Transcriber and is included in the public domain.


The Art of Music

A Comprehensive Library of Information for Music Lovers and Musicians


Columbia University

Associate Editors

Harvard University Past Professor, Univ. of Wisconsin

Managing Editor

Modern Music Society of New York

In Fourteen Volumes
Profusely Illustrated



[Pg ii]


Garden Concert

Painting by Antoine Watteau

[Pg iv]

Modern Music

Being Book Three of

A Narrative History of Music

Department Editors:




Music Critic, 'Daily Post,' Birmingham, England
Author of 'Gluck and the Opera,' 'Hugo Wolf,' 'Richard Strauss,' etc.

Introduction by


Instructor in Musical History, Harvard University
Formerly Music Critic, 'Boston Evening Transcript'
Editor, 'Musical World,' etc.




[Pg v]

Copyright, 1915, by
[All Rights Reserved]

[Pg vii]



The direct sources of modern music are to be found in the works of Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt, and Wagner. This assertion savors of truism, but, since the achievement of these four masters in the enlargement of harmonic idiom, in diversity of formal evolution, and in intrinsic novelty and profundity of musical sentiment and emotion remains so unalterably the point of departure in modern music, reiteration is unavoidable and essential. It were idle to deny that various figures in musical history have shown prophetic glimpses of the future. Monteverdi's taste for unprepared dissonance and instinct for graphic instrumental effect; the extraordinary anticipation of Liszt's treatment of the diminished seventh chord, and the enharmonic modulations to be found in the music of Sebastian Bach, the presages of later German romanticism discoverable in the works of his ill-fated son Wilhelm Friedemann, constitute convincing details. The romantic ambitions of Lesueur as to program-music found their reflection in the superheated imagination of Berlioz, and the music-drama of Wagner derives as conclusively from Fidelio as from the more conclusively romantic antecedents of Euryanthe. But, despite their illuminating quality, these casual outcroppings of modernity do not reverse the axiomatic statement made above.

The trend of modern music, then, may be traced first along the path of the pervasive domination of Wagner;[Pg viii] second, the lesser but no less tenacious influence of Liszt; it includes the rise of nationalistic schools, the gradual infiltration of eclecticism leading at last to recent quasi-anarchic efforts to expand the technical elements of music.


If the critics of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries have successfully exposed not only the æsthetic flaws in Wagner's theory of the music-drama, but also his own obvious departures in practice from pre-conceived convictions, as well as the futility of much of his polemic and philosophical writings, European composers of opera, almost without exception, save in Russia, have frankly adopted his methods in whole or in part. Bruckner, Bungert, d'Albert, Schillings, Pfitzner, Goldmark, Humperdinck, Weingartner, and Richard Strauss in Germany; Saint-Saëns (in varying degree), Chabrier, Lalo, Massenet (temporarily), Bruneau and Charpentier (slightly), d'Indy, Chausson, and Dukas in France; Verdi (more remotely), Puccini, and possibly Wolf-Ferrari in Italy; Holbrooke in England, are among the more conspicuous whose obligation to Wagner is frankly perceptible. In Germany the most prominent contributors to dramatic literature, aside from Cornelius, with Der Barbier von Bagdad, and Goetz with Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung, have been Goldmark, Humperdinck, and Richard Strauss. The latter, with an incredibly complex system of leading motives, an elaborately contrapuntal connotation of dramatic situations, aided by an intensely psychological orchestral descriptiveness, has reached the summit of post-Wagnerian drama. His later dramatic experiments—a ruthless adaptation of Molière's Bourgeois gentilhomme, containing the one-act opera Ariadne auf Naxos, and the ballet 'The Legend of Joseph'—are distinctly less representative examples of[Pg ix] his dramatic resourcefulness. In France, the Wagnerian influence is typified in such works as Chabrier's Gwendoline, d'Indy'sFervaal, and to a lesser extent Chausson's Le Roi Arthus. Bruneau's realistic operas and Charpentier's sociological Louise belong, first of all, to the characteristically French lyric drama in which the Wagnerian element is relatively unimportant. In Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Dukas' Ariane et Barbe-bleue, Ravel's L'Heure espagnole, and Fauré's Pénélope, we find a virtually independent conception of opera which may be almost described as anti-Wagnerian. In Italy, the later Verdi shows an independent solution of dramatic problems, although conscious of the work of Wagner. Puccini is the successor of Verdi, rather than the follower of Wagner, although his use of motives and treatment of the orchestra shows at least an unconscious assimilation of Wagnerian practice, Mascagni and Leoncavallo are virtually negligible except for their early successes, and one or two other works. Younger composers like Montemezzi and Zadonai are beginning to claim attention, but Wolf-Ferrari, combining Italian instinct with German training, seems on the way to attain a renascence of the opera buffa, provided that he is not again tempted by the sensational type represented by 'The Jewels of the Madonna.' Opera in England has remained an exotic, save for the operettas of Sullivan, despite the efforts of British composers to vitalize it. Holbrooke's attempt to produce an English trilogy seems fated to join previous failures, notwithstanding his virtuosity and his dramatic earnestness. Russian composers for the stage have steadily resisted the invasion of Wagnerian methods. Adhering, first of all, to the tenets of Dargomijsky, individuals have gradually adopted their own standpoint. The most characteristic works are Borodine's Prince Igor, Rimsky-Korsakoff's Sniégourutchka, Sadko, Mlada, Le Coq d'Or,[Pg x] and Moussorgsky's Boris Godounoff and Khovanshchina.

In the field of orchestral composition, the acceptance of Wagner's procedure in orchestration is even more universal than his dramatic following. If his system follows logically from the adoption of valve horns and valve trumpets, the enlargement of wind instrument groups and the subdivision of the strings, its far-reaching application is still a matter of amazement to the analyst. Even if it be granted that Wagner himself predaciously absorbed individual methods of treatment from Weber, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, and Liszt, the ultimate originality of his idiom justified his manifold obligations. German composers, except among the followers of Brahms, appropriated his extension of orchestral effect as a matter of course, the most notable being Bruckner, Goldmark, Humperdinck, Mahler, and Strauss. If the two latter in turn can claim original idioms of their own, the antecedents of their styles are none the less evident. French composers from Saint-Saëns to Dukas have made varying concessions to his persuasive sonorities; even the stanch Rimsky-Korsakoff fell before the seduction of Wagnerian amplitude and variety of color. Glazounoff, Taneieff, Scriabine, and other Russians followed suit. Among English composers, Elgar and Bantock fell instinctively into line, followed in some degree by William Wallace and Frederick Delius. If Holbrooke is more directly a disciple of Richard Strauss, that fact in itself denotes an unconscious acknowledgment to Wagner.

If Liszt has had a less all-embracing reaction upon modern composers, his sphere of influence has been marked and widely extended. To begin with, his harmonic style has been the subject of imitation second only to Wagner up to the advent of Richard Strauss and Debussy. His invention of the structurally elastic symphonic poem remains the sole original contribution[Pg xi] in point of form which the nineteenth century can claim. For even the cyclic sonata form of Franck is but a modification of the academic type, and was foreshadowed by Beethoven and Schumann. The vast evolution of structural freedom, the infinite ramifications of subtle and dramatic program-music, and the resultant additions of the most stimulating character to modern musical literature rest upon the courageous initiative of Liszt. In France, Saint-Saëns' pioneer examples, though somewhat slight in substance, prepared the way for César Franck's Les Éolides and Le Chasseur maudit, Duparc's Lénore, d'Indy's La forêt enchantée, the programmistic Istar variations, Jour d'été à la Montagne, Dukas' L'Apprenti-sorcier, Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune and the Nocturnes (programmistic if impressionistic), Florent Schmitts' Tragédie de Salomé, and Roussel's Evocations. In Germany, Richard Strauss' epoch-making series of tone-poems, from Macbeth to Also sprach Zarathustra, combine descriptive aptitude and orchestral brilliance with a masterly manipulation of formal elements. Weingartner's Die Gefilde der Seligen and Reger's Böcklin symphonic poems may be added to the list. In Russia, Balakireff's Thamar, Borodine's 'Sketch from Central Asia,' Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherezade (although a suite), Glazounoff's Stenka Razine and other less vital works, Rachmaninoff's 'Isle of the Dead,' Scriabine's 'Poem of Ecstasy' and 'Poem of Fire' mark the path of evolution. Smetana's series of six symphonic poems entitled 'My Home' result directly from the stimulus of Liszt. In Finland, Sibelius' tone-poems on national legendary subjects take a high rank for their poetic and dramatic qualities. If in England, Bantock's 'Dante and Beatrice,' 'Fifine at the Fair' and other works, Holbrooke's 'Queen Mab,' Wallace's 'François Villon,' Delius' 'Paris' and Elgar's 'Falstaff' exhibit differing degrees of merit, the example of Liszt is still inspiriting. Moreover, the[Pg xii] Lisztian treatment of the orchestra, emphasizing as it does a felicitous employment of instruments of percussion, has proved a remarkable liberating force, especially in Russia and France. Liszt's piano idiom has been assimilated even more widely than in the case of the symphonic poem and orchestral style. Smetana, Saint-Saëns, Balakireff, and Liapounoff occur at once as salient instances.

The contributory reaction of Berlioz and Chopin upon modern music has been relatively less direct, if still apparent. It was exerted first in fertile suggestions to Wagner and Liszt at a susceptible and formative stage in their careers. Both have played some part in the awakening of Russian musical consciousness, Berlioz through his revolutionary orchestral style and programmistic audacity, Chopin through his insinuating pianistic idiom, which we find strongly reflected in the earlier works of Scriabine. Some heritage of Berlioz can undoubtedly be traced in the music of Gustav Mahler, although expressed in a speech quite alien to that of the French pioneer of realism.

It may be remarked in passing that the influence of Brahms has been intensive rather than expansive. This statement is entirely compatible with a just appraisal of the worth and profundity of his music, nor can it in any way be interpreted as a detraction of his unassailable position. But in consideration of the absence of the coloristic and extreme subjective elements in Brahms' style, and in view of its conserving and reactionary force, the great symphonist cannot be regarded as specifically modernistic. Still, with his extraordinary cohesiveness of form and vital rhythmic progress, both in symphonic writing, chamber music and piano pieces, Brahms has affected Reger, Weingartner and Max Bruch in Germany, but also Glazounoff, Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Parry, and others outside of it.

[Pg xiii]

With the four symphonies of Brahms the long evolution of the classic form in Germany has apparently come to an end with an involuntary recognition that little more could be attained upon conventional lines. The symphonies of Bruckner emphasize this realization. Following in Wagner's orchestral footsteps, both their structure and their ideas are of unequal value, in which separate movements not infrequently rise to sublimity of expression and dramatic fervor. While opinion is still divided as to the merit of Mahler's ten symphonies, they represent isolated instances of powerfully conceived and tenaciously executed works whose orchestral eloquence is in singularly apt conformity with their substance. After a precocious and conservative symphony, composed at the age of nineteen, which pleased Brahms, Richard Strauss waited twenty years before attempting in the Symphonia Domestica so elastic a form as almost to escape classification in this type. Despite much foolish controversy over the programmistic features of this work, its brilliant musical substance, its fundamental and logical coherence, and the remarkable plastic coördination of its themes constitute it a unique experiment in free symphonic structure. In France, the symphony has evolved a type somewhat apart from the Teutonic example, although an outcome of it, namely, the cyclical, in which its themes are derived from generative phrases. After three innocuous specimens (one unpublished) Saint-Saëns' third symphony shows many of the attributes of classicality. César Franck's symphony in D minor embodies most of his best qualities, together with much structural originality. Lalo's more fragile work in G minor displays a workmanship and individuality which entitles it to record. Chausson's Symphony in B-flat, despite its kinship with Franck, possesses a significance quite beyond its actual recognition. D'Indy, after composing an excellent cyclic work[Pg xiv] upon a French folk-song, produced his instrumental masterpiece with a second in B-flat, which for logical structure and fusion of classic elements with modernistic sentiment deserves to be classed as one of the finest of its time. If Russian symphony composers have not as a whole reached as high a mark as in the freer and more imaginative forms, nevertheless Rimsky-Korsakoff, Borodine, Balakireff, Glazounoff, Rachmaninoff, and Taneieff have displayed sympathy with classic ideals, and have achieved excellent if not surpassing results within these limits. The symphonies of Parry, Cowen and others in England have enlarged little upon the conventional scope. Elgar raised high hopes with his first symphony in A-flat, but speedily dismissed them with his second in E-flat. Sibelius, in Finland, having given proof of his uncommon creative force and delineative imagination in his tone-poems, has also exhibited unusual originality and vitality in his four symphonies. The last of these virtually departs from a genuine symphonic form, but its novelty alike in ideas and treatment suggests that he, too, demands greater elasticity of resource. For the problem of combining the native style and technical requirements of the symphony with modern sentiment is one of increasing difficulty.

The field of piano music, chamber works, songs and choral works is of too wide a range for detailed indication of achievement. The piano music of Balakireff, Liapounoff, Rachmaninoff, Scriabine, of Grieg, of Franck, Debussy, Dukas, and Ravel, of Cyril Scott and others merits a high place. The chamber music of Smetana, Dvořák, Grieg (despite its shortcomings), Franck, d'Indy, Fauré, Ravel, of Wolf, Strauss and Reger deserves an equal record. The songs of Wolf and Strauss, of Duparc, Fauré and Debussy, of Moussorgsky, of Sibelius; the choral works of Franck, d'Indy, Pierné, Schmitt, of Delius, Bantock, Elgar and other[Pg xv] Englishmen are conspicuous for technical and expressive mastery.


Apart from the general assimilation of the innovating features due to Wagner and Liszt, the most striking factor in musical evolution of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been the rise of nationalistic schools of composition. These have deliberately cultivated the use of native folk-song and dance-rhythms, and in the case of operas and symphonic poems have frequently drawn upon national legend for subjects. One of the earliest of these groups was the Bohemian, whose leader, Smetana, already mentioned in connection with the symphonic poem, chamber and piano music, also won a distinguished place by his vivacious comic opera 'The Bartered Bride,' known abroad chiefly by its inimitable overture. If Dvořák promised to be a worthy disciple of a greatly talented pioneer, his abilities were diffused by falling a victim to commissions from English choral societies, and in endeavoring to emulate Brahms. In reality he was most significant when unconscious, as in the Slavic Dances and his naïve and charming Suite, op. 39, although his symphony 'From the New World' and certain chamber works based upon negro themes are as enduring as anything he composed. Hampered by a truly Schubertian lack of self-criticism, his path toward oblivion has been hastened by this fatal defect, although his national flavor and piquant orchestral color deserve a juster fate.

In the Scandinavian countries Grieg, and, to a lesser degree, Nordraak, as well as Svendsen and Sinding tempered nationality with German culture. Grieg, the more dominant personality, was a born poet, and imparted a truly national fervor to his songs and piano pieces. In the sonata form he was pathetically inept, despite the former popularity of his chamber works and[Pg xvi] piano concerto. Certain mannerisms in abuse of sequence, and a too persistent cultivation of small forms, have caused his works to lose ground rapidly; nevertheless Grieg has given a poetic and nationalistic savor to his best music that makes it impossible to overlook its value.

A coterie of accomplished and versatile musicians which yields to none for intrinsic charm, vitality, and poetic spontaneity is that of the so-called Neo-Russians, self-styled 'the Invincible Band.' Resenting Rubinstein's almost total surrender to Teutonic standards, and scorning Tschaikowsky as representing a pitiable compromise between Russian and German standpoints, they revolted against conventional technique with as great pertinacity as did Galileo, Peri, Caccini, and Monteverdi in the late sixteenth century. Their æsthetic foster-father, Balakireff, for a time dominated the studies and even supervised the composition of the members—Borodine, Cui, Moussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakoff. Ultimately, each followed his own path, though not without a certain community of ideal. Aiming to continue the work of Glinka and Dargomijsky, both in opera and instrumental music, they wished to use folk-songs for themes and to utilize national legends or fairy stories. But they could not resist the alien form of the symphonic poem, and with it the orchestra of Liszt, and, while they opposed the Wagnerian dramatic forms, one at least, Rimsky-Korsakoff, could not withstand the palpable advantages of the Wagnerian orchestra. Their works combined the elements of western and oriental Russia, adhered largely to folk-song or elements of its style, and in the opera embodied folk-dances, semi-Pagan worship and ceremonial with striking nationalistic effect. Many of their orchestral pieces have taken place in the international repertory of orchestras; of the operas a smaller number have penetrated to European theatres. While the[Pg xvii] nationalistic operas of Rimsky-Korsakoff are little known beyond Russia, they show his talent in a broadly humanistic and epic standpoint, hardly hinted at in his orchestral works. Moussorgsky's Boris Godounoff, one of the finest operas since Wagner, claims attention from the fact that it attains dramatic vitality from a standpoint diametrically opposed to Wagner. The influence of Boris Godounoff is palpable as forming the subtle dramatic idiom of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Glazounoff, Taneieff, and Glière represent the cosmopolitan element among Russian composers of to-day. Of these Glazounoff is the most notable. His early symphonic poem, Stenka Razine, gave promise of an original and brilliant career, but instead he has become steadily more reactionary. Among his eight symphonies there is scarcely one that is preëminent from beginning to end. His ballets, Raymonda, 'The Seasons,' and 'Love's Ruses,' have been surpassed by younger men. His violin concerto is among his most able works. A master of technique and structure and a remarkably erudite figure, his lack of progressiveness has been against him. A younger composer, Tcherepnine, is known for his skillful ballets, 'Narcissus,' 'Pan and Echo,' and 'The Pavilion of Armida,' which incline, nevertheless, towards the conventional. Rachmaninoff is also of reactionary tendencies, although his piano concertos and his fine symphonic poem, 'The Isle of the Dead,' have shown his distinction.

The rise of the modern French school, largely owing to a patriotic reaction after the Franco-Prussian war and the liberal policies of the National Society, has brought about one of the most fertile movements in modern music. The transition from the operas of Gounod, Thomas, Bizet, and the early Massenet to those of Chabrier, Lalo, d'Indy, Bruneau, Charpentier, Debussy, Dukas, Ravel, and Fauré is remarkable for its concentrated progress in dramatic truthfulness. Similarly,[Pg xviii] beginning with the eclectic and facile Saint-Saëns, the more romantic and fearless Lalo, and the mystic Franck, through the audacious Chabrier and the suave and poetic Fauré, including the serious and devoted followers of Franck, d'Indy, Duparc, de Castillon, Chausson, and Lekeu, the versatile Dukas, to the epoch-making Debussy with the younger men like Ravel, Schmitt and Roussel, French instrumental music has developed, on the one hand, a fervently classic spirit despite its modernism and, on the other, an impressionistic exoticism which is without parallel in modern music. Aside from a vitally new harmonic idiom, which in Debussy reaches its greatest originality despite d'Indy, Fauré, and the later developments of Ravel, the attainment of racially distinct dramatic style in such works as Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Dukas' Ariane et Barbe-bleue, Ravel's L'Heure espagnole, and Fauré's Pénélope is one of the crowning achievements of this group. Furthermore, following the examples of the younger Russians, the ballets of Jeux and Khamma by Debussy, La Péri by Dukas, La Tragédie de Salomé by Florent Schmitt, Le Festin de l'Arraignée by Roussel, Orphée by Roger-Ducasse, and, most significant of all, Daphnis et Chloé by Maurice Ravel, have given a remarkable impetus to a genuine choreographic revival.

There has been no nationalistic development in England comparable to that in other countries, although there has been no lack of serious and sustained effort to be both modern and individual. The most important of British composers is undoubtedly Elgar, who has attained something like independence with his brilliant and well-made orchestral works, and more especially for his oratorio 'The Dream of Gerontius.' If Elgar only carried on further a systematized use of the leading motive as suggested by Liszt in his oratorios, it was done with a dramatic resource and eloquence which[Pg xix] made the method his own. Bantock, gifted with an orchestral perception above the average, showing a natural aptitude for exoticism, achieved a successful fusion of eclectic elements with individuality in his three-part setting of the Rubaîyat of Omar Khayyám. Other choral works and orchestral pieces have met with a more uncertain reception. William Wallace has been conspicuous for his imaginative symphonic poems, and the insight of his essays on music. Frederick Delius, partly German, has maintained a personal and somewhat detached individuality in orchestral, choral and dramatic works of distinctive value. Josef Holbrooke has been mentioned already for his unusual mastery of orchestral technique, and his courageous and ambitious attempts in opera. Many younger composers are striving to be personal and independent, though involuntarily affected by one or another of existent currents in modern music. Of these Cyril Scott attempts a praiseworthy modernistic and impressionistic sentiment, in which he leans heavily on Debussy's harmonic innovations. Thus, while English composers have been active, they have fallen to the ready temptations of eclecticism, a growing force in music of to-day, and in consequence their art has not the same measure of nationalistic import as in Russia, France, and Germany.


In the meantime, as the musical world has moved forward in respect to structure from the symphony to the symphonic poem, followed by its logical sequence the tone-poem, in which the elements of various forms have been incorporated, so has there been progress and even revolution in the technical material of music itself. Dargomijsky was probably the pioneer in using the whole-tone scale, as may be seen in the third act of his opera 'The Stone Guest,' composed in 1869.[Pg xx] Rimsky-Korsakoff elaborated on his foundation as early as 1880 in his opera Sniégourutchka. Moussorgsky showed unusually individual harmonic tendencies, as the first edition of Boris Godounoff before the revisions and alterations by Rimsky-Korsakoff clearly demonstrate. After casual experiments by Chabrier, d'Indy, and Fauré, Debussy founded an original harmonic system, in which modified modal harmony, a remarkable extension of whole-tone scale chords, the free use of ninths, elevenths and thirteenths are the chief ingredients. Dukas has imitated Debussy to some extent, Ravel owes much to him; both have developed independently, Ravel in particular has approached if not crossed the boundaries of poly-harmony. Scriabine, following the natural harmonic heritage of the Russians, has evolved an idiom of his own possessing considerable novelty but disfigured by monotony, in that it consists chiefly of transpositions of the thirteenth-chord with the alteration of various constituent intervals. What he might not have accomplished can only be conjectured, since his career has been terminated by his sudden death. Although Richard Strauss has greatly enlarged modern harmonic resource, his results must be regarded on the whole as a by-product of his contrapuntal virtuosity. In his treatise on harmony Schönberg refers to his 'discovery' of the whole-tone scale long after both Russians and French had used it, but it is noteworthy that Schönberg arrived at the conception of this scale and its chords with an absolute and unplagiaristic independence.

The most recent developments affecting the technical character of music are poly-harmony, or simultaneous use of chords in different keys, and free dissonant counterpoint. Striking instances of the former type of anarchic experiment may be found in the music of Igor Stravinsky, whose reputation has been made by the fantastic imagination and the dramatic sincerity[Pg xxi] of his ballets 'The Bird of Fire,' Petrouchka, 'The Ceremonial of Spring,' and 'The Nightingale.' In these he has mingled Russian and French elements, fusing them into a highly personal and extremely dissonant style, which in its pungent freedom and ingenious mosaic of tonalities is both highly diverting and poignantly expressive. Stravinsky is one of the most daring innovators of to-day, and both his dramatic vitality and the audacity of his musical conceptions mark him as a notable figure from whom much may be expected.

If Maurice Ravel, as shown in his ballet Daphnis et Chloé, was a pioneer in poly-harmony, Alfred Casella, of Italian parentage but of French education, has gone considerably further. Similar tendencies may be found in the music of Bartók, Kodály and other Hungarians.

It seemed formerly that Strauss had pushed the dissonant contrapuntal style as far as it could go, but his style is virtually conventional beside that of the later Schönberg. Schönberg has already passed through several evolutionary stages, but his mature idiom abjures tonality to an incredible extent, and he forces the procedures of free counterpoint to such audacious disregard of even unconventional euphony that few can compass his musical message. Time may prove, however, that tonality is a needless convention, and it is possible to declare that there is nothing illogical in his contrapuntal system. It lies in the extravagant extension of principles of dissonance which have already been accepted. It is indubitable that Schönberg succeeds in expressing moods previously unknown to musical literature, and it is conceivable that music may encompass unheard-of developments in this direction, just as poly-harmony has already proved extremely fruitful.

The developments of poly-harmony and dissonant contrapuntal style prophesy the near inadequacy of our present musical scale. Busoni and others have[Pg xxii] long since advocated a piano in which the sharps and flats should have separate keys. As music advanced from the modes to the major and minor keys, and finally to the chromatic scale, so the necessity for a new scale may constitute logically the next momentous problem in musical art.

Within recent years, the barriers of nationalism have become relaxed. An almost involuntary interchange of idioms has caused music to take on an international character despite a certain maintenance of racial traits. Eclecticism is becoming to a certain extent universal. Achievement is too easily communicable from one country to another. In some respects music was more interesting when it was more parochial. To prophesy that music is near to anarchy is to convict one's self of approaching senility, for the ferment of the revolutionary element has always existed in art. Since the time of Wagner and Liszt, however, musical development has proceeded with such extreme rapidity as to endanger the endurance of our traditional material. Poly-harmony, dissonant counterpoint and the agitation for a new scale are suspicious indications. Disregarding the future, however, let us realize that the diversity and complexity of modern music is enthralling, and that most of us can readily endure it as it now is for a little longer.

Edward Burlingame Hill.

May, 1915.

[Pg xxiii]


Introduction by Edward Burlingame Hill vii
I. By- and After-Currents of the Romantic Movement 1
Introductory; the term 'modern'—The 'old-romantic'
tradition and the 'New German' school—The followers of
Mendelssohn: Lachner, F. Hiller, Rietz, etc.; Carl Reinecke—Disciples
of Schumann: Robert Volkmann; Bargiel, Kirchner
and others; the Berlin circle; the musical genre artists:
Henselt, Heller, etc. (pianoforte); Jensen, Lassen, Abt, etc.
(song)—The comic opera and operetta: Lortzing, Johann
Strauss, etc.—French eclecticism in symphonic and operatic
composition: Massenet—Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Godard, etc.
II. The Russian Romanticists 37
Romantic Nationalism in Russian Music—Pathfinders;
Cavos and Verstovsky—Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka; Alexander
Sergeyevitch Dargomijsky—Neo-Romanticism in Russian
music; Anton Rubinstein—Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky.
III. The Music of Modern Scandinavia 59
The rise of national schools in the nineteenth century—Growth
of national expression in Scandinavian lands—Music
in modern Denmark—Sweden and her music—The
Norwegian composers; Edvard Grieg—Sinding and other
Norwegians—The Finnish Renaissance: Sibelius and others.
IV. The Russian Nationalists 107
The founders of the 'Neo-Russian' nationalistic school:
Balakireff; Borodine—Moussorgsky—Rimsky-Korsakoff, his
life and works—César Cui and other nationalists, Napravnik,
and others.
V. The Music of Contemporary Russia 137
The border nationalists; Alexander Glazounoff, Liadoff,
Liapounoff, etc.—The renaissance of Russian church music;
Kastalsky and Gretchaninoff—The new eclectics: Arensky,
Taneieff, Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, Glière, Rachmaninoff and others—Scriabine
and the radical foreign influence; Igor Stravinsky.
VI. Musical Development in Bohemia and Hungary 165
Characteristics of Czech music; Friedrich Smetana—Antonin
Dvořák—Zdenko Fibich and others; Joseph Suk and
Vitešlav Novák—Historical sketch of musical endeavor in
Hungary—Ödön Mihálovich, Count Zichy and Jenö Hubay—Dohnányi
and Moór; 'Young Hungary': Weiner, Béla Bartók
and others.
VII. The Post-Classical and Poetic Schools of Modern Germany 201
The post-Beethovenian tendencies in the music of Germany
and their present-day significance; the problem of
modern symphonic form—The academic followers of
Brahms: Bruch and others—The modern 'poetic' school:
Richard Strauss as symphonic composer—Anton Bruckner,
his life and works—Gustav Mahler—Max Reger—Draeseke
and others.
VIII. German Opera after Wagner and Modern German song 238
The Wagnerian after-current: Cyrill Kistler; August
Bungert, Goldmark, etc.; Max Schillings, Eugen d'Albert—The
successful post-Wagnerians in the lighter genre: Götz,
Cornelius and Wolf; Engelbert Humperdinck and fairy
opera; Ludwig Thuille; Hans Pfitzner; the Volksoper—Richard
Strauss as musical dramatist—Hugo Wolf and the
modern song; other contemporary German lyricists—The
younger men: Klose, Hausegger, Schönberg, Korngold.
IX. The Followers of César Franck 277
The foundations of modern French nationalism: Berlioz;
the operatic masters: Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Franck, etc.;
conditions favoring native art development—The pioneers
of ultra-modernism: Emanuel Chabrier and Gabriel Fauré—Vincent
d'Indy: his instrumental and his dramatic
works—Other pupils of Franck: Ernest Chausson; Henri
Duparc; Alexis de Castillon; Guy Ropartz.
X. Debussy and the Ultra-Modernists 317
Impressionism in Music—Claude Debussy, the pioneer
of the 'atmospheric' school; his career, his works and his
influence—Maurice Ravel, his life and work—Alfred
Bruneau; Gustave Charpentier—Paul Dukas—Miscellany;
Albert Roussel and Florent Schmitt.
XI. The Operatic Sequel to Verdi 366
The musical traditions of modern Italy—Verdi's heirs:
Boito, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Wolf-Ferrari, Franchetti,
Giordano, Orefice, Mancinelli—New paths; Montemezzi,
Zandonai and de Sabbata.
XII. The Renaissance of Instrumental Music in Italy 385
Martucci and Sgambati—The symphonic composers:
Zandonai, de Sabbata, Alfano, Marinuzzi, Sinigaglia, Mancinelli,
Floridia; the piano and violin composers: Franco
da Venezia, Paolo Frontini, Mario Tarenghi; Rosario Scalero,
Leone Sinigaglia; composers for the organ—The song
writers: art songs; ballads.
XIII. The English Musical Renaissance 409
Social considerations; analogy between English and
American conditions—The German influence and its results:
Sterndale Bennett and others; the first group of independents:
Sullivan, Mackenzie, Parry, Goring Thomas,
Cowen, Stanford and Elgar—The second group: Delius and
Bantock; McCunn and German; Smyth, Davies, Wallace
and others, D. F. Tovey; musico-literary workers, musical
comedy writers—The third group: Vaughan Williams, Coleridge-Taylor
and W. Y. Hurlstone; Holbrooke, Grainger,
Scott, etc.; Frank Bridge and others; organ music, chamber
music, songs.
Literature for Vols. I, II and III 445
Index for Vols. I, II and III 491

[Pg xxiv]

[Pg xxv]

[Pg xxvii]


The Garden Concert; painting by Watteau (in colors) Frontispiece
French Eclectics (Lalo, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Godard) 30
Russian Romanticists (Glinka, Dargomijsky, Rubinstein, Tschaikowsky) 48
Edvard Grieg 90
Jean Sibelius 104
Neo-Russian Composers (Moussorgsky, Balakireff, Borodine, Rimsky-Korsakoff) 122
Contemporary Russian Composers (Rachmaninoff, Glazounoff, Rebikoff, Glière) 150
Bohemian Composers (Smetana, Dvořák, Fibich, Suk) 178
Hungarian Composers (Count Zichy, Jenö Hubay, Dohnányi, Moór) 192
Modern German Symphonic and Lyric Composers (Mahler, Bruckner, Draeseke, Wolf) 202
Richard Strauss 214
Max Reger 226
Modern German Musical Dramatists (Humperdinck, Thuille, Pfitzner, Goldmark) 246
Modern French Composers (Chabrier, d'Indy, Charpentier, Ravel) 298
Claude Debussy 334
Contemporary Italian Composers (Mascagni, Wolf-Ferrari, Puccini, Zandonai) 372
Modern British Composers (Bantock, Sullivan, Parry, Elgar) 424

[Pg xxix]

[Pg xxx]


[Pg 1]


Introductory; the term 'modern'—The 'old-romantic' tradition and the 'New German' school—The followers of Mendelssohn: Lachner, F. Hiller, Rietz, etc.; Carl Reinecke—Disciples of Schumann: Robert Volkmann; Bargiel, Kirchner and others; the Berlin circle; the musical genre artists: Henselt, Heller, etc. (pianoforte); Jensen, Lassen, Abt, etc. (song)—The comic opera and operetta: Lortzing, Johann Strauss, and others—French eclecticism in symphonic and operatic composition: Massenet—Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Godard, etc.

The term 'Modern Music,' which forms the title of this volume, is subject to several interpretations. Just as in the preceding volume we were obliged to qualify our use of the words 'classic' and 'romantic,' partly because all such nomenclature is more or less arbitrary, partly because of the fusion of styles and dove-tailing of periods which may be observed in the history of any art, so it now becomes necessary to define the word 'modern' in its present application.

Now 'modern' may mean merely new or up-to-date. And in that sense it may indicate any degree of newness: it may include the last twenty-five years or the last century, or it may be made to apply to contemporaneous works only. But in another sense—that generally accepted in connection with music—it means 'advanced,' progressive, or unprecedented in any other period. Here, too, we may understand varying degrees of modernity. The devotees of the most recent development, impatient of the usual broad application of the term, have dubbed their school the 'futurist.' In fact, any of these characterizations, whether in a time sense[Pg 2] or a quality sense, are merely relative. Wagner's disciples, disdainful of the romanticists, called his music the 'music of the future.' Now, alas, critics classify him as a romantic composer! Bach, on the other hand, long popularly regarded as an archaic bugaboo, is now frequently characterized as a veritable modern. 'How modern that is!' we exclaim time and again, while listening to an organ toccata or fugue arranged by Busoni! Beethoven, the great classic, is in his later period certainly more 'modern' than many a romanticist—Mendelssohn, for instance, or even Berlioz—though only in a harmonic sense, for he had not the command of orchestral color that the great and turbulent Frenchmen made accessible to the world.

The newness of the music is thus seen to have little to do with its modernity. Even the word 'contemporary' gives us no definite clue, for there are men living to-day—like Saint-Saëns—whose music is hardly modern when compared to that of a Wolf, dead these twelve years, or his own late countrymen Chabrier and Fauré—not to speak of the recently departed Scriabine with his clavier à lumière.

But it is quite impossible to include in such a volume as this only the true moderns—in the æsthetic sense. We should have to go back to Beethoven with his famous chord comprising every degree of the diatonic scale (in the Ninth Symphony), or at least to Chopin, according to one interpretation. According to another we should have to exclude Brahms and all his neo-classical followers who content themselves with composing in the time-honored forms. (Since there will always be composers who prefer to devote themselves to the preservation and continuation of formal tradition, this 'classical' drift will, as Walter Niemann remarks, be a 'modernism' of all times.) Brahms has, as a matter of fact, been disposed of in the preceding volume, but the inclusion in the present volume of men[Pg 3] like Volkmann, Lachner, etc., some of whom were born long before Brahms, calls for an apology. It is merely a matter of convenience, just as the treatment of men like Glinka and Gade in connection with the nationalistic developments of the later nineteenth century is merely an expedient. Such chronological liberties are the historian's license. We have, to conclude, simply taken the word modern in its widest and loosest sense, both as regards time and quality, and we shall let the text explain to what degree a composer justifies his position in the volume. We may say at the outset that all the men reviewed in the present chapter would have been included in Volume II but for lack of space.

In Volume II the two great movements known as the classic and the romantic have been fairly brought to a close. Brahms and Franck on the one side, Wagner and Liszt on the other, may be considered to have concluded the romantic period as definitely as Beethoven concluded the classic. Like him, too, they not only surveyed but staked out the path of the future. But no great art movement is ever fully concluded. (It has been said by æsthetic philosophers that we are still in the era of the Renaissance.) Just as in the days of Beethoven there lived the Cherubinis, the Clementis, the Schuberts (as regards the symphony at least) who trod in the great man's footsteps or explored important by-paths, in some respects supplemented and completed his work; so there are by- and after-currents of the Romantic Movement which also cannot be ignored. They are represented by men like Lachner, Ferdinand Hiller, Reinecke and Volkmann in Germany; by Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Lalo in France; Gade in Denmark.[1] Some of their analogous predecessors have all but passed from memory, perhaps their own works will soon disappear from the current répertoire. Especially[Pg 4] in the case of the Germans (whose country has certainly suffered the strain of over-cultivation and over-production, and which has produced in this age the particular brand known as 'kapellmeister music') is this likely. But it must be borne in mind that these composers had command of technical resources far beyond the ken of their elder brothers; also that, by virtue of the more subjective qualities characteristic of the music of their period, as well as the vastly broadened musical culture of this later day, they were able to appeal more readily to a very wide audience.

The historical value of these men lies in their exploitation of these same technical resources. They thoroughly grasped the formulæ of their models; what the pioneers had to hew out by force, these followers acquired with ease. They worked diligently within these limits, exhausting the possibilities of the prescribed area and proving the ground, so to speak, so that newcomers might tread upon it with confidence. They were not as uncompromising, perhaps, as the pioneers and high-priests themselves and therefore fused styles that others thought irreconcilable. What seemed iconoclastic became commonplace in their hands. Thus their eclecticism opened the way for new originalities; their very conservatism induced progress.


Germany, it will be remembered, was, during Wagner's lifetime, divided into two camps: the classic-romantic Mendelssohn-Schumann school which later rallied about the person of Brahms, on the one hand, and the Wagner-Liszt, sometimes called the late-romantic or 'New German' school, on the other. The adherents of the former are those whom we have called the poets, the latter the painters, in music; terms applying rather to the manner than to the matter, since the 'painters,' for another reason—namely, because they[Pg 5] believed that a poetic idea should form the basis of the music and determine its forms—might with equal rights call themselves 'poets.' And, indeed, their followers, the 'New Germans,' among whom we reckon Mahler and Strauss, constitute what in a later chapter we have called the 'poetic' school of contemporary Germany.

Few musicians accepted Wagner's gospel in his lifetime. Raff and other Liszt disciples, the Weimar group, in other words, were virtually the only ones. A host, however, worshipped the names of Mendelssohn and Schumann. They gathered in Leipzig, their citadel, where Mendelssohn reorganized the Gewandhaus concerts in 1835,[2] and founded the Royal Conservatory in 1843, and in the Rhine cities, where Schumann's influence was greatest. These men flourished during the very time that Wagner was the great question of the day. While preaching the gospel of romanticism, they also upheld the great classic traditions. The advent of Brahms, indeed, brought a revival of pure classic feeling. This persists even to-day in the works of men whose romantic inspirations, akin to Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Chopin, find expression in forms of classic cast.

Both Schumann and Wagner were reformers interested in the broadening of musical culture, the improvement of taste, and the establishment of a standard of artistic propriety—Wagner on the stage, Schumann in the concert room. The former was successful, the latter [Pg 6]only partially so. For, while the standards of the concert room are much higher to-day than they were in Schumann's day, musical taste in the home, which should be guided by these standards, has, if anything, deteriorated. The reason for this lies primarily in one of the inevitable developments of musical romanticism itself—the genre tendency; secondarily, in the fact that, while the Wagnerians were propagandists, writers of copious polemics and agitators, the classic romanticists were purely professional musicians who disdained to write, preferring deeds to words (and incidentally doing far too much), or else, like Hiller, were feuilletonists, pleasant gossips about their art and nothing more.

The development of the small forms, the miniature, the genre in short, and the corresponding decay of the larger forms was perhaps the most outstanding result of the romantic movement. Wagner alone, the dramatic romanticist, continued to paint large canvases, frescoes in vivid colors. The 'poetic' romanticists were of a lyric turn, and required compact and intimate forms of expression. They had created the song, they had built up a new piano literature out of small pieces, miniatures like Schubert's 'Musical Moments,' Schumann's 'Fantasy Pieces,' Mendelssohn's 'Songs without Words,' Field's 'Nocturnes,' Chopin's Dances, Preludes, and Études. Franz, Jensen, Lassen, and others continued the song; Brahms, with his Intermezzi; Henselt, Heller, and Kirchner, with his piano miniatures, the piano piece. The first degenerated into Abt, Curschmann, and worse, the second into the type of thing of which 'The Last Hope' and 'The Maiden's Prayer' were the ultimate manifestations. Sentiment ran over in small gushes and drippings, even the piano study was made the vehicle for a sigh. The sonata of a former day became a sonatina or an 'impromptu' of one kind or another.

The parallel thing now happened in other fields. The concert overture of Mendelssohn had in a measure[Pg 7] displaced the symphony. What has been called the 'genre symphony' of Mendelssohn, Schumann, et al. was also in the direction of minimization. Even Brahms in his gigantic works emphasizes the tendency by the intermezzo character of his slow movements, by the orchestral filigree partaking of the chamber music style. Now came the revival of the orchestral suite by Lachner and Raff, the sinfonietta, and the serenade for small orchestra. Again we sense the same trend in the appearance of the choral ballad and in the tremendous output of small dramatic cantatas for mixed or men's voices.

In France, instrumental literature during the nineteenth century had been largely tributary to that of Germany, just as its opera earlier in the century was of Italian stock. But the development of the 'grand' opera of Meyerbeer, on the one hand, and the opéra comique, on the other, had produced a truly Gallic form of expression, of which the romanticism of the century made use. Gounod and his colleagues of the lyric drama; Bizet, the genius of his generation, with his sparkling rhythms, his fine tunes and his orchestral freshness; Délibes and David with their oriental color, compounded a new French idiom which already found a quasi-symphonic expression in the L'Arlésienne suites of Bizet. Berlioz stands as a colossus among his generation and to this day has perhaps not been quite assimilated by his countrymen. The Germans have profited from his orchestral reforms at least as much as the French. But he gave the one tremendous impetus to symphonic composition, stimulated interest in Beethoven and Weber and so pointed the way for his younger compatriots. Already he speaks of Saint-Saëns as an accomplished musician.

Saint-Saëns is, indeed, the next great exponent of the classic tradition as well as the earliest disciple of the late romantic school of Liszt and Wagner in France.[Pg 8] Beside him, Massenet, no less great as technician, forms the transition to modernism on the operatic side, while Lalo and Godard devote themselves to both departments. César Franck, the Belgian, stands aloof in his ascetic isolation as the real creator of the modern French idiom.


We shall now consider some of these 'transition' composers in detail; first the Germans, then the French.

Certain attributes they all have in common. Most of them lived long and prospered, enjoying a wide influence or popularity in their day; Lachner and Reinecke both came near to ninety; Volkmann near eighty; Saint-Saëns is still hale at eighty. All of them were highly productive: Hiller, Reinecke, Raff, and Lachner surpassed 200 in their opus-numbers; Saint-Saëns has gone well over a hundred; and Massenet has written no less than twenty-three operas alone. Nearly all of them were either virtuosos or conductors: Hiller, Reinecke, Saint-Saëns, Bülow, Henselt, Heller were brilliant pianists; Lachner, Saint-Saëns, and Widor also organists; Godard a violinist. The first four of these were eminent conductors. Most of them were pedagogues besides; some, such as Reinecke, Hiller, Jadassohn, Rietz, and Massenet, among the most eminent of their generation.

Franz Lachner is the oldest of them. He was born, 1803, in Rain (Upper Bavaria), and died, 1890, in Munich. Thus he came near filling out four-score and ten, antedating Wagner by ten years and surviving him by seven. His career came into actual collision with that of the Bayreuth master too, since the latter's coming to Munich as the favorite of the newly ascended King Ludwig II forced Lachner from his autocratic position as general musical director.

Many forces must have reacted upon an artist whose[Pg 9] life thus spans the ages. He was a friend of Schubert in Vienna, where he became organist in 1824, and is said to have found favor even with Beethoven. Sechter and Abbé Stadler gave him the benefit of their learning. After holding various conductor's posts in Vienna and in Mannheim he finally found his way to Munich, where he had already brought out his D minor symphony with success. As court kapellmeister he conducted the opera, the church performances of the royal chapel choir and the concerts of the Academy, meanwhile creating a long series of successful works, nearly all of which exhibit his astounding contrapuntal skill. His seven orchestral suites, a form which he and Raff revived, occupy a special place in orchestral literature, as a sort of direct continuation of Bach's and Händel's instrumental works. They are veritable treasure stores of contrapuntal art. Perhaps another generation will appreciate them better; to-day they have fallen into neglect. This is even more true of his eight symphonies, four operas, two oratorios, etc. Of his chamber music (piano quartets, string quartets, quintets, sextets, nonet for wind, etc.), his piano pieces and songs, influenced by Schubert, some few numbers have survived.

Most prominent in Mendelssohn's immediate train is Ferdinand Hiller. His junior only by two years (he was born Oct. 24, 1811, in Frankfurt), he followed closely in the footsteps of that master. Like him, he came of Jewish and well-to-do parents; like him, he had the advantage of an early training, a broad culture and wide travel. A pupil of Hummel and a brilliant pianist, he was presented to Beethoven in Vienna; in Paris he hobnobbed with Cherubini, Rossini, Chopin, Liszt, Meyerbeer and Berlioz, taught and concertized; in Milan he produced an opera (Romilda) by the aid of Rossini. Mendelssohn, already his friend, brought out his oratorio 'Jerusalem Destroyed' at the Gewandhaus in 1840, and in 1843-44 (after a sojourn in Rome)[Pg 10] he himself directed the Gewandhaus concerts made famous by Mendelssohn. Shortly after, he inaugurated a series of subscription concerts in Dresden, also conducting a chorus, and there brought out two operas (Traum in der Christnacht, 1845, and Konradin, 1847). Finally he did for Cologne what Mendelssohn had done for Leipzig by organizing the conservatory and the Gewandhaus concerts: he established the Cologne conservatory (1850) and became conductor of the Konzertgesellschaft and the Konzertchor, both of which participated in the famous Gürzenich concerts and the Rhenish music festivals. The eminence of his position may be deduced from the fact that in 1851-52 he was asked to direct the Italian opera in Paris. As teacher and pianist he was no less renowned. For that reason alone history cannot ignore him.

As a composer Hiller illustrates what we have said of the degeneration of the early romantic school into musical genre, though as a contemporary of Mendelssohn he must be reckoned as a by-rather than a post-romantic. He commanded only the small forms, in which, however, he displayed great technical finish, polished grace and a 'clever pedantry.' In short piano pieces, Rêveries (of which he wrote four series), impromptus, rondos, marches, waltzes, variations, and études he was especially happy. An F-sharp major piano concerto, sonatas and suites, as well as his chamber works (violin and 'cello sonatas, trios, quartets, etc.), are grateful and pleasing in their impeccable smoothness. But his six operas, two oratorios, three symphonies and other large works have gone the way of oblivion. His numerous overtures, cantatas, choral ballads, vocal quartets, duets and songs stamp him as a real, miniature-loving romantic. In productivity, too, he remains true to the breed; his opus numbers exceed two hundred. Hiller died in Cologne in 1885.

Another friend of Mendelssohn was Julius Rietz[Pg 11] (1812-77), whose brother Eduard, the violinist, had been the friend of the greater master's youth. He, too, after conducting in Düsseldorf, came to the Leipzig Gewandhaus as Gade's successor in 1848, took Mendelssohn's place as municipal musical director and taught at the conservatory until he became court kapellmeister and head of the conservatory in Dresden. His editorial work, the complete editions of the works of Bach, Händel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Mozart, published by the house of Breitkopf and Härtel, are important. His compositions are wholly influenced by Mendelssohn.

Among the few who actually had the benefit of Mendelssohn's personal tuition is Richard Wüerst (1824-81), whose activities were, however, centred in Berlin, where he was musical director from 1874, royal professor from 1877, and a member of the Academy. His second symphony (op. 21) was prize-crowned in Cologne and his cantata, Der Wasserneck, is a grateful composition for mixed chorus. Several of his songs also have become popular.

Karl Reinecke is less exclusive in his influence. He divides his allegiance at least equally between Mendelssohn and Schumann. He is the example par excellence of the professional musician, the cobbler who sticks to his last. He did not, like Hiller, indulge in literary chit-chat about his art, confining himself to writings of pedagogical import. He learned his craft from his father, an excellent musician and drill-master, and never had to go outside his home for direct instruction. Thus he became an accomplished pianist (unrivalled at least in one department—Mozart), at nineteen appeared as virtuoso in Sweden and Denmark, and in 1846-48 was court pianist to King Christian VIII. After spending some time in Paris he joined Hiller's teaching staff in Cologne conservatory, then held conductor's posts in Barmen and Breslau, and finally[Pg 12] (1860) occupied Mendelssohn's place at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. There, when the new building was dedicated in 1884, his bust in marble was placed beside those of Mendelssohn and Schumann, and not till 1885 was he dethroned from his seat of authority—with the advent of Nikisch. At the conservatory, too, his activity was continuous from 1860 on—as instructor in piano and free composition. From 1897 to his retirement in 1902 he was director of studies.

Reinecke was born in 1824 at Altona, near Hamburg, and enjoyed the characteristic longevity of the 'transition' composers, living well into the neighborhood of ninety. In fecundity he surpasses even Hiller, for his works number well-nigh three hundred. Besides Mendelssohnian perfection, well-rounded classic form and fine organization in workmanship, flavored with a touch of Schumannesque subjectivity, Reinecke shows traces of more advanced influences. The idioms of Brahms and even the 'New Germans' crept into his work as time went on. Of course, since Reinecke was a famous pedagogue, his piano compositions (sonatas for two and four hands, sonatinas, fantasy pieces, caprices, and many other small forms) enjoyed a great reputation as teaching material, which somewhat overshadowed their undoubted intrinsic value as music. His four piano concertos are no longer heard, nor are those for violin, for 'cello, and for harp. But his chamber music—the department where thorough musicianship counts for most—is no doubt the most staple item in his catalogue. There are a quintet, a quartet, seven trios, besides three 'cello sonatas, four violin sonatas, and a fantasy for violin and piano, also a sonata for flute. His most popular and perhaps his best work are the Kinderlieder, 'of classic importance in every sense, easily understood by children and not without interest for adults.'[3] Again it is the miniature form that prevails.[Pg 13] Similarly in the orchestral field, the overtures (Dame Kobold, Aladin, Friedensfeier, Festouvertüre, In memoriam) and the serenade for string orchestra have outlasted the three symphonies, while the operas ('King Manfred,' 1867, three others, and the singspiel 'An Adventure of Händel'), as well as an oratorio, masses, etc., have already faded from memory, though the smaller choral works, with orchestra and otherwise (including the Fairy Poems for women's voices and the cycle Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe), still maintain themselves in the repertoire of German societies.

Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902) was still more of a pedagogue and less of a composer. Yet he wrote copiously, over one hundred works being published. It is to be noted that he was a pupil of Liszt as well as Moritz Hauptmann, but he gravitated to Leipzig and lived there from 1852 on. He has a particular fondness for the canon form and makes his chief mark in orchestral and chamber music. But his teaching manuals on harmony and counterpoint are his real monument.


Undoubtedly the most important contemporary of Brahms, following in tracks of Schumann, was Robert Volkmann. His acquaintance with Schumann was the predominating stimulus of his artistic career, and, since Brahms is too big and independent a genius to deserve the epithet, Volkmann may count as the Düsseldorf master's chief epigone. He was but five years younger than Schumann, being born April 6, 1815, at Lommatzsch in Saxony, the son of a cantor, who instructed him in piano and organ playing. He studied theory with Anacker in Freiberg and K. F. Becker in Leipzig. He taught in Prague (1839) and Budapest (1842), lived in Vienna 1854-58, and again in Prague, where he was[Pg 14] professor of harmony and counterpoint at the National Academy of Music, and died in 1893.

His first published work, the 'Fantasy Pictures' for piano, appeared in 1839 in Leipzig. Unlike most other composers of this group, he managed to give his larger forms a permanent value; his two symphonies, in B major (op. 44) and D minor (op. 53) respectively, are still frequently played. Especially the last contains matter that is imbued with real feeling and effectively handled. His three serenades for string orchestra (opera 62, 63, and 69, the last with 'cello obbligato) are no less pleasing, and, in spite of the tribute which Volkmann pays to Schumann in all his works, even original. Of other instrumental music there are two overtures, the piano trio in B minor, which first made Volkmann's name more widely known, together with two string quartets in A minor and G minor, one other trio and four more quartets, a 'cello concerto, a romance each for 'cello and violin (with piano), a Konzertstück for piano and a number of small works for piano as well as for violin and piano. Among his vocal compositions two masses for men's voices and a number of secular pieces for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment are the most important.

Woldemar Bargiel (1828-97), Theodor Kirchner (1824-1903), Karl Grädener (1812-83), and Albert Dietrich (b. 1829) are all disciples of Schumann. The first, a stepbrother of Clara Schumann, is perhaps the most important. He worked chiefly with the orchestra and chamber combinations, his overture to 'Medea' and his trios being most noteworthy, but he contributed to choral and solo song literature as well. Kirchner is known for his finely emotional piano miniatures (some accompanied by string instruments) as well as for chamber music and songs. Grädener, too, composed in all these forms, and Dietrich, who was court kapellmeister in Oldenburg and was in close personal touch with[Pg 15] Schumann in Düsseldorf, left symphonies, overtures, chamber music and songs altogether in the spirit of the great arch-romantic.

The composers so far discussed constitute what is sometimes called the Leipzig circle. While they can not in any sense be considered as radicals, and, indeed, were frequently attacked as conservative or academic by the followers of the more radical wing which made its headquarters at Weimar, they appear distinctly progressive when compared with the ultra-conservative group of composers centred in Berlin, who made it their particular duty to uphold tradition and to apply their energies to the creation of choral music of rather antique type. 'It may be that the attitude of certain Berlin masters,' says Pratt,[4] 'like Grell, Dehn, and Kiel, serve a useful purpose as a counterpoise to the impulsive swing of style away from the traditions of the old vocal counterpoint. They certainly helped to keep musical education from forgetting solid structure in composition amid its desires to exploit impressionistic and sensational devices. Probably this reactionary influence did good in the end, though its intolerant narrowness exasperated the many who were eagerly searching out new paths. It at least resulted in making Berlin a centre for choral music of a severe type, for able teachers of the art of singing, for musical theory and for scholarly investigators of musical history.' It may be added that the Royal Academy was the stronghold of this extreme 'right wing,' and that the chief institutions which helped to uphold old vocal traditions were the Singakademie, the Domchor, the Institut für Kirchenmusik (later merged into the Hochschule für Musik). The Conservatory, founded in 1850 by Marx, Kullak, and Stern, and the Neue Akademie der Tonkunst, established in 1855 by Theodor Kullak, also acquired considerable importance.

[Pg 16]

Eduard August Grell (1800-86) gave proof of his contrapuntal genius in a series of sacred works including a sixteen-part mass, an oratorio, and a Te Deum, besides many songs and motets. He assisted Rungenhagen in conducting the Singakademie from 1832, becoming sole conductor and teacher of composition at the Academy in 1851, and was a musician of very wide influence. Siegfried Dehn (1799-1858) is chiefly important as teacher of a number of the composers mentioned in this chapter and as the author of treatises. Friedrich Kiel (1821-85), whose requiem in F minor has been called among all later works of this class the most worthy successor of those of Mozart and Cherubini, has also written a Missa Solemnis, an oratorio Christus, and another Requiem (A minor)—works which attest above all the writer's polyphonic skill, and which prove the appropriateness of applying such a style to modern works of devotional character. Kiel's Stabat mater, Te Deum, 130th Psalm and two-part motets for women's voices, as well as his chamber music and piano pieces, are all worthy of consideration. Karl Friedrich Rungenhagen (d. 1851) and August Wilhelm Bach (d. 1869), both noted as composers of choral music, may complete our review of the 'Berlin circle.'

There remain to be mentioned those specialists who are concerned almost exclusively with the two most characteristic mediums of the romantic genre—the piano piece and the song. Schumann and Chopin had brought the miniature piano composition to its highest plane of expression and the most advanced technical standard, which even the dramatic imagination and the virtuoso brilliance of Liszt could not surpass. They and such milder romanticists as Mendelssohn and John Field had brought this class of music within the reach of amateurs, Schumann even within that of the child. Brahms, with no thought of the dilettante, had intensified this form of expression, making a corresponding[Pg 17] demand upon technical ability. It remained for men like Adolf Henselt, Stephen Heller, and Theodor Kullak to popularize the new pianistic idiom, as Clementi, Hummel, and Moscheles had popularized that of the classics. These are the real workers in genre, monochrome genre, with their pictorial description, their somewhat bourgeois romanticism and sometimes maudlin sentimentality. Even their études are cast in an easy lyrical vein which was made to convey the pretty sentiment.

Henselt (1814-89) was an eminent pianist, born in Silesia, pupil of Hummel and Sechter in Vienna. After 1838 he lived in St. Petersburg. Pieces like the Poème d'amour and the 'Spring Song' are comparable to Mendelssohn's 'Songs without Words,' but they are more richly embroidered and of a fuller sonority. His F minor concerto is justly famous. Stephen Heller (1814-88) was also famous as a concert pianist. Of his compositions, to the number of 150, all for his own instrument, many are truly and warmly poetic in content. Though lacking Schumann's passion and Chopin's harmonic genius, he surpasses Mendelssohn in the originality and individuality of his ideas. In a number of his things, probably pot-boilers, he leans dangerously to the salon type of composition, with which many of his immediate followers flooded the market. We are all familiar with the album-leaf, fly-leaf, mood-picture, fairy and flower piece variety of piano literature, as well as the pseudo-nature study, the travel picture in which the Rhine and its castles and Loreley, the Alps and its cowbells, Venice with its barcarolles and Naples with its tarantellas figure so conspicuously.

Kullak (1818-82), already mentioned as the founder of the Neue Akademie of Berlin and famous both as pianist and teacher, wrote some 130 works, most of which is in the salon type or in the form of brilliant fantasias and paraphrases, less important, perhaps,[Pg 18] than his études ('School of Octave Playing,' etc.). The piano technicians Henri Hertz (1803-88), Sigismund Thalberg (1812-71), Karl Klindworth (b. 1830), Karl Tausig (1841-71), Nicolai Rubinstein (1835-81), brother of Anton and founder of the Moscow conservatory, and Hans von Bülow, of whom we shall speak later, might all be mentioned in this connection, though their work as virtuosi, teachers, and editors is of greater moment than their efforts as original composers.

The song engaged the exclusive activity of numberless composers of this period, and perhaps to a great extent with as untoward results as the piano piece. But there are, on the other hand, men like Eduard Lassen (1830-1904), Adolf Jensen (1837-79), and Wilhelm Taubert (1811-91) whose work, in part at least, will take a place beside that of the great romantics. Robert Franz, by far the most important of these, has been treated in Volume II (p. 289). Taubert is to-day chiefly known for his 'Children's Songs,' full of ingenuous charm and sincere feeling. It should not be forgotten, however, that their composer wrote a half dozen operas, incidental music for Euripides' 'Medea' and Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' as well as symphonies, overtures, chamber, piano and choral works. Berlin, his birthplace, remained his headquarters. Here he conducted the court concerts, the opera and the Singakademie, and was the president of the musical section in the Senate of the Royal Academy.

Adolf Jensen, in Hugo Riemann's judgment, is much more than Franz entitled to the lyric mantle of Schumann. His songs, appearing in modest series bearing no special title, have in them much real poetic imagination. They are unmistakably influenced by Wagner. Books 4, 6, and 22, as well as the two cycles Dolorosa and Erotikon, are picked by Naumann as especially noteworthy. The popular Lehn' deine Wang is most frequently sung, but is one of the less meritorious of[Pg 19] Jensen's songs. The composer has also been successful with pianoforte works, his sonata op. 25 and the pieces of opera 37, 38, and 42 being worthy essays along the lines of Schumann. An eminently aristocratic character and a profound subjective expression are their distinguishing features, together with the soft beauty of their melodic line. Jensen was a native of Königsberg (1837), and spent some years in Russia in order to earn sufficient money to live near Schumann in Düsseldorf, but the tragic end of the latter frustrated this plan. Hence he followed a call to conduct the theatre orchestra in Posen, later going to Copenhagen, Königsberg, Berlin, Dresden, and Graz. He died in Baden-Baden in 1879.

Lassen, another song-writer of distinction, came more definitely under the Liszt influence and will therefore be treated with the 'New Germans' in another section.

The degeneration of the song, corresponding to that of the small piano forms, is to be noted in the productions of such men as Franz Abt (1819-85) and Karl Friedrich Curschmann (1804-41). Abt is among song-writers the typical Spiessbürger, the middle-class Philistine dear to the Männerchor member's heart. His songs are of that popular melodiousness which at its best flavors of the folk-song and at its worst of the music hall. Of the former variety are 'Wenn die Schwalben heimwärts ziehn' and 'Gute Nacht, mein herziges Kind.' All of Abt's songs and vocal quartets are of the more or less saccharine sentimentality which for a time was such an appealing factor in American popular music. Indeed, when Abt visited the United States in 1872 he was received with extraordinary acclaim.

Curschmann's songs are perhaps slightly superior in musical value, and at one time were equally popular, but they are not as near to becoming folk-songs as are some of Abt's. Many others might be mentioned among[Pg 20] the purveyors of this sentimental stuff. If, as Naumann says, Taubert and his kind are the musical bourgeoisie, these are the small middle class. Arno Kleffel (b. 1840), Louis Ehlert (1825-84), Heinrich Hofmann (1842-1902), Alexander von Fielitz (b. 1860) may be regarded as standing on the border line of the two provinces.

Much more worthy, from a purely musical standpoint, are the frank expressions of good humor and hilarity, the light rhythmic sing-song of the comic opera and the operetta represented by Lortzing and Johann Strauss (Jr.), respectively. Albert Lortzing (1801-51) revived or perpetuated in a new (and more engaging) form the singspiel of J. A. Hiller and Dittersdorf, the genre which, as we remember, had its origin in the ballad operas of eighteenth-century England. For all his lightheartedness and ingenuousness, and despite his indebtedness to Italy and the opéra comique, Lortzing belongs to the Romantic movement. Bie is of that opinion and says of him: 'He was at bottom a tender and lightly sentimental nature running over with music and winning his popularity in the genre of the bourgeois song and the heart-quality chorus.' Born as the son of an actor, travelling around from theatre to theatre, learning to play various instruments, appearing in juvenile rôles, becoming actor, singer and conductor by turns, Lortzing fairly absorbed the ingredients that go to make the successful provider of light amusement. Successful he was only in an artistic sense—economically always 'down on his luck.' He began to compose early and turned out operas by the dozen, all dialogue operas or singspiele, writing (or adapting) both words and music. Not till 1835 did he make a hit—with Die beiden Schützen. Zar und Zimmermann, Der Wildschütz, Undine (a romantic fairy opera), and Der Waffenschmied are the most successful of his works, and still live as vigorous an existence in Germany as the Gilbert and Sullivan operas do in England. He became[Pg 21] more and more popular as time went on, for he had no successful imitator. No one after him managed to write such dear old songs, such funny ensembles, and such touching scenes of every-day life. No one, in short, could make people laugh and cry by turns with such perfect musical art. He is a classic, as classic in his form as Dittersdorf; but, as Bie says, Mozart, Schubert, and Weber had lived, and, for Lortzing, not in vain.

In this department, too, we must record a degeneration. It was accomplished notably by Victor Nessler (1841-90), whose Trompeter von Säkkingen still haunts the German opera houses, while its most popular number, Behüt dich Gott, is still a leading 'cornet solo,' zither selection, and hurdy-gurdy favorite.

Johann Strauss (1825-1899)[5] might be denied a place in many a serious history. But let us not forget that a large part of the public, when you say 'Strauss,' still think of him instead of Richard! And neither let us forget Brahms' remark about the 'Blue Danube' waltz—that he wished he might have written so beautiful a melody—was quite sincere. The 'Blue Danube' has become the second Austrian national anthem—or at least the leading Viennese folk-song. 'Artist's Life,' 'Viennese Blood,' 'Bei uns z'Haus,' 'Man lebt nur einmal' (out of which Taussig made one of the most brilliant of concert pieces)—these waltzes are hardly less beloved of the popular heart—and feet unspoiled by one-step or tango. In his operettas, too, whose style is similar to that of Offenbach and Lecocq (see II, p. 392 ff.), Strauss remains the 'waltz king': the pages of Die Fledermaus ('The Bat'), 'The Gypsy Baron,' and 'The Queen's Lace Handkerchief' teem with fascinating waltz rhythms. Strauss is as inimitable in his way as Lortzing was in his—to date he has no serious rival, unless it be the [Pg 22]composer of Rosenkavalier himself. Karl Millöcker[6] (1842-99) with the 'Beggar Student' and Franz von Suppé (1819-1895) with Das Mädchen vom Lande, Flotte Bursche, etc., come nearest to him in reputation. The latter should be remembered for more serious work as well, and the still popular 'Poet and Peasant' overture. He was the teacher of the American Reginald de Koven.


If Leipzig represents the centre, and Berlin the right wing, the group of Liszt disciples gathered together in Weimar must be taken as the 'left' of the romantic schools. Out of this wing has grown the new German school which is still in the heyday of its glory and among whose adherents may be reckoned most of the contemporary German composers. We have mentioned in this chapter only two of the older disciples of this branch, namely Raff (who has already been noticed in Vol. II), and Lassen, who is most widely known as a song-writer. The rest we defer to a later chapter.

Joseph Joachim Raff was born at Lachen, on Zürich lake, in 1822. The son of an organist, he first became an elementary teacher. His first encouragement came from Mendelssohn, but his hope to be able to study with that master was never realized. Bülow and Liszt were also helpful to him, but many disappointments beset his path. He followed Liszt to Weimar in 1850, became a collaborator on the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, and championed Wagner in a brochure entitled 'The Wagner Question' (1854). In the course of his sixty years (he died in Frankfurt in 1882) he turned out what is perhaps the largest number of works on record. His opus numbers go far beyond 200—even the indefatigable Riemann does not attempt a complete summary of them. There are 11 symphonies, 3 orchestral[Pg 23] suites, 5 overtures and orchestral works; concertos, sonatas, etc., for various instruments; 8 string quartets, a string sextet and an octet, piano trios, quartets, and every kind of smaller form imaginable. The piano pieces flavor in many cases of the salon. The songs, duets, vocal quartets and choruses are chiefly remarkable for their great number. His opera 'King Alfred' never got beyond Weimar, while some of his six others (comic, lyric, and grand) were not even performed. Out of all this mass only the Wald and Leonore symphonies have stood the test of time, and even these are rapidly fading.

Yet Raff was in some ways an important man. His extraordinary and extremely fruitful talent was subjected to the changing influences of the neo-classic and the late romantic school. If the Mendelssohnian model led him to emphasize the formalistic elements in his work, he soon realized that perfect form was only a means and not an end. That emotion, mood, and expression were not to be subordinated to it he learned from Liszt. Hence his works, descriptive in character as their titles imply, show the conflict between form and content which had already become a problem with Berlioz. His symphonies, now purely descriptive (a development starting with the pastoral symphony of Beethoven), now dramatic (with Berlioz's Fantastique as the model), are mildly programmistic and colorful, but have neither the sweep of imagination of Berlioz nor the daring brilliance of Liszt.

At any rate Raff had considerable influence upon others—Edward MacDowell among them. He 'proved,' as it were, the methods of the new German school along mediocre lines. He was a pioneer and not a mere camp follower as most of his contemporaries.

Hans von Bülow's (1830-94) importance as pianist, conductor, and editor overshadows his claim as a creative musician. As such he has left music for Shakespeare's[Pg 24] 'Julius Cæsar,' a symphonic mood-picture 'Nirvana,' an orchestral ballad 'The Singer's Curse,' and copious piano works. Their style is what may be expected from their creator's close associations with Liszt and Wagner, which are too well known for comment. He became Liszt's pupil in 1853 (marrying his daughter Cosima in 1857)[7] and was Wagner's staunchest champion as early as 1849. In his later years he gave evidence of a broad catholicity and progressive spirit by making propaganda for Brahms and propitiating the youthful Richard Strauss. In his various executive activities he accomplished miracles for the cause of musical culture, and as conductor of the Meiningen and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra laid the foundation of the contemporary conductor's art.

Eduard Lassen (1830-1904), who, through Liszt's influence, was made musical director at the Weimar court in 1858, becoming Hofkapellmeister in 1861, is chiefly known for his pleasing songs. His early training was received at the Conservatory, where he won the prix de Rome in 1851. The fact that his songs betray at times an almost Gallic grace is therefore not surprising. He wrote, besides two operas (Frauenlob and Le Captif), music for Hebbel's Nibelungen (11 'character pieces' for orchestra), for Sophokles' 'Œdipus Colonos,' and for Goethe's 'Faust'; also symphonies, overtures, cantatas, etc.

C. S.


Turning to France, we have as the leading 'transition' composers Massenet, Saint-Saëns, and Lalo, three musicians strangely difficult to classify. They remain on the margin of all the turbulent movements in modern musical evolution. Each pursued his own way and [Pg 25]the only point of contact between the three, outside of their uniformly friendly relations, is their individual isolation. Each might have turned to the other for sympathy in his loneliness. No doubt the spoiled and successful Massenet, the skeptical and mocking Saint-Saëns, and the noble and sensitive Lalo must have felt alone in the attacks or indifference of their fellow artists. Yet, aloof as they were, each in his way has been an important influence on French music. Massenet by the essentially French character of his melody, Saint-Saëns by his eminently Latin sense of form, and Lalo by the picturesque fondness for piquant rhythms, have each woven themselves into the very texture of modern French music, Saint-Saëns and Lalo in particular being propagandists for the new and vital growth of the symphonic forms in Paris during the last three decades. If there is less of the spectacular and the intense in their productions, there are qualities that make for a certain recognition and popularity over a relatively longer space of time. There is nothing enigmatic or revolutionary with either. Each expressed himself with varying degrees of sincerity in an idiom which, without pointing to the future, is nevertheless of the time in which it was written. If there are retrogressive qualities in Saint-Saëns, it must not be forgotten that he is one of the significant exponents of the symphonic poem. If Massenet attempted no revolutionary harmonic procedure, he nevertheless made a certain type of lyric opera all his own. If Lalo was content to compose in the conventional form known as symphony, concerto, quartet, etc., he none the less endowed them with a quality immediately personal and not present heretofore in these forms. They are all intimately related to French music as it has been and as it will be.

'I was born,' wrote Jules-Émile-Frédéric Massenet (1842-1912) in an article appearing in 'Scribner's Magazine,' 'to the sound of hammers of bronze.' With this[Pg 26] stentorian statement, which would have better served to inaugurate the biography of a Berlioz or a Benvenuto Cellini, Massenet tells us the bare facts of a more or less colorless life. With the exception of a few hard years during his apprenticeship at the Conservatoire, Massenet remains for well over a quarter of a century the idol, or rather the spoiled child, of the Parisian public. His reputation abroad is considerably less, the rôle of his elegant or superficial art being taken in Germany and America by Sig. Puccini. Nevertheless, even to the American public, little interested in the refined neuroticism of this child of the Second Empire, Massenet is not devoid of a certain charm.

To obtain an adequate idea of his importance among the group of composers of the late nineteenth century it is necessary to close one's ears against the railing of the snobbish élite. There is much in Massenet to criticize. If one thinks merely of the spirit which actuates his productions, one is very apt to be condemnatory. When one considers, however, a fluid and elegant technique such as was his, an amazing power of production that recalls the prolific masters of the Renaissance, and a power not only to please but even to dictate to the fickle operatic tastes of a quarter-century, one must stop one's criticism to murmur one's admiration. Massenet has probably never been justly appraised. Among his compatriots the critics allied with the young school are so vituperative as to render their opinions valueless. His admirers show an equal lack of proportion, being ofttimes friends rather than well equipped critics. Any just observer of musical history, however, must stop to consider the qualities of a man that could retain his hold upon the sympathies of a public rather distinguished for the fickleness and injustice of its tastes. To find the work that best exemplifies the Massenetian qualities among an opus that includes twenty-four operas, seven orchestral suites, innumerable songs,[Pg 27] some chamber music, and some incidental music for various popular productions, is not easy.

Let us pass his operas in rapid review. The first dramatic work of any importance is Le Roi de Lahore, given for the first time in April, 1877. In this opera, as in Hérodiade, which followed it four years later, there is much that has become permanently fixed in the concert répertoire. It is doubtful whether either will ever regain its place in the theatre. With Manon, however, an opéra comique in five acts, Massenet inaugurates a success that was to be undimmed until his death in 1912. Manon, since its production in 1884, has enjoyed a remarkable career of more than 1,200 productions in Paris. It is typical, as regards the text, of the successful libretto that the composer of Werther, of Le Jongleur de Nôtre Dame, and Thaïs was to employ. Massenet in his attitude toward adaptable literary material may be said to have had his ear to the ground. It is not surprising, therefore, that the passionate novelette of the Abbé Prévost should have attracted him, and in Manon one may observe the characteristics of the Massenetian heroine that were to make him so popular among the sensitive, subtle, spoiled, and restless women of our time. One enthusiastic biographer asserts that Massenet has taken one masterpiece to make another. Although one must acknowledge the undoubted charm of this fragile little opera, one cannot consider it on the same intellectual plane as that sincere epic of a young sentimentalist of the late eighteenth century. Throughout the five acts are scenes or parts of scenes that show Massenet at his best. Technically speaking, however, the work is often inferior to the one or two little masterpieces composed later on. In it a certain crudity and hesitation of technique are often apparent. The casual mingling of musical declamation with spoken dialogue is often unsatisfactory if not absolutely distasteful. It is in the splendid love-scene of Saint Sulpice[Pg 28] that the composer first gives a revelation of his remarkable powers as a musico-dramatic artist.

In 1892 at Vienna was presented a work that Massenet was never to surpass: Werther. This work has never attained the popularity of Manon, but it is infinitely superior in every detail. In it Massenet has achieved an elastic musical declamation that is almost unique in the history of opera. Throughout, with absolute deference to the principles of diction, the solo voice sings a sort of melodic recitative skillfully accompanied by a transparent yet marvellously colored orchestra. The comparative lack of success of Werther is no doubt due to the sentimentalization of a tale already morbid when fresh from the pen of Goethe. Naturally in adapting it to the stage, and especially to the French stage, the idyllic charm of Goethe's extraordinary tale has been lost. Also, the glamour of its quasi-autobiographical connection with a great poet has entirely vanished. With all these qualifications, one must nevertheless—if his opinion be not too influenced by musical snobbishness—acknowledge Werther to be a lyric work of the greatest importance.

There is only one other work that could add to Massenet's reputation or show another facet of his genius, Le Jongleur de Nôtre Dame. This work, founded upon a legend of the Middle Ages adapted with taste and discretion by Maurice Lena of the University of Paris, is a treasure among short operas. The skeptical box-holder of the theatre rejoices in the fact that there is no woman's rôle. The three brief acts centre about the routine of a monastery and the apparition of the Virgin. Massenet has treated this innocent historiette with a tenderness and care that belie the casual overproduction that characterized his career.

After Le Jongleur one is face to face with a sad succession of hastily composed, often mediocre, stage pieces. Upon the occasion of the presentation of the[Pg 29] posthumous opera Cleopatra at Monte Carlo in 1914, friendly critics pointed to the renewal of Massenet's genius. An examination of Cleopatra, however, reveals a deplorable use of conventional procedures with certain disagreeable mannerisms of the composer at their worst. Panurge, presented in 1913, is a better work. No doubt in composing it Massenet wished to achieve a French Meistersinger. He has fallen far short of this and one is forced to confess that the Gallic cock crows in a shrill and fragile falsetto.

Among Massenet's orchestral suites, it would be unjust to omit mention of the Scènes Alsaciennes. Also one can separate from the quantity of stage music composed for various dramatic pieces Les Erynnies, composed for the drama of Leconte de Lisle. An examination of the cantatas, 'Eve' in particular, is interesting as evidence of Massenet's extraordinary virtuosity.

So much for the actual works. When one considers the influence of Massenet upon the new musical school that sprang up in France after Franck, one can hardly exaggerate it. Among his pupils are many of the distinguished young musical Nihilists of to-day, for, if we admit the meretricious aims of Massenet in contemporary music, it is impossible not to admit, too, that he possessed one of the most certain techniques for the stage since Rameau. Absolutely conversant with the exactions of dramatic composition, one might say that in each bar of music he was haunted by the foot-lights. Musically speaking, the modelling of the Massenetian melody is characterized by an elegance that is sickly and cloying. Towards the end of his career there was no need to subject his music to the polishing that other composers find necessary. His mannerisms resolved themselves into tricks. The effect of these tricks was so certain as to enable this skillful juggler to intersperse pages of absolutely meaningless filling. In one department of technique, however, one can think of little but praise—that is Massenet's clear and sonorous orchestration. He is one of the shining examples of that economy of resources to be observed in present-day French composers. His orchestra is that of the classics, and yet he seems to endow it with possibilities for color and dramatic expression unknown in France, at least in the domain of theatrical composition, before his appearance.

His dominant fault is a nervous and ever-present desire to please at all costs. He had an uncanny power of estimating the receptivity of audiences and was careful not to go beyond well-defined limits. In Esclarmonde there is a timid attempt to acclimate the procedures of Richard Wagner to the stage of the Opéra Comique. We cannot share the enthusiasm of some of Massenet's critics for this empty and inflated imitation. It is not good Massenet, and it is poor Wagnerism, for the real Massenet, say what you will, is the Massenet of a few scenes of Manon, of the delicate moonlight reverie of Werther, and the cloying Meditation from Thaïs. The mistake of critics in appraising a composer like Massenet is that they assume that there is a platinum bar to standardize musical ideals. Massenet set himself to do something. He wanted to please. Haunted by the sufferings of his student life at the Conservatoire, he wanted to be successful; he was eminently so. If his means of obtaining this success seem questionable to those of us who believe in a continuous evolution of art, when we are confronted with the industry, the achievement, and the mastery of technical resources that are to be observed in Massenet, we must unwillingly acclaim him a genius.

We have already referred to Massenet's prodigious output. Besides his 23 operas his works include 4 oratorios and biblical dramas, his incidental music to any number of plays, his suites, overtures, chamber music, piano pieces and four volumes of songs, as well as a capella choruses. Massenet was a native of Montaud, near St. Étienne (Loire), studied at the Conservatoire with Laurent (piano), Reber (harmony), and Ambroise Thomas (composition). He captured the prix de Rome in 1863 with the cantata David Rizzio.

[Pg 30]


French Eclectics:

Édouard Lalo Benjamin Godard
Camille Saint-Saëns Jules Massenet

[Pg 31]


Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was born October 9th, 1835, in Paris. He lives to-day (1915) in possession of all his powers as an artist and a witty pamphleteer. In some respects Saint-Saëns may be dubbed a musical Voltaire. A master of all the forms peculiar to symphonic music, he has never succeeded in endowing his work with any quality save clarity and brilliance. One would almost think at times that he deliberately stifled emotional elements in himself of which he disapproved. There is scarcely any department of music for which he has not written. Symphonies, chamber music, songs, operas and a ballet, and all this in quantity. Saint-Saëns, too, has undeniably lofty musical standards. Prolific, like Massenet, too prolific, in fact, for the subtle, sensitive taste of our time, Saint-Saëns seems rather to defy the public than to make any effort to please. His skill as a technician and his extraordinary abilities as a virtuoso have won him immediate recognition with musicians. In examining the whole of his work, there are only four orchestral pieces which have enduring qualities. These are the four symphonic poems in which Saint-Saëns pays an eloquent tribute to the form espoused by his friend Franz Liszt. Of these, the finest is Phaëton. Strange to say, the best known of this tetralogy of masterpieces is not the best. Beside the magnificently picturesque Phaëton the Danse macabre seems a drab and inelegant humoresque. After Phaëton, Le Rouet d'Omphale must be given the place of distinction in the long list of Saint-Saëns's compositions.[Pg 32] In it the composer has given us a witty delineation of the irresistible powers of seduction of a truly feminine woman. The delicate orchestral texture entirely made up of crystalline timbres marks Saint-Saëns as one of the surest and most skillful manipulators of the modern orchestra since Wagner. As is characteristic of many French composers, there is a remarkable economy of means. Small aggregations of instruments achieve brilliant and compelling sonorities.

In the operatic field, Saint-Saëns is not happy. Here all of his reactionary neo-classicism found its full vent, and we are shocked to see a musician of Saint-Saëns's taste and intelligence employing the pompous conventionalities of the opera of 1850. 'Samson and Delilah,' however, has found its way into the répertoire no doubt on account of its fluent melodic structure and its agreeable exoticism. No matter what his technical excellences, one is conscious, with Saint-Saëns, of a certain sterility. Sometimes his music is so imitative of the classics as to be absolutely devoid of any reason for being. Bach and Mendelssohn are his great influences and Liszt and Berlioz have had a great part in the formation of his orchestral technique. M. Schuré remarks aptly: 'One notices with him a subtle and lively imagination, a constant aspiration to strength, to nobility, to majesty. From his quartets and his symphonies are to be detached grandiose moments and rockets of emotion which disappear too quickly. But it would be impossible to find the individuality which asserts itself in the ensemble of his works. One does not feel there the torment of a soul or the pursuit of an ideal. It is the Proteus, multiform and polyphonic, of music. Try to seize him, and he changes into a siren. Are you under the charm? He undergoes a change into a mocking bird. You believe that you have got him at last, then he climbs into the clouds like a hypogriff. His own nature is best discerned in certain witty fantasies of[Pg 33] a skeptical and mordant character, like the Danse macabre and the Rouet d'Omphale.' When one considers that Saint-Saëns has been before the public ever since the sixties, a period in which musical evolution has undergone the most rapid and surprising changes, it is not strange that he eludes characterization. He is a musician who has, as Mr. Schuré so aptly says, refused to set himself the narrow and rocky path of an ideal. He has consistently avoided extremes. Side by side with Saint-Saëns the modernist, the champion of the symphonic poem, is Saint-Saëns the anti-Wagnerian. He is one of the great pillars, however, in the remarkable edifice of French symphonic music.

With Romain Bussine, in 1872, Saint-Saëns founded the Société Nationale, an organization which was to have the most far-reaching influence on the development of French music. Like Lalo, Saint-Saëns worked for a sort of protective tariff to keep French symphonic music from being overwhelmed by the more experienced Teuton neighbors. As a pamphleteer and propagandist, Saint-Saëns is full of verve and always has the last word. He was one of the first to appreciate Wagner, but later, feeling that the popularity of the master of Bayreuth might overwhelm young French composers, he withdrew his sympathetic allegiance.

Édouard-Victor-Antoine Lalo was born in Lille in 1822. This modest, aristocratic, and noble-minded musician has scarcely enjoyed his just due even in this late day. He died, exhausted, in 1892. His whole artistic career was ill-fated. His opera, Le Roi d'Ys, and his ballet Namouna were both indifferently successful if not absolute failures. It is doubtful if Lalo ever recovered from the disappointment and overwork that attended the composition and production of Namouna. Without hesitation we should characterize these two works as his most important. There is an excellent symphony in G minor, a concerto for 'cello, the Symphonie[Pg 34] Espagnole for violin and orchestra, and a concerto for piano, all of an equally lofty musical texture. It is difficult to class Lalo with any group of musicians. He was mildly influenced by Wagner, as were all young musicians of his time, and yet Le Roi d'Ys is absolutely his own. Lalo came of Spanish parentage. It is probable that a certain sort of atavism is responsible for the constant suggestion of the subtle monotony of Spanish rhythms in his music. He is too distinct a Latin to be overwhelmed by Wagner.

It is very probable that Lalo will never be genuinely popular. The Symphonie Espagnole is in the répertoire of every virtuoso violinist. The same may be said of the concerto for 'cello, and yet it is doubtful if the layman of symphonic concerts would complain were he never again to hear anything of Lalo. This is due to a certain aristocratic aloofness, and emotional reserve, and an ever-present sense of proportion dear only to the élite.

Lalo's influence was not in itself far-reaching. A sincere, splendidly developed artist, he had none of the qualities that make disciples. As one of a group of musicians, however, that were to play an important rôle in saving French music from foreign domination and in finding an idiom characteristic and worthy of a country possessed of the artistic traditions of France, Lalo cannot be overestimated. As a member of the Armingaud quartet he worked fervently to create a taste for symphonic music. His own dignified symphonic productions supplemented this necessary work of propaganda, for it must not be forgotten that for almost a century before the advent of César Franck there was no French symphonic music. The French genius, insofar as it expressed itself in music at all, turned rather to the historical opera so pompously fashioned, or the witty and amusing opéra comique. Lalo must be considered with Saint-Saëns and Franck[Pg 35] as one of the pioneers in making a regenerate Parisian taste. His life is colorless and offers little to the critic in interpretation of his musical ideals. Lalo composed silently, with conviction, and without self-consciousness. He was singularly without theories. Concrete technical problems absorbed him, and in the refinement and nobility of his music is to be found the most eloquent essay upon the rôle of an artist who seeks sincere self-expression rather than general recognition.

As a leaven to the frivolous musical tastes prevalent in the French capital before the last three decades Lalo has played his part nobly. He will always be admired by all sincere musicians. His art is complete, devoid of mannerisms, plastically perfect, and yet without the semblance of dryness. In his symphony one will observe an unerring sense of form, an exquisite clarity of orchestration, and a happy choice of ideas suitable for development, Le Roi d'Ys is scarcely a masterpiece. The text is constructed from a pretty folk-story, is not very dramatic and occasionally gives one the impression of amateurishness and puerility. The music is exquisite and makes one regret that Lalo could not have found other and more suitable vehicles for his dramatic genius. Namouna is a sparkling, colorful ballet. When it was revived some years ago, a more propitious public enthusiastically revised the adverse verdict of 1882.

Little may be said of Benjamin Godard (1849-95) except that he wrote much, too much perhaps, in nearly all forms: symphonies (with characteristic titles, such as the 'Gothic,' 'Oriental,' Symphonie légendaire), concertos for violin and for piano, orchestral suites, dramatic overture, symphony, a lyric scene, chamber music, piano pieces, over a hundred songs, etc. Few of these are heard nowadays, even in France perhaps. Neither are his operas, Pédro de Zalaméa (1884), Jocelyn (1888), Dante et Béatrice (1890), Ruy Blas (1891),[Pg 36] La Vivandière (1895), and Les Guelfes (1902). Jocelyn—and, indeed, its composer—are perpetuated by the charmingly sentimental Berceuse, beloved of amateur violinists. Godard studied composition with Reber and violin with Vieuxtemps at the Conservatoire. He won the grand prix for composition awarded by the city of Paris with the dramatic symphony 'Tasso.' This, like the Symphonie légendaire, employs a chorus and solo voices in combination with the orchestra.

Two composers, noted especially for their organ works, should be mentioned in conclusion: Alexandre Guilmant (born 1837) and Charles-Marie Widor (born 1845). Both made world-wide reputations as virtuosos upon the organ, the former in the Trinité, the latter in St. Sulpice in Paris. Guilmant has travelled over the world and received the world's plaudits; Widor has remained in Paris while droves of pupils from all over the globe have gone back to their homes and have spread his fame. Both have composed copiously for the organ, Guilmant more exclusively so, also editing and arranging a great deal for his instrument. Widor has written two symphonies, choral works, chamber music, and piano pieces, songs, etc., even a ballet, La Korrigane, two grand operas, Nerto and Les Pêcheurs de St. Jean, a comic opera and a pantomime, Jeanne d'Arc. He is César Franck's successor as professor of organ at the Conservatoire, and since 1891 has taken Dubois' place in the chair of composition.

C. C.


[1] The last-named is treated with his compatriots in a succeeding chapter.

[2] The Gewandhaus Concerts properly date from 1763, when regular performances began under J. A. Hiller, though not given in the building known as the Gewandhaus until 1781. At that time the present system of government by a board of directors began. The conductors during the first seventy years were, from 1763: J. A. Hiller (d. 1804); from 1785, J. G. Schicht (d. 1823); from 1810, Christian Schulz (d. 1827); and from 1827, Christian August Pohlenz (d. 1843). The standard of excellence was already famous. But in 1835 Mendelssohn brought new éclat and enterprise, especially as he soon had the invaluable help of the violinist David. The list of conductors has been from 1835: Mendelssohn (d. 1847); from 1843, Ferdinand Hiller (d. 1885); from 1844, Gade (d. 1890); from 1848, Julius Rietz (d. 1877); from 1860, Reinecke; and from 1895, Arthur Nikisch.—Pratt, 'The History of Music.'

[3] Naumann: Musikgeschichte, new ed. by E. Schmitz, 1913.

[4] Waldo Selden Pratt: 'The History of Music,' New York, 1908.

[5] Strauss' father, Johann, Sr. (1804-1849), was, with his waltzes and the wonderful travelling orchestra that played them, as much the hero of the day as his son. The son first established an orchestra of his own, but after his father's death succeeded him as leader of the older organization.

[6] Karl Millöcker, b. Vienna, 1842; d. 1899, Baden, near Vienna.

[7] He was divorced from her in 1869 and she became the wife of Richard Wagner in the following year.

[Pg 37]


Romantic Nationalism in Russian Music; Pathfinders; Cavoss and Verstovsky—Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka; Alexander Sergeyevitch Dargomijsky—Neo-Romanticism in Russian Music; Anton Rubinstein—Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky.


Russian music as a whole is a true mirror of Slavic racial character, life, passion, gloom, struggle, despair, and agony. One can almost see in its turbulent-lugubrious or buoyant-hilarious chords the rich colors of the Byzantine style, the half Oriental atmosphere that surrounds everything with a romantic halo—gloomy prisons, wild mountains, wide steppes, luxurious palaces and churches, idyllic villages and the lonely penal colonies of Siberia. It really visualizes the life of the empire of the Czar with a marvellous power. With its short history and the unique position that it occupies among the world's classics, it depicts the true type of a Slav, the melancholy, simple and hospitable moujik, with more fullness of color and virility than, for instance, the German or Italian compositions depict the representative types of those nations. In order to understand the reason of this peculiar difference between Russian and West European music it is necessary to understand the social and psychological elements upon which it is built.

While the West European composers founded their creations upon the traditions of the masters, Russian music grew out of the very heart, the joys and the sorrows[Pg 38] of the common people. All the Russian composers of the early nationalistic era were men of active life, who became musicians only on the urgency of their inspiration. Glinka, for instance, was a functionary in the Ministry of Finance, Dargomijsky was a clerk in the Treasury Department, Moussorgsky was an army officer, Rimsky-Korsakoff an officer of the navy, Borodine was a celebrated inventor and scholar. Academic musicians are wont to find the stamp of amateurishness on most of the Russian classic music. To this Stassoff, the celebrated Russian critic, replied: 'If that is the case, our composers are only to be congratulated, for they have not considered the form, the objective issues, but the spirit, the subjective value of their inspirations. We may be uneven and amateurish as nature and human life are, but, thank Heaven, we are not artificial and sophisticated!'

Be it a song, instrumental composition, or opera, everything in Russian music breathes the ethnographic and social-psychologic peculiarities of the race, which is semi-Oriental in its foundations. Nationalism in music has been the watchword of most of the Russian composers since the very start. But, besides, there has been a strong tendency to subjective individualism, that often expresses itself in a wealth of sad nuances. This has been to a great extent the reason that foreigners consider melancholy the predominant racial quality, a view not just to Russian music as a whole, which is far too vigorous and healthy a growth to remain continuously under the sway of one emotional influence. To a foreign, especially an Anglo-Saxon ear Russian music may sound sometimes too realistic, sometimes too monotonous and sad without any obvious reason. It has been declared by foreign academicians lacking in cohesion, technique, and convincing unity. However, this is not a defect of Russian art, but a characteristic trait of its racial soul. Every Russian[Pg 39] artist, be he a composer, writer, or painter, in avoiding artificiality puts into his creation all the idiomatic peculiarities of his race without polishing out of it the vigor of 'naturalness.' Russian music, more than any other Russian art, expresses in all its archaic lines, soft shades, and polyphonic harmonies the peculiar temperament of the nation, which is just as restless and unbalanced as its life.

The fundamental purpose of the pathfinders of Russian music was to create beauties that emanated, not from a certain class or school, but directly from the soul of the masses. Their ideal was to create life from life. In order to accomplish their tasks they went back to melodic traditions of early mediæval music, to the folk-songs, the mythological chants and the folk dances. Since the Russian people are extremely musical, folk-song is a great factor in the nation's life and evolution. Music accompanies moujiks from the cradle to the grave and plays a leading rôle in their social ceremonies. Though profound melancholy seems to be the dominant note, yet along with the gloom are also reckless hilarity and boisterous humor, which often whirl one off one's feet, as, notably, in Glinka's Kamarinskaya. The phenomenon is startling, for music of the deepest melancholy swings unexpectedly to buoyant humor and exultant joy. This is explained by the fact that the average Russian is extremely emotional and consequently dramatic in his artistic expression. Very characteristic is a passage of Leo Tolstoy on Russian folk-song in which he writes:

'It is both sad and joyous, on a quiet summer evening, to hear the sweeping song of the peasants. In it is yearning without end, without hope, also power invisible, the fateful stamp of destiny, and the faith in preordination, one of the fundamental principles of our race, which explains much that in Russian life seems incomprehensible.'

[Pg 40]

The early Russian composers thus became creators in touch with the common people, the very opposite of the composers of German and Latin races, who created only for the salons of aristocracy. The latter were and remained strangers to the people among whom they lived. Everything they composed was strictly academic and expressed all the sentimentality and stateliness of the nobility. Although geniuses of great technique, in racial color, emotional quickness and spontaneity they remain behind the Russians.

In spite of the fact that all the early Russian composers were descendants of aristocracy, they remained in their feelings and in their themes, like Gogol, Dostoievsky, and Turgenieff in fiction, true portrayers of the common people's life. There has never been an aristocratic opera, a nobility music and salon influence noticeable in Russian musical development. This may be due to the fact that the Russian aristocracy is not a privileged superior class of the autocratic régime, as is that of Germany, Austria, Italy, and England, but merely an intellectual, more advanced element of the country. Thanks to Czar Feodor, the father of Peter the Great, who destroyed all the pedigrees, patents and papers of the nobility, saying that he did not want to see their snobbery and intrigue in his empire, there are no family documents in Russia which go back beyond the reign of Czar Feodor. There is no doubt that this autocratic proceeding has been beneficial to Russian art, particularly to music, in having made it democratic in its very foundations.

Though music has been cultivated in Russia since the time of Peter the Great, the origin of the true nationalistic school belongs to the Napoleonic era, the reigns of Alexander I and Nicholas I. Cosmopolitan that he was, Peter the Great disliked everything national, and invited Italian musicians to form a school of systematic musical education in his empire. But[Pg 41] Catherine II became deeply interested in encouraging native music and herself took an active part in the work. Between her political schemings and romantic affairs, she took time to write librettos, to invite musicians to her palace and to instruct them how to use the themes of the folk plays, fairy tales, and choral dances for a new Russian stage music. It is said that sixty new operas were written during her reign and produced on the stage of the newly-founded municipal opera house. One of them, 'Annette,' is quoted as the first wholly Russian opera, in librettist, theme, and composer.

A very conspicuous figure of the pre-nationalistic period of Russian musical history is C. Cavos (1776-1840), an Italian by birth, but a Slav in his work. He wrote songs, instrumental music and operas, more or less in Italian style but employing both Russian text and theme. His opera, 'Ivan Sussanin,' was considered a sensational novelty and the composer was hailed as a great genius of the country. But his works died as soon as they had loomed up under the protection of the court and nothing of his compositions has survived.

Close upon Cavos followed Verstovsky, whose operas 'Tomb of Askold' and 'Pan Tvardovsky' were produced in Moscow when Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. The first was built upon an old Slavic saga in which Askold, the hero, and his brother, Dir, play the same rôles as do Hengist and Horsa in Saxon chronicles. The other was founded upon an old Polish story of adventure somewhat resembling the Faust legend. Besides the operas Verstovsky composed a large number of songs, ballads, and dances. By birth a Pole and by education an Italian, his compositions resemble in many ways those of Rubinstein.

Russian musical conditions in the first half of the past century were very much like those in America at present. Besides Cavos and Verstovsky there had[Pg 42] been and were a number of more or less conspicuous imitators of the Italian school. Their works were as little Russian in character as Puccini's 'Girl of the Golden West' is American. But the advent of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert in Germany made a deep impression upon the music-loving Russians. The men upon whom the romantic German music made the strongest impression were Glinka and Dargomijsky, both inclined toward romantic ideals and themes. Their first striking move was to rebel against the Italian influences. 'Russia, like Germany, shall have its own music independent of all academic schools and foreign flavors, and it shall be a music of the masses. Music is more vigorous and more individual when it is national. We like individuality in life and literature, as in all arts and politics. Why should the world not cling more to the racial than to the cosmopolitan ideal? The tendency of Italian music is cosmopolitan. I believe that the tempo of music must correspond to the tempo of life. Our duty is to speak for all the nation.' Thus Glinka wrote at the critical moment.


Naturally Glinka's first attempts were ridiculed by contemporary salon critics and concert habitués, who looked at him as a 'moujik-maniac' and naïve dilettante. His attempt at something truly national in character was considered plebeian and undignified for a nobleman. But, encouraged by Shukovsky, the famous poet of that time and the tutor of the heir-apparent, later Czar Alexander II, Glinka published in 1833 the first volume of his songs and ballads, based purely on themes of folk-songs. As he was merely a functionary of the Ministry of Finance, without any systematic musical training and had no professional prestige, his work was ignored by the press, while society merely[Pg 43] made fun of him and his songs. It was evident that he could not get any hearing in this way.

Shukovsky, whose apartment at the palace was a rendezvous of artists and reformers of that time, suggested to Glinka that he compose an opera out of the rich material in his unpublished ballads, songs, and instrumental sketches, and he on his part would take care that it should be produced on the imperial stage. Shukovsky even outlined a libretto on an historical subject similar to that used by Cavos and suggested to name it 'A Death for the Czar.' Baron Rosen, the poetic private secretary of the Czarevitch, wrote the libretto under the supervision of Shukovsky and Glinka named it 'A Life for the Czar.' This was the first distinctly national Russian opera that stands apart from the Italian and German style. Instead of effective airs and elaborate orchestration Glinka emphasized the use of choruses and spectacular scenic methods, which are more natural to Russian life than the former. When the opera was produced in 1837 for the first time in St. Petersburg the people went wild about it and the young composer was hailed as a great æsthetic reformer. The czar appointed him to act as a conductor of the court choir, the famous pridvornaya kapella. The phenomenal success embittered the professional musicians of Russia and they began to fight the composer with redoubled vigor.

Fortunately the czar, and especially Shukovsky, were on the side of Glinka, so that all the intrigues of his enemies failed. Meanwhile he had composed several songs and a large number of ballads and orchestral pieces, of which Kamarinskaya and the 'Spanish Overture' are the most known. Glinka's songs and instrumental pieces are full of melody and color, and they are still sung and played in Russia, but the best he has created are his two operas. In 1842 he finished his second opera, 'Russlan and Liudmilla,' which, though[Pg 44] more poetic and melodious than 'A Life for the Czar', failed to arouse the enthusiasm which had greeted his first opera. The reason for that may have been that it was distinctly democratic and not historical, and historical pieces were a fad of that time.

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka was born in 1804, in the province of Smolensk, and his father, a wealthy nobleman, sent him at the age of thirteen to be educated in an aristocratic college in St. Petersburg. The young man was intended for the civil service of the government, but he loved music so passionately that he neglected his other studies and took lessons in piano and the theory of composition from various teachers of the capital until he was about to be expelled from the school. Graduated in 1824, he tried to get a position in the treasury department, but, failing in this, continued to study music till he secured it. Beethoven, Weber, and Schubert made a lasting impression upon his mind and he never ceased to worship them, though he never imitated them. Byron, Goethe, and Pushkin were the poets that inspired him most of all, and he used to say if he could be in his native music what those men had been in their native poetry he would die a happy man.

With all his lack of technical skill, Glinka remains the founder of the nationalistic school of music of his native land. In spite of his many shortcomings he is natural and superior to the opera composers of his time in Italy and Germany. As all Russians have inborn love of song and as that is expressed in manifold ways in their actual life more than in the life of any other nation, Glinka's main idea was to found the Russian opera on combined passages of realistic musical life, giving them a dramatic character. To emphasize this he made use of picturesque stage glitter and spectacular scenic effects. This betrays itself forcibly in the vivid colors that outline the semi-Oriental architecture[Pg 45] of a cathedral, palace, public building or cottage, or in the picturesque costumes for marriage, for burial and for the various other social and official ceremonies characteristic of Russia.

In his private life Glinka was just as unfortunate as Tschaikowsky. The girl he had begun to love passionately married a man of more promising social career. He married a woman whom he did not love and they were divorced after some scandal and difficulty. Then the woman whom he had first loved and who was married to a prominent army officer changed her mind and eloped with Glinka. In order to avoid a public scandal the czar forced the composer to relinquish the woman of his choice. Glinka obeyed and fell into a mood of melancholy which undermined his health little by little until he died in Berlin in 1857. But, strange to say, the private life of Glinka did not affect his compositions, for there is nothing extremely melancholy or sentimentally sad in his music. An air of sentimental romanticism emanates from his numerous ballads, songs, and instrumental works. Like the rest of his contemporaries he is lyric, full of color and sentiment in his minor works. One and all are distinctly national.

Together with Glinka, Dargomijsky undertook to carry the idea of nationalism in music into practice, in spite of all the objections of contemporaries. They met frequently and became close friends. Their aspirations were the same, though Glinka was socially prominent by reason of his official position, and Dargomijsky was a mere clerk in the treasury department and composed chiefly for his own pleasure. It was much more difficult for him than for Glinka to obtain social recognition, though the majority of his works are far more national and artistic than Glinka's. His songs stand close to the heart of the moujik. 'Glinka is an artist of the nobility, I am of the peasants,' was[Pg 46] the way Dargomijsky defined the difference between Glinka and himself.

Born on February 2, 1813, in the province of Tula, Alexander Sergeyevitch Dargomijsky was the son of a postal official, who lost his position and property in Moscow when Napoleon occupied that city. The boy grew up in great poverty and the only education he received was that given by his parents. At the age of twenty he made a trip to St. Petersburg and managed to get the position of clerk in the treasury department. Here he continued his studies in music, which had been near his heart since early childhood. After a few years of strenuous work he realized that it was more important for him to collect and study folk-music than to acquire the technique and theory of the art of music, and with this in view he undertook excursions to the villages during the summer vacation, collecting folk-songs, attending festivals and social ceremonies of the peasants. In this way he stored up a huge material and knowledge for his individual work. His first attempt was a series of songs and ballads. In 1842 Dargomijsky resigned his official position to devote his time exclusively to music. His first opera, 'Esmeralda,' had a great success in Moscow and gave him some prestige and courage to undertake the composition of his second opera, 'The Triumph of Bacchus,' which, however, was a failure.

Dargomijsky's masterpiece is and remains his opera Russalka ('The Nymph'), which is composed to a libretto based upon a poem of Pushkin. It takes a listener to the picturesque and romantic banks of the Dnieper River, where the heroine, Natasha, the daughter of a miller, is deserted by a princely lover. In despair she flings herself into the river and is at once surrounded by a throng of the russalkas—the nymphs, with whom Russian imagination has populated every brook, lake, and river. She herself becomes a nymph[Pg 47] and eventually succeeds in enticing her false lover to her arms beneath the water.

Dargomijsky's last opera, 'The Marble Guest,' for the libretto of which he used the poetic drama of Pushkin, based on the legend of Don Juan, was produced only after his death in 1872. It differs from his previous operas by the predominance of recitative, concerted pieces being almost banished. Like Glinka, he was not over-prolific in his compositions. Besides the four operas he wrote only five or six orchestral pieces, some thirty songs and ballads and a few dances. Tschaikowsky complained bitterly that he was too lazy, although he admitted that Dargomijsky was greatly hampered by lack of systematic musical education.

Like Glinka, Dargomijsky was unhappy in his private life. The woman whom he loved so deeply was the wife of another man, and the one who loved him found no response on his part. He was relieved of his worries for daily bread after his Russalka made a success on the stage. His apartment was the real rendezvous of the group of young Russian nationalistic composers who surpassed him by far in their works, such as Borodine, Moussorgsky, Balakireff, César Cui, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and Seroff. Dargomijsky died in 1869.


At the same time that the Balakireff group of Russian nationalists began its work in St. Petersburg a romantic temple was founded by Rubinstein. Among the masters of Russian music he occupies an interesting place, being, as it were, a link between the lyric Oriental and the nationalistic Slav. In many ways he was a phenomenal figure. Though he laid the corner-stone of the modern Russian musical pedagogic system and was a dominant authority of his time, he never caught the true national spirit of Russia and by no means all his talented pupils became his followers. He died a man disappointed in his ideals and ambitions. 'All I care about after my death is that men shall remember me by this conservatory; let them say, this was Anton Rubinstein's work,' he said, pointing to the Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg,[8] of which he had been not only the founder but the director for many years.

During all his influential life Rubinstein was bitterly opposed to the Russian nationalistic school of music, at the head of which stood Balakireff, Moussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakoff. He referred to them as to dabblers and eccentric amateurs. Even toward his pupil, Tschaikowsky, he assumed a condescending attitude. His veneration of the classics was almost fanatical. In the genius of his contemporaries he had no faith. He truly believed that music ended with Chopin. Even Wagner and Liszt were small figures in his eyes. To the realistic style initiated by Berlioz and the music dramas of Wagner he was indifferent. His aspirations were for the highest type of pure music, but he lacked the ability to transform his own ideals into something real. Lyric romanticism was all he cared for. The slightest innovation in form, all attempts at realism in music, upset his æsthetic measuring scale. But, despite his deficiencies and faults, he deserves more credit from posterity than it seems willing to accede to him. Saint-Saëns has said: I have heard Rubinstein's music reproached for its structure, its large plan, its vast stretches, its carelessness in detail. The public taste to-day calls for complications without end, arabesques, and incessant modulations; but this is a fashion and nothing more. It seems to me that his fruitfulness, grand character and personality suffice to class Rubinstein among the greatest musicians of all times.'

The outspoken romanticism of Rubinstein's works is in a sense akin to the spirit of Byron's poems. There is a passionate sweetness in his melodies that one finds rarely in composers of his type. But in giving overmuch attention to objective form, he often missed subjective warmth, especially in his operas and his larger instrumental works. He achieved the greatest success in his songs of Oriental character, from which there breathes the spirit of a heavy tropic night. But in these his best moments he remains exotic and inexplicable to our Occidental ears.

[Pg 48]


Russian Romanticists:

Mikhail Glinka Alexander Dargomijsky
Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky Anton Rubinstein

[Pg 49]

Romantic as his music was the course of Rubinstein's life. He himself, according to Rimsky-Korsakoff, blamed the romantic incidents of his life for his shortcomings. 'I was spoiled by the flattery of high society, which I received during my first concert tour as a boy of thirteen,' Rubinstein told his brother composer. 'It made me conceited and fanatical. The misery that I endured later wasted the best creative years of my life, and the sudden success which followed my acquaintance with the Grand Duchess Helen [the sister of the Czar, who loved him] killed my aspirations for the higher work by making me unexpectedly the dictator of Russian musical education. If I had worked up step by step by my own efforts I would have reached the goal of my ambition.' At any rate the unusual career of Rubinstein explains the psychological side of his achievements and disappointments. Born in 1829 in the village of Vichvatinetz, in the Province of Podolia, in southwestern Russia, he began to study the piano at the age of eight in Moscow. His teacher, Alexander Villoing, at once realized that his pupil was a genius and for five years spent his best efforts upon him. When the boy was thirteen his teacher undertook a concert tour with him, first through Russia, later abroad. Rubinstein was a pianistic marvel and was received everywhere with the greatest enthusiasm. Chopin and Liszt declared him a 'wonder child.' After three years of touring he settled[Pg 50] in Paris, lived in princely style and spent all the money he had earned. Feeling the pinch of poverty, he went to Vienna to secure the influence of Liszt, who advised him to go to Berlin and gave him letters of introduction. There he found the city in a state of revolution and abandoned by society. In despair and almost starving, Rubinstein pushed on to St. Petersburg, where the once celebrated prodigy began to earn his living with piano lessons at fifty cents until by a mere chance he secured the position of pianist in the court choir. At this time he composed his first opera, Dimitry Donskoi, which was performed with some success.

Rubinstein now undertook another trip to Liszt, at Weimar, and there he met the Grand Duchess Helen, who at once invited the young pianist to be her guest in Italy. This was the beginning of his career. In 1856 Rubinstein composed some of his songs and piano pieces and soon after this the Imperial Conservatory of Music was founded in St. Petersburg and Moscow with the Grand Duchess as patroness. In 1862 Rubinstein became the director of the conservatory in St. Petersburg and held the position until 1867 and later from 1887 to 1891. In 1865 he married and made his residence at Peterhof, where he lived in close touch with Russian society. During this period of power and comfort Rubinstein composed his sonatas, symphonies, operas, and piano pieces, few of which are ever performed nowadays.

Rubinstein's orchestral and operatic works occupy a place between Schumann and Meyerbeer. His most popular orchestral compositions are 'Faust,' 'Ivan IV,' 'Don Quixote,' and his Second Symphony, 'Ocean.' The other five symphonies are rather stately, cold tone pictures without any definite foundation. More known, and even frequently performed, are his chamber music pieces, the 'cello sonata in D major, and the trio in B[Pg 51] major. Of his operas and oratorios only one work, 'The Demon,' has survived in the classic Russian répertoire. The rest are long forgotten. Of longer life than Rubinstein's orchestral and operatic compositions are his piano pieces, especially his barcarolles, preludes, études, and dances. All of his larger piano pieces are, like his orchestral works, prolix, diffuse and full of unassimilated ideas. Through all his compositions there blows a breath of Oriental romanticism, something that reminds one of the 'Thousand and One Nights.' A peculiar sweetness and brilliancy of harmony distinguish his style, but these particular qualities make Rubinstein unpopular in our realistic age. It is true that his piano pieces have little that is individual, but they are graceful and aristocratic. To an ear attuned to modern impressionism they are nothing but graceful, warmly colored salon pieces devoid of arresting features. But whatever may be the fate of Rubinstein's instrumental music, he was a composer of excellent songs, which will be sung as long as man lives. They are the very crown of his creations. From among his numerous ballads and songs 'The Asra,' 'The Dream,' 'Night,' etc., are especially enchanting. In them he stands unmatched by any composer of his time. The number of his works surpasses one hundred; there are ten string quartets, three quintets, five concertos, three sonatas for violin and piano, two for 'cello and piano, two for violin and orchestra. According to Russian critical opinion he was an imitator of Mendelssohn and Schumann. But the fact is he suffered from the overwhelming influence of the German classics, whom he did not assimilate thoroughly, and from being one of the greatest of piano virtuosi of his age, which absorbed most of his attention and time. It is not unnatural that a great executive artist should acquire the forms of those composers whose works he performs most. In following these[Pg 52] models Rubinstein simply demonstrated a psychological rule.

Rubinstein's main importance in Russian music resides in the fact that he laid the foundation of a nation-wide musical education, so that now the national and local governments are back of a serious æsthetic culture. Besides having been twice a director of the Imperial Conservatory of Music in St. Petersburg, he was from time to time a director of the Imperial Musical Society and conductor of the St. Petersburg symphony concerts. He died in 1894 in Peterhof and is buried in the graveyard of Alexandro-Nevsky monastery, near to his rivals, Balakireff, Borodine, and Moussorgsky.


An artist of the same school as Rubinstein, yet entirely different in works and spirit, was Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky. Rubinstein was a creative virtuoso, Tschaikowsky was a creative genius. They took the same general direction in form and themes, but otherwise a wide abyss separated these two unique spirits of Russian music. Tschaikowsky had Rubinstein's passion and technical skill, the same lyric style, and, like him, adhered to West European form, but in his essentials he remains a Russian of the most classic tendencies; his language is that of an emotional Slav. His music glows with the peculiar fire that burned in his soul; rapture and agony, gloom and gayety seem in a perpetual struggle for expression. With all its nationalistic riches there is nothing in Tschaikowsky's tonal structures that resembles those of his contemporaries. He is a romantic poet of classic pattern, yet wholly a Russian. He is altogether introspective, sentimentally subjective, and ecclesiastically fanatic. With all his Slavic pathos and subjective vigor Tschaikowsky builds his tone-temples in Gothic style, which he never leaves.[Pg 53] That is very largely the reason why his music is so phenomenally popular abroad, while his contemporaries have, despite their originality and greatness, remained in his shadow.

Tschaikowsky's compositions are as strange as his inner self. His likening his artistic expressions to a violent contest between a beast and a god no doubt had its psychological reason. That there is much mystery in his life and its relation to his art is apparent from the following passage with which Kashkin, his biographer, closes his book,[9] 'I have finished my reminiscences. Of course, they might be supplemented by accounts of a few more events, but I shall add nothing at present, and perhaps I shall never do so. One document I shall leave in a sealed packet, and if thirty years hence it still has interest for the world the seal may be broken; this packet I shall leave in the care of Moscow University. It will contain the history of one episode in Tschaikowsky's life upon which I have barely touched in my book.'

That seal is still unbroken. All we can guess of the nature of the secret is that it involves a tragedy of romantic character. We shall get a closer idea of the great composer when we consider a few characteristic episodes of his private life in connection with his career as a musician. Peter Ilyitch Tschaikowsky was born in 1840, in the province of Viatka, where his father was the general manager of Kamsko-Botkin's Mills. He showed already in his early youth a great liking for music and poetry, but the wish of his parents was that he should make his career as an official of the government. With this in view he was educated in the aristocratic law school in St. Petersburg. Graduated in 1859, he became an officer in the department of the Ministry of Justice. While he was a student in the law school he kept up his studies of music by taking [Pg 54]lessons from F. D. Becker and K. I. Karel and did not give them up even when he became an active functionary with less leisure than before. The desire for a thorough musical education gave him no peace until he entered the newly founded Conservatory of Music, where Rubinstein and Zarembi became his teachers. Though regularly the course was longer, Tschaikowsky was graduated after three years of study, in 1866, and at once was invited to become a professor of harmony in the Imperial Conservatory of Music in Moscow. During the first years of his life as a teacher Tschaikowsky composed some smaller instrumental and vocal pieces, which were performed with marked success, partly by his pupils, partly by touring musical artists. His first large compositions were the First Symphony, which he composed in 1868, and his opera Voyevoda, which he wrote a year later. Both these compositions were less successful than his earlier ones. Nevertheless the disappointment did not discourage the young composer, for he proceeded to compose new operas, 'Undine,' Opritchnik, and 'Vakula the Smith,' besides some music for orchestra. In 1873 he composed the ballet 'Snow Maiden,' and then followed in succession his Second, Third, and Fourth Symphonies.

Assured of a pension of three thousand rubles ($1,500) a year and an extra income from the royalty of his published music, Tschaikowsky resigned his teaching post and devoted all his time to composition. His Fourth Symphony had to some extent satisfied his ambition as a symphonic composer, since it had been received enthusiastically by the public in both Moscow and St. Petersburg; he now threw all his efforts into opera. In 1878 he finished his Evgheny Onegin, his greatest opera, besides his two ballets.

In spite of his stormy private life and various romantic conflicts Tschaikowsky was a prolific worker. Besides the above-mentioned operas he wrote six symphonies,[Pg 55] of which the last two have gained world-wide fame, three ballets, the overtures 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'The Tempest,' 'Hamlet,' and '1812,' the 'Italian Caprice,' and the symphonic poem 'Manfred.' Besides these he wrote two concertos for piano and orchestra, one concerto for violin, three quartets, one trio, over a hundred songs, some thirty smaller instrumental pieces and a series of excellent church music. They vary in their character and quality. Some of them are truly great and majestic, while others are of mediocre merit. Opritchnik, Mazeppa, Tcharodeiki, and Jeanne d'Arc are dramatic operas, while Evgheny Onegin, Pique Dame, and Yolanta are of outspoken lyric type. Tscherevitschki and 'Vakula the Smith' are his two comic operas.

Though Tschaikowsky's ambition was to excel in opera, his symphonic compositions represent the best he has written, especially his Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Symphonies, 'The Tempest,' the Marche Slav, 'Manfred,' his piano concerto in B-flat minor, and his three ballets, 'Snow Maiden,' 'Sleeping Beauty,' and 'Swan Lake.' He is a perfect master of counterpoint and graceful melodies. How well he mastered his technique is proven by the careful modelling of his themes and figures. But in opera his grasp is behind those of his rivals. There is too much of the West European polish and sentimentality, and too little of the elemental vigor and grandeur of a Russian dramatist.

To the period of Tschaikowsky's last years as a teacher in Moscow, especially from 1875 to 1885, belong the mysterious romantic troubles which presumably became the foundation of his creative despair, the pessimism which has made him the Schopenhauer of sound. Here may lie the secret of all the turbulent emotionalism from which emanated those tragic chords, all the wild musical images, that incessant melancholy strain which characterize his works. In 1877 he married[Pg 56] Antony Ivanovna Millukova, but their married life was of short duration. There are many strange stories as to his despair on account of an unhappy love. Tschaikowsky was an affectionate friend of a Mme. von Meck, with whom he was in perpetual correspondence and who gave him material aid in carrying out his artistic ambitions, though he had never met her. Why he did not is a mystery. It is said that he contemplated suicide upon many occasions. He told his friend Kashkin that twice he had gone up to his knees in the Moscow River with the idea of drowning himself, but that the effect of the cold water sobered him. When his wildest emotions seized him he would rush out and sit in the snow, if it was winter, or stand in the river until numb with the cold. This cured him temporarily, but he insisted that he remained a soul-sick man. 'I am putting all my virtue and wickedness, passion and agony into the piece I am writing,' he wrote to a friend while composing his Symphonie Pathétique.

In 1890 Tschaikowsky celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his musical activity and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Music by Cambridge University. He made a tour of America, of which he spoke in high terms as a country of new beauties and new life. One of his remarks is characteristic. 'The rush and roar of that wild freedom of America still haunts me. It is like fifty orchestras combined. Although you do not see any Indians running about the streets of New York, yet their spirit has put a stamp on its whole life. It is in the everlasting activity and the stoic attitude toward what we call fate.'

One of the peculiar traits of Tschaikowsky was his indifference to his creations after they had been produced. He even disliked to hear them and always found fault with his early compositions, especially with his operas; yet he did not know how he could have improved them. Exceptions, however, were his Fourth[Pg 57] and Sixth Symphonies, his 'Eugen Onegin,' Sérénade Mélancholique, his Concerto in D, and a few other compositions. While working upon his favorite opera he was also engaged upon his Fourth Symphony. When 'Eugen Onegin' was first performed in Moscow, Tschaikowsky whispered to Rubinstein, who was next to him in the audience: 'This and the Fourth Symphony are the decisive works of my career. If they fail I am a failure.'

Tschaikowsky died suddenly, October 25, 1893, in St. Petersburg—of cholera, as it was said officially. But according to men who knew him intimately he poisoned himself. This, we may be sure, is one of the secrets sealed by Kashkin.

Tschaikowsky was one of the greatest masters of the orchestra the world has seen. In effects of striking brilliance and of sombreness he is equally successful, and it is no doubt in a great measure on account of this Slavic splendor that his orchestral works have won the public. Yet he is far more than a colorist. His mastery over orchestral polyphony is supreme. There is always movement in his music, a rising and falling of all the parts, a complicated interweaving, never with the loss of sonority and richness. He is a great harmonist as well and an irresistible melodist. His rhythms are full of life, whether they are march, waltz or barbarous wild dances. The movement in five-four time in the Sixth Symphony is in itself a masterpiece and has stimulated countless efforts in the directions to which it pointed. It must be admitted that melody, harmony, and rhythm, all bear the stamp of the Slavic temperament, and, in so far as they are Slavic or racial, they are vigorous and healthy; but often Tschaikowsky becomes morbidly subjective, is obviously not master of his mood, but slave to it. Hence, after frequent hearings, there comes a weight upon the listener, an intangible oppression[Pg 58] which he would be glad to avoid, but which cannot be shaken off. One detects the line of the individual and forgets the splendor of the race.

Yet through Tschaikowsky the glories of Russian music were revealed to the general public. He occupies a double position, as a Russian and as a strange individuality, whose influence has been pronounced upon modern music. The Russian composers unquestionably hold a conspicuous place among those composers who have been specially gifted to hear new possibilities of orchestral sound and to add to the splendor of orchestral music. Many of them denied Wagner. The question of how far the peculiar powers of the orchestra have been developed by them independently of Wagner, with results in many ways similar, may become the source of much speculation. It is quite possible that, thanks to their own racial sensitiveness, they have devised a brilliant orchestration similar but unrelated to Wagner.

I. N.


[8] Established by the Imperial Musical Society in 1862.

[9] Kashkin: 'Life of Tschaikowsky' (in Russian).

[Pg 59]


The Rise of national schools in the nineteenth century—Growth of national expression in Scandinavian lands—Music in modern Denmark—Sweden and her Music—The Norwegian composers; Edvard Grieg—Sinding and other Norwegians—The Finnish Renaissance: Sibelius and others.

The most striking characteristic of the music of the nineteenth century has doubtless been its astonishing enrichment in technical means. Its next most striking characteristic is easily its growth in national expression. National art-music in the modern sense was almost unknown before the nineteenth century. The nearest thing to it was a 'Turkish march' in a Mozart operetta or sonata, or an 'allemand' or 'schottisch' in a French suite. The national differences in eighteenth century music were differences of school, not of nationality. It is true that Italian music usually tended to lyricism, French to dexterity of form, and German to technical solidity; it is true further that these qualities corresponded in a rough way to the characteristics of the respective nations. But all three used one and the same musical system; they differed not so much in their music as in the way they treated their music.

In the nineteenth century the national feeling found expression as it never had before. The causes of this were numerous, but the most important were two of a political nature: First, the spread of the principles of the French Revolution made democracy a far more general fact than it had ever been before; political authority and moral influence shifted more and more from the rulers to the people and the character of the[Pg 60] ordinary men and women became more and more the character of the nation. Second, the resistance called forth by Napoleon's wars of aggression aroused national consciousness as it had never been aroused before. Napoleon, with a solid national consciousness behind him, was invincible until he found a national consciousness opposed to him—in Spain in 1809, in Russia in 1812, and in Germany in 1813. Only the sense of nationality had been able to preserve nations; and it was the sense of nationality that thereafter continued to maintain them.

To these two political causes we may perhaps add a third cause—one of a technical-musical character. With the early Beethoven the old classical system of music had reached its apogee. When this was once complete and firmly implanted in people's consciousness contrasting sorts of music could be clearly apperceived. Once the logical course of classical development was finished, men's minds were free to look elsewhere for beauties of another sort. So when a political interest in the common people led men to investigate the people's folk-songs, musical consciousness was at the same time prepared to appreciate the striking differences between art-music and folk-music.

Now all the national music of the nineteenth century is based in a very real sense on the folk-music of the people. The music of the eighteenth century could not be truly national, because it was supported chiefly by the aristocracy, and an art will inevitably tend to express the character of the people who pay its bills. The differences between the aristocracy of one nation and that of another are largely superficial. The court of Louis XV was distinguished from that of Frederick the Great chiefly by the cut of the courtiers' clothes. But the France of 1813 was distinguished from the Germany of 1813 by the mould of the national soul. And the national soul can be seen very imperfectly in the[Pg 61] official art of a nation; it must be sought for in the popular art—in the myths, the fairy tales, the ballads, and the folk-songs. So when the newly awakened national consciousness began to demand musical expression, it inevitably sought its materials in the music of the people.


In the eighteenth century this popular music was thought too crude to be of artistic value. The snobbishness of political life was reflected in the prevailing attitude toward art. Because the people's melodies were different from the accepted music they were held to be wrong. Or rather, one may say that cultivated people hardly dreamed of their existence. Gradually, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, scholars became aware of the value of popular art. Herder was the first important man to discover it in Germany, and he passed his appreciation of it on to Goethe. By the opening of the nineteenth century the appreciation of folk-art was well under way. Collections of folk-songs and folk-poetry were appearing, and their high artistic value was being recognized. With the first decade of the century the impulse reached the Scandinavian lands, and their national existence in art began.

These countries had of course been free from the immediate turmoil of the Napoleonic wars. They had suffered, as all Europe had suffered, but they had not been obliged to defend their nationality with their blood. Denmark and Norway-Sweden had been for centuries substantially independent, and Finland, which had been in loose subjugation alternately to Sweden and Russia, was practically independent for some time until a political pact between Napoleon and the Czar Alexander made her a grand duchy of Russia; but even as a part of the Russian Empire she suffered no violation of her national individuality until late in the[Pg 62] nineteenth century. Political independence and geographical isolation had left the northern nations somewhat turgid and provincial. Their artistic life had been largely borrowed. The various courts had their choirs and kapellmeisters, usually imported from Germany. Native composers were infrequent; composition was largely in the hands of second-rate musicians from Germany who had migrated that they might be larger fish in a smaller puddle. And the composition was, of course, entirely in the foreign style. Stockholm and Copenhagen had their opera in the latter half of the eighteenth century, but the works performed were chiefly French and Italian. These imported works set the standard for most of the native musical composition. Toward the end of the eighteenth century German influence began to predominate, especially in Denmark, where the German Singspiel took root and enjoyed a long and prosperous career. The German influence was much more proper to the Scandinavian lands than that of France or Italy, but it had not the slightest relation to a national art. Danish stories occasionally appeared in the subject matter, but the music was substantially that of Reichardt and Zelter in Germany. In Sweden the course of events was the same. Occasionally national subject matter appeared in operatic librettos, but in the music never. Sweden, which up to the beginning of the nineteenth century continued to be a force in European political affairs, had naturally enjoyed a considerable degree of intercourse with other nations, and was all the more influenced by them in her art. Norway and Finland, however, were completely isolated, and received their musical ministrations not at second hand but at third. In all these countries there was a considerable degree of musical life (choirs, orchestras, and dramatic works), but this was almost wholly confined to the large cities. Yet all these nations had the possibilities[Pg 63] of a rich artistic life—in national traditions, in folk-song, and in a common sensitiveness of the racial soul. All four nations are distinctly musical, and in Denmark and Finland especially the solo or four-part song was cultivated lovingly in the home and in the smaller communities.

From their isolation and provincialism the Scandinavian countries were awakened, not by direct, but by reflex impulse. The vigorous national life of other European lands gradually stimulated a sympathetic movement in the two Scandinavian peninsulas. Denmark saw its first good collection of folk-songs in 1812-14, Sweden in 1814-16. In 1842 came A. P. Berggreen's famous collection of Danish songs, and about the same time the 540 Norse folk-songs and dances gathered and edited by Ludwig Lindeman. Doubtless this interest had some political significance. But far more important than these was the appearance in 1835 of the first portion of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, which has since taken its place beside the Iliad and the Nibelungenlied as one of the greatest epics of all time. This remarkable poem seems to have been genuinely popular in origin. It remained in the mouths and hearts of the people throughout the centuries, almost unknown to the scholars. A Finnish physician, Elias Lönnrot, made it his life work to collect and piece together the fragments of the great poem. In 1835 he published thirty-five runes, and in 1849 a new edition containing fifty—all taken down directly from the peasants' lips. This work had a decided political significance. It intensified and solidified the national consciousness, tending to counterbalance the influence of the Swedish language, which until then had been unquestionedly that of the cultivated classes; later it formed a buffer to the Russian language which the Czar attempted to force upon the Finns by imperial edict. It served to arouse the national feeling to such[Pg 64] a pitch that Finland has in recent years been the chief thorn in the Czar's side. And this fact, as we shall see, helped to give the Finnish music of the last three decades its intense national character.

The distinctly national movement in Scandinavian countries began, as we have said, in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Its growth thereafter was steady and uninterrupted and was aided by the generous spread of choral and symphonic music. In the first stage the music written was based chiefly on German models, but it was written more and more by native Scandinavians. In the second stage (roughly the second third of the century) the native composers wrote music that was based on the national folk-music, but timidly and vaguely. In the third stage, the folk-tunes were frankly utilized, the national scales and rhythms were deliberately and continuously called into service, and the whole musical output given a character homogeneously and distinctively national. It was in this stage that the Scandinavian music became known to the world at large. Grieg, a man of the highest talent, possibly of genius, made himself one of the best loved composers of the nineteenth century, and awakened a widespread taste for the exotic. Together with Tschaikowsky the Russian he made nationalism in music a world-wide triumph. After his success it was no longer counted against a composer that he spoke in a strange tongue. The very strangeness of the tongue became a source of interest; and if there was added thereto a strong and beautiful musical message the new composer usually had easy sailing. The outward success of Grieg doubtless stimulated musical endeavor in Scandinavian lands, and enabled the world at large to become familiar with many minor talents whose reputations could otherwise not have passed beyond their national borders. Finally, there has arisen in Finland the greatest and most individual of all Scandinavian[Pg 65] composers, and one of the most powerful writers of music in the modern world—Jean Sibelius. In him the most intense nationalism speaks with a universal voice.

The folk-music which made this Scandinavian nationalism possible is rich and extensive. Apparently it is of rather recent growth, but this fact is offset by the isolation of the countries in which it developed. It is of pure Germanic stock (with the exception of certain Eastern influences in the music of Finland). Yet it has a marked individuality, a perfume of its own. This is the more remarkable as we discover that in external qualities it exhibits only slight differences from the German folk-song. The individuality is not obvious, as with the Russian or Hungarian folk-music, but subtly resident in a multitude of details which escape analysis. Not only is the Scandinavian music clearly distinct from that of the other Germanic lands, but the music of each of the four countries is subtly distinguished from that of all the others. The Danish is most like the ordinary German folk-song with which we are familiar. It is not rich in extent or variety of mood. Its chief qualities are a discreet playfulness and a gentle melancholy. In formal structure it is good but not distinguished. It is predominantly vocal; in old and characteristic dances Denmark is lacking. The Swedish folk-music is in every way richer. It does not attain to the extremes of animal and spiritual expression, like the Russian, but within its fairly broad limits it can show every variety of feeling. Even in its liveliest moments it reveals something of the predominant northern melancholy, but the dances, which are numerous and spirited, reveal a buoyant health. The thin veil of melancholy which has been so often noticed is not nearly so prominent as a certain refined sensuality. Sweden, more than any of the other Scandinavian lands, has known periods of cosmopolitan luxury. She has become a citizen of the world, with something of[Pg 66] the man-of-the-world's self-indulgence and self-consciousness. So her folk-songs frequently reveal an exquisite sense of form which seems French rather than Germanic.

The Norse folk-song naturally shows a close relationship with that of Sweden, but in every point of difference it tends straight away from the German. Norway has for centuries been a primitive country in its material conditions; a country of tiny villages, of valleys for months isolated one from the other; a country of pioneer virtues and individualistic values. Large cities are few; the ordinary machinery of civilization is even yet limited. The economic activities are still in great measure primitive, and much of the work is out of doors, as in shipping, fishing and pasturing. The scenery is among the grandest in the world. So it is not surprising that the Norwegian folk-music is vigorous and sometimes a little crude, and that it reveals an intense feeling for nature. The people are deeply religious and filled with the stern Protestant sense of a personal relation with God. The tender and mystic aspects of the music are less easy to account for; many of the songs are an intimate revelation of subtle mood, and others show a tonal vagueness which in modern times is called 'impressionistic.' More than the Swedish songs they are spontaneous and poetic. If they reflect nature it is in her personal aspect. They show not so much the Norwegian mountains as the fog which covers the mountains. They sing not so much the old Vikings as the quiet people who have settled down to fishing and trading when their wanderings are over. They reveal not the face of nature, but her bosom on which lonely men may rest.

The Finnish music is of a mixed stock. Primarily it is an adaptation of the Swedish, and the greater number of Finnish songs are externally of Swedish mould. But Lapland has also contributed her child-like[Pg 67] melodies. The true Finnish music, however, is that drawn from the legendary sources of the original race. The melodies of the old runes retain their primitive aspects, and are unlike those of any other nation. They are doubtless the very melodies to which the Kalevala was originally sung. Externally monotonous and heavy, they reveal strange beauties on closer examination. They are distinguished by many repetitions of the same note, by irregular or ill-defined metre, and by a long and sinuous melodic line. Another typical sort of melody is the 'horn-call,' developed from the original blasts of the hunting-horn. The theme of the trio of the scherzo of Sibelius' second symphony is typical of the rune melody. Finally the Russian influence may be felt in many of the older Finnish tunes—in uncertain tonality and a peculiar use of the minor. This mixture of musical forces is indicative of the ethnological and social mixture which is the Finnish race. The Finns are primarily a Mongolian people. From the Laplanders to the north they received what that simple people had to give. For centuries they were under the domination of Sweden; Swedish was the language of their literature and their cultured conversation, and Swedish was their official civilization. A considerable accession of Swedish immigrants and infusion of Swedish blood left their affairs in the control of Germanic influences. (It is on this account that the Finnish is included in a chapter on Scandinavian music.) Finally, a nearness to Russia and an intermittent subjugation to the Czardom brought into their midst Russian influences which were assimilated flexibly but incompletely. In the late nineteenth century Finland experienced a renaissance of national feeling. The genuine Finnish language gained the uppermost, and provided a rallying point for the resistance to the Czar's attempted Russianization of his duchy. Finnish traditions displaced those of the Vikings.[Pg 68] And Finland began to stand forth as an oriental nation with a heroic background. Therefore, though her music developed largely out of Germanic materials, it has become, under Sibelius (himself of Teutonic blood), a thing apart.

The use of folk-music on the part of the Scandinavian composers seems to have been less deliberate and conscious than in the case of the 'neo-Russian' nationalists.[10] In the earliest composers who can be regarded as national it is scarcely to be noticed. For some years after Danish music began to have a national character the actual presence of folk-elements was to be detected only on close examination. Such a careful writer as Mr. Finck indignantly denies that Grieg made any deliberate use of folk-music. In his view the melodies of the people are so inferior to those of Grieg that to suggest the latter's indebtedness is something in the nature of blasphemy. Nevertheless, in the process of nationalizing the northern music the patriotic composers introduced the spirit and the technical materials of the folk-music into conscious works of art. Just what the process was is hardly to be known, even by the composers themselves. We know that Grieg was an ardent nationalist and studied and admired the folk-songs. To what extent he imitated or borrowed folk-melodies for his compositions is not of first importance. Probably, with the best of the nationalists, the process was one of saturating themselves in the music of their native land and then composing personally, and from the heart. At all events, it is certain that the influence of any folk-music, deeply studied, is too pervasive for a sensitive composer to escape.

Since the first third of the nineteenth century the Scandinavian composers have been heavily influenced by the prevailing German musical forces. German musicians were frequent visitors or sojourners in Scandinavian[Pg 69] cities, and the musicians of the northern lands sought their education almost exclusively in Germany. Hence Scandinavian music has reflected closely the changes of fashion that prevailed to the south. Mendelssohn and Schumann (through the work of Gade) were the first dominating influences. Chopin influenced their style of pianistic writing, and Wagner and Liszt in due time influenced their harmonic procedure. Music dramas were written quite in the Wagnerian style, and a minor impulse toward programme music came from Berlioz and Liszt. In the art of instrumentation Wagner and Strauss received instant recognition and imitation—an imitation which soon became a schooling and developed into a pronounced native art. Even Brahms had his share in the work, primarily in the shorter piano pieces which have been so distinctive a part of the Scandinavian musical output, and latterly in the 'absolute' polyphonic work of Alfvén, Stenhammar and Norman.

But though all these strands are distinctly discernible, that which gives the Scandinavian tonal art a right to a separate existence is a contribution of its own. In the larger and more ambitious forms the Scandinavian composers have usually not been at their best or most distinctive. It is the smaller forms—songs, piano pieces, orchestral pictures, etc.—which have carried the music of the Northland throughout Europe and America. In these we best see the distinguishing Scandinavian traits. First there is an impressionism, a dexterity in the creation of specific mood or atmosphere, which preceded the recent craze for these qualities. The music of Grieg, simple as it seems to us now, was in its time a sort of gospel of what could be done with music on the intimate or pictorial sides. Vagueness, mystery, poetry spoke to us out of this music of the north. Next there was a feeling for nature, for pictorial values, for delineative music in its more romantic[Pg 70] terms, which had not been found in the more strenuous program music of the Germans. The 'Sunrise' of Grieg's 'Peer Gynt Suite' attuned many thousands of ears to the beauty of natural scenery as depicted in music. Finally there was a feeling for tonal qualities as such, which the modern French school has developed to an almost unbelievable extent. The tone of the piano became an intimate part of the poetry of northern piano pieces. Further, the school of Grieg has shown an astonishing talent in the handling of orchestral color. Brilliant and poetic instrumentation has been one of the chief glories of the northern school. It was the romantic impulse that was behind all the best work, and accordingly the formal element does not bulk large in Scandinavian music. But there is often a wonderful finesse, polish and dexterity which reveals an exquisite sense of structure and workmanship, especially in the smaller forms. Vocal music, especially before the opening of the twentieth century, flourished, and the songs of certain northern composers have taken their place beside the best beloved lyric works of Germany. Finally, there are brilliant exceptions to the statement that the best northern work has been achieved in the smaller forms; the concertos of Grieg, the symphonic pieces of Sinding, and the symphonies and tone-poems of Sibelius, strike an epic note in modern music.


The early history of Danish music is that of any royal court of post-Renaissance times. Foreign composers and performers were invited to the capital, and when the lower classes had been unusually well drained of their earnings history recorded a 'brilliant musical age.' In the eighteenth century there was a royal opera, performing French and Italian pieces. From time to time various choral or instrumental societies[Pg 71] were founded. In the conventional sense the musical life of Copenhagen was flourishing. But in all this there was no trace of national Danish music.

The first composer who may be called truly national began working after a thorough Germanizing of the country's musical taste had taken place. This man was Johann Peter Emilius Hartmann (1805-1900). His extensive work was hardly known outside the limits of his native land. The few examples which were played in Germany were speedily forgotten. But he gradually came to be recognized as the great national composer of Denmark. Though a large part of his student years was spent in his native land, he was at first under the influence of the fashionable composers of the time, such as Marschner, Spontini, Spohr and Auber. But, though not a student of Danish folk-songs, he gradually came to feel the individuality of the national music, and in 1832 made himself a national spokesman with his melodrame 'The Golden Horns,' to Oehlenschlager's text. His opera, 'Little Christine,' to Andersen's story, performed in 1846, was thoroughly national and popular in spirit. His output was astonishingly large and varied. He wrote for nearly every established form, symphonies, overtures, songs, choral pieces, religious and secular, sonatas as well as short romantic pieces for the piano, works for organ and violin, ballets, and picturesque orchestral poems. His nationalism does not appear consistently in his work; he seems to have made it no creed; perhaps he only imitated it from Weber and Chopin. But when he chose to work with national materials he came nearer to the popular spirit than any other composer of the time, barring the two or three great ones of whom Weber is the type. His facility was great, his themes pregnant and arresting. He revealed an energetic structural power, and together with fine polyphonic ability a mastery of romantic suggestion in the style of Mendelssohn.[Pg 72] But it is chiefly by his native feeling for the folk-style that he established himself as the first Scandinavian nationalist in music. Grieg wrote of him: 'The dreams of our younger generation of northern men were his from the time he reached maturity. The best and deepest thoughts which moved a later generation of more or less important spirits were spoken first in him, and found their first echo in us.'

But it was Niels W. Gade (1817-1890) who represented the Danish school in the eyes of the outside world. This was due chiefly to his strategic position as friend of Mendelssohn and, after Mendelssohn's death, director of the Gewandhaus orchestra in Leipzig. At bottom he was thoroughly a German of the conservative romantic school. His excellence in the eyes of the time consisted in his ability at writing Mendelssohn's style of music with almost Mendelssohn's charm and finish. But he was also the Dane, and in subtle wise he managed to impregnate his music with Danish musical feeling. His eight symphonies had a high standing in his day, the first and last being typically national in character, serving, in fact, as a sort of propaganda for the national school that was to come. But Gade was more thoroughly national in some of his choral ballads and dramatic cantatas, such as 'Calamus,' 'The Erlking's Daughter,' 'The Stream,' and others; and especially in his orchestral suite, 'A Summer Day in the Country,' and his suite for string orchestra, Holbergiana. His personality was not so vigorous as that of Hartmann; his culture was more conservative and classical; the shadow of Mendelssohn prevented the more aggressive national utterance that might have been desired. But what he did he did well, and his immense influence on the future of Scandinavian music was established through his masterful fusing of the best German classic manner of the time with popular national materials.

[Pg 73]

Among the Danish composers of the same time we may mention Emil Hartmann (1836-1898), son of the great Hartmann, prolific composer of orchestral pieces, chamber music, and operas of professedly national character; Peter A. Heise (1830-1870), composer of songs to some of the best national lyric poetry of the time; and August Winding (1835-1899), composer of piano, orchestral and chamber music in which national color and folk humor were discreetly brought to the foreground.

In recent times the Danish school, of the four Scandinavian branches, has been least national in intent. Foreign gods have exercised their sway in one fashion or another. Nor can we say that the absolute value of the more recent works is distinguished. Among the half dozen Danish composers who have attained to eminence there is none who can be considered the equal of either Gade or Hartmann in personal ability. Much of the best efforts of the younger men has gone to larger forms, in which either their creative inspiration or their formal mastery has proved insufficient. Among them there are four of marked ability: August Enna, in opera; Asger Hamerik, in symphonic music; P. E. Lange-Müller, in lyric and piano works; and Carl Nielsen, in chamber music.

August Enna (born 1860) is the most prolific and successful of Denmark's opera composers. Chiefly self-taught, but mainly German in his influences, he has written some ten operas in which one influence or style after another is evident. 'Cleopatra,' after Rider Haggard's story, is ambitious and theatric, but it reveals, alongside of frank Wagnerism, the ghost of Meyerbeer and of Italian opera of the 'transition period' of the 'eighties. 'Aucassin and Nicolette' attempts the quaint and naïve style which is supposed to comport with the late Middle Ages; it has a distinction of its own, but too often it is mere conventional romantic[Pg 74] opera. The fairy operas after Andersen—'The Little Match Girl' and 'The Princess of the Peapod'—are in more congenial style, but lack the necessary consistent manner of light fantasy. The truth is that Enna, with marked abilities, is limited to the expression of tender sentiment, gentle melancholy, and personal, intimate moods. His invention is happy, though uneven; his use of the orchestra colorful but not always in taste. He lacks the ability to conceive and carry out a large work in a consistent and elevated manner. He fails in that ultimate test of the thorough workman—the ability to execute a whole work in a consistent and homogeneous style. The trouble is not with his operatic instinct, which is sufficiently vivid; nor with his melodic invention as such, for this is often fresh and charming. But his musicianship and his inspiration have not proven equal to the task he has set himself.

Asger Hamerik (born 1843) has undertaken an equally big task in the field of symphonic music. He plans on a large scale, but it can hardly be said that he thinks likewise. We may note a 'Poetic' symphony, a 'Tragic' symphony, a 'Lyric' symphony, a 'Majestic' symphony, and a choral symphony, among several others. Of his two operas, one, 'The Vendetta,' received a performance in Milan. There is considerable choral and chamber music, and in particular a 'Northern' orchestral suite by which his artistic personality may be best known. But he has at bottom little of the national feeling. He is facilely eclectic, but with no individual or consistent binding principle. He has a romanticism that recalls Dvořák's—graceful, mildly sensuous, pleasing rather than inspiring; he has further a marked gift as an instrumental colorist. But his harmony is conventional, and his thematic ideas are usually undistinguished. Finally, his structural power is not sufficient to raise his musical material to a high artistic plane. Hamerik is out of the main line of Scandinavian[Pg 75] national music, but has not been able to make a place for himself in music universal.

Much more to the purpose in intent and achievement is P. E. Lange-Müller (born 1850). He reveals a graceful sense of form and a sincere emotional feeling in his smaller works for piano and voice. His harmony is conservative and sometimes disappointing; but whenever he strikes the tender mood of folk-music he saves himself with a touch of poetry. But he is rather a follower of the old school of German romanticism than of Scandinavian nationalism. The four-act opera, Frau Jeanna, is content with an unobtrusive lyric style, but the lyricism is not exalted enough to sustain such a large-scale work. The melodrama Middelalderlig, of more recent date, shows much poetic color but a fundamental lack of invention. In the larger works he is at his best in the fairy-comedy, 'Once upon a Time.' His symphony 'In Autumn,' his orchestral suite, 'Alhambra,' and 'Niels Ebbesen' for chorus, have met with indifferent success. Lange-Müller is primarily a lyric composer for voice and piano, and in this field he shows a sort of grace and tenderness which we shall meet with frequently in recent Swedish music.

A sincere and able, yet austere, composer is Carl Nielsen (born 1865). His music is, with that of the Swede Alfvén, less programmistic and more 'absolute' than we shall meet with in any other distinguished Scandinavian musician of modern times. The national element in his work is almost nil. A master of counterpoint, and a vigorous innovator in the modern Russian style, he commands respect rather than love. His output includes more than half a dozen symphonies, a number of works for string quartet and violin, some large compositions for chorus and orchestra, and a four-act opera, 'Saul and David.' It is by this that he is best known. This is a work to command respectful attention from musicians, but hardly enthusiastic[Pg 76] applause from ordinary audiences. The writing shows great musical knowledge, careful and ample ability in counterpoint and in modulation of the complex modern sort, a certain unity of style, and a command of special emotional color. But the work is perhaps rather that of the symphonist than of the operatic poet. His instrumentation, unlike his harmony, is conservative. His workmanship is thorough, and his musicianship wide and soundly based.

Among the minor names there are several who deserve mention for one reason or another. Ludolf Nielsen (born 1876) is a thorough classicist at heart, though he has become known in Germany through his symphonic poems 'In Memoriam,' Fra Bjaergene, and 'Summer Night Moods.' He is more than usually talented, but very conservative in his style. His themes are interesting though not striking, and his product is sufficiently inspired with human feeling to be preserved from pedantry. Hakon Börresen (born 1876) has distinguished himself with many songs which preserve the national tradition established for Norway by Grieg and Sinding. His chamber music has revealed harmonic invention and tender coloring which show him to be one of the chosen of the younger Danish composers. Finally, we may mention Otto Malling (born 1848), an able writer for organ and string quartet; Victor Bendix (born 1851), well known in Denmark for a number of symphonies which combine delicate poetry with structural beauty; Ludvig Schytte (born 1848), prolific writer of piano pieces, and Cornelius Rübner, who commands respect for solidly classic workmanship. These latter men are of the old school. Of the younger generation in Denmark we are hardly justified in hoping for works of great distinction, unless a possible exception may be made in the case of Börresen. For, speaking broadly, the national impulse has departed from Danish composition.

[Pg 77]


Though Scandinavian art was first brought to the attention of the world at large through the Norwegians (Grieg in music and Ibsen in literature), Sweden has in more recent years held her share of international attention. After Ibsen the Swede Strindberg was perhaps the most talked-of dramatist in Europe. Still more recently the novels of Selma Lagerlöf and the sociological writings of Ellen Key have been widely translated and read, not only in European lands, but in America also. Strindberg was a supreme artist, a personality of an intensity equalling Nietzsche and of a spiritual variety suggesting that of Goethe. The strain of violent morbidity in his Weltanschauung was a purely personal and not at all a national matter. As executive artist he showed an almost classic balance and control. Selma Lagerlöf is sane and finely poised, and Ellen Key has by her moderation and her clearness of intellectual vision made herself a leader in a department of modern sociological study which more than any other is apt to be treated sentimentally and hysterically. Poise and artistic control are, in fact, to be noticed generally in modern Swedish art, and especially in music. The cosmopolitan character of Swedish political history is here seen in its results. Someone has called Stockholm 'the Paris of the north.' The epithet is just: grace, conscious artistry, sensuous self-indulgence, are to be found in Swedish music in a degree that contrasts markedly with the militant self-expression of the Norwegian school. Without losing its national qualities the art of modern Sweden has spoken the easy language of the European capitals.

Sweden's story is like Denmark's: first a thorough Germanization of her music, then a gradual growth of the national tone. This tone grew in every case out of[Pg 78] the early German romanticism. The first great Swedish composer and the earliest romanticist was Franz Berwald (1796-1868). His position in Sweden is somewhat analogous to that held in Denmark by Hartmann. His output was large, and in the largest forms. He undertook symphonic works which until his time had been neglected in his native land. Without being known much outside Sweden he gained a place in the hearts of his countrymen which he has held ever since. His most popular work was his Symphonie Sérieuse in G minor, composed in 1843, sincere, poetic and musicianly. The influence of Schumann is predominant. A considerable quantity of symphonic and chamber music, reflecting chiefly Beethoven and Mendelssohn, gained him a position as the foremost symphonic writer of his time. An early violin concerto, composed in 1820, reveals him as a sincere student of Beethoven, youthful, romantic and progressive. Out of half a dozen operas we may mention Estrella de Soria, a romantic work of large proportions, built on the Parisian model (though showing the homely influence of Weber)—with hunting chorus, grand ballet, and all. That he was not unconscious of his nationality is proved by the names of some of his choral compositions, such as Gustav Adolph bei Lützen, 'The Victory of Karl XII at Narwa,' and the Nordische Phantasiebilder. A 'symphonic poem,' En landtlig Bröllopfest, makes extensive use of Swedish melodies, but the style is not a national one, and the themes are merely utilized without being developed. As a highly trained and spontaneous worker in the early romantic style Berwald performed a great service in awakening musical consciousness in his native land. But here ends his national significance.

Berwald's tendency was represented in the following generation by Albert Rubenson (1826-1901), a less talented but very able composer. He came from the Leipzig[Pg 79] school and was thoroughly Germanized, but like Berwald devoted some attention to Swedish subjects. Ludwig Normann (1831-1885) anticipated the modern Swedish composers in his preference for the smaller forms. In his piano music he is tender and idyllic, delighting in detail and suggestive device, something of a poet and tone-painter. Mendelssohn is the chief influence in his piano work. Though this is thin in style, it is rich in charming melody and is carried out with a fine polish. In his larger works, such as the symphony in E-flat major (1840), he is still the melodist; his writing is fresh and even original, but his scoring is without distinction. His romantic overtures are in the Mendelssohnian manner, with romantic color in the fashion of the time.

One of the most talented of the early Swedish composers was Ivan Hallström (1826-1901), who may be said to have been the first truly national composer of his land. He appreciated the artistic possibilities of the national folk-song and made its use in his music a chief tenet in his artistic creed. This was preëminently true in his operas—such as Den Bergtagna, Die Gnomenbraut, Der Viking, and Neaga. The last-named is a romantic work teeming with color and poetry, with traces of Wagnerian influence, but with much vigor, beauty and depth. Some of these works have been favorably received in Germany, but they are not sufficiently personal and dramatic to justify a long life. The Swedish folk-song was carried into symphonic and chamber music by J. Adolph Hägg (born 1850), a disciple of Gade and an able and fruitful composer of symphonies and sonatas, and romantic pieces for piano, which are filled with romantic and local color.

But the early musical generation, of which Hallström may be considered one of the last, was more distinctive and national in its songs than in its instrumental works. The first half of the nineteenth century may be[Pg 80] called the golden age of the Swedish Lied. It was a time of choral societies, some of which became famous throughout the continent. Otto Lindblad (1809-1864) was a leader and prolific composer for such societies. It is to his credit to have composed the official national song of Sweden. But the great lyric genius of Sweden was Adolph Fr. Lindblad (1801-1879), who is commonly called 'the Swedish Schubert.' His genius was tender and elegiac, responding sensitively to the colors of nature, and, thanks to the art of Jenny Lind, it became familiar to concert-goers in many lands.

Swedish music of modern times has maintained a wide variety of forms and styles. The national feeling is still strong, though some of the ablest work is being done in an 'absolute' idiom. On the whole the recent Swedish school is best represented to the outside world by Petersen-Berger with his short and graceful piano pieces, and by Sjögren with his songs. In opera Sweden has approached an international standing, but has not quite attained it. Her opera is represented at its best by Andreas Hallén (born 1846), who used national tone-material with Wagnerian technique. Like most other northern musicians of his time he went to Leipzig for his training and sought in Germany for his beacon lights. After returning to his native land he became indispensable in its musical life, serving as director of the Stockholm Philharmonic Society and of the Stockholm opera. Besides songs and choral works he wrote a number of symphonic pieces of a high order, filled with Swedish melody and Swedish color. The Swedish Rhapsodies opus 23, based entirely upon well-known national songs, are of a solid technique and agreeable variety; the themes themselves are little developed, but by their scoring and their juxtaposition they become fused into an admirable whole. The Sommersaga, opus 36, lacks specific Swedish color, but is an attractive and able work in the older romantic[Pg 81] style. The Toteninsel, opus 45, is an ambitious symphonic poem. The themes are arresting, the development powerful, and the harmony energetic, but the work lacks the dithyrambic quality demanded of tone-poems in recent times, and hence seems outmoded. In 'The Music of the Spheres,' dating from 1909, we discover an admirable adaptation and fusion of modern harmonic technique, but the ideas and the construction speak of a bygone age. In all these works Hallén was mainly under the influence of Liszt. In the operas, on which his reputation chiefly rests, he was at first wholly Wagnerian. His first work for the stage, 'Harald the Viking,' though presumably Swedish, is utterly Wagnerian in treatment. Were it not that Wagnerian imitation cannot be truly creative, this work would surely take a high rank, for it is powerful, dramatic, and admirably scored. The national tone becomes more marked in the later operas—Hexfällen (1896), Waldemarskatten (1899) and Waldborgsmässa (1901). The Wagnerian leit-motif and Wagnerian harmony are still present, but the Swedish material has suitably modified the general style. In Waldemarskatten, which is of a light romantic tone, one even feels that the composer has despaired of being successful in the highest musical forms and has made a compromise in the direction of easy popularity. But the work is filled with beautiful passages. In the spots where Hallén imitates folk-song or folk-dance, he is fresh and inspiring. His musical treatment is never highly personal; on the other hand he shows most valuable qualities—vigor, passion, folk-feeling, and above all dramatic sense. His scoring, too, is rich and colorful.

Perhaps the best known and most typical of the modern Swedes is Emil Sjögren (born 1853), the undisputed master of the modern Swedish art-song. No other composer of his land is so individual as he. No other is more specifically Swedish, in perfumed grace and sensuous[Pg 82] tenderness. Yet he is by no means a salon composer. His work is energetic, showing at times even a touch of the noble and heroic. His nationalism does not consist so much in his use of actual Swedish material as in his finely racial manner of treatment. In his short piano pieces—cycles, novelettes, landscape pictures, etc.—he has impregnated the salon manner of a Mendelssohn with something of the color and personal feeling of a Grieg. His choral works are highly prized in Sweden. His work in the classical forms, chiefly for violin and piano, are conservative in form and (until recently) in harmony. But it is in his songs that Sjögren has expressed himself most perfectly. These are very numerous and show a wide range of emotional expression. Beyond a doubt they are thoroughly successful only in the tenderer and intimate moods. They reveal a psychological power recalling that of Schumann, and an impressionistic harmonic perfume similar to that in Grieg's best work. In the brief strophe form Sjögren shows himself master of the exquisite form which distinguishes the Swedish folk-song. In his early period his accompaniment followed closely the regular voice-part, and his harmony, while always personal, was simple. A middle period shows a perfect blending of voice and piano, with freedom and variety in each, much pianistic resourcefulness, and a remarkable melodic gift. Since this period his harmony has undergone a striking change. He has evidently sat at the feet of the modern French masters, and has adopted an idiom which is complex and difficult. He has managed to keep it original and personal, but it is to be doubted whether the recent songs will ever hold a permanent place beside the lovely ones of the middle period.

Of almost equal personal distinction and importance is Wilhelm Petersen-Berger (born 1867), a master of romantic piano music in the smaller forms, and a national[Pg 83] voice to his native land. His work is varied. There is chamber music such as the E minor violin sonata. There is a 'Banner Symphony' (1904) and one entitled Sonnenfärd (1910). There are male choruses, such as En Fjällfärd, and orchestral works such as the 'May Carnival in Stockholm,' together with at least four operas—Sveagaldrar (1897), Das Glück (1902), Ran (1903) and Arnljot (1907). Finally there are the piano pieces, a rich and varied list ranging all the way from the simplest of 'parlor melodies' to large tone poems and concert works. Some of the piano pieces bear such titles as 'To the Roses,' 'Summer Song,' and 'Lawn Tennis.' Others are ambitiously named 'Northern Rhapsody' (with orchestra) and 'Swedish Summer.' With some of these works Petersen-Berger takes a place beside the ablest and most poetic modern writers for the pianoforte. Landscape, story and mood are here expressed, with a technique ranging from that of Schumann's 'Children's Pieces' all the way to the modern idiom of Ravel. If some of the pieces seem cheap and sentimental let it be remembered that they are replacing much less attractive things written by third rate men, and are helping to raise the taste of the 'ordinary music-lover' as Mendelssohn's 'Songs without Words' did half a century before. His melody is truly lyric and his harmony truly impressionistic. His genius for the piano is proved by his ability to get full and colorful effects out of a style of writing which on paper looks thin. Though sentimentality abounds, the spirit is fundamentally vigorous and healthy and at times approaches something like tragic dignity. The 'Northern Rhapsody' is a wholly admirable treatment of folk-tunes on a large scale and with the idiom of pianistic virtuosity. The songs are often charming, though on the whole less satisfactory than the piano pieces. When he writes simply he shows almost flawless taste and artistic selection. When he aims at the mood of high[Pg 84] tragedy, as in the songs from Nietzsche, he is sometimes unexpectedly successful. The Nietzsche songs, radical in technique, are moving and impressive. In his large works Petersen-Berger is not so successful. His Sonnenfärd symphony is lyric, rather than orchestral. It is lacking in structural power, and in the broad spiritual sweep which such a large-scale work must have. But here again his charming melody almost saves the day. The opera Arnljot can hardly be called a success; it is long and ambitious, but thinly written, undramatic, and not very pleasing.

In direct contrast to Petersen-Berger is Hugo Alfvén (born 1872), Sweden's most important contrapuntist. In him the national influence is reduced to a minimum, though it is sometimes to be noticed in a certain manner of forming themes and moulding cadences. Swedish color is, however, noticeable in certain works specifically national. The Midsommarvaka is built upon Swedish tunes, organized and developed in the spirit of the classic composers. The whole spirit is intellectual and technical, but this has its agreeable side in the composer's ability to build up long sustained passages. The 'Upsala Rhapsody,' opus 24, is merely an excuse for the technical manipulation of a collection of rather cheap melodies. The symphonies are more able and even less interesting. The solidity and complexity of the polyphonic style excite admiration, but the themes are without distinction and the total effect is pedantic. In his songs, however, Alfvén gives us a surprise. His power of development here becomes something like poetic greatness, especially where the form is free enough to give the work a symphonic character. The voice part is unconventional, declamatory and impressive, and the accompaniment varied and impressive. Altogether, these songs are among the most admirable which modern Scandinavian has given us.

Among the other able composers of modern Sweden[Pg 85] we should mention Tor Aulin (born 1866), who has consecrated his lyric and poetic talent chiefly to the violin; Erik Akerberg (born 1860), whose classical predilections have led him to choral and symphonic work; and Wilhelm Stenhammar (born 1871). The last is one of the ablest of modern Swedish composers, a man whose talents have by no means been adequately recognized, and a genius, perhaps, who is destined to out-strip his better-known contemporaries. The list of his works includes two operas, Tirfing (1898) and 'The Feast at Solhaug' (the libretto from Ibsen's play); string quartets, sonatas and concertos for piano and violin; large choral works, songs, and ballads with orchestral accompaniment. The piano concerto, opus 23, ranks with Grieg's finest orchestral works. The themes, not always remarkable, are lifted into the extraordinary by Stenhammar's brilliant handling of them. The A minor quartet, opus 25, shows great beauty of simple material, and an intellectual and technical dominance which lift it quite above the usual Swedish chamber music. The sonata for violin and piano, opus 19, is a fine work, simple, fresh, original and charming. In much of the instrumental music the idiom is advanced, with the emphasis thrown on the voice leading rather than on the harmony; but it cannot easily be referred to a single school, for it is always personal and individually expressive. When we come to a work like Midvinter, opus 24, a tone poem for large orchestra, we are at the summit of modern Scandinavian romantic writing. This work is a masterpiece. The themes, says the composer in a note, were taken down by ear from the fiddler Hinns Andersen, except for one, a traditional Christmas hymn which is sung by a chorus obbligato. The counterpoint in this work is masterly, the animal vigor overwhelming. At no point is the composer found wanting in structural power or invention. On the whole, no modern Scandinavian composer, unless[Pg 86] it be Sinding, approaches Stenhammar in the fusing of fresh poetry with strong intellectual and technical control. But not only has he written some of Scandinavia's finest chamber and symphonic music; he has written also at least one opera which stands out from among its contemporaries as genius stands out from imitation. This is 'The Feast at Solhaug,' opus 6, dated 1896, and performed at the Berlin Royal Opera House in 1905. This work is utterly lyrical and utterly national; it is doubtful if there is a more thoroughly Swedish work in the whole list of modern Scandinavian music. In the vulgar sense it is not dramatic; it has little concern for square-cornered emotions and startling confrontations. Its melody, which is astonishingly abundant, is always spontaneous and always expressive. The discreetly managed accompaniment is unfailingly resourceful in supplying color and emotional expression. We can say without hesitation that there has been no more beautiful dramatic work in the whole history of Scandinavian opera.


Norway, as it seems, has always been a nation of great individuals. In her early history she was as isolated socially as she was geographically. Though nominally a part of the Swedish Empire, she always maintained a large measure of independence, and strengthened the barrier of high mountains with a more impassable barrier of neighborhood jealousy. Life was difficult among the mountains and fjords, and each man was obliged to depend upon his own courage and energy. Luxury was unknown. Even civilization was primitive. Hence, when Norway began to attain artistic expression in the nineteenth century she was as provincial as a little village in the middle west of America. But her life, while simple, was intense, and[Pg 87] the narrowness of the spiritual environment fostered a broad culture of the soul. Norway became a nation of laborers, of poets, of thinkers, and of religious seers. The very friction that opposed the current made it give out more light.

Ibsen, the first supreme genius of Norway in the arts, wrote equally from Norway's traditional past and from Norway's circumscribed present. Out of the combination of the two he created 'Brand,' one of the noblest poetic tragedies of modern times. His later social dramas, as we know, altered the theatre of the whole world. Beside Ibsen was Björnson, only second to him in poetry and drama. And it was during Ibsen's early years that Norway began to attain self-expression in music. The first composer of national significance was Waldemar Thrane (1790-1828), composer of overtures, cantatas, and dances, and of the music to Bjerragaard's 'Adventure in the Mountains.' But the fame of Norway was first carried outside the peninsula by Ole Bull (1810-1880), the virtuoso violinist who, after touring through all the capitals of Europe, settled down in Pennsylvania as the founder of a Norwegian colony. His compositions for the violin had an influence out of all proportion to their inherent value. He was a romantic voice out of the north to thousands who had never thought of music except in terms of Mendelssohn and Händel. His Fantasies and Caprices for the violin were filled with national melodies and national color. He was an ardent patriot, and through his national theatre in Bergen, no less than through his music and playing, awakened his countrymen to artistic self-consciousness.

Of far wider power as a composer was Halfdan Kjerulf (1815-1863), a composer of songs which stand among the best in spontaneity and delicate charm. His charming piano pieces in the small forms were filled with romantic color. In his many songs, simple, yet[Pg 88] varied and original, he showed a power of evoking emotional response that forces one to compare his talent with that of Schubert. With him we should mention E. Neupert (1842-1888), who carried the romanticism of Weber and Mendelssohn into Norway, in a long and varied list of chamber and orchestral music; M. A. Udbye (1820-1889), composer of Norway's first opera Fredkulla; and O. Winter-Hjelm (born 1837), who was a generous composer of songs, choral and orchestral pieces in the conservative romantic style of Germany. Johann D. Behrens (1820-1890) proved himself a valuable conductor and composer for Norway's unbelievably numerous male singing societies.

But the greatest composer of the older romantic period was Johan Svendsen (born 1840). He was solidly grounded in the methods and ideals of Schumann, Mendelssohn, Gade and even Brahms, and remained always true to their vision. A specific national composer he was not, but with discreet coloring he treated national subjects in such works as the 'Norwegian Rhapsody,' the 'Northern Carnival,' the legend for orchestra Zorahayde, and the prelude to Björnson's Sigurd Slembe. In the classical forms he wrote two symphonies and a number of string quartets of marked value. As a colorist he must be highly ranked. But his color is not so much that of nationality as that of romanticism in the conventional sense. His virtues were the romantic virtues of sensuous beauty, discreet eloquence, and somewhat self-conscious emotion. But Norway found her true national propagandist in Richard Nordraak (1842-1866). This man, who died at the age of twenty-four, was a remarkably talented musician, and an unrestrained enthusiast for the integrity of his native land, both in politics and in art. It is said that his meeting with Grieg in Copenhagen in 1864, and their later friendly intercourse, determined the latter to the strenuously national aspirations which he[Pg 89] later carried to such brilliant fruition. The funeral march which Grieg inscribed to him after his death is one of his deepest and most moving works. Nordraak's few compositions—incidental music to two of Björnson's plays, piano pieces and songs—show his effort after purely national coloring, but have otherwise no very high value.

The great apostle of Norwegian nationalism was of course Grieg. His place among the composers of whom we are now speaking was partly that of good angel and partly that of press agent. The other Scandinavian composers have basked to a great extent in the light which he shed, have taken their inspiration from him, and have learned invaluable lessons in the art of musical picture painting. He was by no means merely a nationalist. Besides acquainting the world with the beautiful peculiarities of Norwegian folk-song and with the fancied beauties of northern scenery, he showed composers in every part of the world how to use the melodic peculiarities of these songs to build up a strange and enchanting harmony, capable of calling forth mysterious pictures of the earth and sea and their superhuman inhabitants. Grieg was the first popular impressionist. He helped to shift the emphasis from the technical and emotional aspects of music to its specific pictorial and sensuous aspects. And he prepared the world at large for the idea of musical nationalism, which has become one of the two most striking facts of present-day music.

When we say that Grieg was the first popular impressionist we do not mean that he was more able or original than certain others who were working with the same tendencies at the same time. His popularity resulted to a great extent from the form and manner in which he worked. His piano music was admirably suited to making a popular appeal. It was often short and easy; it was nearly always melodious and clear. Its picturesque titles suggested a reason for its unusual turns of harmony and phrase. It was never so radical in its originality as to leave the mind bewildered. Hence Grieg became extremely popular among amateurs and casual music-lovers. His piano pieces became Hausmusik as those of Mendelssohn had been a generation before. The 'impressionistic' effect was usually produced by simple means—a slight alteration of the familiar form of cadence, a gentle blurring of the major and minor modes, an extended use of secondary sevenths and other orthodox dissonances. These interested the musical amateur without repelling him, and, when listened to in association with the picturesque titles, suggested all sorts of delightful sensuous things, such as the mist on the mountains, the sunlight over the fjords, or the heavy green of the seaside pines. This musical style of Grieg's was expertly managed; it was unquestionably individual and was matured to a point where it showed no relapses to the style out of which it had developed. As an orchestral colorist Grieg was talented and original, but by no means revolutionary. He chose timbres with a nice sense of their picturesque values, but in orchestration he is not a long step ahead of the Mendelssohn of the overtures.

[Pg 90]


Edvard Grieg at the Piano

After a photograph from life

[Pg 91]

Edvard Hagerup Grieg, the son of Alexander Grieg, was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1843. He was descended from Alexander Greig (the spelling of the name was changed later to accommodate the Norwegian pronunciation), a merchant of Aberdeen, who emigrated from Scotland to Norway soon after the battle of Culloden, in 1746. His father and his grandfather before him served as British consul at Bergen. His mother was a daughter of Edvard Hagerup, for many years the mayor of Bergen, the second city of Norway. It was from her that Grieg inherited both his predisposition for music and his intensely patriotic nature. She was a loyal daughter of Norway and was possessed of no small musical talent, which her family was glad to cultivate, sending her to Hamburg in her girlhood for lessons in singing and pianoforte playing. These she supplemented later by further musical studies in London, and she acquired sufficient skill to enable her to appear acceptably as a soloist at orchestral concerts in Bergen. It was a home surcharged with a musical atmosphere into which Edvard Grieg was born; and his mother must have dreamed of making him a musician, for she began to give him pianoforte lessons when he was only six years old.

Though he disliked school (he appears to have been a typical youngster in his predilection for truancy), the boy made commendable progress in his music and even tried his hand at little compositions of his own; but before his fifteenth year there was no serious thought of a musical career for him. In that year Ole Bull, the celebrated violinist, visited his father's house, and, having heard the lad play some of his youthful pieces, prevailed upon his parents to send him to Leipzig that he might become a professional musician. It was all arranged very quickly one summer afternoon; the fond parents needed little coaxing, and to the boy 'it seemed the most natural thing in the world.' Matriculated at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1858, young Grieg at first made slow progress. He studied harmony and counterpoint under Hauptmann and Richter, composition under Rietz and Reinecke, and pianoforte playing under Wenzel and Moscheles. At the conservatory at that time were five English students, among them Arthur Sullivan, J. F. Barnett, and Edward Dannreuther, who subsequently became leaders in the musical life of London; and their unstinting toil and patience in drudgery inspired the young Norwegian to greater concentration of effort than his frail physique could stand. Under the strain he broke down completely. An attack of pleurisy destroyed his left lung and thus his[Pg 92] health was permanently impaired. He was taken home to Norway, where it was necessary for him to remain the greater part of a year to recuperate. But as soon as he was able he returned to Leipzig; he was graduated with honors in 1862.

At Leipzig Grieg came strongly under the sway of Mendelssohn and Schumann. He did not escape from that influence when he went to Copenhagen in 1863 to study composition informally with Niels Gade. While Grieg always held Gade in high esteem, the two musicians really had little in common, and the slight influence of the Dane was speedily superseded by that of Nordraak, with whom Grieg now came in contact. Nordraak was ambitious to produce a genuinely national Norwegian music, and, brief as their friendship was, it served to set Grieg, whose talents lay in the same direction, on the right path. Now fairly launched upon the career of a piano virtuoso and composer, he became a 'determined adversary of the effeminate Scandinavianism which was a mixture of Gade and Mendelssohn,' and with enthusiasm entered upon the work of developing independently in artistic forms the musical idioms of his people. In 1867 Grieg was married to Nina Hagerup, his cousin, who had inspired and who continued to inspire many of his best songs, and whose singing of them helped to spread her husband's fame in many European cities. In 1867 also he founded in Christiania a musical union of the followers of the new Norse school, which he continued to conduct for thirteen years.

Besides the giving of concerts in the chief Scandinavian and German cities and making an artistic pilgrimage to Italy Grieg at this period was increasingly industrious in composition. He was remarkably active for a semi-invalid. He had found himself; and he continued to develop his creative powers in the production of music that was not only nationally[Pg 93] idiomatic, but thoroughly suffused with the real spirit of his land and his people. In 1868 Liszt happened upon his first violin sonata (opus 8) and forthwith sent him a cordial letter of commendation and encouragement, inviting him to Weimar. This letter was instrumental in inducing the Norwegian government to grant him a sum of money that enabled him to go again to Rome in 1870. There he met Liszt and the two musicians at once became firm friends. At their second meeting Liszt played from the manuscript Grieg's piano concerto (opus 16), and when he had finished said: 'Keep steadily on; I tell you you have the capability, and—do not let them intimidate you!' The big, great-hearted Liszt feared that the frail little man from the far north might be in danger of intimidation; but his spirit was brave enough at all times—though he wrote to his parents: 'This final admonition was of tremendous importance to me; there was something in it that seemed to give it an air of sanctification.' Thenceforward the recognition of his genius steadily increased. In 1872 he was appointed a member of the Swedish Academy of Music; in 1883 a corresponding member of the Musical Academy at Leyden; in 1890 of the French Academy of Fine Arts. In 1893 the University of Cambridge conferred on him the doctorate in music, at the same time that it honored by the bestowal of this degree Tschaikowsky, Saint-Saëns, Boito, and Max Bruch. Except when on concert tours his later years were spent chiefly at his beautiful country home, the villa Troldhaugen near Bergen, and there he died on September 4, 1907, after an almost constant fight with death for more than forty-five years.

Hans von Bülow called Grieg the Chopin of the North, and the convenience of the sobriquet helped to give it a wider popular acceptance than it deserved, for in truth the basis for such a comparison is rather slight. Undoubtedly Chopin's bold new harmony was[Pg 94] one of the sub-conscious forces that helped to shape Grieg's musical genius. His mother had appreciated and delighted in Chopin's music at a time when it was little understood and much underrated; and from childhood Chopin was Grieg's best-loved composer. In his student days he was deeply moved by the 'intense minor mood of the Slavic folk-music in Chopin's harmonies and the sadness over the unhappy fate of his native land in his melodies.' It is certain that there is a certain kinship in the musical styles of the two men, in their refinement, in the kind and even the degree of originality with which each has enriched his art, in many of their aims and methods. While Grieg never attained to the heights of Chopin in his pianoforte music, he surpassed his Polish predecessor in the ability to handle other instruments as well as in his songs, of which he published no fewer than one hundred and twenty-five.

These songs we hold to constitute Grieg's loftiest achievement; and in all his music he is first of all the singer—amazingly fertile in easily comprehensible and alluring melodies. He patterned these original melodies after the folk-songs of that Northland he loved so ardently, just as he often employed the rhythms of its folk-dances; and by these means he imparted to his work a fascinating touch of strangeness and succeeded in evoking as if by magic the moods of the land and the people from which he sprang. On the wings of his music we are carried to the land of the fjords; we breathe its inspiriting air, and our blood dances and sings with its lusty yet often melancholy sons and daughters. Much as there is of Norway in his compositions, there is still more of Grieg. His melodies are his own and more enchanting than the folk-songs which provided their patterns; and as a harmonist he is both bold and skillful.

Grieg's place, as may be gathered from what has already[Pg 95] been said, is in the small group of the world's greatest lyricists. He wrote no operas and he composed no great symphonies. His physical infirmity militated against the sustained effort necessary for the creation of works in these kinds; but it is also plain from the work he did when at his best that his inclination and his powers led him into other fields. He possessed the dramatic qualities and ability only slightly, the epic still less, though it cannot be denied that in moments of rare exaltation he was 'a poet of the tragic, of the largely passionate and elemental.' His nearest approach to symphonic breadth is to be found in his pianoforte concerto, which Dr. Niemann pronounces the most beautiful work of its kind since Schumann, his sonatas for violin and pianoforte, his string quartet and his 'Peer Gynt' music. Yet these beautiful and stirring compositions are, after all, only lyrics of a larger growth. Grieg himself knew well his powers and his limitations, and he was as modest as he was candid when he wrote: 'Artists like Bach and Beethoven erected churches and temples on the heights. I wanted, as Ibsen expresses it in one of his last dramas, to build dwellings for men in which they might feel at home and happy. In other words, I have recorded the folk-music of my land. In style and form I have remained a German romanticist of the Schumann school; but at the same time I have dipped from the rich treasures of native folk-song and sought to create a national art out of this hitherto unexploited expression of the folk-soul of Norway.' The spirit of the man recalls the pretty little quatrain of Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

'I would be the lyric,
Ever on the lip,
Rather than the epic
Memory lets slip.'

And this is not to disparage pure and simple song.[Pg 96] It is enough for Edvard Grieg's lasting fame that he did have in rare abundance the pure lyric quality—that close and delicate touch upon the heart strings which makes them vibrate in sympathy with all the little importances and importunities of individual human life.


The one Norwegian composer, besides Grieg, who has attained an international position, is Christian Sinding (born 1856). He is consciously and genuinely national, but in almost every other way is a complement and contrast to the other northern master. Where Grieg is best in the idyllic, Sinding is best in the heroic. Sinding is apt to be trivial where Grieg is at his best—namely, in the smaller forms. On the other hand, Sinding is noble and inspiring in works too long for Grieg to sustain. In Sinding the Wagnerian influence is marked and inescapable. He, like Grieg, is most at home when working with native material—the sharp rhythms, short periods and angular line of the Norwegian folk-song—but he develops it objectively where Grieg developed it intensively. Sinding need not work from the pictorial; Grieg was obliged to. Sinding's speech is much more cosmopolitan, his harmony less pronounced, his form more conventional. At times he attains a high level of emotional expression. On the other hand, he has written much, and his reputation has suffered thereby. Frequently he is uninspired. But the sustained magnificence of his orchestral and chamber music has done much to offset the prevailing idea that the northern composers could work only in the parlor or genre style. He sounds the epic and heroic note too often and with too much inspiration to permit us to question the greatness of his art.

He has worked in most of the established forms. His[Pg 97] D minor symphony, opus 21, is one of the noblest in all Scandinavian music. His symphonic poem, 'Perpetual Motion,' with its inexhaustible energy and its glittering orchestral color, takes a high rank in modern orchestral music. His chamber music—quartets, quintets, trios, violin sonatas, etc.—is distinguished by melodic inspiration, vigorous counterpoint, and sustained structural power. His piano concerto and two violin concertos, and his grandiose E-flat minor variations for two pianos, have taken a firm place in concert programmes. As a piano composer in the smaller forms he is of course less personal, less distinguished, than Grieg. But every piano student knows his Frühlingsrauschen and Marche Grotesque. As a song composer he may justly be ranked second to Grieg in all the Scandinavian lands. His power and sincerity in the shorter strophic song is astonishing; his strophes have the cogency and finish of the Swedish folk-song combined with the intensity and sincerity of the Norwegian. In his longer songs he is noble and dramatic; he is a master of poignant emotional expression and of sustained and mounting energy. Two of his familiar songs—'The Mother' and 'A Bird Cried'—are masterpieces of the first rank. Sinding's harmony is vigorous. An 'impressionist' in the modern sense of the term he is not. He loves the use of marked dissonance for specific effect; his harmonic style is broad, solidly based, square-cornered. It is regrettable, perhaps, that he did not work more in opera; his only dramatic work, 'The Holy Mountain,' was performed in Germany early in 1914. But this fact doubtless furnishes us the reason, for Norway does not offer a career for an opera composer, who must depend for his success on great wealth and large cities. As it is, Sinding has made a high, perhaps a permanent, place for himself in chamber and orchestral music.

Johan Selmer (born 1844) has taken a place as the[Pg 98] most radical of the 'new romanticists' in Norway. His work is extensive and varied, and is most impressive in the larger forms. He has written a series of symphonic poems, several large choral works, many part songs and ballads, and the usual quota of Lieder. His chief influences were Wagner, Liszt, and Berlioz. He can hardly be called a nationalist in music, for his work shows little northern feeling except where he makes use of specific Norwegian tunes; indeed he seems equally willing to get his local color from Turkey or Italy. His work is thoroughly disappointing; modelling himself on the giants, he has been obliged to make himself a gigantic mask of paper. Neither his melodic inspiration, his structural power, nor his technical learning was equal to the task he set himself. His chief orchestral work, 'Prometheus,' opus 50, is ridiculously inadequate to its grandiose subject. His Finnländischer Festklang is the most ordinary sort of rhapsody on borrowed material. Of his other works we need only say that they reveal abundantly the effect of large ambitions on a little man. Along with Selmer we may mention three opera composers of Norway, none sufficiently distinguished to carry his name beyond the national border: Johannes Haarklou (born 1847), Cath. Elling (born 1858) and Ole Olsen (born 1850). The last, though yet 'unproduced' as a dramatic composer, deserves to be better known than he is. His symphonic and piano music is pleasing without being distinguished; but the operas Lajla and Hans Unversagt are charmingly colorful and melodic, revealing musical scholarship and fine emotional expression. Finally we may mention Johann Halvorsen (born 1864), a follower of Grieg and an able composer for violin and male chorus.

One of the most promising of the younger Norwegians was Sigurd Lie (1871-1904), whose early death cut off a career which bade fair to be internationally distinguished.[Pg 99] Surely he would have been one of the most national of Norwegian composers. His list of works, brief because of ill health, includes a symphony in A minor, a symphonic march, an oriental suite for orchestra, a piano quintet, a goodly list of short piano pieces, and many songs and choral works. He used the Norwegian folk-song intensively, combining its spirit with that of the old ecclesiastical tone. He was a true poet of music; his moods were usually mystic, gray and religious, and his effects, even in simple piano pieces, were obtained with astonishing sureness. His harmony, though not radical, was personal and highly expressive. His songs, much sung in his native land, reveal a genius for precise and poignant expression.

One of the most popular of Norway's living composers for the piano is Halfdan Cleve (born 1879), writer of numerous works of which those in the large forms are most important. Cleve is cosmopolitan, enamored of large effects, and of dazzling virtuosity. His technique is varied and exceedingly sure, but he lacks the appealing loveliness which has brought reputation to the works of so many of his countrymen. More popular is Agathe Backer-Gröndahl (born 1847), industrious writer of piano pieces in the smaller forms. Outwardly a classicist, she has drunk of the lore of Grieg and has achieved charming and able works, distinguished by delicate feeling and care for detail. Her children's songs are altogether delightful. But when she attempts longer works her inspiration is apt to fail her.

Perhaps the most original and personal composer after Grieg and Sinding is Gerhard Schjelderup (born 1859), a tone poet of much technical ability and genuine national feeling. His songs and ballads are very fine, striking the heroic note with sincerity and conviction. In his simple songs and piano pieces, Schjelderup's innate feeling for the folk-tone makes him utterly successful.[Pg 100] In his operas, 'Norwegian Wedding,' 'Beyond Sun and Moon,' 'A People in Distress,' and his incidental music, he lacks the dramatic and structural power for long sustained passages; but his genius for expressive simplicity has filled these works with beauties. Schjelderup's symphonies and chamber music have made a place for themselves in European concert halls equally by their freshness of feeling and by their excellence of technique.


Finland's music, centred in its capital Helsingfors, was from the first under German domination. The national spirit, as we have seen, grew up under the inspiration of the Kalevala, then newly made known to literature. The first national composer of note was Frederick Pacius (1809-1891), born in Hamburg, but regarded as the founder of the national Finnish school. He was under the Mendelssohnian domination, but gave no little national color to his music and helped to centre the growing national consciousness. Besides symphonies, a violin concerto and male choruses, he wrote an opera 'King Karl's Hunt,' and several Singspiele which contained national flavor without any specific national material. To Pacius Finland owes her official national anthem. Other Finnish composers of note were Karl Collan (1828-1871), F. von Schantz (1835-1865) and C. G. Wasenus. The Wagnerian influence first penetrated the land of lakes in the works of Martin Wegelius (1846-1906), able composer of operas, piano and orchestral music, and choral works. But the first specific national tendency in Finnish music is due to Robert Kajanus (born 1856), who achieved the freshness and primitive force of the national folk-song in works of Wagnerian power and scope. Besides his piano and lyric pieces we possess several[Pg 101] symphonic poems of his—including Aino and Kullervo—all markedly national in feeling.

Among the modern Finnish composers of second rank Armas Järnefelt (born 1869) is distinguished. In orchestral suites, symphonic poems (for example, the Heimatklang), overtures, choral works, piano pieces, and songs, he has shown spontaneity and technical learning. Poetic feeling and sensitive coloring are marked in his work. Much the same can be said of Erik Melartin (born 1875), except that his genius is more specifically lyric. His songs reflect the energy and freshness of a race just coming to consciousness. His smaller piano pieces show somewhat the salon influence of Sweden, but in all we feel that the artist is speaking. Ernst Mielck (1877-1899) had made a place for himself with his symphony and other orchestral works when death cut short his career. Oscar Merikanto (born 1868) has written, besides one opera, many songs and piano pieces, most of them conventional and undistinguished, and Selim Palmgren (born 1878) has already attained a wide reputation.

In Sibelius we meet one of the most powerful composers in modern music. Masterpiece after masterpiece has come from his pen, and the works which fall short of distinction are few indeed. He is at once the most national and the most personal composer in the whole history of Scandinavian music. His style is like no one else's; his themes, his mode of development, his harmonic 'atmosphere,' and his orchestral coloring are quite his own. But his materials are, with hardly an exception, drawn from the literature and folk-lore of the Finnish nation; his melodies, when not closely allied to the folk-melodies of his land, are so true to their spirit that they evoke instant response in his countrymen's hearts; and the moods and emotions which he expresses are those that are rooted deepest in the Finnish character. This powerful national[Pg 102] tradition and feeling of which he is the spokesman he has vitalized with a creative energy which is equalled only by the few greatest composers of the world to-day. He has touched no department of music which he has not enriched with powerful and original works. As an innovator, pure and simple, he seems likely to prove one of the most productive forces in modern music. No deeper, more moving voice has ever come out of the north; only in modern Russia can anything so distinctly national and so supremely beautiful be found.

Jean Sibelius was born in Finland in 1865 and at first studied for the law. Shifting to music, he entered the conservatory at Helsingfors and worked under Wegelius. Later he studied in Berlin and thereafter went to Vienna. Here, under Goldmark, he developed his taste for powerful instrumental color, and under Robert Fuchs his concern for finely wrought detail. But even in his early works there was little of the German influence to be traced beyond thorough workmanship. With his symphonic poem, En Saga, opus 9, he became recognized as a national composer. The Finns, longing for self-expression, looked to him eagerly. They had, as Dr. Niemann[11] has put it, been made silent heroes by their struggles with forest, plain, cataract and sea, and by the bitter recent political conflict with Russia. And, as always happens in such cases, they sought to give expression to their suppressed national ideals in art. Sibelius's symphonic poem, Finlandia, is a thinly veiled revolutionary document and his great male chorus, 'The Song of the Athenians' (words by the Finnish poet Rydberg), gave verbal expression to the thoughts of the patriots of the nation. The former piece has explicitly been banned in Finland by Russian edict because of its inflammatory influence on the people. But all this has not made Sibelius a political[Pg 103] figure such as Wagner became in 1848. He has worked industriously and copiously at his music, watching it go round the civilized world, keeping himself aloof the while from outward turmoil, though his personal sympathies are known to be strongly nationalistic.

It was the symphonic poems which first made Sibelius a world-figure. These include a tetralogy, Lemminkäinen, consisting of 'Lemminkäinen and the Village Maidens,' 'The River of Tuonela,' 'The Swan of Tuonela,' and 'Lemminkäinen's Home-faring'; Finlandia, En Saga, 'Spring Song,' and the more recent 'Spirits of the Ocean' and 'Pohjola's Daughter.' The Lemminkäinen series is based on the Kalevala tale, which narrates the adventures of the hero Lemminkäinen, his departure to the river of death (Tuonela), his death there, and the magic by which his mother charmed his dismembered limbs to come together and the man to come to life. Of the four separate works which make up the series 'The Swan of Tuonela' is the most popular. It was in this that Sibelius's original mastery of orchestral tone was first made known to foreign audiences. With its enchanting theme sung by the English horn it weaves a long, slow spell of the utmost beauty. Finlandia tells of the struggles of a submerged nation; the early parts of the work are filled with passionate excitement and military bustle; then there emerges the motive of all this struggle—a majestic chorale melody, scored with the strings in all their resonance, a song at once of battle and of devotion, a melody for whose equal we must go to Beethoven and Wagner. En Saga, the earliest of the great nationalistic works, is without a definite program, but is dramatic in the highest degree. It is a masterpiece of free form, with its long, swelling climaxes and passionate adagios, surrounded by a haze of shimmering tone-color, as though the bard were singing his story among the fogs of the northern cliffs. The national character of these works is quite as marked in their themes as in their subject-matter. Sibelius is fond of the strange rhythms of the old times—3/4, 7/4, 2/2, or 3/2 time. His accent is almost crudely exaggerated. His original themes are so true to the national character that they seem made of one piece with the folk-tunes. The mood of these works is rarely gay; the animation is primitive and savage. The prevailing spirit is one of loneliness and gloom. In the symphonic poems, which grow increasingly free in harmony, we see in all its glory the orchestral scoring which is one of Sibelius's chief claims to fame. It is no mere virtuoso brilliancy, as is often the case with Rimsky-Korsakoff. It is always an accentuation of the character of the music with the character of the tone of the instrument chosen. It is color from a heavy palette, chosen chiefly from the deeper shades, showing its contrast in modulation of tones rather than high lights, yet kept always free of the turgid and muddy.

The same qualities are shown in the four symphonies. Of these the last is a thing of revolutionary import—a daring work whose full meaning to the future of music has not begun to be appreciated. The other three are perhaps less symphonies than symphonic rhapsodies. They seem to imply a program, being filled with episodes, dramatic, epic, and lyrical, interspersed with recitative and legend-like passages. But, however free the form, the architecture is cogent. In his development work Sibelius is always masterly. Some of the passages, like the main theme of the first movement of the first symphony, or the slow movement from the same, are amazing in their imaginative power and beauty. The fourth symphony is a work apart. In the first and second movements the harmony is quite as radical as anything in modern German or French music. It is, in fact, hardly harmony at all, but the free interplay of monophonic voices.

[Pg 104]


Jean Sibelius

After a photo from life (1913)

[Pg 105]

From this method, which at the present moment is almost Sibelius's private property, the composer extracts a quality of poetry which is impressive in its suggestions of great things beyond.

Some of Sibelius's best music has been written to accompany dramatic performances. That for Adolph Paul's play, 'King Christian II,' has been widely played as an orchestral suite. The introduction is especially fine. The warm and sweetly melancholy nocturne, the 'Elegy' for strings, and the profoundly moving Dance of Death are all movements of rare beauty. The lovely Valse Triste, a mimic drama in itself, written for Järnefelt's play, Kuolema, has carried his reputation far and wide, as the C sharp minor prelude carried Rachmaninoff's, or the 'Melody in F' Rubinstein's. There are, further, two orchestral suites from the accompanying music to Maeterlinck's 'Pelléas and Mélisande,' and Procopé's 'Belshazzar's Feast.' For orchestra we may further mention the Karelia Overture, the Scènes historiques, the Dance-Intermezzo, 'Pan and Echo,' the melancholy waltzes to accompany Strindberg's 'Snowwhite,' the two canzonettas for small orchestras, the Romance in C major for string orchestra, the short symphonic poem, 'The Dryads,' and the Funeral march.

The violin concerto, one of the most difficult of the kind in existence, has already gained its place among the standard concert pieces for the instrument. It shows deep feeling and national color, especially in the rhythmically vigorous finale. The string quartet, Voces Intimæ, opus 56, is a masterly work in a reserved style. The first three movements are said to have as a sort of program certain chapters from Swedenborg. The piano music is generally on a lower plane. To a great extent it recalls Schumann and Tschaikowsky; in such works as the Characterstücke, opera 5, 24, 41, and 58, in the sonatina, opus 67, and[Pg 106] in the rondinos, opus 68, we find little that can be called original. But we must remember that in these pieces Sibelius was writing music to appeal to the people, and has succeeded to a remarkable degree in raising the general standard of taste in his native land. For his most personal piano work we must look to his transcriptions of Finnish tunes, especially 'The Fratricide' and 'Evening Comes.'

In his songs for solo voice Sibelius has achieved remarkable things. The remarkable 'Autumn Evening' is a sort of free recitative, always verging on melody, accompanied by suggestive descriptive figures in the piano part. Here we see in germ one of his most important contributions to modern music—an emphasis on expressive monody. The ballad, Des Fahrmanns Braut, which has been arranged for orchestral accompaniment, is weaker musically, but shows the same genius for expressive melodic recitative. And not the least important and characteristic part of Sibelius's work has been in the form of male choruses. Of these we may mention 'The Origin of Fire' and 'The Imprisoned Queen,' both with orchestral accompaniment, and, above all, the magnificent 'Song of the Athenians,' which has come to have a national significance among the Finns. As we look over this remarkable list of works, from the great symphonic forms down to brief songs, and note the quantity of germinal originality they contain, their high poetry, their universal beauty and intense national expression, we must adjudge Sibelius to be a master with a creative vitality which cannot be matched by more than half a dozen composers writing to-day.

H. K. M.


[10] See Chapter IV.

[11] Walter Niemann: Die Musik Skandinaviens.

[Pg 107]


The founders of the 'Neo-Russian' Nationalistic School: Balakireff; Borodine—Moussorgsky—Rimsky-Korsakoff, his life and works—César Cui and other nationalists, Napravnik, etc.


The most significant phase in the history of Russian music is that which represents the activity of the Balakireff group and the founders of the St. Petersburg Free School of Music. This belongs to the middle of the past century, when the seed sown by Glinka, Dargomijsky and partly by Bortniansky began to bear its first fruits. Up to that time the question of Russian national music had not been aroused. The country was dominated either by German or the Italian musical ideals. Art, particularly music, was in every direction aristocratic, academic, and pedantically ecclesiastic. The ruling class was foreign to the core and followed literally the timely æsthetic fads of other countries. The idea that there could be any art in the life of a moujik was ridiculed and flatly denied. O, Bóje sohraní! a patron of music would exclaim at any attempts at a national music.

To the middle class and the common people the admission to high-class musical performances and the opera was legally denied. The concerts of the Imperial Musical Society and the performances of the Imperial Opera were meant only for the élite, and the direction of those institutions was in the hands of bureaucratic foreigners. It was at a critical moment that Balakireff,[Pg 108] who had come as a young lawyer from Nijny Novgorod to St. Petersburg, laid the foundation of the Free School of Music. This institution was meant to train young Russians, to arouse in them an enthusiasm for the possibilities latent in their native music, and at the same time to arrange free concerts for the people and perform the works of those native composers who were turned away by the existing organizations. Founded by Balakireff, the composer, Lomakin, the talented choirmaster, and Stassoff, the celebrated critic, the free school became the institution of Borodine, Moussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakoff. Balakireff, Borodine and Moussorgsky can be considered as the real founders of the Russian 'realistic' school of music, if not the pioneers of a new musical art movement altogether. Upon their principles and examples rest the original vigor and the subjective glamour of all subsequent Russian music. The vague initiative given by Glinka and Dargomijsky underwent a thorough process of reconstruction at the hands of these three reformers; the stamp set by them upon the Russian music is as unique and as lasting as the semi-oriental spirit that permeates Russian life and character with its exotic magic.

The ideal of building up an art out of national material seemed to hang in the air, for this was the time of a great national awakening in Russia. Gogol, Lermontov, Pushkin, Dostoievsky, and Turgenieff in poetry and fiction, Griboiedoff and Ostrovsky in the drama, Stassoff, Hertzen, and Mihailovsky in critical literature, and the revolutionary movement of the so-called narodno-volts in politics were all symptoms of a vigorous reform period. It should be noted that in this great and far-reaching movement the Russian church, with all its seeming supremacy, exercised but little influence over matters of art and literature. While the church in Western Europe was aristocratic[Pg 109] in its institutions, in Russia it remained throughout the centuries democratic. A Russian clergyman has remained nothing but a more or less refined moujik, a man who lives the life of the common people and associates with the people. As such he has never been antagonistic to the spirit of the common people, as far as their æsthetic tendencies and traditions are concerned. He has never tried to make art an issue of the church. Music, less than any other of the arts, has never been influenced in any way by ecclesiastical interests. No instrumental music of any kind has ever been performed in Russian churches. Hence, unlike those of Western Europe, Russian composers never came under the sway of the church. The western church was, as we have seen, originally opposed to the influence of folk music. In Russia, on the other hand, it favored any assertion of the people's individuality. It was, therefore, unlike the aristocratic classes, sympathetic to such a work as that which the Free School of Music made the object of its existence.

Before treating the works of the three great Russian reformers individually we may remark that none of them made music his sole profession. Balakireff was sufficiently well off to devote himself to his art without thought of material gain. Borodine earned his living as a scholar and pedagogue, and so maintained his independence as a composer. Moussorgsky alone felt the pinch of poverty; his official duties were strenuous and left him little leisure for composition. Yet, like his colleagues, he never compromised with public taste.

The real initiator of this new movement, Mily Alekseyevitch Balakireff, was born at Nijny Novgorod in 1837. He studied law at the University of Kazan, though music was his hobby from early childhood on. His musical ideals were Mozart, Beethoven, and Berlioz. During one of his summer vacations Balakireff met in the country near Nijny Novogorod a certain Mr. Oulibitcheff,[Pg 110] a retired diplomat and friend of Glinka, an accomplished musician himself and thoroughly familiar with the classic composers of every country. It was he who converted Balakireff to the idea that Russia should have its own music, and that the lines to be followed should be those indicated by Glinka. With an introduction to that apostle of nationalism Balakireff journeyed to St. Petersburg in 1855. He found the city under the spell of German and Italian music, and the masses limited to the musical enjoyment to be derived from military bands and boulevard artists. With all the youthful energy at his command Balakireff set himself to combat the foreign influence and advance nationalistic ideas of music.

Balakireff was an artist such as perhaps only Russia can produce. Without really systematic study he was an accomplished musician theoretically and practically. No existing method could measure up to his ideas of musical study. He had mastered the classics and made their technique his own; his contemporaries he approached in a critical spirit, appropriating what was good and rejecting what he considered wrong. His watchword was individual liberty. 'I believe in the subjective, not in the objective power of music,' he said to his pupils. 'Objective music may strike us with its brilliancy, but its achievement remains the handiwork of a mediocre talent. Mediocre or merely talented musicians are eager to produce effects, but the ideal of a genius is to reproduce his very self, in unison with the object of his art. There is no doubt that art requires technique, but it must be absolutely unconscious and individual.... Often the greatest pieces of art are rather rude technically, but they grip the soul and command attention for intrinsic values. This is apparent in the works of Michelangelo, of Shakespeare, of Turgenieff, and of Mozart. The beauty that fascinates us most is that which is most individual.[Pg 111] I regard technique as a necessary but subservient element. It may, however, become dangerous and kill individuality as it has done with those favorites of our public, whose virtuosity I despise more than mere crudities.'

The man who launched such a theory at a time when the rest of the world was merged in admiration of Wagner and his technique was an interesting combination of a scholar, poet, revolutionist, and agitator. Wagner, Rubinstein, and Tschaikowsky were technicians in his eyes, whose creative power moved merely in the old-fashioned channels of classicism. Of the rest of his contemporaries Liszt was the only genius worthy of attention. Between Balakireff, Rubinstein, and Tschaikowsky there was continual strife.[12] Rubinstein headed the newly founded Imperial Conservatory, Balakireff his Free School of Music. On Rubinstein's side were the members of high society, the music critics and the bureaucratic power. Balakireff and his group of young composers were outcasts. Music critics and public opinion stamped him a conceited dilettante, only a handful of intellectuals subscribed to his creed.

Balakireff's first composition was a fantasia on Russian themes for piano and orchestra, which he afterward rearranged for an orchestral overture. In 1861 he composed the music to 'King Lear,' which is his [Pg 112]only work of a dramatic character. An opera, 'The Golden Bird,' which he commenced some years later, was never completed. One of the most significant of Balakireff's early works is the symphonic poem 'Russia,' commemorating the thousandth anniversary of the inauguration of the Russian empire by Rurik. That his own works are rather limited in number is explained by the fact that he spent most of his best years in organizing his campaign and in criticising the compositions of his followers. The symphonic poem 'Tamara,' some twenty songs and ballades, 'Islamey,' an oriental fantasy for piano, which was one of the most cherished numbers in Liszt's repertoire, and his symphonic poem 'Bohemia' represent the best fruits of his genius. His First and Second Symphonies are very beautiful, original and Russian in feeling, but they have somehow remained behind his above-mentioned works. Very fiery and popular are his two concertos, the Spanish Overture and a number of dances. 'Tamara' is a real gem of oriental wickedness and fascination.

In 1869 Balakireff was appointed conductor of the Imperial Musical Society and later of the court choir. In 1874 he retired from the directorship of the Free School of Music and the post was taken over by Rimsky-Korsakoff. From this time until his death Balakireff lived in seclusion in his comfortable home in St. Petersburg and avoided society. He died in 1910, having outlived all his contemporaries and many of his pupils. The last period of his life was overshadowed by a strange mystic obsession which caused him to destroy many of his compositions.

An artist of wholly different cast was Alexander Porphyrievitch Borodine. While Balakireff was the positive type of an active man, a born organizer and agitator, Borodine was a dreamer and tender-souled poet, the true Bohemian of his time. He[Pg 113] was a most remarkable combination of very unusual abilities: Borodine the surgeon and doctor enjoyed a nation-wide reputation; Borodine the chemist made many valuable discoveries and wrote treatises which were recognized universally as remarkable contributions to science; Borodine the philanthropist and educator was tireless from early morning till night; Borodine the flutist, violinist, and pianist rivalled the best virtuosi of his time; and Borodine the composer was, according to Liszt, one of the most gifted orchestral masters of the nineteenth century.

Here is what Borodine writes of his visit to the hero of Weimar in 1877: 'Scarcely had I sent my card in when there arose before me, as though out of the ground, a long black frock-coat, and long white hair. "You have written a fine symphony," he began in a resonant voice. "I am delighted to see you. Only two days ago I played your symphony to the grand duke, who was wholly charmed with it. The first movement is perfect. Your andante is a masterpiece. The scherzo is enchanting, and then, this passage is wonderful—great!"' This was his Second Symphony, which Felix Weingartner has called one of the most beautiful orchestral works ever written.

Under what circumstances he produced his enchanting beauties is best evidenced from one of his letters to his wife in 1873: 'Thursday I gave two lectures for women [on surgery], received clothes sent from the institution, had a letter from Butleroff to take dinner with him and then to attend the meeting of the chemists. I brought there all my material and gave an account of my experiments. Then, Mendeleyev [the famous chemist] took me to his house. I worked this morning as usual, took dinner with Miety at Sorokina. Then Raida and Kleopatra called on me to request space for a sick man in the hospital.'

Who would believe that a man of such a versatile[Pg 114] nature was at the same time one of the finest composers and musicians of his generation? In another letter to his wife he writes how he rushes madly from his laboratory to his musical study, sits furiously at the piano and starts to pour out the musical ideas that have haunted him day and night. His friends thought he would never be able to continue such a triple life for any length of time and urged him to devote himself merely to music. But to him this change of thought and work seemed a recreation and he lived in this very turmoil until he died.

Borodine was born in St. Petersburg in 1834. His father was Prince Gedeanoff, a descendant of the hereditary rulers of the kingdom of Imeretia in the Caucasus, and his mother, Mme. Kleineke, the widow of an army doctor in Narva. Borodine's oriental tendency can be traced back through his family. His nationalism was truly spontaneous and genuine, in spite of the fact that, unlike his colleagues, Balakireff and Moussorgsky, he never had an opportunity to come in contact with the peasantry. Borodine's nationalism is a product of heredity and owes nothing to environment.

Having studied medicine in the famous Military Surgery School in St. Petersburg, Borodine became a professor in the same institution after a short practice as a surgeon in various hospitals of the capital. He was, even as a student in college, an accomplished virtuoso in music. At the age of eighteen he had composed a concerto for violin and piano. But his real musical creative activity started when he met Balakireff and the members of his circle, to whom he was introduced by Moussorgsky, then a young officer of the guard in the military hospital. Though filled with Balakireff's ideals, Borodine was not close to his teacher. Balakireff's ideas were grand in outline, but rather rough in detail; Borodine's preferences were toward refinement in detail and melodic form. Though the opera[Pg 115] 'Prince Igor' may be considered Borodine's masterpiece, he has enriched Russian musical literature by exquisite examples of orchestral composition—of which his Second Symphony and the symphonic poem 'In Steppes of Central Asia' are the best—chamber music, songs and dances. Borodine's orchestral compositions excel in richness of coloring and in the dramatic vigor of his melodies. Withal he has an almost mathematical mastery of form and style.

From all his works emanates a distinctly lyric Slavic-Oriental glow of sound—brilliant, passionate, gay, and painful in turns. In the words of a modern Russian composer, 'it is individually descriptive and extremely modern—so modern that the audiences of to-day will not be able to grasp all its intrinsic beauties.'

In 'Prince Igor' Borodine has produced a work that has nothing in common with either Italian or German operas. He employs a libretto of legendary character, such as Wagner used for his operas, but in construction and style he follows the very opposite direction of the German master. The dramatic plot is almost lacking in the conventional sense, but the interest of the audience is kept in suspense by means of a unique musical beauty, by stage effects and the dramatic truth that shows itself in every detail of the action.

As compared with Balakireff and Moussorgsky, Borodine was an aristocratic figure in thought and inclination. He was more chivalrous and lyric in his style and more imaginative in his form, therefore less dramatic and less elemental. Borodine's great significance for Russian music lies in his individual form of melodic thought and the relation of that thought to human life. His realism verged on the point of impressionistic symbolism, in which he surpassed both Balakireff and Moussorgsky. He gave to Russian music new forms of romantic realism, forms that have been used and perfected by the composers who have followed him. Unlike[Pg 116] Balakireff and Moussorgsky, Borodine was married and lived a happy family life. He died suddenly at a costume-ball in St. Petersburg in 1887.


Of all artists one of the most fought and ridiculed, the least recognized and a figure almost ignored, yet doubtless the greatest personality in Russian musical history, was Modest Petrovitch Moussorgsky. It has remained for the present generation, especially for men like Rimsky-Korsakoff, Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, and Hugo Wolf, to appreciate this most original musical genius of the last century. Rubinstein and Tschaikowsky spoke of Moussorgsky as of a talented musical heretic, regarding his compositions as the result of accidental inspiration, crude in their workmanship and primitive in their form. Though his name was known through Russia to some extent, especially after Rimsky-Korsakoff had secured for him some professional success, he remained always a minor character. This lasted until the beginning of this century, when a celebrated foreign composer came out publicly and said: 'What Shakespeare did in dramatic poetry Moussorgsky accomplished in vocal music. The Shakespearian breadth and power of his compositions are so original that he is still too great to be appreciated, even in this generation. A century may pass before he will be fully understood by composers and music lovers generally. His misfortune was that he composed music two hundred years ahead of his time.' After this the whole atmosphere changed. A cult of Moussorgsky was started at home and abroad. The public began to dig out the tragic chapters of his life little by little and the neglected genius of Moussorgsky loomed up to an extraordinary height, as is usually the case when the sentiments of the public are stirred.[Pg 117] However, this cult of Moussorgsky is merely a timely fad and adds nothing to his real greatness.

After the composer had met bitter opposition where he had expected enthusiastic appreciation he wrote to Balakireff: 'I do not consider music an abstract element of our æsthetic emotions, but a living art, which, going hand in hand with poetry and drama, shall express the very soul of human life and feeling. The academic composers and the people who have grown to love the musical classics take my works for eccentric and amateurish. This is all because I lack the high academic air and do not follow the conventional way. But why should I imitate others when there is so much within myself that is my own? My idea is that every tone should express a word. Music to me is speech without words.'

Moussorgsky's music reminds us so much of the poetry of Walt Whitman that we cannot but regard these two geniuses of two different worlds as intimately related to each other.

'Composers! mighty maestros!
And you sweet singers of old lands, Soprani, tenori, bassi!
To you a new bard caroling in the west
Obeissant sends his love.'

Like Whitman, Moussorgsky broke loose from the conventional rhythm and verse. Most of his compositions are set to his own words and librettos, in a kind of poetic prose. He said plainly that he never cared for verse for his compositions, but merely for a dramatic story to carry a certain thought. 'Thoughts and words fascinate me more than rhythm and poetic technique,' he used to say. Every piece of his work bears the stamp of his individuality; every chord of his music breathes power and inspiration. It was not a notion to be original that actuated him, but the[Pg 118] irresistible necessity to pour out what came to life in his creative soul and temperament. In his autobiography Moussorgsky writes characteristically:

'By virtue of his views and music and of the nature of his compositions Moussorgsky stands apart from all existing types of musicians. The creed of his artistic faith is as follows: Art is a means of human intercourse and not in itself an end. The whole of his creative activity was dictated by this guiding principle. Convinced that human speech is strictly governed by musical laws, Moussorgsky considered that the musical reproductions, not of isolated manifestations of sensibility, but of articulate humanity as a whole, is the function of his art. He holds that in the domain of the musical art reformers such as Palestrina, Bach, Berlioz, Gluck, Beethoven, and Liszt have created certain artistic laws; but he does not consider these laws as immutable, holding them to be strictly subject to conditions of evolution and progress no less than the whole world of thought.'

Moussorgsky's life was no less unique than his thoughts and works. He was born in 1831 in the village of Kareva in the province of Pskoff, the son of a retired judicial functionary. He inherited the gift of music from his mother and from his father the gift of poetry. At the age of ten he was sent to a military school in St. Petersburg, where he remained until 1856, when he became an officer of the Preobrajensky Guard Regiment in St. Petersburg. A handsome young man of chivalrous manners, he became the romantic hero of the beau monde of St. Petersburg. His musical studies, begun in the college, were taken up more systematically and energetically after he became an officer. As a sentinel in the military hospital he met Borodine, the surgeon, and the two passionate lovers of music soon grew to be intimate friends. It was through Borodine that he heard of Balakireff, in whose Free School of[Pg 119] Music he at once became a student. Already in 1858 he composed his first orchestral work, 'Scherzo,' which was performed two years later by Balakireff's orchestra.

In 1859 Moussorgsky resigned from the army with the idea of living for his music alone, but, lacking a systematic musical education, he found himself an outcast. He was treated as a dilettante by the professional musicians and the patrons of music, and this closed the way to earning a living by his art and getting his compositions published or produced. The situation made him desperate and he was glad to accept a clerkship, first in the Department of Finance, later in the office of the Imperial Comptroller. The salary was small and the work hard; he could only compose during the evenings and on festival days. This made him bitter about his future. It is rather strange that even Balakireff did not wholly understand Moussorgsky's genius when he joined the circle, for Rimsky-Korsakoff writes in his memoirs that Moussorgsky was always treated as the least talented of all. This was on account of the peculiarly passive frame of mind into which the composer had fallen after leaving the army. He even changed in his appearance and manners. The once handsome, chivalrous young social hero was suddenly transformed into a dreamy vagabond, who cared nothing for manners and appearances.

Moussorgsky's masterpieces are his three song cycles of about twenty numbers each, his few orchestral compositions and his two operas, Boris Godounoff and Khovanshchina. There is hardly a work by another composer which has upon the listener such a ghastly, hypnotic effect as some of these works of Moussorgsky. Every chord of them is like a gripping, invisible finger. His cycle of 'Death Dances,' of which Trepak is the most popular, are knocks at the very gates of death, written in the weird rhythms of old Russian peasant[Pg 120] dances. In this work he makes the listener realize the indifference of nature to human fate. 'Snow fields in silence—so cold is the night! And the icy north wind is wailing, brokenly sobbing, as though a ghastly dirge. Over the graves it is chanting. Lo! O behold. Through the night a strange pair approaches; death holds an old peasant in his clutches.' Thus sings the composer in the epilogue. The starved peasant is frozen under the snow. But then the sun shines warmer; spring comes into the land. The icy fields change into flourishing meadows, the lark soars to the sky and nature continues its everlasting alternate play as if individual joys and sorrows never existed.

The descriptive power of Moussorgsky's vocal compositions is marvellously realistic, and of this his songs of the second and third active period of his life, such as 'Peasant Cradle Song,' 'Children Songs,' 'Serenade,' and Polkovodets, give the best illustration. In the first named composition not only does he visualize the rocking of the cradle, accompanied by a sweet melody, but he also draws, with a remarkable power, the interior of a peasant's hut, the mother bending with tenderness over her child; her sigh and dreaming of his future; the child's breathing and the ticking of a primitive old watch on the wall. One can almost see the details of an idyllic lonely Russian village. But Moussorgsky is not only powerful in his gloomy and melancholy tone pictures, in which he depicts the hopeless situation of the Russian people in their struggle for freedom; he is also great in his humorous, gay songs. Hopak, Pirushki, Po Griby, and the 'Children Songs' are full of exultant humor, naughtiness or joy. How well he could make music a satire is proved by 'Classic,' 'Raek,' and others, in which pedantic academicism is caricatured in ironic chords. Moussorgsky's musical activity may be divided into three periods: First, from 1858 until 1865, when, more or less under[Pg 121] the influence of Dargomijsky, he composed 'Edip,' 'Saul,' Salâmmbo, 'Intermezzo,' 'Prelude,' and 'Menuette'; second, from 1865 until 1875, when he was independent and wrote the 'Death Dances,' 'Children Songs,' Boris Godounoff, Khovanshchina, etc.; and the third, during which he composed the 'Song of Mephisto.' The works of his second period are overwhelming in their elemental power and boldness of treatment. In them he surpasses all Russian composers up to his time.

Boris Godounoff, finished in 1870, was performed four years later in the Imperial Opera House. The libretto of this opera he took from the poetic drama of Pushkin, but he changed it, eliminating much and adding new scenes here and there, so that as a whole it is his own creation. In this work Moussorgsky went against the foreign classic opera in conception as well as in construction. It is a typically Russian musical drama, with all the richness of Slavic colors, true Byzantine atmosphere and characters of the medieval ages. Based on Russian history of about the middle of the seventeenth century, when an adventurous regent ascends the throne and when the court is full of intrigues, its theme stands apart from all other operas. The music is more or less, like many of Moussorgsky's songs, written in imitation of the old folk-songs, folk dances, ceremonial chants, and festival tunes. Foreign critics have considered the opera as a piece constructed of folk melodies. But this is not the case. There is not a single folk melody in Boris Godounoff, every phrase is the original creation of Moussorgsky.

Although there is nothing in the symphonic development of Boris Godounoff which approaches the complexities of Wagnerian music drama, the leading motives are quite definitely associated with the characters and emotions of the drama. Noteworthy features in the realm of musical suggestion are those of the music accompanying the hallucinations of Boris, where Moussorgsky forsakes the conventional custom of employing the heavy brass and reproduces the frenzy in musical terms by means of downward chromatic passage played tremolo by strings—an effect which succeeds because it has a far more direct appeal to the nerves of the listener than the more abstract commentary of the German operatic masters.

Moussorgsky's second opera, Khovanshchina, which was finished by Rimsky-Korsakoff after the death of the composer, is in its subject and broad style far superior to 'Boris,' especially because of its more powerful symbolism and exalted pathos. But the music, particularly in the last unfinished acts, lacks the originality and grip of his early opera. If he had been able to work out this opera under more favorable circumstances it would have caught more faithfully the psychology of a nation's life and history in a nutshell of music than anything written before or later for the stage. Moussorgsky also wrote a comic opera, 'The Fair at Sorotchinsk,' which was partly orchestrated and finished by Sahnovsky and Liadoff and performed for the first time in the Spring of 1914.

Moussorgsky's perpetual misery, overwork, and the thought that his compositions would be hardly understood and recognized during his lifetime made him so gloomy and desperate that he drifted away from Balakireff's circle. For some time he lived at the country place of his brother, and when he returned to St. Petersburg he tried to overcome the haunting thoughts, but in vain. He began to avoid all society and everything conventional. In the meanwhile his Boris Godounoff had been given with great success on the stage. Yet the academic circles would not recognize him in spite of this public success. The man's pride was touched and he felt unhappy about everything he had done. His only contentment he found in playing his works for himself and in associating with the common people in dram shops, which he visited with dire results. Shunning every intelligent circle and society, he grew melancholy, and his mental and physical health was seriously affected.

[Pg 122]


Russian Nationalists:

Modest Moussorgsky Mily Balakireff
Alexander Borodine Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakoff

[Pg 123]

In 1868 Moussorgsky began to write an opera to the libretto of Gogol's drama 'Marriage.' This, however, he never finished. He wrote quite a number of powerful orchestral works of which his 'Intermezzo,' 'Prelude,' and Menuette Monstre are the most typical of all. Having composed several piano pieces and orchestral works with little satisfaction to himself, he decided to devote himself only to vocal music. The period from 1865 to 1875 was the most productive part of his life. During these ten years he composed his 'Hamlet' songs, ballads, romances, and operas, every one of which is more or less original and hypnotizing in its own way.

Moussorgsky's letters to his brother throw a remarkable light on his unique nature and the change that took place in his mind in regard to his social environment. They are partly ironic, bitter expressions upon modern civilization and its wrong standards. Moussorgsky died in 1881 in the Nicholaevsky Military Hospital at the age of forty-two and asked the nurse that instead of a mass in church his 'Death Dance' be played for him by a few of his admirers.


The most widely known of the 'neo-Russian' group, outside of Russia, was Nicholas Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakoff. This man, the most prolific and the most expert of the group, proved himself in some ways one of the supreme masters of modern music. His command over harmonic color-painting and his astonishing mastery over all details of modern orchestration have made him a teacher to the composers of all nations.

[Pg 124]

Rimsky-Korsakoff was born March 18, 1844, at Tikvin in the department of Novgorod. On his father's estate he received all the advantages of a childhood in the open air, and of the best education available. From the four musicians who furnished music for the family dances he received his first initiation into the art of his later years. When he was six he received his first piano lessons, and when he was nine he was already composing pieces of his own. But it was in the family tradition that the sons should enter the navy, so when he was but twelve years of age the boy went to the St. Petersburg Naval School and entered the long required course. He did not, however, give up his music during this period; he worked hard at the piano and the 'cello, also receiving lessons in composition from Kanillé. But music was comparatively meaningless in his life until, in 1861, he met Balakireff, who had recently come to the capital to undertake the musical spiritualization of his country. Under Balakireff he worked for about a year, and during this time came into close contact with the other members of the famous circle. The contact was profoundly stimulating. 'They aired their opinions and criticized the giants of the past,' says Mrs. Newmarch,[13] 'with a frankness and freedom that was probably very naïve, and certainly scandalized their academic elders. They adored Glinka; regarded Haydn and Mozart as old-fashioned; admired Beethoven's latest quartets; thought Bach—of whom they could have known little beyond the "Well Tempered Clavier"—a mathematician rather than a musician; they were enthusiastic over Berlioz, while, as yet, Liszt had not begun to influence them very greatly.' Of these days the composer has written, 'I drank in all these ideas, although I really had no grounds for accepting them, for I had only heard fragments of many of the foreign works under [Pg 125]discussion, and afterwards I retailed them to my comrades at the naval school who were interested in music as being my own convictions.'[14]

Then, while Rimsky-Korsakoff's technique was still being molded, while his ideals were unprecise and his appreciations fluid, he was called away on a long cruise on the ship Almaz—a cruise which was to last for three years and take him around the world. But with the huge energy for which Russians are so notable, he decided to add music to his regular official duties. He arranged that he was to send to Balakireff from time to time the things he would write on shipboard, and was to receive extended criticisms in return, to be picked up at the harbors at which his ship should stop. Thus he would maintain his active pupilship. The work which he managed to accomplish on shipboard is astonishing. But Rimsky-Korsakoff was endowed with a capacity for orderly and methodical work which enabled him in later life to discharge all sorts of onerous artistic burdens and keep his creative output undiminished in quantity. When he returned from the cruise in 1865 he brought with him his Symphony No. 1, in E minor, the first symphony to be written by a Russian. It was performed under Balakireff's direction at one of the concerts of the Free School of Music and made a favorable impression. For the next few years the composer's life was chiefly centred in St. Petersburg, and his association with the Balakireff group was once more resumed. In this period, too, began his close friendship with Moussorgsky, which continued until the latter's death. After composing the first Russian symphony he produced the first Russian symphonic poem in Sadko, opus 5, which revealed his marked power of musical narration and scene-painting. Directly he followed with the 'Fantasy on Serbian Tunes,' opus 6, which gave the first signs of his later [Pg 126]brilliancy in orchestration. This work attracted the attention of Tschaikowsky, who became his ardent supporter and continued as a personal friend in spite of the fact that the ideals of the two composers were so disparate that close association was impossible. In 1870 Rimsky-Korsakoff began his first opera, Pskovitianka ('The Maid of Pskoff'), which was performed early in 1873 and was well received. Soon afterwards he completed his 'Second Symphony,' which is in reality rather a symphonic poem—the Antar, op. 9.

This may be taken as closing one period of his creative activity. He had entered music with all the lively nationalistic ideals of the Balakireff group, and with its naïveté as to musical technique. Like his associates, he had written chiefly in an intuitional fashion. But in 1871 he accepted an invitation to teach at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music. And he has recorded that in attempting to teach the theory of music he became convinced that it was first necessary for him to learn it. He became profoundly dissatisfied with his musical achievement and set out deliberately to acquire an exhaustive knowledge of musical technique by means of hard work. During one summer he wrote innumerable exercises in counterpoint and sixty-four fugues, ten of which he sent to Tschaikowsky for inspection. From this severe period of self-tuition he emerged with a command of conventional musical means unsurpassed in Russia, but without any essential loss either to his individuality or to his nationalism. By some, Rimsky-Korsakoff's recognition of his need for further technical learning has been accepted as a recantation of his nationalistic principles. But it was not this in reality, for his later operas are all drawn from national sources and the folk-song continues to occupy a prominent place among them. The enthusiasm for classical learning may have changed his standards somewhat; many critics feel that the revision[Pg 127] to which he later submitted the Moussorgsky opera scores reveals a pedantic cast of mind, a failure to appreciate the original genius of his friend. But, on the other hand, his severe training gave him that fluent technique which enabled him to accomplish such a great amount of work on such a high plane of workmanship.

In point of fact, Rimsky-Korsakoff 'recanted' nothing. His ideals and his fundamental musical method had been formed in his early youth. Balakireff's enthusiasm for folk-song never left him. The influence of the early ocean cruise was in his work to the end. Among all musicians Rimsky-Korsakoff is perhaps the greatest describer of the sea. The effect of lonely days and nights out in the midst of the swelling ocean, at a time when his adolescent senses were still deeply impressionable—this we can trace again and again in his later music. 'What a thing to be thankful for is the naval profession!' he wrote in a letter to Cui during the first voyage.[15] 'How glorious, how agreeable, how elevating! Picture yourself sailing across the North Sea. The sky is gray, murky, and colorless; the wind screeches through the rigging; the ship pitches so that you can hardly keep your legs; you are constantly besprinkled with spray and sometimes washed from head to foot by a wave; you feel chilly and rather sick. Oh, a sailor's life is really jolly!' We see here the effect of the out-of-door activity on the young artist—that awakening of sensibilities to the external life of nature, rather than the introspection of the thinker who spends his time solely in the study of his art. It was this voyage, surely, that chiefly helped to make Rimsky-Korsakoff so objective in his music. He loves to describe the form and color of nature rather than the experiences of the soul. He paints for us the life of the senses. We recall the young naval officer in the [Pg 128]mighty swell of the ocean in Scheherezade. We cannot doubt the effect of this early influence toward making Rimsky-Korsakoff the great story-teller of modern music.

His later life was an extremely active one. He retained his position at the conservatory for many years, and numbered among his pupils some of the most talented composers in modern Russian music—among them Liadoff, Arensky, Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, Gretchaninoff, Tcherepnine, and Stravinsky. He was an enthusiastic collector of national folk-tunes. He revised, completed, arranged, or orchestrated many large works, including operas by Moussorgsky, Borodine, and Glinka. He served for many years as conductor of the concerts of the Free School, succeeding Balakireff, and for a time was assistant director of the music at the Imperial Chapel. A perquisite post as inspector of naval bands, given him in 1873, enabled him to devote his time to music; for many years he remained officially a servant of the government. After 1889 and up to the time of his death in 1908 he wrote twelve operas, and at one period was looked to to provide one dramatic work each year for one or another of the great lyric theatres of Russia. Once or twice he was publicly at odds with officialdom, at one time going so far as to resign his professorship in the conservatory. But on the whole he was a figure of whom Russia, both popular and official, was proud. His books on theory and orchestration have long been standard.

Rimsky-Korsakoff's works, in addition to the fifteen operas already mentioned, include three symphonies (one of them the Antar), a 'Sinfonietta on Russian Themes,' several symphonic poems, including the 'symphony' Scheherezade, the Sadko, and the 'Symphonic Tale' founded on the prologue to Pushkin's 'Russlan and Ludmilla'; several large orchestral works, including the famous 'Spanish Caprice,' the 'Fantasia on Serbian[Pg 129] Themes,' and the 'Easter Overture'; a fine piano concerto and a violin fantasia; some church music, a limited amount of piano music and many songs.

Rimsky-Korsakoff's operas are the staple of the Russian opera houses. They are not works of such genius as those of Moussorgsky and Borodine, but, taken together, they reveal a creative genius of a high order. In general their style is lyric rather than declamatory, but in this respect Rimsky-Korsakoff applied a wide variety of means to his special problems. Some, like his first, 'The Maid of Pskoff,' follow loosely the principles laid down by Dargomijsky in 'The Stone Guest,' in which the libretto is regarded as a spoken text to be followed with great literalness by the music. Others, like Snegourotchka, are almost purely lyric in character. Yet another, 'Mozart and Salieri,' is written in the style of the eighteenth century. But in one way or another the national feeling is in all of them, and folk-tunes are introduced freely with more or less literalness. Though Rimsky-Korsakoff could occasionally reach heights of emotional intensity (as in the last scene of 'The Maid of Pskoff'), his genius is more properly lyrical and picturesque. The songs and pictures of Snegourotchka and Sadko, in which a huge variety of resource is brought to achieve vividness and brilliancy of effect, are the work of a rich imagination. The melody is supple and varied, the harmony extremely expressive and colorful, but neither is so original as with Moussorgsky. The orchestration, however, never fails to be masterful in the highest degree. This suits admirably the legendary and picturesque subjects which Rimsky-Korsakoff invariably chose. With only one or two exceptions, his operas have held the stage steadily in Russia, and two or three of them have become familiar, by frequent performances, to foreign audiences.

Among Rimsky-Korsakoff's other works the 'Spanish[Pg 130] Caprice' and the Scheherezade symphony have become classics of the concert room. The former is a virtuoso piece in brilliantly colored orchestration. The other is one of the most successful musical stories ever told. In these pieces he is working in his own field, that of national or oriental color, made vivid by every device of the modern musician. When he is composing in the more 'absolute' or classical forms, as in the 'Belaieff Quartet,' or the piano concerto, his inspiration seems to wane. Mention should be made of the songs, which include some of the most perfect in Russian literature, though in many the slender melody is weighted down by the richness of the accompaniment. Finally, we should not forget Rimsky-Korsakoff's great service to Russian church music, which will be referred to later.

From this brief outline we can see how great was the variety of his activities. Very little that he did was undistinguished. When he was at his best, in the exploitation of the resources of the modern orchestra, in painting natural scenery, the sea or the woods, in narrating a story of fairies or heroes, he was in the very front rank of composers of the nineteenth century.

In comparison with Moussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff was a conservative. He inclined toward the sensuous and regular melody of Borodine, which was always somewhat Italian. His harmony was far from revolutionary. He can show us no pages like that wonderful page of Moussorgsky's, introducing the Kremlin scene in Boris Godounoff, where the light of the rising sun is painted striking the towers of the ancient churches—a page which has become historic in connection with modern French impressionism. On the whole, indeed, he seems rather timid about venturing off the beaten path. His harmonic heterodoxies, where they occur, are introduced discreetly, obtaining their effect rather by their appropriateness than by their originality. Nor[Pg 131] was Rimsky-Korsakoff so instinctive a nationalist as either Balakireff or Moussorgsky. In a great quantity of his music we find nothing to mark it as Russian. But when we listen to the music of Rimsky-Korsakoff we feel that it is daring, novel, and exotic. The striking difference between this music seen and heard is due chiefly to the orchestration, which so glitters with strange colors that we forget how orthodox the musical writing generally is. By tone coloring the composer gives it qualities of pictorial suggestiveness and Oriental strangeness which is quite lacking in the piano score. Sometimes he even covers up musical poverty by his magnificent scoring; the 'Spanish Rhapsody,' for instance, is a work of little inherent originality, but is maintained on our concert programs because of its inexpressible brilliancy of orchestration. If, on the whole, we find Rimsky-Korsakoff's music thin, we must give due credit to the style which enabled the composer to write a great quantity of music with easy facility, while his taste kept him almost always above the level of banality.


The fifth and last member of the nationalist group was César Cui, the least distinctive and least important of the five. He occupied a somewhat anomalous position in the movement. The son of a Frenchman, he became an enthusiastic nationalist, being the first of Balakireff's important converts. As a teacher in the Government Engineering School in St. Petersburg he had little time for active composition, but exerted great energy in defending the nationalist group in the press and in pamphlets. In all Russia, with the single exception of Vladimir Stassoff, there was no more vigorous and overbearing apologist of the Russian school of composition. Yet his own music is hardly tinged with Russian elements, being a compound of Schumann and[Pg 132] of some of the most superficial of the French composers, notably Auber. Though he was undoubtedly a musician of considerable learning and much talent, he has left nothing of much creative vigor.

His father came to Russia with Napoleon's army, was wounded at Smolensk, and later became a teacher of French in a private school at Vilna, near Poland. Here, on January 18, 1835, César Antonovich Cui was born. He received fairly good instruction in piano and violin in his early years, and at the age of fifteen was sent to the School of Military Engineering at St. Petersburg. Here, in a seven years' course, he distinguished himself so that he was made sub-professor in the school, and later became a specialist in military fortifications. (The present czar was at one time his pupil.) All his life he gave distinguished service in this capacity, and during the war that is going on at this writing, though he is past eighty years of age, he is taking a prominent part in the military defense of Russia.

It was in 1856, when he was twenty-one years old, that he was introduced to Balakireff. He immediately became fired with the latter's enthusiasm for a Russian school of music. But his first works show no signs of it. Some early piano pieces are written entirely in the style of Schumann, and his first dramatic work, an operetta called 'The Mandarin's Son,' is a weak piece in the manner of Auber. His first important opera, 'The Prisoner of the Caucasus,' finished about this time though not performed until twenty years later, shows some originality and an attempt at local color. Early in the 'sixties Cui was at work on his opera 'William Ratcliff,' which established his reputation. It was performed in the year 1869 at the Imperial Theatre, St. Petersburg, and though coldly received at the time was revived with considerable success many years later in Moscow. But Cui's chief influence on the music of his time was exerted through his newspaper articles, which[Pg 133] stoutly championed the 'Big Five.' In these he showed himself an able, but a somewhat dogmatic, commentator. He held his ground successfully until the music of the new school had ceased to depend on the written word for its prestige. His pamphlet, 'Music in Russia,' was the chief source of knowledge of Russian composers to the outside world for many years. Cui further helped the cause among foreign lands through the performances of his operas in Belgium and Paris. In fact, two of his later operas, 'The Filibusterer' and M'selle Fifi, were composed to French texts. The opera 'Angelo,' performed in 1876 and in some ways his strongest work, was also drawn from a French source—a play by Victor Hugo. When we have mentioned 'The Saracen,' founded upon a work of Dumas, and 'The Feast in Plague Time,' based on Pushkin, we have named all his works for the stage. In these the dramatic element is always subordinate to the lyrical. The harmony, though often meticulous, is rarely strong or original, and in general the style is thin and conventional. But Cui had a rich fund of melody, and in a few scenes, as in the love episodes in 'The Saracen,' he succeeded to a notable degree in the expression of emotion. But it is in Cui's songs and small pieces for violin and piano that he shows his talent most markedly. Here his French feeling for nicety of form and delicacy of effect revealed itself at its best. We feel that the pieces were written by some lesser Schumann, but we admire the taste and judgment displayed in their execution. Further, we must admire Cui's confining himself to his own style of music. His enthusiasm for and appreciation of the neo-Russian composers is unquestionable, and he might have produced much flamboyant nonsense in trying to make their style his own. As it is he has played an important part in the development of Russian music, and displayed abilities which are by no means to be overlooked.

[Pg 134]

Before leaving the Russian nationalists we should mention several composers of their generation who were not definitely allied with them or with their school, but still demand mention in any history of Russian music. Edward Franzovitch Napravnik was born August 12, 1839, in Bohemia, and moved to St. Petersburg in 1861. He had received his musical education in his native country and in Paris, where he studied organ and piano, and later taught. In St. Petersburg he took charge of Prince Youssipoff's private orchestra, and thereafter became intimately associated with the musical life of his adoptive country and worked indefatigably for its improvement and independence. In 1863 he was appointed organist to the Imperial theatres, and assistant to the conductor. At the time of the latter's illness in 1869 he was appointed conductor, and this post he held for nearly half a century. He found Russian operatic life under the complete dominance of the Italian influence and made every effort to shift the centre of gravity toward native work. His productions of Glinka's, Tschaikowsky's, and Rimsky-Korsakoff's operas were notable. He was always distinctly hospitable to native work, and the subsequent triumph of Russian musical expression was due in no small degree to his faith and energy. He further built up the opera orchestra in St. Petersburg until it became one of the best in all Europe, and restored to the opera house its old brilliancy of performance. He was also an able and frequent conductor of orchestral concerts in the capital. His compositions, though many and varied, show chiefly French and Wagnerian influence, and are not highly important. He has written four symphonies, among them one with a program taken from Lermontov; several symphonic poems, of which 'The Orient' is most important; three string quartets and a quintet, two piano trios, a piano quartet, a sonata for violin and piano, two suites for 'cello and[Pg 135] piano, a piano concerto; fantasias on Russian themes for piano and violin, all with orchestral accompaniment; a suite for violin and numerous vocal and instrumental pieces in the smaller forms.

His operas, though they were never very popular, are perhaps the most important part of his work. The first, 'The Citizens of Nijny-Novgorod,' was produced at the Imperial Opera House in 1868. It is somewhat in the style of Glinka, but is generally thin and uninspired except in the choral parts, which make effective use of the old church modes. 'Harold,' produced in 1886, is more Wagnerian in form and dispenses with the effects which helped the former work to its popularity. Doubrovsky, produced in 1895, is Napravnik's most popular work; in it the lyric quality is again most prominent, and the parts are written with expert skill for the singers. His last opera, Francesca da Rimini, founded on Stephen Phillips' play, was first presented in 1902. It is musically the most able of his works, though highly reminiscent of the later Wagner. The music of the love scenes is touching and expressive. On the whole, we find Napravnik's influence on Russian music to be notable and salutary, and his original composition, though not inspired, sincere and workmanlike.

Paul Ivanovich Blaramberg (b. 1841), the son of a distinguished general of French extraction, came early under the influence of the Balakireff circle. But a number of years spent in foreign countries impressed other influences on his style, so that his music vacillated from one manner to another without striking any distinctive note. Blaramberg was long active as a teacher of theory in the school of the Philharmonic Society in Moscow. His works include a fantasia, 'The Dragon Flies,' for solo, chorus, and orchestra; a musical sketch, 'On the Volga,' for male chorus and orchestra; 'The Dying Gladiator,' a symphonic poem; a symphony[Pg 136] in B minor; a sinfonietta; a number of songs; and five operas. His first opera, 'The Mummers,' founded on a comedy by Ostrovsky, is a mingling of many styles, from the dramatic declamation of Dargomijsky to the musical patter of opera buffa. 'The Roussalka Maiden' contains many pages of marked lyric beauty, and 'Mary of Burgundy' attains some musical force in the 'grand manner.' The last opera, 'The Wave,' contains a number of pleasing melodies and not a little effective 'oriental color.'

J. N. Melgounoff (1846-1893) was a theorist rather than a composer and had some part in the nationalistic movement through his close and scientific study of folk-songs at a time when the cult of folk-song was chiefly sentimental. A. Alpheraky (born 1846) was also a specialist in folk-song, particularly those of the Ukrane, where he was born. He composed a number of songs, as well as piano pieces, in which the national feeling is evident. N. V. Lissenko (born 1842) was the author of a number of operas popular in the Malo-Russian provinces. He was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakoff and set music to several texts drawn from Gogol.

I. N.


[12] It is rather interesting that, in spite of Balakireff's opposition to Tschaikowsky's music, they remained good friends throughout their life. Tschaikowsky even tried to follow Balakireff's method in his symphonic poem 'Fatum,' which he dedicated to his friend. As the composition did not please Balakireff, though he performed it for the first time, Tschaikowsky destroyed it later and it was never published or performed again. This is what Balakireff wrote to Tschaikowsky after his attempt at modern composition: 'You are too little acquainted with modern music. You will never learn freedom of form from the classic composers. They can only give you what you already knew when you sat at the student's benches.' As irritable as Tschaikowsky was in such critical matters, he never took the expression of Balakireff in an offended spirit. How highly Tschaikowsky appreciated Balakireff is evident from his letter to Mme. von Meck: 'Balakireff's songs are actually little masterpieces and I am passionately fond of them. There was a time when I could not listen to his "Selim's Song" without tears in my eyes.']

[13] 'The Russian Opera.'

[14] 'Reminiscences.'

[15] Quoted by Mrs. Newmarch, op. cit.

[Pg 137]


The border nationalists: Alexander Glazounoff, Liadoff, Liapounoff, etc.—The renaissance of Russian church music: Kastalsky and Gretchaninoff—The new eclectics: Arensky, Taneieff, Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, Glière, Rachmaninoff and others—Scriabine and the radical foreign influence; Igor Stravinsky.


The influence of the 'neo-Russian' group did not continue in any direct line. There is to-day no one representing the tendency in all its purity. But there are a number of composers, originally pupils or satellites of the Balakireff circle, who have carried something of the nationalistic tendency into their style. Chief of these, perhaps, is Alexander Constantinovich Glazounoff, one of the most facile and brilliant of contemporary Russian writers for the orchestra. His early career was brilliant in the extreme. He was born in St. Petersburg on August 10, 1865, of an old and well-known family of publishers. In his childhood he received excellent musical education and showed precocious talents. At the age of fifteen he attracted the notice and received the advice of Balakireff, who urged further study, and two years later his first symphony was performed at a concert of the Free School. In the following year he entered the university, continuing the lessons he had begun under Rimsky-Korsakoff. The first symphony attracted the attention of Liszt, who conducted it in 1884 at Weimar, and to whom a second symphony, finished in 1886, was dedicated. Smaller works written at this time show vivid pictorial and national[Pg 138] tendencies. In 1889 Glazounoff conducted a concert of Russian works, including his own, at the Paris exposition, and was honored by the performance of a new symphonic poem of his—Stenka Razin—in Berlin. The following years brought more narrative or pictorial works—the orchestral fantasias 'The Forest' and 'The Sea,' the symphonic sketch 'A Slavonic Festival,' an 'Oriental Rhapsody,' a symphonic tableau, 'The Kremlin,' and the ballet 'Raymonda.'

The last, which was finished in 1897, may be taken as marking the end of Glazounoff's period of youthful romanticism. His work thereafter was less bound to story or picture, more self-contained and notable for architectural development. There are seven symphonies already to be recorded, together with a violin concerto of the utmost brilliancy, though of classical design. Among the other works of the later period should be mentioned the Symphonic Prologue 'In Memory of Gogol,' a Finnish fantasia, performed at Helsingfors in 1910; the symphonic suite, 'The Middle Ages'; and another ballet, 'The Seasons.' There is also not a little chamber music distinguished in form and execution, and a quantity of songs of facile and graceful quality. Glazounoff is now director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Obviously his early ideals were much influenced by Rimsky-Korsakoff and by Balakireff, from whom he gained his first distinguished encouragement. He responded to the romantic appeal of mediæval and national fairy stories. He felt the grandeur of the sea and the poetry of heroic legends. Thus in Stenka Razin he tells of the Cossack brigand whose death was foretold by his captive Persian princess and who sacrificed her in expiation of his sins to the river Volga. But it is evident that this romantic influence was not lasting. What he chiefly learned from Rimsky-Korsakoff was not the picturing of nature or of legendary[Pg 139] beings, but the manipulation of the orchestra with the utmost of brilliancy. In his later works this becomes only technical virtuosity, dazzling but somewhat empty. His travels in foreign lands impressed foreign ideals upon him. When we have given due credit to his thoroughness of workmanship, his sensitive regard for form and balance, the pregnant beauty of many of his themes, we still feel that he is only a sublimated salon composer.

Anatol Constantinovich Liadoff is another of Rimsky-Korsakoff's pupils who has shown little enthusiasm for a distinctly nationalistic music. He was born in St. Petersburg on April 29, 1855, of a musical family, both his father and his uncle being members of the artistic staff of the opera. He entered the violin class of the conservatory and was chosen for Rimsky-Korsakoff's class in composition. His graduation cantata was so fine that he was invited to become a teacher, and has remained with the institution ever since. In 1893 he was appointed with Liapounoff to undertake the collection of Russian folk-songs initiated by the Imperial Geographical Society. His genius has shown itself chiefly in the smaller forms, in which he has produced pieces for the piano distinguished for perfection of form. His songs, especially those for children, have had a wide popularity. There are a certain number of genre pieces for the piano (e. g., 'In the Steppes,' opus 23) and numerous pieces in the well known smaller forms, such as preludes, études, and dances. The symphonic scherzo, Baba Yaga, telling of the pranks of an old witch of children's folk-lore, is one of his ablest works. We should also mention the orchestral legend, entitled 'The Enchanted Lake,' opus 62; the 'Amazon's Dance,' opus 65; and the 'Last Scene from Schiller's "Bride of Messina,"' opus 28, for mixed chorus and orchestra.

Sergei Mikhailovich Liapounoff was born on November[Pg 140] 18, 1859, at Yaroslav, and studied at the Imperial School of Music at Nijny-Novgorod and at the Moscow Conservatory. Later he came under the influence of Balakireff, who conducted the first performance of his 'Concert Overture.' For some years he was assistant conductor at the Imperial Chapel at St. Petersburg. He is best known by his piano pieces, chiefly the fine Concerto in E flat minor, and the tremendously difficult Études. His numerous lighter pieces for piano, among which are the Divertissements, opus 35, have become exceedingly popular. His songs show a strong national or oriental influence. His orchestral compositions include a symphony, opus 12, the 'Solemn Overture on a Russian Theme,' opus 7, and a symphonic poem, opus 37. Mention should also be made of his rhapsody on Ukranian airs for piano and orchestra, which is a further proof of his sensitive feeling for folk-song.

Vasili Sergeievich Kallinikoff, born in 1866 in the department of Orloff, was at the time of his death in 1900 one of the most promising of the then younger Russian composers. He studied for eight years in the school of the Moscow Philharmonic Society, and upon his graduation became assistant conductor of the Moscow Private Opera. The oncoming of consumption, however, forced him to take up his residence in the Caucasus. His most extraordinary work was the first symphony, in the key of G minor, which was finished in 1895 and went begging for performance until it was given several years later in Kieff. Since then it has figured as one of the most popular of Russian orchestral works. The second symphony, in A major, is less distinguished. His other orchestral works, showing great talent and considerable national feeling, include two 'symphonic scenes,' 'The Nymphs' and 'The Cedars,' and the incidental music to Alexander Tolstoy's play, 'Czar Boris,' written for its performance at[Pg 141] the Moscow Art Theatre in 1899. There is also a cantata, Ivan Damaskin, and a ballad, Roussalka, for solo, chorus and orchestra. Kallinikoff also left some songs, chamber music and piano pieces. A marked originality is revealed in his best work, but it was still immature when his final illness put an end to creative activity.

A. Spendiaroff is loosely associated with the neo-nationalists and has acquired some little popularity with his orchestral works, 'The Three Palms' and the 'Caucasian Sketches.' He shows a marked talent of a pictorial order, and felicity in the invention of expressive melody. But his technique is that of an age past, his method rings always true to the conventional, and his musical content sounds all too reminiscent. Ossip Ivanovich Wihtol, born in 1863 at Volnar, near the Baltic Sea, has gained a distinctive position for himself as a worker with Lettish themes. He was educated at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and studied composition under Rimsky-Korsakoff. Until 1908 he was a teacher of theory in this institution. His best works are those which are connected with Lettish folk-music, notably the Symphonic Tableau, opus 4; the Orchestral Suite, opus 29; and the Fantasia for violin, opus 42. We should also mention the 'Dramatic Overture' and the Spriditis overture, the piano sonata, a string quartet, and a number of songs and choruses—some a cappella and some with orchestral accompaniment.


We have spoken several times of the absence of a true 'national school' of Russian composition in present times. But this statement must be amended. There is one school which represents in great purity the cult of the national and has achieved notable results in its work. This is the school of musicians who have undertaken[Pg 142] to build up a pure ritual music for the Russian church. This group is purely national in character. It is the most intense contemporary expression of the 'Slavophile' ideal in recent times. The neo-Russian group of Balakireff was, it is true, only loosely connected with the Slavophile or nationalistic political movement of its time, but its relation to the 'Western' tendency of Tschaikowsky and Rubinstein is analogous with that of the novelist Dostoievsky to Turgenieff. The renaissance of Russian church music probably has a certain political significance, for church and state have been traditionally close to one another in the land of the czar. The Eastern church, like that of Rome, suffered from the musical sentimentalism of the nineteenth century and received a vast accretion of 'sacred' music which was flowery, thin, and utterly unsacred in spirit. And like the Roman church it made strenuous efforts to effect a reform, choosing as its basis the traditional ecclesiastical modes. These, in the Eastern church, are as rich and impressive as the Gregorian modes of Rome. The first definite step was the establishment, in 1889, of the Synodical School of Church Singing in Moscow, under the direction of C. V. Smolenski. It was only a preparatory step, for, under the advice of Tschaikowsky and Taneieff, it concentrated first upon the education of a number of singers thoroughly grounded in musical art and theory. In 1898 the school was enlarged and reformed, becoming a regular academy with a nine-year course and offering a thorough training in every branch of musical art, from sight reading up to composition. New methods of teaching, introduced in 1897, brought the choral work up to an unprecedented pitch of excellence, and a visit of the school choir to Vienna in 1899 left a profound impression upon the outside world. The school instituted, in addition to its regular theoretical studies, a course in the history of church music and its use in contrapuntal[Pg 143] forms, and thus began the training of its own line of church composers, of whom the most able is to-day P. G. Chesnikoff. V. C. Orloff, who notably raised the standard of singing in the Metropolitan choir in St. Petersburg, is now director of the school, and with the help of the choral director, A. D. Kastalsky, has brought it to astonishing efficiency.

Kastalsky and Gretchaninoff have attained their eminence as composers chiefly through their work in the renaissance of church music. The former was born in 1856, received a regular preparatory school course, and studied music in the Moscow Conservatory. In 1887 he became teacher of piano at the Synodical school, and later of theory. He has composed much for the ritual, basing his work on the old church melodies and developing a style which is personal, yet in the highest degree religious and impressive. His position in Russian ecclesiastical music is now supreme. But in praising his work we should not forget to mention that of his predecessors, who did much to preserve a decent appropriateness for Russian church music in the dark days. Following the great Bortniansky came G. F. Lyvovsky (1830-1894), who was educated in the imperial choir and was later director of the Metropolitan choir in St. Petersburg. He was a man of much talent, and, feeling the approach of the new attitude toward sacred music, showed in his work the transition from the old to the new. Other notable church composers, both in the old and the new style, were A. A. Archangelsky (born 1846), Taneieff, Arensky, and Rimsky-Korsakoff.

But Gretchaninoff, though he has by no means given himself solely to the composition of sacred music, has brought the greatest genius to bear on it. He is no mere routineer and theorist. Some of his works for the ritual will stand as among the most perfect specimens of sacred music the world over. Combined with[Pg 144] the greatest simplicity of method is an exhaustive technical knowledge and a poetical feeling for the noble and profound. It is he who has put into tones the supreme poetry of worship. The profound impressiveness of this new sacred music in performance is in part due to the traditional Eastern practice of singing the ritual unaccompanied. This a cappella tradition has disciplined a generation of choirs to an accuracy of intonation which is impossible where singers can depend upon the support of an organ. Further, there is the marvellous Russian bass voice, sometimes going as low as B-flat or A, which furnishes a 'pedal' support to the choir and makes an accompanying instrument quite superfluous. The newer church composers have not been slow in taking advantage of the striking musical opportunities offered by this peculiar Slavic voice. As a result of all these influences, the musical renaissance of the Eastern church has been far more successful than the parallel awakening in the Roman, and has produced a music and a tradition of church singing incomparable in the world to-day for nobility and purity.

Alexander Tikhonovich Gretchaninoff was born on October 13, 1864, in Moscow, studied piano in the Moscow conservatory and went in 1890 to St. Petersburg to enjoy the advantages of Rimsky-Korsakoff's teaching. He early gained a prize with a string quartet, and became known in foreign countries by his songs and chamber music. His style, outside of his church music, is not especially national. He is inclined to the lyrical, preferring Borodine to Moussorgsky, and throughout his secular work shows German influence. His symphony in G minor, op. 6, gained for him general recognition in Russia, and the symphony op. 27 justified the great hope felt for his talent. Gretchaninoff has been active in dramatic music. He has written incidental music to Ostrovsky's 'The Snow Maiden' and to two of the plays which go to form Alexander Tolstoy's[Pg 145] trilogy on the times of Boris Godounoff. His two operas, Dobrinya Nikitich and 'Sister Beatrice,' are distinguished by great melodic impressiveness and in general by a lyrical style which derives from Rimsky-Korsakoff and Borodine. The latter opera, founded on Maeterlinck's play, met with disfavor at the hands of the Russian clergy, because of its representation of the Virgin on the stage, and was withdrawn after four performances.

A number of minor composers may also be grouped under the general head of nationalists. Most prominent of these is Nikolai Alexandrovich Sokoloff, who was born in St. Petersburg in 1859 and studied composition in the St. Petersburg Conservatory under Rimsky-Korsakoff. His chamber music comprises three quartets, a string quintet, and a serenade. For orchestra he has written incidental music to Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale' for performance at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg; a dramatic poem after Tolstoy's 'Don Juan'; a ballet, 'The Wild Swans'; and an elegy and serenade for strings. There are numerous small pieces for piano and violin, and choruses both for mixed voices and for men's voices alone. A. Amani (1875-1904) was also a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakoff and in his piano and chamber music took for his inspiration the poetry of the Orient and the melody of folk-song. F. Blumenfeld (born 1863) has distinguished himself as conductor at the Imperial Opera, St. Petersburg, and has written, besides the 'Allegro Concerto' for piano and orchestra and the symphony in C, many songs and smaller piano pieces which place him with the newer 'nationalists.' A. A. Iljinsky (born 1859) has composed an opera on Pushkin's 'Fountain of the Baktchisserai,' a symphonic scherzo, and an overture to Tolstoy's Tsar Feodor, besides much chamber and piano music. G. A. Kazachenko (born 1858) has written an opera, 'Prince Serebreny,' which was performed[Pg 146] in St. Petersburg in 1892, and is now chorus-master at the Imperial Opera. A. Kopyloff (born 1854) has written much orchestral music, including a symphony in C major, a scherzo for orchestra, and a concert overture, also chamber music, including an effective quartet in G major, op. 15. N. V. Stcherbacheff (born 1853) is associated with the younger nationalists and has composed much for piano and voice, in addition to a serenade and two 'Idylls' for orchestra. Finally, B. Zolotareff has distinguished himself in chamber music and in song-writing, and has shown great ability in his Fête Villageoise, op. 24, his 'Hebrew Rhapsody,' op. 7, and his Symphony, op. 8.


We now come to a group of composers who have been little influenced by the Russian folk-song. They all trace their artistic paternity in one way or another to Tschaikowsky. They are men who have used their native talent in a scholarly and sincere way, and have attained to great popularity in their native land and even outside of it, but they seem likely not to retain this popularity long. (This judgment may, however, be premature in the case of Glière.) It is not, of course, their denial of nationalism which has placed them in the second class. But their loyalty to the past does not seem to be coupled with a sufficiently powerful creative faculty to make secure their hold upon the public.

Anton Stephanovich Arensky was one of the most popular composers in Russia. This reputation was gained in part by his piano pieces, which made rather too great an effort toward the superficially pleasing and have now almost passed out of sight. His ambitious operas, too, have failed to hold the stage, but his chamber music shows him at his best. He was the son of a physician and was born at Nijny-Novgorod[Pg 147] on July 31, 1861. His early evinced musical talent was carefully nurtured in his home, and when he was still young he was sent to St. Petersburg to study under Zikke. Later he worked under Rimsky-Korsakoff at the Conservatory, and gained that institution's gold medal for composition. His first symphony and his piano concerto were both given public performance soon after his graduation in 1882, and Arensky was appointed professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1888 he became conductor of the concerts of the Russian Choral Society in Moscow, and in 1895 moved to St. Petersburg to accept the position of director of the Imperial Chapel choir, to which he had been appointed on the recommendation of Balakireff. He died in 1906 and it was generally felt that the death had prevented the composition of what would have been his best works. Early in his career he gained the active sympathy and encouragement of Tschaikowsky, who influenced him strongly in a personal way. His talent was essentially conservative, and his scholarly cast of mind is shown in his published 'method,' which he illustrated with 1,000 musical examples, and in his book on musical forms.

His best works date from the Moscow period, since bad health decreased his creative vigor in his later years. Some of his smaller works may be placed beside the best of Tschaikowsky. Most popular outside of Russia have been the two string quartets, his trio in D minor, and his piano quintet in D major, op. 51. Of his two symphonies, the first, written in his boyhood, is quite the best. The piano fantasia on Russian themes, the violin concerto, and the cantata, 'The Fountain of Baktchissarai,' are among his best known works. His first opera, 'The Dream on the River Volga,' was written to a libretto which Tschaikowsky had abandoned and passed on to him 'with his blessing.' He aimed at dramatic force and truthfulness, but his talent[Pg 148] was essentially lyrical, and he proved to be at his best in his clear and graceful ariosos. His later operas, 'Raphael' and 'Nal and Damayanti' (each in one act), show an advance in musical power, though the method still continues conservative. Arensky's ballet, 'A Night in Egypt,' was produced in 1899. His last work, composed on his deathbed, was the incidental music composed for the performance of 'The Tempest' at the Moscow Art Theatre. Some of these numbers are among the best things he ever wrote.

Sergei Ivanovich Taneieff is a conservative both in mind and in heart, and may be considered the only real pupil of Tschaikowsky. He was born of a rich and noble family in Vladimir on November 13, 1856, and at the age of ten entered the then newly opened Moscow Conservatory, where he studied the piano under Nicholas Rubinstein. Under Tschaikowsky he worked at theory and composition. In 1875 he graduated with highest honors and with a gold medal for his playing, which was characterized by purity and strength of touch, grace and ease of execution, maturity of intellect, self-control, and a calm objective style of interpretation. These qualities may well be considered typical of his compositions. After a long Russian tour with Auer, the violinist, Taneieff succeeded Tschaikowsky as professor of orchestration at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1885 he became director of the institution, but soon retired to devote himself wholly to composition. Though he is an admirable pianist, he seldom appears in public.

His compositions, though not numerous, are all marked by sincerity and thoroughness of workmanship. Some of them have been compared to those of Brahms. His work is essentially that of a scholar, and makes little appeal to the emotions. His mastery, of form is marked. The most ambitious of his works is the 'trilogy' (in reality a three-act opera) based on[Pg 149] the Æschylus 'Oresteia.' This, though never popular in Russia because of its severity of style, compels admiration for its nobleness of concept and its scholarly execution. The overture and last entr'acte are still frequently performed in Russia. In general the style is Wagnerian, and the leit-motif is used freely, though not to excess. A cantata for solo, chorus, and orchestra—the Ivan Damaskin—is one of the finest works of its kind in Russian music. Taneieff has also written three symphonies and an overture on Russian themes. But his most distinctive work is perhaps to be found in his eight string quartets (of which the third is the most popular), in his two string quintets, and his quartet with piano. There are also a number of male choruses and smaller piano works.

A much more likable, though no less conservative, figure is Michael Mikhaelovich Ippolitoff-Ivanoff. He was born of a working class family near St. Petersburg on November 15, 1859, and managed to get to the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied for six years under Rimsky-Korsakoff. In 1882 he went to Tiflis, where he remained a number of years as director of the local music school, as conductor of the concerts of the Imperial Musical Society, and for a time as director of the government theatre. In 1893 he came to Moscow to teach harmony, instrumentation and free composition at the Conservatory, to the directorship of which he succeeded in 1906. But perhaps his greatest influence on Russian musical life was exerted by him in his position as director of the Moscow Private Opera, which he assumed in 1899, and which he helped to build up to its high artistic standard. His reputation in foreign lands rests chiefly on his string quartet, opus 13, and his orchestral suite, 'Caucasian Sketches,' opus 10. (A second Caucasian suite appeared in 1906 and has had much success.) The list of his works also includes notably a Sinfonietta and a piano quartet; three cantatas; Iberia, for orchestra; and the 'Armenian Rhapsody,' op. 48. In many of these works, as in his songs, he is frequently displaying his penchant for Oriental, Hebrew, and Caucasian music, which he has studied with a poet's love and appreciation. In his two operas, 'Ruth' and 'Assya,' these qualities are also apparent. The notable qualities of his music are its freedom from artificiality, its warmth of expression, and its consistent thoroughness of workmanship. But it is perhaps as an organizer and director that he has performed his chief service to Russian music.

One of the most promising of the younger conservative Russians is Reinhold Glière, who is now director of the Conservatory at Kieff and conductor of the Kieff Symphony concerts. He has in these positions been a dominant factor in the provincial, as opposed to the metropolitan, musical life of Russia, and has by his energy and progressiveness raised Kieff to a position in some ways rivalling the capital. He was born at Kieff on January 11, 1875, and was educated at Moscow, where he studied with Taneieff and Ippolitoff-Ivanoff. Though he was thus under conservative influences, he showed in his earliest compositions a feeling for the national musical sources which forbade critics to classify him as a cosmopolitan.

His first string quartet, in A (op. 2), showed national material treated with something of western softness, and his many small pieces for string or wind instruments often make use of folk-like melodies. It is in his piano pieces that he shows himself weakest, and these have contributed to an under-appreciation of him in his own as well as in foreign lands. Some of his works (especially the later ones) are thoroughly national in character. Thus his recently finished opera 'Awakened' is built entirely on folk-material, and comes with revolutionary directness straight from the heart of the people. His symphonic poem, 'The Sirens,' showed French influence, but was hardly a successful synthesis. His first symphony, in E flat, op. 8, revealed great promise, and his string quartets have drawn the attention of music-lovers in foreign lands.

[Pg 150]


Contemporary Russian Composers:

Alexander Glazounoff Reinhold Glière
Vladimir Rebikoff Sergei Rachmaninoff

[Pg 151]

It is in his symphonic work that Glière shows his greatest ability. His orchestral writing burns with the heat that is traditional in Russian music, and his handling of his themes, in development and contrapuntal treatment, is sometimes masterly. By far his greatest work is his third symphony, Ilia Mourometz, which is in reality a long and extremely ambitious symphonic poem. It tells the tale of the great hero, Ilia, of the Novgorod cycle of legends, who sat motionless in his chair for thirty years until some holy pilgrims came and urged him to arise and become a hero. Then he went forth, conquering giants and pagans, until he was finally turned to stone in the Holy Mountains. In this work the themes, most of which are national in character, and some of which seem taken directly from the people, are in the highest degree pregnant and expressive. They are used cyclically in all four movements, and are developed at great length and with great complexity. The harmonic idiom is chromatic, not exactly radical but yet personal and creative. If we except certain cliché passages which are unworthy of so fine a work, we must adjudge the symphony from beginning to end a masterpiece. Something of this mastery of the heroic mood is also to be seen in Glière's numerous songs. Though most of them are conventional in their harmonic scheme, they reveal great poetry and expressive power. With but one exception Glière seems to be the greatest of the conservatives of modern Russia.

This exception is Sergei Vassilievich Rachmaninoff, whose reputation, now extended to all parts of the civilized world, is by no means beyond his deserts. He was born on March 20, 1873, in the department of Novgorod,[Pg 152] of a landed family of prominence. At the age of nine he went to St. Petersburg to study music, but three years later transferred to Moscow, where he worked under Taneieff and Arensky. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 with high honors, and his one-act opera, Aleko, written for graduation, was promptly performed at the Grand Theatre and made a deep impression. Two short periods of his later life were spent in the conducting of opera in Moscow, but the most of his time he has spent in composition. He is a pianist of rare abilities, and has played his own music much on tours. For some years he resided in Dresden.

Rachmaninoff's early fame is due to the sensational popularity of his C-sharp minor prelude for piano, a fine work of heroic import, holding immense promise for the future. While much of his later composition has been somewhat conventional in style, Rachmaninoff at his best has justified the promise. The magnificent E minor symphony ranks among the best works of its kind in all modern music. Scarcely inferior to it is the symphonic poem, 'The Island of the Dead,' suggested by Arnold Böcklin's picture. Two later operas have proved very impressive. The first, 'The Covetous Knight,' is founded on a tale of Pushkin, and follows the complete original text with literal exactness, achieving an impressive dramatic declamation which seems always on the verge of melody, and entwines itself with the masterly psychological music of the orchestra. Francesca da Rimini is more lyrical, and shows much passion and power in its love scenes.

Rachmaninoff's only chamber music is an 'elegiac trio' in memory of Tschaikowsky and a couple of sonatas. A large choral work, 'Spring,' has attained great popularity in Russia, and a recent one, founded on Edgar Allan Poe's poem, 'The Bells,' is said to reveal abilities of the highest order. For piano there are[Pg 153] many pieces—notably the various groups of preludes, some hardly inferior to the famous one in C-sharp minor; a set of variations on a theme of Chopin; six pieces for four hands, op. 11; two suites for two pianos, op. 5 and op. 17; and two superb concertos for piano and orchestra, of which the second, op. 18, is the more popular. His minor piano pieces are among the most vigorous and finely executed in modern piano literature. His songs are of wide variety, especially in regard to national feeling; in some, as, for instance, 'The Harvest Fields,' he is almost on a plane with Moussorgsky. We should mention also two works for orchestra, a 'Gypsy Caprice' and a fantasia, 'The Cliff.'

Rachmaninoff's music is justly to be called conservative and even academic in its later phase. But this must not be taken to imply that it is cold or unpoetic. No modern Russian composer can better strike the tone of high and heroic poetry. Rachmaninoff has taken the technique of the West, especially of modern Germany, and the spirit if not the letter of the tunes of his own lands and fused them into a music of his own, which, at once complex and direct, stirs the heart and inflames the blood. His orchestral palette is powerful and inclined to be heavy. His contrapuntal style is complex and masterful. His melody is free and impressive. He is by all odds the greatest of the modern Russian eclectics.

A number of other composers, loosely connected with the 'Western' tradition of Tschaikowsky, should here be mentioned. Some of these are young men who may as yet have given no adequate evidence of their real ability. But all of them are able musicians with some solid achievement to their credit. A. N. Korestschenko (born 1870) won the gold medal at the Moscow Conservatory for piano and theory after studying under Taneieff and Arensky, and is now professor of harmony at that institution. His most important work includes[Pg 154] three operas, a ballet 'The Magic Mirror,' and a number of orchestral works, notably the 'Lyric Symphony,' a 'Festival Prologue,' the Georgian and Armenian Songs with orchestra, and the usual proportion of songs and piano pieces. Nicholas Nikolaevich Tcherepnine was born in 1873 and studied for the law, but changed to the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he energetically studied composition under Rimsky-Korsakoff. His style is eclectic and flexible. His name is best known through his two ballets, Narcisse and Le Pavilon d'Armide, but his overture to Rostand's Princesse Lointaine, his 'Dramatic Fantasia,' op. 17, and his orchestral sketch from 'Macbeth,' give further evidence of marked powers. His songs and duets have had great popularity, and his pianoforte concerto is frequently played. He has also been active as a composer of choral music, accompanied and a cappella.

Maximilian Steinberg, born in 1883 and trained under Rimsky-Korsakoff and Glazounoff, has worked chiefly in an academic way and has shown marked technical mastery, especially in his quartet, op. 5, and his second symphony in B minor. Nicholas Medtner, who is of German parentage, shows the same respect for classical procedure, together with an abundance of inspiration and enthusiasm. He was born in Moscow on December 24, 1879, and carried off the gold medal at the Conservatory in 1900. Since then he has been active chiefly as a composer, and has to his credit a number of very fine piano sonatas, as well as considerable chamber music. Attention has recently been attracted to his songs, which combine great technical resource with a fresh poetical feeling for the texts. There is nothing of the nationalistic about his work. The same, however, cannot quite be said for George Catoire (born Moscow, 1861), who, though educated in Berlin, has shown a feeling for things Slavic in his symphonic poem, Mzyri, and in his cantata, Russalka.[Pg 155] Among his other large works are a symphony in C minor, a piano concerto, and considerable chamber music. J. Krysjanowsky is another modern eclectic, known chiefly by his sonata for piano and violin, which, though able, shows little poetical inspiration.

Let us complete this section of the history with a passing mention of certain minor composers of local importance. A. von Borchmann has shown a solid musical ability and a strong classical tendency in his string quartet, op. 3. J. I. Bleichmann (1868-1909) was the composer of many popular piano and violin pieces, of an orchestral work, several sonatas, and a sacred choral work, 'Sebastian the Martyr.' A. Goedicke has composed two symphonies, a dramatic overture, a piano trio, a sonata for piano and violin and another for piano alone, and numerous smaller pieces. W. Malichevsky is an able composer of great promise and has written three symphonies, three quartets and a violin sonata. M. Ostroglazoff is an 'eclectic' whose true powers are as yet undetermined. W. Pogojeff is fairly well known because of his able chamber music and piano pieces. S. Prokofieff (born 1891) is an able and classically minded pupil of Glière and Liadoff, and Selinoff (born 1875) has carried his early German training into the writing of symphonic poems. We should also make mention of E. Esposito, an able and charming composer of operetta.


Of radical Russian composers two have in recent years become internationally famous. Alexander Scriabine is notable for his highly developed harmonic method, which makes sensible subjective states of emotion hardly possible to music hitherto. And Igor Stravinsky has in his ballets carried free counterpoint and a resultant revolutionary harmony to an extreme almost[Pg 156] undreamed of in the whole world of music. How much there is of mere sensation in these two musicians is at this time hard to determine. The question will be determined in part not only by the extent to which they retain a hold over their audiences, but also by the extent to which the new paths which they are opening prove fruitful to later followers. If one may judge by appearances at this writing, it would seem that Scriabine, who was essentially a theorist and a mystic, had little to give the world beyond a reworking of the chromatic style of Wagner's 'Tristan'—a style seemingly inadequate to the intimate subjective message he would have it bear. Stravinsky, on the other hand, though still crude, seems to be at the threshold of a new and remarkable musical development. In addition to these new men we find in Russia a number who may justly be called radicals, being influenced by the radicals of other lands, chiefly France. No creative ability of the first order has as yet been discovered among these minor men.

Alexander Scriabine was born in Moscow on December 25, 1871. He was destined by his family for a career in the army, but his leaning toward music determined him to quit the cadet corps and become a student in the Moscow Conservatory. Here he studied piano with Safonoff and composition with Taneieff. He graduated in 1892, taking a gold medal and setting out to conquer Europe as a concert performer. In 1898 he returned to the Moscow Conservatory to teach, but in 1903 resigned, determining to devote all his time to composition. Since then he has lived in Paris, Budapest, Berlin, and Switzerland. In 1906-07 he made a brief visit to the United States, appearing as a pianist. He died, dreaming great dreams for the future, in 1915. His compositions have been numerous and have shown a steady advance from the melodious and conventional style of his early piano works to the intense harmonic[Pg 157] sensualism of his later orchestral pieces. The first piano works were characterized by Cui as 'stolen from Chopin's trousseau.' This is not unjust, although the works show a certain technical originality in the invention of figures. The first symphony is written in solid and conservative style, with a due element of Wagnerian influence, and a choral finale in praise of art speaking for its composer's good intentions. The second symphony shows a development of technical skill and an enlarging of emotional range, but gives few hints of the later style. The smaller music of this period—as, for instance, the Mazurkas, op. 25, the Fantasia, and the Preludes, op. 35—also show progress chiefly on the technical side. The 'Satanic Poem' for piano, op. 34, points to Liszt as its source.

It is the third symphony in C, entitled 'The Divine Poem,' which first gives distinct evidence of change. This work, composed in 1905, undertakes to depict the inner struggles of the artist in his process of creation, and reveals the subjective trend of its composer's growing imagination. Its three movements are entitled respectively, 'Struggles,' 'Sensual Pleasures,' and 'Divine Activity.' Here the emotional element is well to the fore. The first movement is stirring and dramatic, the second languorous and rich, the third bold and brilliant. The orchestra employed is large and the technique complex. Other ambitious works of the earlier period are the concerto in F-sharp minor, op. 20, a work of no outstanding importance, and the 'Reverie' for orchestra, op. 24, which is distinctly weak. But by the time we have reached the 'Poem of Ecstasy,' composed in 1908, we have the composer in all his long-sought individuality. The harmonic system is vague to the ear, and weighs terribly on the senses. There is evidence of some esoteric striving. One feels that 'more is meant than meets the ear.' It is in a single movement, but in three sections, and these are entitled,[Pg 158] respectively, 'His Soul in the Orgy of Love,' 'The Realization of a Fantastic Dream,' and 'The Glory of His Own Art.' The orchestration is rich in the extreme and the development of the motives shows a mature musical power. The effect on the nerves and senses is undeniably powerful. But withal it remains vague as a work of art; it is obviously meant to convey an impression, but the definite impression, like the 'program,' is withheld, and perhaps it is as well so.

But it is the 'Prometheus,' subtitled 'Poem of Fire' (composed 1911, op. 60), which shows Scriabine at his most ambitious. The work is written in the general style of the 'Poem of Ecstasy,' but the style, like the themes, is more highly developed. And there is super-added the color-symbolism which has helped to give the work something of its sensational fame. The music is meant to tell of the coming of 'fire'—that is, of the creative principle—to man, and the orchestra describes (one might better say 'experiences') the various forces bearing upon incomplete man (represented by the piano, which serves as a member of the orchestral body), until the creative principle comes and makes complete him who accepts it. But in addition to the tones Scriabine has devised a parallel manipulation of colors, on a color machine partly of his own invention, and has 'scored' the 'chords' as he imagines them to suit the music. 'The light keyboard,' says a commentator, 'traverses one octave with all the chromatic intervals, and each key projects electrically a given color. These are used in combination, and a "part" for this instrument stands at the head of the score. The arrangement of colors is as follows: C, red; G, rosy-orange; D, yellow; A, green; E and B, pearly blue and the shimmer of moonshine; F sharp, bright blue; D-flat, violet; A-flat, purple; E-flat and B-flat, steely with the glint of metal; F, dark red.' The first performance of the work, with the color machine used as the composer[Pg 159] planned, was that of the Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York, in March, 1915. It can hardly be said that the experiment was convincing to many in the audience, but it seems altogether possible that some sort of union of the arts of pure color and pure tone in an expressive mission may be fruitful for the future.

In a posthumous work entitled 'Mystery,' Scriabine intended to use every means possible, including perfume and the dance, to produce a supreme emotional effect on the audience. We should also mention the ten piano sonatas, of which the seventh and ninth are the best, which show their composer's musical development with great completeness, but suffer in the later examples from a harmonic monotony. This seemed to be Scriabine's besetting sin. It seems doubtful whether his harmonic method, as he developed it, is flexible enough for the continued strain to which he put it. For in truth it is not a daring or extremely original system, however impressive it may sound in the commentator's notes. If we may sum the matter up in a slang phrase we might say that Scriabine's harmony 'listens' better than it sounds.

The influence of the French 'impressionists' on Russian composers is represented at its best in the work of such men as Vassilenko and Rebikoff. The Russians have ever been citizens of the world and have been quick to imitate and learn from their western neighbors. But in the past century they have also been quick to assimilate and to give back something new from their own individuality. This may be the destined course of the French influence on Slavic musicians.

Sergius Vassilenko was born in Moscow in 1872, entered the Conservatory in 1896, and was awarded the gold medal for a cantata written after five years' work under Taneieff and Ippolitoff-Ivanoff. His early work was much under the influence of the Russian nationalists, and his epic poem for orchestra, op. 4, illustrates[Pg 160] a taste for mediæval poetry which he supported out of his profound knowledge of modal and church music. But his larger works after this were chiefly French in style. These include the two 'poems' for bass voice and orchestra, 'The Whirlpool' and 'The Widow'; a symphonic poem, 'The Garden of Death,' based on Oscar Wilde, and the orchestral suite Au Soleil, by which he is chiefly known in foreign lands.

Feodor Akimenko, though less wholly French in his manner, may be ranked among those who chiefly speak of Paris in their music. He was born at Kharkoff on February 8, 1876, was educated in the Imperial Chapel in St. Petersburg, and later was instructed in one or another branch of music by Liadoff, Balakireff, and Rimsky-Korsakoff. The influence of these masters is evident in his work, however much he may have absorbed a French idiom. His is 'a fundamentally Slavonic personality,' says one commentator,[16] 'which inclines toward dreaminess more than toward sensuality or the picturesque. His music resembles the French only in suppleness of rhythms and elaborateness of harmonies.' His early works, which are more thoroughly Russian in method, include many songs and piano pieces, three choruses for mixed voices, a 'lyric poem' for orchestra, a string trio and a piano and violin sonata. After his journey to Paris his style changed notably. From this later period we may mention such works for the piano as the Recits d'une âme rêveuse, Uranie, Pages d'une poésie fantastique, etc. His latest compositions include a Sonata Fantastique and an opera, 'The Queen of the Alps.'

Another composer of much originality and of subjective tendencies is Vladimir Rebikoff, who was born on May 16, 1866, at Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia. Even in his piano pieces he has attempted to mirror psychological states. But this attempt is carried much further in [Pg 161]his operas. 'The Christmas Tree,' in one act, attempts to contrast the feelings of the rich and the poor, and it was successful enough in its artistic purpose to gain much popularity with its Moscow public. Rebikoff has written two other 'psychological' operas—'Thea,' op. 34, and 'The Woman and the Dagger,' op. 41—not to mention his early 'The Storm,' produced in 1894. In his 'melo-mimics,' or pantomimic scenes with closely allied musical accompaniment, Rebikoff has created a small art form all his own.

M. Gniessin is one of the most talented of the younger Russians who have shown marked foreign influence—in this case German. His important works include a 'Symphonic Fragment' after Shelley, op. 4; a Sonata-ballad in C-sharp minor for piano and 'cello, op. 7; a symphonic poem, Vrubel; and a number of admirable songs. W. G. Karatigin is known as the editor of Moussorgsky's posthumous works and composer of some carefully developed music. Among the remaining young composers of this group we need only mention the names of Kousmin, Yanowsky, Olenin and Tchesnikoff.

There remains Igor Stravinsky, perhaps the greatest of all the younger Russian composers in the pregnancy of his musical style. He is regarded as a true representative of nationalism in its 'second stage,' for, though his work bears little external resemblance to that of Moussorgsky, for instance, its style is indigenous to Russia and its thematic material is closely connected with the Russian folk-song. Stravinsky was born at Oranienbaum on June 5, 1882, the son of Feodor Stravinsky, a celebrated singer of the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg. Though his precocious talent for music was recognized and was fostered in piano lessons under Rubinstein, he received a classical education and was destined for the law. It was not until he met Rimsky-Korsakoff at Heidelberg in 1902—that is, at the age of[Pg 162] twenty—that he turned definitely and finally to music. He began work with Rimsky-Korsakoff and learned something about brilliancy in orchestration. But his ideals were too radical always to suit his master. The latter is said to have exclaimed on hearing his pupil play 'The Fire Bird': 'Stop playing that horrible stuff or I shall begin to like it.'

Stravinsky's first important work was his symphony in E-flat major, composed in 1906, and still in manuscript. Then came 'Faun and Shepherdess,' a suite for voice and piano, and, in 1908, the Scherzo Fantastique for orchestra. His elegy on the death of Rimsky-Korsakoff, his four piano studies, and a few of his songs, written about this time, hold a hint of the changed style that was to come.

Here begins the list of Stravinsky's important compositions. 'Fireworks,' for orchestra, was written purely as a technical tour de force. Music in the higher sense it is not, but it reveals immense technical resource in scoring and in the invention of suggestive devices. Pin wheels, sky rockets and exploding bombs among other things are 'pictured' in this orchestral riot of tone. In 1909 came the ballet 'The Nightingale,' which has recently been rewritten, partly in the composer's later style, and arranged as an opera. This led him to his first successful ballet. But before entering considering the three works which have chiefly brought him his fame let us refer to some of the later songs, e. g., 'The Cloister' and 'The Song of the Dew,' which are masterful pieces in the ultra-modern manner, and to the 'Astral Cantata,' which has not yet been published at this writing.

Stravinsky's fame in foreign lands (which is doubtless almost equal to that in his own, a strange thing in Russian music) rests almost entirely on the three ballets which were mounted and danced by Diaghileff's company of dancers, drawn largely from the Imperial[Pg 163] Opera House, in St. Petersburg, who for several seasons made wonderfully successful tours in the European capitals. It must be understood that this institution, the so-called 'Russian ballet,' was in no wise official. It represented the 'extreme left wing' of Russian art in regard to music, dancing, and scene painting. It was altogether too radical to be received hospitably in the official opera house. But it proved to be one of the most brilliant artistic achievements of recent times, and on it floated the fame of Igor Stravinsky.

His first ballet, 'The Fire Bird,' was produced in Paris in 1910. It tells a long and richly colored story of the rescue of a beautiful maiden from the snares of a wicked magician. The music is by no means 'radical,' but it shows immense talent in expressive melody, colorful harmony, in precise expression of mood, in the suggestion of pictures, and in a certain elaborate and free polyphony which is one of Stravinsky's chief glories. It is a work irresistible alike to the casual listener and to the technical musician. The next ballet was 'Petrouchka,' produced in 1911. This is a fanciful tale of Petrouchka, the Russian Pierrot, and his unhappy love for another doll. The little man finds a rival in a terrible blackamoor, and in the end is most foully murdered, spilling 'his vital sawdust' upon the toy-shop floor. The characters are richly varied, and the carnival music is telling in the extreme. Stravinsky's musical characterization and picturing here is masterly. But his greatest achievement is his preservation of the tone of burlesque throughout—bouncing and joyous, yet kindly and refined.

In this work we notice much of the harmonic daring which is so startling in his third ballet, 'The Consecration of Spring.' Here is an elaborate dance in two scenes, setting forth presumably the mystic rites by which the pre-historic Slavic peoples lured spring, with its fruitful blessings, into their midst. The character[Pg 164] of the music and of the libretto is determined by the peculiar theory of the dance on which the ballet is founded. We cannot here go into this matter. Suffice it to say that the dancing does not pretend to be 'primitive' in an ethnological sense, though its angular movements continually recall the crudities of pre-historic art. The music is quite terrifying at first hearing. But a second hearing, or a hasty examination of the score, will convince one that it is executed with profound musicianship and a sure understanding of the effects to be obtained. Briefly, we may describe the musical style as a free use of telling themes, largely national in character, contrapuntally combined with such freedom that harmony, in the classical sense, quite ceases to exist. Because of the musical mastership displayed in the writing we can be sure that this is not a 'freak' or a blind alley experiment. Whether the tendency represents a complete denial of harmonic relations, with the attention centred wholly on the polyphonic interweaving, or whether it is preparing the way for a new harmony in which the second (major or minor) will be regarded as a consonant interval, we cannot at this time say. But Stravinsky's well-proved ability, and his evident knowledge of what he is about, are at least presumptive evidence that our enjoyment of this new style will increase with our understanding of it.

Certainly men like Scriabine and Stravinsky prove that Russian music has not been a mere burst of genius, destined to become embalmed in academicism or wafted on lyrical breezes into the salons. Probably no nation in Europe to-day possesses a greater number of thoroughly able composers than Russia. The Slav seems to be no whit behind his brothers either in poetic inspiration or in technical progress. Perhaps it is a new generation, that has just begun its work—a generation destined to achievements as fine as those of the glorious 'Big Five.'

H. K. M.


[16] Ivan Narodny in 'Musical America,' August, 1914.

[Pg 165]


Characteristics of Czech music; Friedrich Smetana—Antonin Dvořák—Zdenko Fibich and others; Joseph Suk and Viteslav Novák—historical sketch of musical endeavor in Hungary—Ödön Mihalovics, Count Zichy and Jenö Hubay—Dohnányi and Moór; 'Young Hungary': Weiner, Béla Bartók, and others.


All that is best in the music of Bohemia is fully represented in the compositions of her two greatest sons, Friedrich Smetana (1824-1884) and Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904). As Louis XIV said that he was the state, so it may almost be said that, musically speaking, these two men are Bohemia. And yet, paradoxical as it may seem, they can be really understood only when studied in relation to their national background, when considered the spokesmen of an otherwise voiceless but richly endowed race. This is the paradox, indeed, of all so-called 'national' composers. From one point of view they are personally unimportant; their eloquence is that of the race that speaks through them; and we listen to them less as men of a general humanity than as a special sort of men from a particular spot of earth. Thus Mr. W. H. Hadow, in his admirable essay on Dvořák,[17] does not hesitate to say of the eighteenth century Bohemian musicians, Mysliveczek, Reicha, and Dussek, all of whom lived abroad: 'We may find in their denial of their country a conclusive reason for their ultimate failure.' Shift the standpoint a little, [Pg 166]however, and it is obvious that something more is necessary for a Bohemian musician than to live at home and to incorporate the national melodies, or even express the national temperament, in his compositions. He must, that is, have gone to school to the best masters of the music of the whole world—not literally, of course, but by study of their works; he must thus have become a past master of his craft; above all, he must be a great individual, whatever his country, a man of broad sympathy, warm heart, and keen intelligence. 'Theme,' wrote one who realized this on the occasion of Dvořák's death,[18] 'is not the main thing in any art; the part that counts is the manner of handling the theme. When books are good enough they are literature, and when music is good enough it is music. Whether it be "national" or not matters not a jot.' Both of the truths that oppose each other to form this paradox are repeatedly exemplified in the history of music in Bohemia.

The Czechs, or Bohemians, like other Slavic peoples, are extremely gifted in music by nature; but, while their cousins, the Russians, exemplify this gift largely in songs of a melancholy cast, they are, on the contrary, gay and sociable, and rejoice above all in dancing. They are said to have no less than forty native dances. Of these the most famous is the polka, improvised in 1830 by a Bohemian farm girl, and quickly disseminated over the whole world. The wild 'furiant' and the meditative poetic 'dumka' have been happily used by Smetana, Dvořák, and others. Still other dances bear such unpronounceable names as the beseda, the dudik, the hulan, the kozak, the sedlák, the trinozka. They are accompanied by the national instrument, the 'dudy,' a sort of bagpipe. 'On the whole,' says Mr. Waldo S. Pratt,[19] 'Bohemian ... music shows a fondness[Pg 167] for noisy and hilarious forms whose origin is in ardent social merrymaking, or for somewhat grandiose and sumptuous effects, such as imply a half-barbaric notion of splendor. In these respects the eastern music stands in contrast with the much more personal and subjective musical poesy to which northern composers have tended.' This characterization, it is interesting to note, would apply as well to the music of Smetana and Dvořák, in which the kind of thoughtfulness we find in Schumann is almost always wanting, as to the folk-music of their country.

The songs, if naturally less boisterous than the dances, are animated, forthright, and cheerful, rather than profound. They are usually in major rather than in minor, and vigorous though graceful in rhythm. As in the spoken language the accent is almost always put on the first word or syllable, the music usually begins, too, with an accented note. Another peculiarity that may be traceable to the language is that the phrases are very apt to have an uneven number of accents, such as three or five, instead of the two or four to which we are accustomed. This gives them, for our ears, an indescribable piquant charm. On the other hand, as Bohemia is the most western of Slav countries, and consequently the nearest to the seats of musical culture in Germany, its songs show in the regularity of their structure and sometimes in considerably extended development of the musical thought, a superiority over those of more remote and inaccessible lands. Music has been taught, too, for many generations in the Bohemian schools as carefully as 'the three R's,' and it is usual for the village school teachers to act also as organists, choir- and bandmasters. The Bohemian common people seem really to love music. It has been truly said: 'If a Bohemian school of music can now be said to exist, it is as much due to the peasant[Pg 168] as to the conscious efforts of Bendl, Smetana, Fibich, A. Stradal, and Dvořák.'[20]

As in Poland, Russia, Italy, and other countries, however, music suffered long in Bohemia from political oppressions and from lack of leadership. In the seventeenth century, after the Thirty Years' War, Bohemia, in spite of her proud past, found herself enslaved, intellectually as well as politically. Her music was overlaid and smothered by fashions imported from Germany, France, and Italy, and her gifted musicians, as Mr. Hadow points out, emigrated thither. During the eighteenth century her Germanization was almost complete, and even the Czech language seemed in danger of dying out. George Benda (1721-1795) wrote fourteen operas for the German stage; Anton Reicha (1770-1836) settled in Paris as a teacher; J. L. Dussek (1761-1812), best known of all, was a cosmopolitan musician, more German than Czech.

Then, early in the nineteenth century, began a gradual reassertion, timid and halting at first, of the national individuality. Kalliwoda, Kittl, Dionys Weber, and others tried to restore the prestige of the folk-songs; Tomášek founded instrumental works upon them; Skroup made in 1826 a collection of them. This Frantisek Skroup (1801-1862) deserves as much as any single musician to be considered the pioneer of the Czech renaissanace. Conductor of the Bohemian Theatre at Prague, he composed the first typically national operas, performed in 1825 and later, and the most universally loved of Bohemian songs, 'Where is My Home?' His life spans the whole period of gestation of the movement, for it was in 1862, the year of his death, that it reached tangible fruition in the founding of the national opera house, the 'Interimstheater,' at Prague. Two years before this, in October, 1860, the gift of [Pg 169]political liberty had been granted Bohemia by Austrian imperial diploma. In May, 1861, Smetana, most gifted of native musicians, had returned from a long sojourn in Sweden. Thus the national music now found itself for the first time with an abiding place, liberty, and a great leader.

Friedrich Smetana, born at Leitomischl, Bohemia, March 2, 1824, showed pronounced musical talent from the first, and was highly successful as a boy pianist. His father, however, averse to his becoming a professional musician, refused to support him when in his nineteenth year he went to Prague to study. The severe struggle with poverty and even hunger which he had at this time, together with his close application to the theory of music, may have had something to do with the nervous and mental troubles which later overtook him. His need of study was great, for his musical experience had hitherto been chiefly of the national dances and other popular pieces. In 1848, looking over a manuscript composition of six years before, he noted on its title page that it had been 'written in the utter darkness of mental musical education,' and was preserved as 'a curiosity of natural composition' only at the request of 'the owner'—that is, his friend Katharina Kolář, who in 1849 became his wife. He settled for a time in Prague as a teacher, and even opened a school of his own; but musical conditions in Bohemia were at that time so primitive that in 1857 he accepted an appointment as director of a choral and orchestral society at Gothenburg in Sweden.

During his residence abroad he composed, in addition to many piano pieces and small works, three symphonic poems in which are to be found much of the spontaneity and buoyancy of thought and the brilliancy of orchestral coloring of his later works of this type. These are 'Richard III' (1858), 'Wallensteins Lager' (1859), and 'Hakon Jarl' (1861). Nevertheless he had[Pg 170] not yet really found his place. In 1859 his wife died, and the following year he married Barbara Ferdinandi, a Bohemian. It was partly due to her homesickness, partly to the projected erection of the Interimstheater, that he decided to return to Prague in 1861. He was then nearly forty, but his lifework was still ahead of him. He entered with enthusiasm into the national movement. He established with Ferdinand Heller a music school, through which he secured an ample living. He was one of the founders of a singing society, and also of a general society for the development of Bohemian arts. Above all, he began the long series of operas written for the new national opera house with 'The Brandenbergers in Bohemia,' composed in 1863, and 'The Bartered Bride' (1866). Later came Dalibor (1868), Libusa, composed in 1872 but not performed until 1881, Die beiden Witwen (1873-74), Der Kuss (1876), Das Geheimnis (1878), and Die Teufelsmauer (1882).

The most famous of Smetana's operas, 'The Bartered Bride,' performed for the first time at Prague, in 1866, became only gradually known outside Bohemia, but is now a favorite all over the world. It is a story of village life, full of intrigue, love, and drollery. To this spirited and amusing story Smetana has set equally amusing and spirited music. From the whirling violin figures of the overture to the final chord the good humor remains unquenchable. In the polka closing Act I and the furiant opening Act II is village merriment of the most contagious kind; in the march of the showman and his troupe, in the third act, orchestrated for drums, cymbals, trumpet, and piccolo, is humor of the broadest; and in Wenzel's stammering song, opening the same act, is characterization of a more subtle kind, in which humor and real feeling are blended as only a master can blend them. There are, too, many passages of simple tenderness, notably Marie's air and the duet[Pg 171] of the lovers in the first scene, and their terzet with Kezal in the last, in which is revealed the composer's unfailing fund of lyrical melody. 'This opera,' says Mr. Philip Hale,[21] 'was a step in a new direction, for it united the richness of melody, as seen in Mozart's operas, with a new and modern comprehension of the purpose of operatic composition, the accuracy of characterization, the wish to be realistic.' We may note, furthermore, how free is this realism of Smetana's from the brutality of some more modern operas on similar subjects, such as those of Mascagni, Leoncavallo, and Puccini. The village life depicted in 'The Bartered Bride' is never repulsive; it is not even tragic; it is simply pathetic, comic, and endlessly appealing.

The simplicity of the musical idiom is notable. Not only does the composer incorporate folk-tunes bodily when it suits his purpose, as in the case of the polka and furiant already mentioned, but the melodies he invents himself are often equally simple, even naïve, and harmonized with a similar artlessness. The haunting refrain of the love duet might be sung by village serenaders. Yet this simplicity is the simplicity of distinction, not that of commonplaceness. There is a purity, a chivalric tenderness about it that can never be counterfeited by mediocrity, and that is in many of Smetana's tunes, as it is in Schubert's and in Mozart's. It is a very cheap form of snobbism that criticises such art as this for its lack of the complexities of the German music-drama or symphony. Smetana himself said: 'As Wagner writes, we cannot compose'—he might have added 'and would not.' 'To us,' says Mr. Hadow, speaking of the Bohemian composers in general, 'to us, who look upon Prague from the standpoints of Dresden or Vienna, the music of these men may seem unduly artless and immature: with Wagner on the one side, with Brahms on the other, we have little time to [Pg 172]bestow on tentative efforts and incomplete production. Some day we shall learn that we are in error. The "Bartered Bride" is an achievement that would do credit to any nation in Europe.'

One effect of the great success of his opera was that Smetana was appointed conductor of the opera house. A few years later, in 1873, he also became director of the opera school connected with it, and one of the two conductors of the concerts of the Philharmonic Society at Prague. All these promising new activities, however, were suddenly arrested by a terrible affliction, perhaps the worst that can happen to a musician—deafness. On the score of the Vyšehrad, composed in 1874, the first of the series of six symphonic poems which bears the general title 'My Country' and constitutes his masterpiece in pure orchestral music, is the note, 'In a condition of ear-suffering.' The second, Vltava, composed later in the same year, bears the inscription, 'In complete deafness.' It was indeed in 1874 that he was obliged to give up all conducting. Part of a letter which he wrote some years later is worth quoting, both for the particulars it gives as to his trouble, and for the fine spirit of manly endurance it reveals, recalling vividly the similar spirit displayed by Beethoven in his famous letter to his brothers. 'The loud buzzing and roaring in the head,' he says, 'as though I were standing under a great waterfall, remains to-day, and continues day and night without any interruption, louder when my mind is employed actively, and weaker when I am in a calmer condition of mind. When I compose the buzzing is noisier. I hear absolutely nothing, not even my own voice. Shrill tones, as the cry of a child or the barking of a dog, I hear very well, just as I do loud whistling, and yet, I cannot determine what the noise is, or where it comes from. Conversation with me is impossible. I hear my own piano playing only in fancy, not in reality. I cannot hear the playing of anybody[Pg 173] else, not even the performance of a full orchestra in opera or in concert. I do not think that it is possible for me to improve. I have no pain in the ear, and the physicians agree that my disease is none of the familiar diseases of the ear, but something else, perhaps a paralysis of the nerves and the labyrinth. And so I am completely determined to endure my sad fate in a manly and calm way as long as I live.'

Aside from its deep musical beauty, a peculiar interest attaches to the string quartet entitled by Smetana Aus meinen Leben ('From My Life') because of the account it gives in tones of his great affliction. The autobiographical character is maintained throughout. The first movement, in E minor, allegro vivo appassionato, with its constant turbulence and restless aspiration, depicts, according to the composer, his 'predisposition toward romanticism.' The second, quasi polka, 'bears me,' he says, 'back to the joyance of my youth, when as composer I overwhelmed the world with dance tunes and was known as a passionate dancer.' The largo sostenuto, the third movement, perhaps musically the finest of all, is built on two exceedingly earnest and noble melodies which are worked out with elaborate and most felicitous embroidering detail. They tell of the composer's love for his wife and his happy marriage. Of all the movements the finale is the most dramatic. Indeed, it is one of the most dramatic pieces in all chamber music. It opens in E major, Vivace, fortissimo—an indescribable bustle of happy folk themes jostling each other. A buoyant secondary melody is a little quieter but still full of childlike joy. These two themes alternate in rondo fashion, are developed with never-flagging energy, and suggest the composer's joy in his native folk-music and its use in his art. At the height of the jollity there is a sudden pause, a sinister tremolo of the middle strings, and the first violin sounds a long high E, shrill, piercing, insistent. 'It is,' says[Pg 174] Smetana, 'the harmful piping of the highest tone in my ear that in 1878 announced my deafness.'[22] All the bustle dies away, we hear reminiscences, full now of a tragic meaning, of the themes of the first movement, and the music dies out with a mournful murmuring of the viola and a few pizzicato chords.

If the string quartet is thus intimately personal in a high degree, the series of orchestral tone-poems, 'My Country,' dedicated to the city of Prague, is national in scope. Number I, Vyšehrad, depicts the ancient fortress, once a scene of glory, and its melancholy decline into ruin and decay. In Number II, Vltava or 'The Moldau,' the most popular of all, we hear the two tiny rivulets which, rising in the mountain, flow down and unite to form the mighty river Moldau. 'Sárka,' the third (1875), refers to a valley north of the capital, which was named for the noblest of mythical Bohemian amazons. 'From Bohemia's Fields and Groves,' Number IV (1875), is built on several intensely Czechic tunes, and reaches a dizzying climax on a most delightful polka theme. In 'Tabor,' Number V (1878), is introduced the favorite war-chorale of the Taborites. The last of the series, Blaník (1879), pictures the mountain on which the Hussite warriors sleep until they shall have to fight again for their country. The orchestration of the whole series is as brilliant as the themes are spirited and attractive, and they are universal favorites in the concert hall.

Smetana wrote a good deal of choral and piano music, as well as other orchestral works; but it is by 'My Country,' the quartet, and 'The Bartered Bride' that he will continue to be known. Fortunately for him, his greatness was recognized during his lifetime; he was idolized by his countrymen; and he knew the pleasure of public triumphs at the fiftieth anniversary, in 1880, [Pg 175]of his first appearance as a pianist, at the opening of the new national theatre in 1881, and on other occasions. But when his sixtieth birthday, March 2, 1884, was honored by a national festival, he was unable to be present for a tragic reason. His nerves had been troubling him for some time. When Die Teufelsmauer was coldly received in 1882 he said, 'I am, then, at last too old, and I ought not to write anything more, because nobody wishes to hear from me.' Later he complained, 'I feel myself tired out, sleepy, and I fear that the quickness of musical thoughts has gone from me.' Gradually he lost his memory and his power to read. He was not permitted by the doctors to compose or even to think music. Only a few weeks before his sixtieth birthday he had to be put in an asylum, and there, without regaining his mind, he died, May 12, 1884.


Untoward as was Smetana's personal fate, he was fortunate artistically in having at hand a younger contemporary of genius equal and similar to his to whom he could pass on the torch he had lighted. His friend and protégé, Antonin Dvořák, at this time forty-two years old, had not only felt his direct influence during formative years, but resembled him in temperament and in artistic ideals to a degree remarkable even for fellow citizens of a small country like Bohemia. Both were impulsive, impressionable, unreflective in temper; both found in the strong dance rhythms and the simple yet poignant melodies of the people their natural expression; in both the classic qualities—reticence, restraint, balance—were acquired rather than instinctive. In Dvořák, however, there was an even greater richness and sensuous warmth than in the older man, and his music is thus, in the memorable phrase of Mr. Hadow, 'more Corinthian than, Doric,' has 'a[Pg 176] certain opulence, a certain splendor and luxury to which few other musicians have attained.'

Antonin Dvořák, born in 1841, eldest of eight children of the village butcher in Nelahozeves on the Moldau, knew poverty and music from his earliest days. At fourteen he could sing and play the violin, the piano, and the organ. A year later came his first appearance as an orchestral composer. Planning to persuade his reluctant father by practical demonstration that he was destined to write music, he prepared for the village band an original polka, with infinite pains, but alas! in ignorance that the brass instruments do not play the exact notes written. He wrote what he wanted to hear, but what he heard might well have induced him to resign himself to butchery. That it did not, that he still held out against parental opposition and was finally allowed to go to Prague, is an evidence of that tenacity which was in the essence of his character. At Prague he entered the Organ School, played in churches and restaurants, and earned about nine dollars a month, on which he lived. An occasional concert he managed to hear by hiding behind the kettledrums of a friendly player, but classical music he met for the first time when, already twenty-one, he borrowed some scores of Beethoven and Mendelssohn from Smetana. Symphonic composition he acquired laboriously and with surprising skill; the polka and the furiant were in his blood.

He now spent about ten years composing industriously, in poverty and complete obscurity. In 1871 came the long-awaited chance to emerge, in the shape of an invitation to write an opera for the national theatre. In writing this his first opera, 'The King and the Collier' (Prague, 1874), he allowed himself to be misled by his curious facility in imitating other styles than his own. Mr. Hadow tells the story at length. The point of it is that Dvořák, acting on a momentary[Pg 177] enthusiasm for Wagner, which his music shows that he afterwards outgrew, committed the surprising folly of giving his countrymen, at the very moment when they were initiating a successful campaign for native art, a Wagnerian music-drama under the guise of Czech operetta! It was only a momentary aberration, but it is worth mentioning because it illustrates a child-like uncriticalness which was as much a part of Dvořák as his freshness of feeling, his love of color, and his persistence. Soon realizing his error he rewrote the music in a more appropriate style. It then appeared that the libretto, too, was wrong. Anyone else would have given the matter up in disgust; but Dvořák had the book also rewritten, and in this third version his work won him his first operatic success.[23]

Soon he began to be known outside Bohemia. In 1875 he received a grant from the Austrian Ministry of Education, on the strength of a symphony and an opera submitted. Two years later, offering to the same body his Moravian duets and some of his recent chamber music, he was fortunate enough to have them examined by Brahms, one of the committee. Brahms cordially recommended his work to Simrock, the great Berlin music publishing house, with the result that his compositions began to be widely disseminated and he was commissioned to write a set of characteristic national dances. The result of this commission was the first set of Slavonic Dances, opus 46, later supplemented by eight more, opus 72. These dances are as characteristic as any of Dvořák's works. Their melodic and rhythmic animation is indescribable; while the basis is national folk-song the themes are imaginatively treated and led through many distant keys with the happy inconsequence peculiar to Dvořák; and the whole is orchestrated with the richness, variety, and delicacy that make him one of the greatest orchestral masters of all time. The same qualities are found in the beautiful Slavonic Rhapsodies, the overtures Mein Heim and Husitska, both based on Czechish melodies, and, mixed with more classic elements, in the two sets of symphonic variations and the five symphonies.

In the choral field Dvořák is best known by his admirable Stabat Mater (1883), written in a pure classical style, as if based on the best Italian models, and of large inspiration. There are also an oratorio 'St. Ludmila' (1886), more conventional, a requiem mass, and several cantatas. Of many sets of beautiful solo songs, special mention may be made of the Gypsy Songs, opus 55, Im Volkston, opus 73, and the 'Love Songs,' opus 83. The duets, 'Echos of Moravia,' are fine. There is much piano music, too, but charming as are the 'Humoresques,' opus 101, the 'Poetic Mood-Pictures,' opus 85, and some others, it may be said that Dvořák is less at home with the piano than with other instruments.

On the other hand, one might with reason place his chamber music even higher than his orchestral work, for it is as admirably suited to its medium, and its soberer palette restrains his almost barbaric love of color. His pianoforte quintet in A major, opus 81, with its broadly conceived allegro, its tender andante, founded on the elegiac dumka of his country, and its immensely spirited scherzo and finale, is surely one of the finest quintets written since Schumann immortalized the combination. As for his string quartets, they must equally take their place in the front rank of modern chamber music, beside the quartets of Brahms, Franck, Tschaikowsky, and d'Indy. The last two, opera 105 and 106, are perhaps the best. Those who charge Dvořák with 'lack of depth' would do well to penetrate a little more deeply themselves into such things as the Lento e molto cantabile of the former.

[Pg 178]


Bohemian Composers:

Antonin Dvořák Friedrich Smetana
Zdenko Fibich Joseph Suk

[Pg 179]

A special niche among the works of this wondrously fertile mind must be reserved for the so-called American works, written during his sojourn in New York in the early nineties. These are the Quartet, opus 96, the Quintet, opus 97, and the famous symphony, 'From the New World,' opus 95. The importance of the negro element in these works has perhaps been exaggerated. It is true that we find in them the rhythmic snap of rag-time, the melancholy crooning cadences of the 'spirituals,' and even the scale of five notes ('pentatonic scale'). It is even true that there is a more or less close resemblance between some of their themes and certain well-known songs, as, for instance, between the second theme of the first movement of the symphony and 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,' or between the scherzo of the Quintet and 'Old Man Moses, He Sells Roses.' But, after all, the treatment is more important than the theme; and it is because Dvořák is a great musician that the pathos of the largo in the symphony moves us as it does, and that he can make us as merry with a bit of rag-time as with a furiant. He was one of the musicians most richly endowed by nature, and one who knew nothing of national boundaries; he was, indeed, a veritable Schubert in fertility and spontaneity. And, as it was said of Schubert that he 'could set a wall-advertisement to music,' so it might be said of Dvořák that he could have made even Indian tunes interesting—had he tried. It is pleasant to add that he got universal love in response to this more than Midas-like transmuting power of his, and that the poor Bohemian boy, after becoming rich and famous, died full of honors, but as simple at heart as ever, in 1904. He was described in an obituary notice as 'Pan Antonin of the sturdy little figure, the jovial smile, the kindly heart, and the school-girl modesty.'

Of other Bohemian composers contemporary with or earlier than Dvořák none are of sufficient importance[Pg 180] to require more than briefest mention. These are: Joseph Nesvadba (1824-1876), who wrote Bohemian songs and choral works; Franz Skuherský (1830-1892), who wrote Czech operas, chamber music, and theoretical works; Menzel Theodor Bradský (1833-1881), who wrote both German and Czech operas; Joseph Rozkosny (born 1833), who wrote Czech operas, masses, songs, and instrumental music; and Wilhelm Blodek (1834-1874), who wrote Czech operas and instrumental music. A somewhat more important figure is that of Karl Bendl (1838-1897), composer of Czech operas and ballets, who was conductor of the chief choral society in Prague, influential in the Interimstheater, and who 'jointly with Smetana and Dvořák enjoys the distinction of winning general recognition for Czech musical art.' His operas Lejla, Bretislav and Jitka, Cernahoreí, Karel Streta, and Dite Tabora are all on the standing repertory of the National Theatre at Prague.

Adalbert Hřimalý (1842-1908), who wrote Czech operas, and whose 'Enchanted Prince' (1870) has proved a lasting success, deserves mention in this place.


Between Smetana and Dvořák and the contemporary Bohemians stands Zdenko Fibich, a most prolific composer, well known in Bohemia but little heard of outside it. Fibich was born at Leborschitz in Bohemia, December 21, 1850. Studying at Prague and later at the Leipzig Conservatory, he became in 1876 assistant conductor of the National Theatre in Prague, and in 1878 director of the Russian Church choir. He is said to have written over seven hundred works, but they are more facile than profound. Of his many Czechish operas the most successful was 'Sárka' (1898). He was much interested in the musical form known as 'melodrama' (not to be confused with the stage melodrama).[Pg 181] It is a recited action accompanied by music; classic examples are Schumann's 'Manfred' and Bizet's L'Arlésienne. Fibich wrote six melodramas, three 'scenic melodramas,' and a melodramatic trilogy, Hippodamia (text by Brchliky, 1891). His orchestral works include several symphonic poems, two symphonies, and several overtures, of which 'A Night on Karlstein' is well known. He also wrote chamber music, songs and choruses, piano pieces, and a method for pianoforte. He died in 1900.

A number of minor composers, contemporaries of Fibich, are only of local importance for their Czechish operas, produced in Prague. Such are Heinrich von Káan-Albést (born 1852), director of the Prague Conservatory in 1907; Vása Suk (born 1861), composer of the opera Der Waldkönig (1900); Karl Navrátil (born 1867), who writes symphonic poems and chamber music; and Karl Kovařovic (born 1862), conductor of the Royal Bohemian Landes und National-Theater. This theatre was erected in 1883, by subscription from Czechs in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, northern Hungary, even the colony in America. The Austrian government is said to be not very favorable to it, vetoing the posting of placards announcing performances in Austrian watering places. The subsidy is raised by the country of Bohemia, not by the government. In August, 1903, a cycle of operas was given here, including Fibich's 'The Fall of Arcana,' Kovařovic's Têtes de chien, Nedbal's Le Gros Jean,[24] Dvořák's Roussalka and several operas of Smetana.

A better known composer of Czechish operas is Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek, who was, however, born not in Bohemia but at Vienna, May 4, 1861. His comic opera Donna Diana, produced in 1894 at Prague, made so great a success that in a short time it was heard in [Pg 182]forty-three European opera-houses. Other operas by him are Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1887), Satanella (1888), Emmerich Fortunat (1889), and Till Eulenspiegel (1901), on the subject made famous by Strauss's witty symphonic poem. For orchestra he has written a 'Tragic Symphony,' an 'Ironic Symphony,' an 'Idyllic Overture,' a 'Comedy Overture,' two symphonic suites, etc., while a string quartet was played by the Dessau Quartet at Berlin in 1906.

Fibich's pupil O. Ostřcil, whose contrapuntal skill and brilliant orchestration testify to his ability, has written the operas 'Kunal's Eyes,' 'The Fall of Wlasta,' and 'Buds' (Knospen), also an Impromptu and a Suite for orchestra. Of the pupils of Dvořák Rudolf Karel has written a symphony in E-flat minor and Jugend, a symphonic poem in which he pictures the struggles of a youth of genius; and Alois Reiser is known as the composer of an opera, Gobi, showing melodic and harmonic originality without exaggeration, and of a trio, a 'cello concerto, and solo pieces for violin in which his nationality is reflected. Other contemporaries are Ottokar Jeremiaš (symphonies, overtures, and chamber music) and his brother Jaroslav Jeremiaš, a follower in his two operas of modern French tendencies; K. Krǐcka, W. Stepán, J. Maxner, B. Novotny, and others.

Without doubt the two most important living Bohemian composers are Joseph Suk and Vitešlav Novák. Suk, who was born at Křecovic, January 4, 1874, became a pupil of Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory in 1888, and later married his daughter. He is second violin of the Bohemian Quartet. Among his works may be mentioned a 'Dramatic Overture,' an overture to 'A Winter's Tale,' a Symphony in E, a suite entitled 'A Fairy Tale,' a piano quartet, a piano quintet, and two string quartets. The symphony (in E major, op. 14, published in Berlin) has charm and is most skillfully written, especially for the strings, like everything by[Pg 183] this violinist-composer, but is somewhat prolix and student-like, revealing Dvořák in many places, and in the finale containing a theme too obviously suggested by the overture to Smetana's 'The Bartered Bride.' 'A Fairy Tale,' op. 16, sonorously and brilliantly scored, is of programmistic character, especially the fourth movement. Both of these orchestral works introduce a number of folk-themes. This is also the case in an early string quartet, op. 11 (1896), in B-flat major, the finale of which is built on a polka tune in six-bar phrases.

If one were to judge him by these things one would say that Suk was a skillful violinist who thoroughly understood how to write for his instrument, that he had caught much of the charm of Bohemian folk-melody and especially of Dvořák's way of treating it, but that his musical expression was neither very far-reaching nor very original. He may have felt this himself, for in his second quartet, op. 31, published in 1911, he has thrown over his earlier style completely, and adopted a so-called 'modern idiom.' The work is played in one movement, without pauses. It is full of changes of tempo and of key, extremely complicated in harmony, frightfully difficult for the players as regards intonation, and difficult for the listeners, too, from its spasmodic and constantly changing character. So far as one can tell about such a work from reading the score, it would seem as if the composer had abandoned his natural speech here without gaining real eloquence in exchange. Whether he be misguided or not, however, there can be no doubt of his marked natural talent for the same kind of impulsive, fresh musical expression we find in Smetana and Dvořák.

The music of Novák, on the other hand, if less immediately ingratiating, is much more thoughtful. The influence of Dvořák is less felt in it than those of Schumann and Brahms. Although the Bohemian and[Pg 184] also the allied Moravian and Hungarian-Slovak folk-melodies are to some extent drawn upon for material, the treatment is more intellectual than popular, rhythmic subtleties abound, and the types of construction are often highly complex and ingenious, there being considerable use of those cyclic transformations of a single theme throughout a long composition to which César Franck and his school attribute so high a value. It is worth noting that Novák, who was born December 5, 1870, at Kamenitz, Bohemia, is a man of general as well as technical education, having attended the Bohemian University and the Conservatory of Music at Prague. He has continued to live in Prague as a music teacher, several times receiving a state grant for composition. Among his works are an Overture to a Moravian Popular Drama, op. 18, the symphonic poems 'On the Lofty Tatra,' op. 26, and 'Eternal Longing,' op. 33, a 'Slovak Suite,' op. 32, two piano trios, two string quartets, a piano quartet, a piano quintet, and a piano sonata.

In his early compositions Novák shows the influence of the German romantic school, as in the trio, op. 1, with its somewhat pompous main theme and its contrasting theme for 'cello solo, verging dangerously upon the sentimental. The piano quartet, op. 7 (1900), on a striking and even noble theme, suffers from Brahmsian mannerisms of style and a treatment at times drily academic. On the other hand, the piano quintet, op. 12 (published in 1904, but doubtless written much earlier), on a plaintively poetic folk-theme in A minor, and the first string quartet, op. 22 (1902), show clearly the more native influence of his master Dvořák. He thus shows the impressionability of all really highly-endowed minds, and in his mature works writes with as much flexibility as authority. The Trio quasi una Ballata, op. 27 (1903), and the second string quartet, op. 35 (1906), are masterpieces.

[Pg 185]

The trio is dramatic and powerful in expression, original in style and structure. It begins, andante tragico, with a fine bold melody, of folk character, in D minor, given out by the violin, and later powerfully developed by the piano. A secondary section in D-flat, also somewhat 'folkish,' immediately follows, without break. Next, again without pause, comes a 'quasi scherzo, allegro burlesca' in G minor, the 'trio' of which is ingeniously derived from the main theme of the work. Recitative-like passages in the strings and cadenzas for the piano then lead back to the original andante theme, worked out in combination with subsidiary matter and bringing the whole to an impressive soft close.

The string quartet in D major is equally original, though different in mood. Dramatic declamation here gives place to a meditative thoughtfulness especially suited to the four strings. There are but two movements. The first is a fugue, largo misterioso, on a deliberate, impressive theme, in the mood of the later Beethoven—a fugue admirably fresh and spontaneous, with the accepted 'inversions' of the theme and so on, to be sure, but coming less as academic prescriptions than as natural flowerings of the thought. The second movement, Fantasia, is composite, containing first suggestions of the root theme (of the fugue), introducing a sort of sonata-exposition in which the same fugue then figures as first subject and a new melody as second; then, instead of a development, a scherzo section, derived again from the root theme; then the recapitulation of the two themes, completing the suggested sonata; and finally, a literal repetition of the last three pages of the fugue movement, thus binding the two parts into unity. The scheme of construction is thus as original as the music itself is impressive and beautiful.

If Novák can avoid the pitfall of over-intellectualism peculiar to his temperament, he may easily become one[Pg 186] of the most vital forces in contemporary European music.

D. G. M.


It may appear surprising at first that Hungary, a thousand-year-old nation, has not until our own day achieved an independent cultural existence, and more especially an individual musical art. For we know that the Magyar race is inherently musical and recent researches have unearthed unsuspected treasures of folk-song as ancient as they are characteristic. There has indeed been for some time a recognized Hungarian 'flavor' utilized in the manner of an exotic by various composers, notably Brahms and Liszt, and the dance rhythms so utilized have proved no less fascinating than those of the Slavs, for instance. But native Hungarian composers have not until recently developed these artistic germs with sufficient ability to arouse the attention of the musical world.

When we consider the political condition of Hungary during its long history, however, we no longer wonder at the dearth of national culture. Twice the country was utterly desolated, for ages the people possessed no political independence, no constitution, and did not use their own language—indeed their native tongue was suppressed by a tyrannical government until late in the nineteenth century. With the recrudescence of national independence there came, as elsewhere, a revival of nationalistic culture, and it is nothing short of remarkable that within hardly more than a generation Hungary has raised itself, in music especially, to a point where its own sons are capable of brilliant and characteristically native achievement. At any rate it argues eloquently for the profound musical and poetic instincts which were latent in the race.

A brief historical review of early musical endeavor[Pg 187] in Hungary may not be without value as an introduction to our treatment of its modern composers. When the Hungarians first occupied their present country (A. D. 896) they found no music whatever in their new home. The musical instinct born in them, however, was very strong, for they sang when praying, when preparing for war, at burials and festivals, and their first Christian king, Stephan I (997-1038), founded a school where singing was taught. In fact, the power of music was respected so much that early musicians were called hegedös, a word not derived from the Hungarian hegedü (violin), but from heged—'having healed the wounds.' In the fourteenth century, when the first gypsies migrated to Hungary, they found there a people whose music was already so highly developed that the newcomers themselves learned their melodies from them. It was through the songs of the Hungarians that the gypsies became famous, and we have to bear in mind that the great merit of the gypsies was not in creating melodies, but in making them popularly known from generation to generation.

Under the reign of the great national king, Mathias I (1458-1490), music flourished and was even highly cherished. The king, who made Hungary one of the greatest powers of Europe in that period, possessed an organ with silver pipes, and an orchestra. He also had in his service numerous court singers, who sang of the heroic deeds of national heroes. That musicians were highly esteemed there we infer from the fact that such musicians as Adrian Willaert and Thomas Stolzer were in the service of King Louis II (1516-1526). After the battle of Mohács (1526) the whole country was brought under the yoke of the Turks, and almost every trace of the high culture of the Hungarians was destroyed, so that we possess nothing of the musical treasures of this period. Collections of religious chants (from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) show that sacred[Pg 188] music exerted a notable influence upon Hungarian folk-music. The folk element, however, was already very strong at the time of Sebastian Tinody (1510-1554), whose historical songs displayed genuine and pure Hungarian qualities. Not before the middle of the sixteenth century was the character of Hungarian music reflected outside of Hungary—at first in pieces called Passamezzo and Ongaro, published in various German and Italian collections.

In tracing the further development of Hungarian music we find that in the latter part of the seventeenth century some stage productions included songs. At about the same time the Rákóczyan era of national struggles brought forth many beautiful and impressive melodies. These treasures were of no small influence upon the evolution of national music, brought into still greater prominence by musicians whom we may call the real originators of the Hungarian idiom. They were Lavotta (1764-1820), Csermák (1771-1822), and Bihari (1769-1827). Lavotta's compositions were genuinely characteristic Hungarian products, showing mastery of invention and skill in handling the national rhythms. He possessed a vivid fancy and a wealth of ideas, but no technique. While his most important work had the promising title of 'The Siege of Szigetvár,'[25] it was composed for a solo violin without accompaniment and its musical ideas were not over eight to sixteen measures in length. Lavotta's other compositions, such as his 'Serenade,'[26] in modern arrangements are extremely effective. Some of his 'folk-songs' will live forever.

Lavotta's pupil, the Bohemian Csermák, produced some characteristic dances. He, too, lacked solidity of structure. The compositions of the brilliant gypsy [Pg 189]violinist, Bihari (some of which are preserved in various transcriptions), are the most valuable examples of old national Hungarian music. The famous Rákoczy march, as we know it through the transcriptions of Liszt and Berlioz, is his work, being a remodelled version of the original, plaintive Rákoczy song composed about 1675 by M. Barna.

Summing up, we may distinguish the following six periods in the history of Hungarian music from its beginning: the age of the Pagan Hungarians, those whose songs were so persistent that three centuries after the introduction of Christianity the Councils found it necessary to suppress them; the period from the rise of Christianity to the fifteenth century, when as elsewhere music was wholly in the service of the church, while secular music was cultivated only by wandering minstrels; the three centuries following, when the growing influence of the gypsies is most powerfully felt, when Lutheran and Calvinistic churches spread among the people, and when the folk-songs alive in the mouths of the people to-day were born; the eighteenth century, when Hungarian national music became more independent and individual, Hungarian rhythms especially became strongly pronounced, and the fundamental principles of absolute music were laid down; and the first half of the nineteenth century, which produced the first masters. The last of the six periods is that of the contemporary composers and of 'young Hungary.'

In a few words we have endeavored to give a sketch of the first four divisions. The transition to the next—the period of the first masters—may be marked by the first opera with a Hungarian libretto. This was 'Duke Pikko and Tuttka Perzsi,' performed in 1793 under Lavotta. The work was without any significance whatsoever. The first noteworthy attempt in the direction of national grand opera was 'Béla's Flight' by Ruzicska (1833). That composer preferred the forms of the light[Pg 190] and popular Hungarian folk-songs to a more serious vein. He should be given credit for his ambitious attempt to create a truly national historical opera, Hungarian both in music and in text. He was followed by Franz Erkel (1810-1893), whose operas, with subjects taken from Hungarian history, are still played to-day. His music was genuinely Hungarian in character and had absolute value. The overture to his Hunyady László, with its classical form and poetic content, was made popular in Europe through the efforts of Liszt. Erkel was careful in selecting his dramatic subjects, drawing freely upon Hungarian history. The subject of his most successful work, Bánk-Bán, has also inspired the mediæval German poet Hans Sachs, the eminent Austrian dramatist Grillparzer, and the Hungarian Josef Katona, whose tragedy of the same title represents the best in Hungarian dramatic literature. Contemporary with Erkel but of much less significance was M. Mosonyi (1814-1870), who preserved the Hungarian character in his operas and orchestral compositions as well as in his piano pieces. His 'Studies' were highly esteemed by Wagner.

The further development of Hungarian culture and music in the nineteenth century closely reflects the influence of the French, Germans, and Italians, although the national ambition of the Hungarians to remodel the foreign examples according to their own genius is evident. It is upon this principle that Hungary to-day produces musical works of absolute merit.


The most significant representatives of modern Hungarian music are Ödön Mihálovich, Count Géza Zichy, and Jenö Hubay. The compositions of these men should be considered first as works of absolute merit, regardless of their nationality; second, for the Hungarian[Pg 191] national elements which they unconsciously display; and, finally, as noble, though not completely successful, attempts to apply these elements and characteristics to serious modern forms. Though much preoccupied with this problem, they cannot be criticized for the lack of strong individuality, since their personalities almost always overshadow the Hungarian qualities in their works, which, however, are still sufficiently prominent to typify them as Hungarian composers. Each of the three received his training under the most eminent foreign masters, by which fact they were peculiarly fitted to become the teachers of 'young Hungary,' and incidentally the real founders of the modern Hungarian school.

The oldest of the three, Mihálovich, was born in 1842. He studied with Hauptmann in Leipzig, with Bülow in Munich, and was in personal touch with Liszt and Wagner. In his position as the director of the Hungarian Royal National Academy of Music in Budapest he exercises a strong and salutary influence upon present Hungarian musical life. It is due to his efforts that this unique school maintains an extraordinarily high standard. As a composer he is versatile and prolific. He has successfully applied his talent to every form from song to grand opera ('Hagbart and Signe,' 'Toldi's Love,' 'Eliana,' and Wieland der Schmied, upon the libretto planned by Wagner). He has written a Symphony in D and several symphonic poems ('Sellö,' 'Pan's Death,' 'The Ship of Ghosts,' 'Hero and Leander,' Ronde du Sabbat, etc.). He is a master of orchestration and displays superior craftsmanship in working out his thematic material. His style shows a fusion of Wagnerian elements and of the principles of nineteenth-century program music with Hungarian national characteristics. His musical ideas are usually lofty and of refined taste.

Count Géza Zichy (born 1849) is an aristocrat in the best sense of the word. The qualities of the man of noble birth and high rank (he is a privy councillor to the king, a member of the House of Lords, the president of the National Music Conservatory, etc.), the fine sensibility of a man endowed with talent and trained under the best masters (he studied with and was a friend of Liszt and Volkmann) are reflected in his works as a poet, an author, a virtuoso, and a composer. A man of wealth, he employs his means in the realization of high artistic ideals. When as a lad of fourteen he lost his right arm he experienced the lesson of physical and spiritual suffering and grew up to be a man of unusually intense energy.[27] Instead of giving up his favorite art of piano playing he developed himself into the greatest of left-arm virtuosos. His remarkable playing, besides displaying an almost incredible technique, reflects the feelings of a truly poetic soul. 'His playing is remarkable in every respect, since it is gentle and full of soul, of enthusiasm, and of incomparable bravour,' wrote Fétis,[28] and Hanslick remarked 'there are many who can play, a few who can charm, but only Zichy can bewitch with his playing.' It is characteristic of him as a man and as an artist that he never accepts any fee for playing; he plays only for charity. 'I am happy,' he wrote to a critic, 'to be in the service of the poor and of the unfortunate and to earn bread for them through my hard work.'

Count Zichy's compositions for the piano—for the left hand alone (études, a sonata, a serenade, arrangements of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, etc.)—are unique in pianoforte literature. The climax of his achievement in this field is his Concerto in E-flat. It is distinguished by an energetic first movement, by a deeply felt second movement cast in a Hungarian folk-mood, by the brilliancy of the finale, and, above all, by its terrific technical demands upon the left hand.

[Pg 192]


Hungarian Composers:

Count Géza Zichy Jenö Hubay
Ernst von Dohnányi Emanuel Moór

[Pg 193]

In dramatic music Count Zichy began his activity with the opera Alár, upon a Hungarian subject. This was followed by the more successful 'Master Roland,' in which he makes use of a radically modern idiom. The work lacks the usual characteristics of Hungarian music. All his libretti were written by himself. Stimulated by Wagner's idea that 'through music dance and poetry are reconciled,' he undertook to write a poetic 'dance-poem' (ballet) or melodrama entitled Gemma. In this dramatic (speaking) actors played the chief rôles, while the action was supported by recitation, mimicry, dance and symphonic music. This novel undertaking proved a failure and Zichy later rewrote the whole piece as a regular pantomime.

The most ambitious work is his trilogy comprising Franz Rákoczy II, Nemo, and Rodosto, and dealing with the life of the historical Franz Rákoczy (1676-1735), 'the great hero and great character, the loyal, the most chivalrous, the noblest son of Hungary.' Zichy made a deep study of the Rákoczyan era and the librettos themselves as pure dramas are of considerable literary value. With respect to their historical truth the author remarked: 'After two years' study of this age the figure of the great hero became more and more vivid before my eyes and so I wrote the libretto of my trilogy—or rather I copied it, since the life of Rákoczy was itself induced by fate.'

Into the music of the trilogy there are woven numerous themes dating from the Rákoczyan period. The problem of applying the stylistic elements of national Hungarian music to modern forms, rhythms and harmony, however, proved a difficult one; Zichy's solution is a worthy attempt, but nevertheless only partially successful. Aside from this special purpose the work fascinates[Pg 194] by its melodic warmth, its rhythmic energy, and its masterful workmanship. It is safe to say that Zichy's Rákoczy trilogy represents a new phase in the history of national Hungarian grand opera.

Of the three contemporary Hungarian composers Hubay's name is the best known internationally.[29] His career as a brilliant violinist (he frequently played with Liszt); the fact that he was Wieniawsky's and Vieuxtemps's successor at the Brussels Conservatory; the success of his quartet (with Servais as 'cellist), all helped to direct general attention to him. Both Massenet and Saint-Saëns were much interested in him. When as a young man of twenty-seven he was called home by the Hungarian government, his fame was already well established. Later he continued playing in the musical centres of Europe and added to his fame, and when he began to publish (and play) his violin compositions he achieved such a sweeping success that he is still popularly regarded as a composer of well-known violin pieces, to the detriment of the reputation of his other works.

This very attitude of the general public is the highest praise for Hubay's violin compositions. Indeed, their poetic charm, their effectiveness and singularly idiomatic style stamp him as a genuinely inspired poet of the instrument. In violin literature he occupies perhaps the most nearly analogous place to that of Chopin in piano music. His deeply-felt tone-pictures, his 'Csárda (tavern) Scenes,' in which he preserved many a treasure of Hungarian folk-song, those magnificent illustrations of Sirva vigad a magyar, those rapturous Hungarian rhapsodies for the violin, are surely not of less value than many of Liszt's finest piano compositions.

The facts that Hubay's name is chiefly associated with [Pg 195]his standard violin compositions and that his reputation is mainly that of a great violin pedagogue were obstacles to the popularity of his other works. Yet his creative activity has been most varied: he has written songs, sonatas, concertos, symphonies, and seven operas. One of these operas, 'The Violin Maker of Cremona' (libretto by Coppée), was successfully performed in seventy European theatres. The music of the 'Violin Maker' is characterized by refined elegance, genuine passion, and the nobility of its ideas. The remark of a Hungarian critic that Hubay's music impresses one 'as if he had composed it with silk gloves on his hands' may be accepted as real praise, for Hubay's technical mastery is applied with uniformly exquisite taste. He especially shows his superior musicianship in the operas Alienor, 'Two Little Wooden Shoes,' 'A Night of Love,' 'Venus of Milo,' and in the two Hungarian operas, 'The Village Rover' and 'Lavotta's Love,' the first based on a Hungarian peasant play, the second on the life of the composer Lavotta.

Hubay's two essays in the field of national grand opera are sincere products of his artistic conviction—conscious manifestations of a national ambition; he can, therefore, not be accused of trying to hide a lack of original invention behind a cloak of folk-music.


Between Mihálovich, Zichy, Hubay, and the representatives of 'young Hungary' there are composers of note who are not young enough to be classified as such nor old enough to be called masters, if we apply the term to artistic stature rather than actual age. This applies especially to Ernst von Dohnányi (born 1877), a former pupil of the Hungarian Academy and of d'Albert and at present a professor at the royal Hochschule in Berlin. Virility, vehement pathos, enthusiasm,[Pg 196] and brilliant sonority are the outstanding qualities of Dohnányi's music. His best works are perhaps in the field of chamber music: the beautiful string quartet in D-flat, the 'Trio Serenade,' full of caprice and coquetry, the violin sonata in C-sharp minor, a work of fine inspiration, are of solid merit. His four 'Rhapsodies'—well known to pianists—are interesting. One of them reveals the author's nationality, while another one re-echoes his honored ideal, Brahms. His effective and brilliant piano concerto, too, speaks here and there in Brahmsian phraseology. Although he reflects slight special influences in places (as that of Mahler in his Suite), his style is eclectic and expresses at the same time a strong individuality. In works of larger form he has tried his hand at a symphony (D minor), excelling in beautiful harmonies, and a comic opera, Tante Simonia, containing a characteristic overture in which the jovial character of the comedy is successfully reflected. This, like his pantomime, 'The Veil of the Pierette,' reveals him as a musical dramatist, with a special gift for effective orchestration. Dohnányi's substantial accomplishments already make it unnecessary to predict for him a place in musical history.

Undoubtedly the hyper-critical and unreceptive attitude of modern critics is responsible for the lack of popularity of certain composers. It would seem that Emanuel Moór is one of these. Moór is a tremendously prolific composer. He has written no less than five hundred songs, seven symphonies, three operas, six concertos, and a mass of chamber music. Many of these have real merit; also, they do not lack exponents and interpreters (witness Marteau, Ysaye, Casals, Bauer, the Flonzalay Quartet). Still, they have not been able to gain a general appreciation. Time only will assign a proper place to their creator. Here, also, should be mentioned the name of J. Bloch, a successful composer of numerous violin pieces.

[Pg 197]

National qualities are displayed to telling advantage in the 'Aphorisms on Hungarian Folk-songs,' by the brilliant Liszt pupil A. Szendi. In fact, the 'Aphorisms' (difficult piano pieces) have perhaps more Hungarian color than the Rhapsodies of Liszt. Szendi is also the author of some good chamber music and of an opera, 'Maria,' which he wrote together with Szabados. 'Maria' is built upon Wagnerian principles. The subject of this ambitious opera is the struggle between the Christian and Pagan Hungarians in the twelfth century. The music, in which Hungarian elements also have a prominent place, is of exquisite workmanship.

While Dohnányi and Moór are not living in Hungary, Szendi, Bloch, and the brilliant group referred to as 'young Hungary' develop their growing talents within the borders of their native land.

On the whole, the characteristics of the present products of the young Hungarian school are above all individual; but there is also a strong tendency toward ultra-modernism, and, finally, a certain fragrance of the Hungarian soil, a quality that one may feel but can not analyze. The aim of the school is no less than the creation of a new national style, which they endeavor to reach by different ways. Brilliance and robust individualism characterize every one of these disciples, mostly of Hungarian education. This is especially true of Leo Weiner (born 1885), whose very first attempt in the field of composition attested a considerable technique. If Weiner's first composition took his master (Hans Koessler[30]) by surprise, a later one, which he wrote for the final student's concert of his class, fell little short of being a sensation for musical Europe. This, his last student work—a 'Serenade'—spread his fame through the continent. It was performed in almost every musical centre of Europe. In it the composer[Pg 198] displays a really individual style of his own. It is full of ideas garbed in brilliant orchestration and glows with the fire of enthusiasm. Weiner's ingenious harmonic sense and ability is as astonishing for his age as his fine architectural sense. In his other works—a quartet in E, a trio in G minor, a sonata for violin and piano in D (a valuable addition to the list of modern sonatas)—the harmony, while sonorous and pure, is quite simple, though his modulations often act as surprises. In form he never abandons logical progression and artistic unity, since he never loses the general outline of his movements. It is true that one may find dull moments in Weiner, yet of what composer is that not true? Weiner is less successful where he attempts to produce Hungarian color, but as dignified examples of music produced for its own sake his works are likely to persist.

One of the chief representatives of musical ultra-modernism in Hungary is Béla Bartók, a remarkable individuality whose modernism has probably reached its own limits. According to his principles, applied in his compositions, every kind of key-relationship is possible. Thus he combines a melody E major with a motive A-flat major. His waltz, 'My Sweetheart is Dancing,' is astonishingly grotesque and novel in its pianistic effects. It will hardly fail to make a listener smile or laugh—perhaps by direct intention of the composer. Bartók's colleague in the field of grotesque but effective dissonances is Z. Kodály, with whom he undertook the notable task of collecting Hungarian folk-songs in their genuine natural form. With these true and unalloyed Hungarian melodies the two 'futurists' proved that the genuine Hungarian folk-song differed essentially from those known generally under that name. Bartók's and Kodály's folk-melodies are not built on the Hungarian scale, which is of gypsy invention. They display primitive qualities and preserve[Pg 199] even the influence of the ancient church modes. They have a great variety of constantly changing rhythm and metre, and a distinct feature is the frequent return of characteristic formulas, also the employment of a peculiar pentatonic scale. Whatever may be his merits as a composer, Béla Bartók's work as a scholar in Hungarian music is of unquestioned historical importance.

Another young composer whose works are frequently played in foreign countries (also in America) is E. Lendway, likewise a pupil of Koessler. His Symphony has sterling qualities. He has, however, produced works of greater significance in chamber music, in piano music, and songs. Especially worthy of mention is a 'Suite' for female voices a cappella. Old Japanese poems supply the text. These he has set to music of genuine poetic finesse, delicate and finely emotional. The whole gives a series of impressive tone-pictures, reflecting a fascinating exotic atmosphere. As a testimony of Lendway's technical skill it has been pointed out that he has produced Japanese 'color' without using the Japanese scale. True to his modernist propensities, he makes free use of the whole-tone scale, but with a more specific effect than is usually done. His latest and most ambitious work is an opera, 'Elga,' after Gerhart Hauptmann's drama.

Other young Hungarians have attracted international attention in the field of opera. E. Ábrányi's 'Paolo and Francesca' and 'Monna Vanna' (after Maeterlinck) have a dramatic power that is promising. He is at his best in fantastic tone-painting, and remarkable for harmonic invention and skill in orchestration. A charming children's opera, 'Cinderella,' is by Á. Buttykay, whose more ambitious symphonic works make him an estimable member of the young Hungarian group. Some chamber music works of ultra-modern tendencies and a Symphonic Suite of ingenious orchestration[Pg 200] by Radnai raise expectations of still better things to come.

Justice can hardly be done by merely mentioning the names of such men as Chovan, Gobbi, Farkas, Rékai, Koenig, Siklós, etc., all of whom are engaged in meritorious creative work. Of no less importance are those who work in the field of musicography and criticism. 'The Theory of Hungarian Music,' by Géza Molnár, and 'The Evolution of the Hungarian Folk-song,' by Fabo, as well as shorter essays by A. Kern, P. Kacsoh, etc., are of especially high value. In conclusion we may say that even a slight study of contemporary Hungarian music will convince one that the musical life of the Hungary of to-day adequately reflects the tendency of the age, and that the country has definitely entered the rank of the truly musical nations.

E. K.


[17] 'Studies in Modern Music,' by W. H. Hadow, Second Series.

[18] The Musical Courier, New York, May 4, 1904.

[19] 'History of Music.'

[20] Mrs. Edmond Wodehouse; article, 'Song,' in Grove's Dictionary of Music.

[21] 'Famous Composers and Their Works,' New Series, Vol. I, p. 178.

[22] Actually, it was not E, but the chord of the sixth of A-flat, in high position, that constantly rang in Smetana's ear.

[23] His operas are: Der König und der Köhler (1874), Die Dickschädel (1882), Wanda (1876), Der Bauer ein Schelm (1877), Dimitrije (1882), Jacobin (1889), Der Teufel und die wilde Käthe (1899), Roussalka (1901), Armida (1904).

[24] Oscar Nedbal (born 1874), pupil of Dvořák, conductor, and viola of the well-known Bohemian Quartet.

[25] It consisted of the following movements: 'The Council,' 'The Siege,' 'The Last Farewell,' 'The Prayer' and 'The Attack.'

[26] Arranged for string quartet by Kún László, published by Rózsavölgyi in Budapest.

[27] It is touching to read in his brilliantly written autobiography (3 volumes, 1910), where, as if he had foreseen the terrible present war, he remarks: 'If God will help me, I will write a book for men with one arm, and the book will be published in five languages!'

[28] In Biographie universelle des musiciens, p. 687.

[29] Jenö Hubay, born in 1858 in Budapest, son of Carl Huber, professor of violin at the National Academy of Music and conductor of the National Theatre in Budapest.

[30] Composer and head of the theory department of the Royal Hungarian Academy.

[Pg 201]


The post-Beethovenian tendencies in the music of Germany and their present-day significance; the problem of modern symphonic form—The academic followers of Brahms: Bruch and others—The modern 'poetic' school: Richard Strauss as symphonic composer—Anton Bruckner, his life and works—Gustav Mahler—Max Reger, and others.


No other European nation can show, within the last fifty years, so great a variety of schools, and so great a variety of effort and achievement within each school, as the German. The reason is that the Germans were the only race that, by the middle of the nineteenth century, had beaten out a musical language that was capable of almost every kind of expression. Within the ample limits of that language there was room for the realization of any spirit and any form—post-classical or progressive, or a union of these two; poetic or abstract; vocal or instrumental; symphonic or operatic. And in each sphere the Germans developed both form and spirit to a point attained by no other nation—in the opera of Wagner, the post-Beethovenian symphony of Brahms and Bruckner, the symphonic poem of Strauss, the song of Hugo Wolf; while within the separate orbit of each of these leaders there moved a crowd of lesser but still goodly luminaries. It is remarkable, too, that each period that seemed a climax of development in this form or that proved to be only the starting-point for a new departure. Beethoven's spirit realized itself afresh in Wagner and Brahms, and in remoter but still easily traceable ways in Liszt and Strauss; in the best of Strauss, again, we can see coursing the sap of Wagner, but with a vitality that throws out unexpected, new and individual shoots; Schubert and Schumann, each seemingly so perfect, so complete in himself, blossom into a new and richer lyrical life in the songs of Hugo Wolf. To make clear the nature and the meaning of the modern German developments it will be necessary to survey rapidly the conditions that led up to them.

Beethoven, especially in his later symphonies, sonatas and quartets, had carried music to an intellectual and emotional height for a parallel to which we have to go back a century, to the colossal work of Bach. Beethoven bequeathed to music an enormous fund of expression and a perfected instrument of expression. Both of these were waiting for the new composers who could use them for the fertilization of modern music. Wagner seized upon the fund rather than the instrument. In place of the latter, though, indeed, with its assistance, he forged a new instrument of his own; but the impulse to the forging of it, and the strength for the forging of it, came to him in large measure from the deep draughts he had drunk of Beethoven's spirit. Schumann (the symphonic Schumann) and Brahms, on the other hand, were more content with the instrument as Beethoven had left it; or, to vary the illustration, they were satisfied, speaking broadly, to fill with more or less derivative pictures of their own the frame that Beethoven had bequeathed to them. But it was inevitable that a procedure of this kind should lead here and there to the petrification of form into formalism, both of idea and of design. For it is an error to suppose, as the writers of text-books too often do, that 'form' is something that can be conveyed by tuition or achieved by imitation. There is no such thing as form apart from the idea; the form is simply the idea made visible and coherent. It is not the form that shapes the thought in the truly great masters; rather is the form simply the expression of the thought, as the form of a tree is the expression of the idea of a tree, or the form of the human body the expression of the idea of man. The post-classicists too often forgot that Beethoven's form and Beethoven's thought are inseparable—that they are, in truth, in the profoundest sense, merely different names for the same thing, the one totality viewed from different standpoints, as we may speak for convenience sake of the bodily man and the spiritual man, though, in truth, the living man is one and indivisible; and the post-classicists, indeed, from Brahms downwards, founded themselves upon the early or middle Beethoven, or even his eighteenth-century predecessors, rather than upon the Beethoven of the last works, with their incessant, titanic struggle to open new roads into art and life. With all his greatness, Brahms was not great enough to be to the symphony of his own day what Beethoven was to the symphony of his. Brahms raises an excellent crop from the delta fertilized by the waters of the great river as it debouched into the unknown sea; but that was all. He himself added nothing to the soil that could make it fertile enough to support yet another generation. All the technical mastery of Brahms—and it is very great indeed—cannot give to his symphonic music the thoroughly organic air of Beethoven's, the same sense of the perfect, unanalyzable fusion of form and matter.

[Pg 202]


Modern German Symphonists and Lyricists:

Anton Bruckner Felix Draeseke
Hugo Wolf Gustav Mahler

[Pg 203]

While Brahms was developing the classical heritage in his own way, Liszt and Wagner were boldly staking out claims on the future. With each of these composers the aim was the same—to find a form and an expression that, by their elasticity, would make music more equal to the painting of human life in all its manifold variety. This effort took two lines: the instrumental[Pg 204] and the dramatic. Liszt, anticipated to some extent by Berlioz, tried to adapt the essence of the symphonic form to the new spirit. The problems he set himself have rarely been successfully solved, even to the present day; they block the path of every modern writer of symphonic poems, and of every writer of symphonies the impulse behind which is more or less definitely poetic.

The mere fact of the incessant fluctuation of modern composers between the two forms—the one-movement form of Liszt and the symphonic poem in general, and the four-movement form of the poetic or partly poetic symphony—shows that neither of them is of itself completely adequate. For against each of them strict logic can urge some pointed objection. The four-movement form, growing as it does out of the suite, is and will always be more appropriate to what may be roughly called 'pattern-music' rather than to poetic music; for the mere number of the movements, and the practically invariable order of their succession, implies the forcing of the thought into a preconceived frame, rather than the determining of the frame by the nature of the picture. The one-movement form is in itself more logical, but it is always faced by the problem of conciliating the natural evolution of a poetic idea and the decorative evolution of a musical pattern; and the symphonic poems in which this problem is satisfactorily solved might perhaps be counted on the fingers of one hand. There is a point in Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel, for example,


[Pg 205]

in which we feel acutely that the poetic—or shall we say the novelistic?—scheme that has so far been followed line by line is being put aside for the moment in order that the composer, having stated his thematic material, may subject it, for purely musical reasons, to something in the nature of the ordinary 'working-out.'

The four-movement form obviously allows greater scope to a composer who has a great deal to say upon a fruitful subject, but it labors under an equally obvious disability. The modern sense of psychological unity demands that the symphony of to-day shall justify, in its own being, the casting of it into this or that number of movements. Every work of art must, if challenged, be able to give an answer to what Wagner used to call the question 'Why?' 'Why,' we have a right to say to the composer, 'have you chosen to give your work just this form and these dimensions and no other?' It is because modern composers cannot quite silence the voice that whispers to them that the four-movement form is the form of the suite, in which the charm of the music comes mainly from the delight of the purely musical faculty with itself, rather than a form suited to a music that aims first of all at expressing more definite feelings about life, that they try to vivify the merely formal unity of the suite form with a psychological unity—mainly by means of quasi-leit-motifs that reappear in each of the movements.

But, though this system has given us some of our finest modern works of the symphonic type, it has its limitations. If the composer does not tell us the poetic meaning of his themes and all their reappearances, these reappearances frequently puzzle rather than enlighten us: this is notably the case with César Franck. If the composer works upon a single leit-motif, it is, as a rule, of the 'Fate-and-humanity' type of the Tschaikowsky symphony—a type that in the end becomes[Pg 206] rather painfully conventional. This simplicity of plan, however, has the advantage of leaving the composer free to develop his musical material with the minimum of disturbance from the poetic idea. On the other hand, if his poetic scheme is at all copious or extensive, and he allows himself to follow all the vicissitudes of it, he must either give us a written clue to every page of his music—which he is generally unwilling and frequently unable to do—or pay the penalty of our failing to see in his music precisely what he intended to put there; for it is as true now as when Wagner wrote, three-quarters of a century ago, that purely instrumental music cannot permit itself such sudden and frequent changes as dramatic music without running the risk of becoming unintelligible. Always there arises within us, when the composer's thought branches off at an angle that does not seem to us justified by the inner logic of the music quâ music, that awkward question, "Why?" and to that question only the stage action, as Wagner says, or a program, as most of us would say to-day, can supply a satisfactory answer. This conflict between form and matter can be seen running through almost all modern German instrumental music of the poetic order; only the genius of Strauss has been able to resolve the antinomy with some success. None of Beethoven's successors has been able, as he was, to fill every bar of a symphonic composition with equal meaning, or to convey, as he did in the third symphony, the fifth and the ninth, the sense of a drama that is implicit in the music itself, and so coherent, so perspicuous, that words cannot add anything to it in the way of definiteness.


The symphonic work of Brahms (by which one means not merely the symphonies but the overtures, the concertos, the chamber music and the piano music)[Pg 207] does, indeed, as we have seen, found itself on the middle rather than the later Beethoven (whereas it was from the latest Beethoven that Wagner drew his chief nourishment); but in spite of a certain timidity and a certain rigidity of form, Brahms's profound nature and his consummate workmanship give his work an individuality that enables him to stand by the side of Beethoven, though he never reaches quite to Beethoven's height. The other exploiters of the classical heritage have less individuality. They aim at breaking no new ground; they are content to till afresh the soil that the classical masters have fertilized for them.

Max Bruch may be taken as the type of a whole crowd of these post-classical writers. Their virtues are those that are always characteristic of the epigone. There is in art, as in the animal world, a protective mimicry that enables certain weaker species to assume at any rate the external markings of more vigorous organisms than themselves. In music, minds of this order clothe themselves with the qualities that lie on the surface of the great men's work. Their own art is parasitic (one uses that term, of course, without any offensive intention, with a biological, not a moral, implication). The parasitic organism lives easily in virtue of the fact that the parent organism undertakes all the labor of the chief vital functions. The epigone manipulates again and again the forms of his great predecessors. The substance he pours into these molds is hardly more his own. Yet work of this kind can have undeniable charm; after all, it is better for a man whose strength is not of the first order to live contentedly upon the side of the great mountain than to court destruction by trying to scale its dizziest peaks. The work of these epigones always has the balance and the clarity that come from the complete absence of any sense of a new problem to beat their heads against.

Max Bruch was born in 1838 and evinced the early[Pg 208] precocity of genius; he had a symphony performed in his native Cologne at the age of fourteen. As a beneficiary of the Mozart Foundation he became a pupil of Ferdinand Hiller in composition and of Carl Reinecke and Ferdinand Breuning in piano. As executive musician he has had a brilliant career. After teaching in Cologne he became successively musical director in Coblentz, court kapellmeister in Sondershausen, chorus conductor in Berlin (Sternscher Gesangverein), conductor of the Philharmonic Society of Liverpool, England, and the Orchesterverein of Breslau. In 1891 he became head of the 'master school' of composition in the Berlin Academy, was given the title of professor, received in 1893 the honorary degree of Doc. Mus. from Cambridge, and in 1898 became a corresponding member of the French Academy of Fine Arts.

His most important creative work is unquestionably represented by his large choral works with orchestra. Together with Georg Vierling (1820-1901) he may be credited with the modern revival of the secular cantata. Frithjof, op. 23 (1864), written during his stay in Mannheim (1862-64), was the foundation-stone of his reputation, followed soon after by the universally known 'Fair Ellen,' op. 25, and later by Odysseus, op. 41 (1873), Arminius, op. 43, 'The Song of the Bell,' op. 45, 'The Cross of Fire,' op. 52, all for mixed chorus. There is a sacred oratorio, 'Moses,' op. 52, and a secular one 'Gustavus Adolphus,' op. 73, and a large number of other choral works for mixed, male and female chorus. His operas, 'Lorelei' (1863) and 'Hermione' op. 40, had only a succès d'estime. The first violin concerto, in G minor, op. 26, is perhaps Bruch's most famous composition, and a grateful constituent of every violinist's repertoire. There are two other violin concertos (both in D minor), opera 44 and 45, a Romance, a Fantasia and other violin pieces with orchestra, also works for 'cello and orchestra, including the well-known setting of Kol Nidrei.[Pg 209] Three symphonies (E-flat minor, F minor and E major), op. 28, 36 and 51; a few chamber music and piano pieces complete the catalogue of his works. Bruch's idiom is frankly melodic, though his harmonic texture is quite rich and his counterpoint varied. Formally he is conservative and, all in all, he imposes no strain upon the listener's power of comprehension. His music is solid and grateful, but not of striking originality. Through his masters, Reinecke and Hiller, he represents the Schumann-Mendelssohn tradition in a vigorous though inoffensive eclecticism.

The leading members of this order of composers in the Germany of the second half of the nineteenth century besides Bruch, were Hermann Goetz (1840-1876; symphony in F major), Friedrich Gernsheim (born 1839; four symphonies and much chamber music), Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900; chamber music, church music, symphonies, etc.), Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901); Wilhelm Berger (1861-1911; works for choir and orchestra, chamber music, two symphonies, etc.); and Georg Schumann (1866; orchestral and choral works, chamber music, etc).

Goetz is best known for his work in the operatic field and may be more appropriately treated in that connection (see p. 245). Gernsheim, a native of Worms, was a student in the Leipzig conservatory and broadened his education by a sojourn in Paris (from 1855). The posts of musical director in Saarbrücken (1861), teacher of piano and composition at the Cologne conservatory (1865), conductor of the Maatschappig concerts in Rotterdam (1874) successively engaged his activities. From 1890-97 he taught at the Stern conservatory in Berlin and conducted the Sternsche Gesangverein till 1904, besides the Eruditio musica of Rotterdam. In 1901 he became principal of a master-school for composition. Since 1897 Gernsheim has been a member of the senate of the Royal Academy. Similar to Bruch in his tendencies,[Pg 210] Gernsheim has composed, aside from the instrumental works mentioned above, a number of choral works of which Salamis, Odin's Meeresritt (both for men's chorus, baritone and orchestra) and Das Grab im Busento (men's chorus and orchestra) are especially notable. Overtures and a concerto each for piano, for violin, and for 'cello must be added to complete the list of his works.

Heinrich von Herzogenberg, too, is chiefly identified with the revival of choral song, especially of ecclesiastical character (a Requiem, op. 72; a mass, op. 87; Totenfeier, op. 80; 'The Birth of Christ,' op. 90; a Passion, op. 93, etc.). In this department Herzogenberg is the successor to Friedrich Kiel.

Rheinberger occupies a peculiar position. He is a stanch adherent to classical traditions and generally considered as an academic composer. That his classicism was not inconsistent with a hankering after the methods of the New German School, however, is shown in his Wallenstein symphony (op. 10) and his 'Christophorus' (oratorio). Having received his early training upon the organ, he has shown a preponderant tendency toward organ music and ecclesiastical composition in general. Nevertheless he has written, besides the works already named, a symphonic fantasy, three overtures, and considerable piano and chamber works. Eugen Schmitz[31] calls him a South German Raff, for 'as many-sided as Raff, he, in contrast to this master of North German training, received his musical education in South Germany.' (Born in Vaduz, in Lichtenstein, he continued his training in Feldkirch and during 1851-54 at the Royal School of Music in Munich). In Munich he became the centre of a veritable school of young composers, exerting a very broad influence, first as teacher of theory and later royal professor and inspector of the Royal School. Rheinberger also conducted [Pg 211]the performances of the Royal Chapel choir. He received the honorary degree of Ph.D. from the University of Munich and became a member of the Berlin Academy.

Riemann's judgment of his merit, voiced in the following sentences, may be taken as just on the whole. He says: 'Rheinberger enjoyed a high reputation as composer, in the vocal as well as in the instrumental field. However, the contrapuntal mastery and the æsthetic instinct evident in his workmanship cannot permanently hide his lack of really warm-blooded emotion.' His organ works, of classic perfection, will probably last the longest. His Requiem, Stabat Mater, and a double-choir Mass stand at the head of his church compositions. He also wrote an opera, Die Sieben Raben. Like Bruch's, his style is eclectic, being a fusion of neo-classical and post-romantic influences.

Wilhelm Berger is a native of America (Boston, 1861), but was educated in Berlin, where he was a pupil of Fr. Kiel at the Royal Hochschule. Later he became teacher at the Klindworth-Scharwenka conservatory and in 1903 succeeded Fritz Steinbach as conductor of the famous Meiningen court orchestra. Some of his songs are widely known, but his choral compositions (Totentanz, Euphorin, etc.) constitute his most important work. Berger is a Brahms disciple without reserve, and so are Hans Kössler (b. 1853, symphonic variations for orchestra, etc.), Friedrich E. Koch (b. 1862, symphonic fugue in C minor, oratorio Von den Tageszeiten, etc.), Gustav Schreck (b. 1849), and Max Zenger (b. 1837). Georg Schumann, the last on our list of important epigones, has had more hearings abroad than most of his contemporary brothers-in-faith, especially with his oratorio 'Ruth' (1908), several times performed by the New York Oratorio Society. As conductor of the Berlin Singakademie (since 1900), he has not lacked incentive to choral writing,[Pg 212] hence 'Amor and Psyche,' Preis und Danklied, etc. A symphony in B, a serenade, op. 32, and other orchestral pieces as well as chamber works have come from his pen, all in the Brahms idiom.

The names of the still smaller men are legion. Let us mention but a few of them: Robert Radecke (1830-1911) wrote a symphony, overtures, and choral songs; Johann Herbeck (1831-77), symphonies, etc.; Joseph Abert (b. 1832), besides operas a symphony, a symphonic poem, 'Columbus,' and overtures; Albert Becker (1834-99), a Mass in B minor, a prize-crowned symphony, choral and chamber works; Franz Wüllner (1832-1902), chiefly choral works; Heinrich Hofmann (1842-1902), besides the operas Armin and Ännchen von Tharau, a symphony, orchestral suites, cantatas, chamber music and piano music, much of it for four hands; and Franz Ries (b. 1846), suites for violin and piano, string quartets, etc. Georg Henschel is especially noted for his songs (see Vol. V); Hans Huber, a German Swiss, for his 'Böcklin Symphony' and chamber music; while the Germanized Poles Maurice Moszkowski (b. 1854) and the brothers Scharwenka (Philipp and Xaver, b. 1850) claim attention with pleasing and popular piano pieces. Needless to say, such a list as this can never be complete.


Side by side with the neo-classical school, but always steadily encroaching upon it, is the 'poetic' school that derives from Liszt and Wagner. It is a truism of criticism that in musical history the big men end periods rather than begin them. The composer who inaugurates a movement appears to posterity as a fumbler rather than a master, and even in his own day his methods and his ideals fail to command general respect, so wide a gulf is there in them between intention and achievement. It was so, for example, with Liszt[Pg 213] and his immediate school. But in the end there comes a man who, with a greater natural genius than his predecessors, assimilates all they have to teach him either imaginatively or formally, and brings to fulfillment what in them was at its best never more than promise. The tentative work of Liszt comes to full fruition in the work of Strauss. He has a richer musical endowment than any of his predecessors in his own special line, and a technical skill to which none of them could ever pretend. Liszt had imagination, but he never succeeded in making a thoroughly serviceable technique for himself, no doubt because his early career as a pianist made it impossible for him to work seriously at composition until comparatively late in life. Strauss is of the type of musician who readily learns all that the pedagogues can teach him, and utilizes the knowledge thus acquired as the basis for a new technique of his own.

Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864, in Munich, the son of Franz Strauss, a noted Waldhorn player (royal chamber musician). He studied composition with the local court kapellmeister, W. Meyer, and as early as 1881 gave striking evidence of his talent in a string quartet in A minor (op. 2), which was played by the Walter quartet. A Symphony in D minor, an overture in C minor and a suite for thirteen wind instruments, op. 7, all performed in public, the last by the famous 'Meininger' orchestra, quickly spread his name among musicians and in 1885 he was engaged by Hans von Bülow as musical director to the ducal court at Meiningen. Here Alexander Ritter is said to have influenced him in the direction of ultra-modernity. After another year Strauss returned to Munich as third royal kapellmeister; three years later (1889) he became Lassen's associate as court conductor in Weimar; from 1894 to 1898 he was again in Munich, this time as court conductor, and at the end of that period went to Berlin to occupy a similar post at the Royal Prussian court. In 1904 he became general musical director (Generalmusikdirektor). Since the appearance of his first works mentioned above he has been almost incessantly occupied with composition.

These early works and those immediately following give little hint of the later Strauss, except for the characteristically hard-hitting strength of it almost from the first. Works like the B minor piano sonata (op. 5) and the 'cello sonata (op. 6), for example, have a curious, cubbish demonstrativeness about them; but it is plain enough already that the cub is of the great breed. With the exception of a few songs, and a setting of Goethe's Wanderers Sturmlied for chorus and orchestra (op. 14), all his music until his twenty-second year was in the traditional instrumental forms; it includes, besides the works already mentioned, a string quartet (op. 2), a violin concerto (op. 8), a symphony (op. 12), a quartet for piano and strings (op. 13), a Burleske for piano and orchestra, and sundry smaller works for piano solo, etc. According to his own account, he was first set upon the path of poetic music by Alexander Ritter—a man of no great account as a composer, but restlessly alive to the newest musical currents of his time, and with the literary gift of rousing enthusiasm in others for his own ideas. He was an ardent partisan of the 'New German' school of Liszt and Wagner. Of his own essays in the operatic field only two saw completion: Der faule Hans (1885) and Wem die Krone? (1890). They were mildly successful in Munich and Weimar. Besides these he wrote symphonic poems that at least partially bridge the gap between Liszt and Strauss; 'Seraphic Phantasy,' 'Erotic Legend,' 'Olaf's Wedding Procession,' and 'Emperor Rudolph's Ride to the Grave' are some of the titles. Ritter was of Russian birth (Narva), but lived in Germany from childhood (Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, Würzberg, etc). He was a close friend of Bülow and married Wagner's niece, Franziska Wagner.

[Pg 214]


Richard Strauss

After a crayon by Faragò (1905)

[Pg 215]

The first-fruits of Ritter's influence upon Strauss were the symphonic fantasia Aus Italien (1886). The young revolutionary as yet moves with a certain amount of circumspection. The new work is poetic, programmatic, but it is cast in the conventional four-movement form, the separate movements corresponding roughly to those of the ordinary symphony. It is obviously a 'prentice work,’ but it is of significance in Strauss's history for a warmth of emotion that had been only rarely perceptible in his earlier music. Here and there it has the rude, knockabout sort of energy that was noticeable in some of the earlier works, and that in the later works was to degenerate into a mere noisy slamming about of commonplaces; but it also shows much poetic feeling, and in particular an ardent romantic appreciation of nature.

Aus Italien was followed by a series of remarkable tone-poems—Don Juan (op. 20, 1888), Macbeth (op. 23, written 1886-7 but not published until after the Don Juan), Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (op. 28, 1894-95), Also sprach Zarathustra (op. 30, 1894-95), Don Quixote (op. 39, 1897), Ein Heldenleben (op. 40, 1898), and the Symphonia Domestica (op. 53, 1903). With the last-named work Strauss bade farewell to the concert room for many years, the next stage of his development being worked out in the opera house.

The forms, no less than the titles, of the orchestral works, reveal the many-sidedness of Strauss's mind, the keenness of his interest in life and literary art, the individuality of the point of view from which he regards each of his subjects, and the peculiarly logical medium he adopts for the expression of each of them. Bound up with this adaptability are a certain restlessness that drives him on to abandon every field in turn before he has developed all the possibilities of it, and a certain[Pg 216] anxiety to 'hit the public between the eyes' each time that gives him now and then the appearance of exploiting new sensations for new sensations' sake. It is perhaps not doing him any injustice, for instance, to suppose that a very keen finger upon the public pulse warned him that it would be unwise to bombard it with another blood-and-lust drama of the type of Salome and Elektra; so, with an admirably sure instinct, he relaxes into the broad comedy of Der Rosenkavalier. Feeling after this that the public wanted something newer still, he tried, in Ariadne auf Naxos, to combine drama and opera in the one work. Then, realizing from the Western European successes of the Russians that ballet is likely to become the order of the day, he tries his hand at a modified form of this in 'The Legend of Joseph.'

What in the later works has become, however, almost as much a commercial as an artistic impulse, was in the early years the genuine quick-change of a very fertile, eager spirit, with extraordinary powers of poetic and graphic expression in music. Strauss, like Wagner, is a musical architect by instinct; he can plan big edifices and realize them. The sureness of this instinct is incidentally shown by the varied forms of these early and middle-period orchestral works of his. As we have seen, the writer of symphonic poems is always confronted by the serious problem of harmonizing a poetic with a musical development; and in practice we find that, as a rule, either the following of the literary idea destroys the purely musical logic of the work, or, in his anxiety to preserve a formal logic in his music, the composer has to impair the simplicity or the continuity of the poetic scheme, as Strauss has had to do in the passage in Till Eulenspiegel, already cited. But, on the whole, Strauss has come much nearer than any other composer to solving the problem of combined poetic and musical form in instrumental music. In[Pg 217] Macbeth he has 'internalized' the dramatic action in a very remarkable way—a procedure he might have adopted with advantage on other occasions. Here, where there was every temptation to the superficially effective painting of externalities, he has dissolved the pictorial and episodical into the psychological, making Macbeth's own soul the centre of all the dramatic storm and stress, and so allowing full scope for the purely expressive power of music. In Don Juan the form is rightly quasi-symphonic—a group of workable main themes representing the hero, with a group of subsidiary themes suggestive of the minor characters that cross his path and the circumstances under which he meets with them. The tissue is not woven throughout with absolute continuity, but the form as a whole is lucid and coherent. The episodical adventures of Till Eulenspiegel could find no better musical frame than the rondo form that Strauss has chosen for them; while the variation form is most suited to the figures, the adventures, and the psychology of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. In the Symphonia Domestica the number and relationship of the characters, and the incidents that make up the domestic day, are best treated in a form that is virtually that of the ordinary symphony compressed into a single movement. A similar congruity between form and matter will be found in Also sprach Zarathustra and Ein Heldenleben.

This fertility of form was only the outward and visible sign of an extraordinary fertility of conception. No other composer, before or since, has poured such a wealth of thinking into program music, created so many poetic-musical types, or depicted their milieu with such graphic power. Each new work, dealing as it did with new characters and new scenes, spontaneously found for itself a new idiom, melodic, harmonic and rhythmic; in this unconscious transformation of his speech in accordance with the inward vision Strauss[Pg 218] resembles Wagner and Hugo Wolf. The immense energy of the mind is shown not only in the range and variety of its psychology, but physically, as it were, in the wide trajectory of the melodies, the powerful gestures of the rhythms that sometimes, indeed, become almost convulsive—and the long-breathed phraseology of passages like the opening section of Ein Heldenleben.

It was perhaps inevitable that this extraordinary energy should occasionally get out of hand and degenerate into a sort of Unbändigkeit. Strauss is at once a man of genius and an irresponsible street urchin. With all his gifts, something that goes to the making of the artist of the very greatest kind is lacking in him. He has a giant span of conception that is rare in music; but he seems to take a pleasure in constructing gigantic edifices only to spoil them for the admiring spectator by scrawling a fatuity or an obscenity across the front of them. He can be, at times, unaccountably perverse, malicious, childish towards his own creations. This element in him, or rather the seeds from which it has developed, first become clearly visible in Till Eulenspiegel. There, however, it remains pure gaminerie; it does not clash with the nature of the subject, and the jovial, youthful spirits and the happy inventiveness of the composer carry it off. But afterwards it often assumes an unpleasant form. There are one or two things in Don Quixote that amuse us a little at first but afterwards become rather tiresome, as over-insistence on the purely physical grotesque always does in time. In Ein Heldenleben a drama that is mostly worked out on a high spiritual plane is vulgarized by the crude physical horror of the brutal battle scene, and by the now well-nigh pointless humor of the ugly 'Adversaries' section. There are pettinesses and sillinesses in the Symphonia Domestica that one can hardly understand a man of Strauss's eminence troubling to put on paper. Altogether, we may say of the Strauss of[Pg 219] the instrumental works alone—we can certainly say it of the later Strauss of the operas—that he is, in Romain Rolland's phrase, a curious compound of 'mud, débris, and genius.' Always he is a spirit at war with itself; sometimes he seems cursed, like an obverse of Goethe's Mephistopheles, to will the good and work the ill. But he has enriched program music with a large fund of new ideas, and given it a new direction and a new technique. He has established, more thoroughly than any other composer, the right of poetic instrumental music to a place by the side of abstract music. He has attempted things that were thought impossible in music, sometimes failing, but more often than not succeeding extraordinarily.

His workmanship is equal to his invention; of him at any rate the post-classicists can never say, as they said half a century ago of Liszt and his school, that he writes literary music because he lacks the self-discipline and the skill necessary for success in the abstract forms. If anything his technique, especially his orchestral technique, is too astounding; it tempts him to do amazing but unnecessary things for the mere sake of doing them. But with all his faults he is a colossus of sorts; he bestrides modern German music as Wagner did that of half a century ago. In wealth and variety of emotion and in power of graphic utterance his work as a whole is beyond comparison with that of any other contemporary composer.


The life of Strauss overlaps that of his great post-classical antithesis Brahms by thirty-three years, and by thirty-six years that of Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), a symphonist who is still little known, and that for two reasons. In the first place, his works are as a rule excessively long; in the second place, he had the misfortune[Pg 220] to live in Vienna, where the Brahms partisans were at one time all-powerful. Some of them resented the pretensions of another symphonist to comparison with their own idol, and by innuendo and neglect, rather than by direct attack, they contrived to diffuse a legend that has maintained itself almost down to our own day, that Bruckner was merely an amiable old gentleman with a passion for writing symphonies, but one who need not be taken too seriously. As a matter of fact, he was a good deal more than that. There is no necessity to flaunt a defiant Brucknerian banner in the face of the Brahmsians, but there is every necessity to say that great as Brahms was he by no means exhausted the possibilities of the modern symphony, and that several of the possibilities that he left untouched were turned to excellent use by Bruckner.

Bruckner's life was remarkably circumscribed and offers practically no interest to a biographer. The son of a country schoolmaster in Ansfelden, Upper Austria (where he was born Sept. 4, 1824), he spent his early life following in his father's footsteps, first at Windhag (near Freistadt), later at St. Florian, where he also filled a temporary post as organist. By his own efforts he became highly proficient on that instrument and in counterpoint. This fact and his constant connection with the church influenced his creative work strongly. In 1855 he became cathedral organist at Linz, meantime studying counterpoint with Sechter in Vienna, where he later (1867) became his master's successor as court organist. He also studied composition with Otto Kitzler in 1861-63. Aside from his activities as professor of organ, counterpoint and composition at the Vienna Conservatory and as lecturer on music at the Vienna University, this constitutes the outward record of his career. He died in Vienna, Oct. 11, 1896.

Similarly devoid of variety in their classification are his compositions—besides his nine symphonies, upon[Pg 221] which his reputation rests, there are only three masses (D minor, 1864; E minor, 1869; F minor, 1872) and a few more sacred works (including the '150th Psalm'); four compositions for men's chorus accompanied (Germanenzug and Helgoland, with orchestra; Das hohe Lied and Mitternacht, with piano); some others a cappella, and one string quartet. Mostly works of large calibre and commensurately broad in conception.

The error is still frequently made—it was an error that did him much harm in anti-Wagnerian Vienna during his lifetime—of regarding Bruckner as one who tried to translate Wagner into terms of the symphony. For Wagner, indeed, he had a passionate admiration; but his own affinities as a composer with Wagner are so trifling as to be negligible. The real heirs of Wagner are the men who, like Strauss, aim at making purely instrumental music a vehicle for the expression of definite poetic ideas—whose symphonic poems are really operas without words, with the orchestra as the actors. Bruckner, even with Liszt's example before him, passed the symphonic poem by on the other side. His nine symphonies are almost as purely 'abstract' music as those of Brahms; if one qualifies the comparison with an 'almost' it is not because Bruckner worked upon anything even remotely resembling a program, but because the rather sudden transitions here and there in the symphonies, lacking as they do a strictly logical musical connection, are apt to suggest that the composer had in his mind some more or less definite extra-musical symbol. But this explanation of the undeniable fact that there is more than one hiatus in the Bruckner movements, though it is not an impossible one, is not the most probable one in every case.

A certain disconnectedness was almost inevitable in such a symphonic method as that of Bruckner. He had no appetite for the merely formal 'working-out' that Brahms could manipulate with such facility, but frequently[Pg 222] without convincing us that he is saying anything very germane to his main topic. For a frank recognition of Brahms' general mastery of form is not incompatible with an equally frank recognition that too often formalism was master of him. The danger of a transmitted classical technique in any art is that now and then it tempts its practitioners to talk—and allows them to talk quite fluently—when they have really nothing of vital importance to say. Take, as an example, bars 58-73 of the first movement of Brahms' fourth symphony. This passage is not merely dull; it is absolutely meaningless. It carries the immediately preceding thought no further; it is no manner of necessary preparation for the thought that comes immediately after. It is 'padding' pure and simple; a mechanical manipulation of the clay without any clear idea on the part of the potter as to what he wishes to model. Brahms, in fact, knows, or half-knows, that he has travelled as far as he can go along one road, and has a little time to wait before etiquette permits him to proceed up another: so he marks time with the best grace he can—or, to vary the illustration, having said all he can think of in connection with A, and not being due just yet to discuss B, he simply goes on talking until he can think of something to say. Such a passage as this would have been impossible for Beethoven: his rigorously logical mind would have rejected it as being a mere inorganic patch upon the flesh of a living organism: he would never have rested until he had re-established the momentarily interrupted flow of vital blood between the severed parts.

For a mechanical technique such as Brahms uses here, Bruckner had no liking, nor would it have been of much use in connection with ideas like his. In his general attitude towards the symphony he reminds us somewhat of Schubert. He does not start, as Brahms does, with a subject that, however admirable it may be[Pg 223] in itself, and however excellently it may be adapted for the germination of fresh matter from it, has obviously been chosen in some degree because of its 'workableness.' With Bruckner, as with Schubert, the subject sings out at once simply because it must. The composer is too full of the immediate warmth of the idea to premeditate 'development' of it. So it inevitably comes about that, with both Bruckner and Schubert, repetition takes, in some degree, the place of development. Symphonic development, speaking broadly, becomes technically easier in proportion as the thematic matter to be manipulated is shorter; looking at the music for the moment as a mere piece of tissue-weaving, it is evident that more permutations and combinations can easily be made out of a theme like that of the first subject of Beethoven's fifth symphony than out of the main theme of Liszt's Tasso, or the Francesca theme in Tschaikowsky's Francesca da Rimini. Wagner, with his keen symphonic sense, gradually realized this; whereas the leit-motifs of his early works are, as a rule, fairly lengthy melodies, those of his later works are of a pregnant brevity. The reason for this change of style was that, as he came to see more and more clearly the possibilities of a symphonic development of the orchestral voice in opera, he saw also that the interweaving of themes would be at once closer and more elastic if the motifs themselves were made shorter.

This generic musical fact is the explanation of much of the formal unsatisfactoriness of the average symphonic poem. If the object of the poetic musician is to depict a character, he will need a fairly wide sweep of melodic outline. We could not, for example, suggest Hamlet or Faust in a theme so short and simple as that of the first subject of the Eroica, or the first subject of the Second Symphony of Brahms—to say nothing of the 'Fate' theme of Beethoven's Fifth. But the wide-stretching poetic theme pays for its psychological[Pg 224] suggestiveness by sacrificing, in most cases, its 'workableness.' And composers have only latterly learned how to overcome this disability by constructing the big, character-drawing theme on a sort of fishing-rod principle, with detachable parts. It takes Strauss nearly one hundred and twenty bars in which to draw the full portrait of his hero in the splendid opening section of Ein Heldenleben; but various pieces of the chief theme can be used at will later so as to suggest some transformation of mood in the hero, or some change in his circumstances. The curious falling figure in the third bar of the work, for example, that at first conveys an idea of headlong energy, afterwards becomes a roar of pain and rage (full score, pp. 118 ff, and elsewhere). Had Liszt had the imagination to hit upon such a device as this, and the technique to manipulate it, he might have given to the 'development' of his symphonic poems something of the organic life that Strauss has infused into his.

Bruckner also lacked, in the main, this knowledge of how to work upon sweeping ideas that were conceived primarily for purely expressive rather than 'developmental' purposes, and at the same time to make either the whole theme or various fragments of it plastic factors in the evolution of an organically-knit texture. If Brahms would have been none the worse for a little of that quality in Bruckner that made it impossible for him to talk unless he had something to say, Bruckner would have been all the better for a little of Brahms' gift of making the most of whatever fragment of material he was using at the moment. When Bruckner attempts 'development' in the scholastic sense, as in bars 300 ff of the first movement of the third symphony, he is almost always awkward and unconvincing. His logic—and a logic of his own he certainly had—was less formal than poetic; as one gets to know the symphonies better one is surprised to find[Pg 225] emotional continuity coming into many a passage that had previously appeared a trifle incoherent. His musical logic is just the logic of any true and spontaneous thing said simply, naturally and feelingly.

While it is true in one sense that Bruckner's methods and outlook remained the same in each of his nine published symphonies (the ninth, by the way, was left uncompleted at his death), in another sense it puts a false complexion on the truth. We do not find in him any such growth—discernible in the texture not less than in the manner—as we do from the First Symphony to the Ninth of Beethoven, or from the Rienzi to the Parsifal of Wagner. In externals, and to some extent in essentials also, Bruckner's method and manner are the same throughout his life—the wide-spun imaginative first movement, the thoughtful adagio, the wild or merry scherzo, the rather sprawling finale. But there was a real evolution of the intensive kind; and in the last three symphonies in particular everything has become enormously vertieft. In the ninth, Bruckner often attains to a Beethovenian profundity and pregnancy. His greatest fault is his inability to concentrate: his material is almost invariably excellent, but he is too prodigal with it. He is not content with two or three main ideas, that in themselves would constitute material enough for a movement; to these he needs to add episodes of all kinds, until the movement expands to a size that makes listening to it a physical strain, and renders it difficult for the mind to grasp the true proportions of it. This is generally the case with his first and last movements; not even the titanic power of conception in movements like the finale of his fifth and eighth symphonies, nor the extraordinary technical mastery they show, can quite reconcile us to their length and apparent diffuseness. His most expressive work is frequently to be found in his adagios, though there, too, his method is at times so leisurely that in spite of the fine quality of the material and the depth of feeling in the music, it is sometimes hard to maintain one's interest in it to the end. In his scherzi he is more conciliatory to the average listener. Here he is incontestably nearer to Beethoven than Brahms ever came in movements of this type. In place of the charming but rather irrelevant quasi-pastorals with which Brahms is content for the scherzi of his symphonies, Bruckner writes movements overflowing with vitality, a veritable riot of rhythmic energy. He will never be popular in the concert room; his excessive length and his frequent diffuseness are against that. But to musicians he will always be one of the most interesting figures in nineteenth-century music—a composer fertile in ideas of a noble kind, an imaginative artist with the power of evoking moods of a refined and moving poetry. And certainly there is no contrast more remarkable in the whole history of music than that between the quiet, embarrassed, unlettered recluse that was the man Bruckner, and the volcano of passion that was the musician. Undoubtedly he has the great hand, and at times he can shake the world with it as Beethoven did with his. His place is between Beethoven and Schubert: with each of his hands he holds a hand of theirs.


The third big figure among the representatives of the modern 'poetic' school is Gustav Mahler. Like the other two, he is of the 'southern wing'; like Bruckner's, his training was Viennese. Born in Kalischt (Bohemia), he went to the capital as a student in the university and the conservatory. Already at twenty he began that brilliant career as conductor which during his lifetime somewhat overshadowed his recognition as a creative artist. His first post was at Hall (Upper Austria), where he conducted a theatre orchestra; thence he went to Laibach, Olmütz, Kassel (as Vereinsdirigent); thence to Prague as conductor of the German National Theatre (1885). In 1886 he substituted for Nikisch at the Leipzig opera; two years later he became opera conductor in Budapest, 1891 in Hamburg, and 1897 returned to Vienna, first as conductor, soon after to become director of the Royal Opera, where he remained till 1907. During 1898-1900 he conducted the Philharmonic concerts as well. In 1909 he came to New York as conductor of the Philharmonic Society and remained till 1911, when failing health, perhaps aggravated by uncongenial conditions, forced him to resign. He died shortly after his return to Vienna, in the same year.

[Pg 226]


Max Reger

After a photograph from life

[Pg 227]

While still in his youth Mahler wrote an opera, 'The Argonauts,' besides songs and chamber music. A musical 'fairy play,' Rübezahl, with text by himself, the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and nine symphonies, designed on a gigantic scale, constitute the bulk of his mature works. Other songs, a choral work with orchestra (Das klagende Lied), and the 'Humoresques' for orchestra nearly complete the list.

Bruckner left the problem of modern symphonic form unsolved. Brahms partly solved it in one way, by following the classical tradition on its more 'abstract' side; Strauss has partially solved it in another way, by making the 'moments' of the musical evolution of a work tally with those of a program. Mahler, on the other hand, aimed at a course which was a sort of compromise between all the others. His nine symphonies are neither abstract music nor program music in the ordinary sense of the latter word; yet they are 'programmatic' in the broad sense that in whole and in detail they are motived more or less by definite concepts of man and his life in the world. Mahler faced more clear-sightedly and consistently than any other composer of his day the problem of the combination[Pg 228] of the vocal and the symphonic form. That this combination is full of as yet unrealized possibilities will be doubted by no one familiar with the history of music since Beethoven. In one shape or another the problem has confronted probably nine-tenths of our modern composers. Wagner found one partial solution of it in his symphonic dramas, in which the orchestra pours out an incessant flood of eloquent music, the vague emotions of which are made definite for us by the words and the stage action. The ordinary symphonic poem attempts much the same thing by means of a printed program that is intended to help the hearer to read into the generalized expression of the music a certain particular application of each emotion; we may put it either that the symphonic poem is the Wagnerian music drama without the stage and the characters, or that the Wagnerian music drama is the symphonic poem translated into visible action. But for the best part of a century the imagination of composers has been haunted by the experiment made by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony, of combining actual voices with the ordinary symphonic form; it has always been felt that instrumental music at its highest tension and utmost expression almost of necessity calls out for completion in the human cry. Words are often necessary in order at once to intensify and to elucidate the vague emotions to which alone the instruments can give expression. It was the consciousness of this that impelled Liszt to introduce the chorus at the end of his 'Dante' and 'Faust' symphonies.

To a mind like Mahler's, full of striving, of aspiration, of conscious reflection upon the world, it was even more necessary that some means should be found of giving definite direction to the indefinite sequences of emotion of instrumental music. Almost from the beginning he adopted the device of introducing a vocal element into his symphonies. In the Second, a solo[Pg 229] contralto sings, in the fourth movement, some lines from the Des Knaben Wunderhorn—'O rosebud red! Mankind lies in sorest need, in sorest pain! In heaven would I rather be!... I am from God, and back to God again will go; God in His mercy will grant me a light, will lighten me to eternal, blessed life'—while the idea of resurrection that is the theme of the music of the fifth movement is precisé by a chorus singing Klopstock's ode, 'After brief repose thou shalt arise from the dead, my dust; immortal life shall be thine.' In the fourth movement of the third symphony—the 'Nature' symphony—a contralto solo sings the moving lines, 'O Mensch, gieb Acht!' from Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra; and in the sixth movement the contralto and a female choir dialogue with each other in some verses from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Five stanzas from the same poem are set as a soprano solo in the finale of the Fourth Symphony. And in the First Symphony, though the voices are not actually used, the composer, in the first and third movements, draws upon the themes of certain of his own songs (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen). In the Eighth Symphony the intermixture of orchestra and voices is so close that the title of 'symphonic cantata' would fit the work perhaps as well as that of 'symphony with voices'; here the kernel of the music is formed by the old Latin hymn Veni, creator spiritus and some words from the final scene of the second part of Goethe's Faust.

Mahler's use of the voice in the orchestra is, as will be seen, something quite different from merely singing the 'program' of the work instead of printing it. His aim is the suggestion of symbols rather than the painting of realities. Even where, on the face of the case, it looks at first as if his object had been a realistic one, his intention was often less realistic than mystical. In the Seventh Symphony, for instance, he introduces cowbells; we have it from his own mouth that here[Pg 230] his aim was not simply a piece of pastoral painting, but the suggestion of 'the last distant greeting from earth that reaches the wanderer on the loftiest heights.' 'When I conceive a big musical painting,' he said once, 'I always come to a point at which I must bring in speech as the bearer of my musical idea. So must it have been with Beethoven when writing his Ninth Symphony, only that his epoch could not provide him with the suitable materials—for at bottom Schiller's poem is not capable of giving expression to the "unheard" that was within the composer.' In this Mahler is no doubt right; the modern composer has a wider range of poetry to draw upon for the equivalent of his musical thought.

Mahler's form is in itself a beautiful and a rational one; and, as with all other forms, the question is not so much the 'How' as the 'What' of the music. Mahler, perhaps, never fully realized the best there was in him; fine as his music often is, it as often suggests a mind that had not yet arrived at a true inner harmony. His mind was always an arena in which dim, vast dreams of music of his own struggled with impressions from other men's music that incessantly thronged his brain as they must that of every busy conductor, and with more or less vague, poetic, philosophical and humanitarian visions. He never quite succeeded in making for himself an idiom unmistakably and exclusively his own; all sorts of composers, from Beethoven and Bruckner to Johann Strauss, seem to nod to each other across his pages. As the Germans would say, his Können was not always equal to his Wollen. His feverish energy, his excitable imagination, and his lack of concentration continually drove him to the writing of works of excessive length, demanding unusually large forces; the Eighth Symphony, for example, with its large orchestra, seven soloists, boys' choir and two mixed choirs, calls for a personnel of something like[Pg 231] one thousand. Yet he could be amazingly simple and direct at times, as is shown by his lovely songs and by many a passage in the symphonies that have a folk-song flavor. His individuality as a symphonist is incontestable, and it is probable that as time goes on his reputation will increase. Alone among modern German composers he is comparable to Strauss for general vitality, ardor of conception, ambition of purpose, and pregnancy of theme.


In abstract music the biggest figure in the Germany of to-day is Max Reger (born 1873)[32]—almost the only composer of our time who has remained unaffected by the changes everywhere going on in European music, though in his Romantische Suite he coquets a little with French impressionism. His output is enormous, and almost suggests spawning rather than composition in the ordinary sense of the word. His general idiom is founded mainly on Bach, with a slight indebtedness to Brahms; for anything in the nature of program music he appears to have no sympathy. The bulk of his work consists of organ music, songs, and piano and chamber music. His facility is incredible. He speaks a harmonic and contrapuntal language of exceptional richness; but it must be said that very often his facility and the copiousness of his vocabulary tempt him to over-write his subject; sometimes the contrapuntal [Pg 232]web is woven so thickly that no music can get through. But every now and then this rather heavy-limbed genius achieves a curious limpidity and grace, and a moving tenderness. If it be undeniable that had Bach never lived a large part of Reger's music would not have been written, it is equally undeniable that some of his organ works are worthy to be signed by Bach himself.

It may be a significant fact, as well as helpful in assaying the value of modern theoretical pedagogy, that Reger, super-technician that he is, was taught composition, as Riemann's Lexikon boasts, 'entirely after the text-books and editions of H. Riemann.' 'And,' it goes on to say, 'in addition, he studied for five years under Riemann's personal direction.' Riemann, it must be borne in mind, is not a composer, but a theoretician of extraordinary capacity. How little to the liking of his master Reger's subsequent development has been may be seen from the following quotation from the same article: 'Reger evinced already in his (unpublished) first compositions a tendency to extreme complication of facture and to an overloading of the technical apparatus, so that his development ought to have been the opposite to that of Wagner, for instance, i.e. a restriction of the imagination aiming at progressive simplification. Instead of this he has allowed himself to be influenced by those currents in an opposite direction, regarding which contemporary criticism has lost all judgment. With full consciousness he heaps up daring harmonies and arbitrary feats of modulation in a manner which is positively intolerant to the listener[!]. Reger's very strong melodic gifts could not under such conditions arrive at a healthy development. Only when a definite form forces him into particular tracks (variations, fugue, chorale transcription) are his works unobjectionable; the wealth of his inventive power and his eminently polyphonic nature enable him to be sufficiently original and surprising even within[Pg 233] such bounds. On the other hand, in simple pieces of small dimensions, and in songs, his intentional avoidance of natural simplicity is actually repugnant. His continuous prodigality of the strongest means of expression soon surfeit one, and in the end this excessive richness becomes a mere stereotyped mannerism.'

No doubt the learned doctor is somewhat pedantic, but curiously enough the opinion of less conservative critics is not dissimilar. Dr. Walter Niemann refers to Reger's condensed, harmonically overladen style as a 'modern barock,' a 'degeneration of Brahmsian classicism.' 'Universally admired is Reger's astounding contrapuntal routine,' he says, 'the routine that is most evident in the (now schematic, stereotyped) construction of his fugues and double fugues; one also generally admires his enormous constructive ability (satztechnisches Können), the finished art of subtle detail which he exhibits most charmingly in his smallest forms, the Sonatinas, the Schlichte Weisen. But, leaving out all the hypocrisy of fashion, the all-too-willing, unintelligent deification of the great name, all musical cliquism and modernistic partisanship, the hearing of Reger's music either leaves us inwardly unconcerned and even bores us, or it strikes us as more or less repulsive. Details may well please us, and we are often honestly prepared to praise a delicate mood, the atmospheric coloring, the masterful construction. But, impartially, no one will ever remark that Reger's art exerts heartfelt, profound or ethical influences upon the listener.'[33]

The particular partisanship to which Niemann refers is one of the outstanding features of contemporary German musical life. Reger has enjoyed a truly extraordinary vogue in his own country. For that reason we are devoting somewhat more space to him than we otherwise should, for we do not acknowledge his [Pg 234]right to contend with Strauss for the mastery of his craft. We certainly do not share the opinion of his partisans, who have pronounced him a reincarnated Bach, the completer of Beethoven, the heir to Brahms' mantle and what not. Great as is his ability, we share Niemann's view that 'his great power lies not in invention but in transformation and after-creation' (Um und Nachschaffen). Give him a good melody and he will embroider it, metamorphose it, combine it with innumerable other elements in an erudite—we had almost said inspired—manner; give him a cast-iron form as a frame and he will fill it with the most richly colored, tumultuously crowded canvas, but the style of his broideries will be curiously similar and all too fiercely pondered, the colors of his canvas will suggest the studio instead of the open air, the figures will be abnormal, fantastic or pathetic to the point of morbidity—they will not be images of nature.

Brahms is the prevailing influence in Reger, though in manner rather than in spirit, the Bach polyphony and structure, the Liszt-Wagnerian harmonic color, and the acute German romanticism notwithstanding. As regards his symphonic and chamber works this is generally conceded and needs no further comment.

Like Brahms, by the way, Reger approached the orchestra reluctantly; sonatas for various instruments, chamber works in various combinations preceded his first orchestral essay. The Sinfonietta (op. 90), the Serenade in G major (op. 95), the Hiller Variations (op. 100), the Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy (op. 108), were presumably harbingers of a real symphony. Instead, however, there followed a Konzert im alten Stil (op. 123), a 'Romantic Suite' (op. 125) and a 'Ballet Suite' (op. 130), again showing Reger's prediliction for the antique forms; and a series of 'Tone Poems after Pictures by Böcklin' (op. 128),[34] which would indicate [Pg 235]a turn toward the impressionistic mood-painting of the ultra-modern wing of the 'poetic' school. His violin concerto, in A minor (op. 101), and the piano concerto, in F minor (op. 114), are, however, in effect symphonies with solo instrument—again following Brahms' precept, but by a hopelessly thick and involved orchestration, he precludes anything like the interesting Brahmsian dialogue or discussion between the two elements.

Of the mass of Reger's chamber music we should mention the five sonatas for violin and piano, besides four for violin alone (in the manner of J. S. Bach), in which he shows his contrapuntal skill to particular advantage; the three clarinet sonatas, notable for beautiful slow movements and characteristic Reger scherzos (which are usually either grotesque, boisterous or spookish); two trios, three string quartets, a string quintet, 'cello sonatas, two suites for piano and violin (of which the first, Im alten Stil, op. 93, is widely favored), and numerous other pieces for violin, piano, etc. Reger has essayed choral writing extensively, the Gesang der Verklärten for five-part chorus and large orchestra (op. 71), Die Nonnen (op. 112), and several series of 'Folk Songs' being but part of the output. The much-favored organ compositions, chorale fantasias, preludes and fugues and in various other forms sanctified by the great Bach, are too numerous to mention and the songs (over 200 in number) will receive notice in another chapter.

Of the minor composers who owe allegiance to the New German School of Wagner and Liszt we may name first those of the immediate circle at Weimar—Peter Cornelius, Hans von Bülow, Eduard Lassen, and Felix Draeseke. Of these Bülow and Lassen have been mentioned in Chapter I. Cornelius has already been remembered in connection with the later romantic opera as having successfully applied Wagner's principles to the lighter dramatic genre ('Barber of Bagdad'), and[Pg 236] has received further mention as a song-writer (see Vol. V, pp. 302ff). Here we may pay him a brief tribute as the composer of beautiful choruses, in which he shows the influence of the older masters of choral art. Thus Der Tod das ist die kühle Nacht recalls the gorgeous color of the Renaissance Venetians. From 1852 on, when Cornelius joined the Liszt circle, he was one of the chief standard-bearers of the New German school.

Felix Draeseke's (born 1835) association with this group must be qualified, for, though originally drawn to Weimar by his enthusiasm for Liszt, he later deserted the ranks of the New Germans and devoted himself to the cultivation of the classic forms. This reversion seems to have been in the nature of a reform, for his early essays in the freer modernistic manner are somewhat bizarre. In his harmonic and orchestral style, however, he continued to adhere to the 'New German' principles. In fact, he swung like a pendulum between the two opposite poles of modern German music. His compositions include three symphonies—G major, F major, and C minor ('Tragica')—an orchestral serenade (op. 49); two symphonic preludes, a Jubel-Overtüre; three string quartets and a number of other chamber works, a sonata and other pieces for piano, as well as a number of large choral works (a Mass, op. 60; a Requiem, op. 30; 'Song of Advent,' op. 60; a mystery, Christus, consisting of a prelude and three oratorios; cantatas, etc.); also several operas. Draeseke was a friend of Bülow. He taught at the Lausanne conservatory in 1868-69 and later at the Dresden conservatory. He is a royal Saxon professor, privy councillor, etc.

Another grand-ducal musical director at Weimar was August Klughardt (1847-1902), who wrote five symphonies, a number of overtures, orchestral suites, etc. Like Draeseke, he was influenced both by the neo-classics and the 'New Germans.' Heinrich Porges (1837-1900),[Pg 237] also distinguished as a writer and conductor; Leopold Damrosch (1832-85), who carried the Wagner-Liszt banner to America; Hans von Bronsart (b. 1828) and his wife Ingeborg, both pupils of Liszt and distinguished in piano music (the former also for an orchestral fantasy and a choral symphony, In den Alpen), should be mentioned as belonging to the same group.

There are other names of real importance in absolute music; there are Pfitzner, Thuille, Schillings, Klose and Kaskel, there are Bungert, Weingartner, Goldmark and less significant names, but since these have exercised their talents chiefly in the dramatic field we shall defer our treatment of them to the following chapter. And, finally, there is a host of followers of these, too numerous to be treated as individuals and if individually distinguished too recent to have judgment pronounced upon them. The most recent currents, too, shall have attention in the next chapter.

E. N.


[31] New ed. of Naumann's Musikgeschichte, 1913.

[32] Reger is a native of Brand, in Bavaria, the son of a school teacher, from whom he received his earliest musical training. In addition to this he received instruction from the organist Lindner in Weiden (where his father settled during Reger's infancy). After his studies under Dr. Riemann (1890-95), he taught at the Wiesbaden conservatory, and (after some years' residence in his home town and in Munich) at the Royal Academy of Munich. In 1907 he became musical director at the Leipzig University and teacher of composition in the conservatory there, and in 1908 was made 'Royal Professor.' In 1908 he resigned his university post and in the same year was given the honorary degree of doctor of philosophy by the University of Jena. Later, until 1915, he conducted the Meiningen orchestra.

[33] Walter Niemann: Die Musik seit Richard Wagner, 1914.

[34] These include Der geigende Eremit; Spiel der Wellen; Die Toteninsel and Bacchanal.

[Pg 238]


The Wagnerian after-current: Cyrill Kistler; August Bungert, Goldmark, etc.; Max Schillings, Eugen d'Albert—The successful post-Wagnerians in the lighter genre: Götz, Cornelius, and Wolf; Engelbert Humperdinck's fairy opera; Ludwig Thuille; Hans Pfitzner; the Volksoper—Richard Strauss as musical dramatist—Hugo Wolf and the modern song; other contemporary German lyricists—The younger men: Klose, Hausegger, Schönberg, Korngold.


It was only to be expected that the titanic personality of Wagner should drag a number of smaller men after it, both in his own day and later, by the sheer force of attraction of a great body for small ones. In one of his essays Matthew Arnold characterizes the test of the quality of a critic as the power 'to ascertain the master current in the literature of an epoch, and to distinguish this from all the minor currents.' This sensitiveness to master currents, however, that is so essential to criticism, is generally a source of danger to the secondary creative minds; it is apt to tempt them to follow blindly in the wake of the master spirit, instead of trying to find salvation on a road of their own. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century it was indubitably true that the master current in music was that set going by Wagner; but it was equally true that any other mariner who should venture upon that stream was pretty certain to be swamped by Wagner's backwash. So it has proved: with the sole exception of Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, no operatic work of the late nineteenth century that openly claimed kinship with Wagner has exhibited any staying[Pg 239] power, while the more durable success has been reserved for works like Cornelius' Barbier von Bagdad and Götz's Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung, that frankly recognized the impossibility of any smaller man than Wagner continuing Wagner's work.

As was inevitable, the more self-conscious of the post-Wagnerians fastened for imitation upon what they thought to be the essential Wagner, but that a later day can see was the inessential. To them Wagner was the re-creator of the world of the German saga. Posterity has learned that with Wagner, as with all great creators, the matter is of much less account than his way of dealing with the matter. It is not the body of religious and cosmological beliefs underlying the Greek drama that makes the Greek dramatists what they are to us to-day. Their very conception of the governance of the universe is a thing that we find it hard to enter into even by an effort of the historical imagination; nevertheless these men are more vital to us than many of the problem-play writers of our own epoch, simply because the emotional stuff in which they deal is of the eternal kind, and they have dealt with it along lines that are independent of the mere thought of their own age. Similarly, what is most vital for us in Wagner now is not his myths, his problems of the will, his conception of love, of redemption, of renunciation, or the verse forms into which he threw his ideas, but the depth of his passion, the truth of his portraiture, the beauty and eloquence of his speech. The real Wagner, in truth, was the Wagner that no one could hope to imitate. But the generation that grew up in his mighty shadow imagined that all it had to do was to re-exploit the mere externalities of his work. Like him, it would delve into German myths or German folk-lore for its subjects; like him, it would adopt an alliterative mode of poetic diction; like him, it would treat the less intense moments of drama in a quasi-recitative that was[Pg 240] supposed to be an intensification of the intervals and accents of ordinary speech. But all these things in themselves were merely the clothes without the man; and not one of Wagner's immediate successors showed himself big enough to wear his mantle. Many of these works written in a conspicuously Wagnerian spirit have still considerable interest for the student of musical history—the Kunihild (1848), for example, of Cyrill Kistler (1848-1907)—but not enough vitality to preserve for them a permanent place in the theatre repertory. (The same composer's Baldur's Tod, written in the 'eighties, was not performed till 1905 in Düsseldorf.) The big Homeric tetralogy of August Bungert, Odysseus Heimkehr (1896), Kirke (1898), Nausikaa (1900-01), and Odysseus Tod (1903), is an attempt to do for the Greek myths what Wagner did for the Teutonic. (The composer is said to be engaged upon a second tetralogy of the same order, bearing the general title of 'Ilias.') How seriously one section of the German musical public took these colossal plans was shown by the proposal to erect a 'Festspielhaus' on the Rhine that should be to Bungert music-drama what Bayreuth is to the Wagnerian. After a fair amount of success in the years immediately following their production, however, Bungert's operas have fallen out of the repertory. His talent is indeed lyrical rather than dramatic. Bungert was born in Mülheim (Ruhr) in 1846 and studied at the Cologne Conservatory and in Paris. He became musical director in Kreuznach (1869) and has since lived chiefly in Karlsruhe and Berlin. Besides the 'tetralogy' he wrote a comic opera, Die Studenten von Salamanka (1884), and some symphonic and chamber works. His songs (including Carmen Sylva's 'Songs of a Queen') have probably more permanent value than the rest of his work.

The opera has in fact tempted many of the German lyricists to try to exceed their powers. Hans Sommer[Pg 241] (born 1837), who has produced a number of songs of fine feeling and perspicuous workmanship, attempted a Wagnerian flight in his opera Loreley (1891), in which the treatment is a little too heavy for the subject. Like so many of his contemporaries, he frequently suffers for the sins of his librettists. Felix Draeseke (b. 1835) has hovered uncertainly between Schumannesque and Wagnerian ideals; his most successful opera is Herrat (1892).[35] Adalbert von Goldschmidt (1848-1906) aimed, as others of his kind did, at continuing the Wagner tradition not only in the musical but in the poetic line. He was his own librettist in the opera Helianthus (1884); but in the music of both this and the later opera Gaea (1889) the Wagnerian influence is obvious. Carl Goldmark (1830-1915) brought the best musical qualities of a mind that was eclectic both by heredity and environment to bear upon the very successful operas Die Königin von Saba (1875), Merlin (1886), and Das Heimchen am Herd (1896), founded on Dickens's 'Cricket on the Hearth.'

Though a native of Hungary (Keszthely, 1830), Goldmark received a thoroughly German training in Vienna, where he studied the violin with Jansa. He entered the conservatory in 1847 and, since that institution was closed the following year, he continued his studies by himself. In 1865 he aroused attention with his overture Sakuntala, which is still in the orchestral répertoire. Happily guided by an artistic instinct, he hit upon a vein which his talent especially fitted him to exploit, namely, the painting of vivid oriental color. His first opera, 'The Queen of Sheba,' produced in Vienna in 1875, following the same tendency with equal success, has preserved its popularity till to-day. The chronological order of his other operas is as follows:

[Pg 242]

Merlin (Vienna, 1886, and revised for Frankfort, 1904); 'The Cricket on the Hearth' (1896); 'The Prisoner of War' (1899); Götz von Berlichingen (1902); and 'A Winter's Tale' (1908). His symphonic works include, besides the Sakuntala overture, an orchestral suite (symphony) 'The Rustic Wedding,' a symphony in E-flat, the overtures 'Penthesilea,' 'In Spring,' 'Prometheus Bound,' 'Sappho,' and 'In Italy'; a symphonic poem 'Zrínyi' (1903), two violin concertos, a piano quintet, a string quartet, a suite for piano and violin, pianoforte and choral works.

An apt criticism of Goldmark's style is given by Eugen Schmitz in the revision of Naumann's Musikgeschichte: 'In any case, we know of no second composer of the present time who can paint the exoticism and fata morgana of the Orient and the tropics, the sultriness and the effects of a climate that arouses devouring passions, as well as the peculiarity and special nature of the inhabitants, in such characteristic and glowing tone-colors as Goldmark has succeeded in doing. Herein, however, lies not only his strength but also his weakness; for he is exclusively a musical colorist, a colorist à la Makart, who sacrifices drawing and perspective for the sake of color. Which means, translated into musical terms: a composer whose melodic invention and thematic development does not stand in a proportionate relationship to the intoxicating magic of tone-color combinations that he employs. Moreover, his coloring is already beginning to fade beside the corresponding achievements of the most modern composers of to-day.'

A number of minor talents have from time to time obtained a momentary or a local success, without in the end doing anything to sustain the hope that something really vital might be expected of them; of works of this order we may mention the Urvasi (1886), Der Evangelimann (1894), Don Quixote (1898), and Kuhreigen[Pg 243] (1911) of Wilhelm Kienzl (1857);[36] Die Versunkene Glocke and Faust of Heinrich Zöllner (1854); the Ingwelde (1894), Der Pfeifertag (1899), and Moloch (1906) of Max Schillings (born 1868); the Sakuntala (1884), Malawika (1886), Genesius (1893), and Orestes[37] (1902) of Felix Weingartner (born 1863). In these and some dozen or two of other modern Germans, composition is an act of the will rather than of the imagination. The generous eclecticism and superficial effectiveness of the Tiefland (1903) of Eugen d'Albert (born 1864) have won for it exceptional popularity.

The classification of Schillings as a 'minor talent' would probably not meet with the approval of many critics and musicians in Germany, where his influence is considerable. Schillings is one of the ramparts of the progressive musical citadel of Munich, the centre from which the Reger, Pfitzner and Thuille strands radiate. If aristocracy and nobility are the outstanding characteristics of his highly individual muse, a corresponding exclusiveness, coldness and artificiality accompany them. His perfection is that of the marble, finely chiselled, hard and polished. His music is a personal expression, but his personality is one that never experienced the depths of human suffering. Schillings was born in the Rhineland (Düren) in 1868 and finished his studies in Munich. There he became 'royal professor' in 1903 and later he went to Stuttgart as general musical director in connection with the court theatre. Besides his operas he wrote the symphonic prologue 'Œdipus' (1900), music for the 'Orestes' of Æschylus (1900) and for Goethe's 'Faust' (Part I). Of non-dramatic works there are two 'fantasies,' Meergruss [Pg 244]and Seemorgen; Ein Zwiegespräch for small orchestra, solo violin and solo 'cello, a hymn-rhapsody, Dem Verklärten (after Schiller) for mixed chorus, baritone and orchestra (op. 21, 1905), Glockenlieder for tenor and orchestra, some chamber music and about forty songs. Especially successful are his three 'melodramatic' works, i.e. music to accompany recitation, of which the setting of Wildenbruch's Hexenlied is best known.

Weingartner and d'Albert, too, are considerable figures in contemporary German music, though their records as executive artists may outlive their reputations as composers, the first being a brilliant and authoritative conductor, the latter a pianist of extraordinary calibre. Besides the operas mentioned above Weingartner has written the symphonic poems 'King Lear' and 'The Regions of the Blest,' two symphonies, three string quartets and a piano sextet (op. 20), songs and piano pieces. He has also distinguished himself as a critic and author of valuable books of a practical and æsthetic nature. D'Albert's evolution from pianist to composer was accomplished in the usual manner, by way of the piano concerto. He wrote two of them (op. 2 and 12), then a 'cello concerto (op. 20), and promptly embarked upon a symphonic career with two overtures ('Esther' and 'Hyperion') and the symphony in F. Then came chamber music, songs and various other forms. His piano arrangements of Bach's organ works are justly popular. His first opera was Der Rubin (1893), then came Ghismonda (1895), Gernot (1897), Die Abreise (1898), all of good Wagnerian extraction; then Kain and Der Improvisator (1900), showing evidences of an individual style, and, finally, Tiefland (1903), the one really successful opera of d'Albert, which seems to have become permanent in the German répertoire. Flauto solo (1905) and Tragaldabas (1907) have not made a great stir. D'Albert is of Scotch birth (Glasgow, 1864), though his father was a native of Germany.

[Pg 245]


On the whole, German opera of the more ambitious kind cannot be said to have produced much that is likely to be durable between Wagner and Strauss. The indubitable master works have been for the most part in the lighter genres—the delightful Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung (1874) of Hermann Götz (1840-1876), the Barbier von Bagdad (1858) of Peter Cornelius (1824-1874) (a gem of grace and humor), and the Hänsel und Gretel (1893) of Engelbert Humperdinck, in which the Wagnerian polyphony is applied with the happiest effect to a style that is the purest distillation of the German folk-spirit. Of Cornelius's work we have spoken elsewhere (Vol. II, pp. 380f), of Humperdinck we shall have something to say presently. Here let us dwell for a moment on Götz. His one finished opera (a second, Francesca da Rimini, he did not live to finish) has been called a 'little Meistersinger.' Whether applied with justice or not, this epithet indicates the work's spiritual relationship. Yet, Wagnerian that he is, this classification must be made with reserve. A close friend of Brahms, he was certainly influenced by that master—in a measure he combines the rich and varied texture of Brahms' chamber music with the symphonic style of the Meistersinger. Niemann points out other influences. 'He takes Jensen by the left hand, Cornelius by the right; like both of these, he is lyrist and worker in detail without a real dramatic vein and a model of the idealistic German master of an older time.' Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung was first heard in 1874 in Mannheim and achieved wide popularity. It is based on Shakespeare ('Taming of the Shrew'), and an English text was used in England. Götz was born in Königsberg and died near Zürich. He was a pupil of Köhler, Stern, Bülow and Ulrich, and was organist in Winterthur from 1867 to 1870, when failing health forced him into retirement.

Hugo Wolf's[38] Der Corregidor (1896) is, in its endless flow of melody and its sustained vitality of characterization, perhaps the nearest approach in modern music to the Meistersinger; for some reason or other, however, a work that is a pure delight in the home does not seem able to maintain itself on the stage. A second opera of Wolf's, Manuel Venegas, in which we can trace the same extraordinary simplification and clarification of style that is evident in his latest songs, remained only a fragment at his death. The successes, not less than the failures, of these and other men showed clearly that the further they got from the main Wagnerian stream the safer they were. Cornelius, though living in Wagner's immediate environment and cherishing a passionate admiration for the great man, knew well that his own salvation lay in trying to write as if Wagner had never lived. The Barbier von Bagdad was written some years before the composition of the Meistersinger had begun; if Cornelius went anywhere for a model for his own work it was to the Benvenuto Cellini of Berlioz. He knew the danger he was in during the composition of his second opera, Der Cid, and strove desperately to shut out Wagner from his mind at that time; he did not want, as he put it, simply to hatch Wagnerian eggs. If Der Cid (1865) fails, it is not because of any Wagnerian influence, but because Cornelius's genius was of too light a tissue for so big a stage subject. Nevertheless, if he does not wholly fill the dramatic frame, he comes very near doing so; it is no small dramatic gift that is shown in such passages as the Trauermarsch in the second scene of the first act and the subsequent monologue of Chimene, in Chimene's scena in the second scene of the second act, and in most of the choral writing. A third opera, Gunlöd, was orchestrated by Lassen and Hoffbauer and produced seventeen years after Cornelius's death.

[Pg 246]


Modern German Musical Dramatists:

Ludwig Thuille Hans Pfitzner
Engelbert Humperdinck Karl Goldmark

[Pg 247]

Humperdinck seems destined to go down to posterity as the composer of one work. His Hänsel und Gretel owes its incomparable charm not to the Wagnerianisms of it, which lie only on the surface, but to its expressing once for all the very soul of a certain order of German folk-song and German Kindlichkeit. His later works—Die sieben Geislein (1897), Dornröschen (1902), and the comic opera Die Heirat wider Willen (1905), though containing much beautiful music, have on the whole failed to convince the world that Humperdinck has any new chapter to add to German opera. For this his librettists must perhaps share the blame with him. Die Königskinder (1898), which was originally a melodrama, was recast as an opera in 1908 and, at least in America, was more successful. Besides these Humperdinck wrote incidental music for Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale' and 'Tempest.' Two choral ballads preceded the operas and a 'Moorish Rhapsody' (1898) was composed for the Leeds Festival. Humperdinck was born in Siegburg (Rhineland), studied at the Cologne Conservatory, also in Munich and in Italy. He taught for a time in Barcelona (Spain) and in Frankfort (Hoch Conservatory), and in 1900 became head of a master school of composition in Berlin with the title of royal professor and member of the senate of the Academy of Arts.

A worthy companion to Hänsel und Gretel is the Lobetanz (1898) of Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907). Thuille's touch is lighter than Humperdinck's. Thuille was a highly esteemed artist, especially among the Munich circle of musicians. He is the only one of the group of important composers settled there since Rheinberger's demise that may be said to have founded a 'school.' He is the heir and successor of Rheinberger and by virtue of his pedagogic talent the master of all[Pg 248] the younger South German moderns. Though Lobetanz (which was preceded by Theuerdank, 1897, and Gugeline, 1901) is the best known of his works, the chamber music of his later period has probably the most permanent value.[39] Thuille was born in Bozen (Tyrol) and died in Munich, where he was professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

Some success has been won by the Donna Anna (1895) of E. N. von Reznicek (born 1860), a showy work compact of many styles—grand opera, operetta, the early Verdi, Tannhäuser, and the Spanish 'national' idiom all jostling each other's elbows. There is little real differentiation of character; such differentiation as there is is only in musical externals—in costume rather than in psychology. In Germany a certain following is much devoted to Hans Pfitzner, whose opera Der arme Heinrich was produced in 1895, and his Die Rose vom Liebesgarten in 1901. Pfitzner is a musician of more earnestness than inspiration. He is technically well equipped, and all that he does indicates refinement and intelligence; but he lacks the imagination that fuses into new life whatever material it touches. (He has also written some fairly expressive songs and a small amount of chamber music.) Pfitzner, like Alex. Ritter, is of Russian birth, being born (of German parents) in Moscow in 1869. His father and the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt were the sources of his musical education. Since 1892 he has taught and conducted in various places (Coblentz, Mainz, Berlin, Munich). In 1908 he became municipal musical director and director of the conservatory at Strassburg. Besides the two operas he has written music for Ibsen's play, 'The Festival [Pg 249]of Solhaug' (1889), also for Kleist's Kätchen von Heilbronn (1908) and Ilse von Stach's Christelflein. An orchestral Scherzo (1888), several choral works and vocal works with orchestra complete the list of his works besides those mentioned above.

For the sake of completeness, brief mention must here be made of the German Volksoper, a comparatively unambitious genre in which much good work has been done. Among its best products in recent years are the quick-witted Versiegelt (1908) of Leo Blech (born 1871), and the Barbarina of Otto Neitzel (born 1852).


The biggest figure in modern German operatic music, as in instrumental music, is Richard Strauss. It was perhaps inevitable that this should be so. The more massive German opera after Wagner was almost bound to find what further development was possible to it in the Wagnerian semi-symphonic form; the difficulty was to find a composer capable of handling it. This form was simply the expression of a spirit that had come down to German music from Beethoven, and that had to work itself out to the full before the next great development—whatever that may prove to be—could be possible; it is the same spirit that is visible, in different but still related shapes, in the symphonic tissue of the Wagnerian orchestra, the symphonic poems of Liszt, the symphonies of Brahms, the pianoforte accompaniments of Wolf and Marx and their fellows, and the copious and vivid orchestral speech of Strauss. It is a method that is perhaps only thoroughly efficacious for composers whose heredity and environment make the further working out of the German tradition their most natural form of musical thinking. That it is not the form best suited to peoples to whom this tradition is not part of their blood and being is[Pg 250] shown by the dramatic poignancy attained by such widely different dramatic methods as those of Moussorgsky, Puccini, and Debussy. But when a race has, in the course of generations, made for itself an instrument so magnificent in its power and scope, and one so peculiarly its own, as the German quasi-symphonic form, it is the most natural thing in the world that virtually all the best of its thinking should be done by its aid. It was therefore perhaps not an accident, but the logical outcome of the whole previous development of German music, that the mind that was to dominate the German opera of our own day should be the mind that had already proved itself to be the most fertile, original, and audacious in the field of instrumental music. But it was a law for Strauss, no less than for his smaller contemporaries, that if he was to be something more than a mere nach-Wagnerianer he must do his work outside not only the ground Wagner had occupied, but outside the ground still covered by his gigantic shadow.

It was well within that shadow, however, that Strauss's first dramatic attempt was made. It is not so much that the musical style of Guntram (1892-93) is now and then reminiscent of Tannhäuser, of Lohengrin or of Parsifal, while one of the themes has actually stepped straight out of the pages of Tristan. A composer can often indicate unmistakably his musical paternity and yet give us the clear impression that he has a genuine personality and style of his own. As a matter of fact, the general style of Guntram is unquestionably Strauss, and no one else. Where the Wagnerian influence is most evident is in the mental world in which the opera is set. The story, it is true—the text, by the way, is Strauss's own—is not drawn from the world of saga; but the general conception of an order of knights, the object of whose brotherhood is to bind all humanity in bonds of love, is obviously a last watering-down[Pg 251] of that doctrine of redemption by love that played so large a part in the intellectual life of Wagner. It is possible that this peculiar mentality of Guntram was the aftermath of a breakdown in Strauss's health in 1892. The work has a high-mindedness, a spiritual fervor, an ethos that has never been particularly prominent in Strauss's work as a whole, and that has become more and more infrequent in it as he has grown older. Guntram is a convalescent's work, written in the mood of exalted idealism that convalescence so often brings with it in men of complex nature. But whatever be the physical or psychological explanation of the origin of Guntram, there is no doubt that the music lives in a finer, purer atmosphere than that of Strauss's work as a whole; and for this reason alone it will perhaps inspire respect even when its purely musical qualities may have become outmoded. The musical method of it contains in embryo all the later Strauss. The orchestral tissue has not, of course, the extraordinary exuberance of diction and of color of his subsequent operas, but the affiliation with Wagner is quite evident. There is a certain melodic angularity here and there, and a tendency to get harmonic point by mere audacious and self-conscious singularity—both defects being characteristic of a powerful and eager young brain possessed with ideals of expression that it is not yet capable of realizing. The general idiom is in the main that of Tod und Verklärung and Don Juan. It is worth noting that already in Strauss's first opera we perceive that failure to vivify all the characters equally that is so pronounced in the later works. It is one of the signs that, great as he is, he is not of the same great breed as Wagner.

By the time he came to write his second opera, Feuersnot (1900-01), Strauss had passed through all the main stages of his development as an orchestral composer; in Till Eulenspiegel, Also sprach Zarathustra, [Pg 252] Don Quixote, and Ein Heldenleben he had come to thorough consciousness of himself, and attained an extraordinary facility of technique. Under these circumstances one would have expected Feuersnot to be a rather better work than it actually is. One's early enthusiasm for it becomes dissipated somewhat in the course of years—no doubt because as we look back upon it each of its faults has to bear not only its own burden, but the burden of all the faults of the same kind that have been piled up by Strauss in his later works. The passion of the love music, for instance, has more than a touch of commonplace in it now—as of a Teutonic Leoncavallo—our eyes having been opened by Elektra and 'The Legend of Joseph' to the pit of banality that always yawns at Strauss's elbow, and into which he finds it harder and harder to keep from slipping. We see Strauss experimenting here with the dance rhythms that he has so successfully exploited in Der Rosenkavalier; but to some of these also time has given a slightly vulgar air. But a great deal of the opera still retains its charm; some portions of it are a very happy distillation from the spirit of German popular music, and the music of the children will probably never lose its freshness. On the whole, the opera is the least significant of all Strauss's work of this class. It is clear that his long association with the concert room had made an instrumental rather than a vocal composer of him; much of the writing for the voice is awkward and inexpressive.

In the Symphonia Domestica (1903) were to be distinguished the first unmistakable signs of a certain falling off in Strauss's inspiration, a certain coarsening of the thought and a tendency to be too easily satisfied with the first idea that came into his head. These symptoms have become more and more evident in all the operas that have followed this last of the big instrumental works, though it has to be admitted that Strauss[Pg 253] shows an extraordinary dexterity in covering up his weak places. Wagner's enemies, adapting an old gibe to him, used to say that his music consisted of some fine moments and some bad quarters of an hour. That was not true of Wagner, but it is becoming increasingly true of the later Strauss. For a while the quality of the really inspired moments was so superb as to more than compensate us for the disappointment of the moments that were obviously less inspired; but as time has gone on the inspired moments have become extremely rare and the others regrettably plentiful. We are probably not yet in a position to estimate justly the ultimate place of Strauss in the history of the opera. No composer has ever presented us with a problem precisely like his. The magnificent things in his work are of a kind that make us at first believe they will succeed in saving the weaker portions from the shipwreck that, on the merits of these alone, would seem to be their fate. Then, as each new work deepens the conviction that Strauss is the most sadly-flawed genius in the history of music, as he passes from banality to banality, each of them worse than any of its predecessors, we find ourselves, when we turn back to the earlier works, less disposed than before to look tolerantly on what is weakest in them. What will be the final outcome of it all—whether the halo round his head will ultimately blind us to the mud about his feet, or whether the mud will end by submerging the halo, no one can at present say. The Richard Strauss of to-day is an insoluble mystery.

Something excessive or unruly appears to be inseparable from everything he does. A consistent development is impossible for him; he oscillates violently like some sensitive electrical instrument in a storm. But, while only partisanship could blind anyone to the too palpable evidences of degeneration that his genius shows at many points, it is beyond question that in the best of his later stage works he dwarfs[Pg 254] every other composer of his day. We may like or dislike the subject of Salome, according to our temperament; how far the question of ethics ought to be allowed to determine our attitude to an art work is a point on which it is perhaps hopeless to expect agreement. For the present writer the point is one of no importance, because the whole discussion seems to him to arise out of a confusion of the distinctive spheres of life and art. A Salome in life would be a dangerous and objectionable person, but then so would an Iago; and, as no one calls Shakespeare a monster of iniquity because he has drawn Iago with zest, one can see no particular justice in calling Strauss's mind a morbid one because it has been interested in the psychology of a pervert like Salome. One is driven to the conclusion that the root of the whole outcry is to be found in the prejudice many people have against too close an analysis of the psychology of sex, especially in its more perverted manifestations. One can respect that prejudice without sharing it; but one is bound to say it unfits the victim of it for appreciation of Salome as a work of art. The opera as a whole is not a masterpiece. It lives only in virtue of its great moments; and Strauss has not been more successful here than elsewhere in breathing life into every one of his characters. Herod and Herodias have no real musical physiognomy; we could not, that is to say, visualize them from their music alone as we can visualize a Hagen, a Mime, or even a David. But Salome is characterized with extraordinary subtlety. Music is here put to psychological uses undreamt of even by Wagner. The strange thing is that, in spite of himself, the artist in Strauss has risen above the subject. Wilde's Salome is a lifeless thing, a mere figure in some stiffly-woven tapestry. Strauss pours so full a flood of emotion over her that the music leaves us a final sensation, not of cold horror but of sadness and pity.

[Pg 255]

He similarly humanizes the central character of his next opera, Elektra (1907), making of her one of the great tragic figures of the stage; and he throws an antique dignity round the gloomy figure of the fate-bearing Orestes. But, as with Salome, the opera as a whole is not a great work. It contains a good deal of merely sham music, such as that of the opening scene—music in which Strauss simply talks volubly and noisily to hide the fact that he has nothing to say; and there is much commonplace music, such as that of the outburst of Chrysothemis to Elektra, and most of that of the final duet of the pair. One is left in the end with a feeling of blank amazement that the mind that could produce such great music as that of the opening invocation of Agamemnon by Elektra, that of the entry of Orestes, and that of the recognition of brother and sister, could be so lacking in self-criticism as to place side by side with these such banalities as are to be met with elsewhere in the opera. The only conclusion the close student of Strauss could come to after Elektra was that the commonplace that was not far from some of his finest conceptions from the first was now becoming fatally easy to him.

Der Rosenkavalier (1913) confirmed this impression. Its waltzes have earned for it a world-wide popularity. They are charming enough, but there are no doubt a hundred men in Europe who could have written these. What no other living composer could have written is the music—so wise, so human—of the scene between Octavian and the Marschallin at the end of the first act, the music of the entry of the Rosenkavalier in the second act, and the great trio in the third, that can look the Meistersinger quintet in the face and not be ashamed. But again and again in the Rosenkavalier we meet with music that is the merest mechanical product of an energetic brain working without inspiration—the bulk of the music of the third act, for instance, as[Pg 256] far as the trio. And once more Strauss shows, by his quite indefinite portraiture of Faninal and Sophia, that his powers of musical characterization are limited to the leading personages of his works. Since Der Rosenkavalier the general quality of his thinking has obviously deteriorated. There are very few pages of Ariadne auf Naxos that are above the level of the ordinary German kapellmeister, while that of the mimodrama, 'The Legend of Joseph,' is the most pretentiously commonplace that Strauss has ever produced. If his career were to end now, the best epitaph we could find for him would be Bülow's remark à propos of Mendelssohn: 'He began as a genius and ended as a talent.' Strauss's ten years in the theatre have undoubtedly done him much harm; they have especially made him careless as to the quality of much of his music, knowing as he does that the excitement of the action and the general illusion of the theatre may be trusted to keep the spectator occupied. But one may perhaps venture to predict that unless he returns to the concert room for a while, and forgets there a great deal of what he has learned in the theatre, he will not easily recover the position he has latterly lost.

Less well-known names in contemporary German opera, some of which, however, are too important to be omitted, are Ignaz Brüll (1846-1907), a Viennese whose dialogue opera Das goldene Kreuz (1875) is still in the German répertoire;[40] Edmund Kretschmer (b. 1830) with Die Folkunger (1874), on a Scandinavian subject treated in the earlier Wagnerian style, and Heinrich der Löwe (1877); and Franz von Holstein (b. 1826) with Die Heideschacht, etc. Karl Reinthaler (1822-96) and Karl Grammann (1842-97) also wrote operas successful in their time, as did also Hiller,[Pg 257] Wüerst, Reinecke, Dietrich, Abert, Rheinberger, and H. Hofmann, who are mentioned elsewhere. Siegfried Wagner (b. 1869), son of the great master and a pupil of Humperdinck, should not be overlooked. His talent is unpretentious, with a decided bent for 'folkish' melody, and an excellent technical equipment. In Der Bärenhäuter (1899) he follows the fashion for fairy-opera; his four other operas (from Der Kobold to Sternengebot, 1904) lean toward the popular Spieloper, with a tinge of romanticism.

Klose's 'dramatic symphony' Ilsebill (1903) really belongs to the genus fairy-opera. While Karl von Kaskel's (b. 1860) two charming works, Die Bettlerin vom Pont des Arts and Dusle und Babell, are to be classified as Spielopern.


As in the case of most other musical genres, Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century seemed to have made the province of the song peculiarly its own. For well over a hundred years it has never been without a great lyrist. Schubert gave the German lyric wings. Schumann poured into it the full, rich flood of German romanticism in its sincerest days. Robert Franz cultivated a relatively simple song-form, the texture of which is not always as elastic as one could wish it to be; but he, too, was a man of pure and honest spirit, who sang of nothing that he had not deeply felt. Liszt first brought the song into some sort of relation with the new ideals of operatic and instrumental music associated with his name and that of Wagner; and in spite of his effusiveness of sentiment and his diffusiveness of style he produced some notable lyrics. In a song like Es war ein König in Thule, for example, a new principle of unification can be seen at work, one germinal theme being used for the construction of the whole song, which might almost be an excerpt[Pg 258] from a later Wagnerian opera. But the lyrical history of the latter half of the nineteenth century is really summed up in the achievements of two men—Brahms and Hugo Wolf.[41]

Hugo Wolf, the foremost master of modern song, was born in Windischgrätz (Lower Styria), Austria, March 13, 1860, and died in an insane asylum in Vienna, February 22, 1903, the victim of a fatal brain disease, which afflicted him during the last six years of his tragic existence. Thus his effective life was practically reduced to thirty-seven years—not much longer a span than that other great lyricist, Franz Schubert. Little can be said of this brief career, impeded as it was by untoward circumstances and jealous opposition. To these conditions Wolf opposed a heroic fortitude and a passionate devotion to his art, which he practiced with uncompromising sincerity and religious assiduity. During long periods of work he remained in seclusion, maintaining a feverish activity and shutting himself off from outside influences. From 1875 on he lived almost continually in Vienna, where he studied for a short time in the conservatory. His only considerable absence he spent as conductor in Salzburg (1881). In Vienna he taught and for some years (till 1887) wrote criticisms for the Salonblatt. These articles have recently been collected and published. They reflect the writer's high idealism; his intolerance of all artistic inferiority and mediocrity show him to have been as valiant as an upholder of standards as he was discriminating in the judgment of æsthetic values, though his attack upon Brahms placed him into a somewhat ridiculous light with a large part of the musical public.

Thus he eked out an existence; any considerable recognition as a composer he did not achieve during his [Pg 259]lifetime. None of his works was published till 1888, when his fifty-three Möricke songs (written within three months) appeared. The Eichendorff cycle (twenty songs) came next, and then the Spanisches Liederbuch (consisting of thirty-four secular and ten sacred songs), all written during 1889-90. Six songs for female voice after poems by Gottfried Keller, the Italienisches Liederbuch (forty-six poems by Paul Heyse, published in two parts) were composed during 1890-91 and in 1896 and the three poems by Michelangelo were set in 1897. Meantime there also came from his pen a hymn, Christnacht, for soli, chorus and orchestra (1891), incidental music for Ibsen's 'Festival of Solhaug' (1892), and in 1895 he wrote his Corregidor (already mentioned) within a few months. Other songs, some dating from his youth, were also published, as well as several choruses and chorus arrangements of songs. A string quartet in D minor (1879-80); a symphonic poem for full orchestra, Penthesilea (1883); and the charming 'Italian Serenade' for small orchestra (also arranged for string quartet by the composer) constitute his instrumental works—a small but choice aggregation.

Wolf was to the smaller field of the song what Wagner was to the larger field of opera. That characterization of him must not be misunderstood, as is often done, to mean that he simply took over the methods of Wagnerian musical drama—especially the principle of the leit-motif—and applied them to the song. He benefited by those methods, as virtually every modern composer has done; but he never applied them in the merely conscious and imitative way that the 'post-Wagnerians' did, for instance, in the opera. Wolf would have been a great lyrist had he been born in the eighteenth century, the sixteenth, or the twelfth; but it was his rare good fortune—the fortune that was denied to Schubert—to live in an epoch that could provide him with a lyrical instrument capable of responding to[Pg 260] every impulse of his imagination. His was a truly exceptional brain, that could probably never have come to its full fruition in any age but the one he happened to be born into. He had not only the vision of new things to be done in music, as Liszt and Berlioz and others have had before and since, but the power, which Liszt and Berlioz had not, to make for himself a vocabulary that was copious enough, and a technique that was strong and elastic enough, to permit the easy expression of everything he felt. It is another of the many points in which he resembles Wagner; with the minimum of school training in his earliest days he made for himself a technical instrument that was purely his own—one that, when he had thoroughly mastered it, never failed him, and that was capable of steady growth and infinitely delicate adaptation to the work of the moment.

He draws, as Wagner did, a line of demarcation between an old world of feeling and a new one. As Wagner peopled the stage with more types than Weber, and saw more profoundly into the psychology of characters of every kind, so Wolf enlarged the world of previous and contemporary lyrists and intensified the whole mental and emotional life of the lyrical form. Too much stress need not be laid on the mere fact that he insisted on better 'declamation' than was generally regarded as sufficient in the song—on a shaping of the melody that would permit of the just accentuation of every word and syllable. This in itself could be done, and indeed has been done, by many composers who have not thereby succeeded in persuading the world that they are of the breed of Wolf. The extraordinary thing with him was that this respect for verbal values was consistent with the unimpeded flow of an expressive vocal line and an equally expressive pianoforte tissue. The basis of his manner is the utilizing of a quasi-symphonic form for the song. He marks[Pg 261] the end of monody in the lyric as Wagner marks the end of monody in the opera. With Wagner the orchestra was not a mere accompanying instrument, a 'big guitar,' but a many-voiced protagonist in the drama itself. When the simple-minded hearer of half a century ago complained that there was no melody in Wagner, he only meant that the melody was not where he could distinguish it most easily—at the top. As a matter of fact, Wagner was giving him at least three times as much melody as the best of the Italian opera writers, for in the Meistersinger or Tristan it is not only the actors who are singing but the orchestra, and not only the orchestra as a whole but the separate instruments of it. When the average man complained that Wagner was starving him of melody, it was like a man drowning in a pond fifty feet deep crying out that there was not water enough in the neighborhood for him to wash in.

Wolf, too, fills the instrumental part of his songs with as rich a life as the vocal part. But he does even more amazing feats in the way of co-operation between the two factors than Wagner did. Independent as the piano part seemingly is, developing as if it had nothing to think of but its own symphonic course, it never distracts Wolf's attention from the vocal melody, which is handled with astonishing ease and freedom. Not only does each phase of the poem enter just where the most point can be given to it both poetically and declamatorily, without any regard for the mere four-square of the ordinary line or bar-divisions, but each significant word receives its appropriate accent, melodic rise or fall, or fleck of color. In the Die ihr schwebet um diese Palmen, for example, the expressive minor sixth of the voice part on the word Qual, seems to be there by a special dispensation of Providence. We know that the interval is one that is characteristic of the main accompaniment-figure of the song—it has appeared,[Pg 262] indeed, as early as the second bar, and has been frequently repeated since—that it is almost inevitable that now and then it should occur in the voice, and, as a matter of fact, it has already occurred more than once there—at the schwebet and Palmen of the first line, for example, and later at the first syllable of Himmel in the line Der Himmelsknabe duldet Beschwerde. Yet we know very well that it is not a musical accident, but a stroke of psychological genius, that brings just this interval in on the word Qual in the lines Ach nur im Schlaf ihm leise gesänftigt die Qual zerrinnt, the interval indeed being in essence just what it has been all along, but receiving now a new and more poignant meaning by the way it is approached. We know very well that no other song-writer but Wolf would have had the instinct to perceive, in the midst of the flow of the accompaniment to what seems its own predestined goal, the expressive psychological possibilities of that particular note at that particular moment in that particular line. His songs teem with felicities of this kind; they represent the employment of one of Wagner's most characteristic instruments for uses more subtle even than he ever dreamt of.

Yet—and the point needs insisting upon, as it is still the subject of some misunderstanding—this quick and delicate adaptation of melodic and harmonic and rhythmic values to the necessities of the poem are not the result of a mere calculated policy of 'follow the words.' The song has not been shaped simply to permit of this coincidence of verbal and musical values, nor have these been consciously worked into the general tissue of the song after this has been developed on other lines. They represent the spontaneous utterance of a mind to which all the factors of the song were present in equal proportions from the first bar to the last. Wolf made no sketches for his songs; the great majority of them were written at a single sitting; the[Pg 263] subject possessed him and made its own language.

His independence, his originality, his seminal force for the future of music, are all best shown by comparing him with Brahms. No one, of course, will question the greatness of Brahms as a lyrist. But a comparison with Wolf at once throws the former's limitations into a very strong light. Wolf was much more the man of the new time than his great contemporary. Brahms was the continuer and completer of Schumann, the last voice that the older romantic movement found for itself. By nature, training, and personal associations he was ill fitted to assimilate the new life that Wagner was pouring into the music of his day. Wolf from the first made a clean departure from both the matter and the manner of Brahms—a cleaner departure, indeed, than Wagner at first made from the romanticism of his contemporaries, for the kinship between the early Wagner and the Schumann of the songs is unmistakable. Wolf's thinking left the mental world of Brahms completely on one side; his music is free, for instance, from those touches of sugariness and of the larmoyant that can be so frequently detected even in the rugged Brahms, as in all the lyrists who took their stimulus from romanticism. Brahms' lyric types—his maidens, his students, his philosophers, his nature-lovers—are those of Germany in a particular historical phase of her art, literature, and life. With Wolf the lyric steps into a wider field. His psychological range is much broader than that of Brahms. He creates more types of character and sets them in a more varied milieu. With Brahms the same personages recur time after time in his songs, expressing themselves in much the same way. Even an unsympathetic student of Wolf would have to admit that no two of the personages he draws are the same. The characters of Brahms are mostly of the same household, with the same heredity, the same physical appearance, the same mental characteristics,[Pg 264] even the same gait. The man who lies brooding in the summer fields in Feldeinsamkeit is brother of the man who loves the maiden of Wir wandelten, and first cousin of the girl who dies to the strains of Immer leise wird mein Schlummer. They all feel deeply but a little sentimentally; they are all extremely introspective; all speak with a certain slow seriousness and move about with a certain cumbersomeness. Wolf's men and women are infinitely varied, both in the mass and in detail; that is to say, not only is his crowd made up of many diverse types, but each type—the lovers, the thinkers, the penitents, and so on—is full of an inner diversity.

Wolf surpasses Brahms again in everything that pertains to the technical handling of the songs. Without wishing to make out that Brahms was anything but the great singer he undoubtedly was, it must be said frankly that he is too content to work within a frame that he has found to be of convenient size, shape, and color, instead of letting his picture determine the frame. The quaint accusation is sometimes brought against Wolf that he is more of an instrumental writer than a singer, the pianoforte parts of his songs being self-subsistent compositions. A devil's advocate might argue with much more force that it was Brahms who, in his songs, thought primarily in terms of instrumental phrases even for his voices. It is his intentness upon the beauty of an abstract melodic line that makes him pause illogically as he does after me Königin in the first line of Wie bist du, meine Königin, thus making a bad break in the poetical sense of the words, which is not really complete until the second line is heard, the Wie bist du not referring, as many thousands of people imagine, to the Königin, but to the durch sanfte Güte wonnevoll in the next line. In other songs, such as An die Nachtigall, Brahms yields at the very beginning to the fascination of what is unquestionably in[Pg 265] itself a beautiful phrase, without regard to the fact that it will get him into difficulties both of psychology and of 'declamation' as the song goes on, owing to his applying the same kind of musical line-ending to poetical line-endings that vary in meaning each time. Wolf never makes a primitive blunder of this kind. He sees the poem as a whole before he begins to set it; if he adopts at the commencement a figure that is to run through the whole song, it is a figure that can readily be applied to each phase of it without doing psychological violence to any. If at any point its application involves a falsity, it would be temporarily discarded. Brahms, again, is almost as much addicted to clichés as Schubert, and with less excuse—the cliché of syncopation for syncopation's sake; for example, the cliché of a harmonic darkening of the second or third stanza of a poem, and so on. From limitations of this sort Wolf is free; his harmonic and rhythmic idioms are as varied as his melodic. The great variety of his songs makes it almost impossible to cite a few of them as representative of the whole.


For Wolf the song was the supreme form of expression. In the case of Strauss the song is only an overflow from the concert and operatic works. In spite of the great beauty of some of his songs, such as the Ständchen and Seitdem dein Aug, we are probably justified in saying that is not a lyrist pur sang. A large number of his songs have obviously been turned out for pot-boiling purposes. Certain undoubted successes in the smaller forms notwithstanding, it remains true that he is at his best when he has plenty of space to work in, and, above all, when he can rely on the backing of the orchestra, as in the splendid Pilgers Morgenlied, and the 'Hymnus.' As a rule, he fails to achieve[Pg 266] Wolf's happy balance between the vocal part and the accompaniment; very often his songs are simply piano pieces with a voice part added as skillfully as may be, which means sometimes not skillfully at all.

Among Max Reger's numerous songs are some of great beauty. He is sometimes rather too copious to be a thoroughly successful lyrist; both the piano and the vocal ideas are now and then in danger of being drowned in the flood of notes he pours about them. But when he has seen his picture clearly and expressed it simply and directly, his songs—the Wiegenlied and Allein, for example, to mention two of widely differing genres—are among the richest and most beautiful of our time. Mahler poured some of the very best, because the simplest and truest, of himself into such songs as the Kindertodtenlieder, the four Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Ich atmet einen linden Duft, and Mitternacht (from the four Rückert lyrics), and certain of the settings of the songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. But the list of good, and even very good, song-composers in the Germany of the latter half of the nineteenth century is almost endless; it seems, indeed, as if there were at least one good song in the blood of every modern German, just as there was at least one good lyric or sonnet in the blood of every Elizabethan poet. From Cornelius to Erich Wolff the stream has never stopped.

In virtually all these men except Erich Wolff, however, the stream has been, as with Strauss, a side branch of their main activity. It was only to be expected that the next powerful impulse after Hugo Wolf would come from a composer who, like him, gave to the songs the best of his mental energies. Joseph Marx resembles Wolf superficially in just the way that Wolf superficially resembles Wagner—in the elaboration and expressiveness of what must still be called, for convenience sake, the accompaniment to his voice parts. But, while it would be premature as yet to see in Marx another[Pg 267] Wolf, it is certain that we have in him a lyrist of considerable individuality. He has managed to utilize the Wolfian technique and the Wolfian heritage of emotion, as Wolf utilized those of Wagner, without copying them; they have become new things in his hands. He has also drawn, as Wolf did, upon quite a new range of poetic theme. He is not so keenly interested as Wolf in the outer world. Wolf, like Goethe, had the eye of a painter as well as the intuition of a poet, and his music is peculiarly rich not only in more or less avowed pictorialism, but in a sort of veiled pictorialism—a pictorialism at one remove, as it were—that conveys a subtle suggestion of the movement or color of some concrete thing without forcing the symbol for it too obtrusively upon our ear. (Excellent examples are the suggestion of gently drooping boughs and softly falling leaves in Anakreons Grab, and, in another style, the unbroken thirds from first to last of Nun wandre, Maria, so charmingly suggestive of the side-by-side journeying of Joseph and Mary.) Marx's music offers us hardly a recognizable example of this pictorialism; his most ambitious effort has been in the Regen (a German version of Verlaine's Il pleure dans mon cœur), which is one of the least successful of his lyrics. Like Wolf, he has called in a new harmonic idiom to express new poetic conceptions or new shades of old ones; but he is apt to become the slave of his own manner, which Wolf never did. His intellectual range, though not equal to that of his great predecessor, is still a fairly wide one—from the luxuriance of the splendid Barcarolle to the philosophical warmth of Der Rauch, from the bizarrerie of the Valse de Chopin to the humor of Warnung, from the earnest introspectiveness of Wie einst, Hat dich die Liebe berührt, the Japanesisches Regenlied and Ein junger Dichter to the sunny vigor of the Sommerlied.

Among the rest of the numerous composers—Humperdinck,[Pg 268] Henning von Koss, Hans Sommer (a personality of much charm and some power), Eugen d'Albert, Weingartner, Bungert, Jean Louis Nicodé (b. 1853), and others—each of whom has enriched German music with some delightful songs—a special word may be said with regard to two of them—Theodor Streicher (born 1814) and Erich W. Wolff (died 1913). Streicher follows too faithfully at times in the footprints of the poet—which is only another way of saying that the musician in him is not always strong enough to assert his rights. His work varies greatly in quality. Some of it is finely imaginative and organically shaped; the rest of it is a rather formless and expressionless series of quasi-illustrations of a poetic idea line by line. He frequently aims at the humorous, the realistic or the sententious in a way that a composer with more of the real root of music in him would see to be a mere temptation to the art to overstrain itself. But, though he is perhaps not more than half a musician—the other half being poet, prosist, moralist, or what we will—that half has produced some good songs, such as the Fonte des Amores, Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, the Lied des jungen Reiters, Maria sass am Wege, the Nachtlied des Zarathustra, and the Weinschröterlied. Erich Wolff was never more than a minor composer, but that he had the genuine lyrical gift is shown by such songs as Du bist so jung, Sieh, wo du bist ist Frühling, Einen Sommer lang, and others. He is particularly charming when, as in Fitzebue, Frisch vom Storch and Christkindleins Wiegenlied, he exploits the childlike vein that comes so easily to most Germans, and that has found its most delightful modern expression in Hänsel and Gretel.

[Pg 269]


A survey of German music at the present day leads to the conclusion that, for the moment at any rate, it has come to the end of its resources. All the great traditions have exhausted themselves. Strauss has apparently said all he has to say of value (though, of course, he may yet recover himself). Of this he himself seems uneasily conscious. His later works exhibit both a tendency to revert to a Mozartian simplicity (as in the final stages of Ariadne auf Naxos, the duet Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein in Der Rosenkavalier, and elsewhere), and here and there, as in 'The Legend of Joseph,' a desire to coquet with the exoticisms of France and the East. All these later works suggest that Strauss has partly lost faith in the German tradition, without having yet found a new faith to take its place. Max Reger is content to sit in the centre of his own web, spinning for ever the same music out of the depths of his Teutonic consciousness. In opera, in the song, in the symphony, in program music, in chamber music, Germany is apparently doing little more at present than mark time. Nevertheless there are undoubtedly germinating forces which will come to fruition before long. Perhaps the men now creating will be the instruments of the new voice, perhaps their pupils. One or two of the younger generation, at any rate, have done things that may justly claim our attention. One fact may be noticed in this connection: that the supremacy seems to have shifted definitely from the North to the South. Munich and Vienna are, indeed, the new centres, in place of Leipzig and Berlin.

Thuille's successor as teacher of composition in the Munich Academy of Tonal Art, Friedrich Klose (b. 1862), is, as a pupil of Bruckner, particularly qualified to represent the South-German branch of the New German[Pg 270] school. His single dramatic work, Ilsebill, did not succeed in establishing him among the successful post-Wagnerians. Walter Niemann[42] speaks of it as showing that his real strength lies in the direction of symphonic composition and music for the Catholic Church, and continues: 'His three-movement symphonic poem Das Leben ein Traum (1899), with organ, women's chorus, declamation and wind instruments, and in a less degree his Elfenreigen, already proved this. Through him Hector Berlioz enters modern Munich by the hand of Liszt, Wagner, and Bruckner, and particularly Berlioz the forest romanticist of the "Dance of the Sylphs" and "Queen Mab." Again and again Klose returns to church music—with the D minor Mass, the prelude and double fugue for organ, lastly, with Die Wallfahrt nach Kevlaar. * * * If his striving after new forms, the searching in other directions after the dramatic element which was denied him in the ordinary sense, savors of a strongly experimental character, his music itself is all the less problematic. It is honest through and through, warm-blooded, felt and natural.' The quiet breadth of his themes, the deep glow of his color reveals the pupil of Bruckner. His manner of development in sequences, approaching the 'endless melody,' betrays the disciple of Wagner. A Festzug for orchestra, Vidi aquam for chorus, orchestra, and organ, and an 'Elegy' for violin and piano are also among his works.

Siegmund von Hausegger (b. 1872), son of the distinguished critic and conductor Friedrich von Hausegger, though he began his creative activity in the dramatic field (with Helfrid, performed in 1893 in Graz, and Zinnober, 1888, in Munich), has earned his chief distinction with the symphonic poems Barbarossa (1902) and Wieland der Schmied (1904). In these he remains true to the Wagnerian formula, while in his [Pg 271]songs he upholds the gospel of Hugo Wolf. A youthful Dyonysische Phantasie (1899), which preceded these works, is characterized by Niemann as 'showing the line of development in the direction of a "kapellmeister music" in Strauss' style.' Since then there have come from his pen a number of fine choruses with orchestra, some for men's voices, others mixed. Hausegger was a pupil of his father, of Degner, and of Pohlig (in piano) and has achieved a high standing as conductor, first at the Graz opera, 1896-97, then of the Kaim concerts in Munich (from 1899) and the Museum concerts in Frankfort.

A new impulse may one day be given to German music by the remarkable boy, Erich Korngold (born 1897), who, while quite a child, showed an amazing mastery of harmonic expression and of general technique, and a not less amazing depth of thought. It remains to be seen whether, as he grows to manhood, he will develop a personality wholly his own (there are many signs of this already), or whether he will merely relapse into a skilled manipulator of the great traditions of his race. But it is vain to try to forecast the future of music in Germany or in any other country. Much music will continue to be written that owes whatever virtues it may possess merely to a competent exploitation of the racial heritage. Of this type a fair sample is the Deutsche Messe of Otto Taubmann (born 1859). On the other hand, something may come of the revolt against tradition that is now being led by Arnold Schönberg (b. 1874).

This composer seemed destined, in his earlier works, to carry still a stage further the great line of German music; the mind that could produce the beautiful sextet Verklärte Nacht and the splendid Gurrelieder at the age of twenty-five or so seemed certain of a harmonious development, bringing more and more of its own to build with upon the permanent German foundation.

[Pg 272]

Thanks to this complete change of manner, he has become one of the 'sensations' of modern music. And it is still an open question whether these later works have a real musical value, or whether they are only fruitless experiments with the impossible. There are many who say that this later Schönberg is a deliberate 'freak.' He found himself overwhelmed, they say, with the competition in modern music, unable to make his name known outside of Vienna among the mass of first- and second-rate talents that were flooding the concert halls; he found also a public somewhat weary with surplus music and ready to respond to novelty in any form. What more natural, then, than that he should devise works different from anything existing, and gain preëminence by the ugliness of his music when he could not by its beauty? This theory might be more tenable if Schönberg were a third-rate talent. But there can be no question of his great ability as shown in his 'early manner.' This manner, based on Wagner and Strauss, was one of great energy and complexity. It combined the resounding crash of great Wagnerian harmonies with the sensuous beauty that has always been associated with the music of Vienna. The score of the Gurrelieder is one of the most complex in existence. But the complexity does not extend to the harmonic idiom. In this Schönberg was traditional, though by no means conventional.

But there came a time in his development when he began restlessly searching for new forms of expression. This he found in a type of writing which completely rejects the old harmonic system consecrated by Bach. The composer concentrates his attention on the interweaving of the polyphonic voices, unconcerned, apparently, whether or not they 'make harmony.' Considered purely as a polyphonic writer in this manner he must be allowed to be masterly. His power of logical theme-development in a purely abstract way is second[Pg 273] only to that of Reger among the moderns. But when this mode of writing is turned to impressionistic purposes the result is far more questionable. Up to the present time the musical world has by no means decided whether or not this is 'music' at all. It is at least probable that its value lies chiefly in its experimental fruitfulness. Music since Wagner has been tending steadily toward a negation of the harmonic principles of the classics, and there was apparently needed someone who—for the sake of experiment at least—would overturn these principles altogether and see what could be developed out of a purely empirical system.

The music of the early Schönberg—the Schönberg who literally lived and starved in a Viennese cellar—is stimulating in the highest degree. The early songs[43] strike a heroic note; they sing with a declamatory melody, sometimes rising into inspired lyricism, which seems to say that Olympus is speaking. The accompaniment is invariably pregnant with energetic comment. But the Gurrelieder is the work on which Schönberg spent most of his early years. These 'songs' are in reality a long cantata for soli, chorus and orchestra. The text, taken from the Danish, tells of King Waldemar, who journeyed to Gurre and there found his bride Tove. They lived in bliss for a time, but then Tove died and Waldemar cursed God. Tove's voice called to him from the song of a bird, and he gathered his warriors together and as armed skeletons they dashed every night among the woods of Gurre, pursuing their deathly, accursed chase. Tired out with his immense labor, and despairing of ever securing production for his work, Schönberg laid aside the Gurrelieder before it was finished. Some years later, when he had begun to make a little reputation by his later compositions, his publisher urged him to finish the work, promising a public performance with all the paraphernalia[Pg 274] required by the score. This included a huge chorus and an orchestra probably larger than any other that a musician has ever demanded. The performance was given in Vienna and established Schönberg's European fame. The unity of the work is marred by the fact that the last quarter of it is written in the composer's 'second manner.' But the great portions of the Gurrelieder must certainly rank among the noblest products of modern music. The end of the first part, in which Waldemar chides God for being a bad king, in that he takes the last penny from a poor subject—this scene throbs with a Shakespearean dignity and power. Tove's funeral march and the scene in which the dead queen speaks from the song of the bird, are no less inspired. Finally, the work has a text as beautiful as any which a modern composer has found. The other great work of the early period is the sextet, Verklärte Nacht, performed in America by the Kneisel Quartet. This takes as a 'scenario' a poem by Richard Dehmel, telling how the night was 'transfigured' by the sacrifice of a husband in allowing his wife freedom in her love. The spiritual story of the poem is closely followed by the music, though there is no pretense of a close 'argument' or 'program.' The voices of the various characters are represented by the various solo instruments. Yet this is no mere program music. Judged for itself alone it proves a work of the highest beauty, one of the finest things in modern chamber music.

The 'Pelléas and Mélisande' is one of the transition works, but partakes rather of the character of the 'second manner.' The greatest work of this period, however, is the first string quartet, performed in America by the Flonzaley Quartet in the winter of 1913-14. This is 'absolute' music of the purest kind. It does not follow the sonata form, and its various movements are intermingled (split up, as it were, and shaken together), but it shows a strict cogency of structure and firm sustaining[Pg 275] of the mood. The 'second manner' is marked by a mingling, but not a fusing, of the early and later styles. In the first quartet the first fifty bars or so are in the severe later style, in which the polyphony is complexly carried out without regard to the harmonic implications. In these measures Schönberg shows his great technical skill in the interweaving of voices and the economic development of themes. The largo which comes towards the end of the work is a passage of magical beauty.

In the last period come the Kammersymphonie, the second quartet, the two sets of 'Short Piano Pieces,' the 'Five Orchestral Pieces,' and the Pierrot melodrame. The Kammersymphonie is in one movement. The music is lively and the counterpoint complex but clear. The quartet carries out consistently the absolute non-harmonic polyphony attempted in the first, but, lacking the poetical passages of the early work, it has found a stony road to recognition. Pierrot has been heard in two or three European cities and has been voted 'incomprehensible.' The 'Five Orchestral Pieces,' performed in America by the Chicago Orchestra, carry to the extreme Schönberg's unamiable impressionism. In them one seeks in vain for any unity or meaning (beauty, in the old sense, being here quite out of the question). They have, however, a certain unity in the type of materials used and developed in each, though their architecture remains a mystery. The 'Short Piano Pieces' (the earlier ones come, in point of time, in the middle period) have been much admired by the pianist Busoni, who has made a 'concert arrangement' of them, and published them with a preface of his own. Busoni claims that they have discovered new timbres of the piano, and evoke in the ear a subtle response of a sort too delicate to have been called forth by the old type of harmony. In general they are like the Orchestral Pieces in character, seeming always to seek the outré at[Pg 276] the expense of the beautiful. Many profess to find a deep and subtle beauty in these pieces. But if the empirical harmony which they cultivate has any validity it must attain that validity by empirical means. It is certain that our ears do not enjoy this music, as they are at present constituted. But it is possible that as they hear more of it they may discover in it new values not to be explained by the old principles. But this leads us into the physics of musical æsthetics, which is beyond the scope of this chapter. It should be noted, however, that one of the by-products of such a crisis as this in which Schönberg is playing such an important part, is the stimulation it gives to musical theory. If Schönberg succeeds in gaining a permanent place in music with his 'third manner,' it is certain that all our musical æsthetics hitherto must be reconstructed.

In closing our cursory review, we may admit that German music can afford to shed—may, indeed, be compelled in its own interest to shed—many of the mental characteristics and the technical processes that have made it what it is. There is an end to all things; and there comes a time in the history of an art when it is the part of wisdom to recognize that, as Nietzsche says, only where there are graves are there resurrections. The time is ripe for the next great man.

E. N.


[35] Other operas by Draeseke are Gudrun (1884) and Sigurd (fragments performed in 1867). Bertrand de Born (three acts), Fischer und Karif (one act), and Merlin were not published. Draeseke's symphonic works are more important. (See p. 236.)

[36] Wilhelm Kienzl, b. Upper Austria in 1857, studied in Graz, Prague, Leipzig, and Vienna. He visited Wagner in Bayreuth and became conductor of the opera in Amsterdam (1883), at Krefeld, at Frankfort (1889), and at the Munich Hofoper (to 1893).

[37] Orestes is a trilogy based on Æschylus and consisting of: I, Agamemnon; II, Das Totenopfer; III, Die Erinyen.

[38] For biographical details, see below (p. 258).

[39] His sextet for piano and wind instruments in B major (op. 6) in classic style, but of brilliant originality, first made his name known. In the later works he sacrificed some of the emotionalism, the lyric freshness and warmth of color of the southern lyricist for the sake of modernity. This is noticeable in his piano quintet in E-flat, op. 20; his 'cello sonata, op. 22; and his violin sonata, op. 30. There are also a 'Romantic Overture' and Traumsommernacht for orchestra, and an organ sonata.

[40] Das goldene Kreuz is a charming aftergrowth of the German comic opera of the Lortzing type with a touch of Viennese sentimentality. Others by the same composer are Der Landfriede, Bianca, Das steinerne Herz, Schach dem König, etc.

[41] The work of Brahms as a whole has been treated in another portion of this work (Vol. II, Chap. XV). It will, however, be necessary to say a few words with regard to him in this section, in order to bring the essential nature of Wolf's achievement into a clearer light.

[42] Die Musik seit Richard Wagner, 1914.

[43] See Volume V, pp. 342 ff.

[Pg 277]


The Foundations of modern French nationalism: Berlioz; the operatic masters; Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Franck, etc.; conditions favoring native art development—The pioneers of ultra-modernism: Emanuel Chabrier and Gabriel Fauré—Vincent d'Indy: his instrumental and his dramatic works—Other pupils of Franck: Ernest Chausson; Henri Duparc; Alexis de Castillon; Guy Ropartz.


Ultra-modern French music constitutes a movement whose significance it may be still too early to estimate judicially, whose causes are relatively obscure and unprophetic, but whose attainments are exceedingly concrete from the historical viewpoint aside from the æsthetic controversies involved. Emerging from a generation hampered by over-regard for convention, vacillating and tentative in technical method in almost all respects save the theatre, and too often artificial there, a renascence of French music has been assured comparable in lucidity of style and markedly racial qualities to the golden days of a Couperin or a Rameau, while fearing no contemporary rival in emotional discrimination and delicate psychological analysis, and not infrequently attaining a masterly and fundamental vigor. The French composers of to-day have virtually freed dramatic procedures from Italian traditions, and even gradually distanced the Wagnerian incubus. They have re-asserted a nationalistic spirit in music, with or without dependence on folk-song material, with a potent individuality of idiom which has not been so persistent[Pg 278] since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, French critical activity, scholarship, research, educational institutions, standards of performance have risen to a pitch of excellence formerly denied to all save the Germans.

While the roots of this attainment go back half a century and more, the flower of achievement is still so recent as to pique inquiry. It must be acknowledged that on the surface no causes are discoverable which are proportionate to the results attained, but closer examination discloses an unmistakable drift. During almost three-quarters of the nineteenth century, despite the epoch-making work of Berlioz, the efforts of French composers were centred in one or another of the forms of opera. Auber, Boieldieu, Meyerbeer and others were succeeded by Gounod, Thomas and Délibes, leading insensibly to Massenet and Bizet. Gounod's Faust (1859) and Roméo et Juliette (1867), Thomas' Mignon (1866), Délibes' ballet Coppélia (1870), Massenet's early work Don César de Bazan (1872), and Bizet's Carmen (1875), unjustly pilloried as 'Wagnerian,' were typical of the characteristic tendencies of the period.

Yet it was precisely at a time when Parisians were seemingly engrossed in the theatre, that signs of radical departure were apparent, and these may be fittingly considered the forerunners of the later standpoint. Up to nearly the middle of the nineteenth century the Concerts du Conservatoire, themselves the successors to somewhat anomalous organizations, were the only regular orchestral concerts in Paris. In 1849 Antoine Seghers reorganized the Société de Sainte Cécile, at which works by Gounod, Gouvy, and Saint-Saëns were occasionally in evidence. In 1851 Jules Pasdeloup founded the Société des Jeunes Artistes du Conservatoire, merged ten years later into the Concerts Populaires, which afforded a definite opportunity, if somewhat[Pg 279] grudgingly accorded, to young French composers. In 1855 Jules Armingaud formed a string quartet, later augmented by wind instruments, for the popularization of chamber music. He persisted against the obstacles of popular indifference, and ultimately became even fashionable. About this time also came an awakening in the study of plain-chant and the religious music of the sixteenth and preceding centuries. In 1853 Niedermeyer founded the École de Musique Religieuse, a significant institution which eventually broadened its educative scope into a fairly wide survey of musical literature. Other instrumental organizations of later date, and one particularly significant attempt at educational enfranchisement, will receive mention at the proper place. The foregoing instances serve to point out the seeming paradox of the rise of instrumental music at an apparently unpropitious time.

Without minimizing the genuine impetus given to instrumental music by the establishment of the foregoing organizations, the trend of ultra-modern French tendencies would have been dubious were it not for the preparatory foundation laid by Camille Saint-Saëns, Edouard Lalo and César Franck. Since the work of these men has already been estimated in previous chapters, it will suffice to indicate the precise nature of the influence exerted by each.

Saint-Saëns, possessing marvellous assimilative ingenuity as well as intellectual virtuosity, brought the contrapuntal manner of Bach, the forms of Beethoven, and the romanticism of Mendelssohn and Schumann into skilled combination with his own somewhat illusive and paradoxical individuality. To this he added a wayward fancy for exotic material, not treated however in its native spirit, but often in a scholastic manner that nevertheless often had a charm of its own. From the preparatory standpoint his conspicuous virtue lay in the incredible fertility with which he produced a long[Pg 280] series of chamber music works, concertos and symphonies possessing such salient qualities of invention and workmanship as to force their acknowledgment from the Parisian public. If his music at its worst is little better than sterile virtuosity in which individual conviction seems in abeyance, such works as the fifth piano concerto, third violin concerto and third symphony (to name a few only) bear a well-nigh classic stamp in balance between expression and formal mastery. Saint-Saëns, then, popularized the sonata form, in its various manifestations, by means of a judicious mixture of conventional form and Gallic piquancy, so that a hitherto indifferent public was forced to applaud spontaneously at last. If to a later generation Saint-Saëns seems over-conventional and at times sententious rather than eloquent, we must remember that in its day his music was thought subversive of true progress, and unduly Teutonic in its artistic predilections. To-day we ask why he was not more unhesitatingly subjective. But possibly that would be expecting too much of a pioneer. Any estimate of Saint-Saëns would be incomplete without mention of his effective championing of the symphonic poem at a period when it was still under suspicion. His four specimens of this type show impeccable workmanship, piquant grace, true Gallic economy in the disposition of his material. They undoubtedly paved the way for works of later composers manifesting alike greater profundity of thought and higher qualities of the imagination.

Edouard Lalo stands in sharp contrast to Saint-Saëns. He was of an impressionable, dramatic temperament, drawn spontaneously toward the exotic and the coloristic. His Spanish origin betrays itself in the vivacity of his rhythms, and the picturesque quality of his melodies. If indeed the crowning success of a career full of reverses was the opera Le Roi d'Ys (sketched 1875-6, revised 1886-7) produced in 1888[Pg 281] when the composer was sixty-five, his services to instrumental music are none the less palpable. If Saint-Saëns turns to the exotic as a refreshment from a species of intellectual ennui, with Lalo it is the result of a fundamental instinct. Lalo's ultimately characteristic vein is to be found in concertos, of lax if not incoherent form, employing Spanish, Russian and Norwegian themes, a Norwegian Rhapsody for orchestra, and scintillant suites of nationalistic dances from a ballet Namouna. He became a deliberate advocate of 'local color' treated with a veracious and not a conventional atmosphere, in which the brilliant orchestral style was more than a casual medium. His salient qualities were romantic conviction and emotional ardor, in which he provided a sincere and positive example whose influence is tangible in later composers. Herein lies his historical import.

It may seem unnecessary to refer again to the unselfish, laborious yet exalted personality of César Franck, or needless to rehearse the humble and patient obscurity of his life for almost thirty years, the gradual assembling of his devoted pupils, the unfolding of his superb later works, and their posthumous general recognition, but it is only through such reiteration that the causes of his position become manifest. For it is precisely through such vicissitudes that convictions are forged and that the composers' idiom becomes forcefully eloquent. Franck was not content with superficial assimilation of technical procedures, nor with a facile eclecticism, hence it is the moral character of the artist which has affected his disciples to a degree even overshadowing his technical instruction. Like Saint-Saëns, Franck went directly to Bach for the essence of canonic and fugal style, to Beethoven for the cardinal principles of the variation and sonata forms. But unlike Saint-Saëns he did not detach external characteristics and apply them half-heartedly; he grasped[Pg 282] the basic qualities of the music he studied, yet expressed himself freely and elastically in his own speech. He taught and practised not the letter but the spirit of style.

As regards historic import, Franck's harmonic idiom (while remotely related to that of Liszt), perfectly commensurate with his seraphic ideality, has become infiltrated more or less into the individuality of all his pupils. Less imitated but of great intrinsic significance is Franck's virtual reincarnation of the canon, chorale prelude, fugue and variation forms in terms of modern mystical expressiveness. His crowning historical feat was the fusion of hints from Beethoven (fifth and ninth symphonies), Berlioz's somewhat artificial but suggestive manipulation of themes, Liszt's plausible transformation of musical ideas for a programmistic purpose, into an independent solution of thematic unity employing a 'generative' theme to supply all or nearly all the thematic material. It may be suggested that Saint-Saëns had anticipated Franck in this respect (third symphony in C minor), but the latter had already worked out the idea in his quintet (1878-79) and there are germs of a similar treatment in his first trio (1841).[44] If Franck's pupils have adopted this idea of thematic variety based upon unity, in differing degrees of fidelity, this device remains a favorite procedure with the Franckist school, and Vincent d'Indy has employed its resources with conspicuous success.

But the secret of Franck's enduring influence does not consist solely in the genuine creative aspect of his technical mastery despite its ineffaceable example. It lies equally in the pervading morality of his æsthetic principles, and in the intrinsic message of his musical thought. In place of vivacious, piquant but often artificial and conventionalized emotion of a recognizably Gallic type, he brought to music a serenely mystical [Pg 283]Flemish (or, to be more exact, Walloon) temperament, a nature naïvely pure and lofty, a character of placid aspiration and consummate trust. His faith moved technical and expressive mountains. Through the steadfastly permeating quality of his artistic convictions he counteracted the superficial and meretricious elements in French music, and substituted the calm but radiant ideals of a gospel of beauty which he not only preached but lived in his own works. Understood only by the few almost to the hour of his death, he preceded his epoch so far in fearless self-expression that it seems almost inaccurate to characterize him as a preparatory figure. He is not only the greatest of these, a forerunner in many respects of a later period, but also a prophet to whom one wing of French composers look for their inspiration and solace.

The foregoing names are not alone in their contributory effect upon modern French composers. Among many, a few names may be selected as worthy of mention. Georges Bizet, essentially of the theatre, in his overtures Roma (1861), Patrie (1875), the suite Jeux d'Enfants (1872), a charming series of miniatures, as well as the classic suites from the incidental music to Daudet's L'Arlésienne, disclose a remarkable and specific gift for instrumental music, whose continuance was only limited by his untimely death.

Benjamin Godard, who presumably may have also died before attaining the summit of his powers, was an over-fertile composer of indisputable melodic gift and spontaneity of mood, whose most conspicuous defect was an almost total lack of critical discrimination. In consequence, few of his works have survived, and then chiefly for the practical usefulness of a few pieces for violin or piano.

Jules Massenet, even more emphatically destined for the theatre than Bizet, showed in his early works, such as the overtures Pompeia (1865), Phèdre (1873), Les[Pg 284] Erynnies (suite from incidental music to the drama by Leconte de Lisle, 1873), as well as in numerous orchestral suites and shorter pieces, an unusual instinct for concise precision of form, clarity of style, and an extraordinarily dextrous, if at times coarse, manipulation of the orchestra. But his sympathies were never with the 'advanced school,' and his influence, a considerable force despite the sneers of critics, has been exerted almost entirely in the field of opera.

As a further preliminary to the evolution of ultra-modern French music, several important manifestations of progress must be discussed. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870, an irretrievable misfortune to the French people politically, acted as a direct and far-reaching stimulus toward a nationalistic tendency in music. It led to the rejection of extra-French influences, that of Wagner among them, although the current of imitation became ultimately too strong to be resisted. It brought about a conscious striving toward individuality in technical methods and the deliberate attainment of racial traits in expression. The strength and unity of this sentiment among French musicians was strikingly exemplified in the founding as early as 1871 of the National Society of French Music by Romain Bussine and Camille Saint-Saëns. Its purpose, as indicated in the device Ars Gallica, was to provide for and encourage the performance of works by French composers, whether printed or in manuscript.[45] From the beginning the Society has striven amazingly, and it is not too much to assert that its programs constitute a literal epitome of French musical evolution and progress. Saint-Saëns, the first president of the Society, resigned owing to disagreement over a policy adopted. César Franck then acted virtually as president until his death in 1890. Since then Vincent d'Indy has been at its head.

[Pg 285]

The pioneer efforts of Pasdeloup in establishing orchestral concerts were ably continued by Édouard Colonne in connection with different organizations beginning in 1873, and by Charles Lamoureux in 1881. Colonne's great memorial was the efficient popularization of Berlioz, while Lamoureux achieved a like service, not without surmounting almost insuperable obstacles, for the music of Wagner. Both coöperated in encouraging the work of native composers, if less ardently than the National Society, still to a sufficient extent to prove to the Parisian public the existence of French music of worth. In other respects the educational achievement of both orchestras has been admirable, and both are active to-day, the Colonne concerts being directed by Gabriel Pierné, the Lamoureux concerts by Camille Chevillard.

In 1892, Charles Bordes (1863-1905) founded a choral society, Les Chanteurs de Saint Gervaise, to spread a knowledge of the choral music of Palestrina and his epoch, as well as the study of plain-chant. Four years later this society was merged into the Schola Cantorum, an école supérieure de musique, with Charles Bordes, Alexandre Guilmant and Vincent d'Indy as founders, to perpetuate the spirit and teachings of César Franck. Intended originally as an active protest against the superficial standpoint of the Conservatoire before the administration of Gabriel Fauré, the Schola aims to have the pupil pass through the entire course of musical evolution with a curriculum of exhaustive thoroughness. Aside from the practicability or the æsthetic soundness of this theory, the Schola attempts to furnish a comprehensive education that is praiseworthy in its aims. Further than this the attitude of the Schola possesses an historical import in that it embodies a deliberate reaction against the revolutionary tendencies of Debussy and Ravel, and aims to conserve the outlook of Franck.

[Pg 286]

To complete the preparatory influences bearing upon ultra-modern French music one should mention more than tentatively the palpable stimulation of the so-called 'Neo-Russian School' comprising Balakireff, Borodine, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Cui, and more particularly Moussorgsky. While these men have reacted more noticeably upon individuals rather than upon modern French composers as a group, their example has been none the less tangible. Russian sensitiveness as to orchestral timbre, their use of folk-song, their predilection for novel rhythms, exotic atmosphere, have all appealed to the receptive sensibilities of the ultra-modern French composer.


The pioneers of ultra-modern French music are Emmanuel Chabrier and Gabriel Fauré, men of strikingly dissimilar temperaments and equally remote style and achievement. Each is, however, equally significant in his own province.

Alexis-Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-94) was born at Ambert (Puy-de-Dôme) in the South of France. One can at once infer his temperament from his birthplace. For Chabrier combined seemingly irreconcilable elements: robust vigor, ardent sincerity and intense impressionability. With an inexpressible sense of humor, he possessed a delicate and distinguished poetic instinct side by side with deeply human sentiments. His early bent toward music was only permitted with the understanding that it remain an avocation. Accordingly Chabrier came to Paris to be educated at the age of fifteen, obtained his lawyer's certificate when he was twenty-one and forthwith entered the office of the Ministry of the Interior. In the meantime he had acquired astonishing skill as a pianist, studied harmony and counterpoint, made friends with many poets, painters[Pg 287] and musicians, among them Paul Verlaine, Édouard Manet, Duparc, d'Indy, Fauré and Messager. 'Considered up to then as an amateur,'[46] Chabrier surprised professional Paris with an opéra comique in three acts, L'Étoile (1877) (played throughout this country without authorization and with interpolated music by Francis Wilson as 'The Merry Monarch'), and a one-act operetta, L'Éducation manquée (1879), both of which were described as 'exceeding in musical interest the type of piece represented.'[47] A visit to Germany with Henri Duparc, where he heard Tristan und Isolde, affected his impressionable nature so deeply that he resolved to give himself entirely to music and in 1880 resigned from his position at the Ministry. (His paradoxical character was never more succinctly illustrated than by the fact that he later composed 'Humorous Quadrilles on Motives from Tristan.')[48]

In 1881 Chabrier became secretary and chorus master for the newly founded Lamoureux concerts, and helped to produce portions of Lohengrin and Tristan. During this year he composed the 'Ten Picturesque Pieces' for piano, from which he made a Suite Pastorale, in which the orchestral idiom was not always skillful. From his position in the Lamoureux orchestra he soon learned the secrets of orchestral effect from their source. In 1882 he went to Spain, notebook in hand, and in the following year burst upon the Parisian public with a brilliant rhapsody for orchestra on Spanish themes entitled España. This highly coloristic, poetic and impassioned piece at once placed him in the front rank of contemporary French composers, and remains a landmark in a new epoch for its conviction, spontaneous inspiration, rhythmic vitality and individual treatment of the orchestra. If Lalo had shown the [Pg 288]way, Chabrier at once surpassed the older musician on his own ground.

During the next few years Chabrier produced some of his most characteristic works, the 'Three Romantic Waltzes' for two pianos, one of which evoked enthusiasm from a Parisian wit for its 'exquisite bad taste,' a remarkable idyllic scena for solo, chorus and orchestra, La Sulamite, a Habañera, transcribed for piano and also for orchestra. But by far the most ambitious work of these years was a serious opera Gwendoline on a text by Catulle Mendès, produced at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels in 1886. Unfortunately the artistic success of this opera was abruptly closed by the bankruptcy of the management. But Germany received Gwendoline with marked favor, and it was performed at Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Dresden, Munich and Düsseldorf.

Gwendoline, despite some obvious defects, is a work of unusual historical import, since it constitutes the first thorough-going attempt, aside from the tentative efforts of Reyer, Bizet, Massenet and others, to incorporate the dramatic reforms of Wagner in an opera of distinctively French character. Mendès' poem on a legendary subject is frankly imitative of scenes and characters from Wagner's music dramas. Chabrier as frankly uses leading-motives, yet he does not conform slavishly to the Wagnerian symphonic treatment of them. Moreover Chabrier is under an equal obligation to Wagner in the use of the orchestra, if indeed there are many pages and scenes which are unmistakably Gallic in their delicacy of conception and in individual color effects. Indeed, there was nothing in Chabrier's previous career to presuppose such genuine dramatic gifts, such fanciful poetry or such depths of sentiment as are to be discovered in this work, even though Mendès' text is commonplace, and his drama too ill-proportioned to form the basis of a satisfactory opera. It cannot be denied that the apotheosis of the dying[Pg 289] lovers at the end of Act II is somewhat tawdry and mock heroic in the persistent use of a banal theme; on the other hand, the opening chorus of Act I, Gwendoline's ballad in the same act, the delicate sensibility of the prelude to Act II, the charming bridal music including the tender Epithalame in the same act, all go to establish the intrinsic value and the pioneer force of the work. Gwendoline is and remains a magnificent experiment, which still preserves much of its vitality intact.

Justifiably discouraged, if not overmastered, by the misfortunes attending the production of Gwendoline, Chabrier nevertheless brought out in the following year (1887) an opéra comique, Le Roi malgré lui, in which the lyric charm, vivacity and humor of the music achieved an instant success. Within a few days, however, the Opéra Comique burned to the ground. Despite this crushing blow, Chabrier continued to persist in composition. He published many songs, fantastic, grotesque and sentimental, among them the inimitable 'Villanelle of the Little Ducks,' a poignant and exquisitely lyric chorus for women's voices and orchestra, 'To Music' (1890), a rollicking Bourée fantasque (1891) for piano, one of the boldest and most paradoxical instances of his combining of humor and poetic atmosphere. In addition he was working feverishly at another opera, Briseis, which he hoped to make his masterpiece, when his health gave way. When, after appalling struggles, Chabrier had induced the Opéra to give Gwendoline late in 1893, he was too ill to realize or participate in his success and in the following year he died.

The most striking feature in Chabrier's art was his uncompromising sincerity and directness. He expressed himself in his music with undeviating fidelity, despite the shattering of conventions involved. Herein lies the intrinsic value of his music, and the potency of his example.[Pg 290] Whether his medium were a humorous song, a fantastic piano-piece, a pastoral idyl or a tragic drama, he followed his creative impulse with an outspoken daring not to be equalled since that stormy revolutionary, Berlioz. Chabrier possessed a positive genius for dance-rhythms and humorous marches which he redeemed from coarseness by surprising turns of melodic and harmonic inventiveness. Thus the choeur dansé from the second act of Le Roi malgré lui, the first of the 'Three Romantic Waltzes,' the witty Joyeuse Marche and finally España are genuinely classics, despite their lack of 'seriousness.' But Chabrier was equally epoch-making in the sincerity and glamour with which he painted lyric moods of poetic intensity and extremely personal sentiment. Gwendoline's ballad, the bridal music and Epithalame from the same opera, La Sulamite and À la Musique display an astonishing variety in scope of sentiment for the robust and almost over-exuberant composer of España and the Bourée fantasque. In sensuous and poignant imaginativeness again, Chabrier is the forerunner to a considerable extent of the later group whose essential purpose was truthfulness of atmosphere. While as a dramatic composer Chabrier followed deliberately in the footsteps of Wagner, his own expressive individuality maintained itself as persistently as could be expected from the force of the spell to which it was subjected. Also, Chabrier was in this respect but one of many, and not until the fusion of Wagnerian method and French individuality had been tried out, could the native composer at last enfranchise himself. Harmonically, Chabrier was bold and defiant in a generation which was submissive to convention. With an idiom essentially his own, he foreshadowed many so-called innovations in sequences of seventh chords, the use of ninths, startling modulations, and even a preparing of the whole-tone scale. In short, Chabrier's legacy to French music was that[Pg 291] of a self-confident personality, daring to express himself with total unreserve in an assimilative age which deferred to public taste and superficialities of style.

Between Chabrier and Gabriel Fauré there can be no comparison, and no parallel save that both have exerted a constructive influence on modern French music. Where Chabrier was high-spirited almost to boisterousness, Fauré is suave, urbane, polished, a man of society who nevertheless preserves curiously poetic and mystical instincts. Born in 1845 at Pamiers, in that district known as the Midi, he is of the reflective rather than the spontaneous type. Meeting with a relatively slight opposition from his father in cultivating his early manifested gift for music, he came to Paris when only nine years of age and studied for eleven years at Niedermeyer's École de Musique Religieuse. He studied first with Pierre Dietsch, who is remembered chiefly for his purchase of Wagner's text to 'The Flying Dutchman' and for the inconspicuous success of his music, then with Saint-Saëns, who drilled him thoroughly in Bach and the German romanticists. After four years' incongenial work at Rennes, as organist and teacher (in the latter capacity watchful mothers were loath to confide their daughters' education to the attractive youth), he served in the Franco-Prussian war. Then, returning to Paris, he occupied various positions in Parisian churches before settling finally at the Madeleine. From 1877 to 1889 he made several trips to Germany to see Liszt and to hear Wagner's music. During these journeys he won glowing comments from such diverse personalities as von Bülow, César Cui and Tschaikowsky. In 1896 he became teacher of composition at the Paris Conservatory; in 1905 he became director, and still holds this position. He has thoroughly reorganized the Conservatory, enlarged the scope of its curriculum, especially as regards composition, and has accomplished significant results as a teacher.

[Pg 292]

Fauré has not been equally successful in every field of composition. His development has been inward. He is first and foremost a composer of songs, and his attainment in this direction alone would maintain his position. He has been a fertile writer of piano pieces. Many of them are disfigured by a light salon style; a considerable number, however, are of intrinsically poetic expression. Despite respectable achievements in chamber music (he has been awarded prizes), the quintet for piano and strings op. 89 (1906) is the one outstanding work which is conspicuous in modern French music, although the early violin sonata, op. 13 (1876), had its day of popularity. He has written some agreeable choral music, of which the cantata 'The Birth of Venus' is notable if unequal. There is noble music in the Requiem op. 48 (1887) and the final number In Paradisum is an exceptionally fine instance of mystical expression. Fauré's orchestral music is relatively insignificant, and his incidental music to various dramas has not left a permanent mark, save for the thoroughly charming suite arranged from the music to Pelléas et Mélisande op. 80 (1898). Not until the performance of Pénélope (1913) at Monte Carlo and Paris has Fauré accomplished a successful opera.

In song-writing, however, Fauré has achieved a remarkable distinction not exceeded by any of his countrymen. Some of the early songs dating from the years spent at Rennes, as Le Papillon et la Fleur and Mai, suggest naturally enough the influence of Saint-Saëns. Others in the first volume, Sérénade Toscane, Après un rêve, and Sylvie, show clearly a growing independence, while Lydia in its delicate archaism foreshadows Fauré's later achievements in this style. From 1880 onwards, Fauré at once launches into his own subtle and fascinating vein. If some of the songs in a second volume suggest the salon as do many of the piano pieces, they have a peculiar elegance of mood and a[Pg 293] finesse of workmanship which elevate them above any hint of vulgarity. Such are the songs Nell, Rencontre and Chanson d'Amour. But there are many songs in the same volume which bespeak eloquently Fauré's higher gifts for lyrical interpretation and imaginative delineation of mood. Among these the most salient are Le Secret (1882), remarkable for its intimate sentiment, En Prière, delicately mystical though slightly sentimental, Nocturne (1886), which is original in its harmonic idiom; Clair de Lune (1887), adroitly suggestive of Verlaines' Watteauesque text; Les Berceaux (1882), expansive in its human emotion; and Les Roses d'Ispahan, replete with an impassioned exoticism. In a third volume are two songs which show Fauré's individuality in a significantly broader scope. These are Au cimitière (1889), a profound elegy, typical of the outspoken lamentation of the Latin temperament, and Prison, in which the tragic emotion is heightened by an intensely declamatory style. Fauré has published other sets of songs, among them La Bonne Chanson (1891-92), texts by Verlaine, and La Chanson d'Ève (1907-10), texts by Charles Van Lerbergle, which contain many striking specimens of his delicate lyricism, but none more significant, except possibly from the virtue of added maturity, than those already mentioned. As a whole, the imaginative and expressive traits of Fauré's songs are partially due to his unerring instinct in the choice of texts by the most distinguished French poets, including Leconte de Lisle, Villiers de Lisle-Adam, Paul Verlaine, Jean Richepin, Sully-Prudhomme, Armand Silvestre, Charles Grandmougin, Charles Baudelaire and others.

It is not too much to say that Fauré has vitalized the song as no French composer had done hitherto, and that his influence has been paramount among his younger contemporaries despite divergences of individuality. Furthermore, weighing the differences of race and temperament, they can be successfully compared[Pg 294] with the German romanticists. If they do not scale the same heights, sound the same depths, or approach the artless simplicity of German lyricism, their poetry is far more subtle, imaginative and varied in its infinite differentiation of mood. In these songs are the manifestations of suave elegance, individual perfume, sometimes sensuous, sometimes mystical, a singularly poetic essence expressed in music that delights alike by its refined workmanship, melodic and harmonic ingenuity. In his songs, Fauré is at once transitory and definitive; he begins experimentally, but soon attains ultra-modern significance.

Pénélope, text by Réné Fauchois, is a lyric drama presenting the legend of Ulysses' return with a few unessential variants. It does not attempt therefore a drama of large outlines, but is content to remain within the scope prescribed by its frame. Fauré also has wisely followed within similar lines as being the more compatible with his lyric talent. Nevertheless we find in many episodes the distinguished invention which marks his songs, a style which if somewhat too restrained is nevertheless adequate. The first act contains many passages of lyrical and emotional charm, but not until the climax of the third act (the slaying of the suitors) does Fauré arrive at genuine intensity. If Pénélope cannot be classed with Pelléas et Mélisande or Louise, if it does not convince one that Fauré is a born dramatist, it contains too much that is poignantly beautiful to be dismissed hastily. Furthermore it possesses distinct historical import as owing virtually nothing to the thralldom of Wagnerism. From this standpoint it marks a conscious path of effort which has engaged French composers for thirty years or so.

If some critical attention should rightfully be given Fauré's Elegy for violoncello and piano op. 24 (1883), the quintet, one of his noblest and most individual works, the Requiem, the incidental music to Pelléas et[Pg 295] Mélisande, these omissions are purposely made to concentrate appreciation on Fauré as a song writer. If he is a significant figure among French musicians of to-day on the intrinsic merits of his creative fancy, he deserves none the less to be recorded as an important innovator from the technical standpoint. He has adapted, either literally or freely, modal harmony to lyrical or dramatic suggestion. If Saint-Saëns had already done this in his third symphony (finale), Fauré has employed this medium with greater fluidity and poetic connotation. Moreover this device has been partially imitated by Debussy. In his use of secondary sevenths in conventional sequence, the use of altered chords suggesting the whole-tone scale, of ninths, elevenths and thirteenths, he has gone beyond Chabrier, and furnished many a hint to later composers. He is also original and evolutionary in his ingeniously transitory modulations, adding a spice of surprise to his music. A conspicuous defect, on the other hand, is his abuse of the sequence, melodic or harmonic, a shortcoming which has been transmitted in some degree to his pupil, Maurice Ravel. But after all critical cavilling and analysis of his harmonic originality his enduring charm and sincerity of sentiment defy analysis or reconstruction.


If the pupils of César Franck are regarded to-day as constituting a definitely reactionary wing in French music, they had in their youth to contend with bitter and outspoken criticism for their propagation of dangerously 'modern' tendencies. On the one hand, they were under suspicion for their uncompromising fidelity to their master's technical and æsthetic tenets, on the other they were abused for their eager receptivity to Wagnerian principles in dramatic reform and use of[Pg 296] the orchestra. In addition, they had to justify the innovating features (both harmonically and melodically) of their own definite individualities.

To-day we can look back at the struggle and see that in reality they were contending for principles essentially moderate and even classical in drift, especially when viewed in the light of more revolutionary younger contemporaries. We realize that in the main the influence of Wagner was enormously salutary, even if it postponed considerably the final achievement of a positively nationalistic dramatic idiom. The lesson of an opera which should genuinely unite music and drama, of an orchestral style at once of greater scope and of finesse in illustrative detail, was sadly needed. Moreover it became at last an honor to have been a pupil of Franck, and many claimed this distinction who were not genuine disciples in reality. In addition there were some, like Augusta Holmès, who studied under Franck but who were never materially influenced by him, just as there were others like Paul Dukas who showed the imprint of Franck's methods without actually having been his pupil. Vincent d'Indy thus enumerates the real pupils of Franck: Camille Bênoit, Pierre de Bréville, Albert Cahen, Charles Bordes, Alexis de Castillon, Ernest Chausson, Arthur Coquard, Henri Duparc, Augusta Holmès, Vincent d'Indy, Henri Kinkelmann, Guillaume Lekeu, Guy Ropartz, Louis de Serres, Gaston Vallin and Paul de Wailly. Of these de Castillon, Chausson, Duparc, d'Indy, Lekeu and Ropartz may be considered as representative, and d'Indy by virtue of the totality of his activity is entitled to first consideration.

Vincent d'Indy, born at Paris, March 27, 1851, of a family of ancient nobility coming from Ardèche in the Cévennes, has steadily maintained an attitude of intellectual aristocracy toward his art, although like his master Franck he has labored most democratically for[Pg 297] the advancement of musical education.[49] Left motherless when an infant, d'Indy was brought up by his grandmother, Mme. Théodore d'Indy, of whom he likes to record that she had 'known Grétry and Monsigny, and shown a keen appreciation of Beethoven in 1825.'[50] It was owing to her that d'Indy came early in contact with the music of Bach and Beethoven. Piano lessons under Diemer occupied him from the age of ten onwards, and after 1865 he studied piano and harmony at the Paris Conservatoire with Marmontel and Lavignac. But d'Indy was also genuinely interested in composition, and by 1870 he finished and published some piano pieces, a short work for baritone and chorus, and projected others of varying dimensions. When the Franco-Prussian war broke out, d'Indy enlisted and served throughout. After the war he took up the study of law in a half-hearted manner, but his introduction by Henri Duparc to César Franck in 1872 settled his musical career definitely. While Franck criticized severely the piano quartet that d'Indy brought him, he was quick to perceive the latent qualities of the young composer. Forthwith d'Indy studied the organ with Franck at the Conservatoire, but recognizing the inadequate opportunity of obtaining any technical drill in composition at this institution, he became Franck's private pupil. With him he worked faithfully and pertinaciously, and received not only an exhaustive technical grounding, but an illuminating æsthetic comradeship rich in comprehensive discussions of art-principles. D'Indy soon joined the Société Nationale de Musique Française and became an energetic worker in its behalf, being secretary for nearly ten years and becoming president after the death of Franck in 1890. Under his leadership the Society has wonderfully extended its activity. In 1873 he spent a fruitful month with Liszt at Weimar; in 1876 he heard a performance of 'The Ring of the Nibelungs' at Bayreuth, and in 1881 he heard 'Parsifal.' From 1873 to 1878 he was kettle-drummer and chorus-master in Colonne's orchestra, and in 1887 chorus-master for Lamoureux, both exceedingly valuable practical experiences. In 1885 the city of Paris awarded d'Indy the first prize for his choral work Le Chant de la Cloche, whose reception in the following year placed him in the front rank of French composers. In 1896 d'Indy with Charles Bordes and Alexandre Guilmant founded the Schola Cantorum as an école supérieure de musique,[51] to perpetuate the spirit and practical essence of Franck's teachings, to restore the study of plain-chant and the music of the Palestrinian epoch to its proper dignity, and to include in its curriculum masterpieces from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. With the death of Bordes in 1909 (compelled by reason of ill health to live in the south of France, where he founded a branch of the Schola at Montpellier in 1905) and of Guilmant in 1911, d'Indy became sole director of the Schola. In this position he has been prodigal of thought and strength.

To comprehend the nature of d'Indy's evolution, it is essential to detail some of the more significant influences reacting upon him. Brought up in a cultivated milieu, d'Indy absorbed Goethe, Schiller, Herder and Lessing, while not a few of his works are founded on their writings. The German romantic musicians, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Weber, affected him fairly acutely for a while, but in a transitory fashion. While the spell exercised by Franck on d'Indy is both deep and permanent, it could not prevent his instant recognition of the import of Wagner's dramatic procedures, including the magical euphony of his orchestration. While there remains of this 'Wagnerianism' only the normal residue that comes with the acceptance of a great historical figure, d'Indy's music continued to show in method or suggestion his admiration and close study of Wagner. That this is no longer the case is due partly to the natural ripening of individuality consequent upon maturity, and also to the Schola. With the profound study of liturgic music and the literature of the sixteenth century, d'Indy has reverted to ecclesiastic counterpoint as a logical foundation for technique despite his adaptation of its principles to a free and modernistic expression. Moreover, he has used plain-chant melodies to an increasing extent in instrumental or dramatic works. Thus his music has taken on a spiritual and humanitarian character, analogous in inward motive if markedly different in outward sentiment from that of his master.

[Pg 298]


Modern French Composers:

Emanuel Chabrier Vincent d'Indy
Maurice Ravel Gustave Charpentier

[Pg 299]

Apart from a relatively small amount of miscellaneous works for chorus, piano, etc., the greater portion of d'Indy's productivity can be divided into two general classes, instrumental (orchestral or chamber music) and dramatic (choral works or operas). Moreover he turns (seemingly with deliberate purpose) from one pole to another of the musical field. If the examination of d'Indy's chief works in chronological order would give the best clue to his evolutionary progress, the consideration of each type by itself has perhaps greater clarity.

D'Indy's earliest published instrumental music, the piano quartet op. 7 (1878-88) and the symphonic ballad La Forêt enchantée after Uhland (1878), show him to be too concerned in mastering the technique of his art to be preoccupied as to individuality. Of this the quartet contains more, although not of an assertive order, together with a sedulous attention to detail. La Forêt enchantée is well planned and effectively carried out in[Pg 300] a spontaneous adolescent manner, with distinct Teutonic reflections in the general atmosphere. This is all changed with the 'Wallenstein Trilogy' (1873-81), three symphonic poems after Schiller's drama. The subject has struck fire in d'Indy's imagination. Le Camp de Wallenstein is a kaleidoscope of passing scenes hit off with apt characterization, dramatic touches and no little orchestral brilliancy. Max et Thecla (the earliest of d'Indy's orchestral works), performed as Ouverture des Piccolomini in 1874, remodelled to form the second part of the trilogy, contains all too obvious traces of ineptitude, side by side with pages of genuine romantic sensibility. La Mort de Wallenstein is musically the strongest of the three, and the ablest in technical and expressive mastery, despite echoes of the Tarnhelm motif in the introduction and the palpably Franckian canonic treatment of the chief theme. In inventiveness, dramatic force and markedly skillful orchestration, the trilogy is prophetic of later attainments.

The Poème des Montagnes op. 15 (1881) for piano deserves mention because it is one of a number of works concerned with aspects of nature, a source of evocatory stimulus upon d'Indy in a number of instances. There are romantic qualities of some grandeur in these pieces, as well as dramatic vitality in one idea which d'Indy appropriately used in a later work,[52] but as a whole they do not rank with his best music. If a poetic mood is apparent in Saugefleurie op. 21 (1884) and a vein of piquant fancy is to be found in the suite op. 24 for trumpet, flutes and strings, both are not unjustly to be ranked chiefly as steps leading to works of larger significance.

After Le Chant de la Cloche, whose performance brought instant recognition to d'Indy, the 'Symphony on a Mountain Air' op. 25 (1886) for piano and orchestra[Pg 301] is the first instance of d'Indy's deliberate resolve to follow in the footsteps of Franck as regards formal and thematic treatment. The basis of the work is a true folk-song[53] which furnishes through rhythmic and melodic modification the principal themes of the symphony. Here we find more assertive individuality than in any instrumental work since the Wallenstein trilogy, a genuine capacity for logical developments, thoughtful sentiment in the slow movement, and great animation in the vivid Kermesse which forms the finale. Similarly the trio op. 29 (1887) for clarinet, violoncello and piano adopts the Franckian method while permitting an equal freedom of personal idiom. Again passing over minor works for the piano, a few choral or vocal pieces which have a contributory rather than a capital import, and leaving momentarily the opera Fervaal, d'Indy's next striking contribution to instrumental music is the set of symphonic variations Istar, op. 42 (1896). The program of the work, taken from the Epic of Izdubar, is concerned with the descent of Istar into the Assyrian abode of the dead to rescue her lover, leaving a garment or ornament with the guardian of each of seven gates, until naked she has fulfilled the test and restores her lover. Accordingly d'Indy has adroitly reversed the variations from the complex to the simple, to describe the gradual spoliation of the heroine, until the theme at last emerges in a triumphal unison depicting the nudity of Istar. The variations are in themselves of great ingenuity, of picturesque detail and gorgeous orchestral color, but the descriptive purpose is somewhat marred by the artificialities of technical manipulation. Heard as absolute music, the intrinsic qualities of the piece delight the listener and its uncompromising individuality shows the progressive maturity of the composer.

In a second string quartet, op. 45 (1897), d'Indy's inventive[Pg 302] fertility in evolving not only the chief themes but accompaniment figures from a motto of four notes, gives further evidence of his skill along the lines suggested by Franck. Certain episodes and even entire movements give cause for suspicion that the composer was drawn to the realization of technical problems rather than that of concrete expression. The contrapuntal texture of the quartet undoubtedly proceeds from a source anterior to Franck, that of the counterpoint of the sixteenth century to which d'Indy has reverted more and more since his connection with the Schola. But it is combined with a superstructure of personal and modernistic expression upon classical and Franckian models in such a way as to achieve a notable beauty. If the Chanson et Danses, op. 50 (1898), for wind instruments, is laid out in small forms, its singular purity of style and its spontaneous mastery of a difficult medium make it of greater weight than its scope would indicate.

D'Indy's instrumental masterpiece, the Symphony in B-flat, op. 57 (1902-3), easily marks the summit of his achievement in this field. If, from a technical standpoint, it surpasses anything hitherto attained by its composer in logic and elasticity of form, subtle and compelling development of themes from its generative phrases, clarity of style despite its external complexity, its creative inventiveness, richness of detail, profundity of sentiment and genial orchestration are of equal magnitude. With the climax of the finale, a chorale derived from a theme in the introduction to the first movement, d'Indy attains a comprehensive sublimity that is not only unique in modern French music, but which is difficult to find surpassed in the contemporary symphonic literature of any nation. While the piano and violin sonata, op. 59 (1903-4), by reason of its smaller dimensions, can scarcely be compared with the symphony, the diversity and elasticity of its thematic[Pg 303] development (on three generative phrases) as well as the concrete beauty of its substance make it one of the most distinguished examples of its class since that by César Franck.

Jour d'été à la montagne, op. 61 (1905), three movements for orchestra, with an underlying thematic unification of introduction and conclusion, after prose poems by Roger de Pampelonne, displays a balance of greater homogeneity between constructive and descriptive elements than any of d'Indy's programmistic works. The use of plain-chant themes in the movement Jour,[54] with the subtitle Après-midi sous les pins, and again in Soir, manifests not only a felicitous emotional connotation, but an increasing desire to correlate even the music of externals to spiritual sources.

The poem Souvenirs for orchestra, op. 62 (1906), an elegy on the death of his wife, is not only profoundly elegiac in sentiment, but attains an unusual poignancy through the quotation of the theme of the Beloved from the earlier Poème des Montagnes. Both in Jour d'été à la montagne and in Souvenirs d'Indy employs orchestral effects ranging from delicate subtlety to extreme force in a manner so entirely his own as to dispel forever the question of imitative features.

D'Indy's latest instrumental work, a piano sonata, op. 63 (1907), is more happy in its formal constructive unity than in a euphonious or natively idiomatic piano style. Its variations are hardly convincing music despite their technical skill; the scherzo has brilliant pages but too much of its thematic material is indifferent. The finale suffers for the same reason up to the climax and close, where the theme of the variations (first movement) and that of the finale are brought together with consummate contrapuntal perception.

To summarize, d'Indy as an instrumental composer has with sure and increasing power fused the methods [Pg 304]of Franck, with early contrapuntal elements, and his own individualistic sentiment into music which presents the strongest achievement in this direction since that of his master. If d'Indy is sometimes dry or over-complex, his best works show a blending of the intellectual with the emotional which constitutes a persuasive bid for their durability. From a conservative standpoint it is impossible to imagine an abler unification of elements that tend to be disparate or antagonistic. As a master of the orchestra he can still hold his own against ultra-modern developments although he is relatively conservative in the forces he employs. If his piano music, including the Helvetia Waltzes (1882), the Schumanniana (1887), the Tableaux de Voyage (1889) and other pieces are, by comparison with others of his works, insignificant, the cantata Sainte Marie-Magdelène (1885), the chorus for women's voices Sur la Mer (1888), the imaginative song Lied Maritime (1896) are conspicuous instances in a somewhat neglected field.

D'Indy's development as a dramatic composer follows a natural path of evolution. Despite the success of the 'Wallenstein Trilogy,' the largeness of conception and the pregnant details of Le Chant de la Cloche op. 18 (1879-83), for solos, chorus and orchestra, text by the composer after Schiller's poem, although preceded by the dramatic experiments of La Chevauchée du Cid, op. 11 (1879), scene for baritone, chorus and orchestra; Clair de Lune, op. 13 (1872-81), dramatic study for soprano and orchestra, and Attendez-moi sous l'orme, op. 14 (1882), opéra comique in one act, came as a complete surprise. Even if d'Indy had obviously applied Wagner's dramatic procedures, with modifications, to a choral work, the variety and power of expression, the firm treatment of the whole, and the superb use of a large orchestra astounded musicians and public alike. If the influence of both Franck and Wagner could be discerned in the scenes of 'Baptism' and 'Love,' the assertive[Pg 305] personality evident in the scenes 'Vision' and 'Conflagration' was entirely original, and the dramatic strokes in 'Death,' especially the telling use of portions of the Catholic service for the dead in vigorous modal harmonization, bespoke a composer of tragic intensity of imagination.

Another surprise came several years later, in 1897, when Fervaal, op. 40 (1889-95), an opera in three acts, text by the composer, had its première at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. For a time the numerous and comprehensive Wagnerian obligations obscured the real qualities of the work, and prevented a judicial opinion. Resemblances were too many; a legendary subject, a hero who combined characteristics of Siegfried and Parsifal, a heroine partly compounded of Brünnhilde and Kundry, the renunciation of love as in the 'Ring' and many others. D'Indy furthermore boldly adopted the systematic use of leading-motives, and system of orchestration frankly modelled on Wagner. But though Fervaal was assimilative in underlying treatment, it was far less experimental than Chabrier's Gwendoline. It greatly surpassed the older work not only in thorough absorption of technical method, in continuity and flexibility of style, but in appropriate dramatic characterization, and in adroit manipulation of the orchestral forces. Furthermore, in the essence of the subject dealing with the passing of Pagan mythology, with redemption through suffering, and the outcome a new religious faith whose key-note was the love of humanity, d'Indy achieved a dramatic elevation whose moral force indicated an innovation in French operatic subjects. Its source was ultimately Teutonic, but its realization was concretely Gallic. Despite the manifest obligations, Fervaal not only shows a technical and dramatic skill of a high order, but a tragic note of distinctive individuality. The symbolic use of the ancient hymn Pange Lingua as typifying the Christian[Pg 306] religion was not only a genuine dramatic inspiration but a salient instance of effective connotation. With the revival in 1912 at the Paris Opéra, when Wagnerianism was no longer an issue,[55] the intrinsic qualities of Fervaal were appreciated more on their own merits. The incidental music to Catulle Mendès' drama Medée, op. 47 (1898), showed afresh d'Indy's ability in dramatic characterization, as well as his faculty for realizing noble and tragic conceptions.

With the opera L'Étranger, op. 53 (1898-1901), d'Indy made a notable progress in dramatic independence at the cost of unequal musical invention. In the drama (text again by d'Indy) is to be found a conflict between the realistic and the symbolical which was confusing and prejudicial to the success of the opera. In addition the symbolism was not always intelligible or convincing. If there were moral nobility in the drama in the personality of the unselfish Stranger whose devotion to humanity was misunderstood or sneered at until he gave his life in an attempt to relieve ship-wrecked sailors, many of the scenes were somewhat obscure in import. D'Indy also resorted to musical symbolism in the use of a liturgic melody from the office of Holy Thursday, with the text Ubi caritas et amor, ibi Deus est as a thematic basis for the entire work. While this induces an atmosphere of indubitable spiritual and moral elevation in the opera, there are many scenes, especially in the first act, in which d'Indy's dramatic perceptions seem to have deserted him. At the end of the first act, and in the final scene more especially, d'Indy has written music of unparalleled dramatic intensity. In his orchestral style he has virtually renounced Wagner, and its personal eloquence is exceedingly powerful.

[Pg 307]

The evolution of d'Indy as a dramatic composer forms an epitome of the development of French music along dramatic lines. First slightly irresolute, then acknowledging almost too sweepingly the glamour and originality of Wagner, a nationalistic sentiment has led to the repudiation of his potent influence, and the gradual attainment of dramatic freedom. In a movement whose most characteristic works are Gwendoline, Esclarmonde, Fervaal, and L'Étranger we are compelled to pause at the moment of genuine transition, and defer the completion of this list until later. Report has it that d'Indy has finished the composition of another dramatic work, La Légende de Saint-Christophe (1907-14), which should prove the strongest instance of his unification of the dramatic and spiritual. D'Indy's art has tended more and more to concern itself with religious life and sentiment, and in his unselfish character he is peculiarly qualified to treat such subjects.

With the consideration of d'Indy as an instrumental and dramatic composer, one has traversed the most significant of his works. In addition one must reiterate his services to the Société Nationale, the years of laborious devotion at the Schola and his not infrequent appearances as conductor of programs of French music including a visit to the United States in 1905. Besides, his work as editor and author completes roughly the sum total of his influence. With the reconstitutions of Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea, revisions of Rameau's Dardanus, Hippolyte et Aricie and Zaïs, and many other arrangements, the authorship (with the collaboration of Auguste Sérieyx) of the Cours de Composition in two volumes (incomplete as yet) compiled from Schola lectures and showing an extraordinarily comprehensive erudition, the biographies of César Franck and Beethoven, not to mention a host of articles and addresses or lectures, one is able to sense the versatility and the solidity of d'Indy's achievements.[Pg 308] It is easy to visualize the debt owed him by French music. In the first place he has steadily been a conserver from the technical standpoint. Using the sixteenth-century counterpoint as a point of departure, he has been innovative harmonically even to the point of prefiguring the whole-tone scale. Using with fluent adaptability the time-honored canon, fugue, passacaglia, chorale, variation and sonata forms, he has been faithful fundamentally to their classic essence, while clothing them in a musical idiom which is definitely modern. While d'Indy is out of sympathy with atmospheric or futuristic tendencies in the music of to-day, he is not of an invital arch-conservative type. As a disciple of Franck he believes in the 'liberty that comes from perfect obedience to the law,' though his speech is permeated with individual eloquence. No more comprehensively eminent figure exists in French music to-day. Others may have shown fresh paths, but they lack the totality of attainment which is eminently characteristic of d'Indy.


After d'Indy, the other representative pupils of Franck have, with the exception of Guy Ropartz, had their careers cut short by premature death or illness. Nevertheless their accomplishment is far from being negligible, and adds lustre not only to the fame of their master but a very specific credit to French music.

Of these the most gifted was Ernest Chausson, born at Paris in 1855, who did not begin the serious study of music until after obtaining his bachelor's degree at law. Entering Massenet's composition class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1880, he tried for the prix de Rome in the following year and failed. He accordingly left the conservatory and worked arduously with César Franck until 1883. Chausson was a man of considerable property, who could thus afford to compose. A man of cultivation[Pg 309] and polish, a gracious host and an amiable comrade in society, he was in secret almost obsessed by melancholy, lack of self-confidence despite his affectionate, lovable and gentle nature. He was retiring where his own interests were concerned, made no effort to push his works, and in consequence was not sought by managers. Possessing unusual discernment in literature and painting, he had a fine library, and a distinguished collection of paintings by Delacroix, Dégas, Lerolle, Besnard and Carrière. Thus like Chabrier before him and Debussy after him, Chausson's sympathies were keen in more than one branch of art. Chausson was eager to advance the cause of the Société Nationale and labored as its secretary for nearly a dozen years. His music was played at its concerts and elsewhere, and began to make its way. Chausson was just entering a new creative phase with greater self-confidence, assertion and technical preparedness. At work on a string quartet at his summer place Chimay, he went to refresh himself one afternoon with a bicycle ride, and was found by the roadside, his head crushed against a wall.

Chausson's music reflects his temperament with mirror-like responsiveness. With perhaps more native gifts than d'Indy, he lacked the latter's force of character and his passionate ambition for self-development. For long tormented by indecision as to whether to make music his profession or not, his technical facility was uncertain, and not always equal to the tasks he imposed upon it. Like d'Indy he was influenced both by Franck and Wagner. But he had a melodic vein that was his own, a personal harmonic idiom, expressed in music of poetic and delicately-colored romanticism. Perhaps the most prominent trait in his music is the indefinably affectionate sensibility of its emotion.

Chausson began as a composer of chamber music and songs. He soon entered the orchestral field with a[Pg 310] prelude 'The Death of Coelio,' the symphonic poem Viviane, op. 5 (1882), and Solitude dans les bois (1886), later destroyed. If Viviane shows the insecure hand of the apprentice, its technical insecurity is more than counterbalanced by the exquisite poetry and romance which breathe from its pages. Chausson's orchestral masterpiece is his symphony in B-flat, op. 20 (1890), whose conception is noble and dignified, whose themes are mature and full of sentiment, and which has many eloquent pages. Though the work is deficient in rhythmic variety and flexibility of phrase, its underlying substance is too elevated to permit depreciation. Its orchestral style, despite Wagnerian obligations, shows a distinguished coloristic sense even in comparison with the unusual orchestral style of d'Indy. Despite certain defects, a Concert for piano, violin and string quartet, op. 21 (1890-91), a Poème, op. 25 (1896), for violin and orchestra, frequently played by Ysaye, a piano quartet, op. 30 (1897), and the unfinished string quartet bespeak the talent and promise of achievement which was never to be fulfilled. In the dramatic field, Chausson composed incidental music for performances at Bouchor's Marionette theatre of Shakespeare's Tempest, and Bouchor's Legend of St. Cecilia, a lyric drama Hélène (unpublished) and an opera, Le Roi Arthus (text by himself), performed at Brussels in the Théâtre de la Monnaie in 1903. That Chausson had dramatic instinct is especially evident in Le Roi Arthus, but there is immaturity in dramatic technique as well as a too lyrical treatment which detracts from the romantic atmosphere and imaginative conception of the whole. Among the songs, 'The Caravan,' 'Poem of Love' and 'The Sea' and the well-nigh perfect Chanson perpétuelle for voice and orchestra show Chausson's lyric gift at its best.

Chausson remains a figure of importance, even if much of his work suggests the possibilities of the future[Pg 311] rather than claims a final judgment on its own account. Viviane, the Poème for violin, the piano quartet, the Chanson perpétuelle and above all the Symphony will survive their technical flaws on account of their individualistic expression of noble thoughts and fastidiously poetic emotion.

Henri Duparc, born at Paris in 1848, studied law as did d'Indy and Chausson. One of the earliest pupils of César Franck, he was also one of the first Frenchmen to recognize Wagner, and made journeys with Chabrier and d'Indy to hear his works in Germany. From 1869, Duparc composed piano pieces, songs, chamber music and works for orchestra. A merciless critic of his own music, he has destroyed several works, including a sonata for violoncello and piano, and two orchestral studies. Since 1885 Duparc's career as a composer has been closed owing to persistent ill health. He is known by a symphonic poem Lénore (1875) after the ballad by Bürger, and something more than a dozen songs. The symphonic poem is interesting if not remarkable, but the songs reveal the born lyricist. Through thirty years of silence, the vitality of some of these persists, especially L'Invitation au voyage, Ecstase, Lamento, and Phydilé, as possessing distinctive qualities which place them in the front rank of French lyrics.

Guillaume Lekeu (1870-94), another tragically unfulfilled artist of Belgian descent, played the violin at fourteen, studied the music of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner by himself, and at the age of nineteen had an orchestral piece, Le Chant de triomphale délivrance, performed at Verviers, 'without having had a single lesson in composition.'[56] From 1888 he lived in Paris, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in philosophy. He became a friend of the poet Mallarmé, at whose gatherings of poets, painters and philosophers Claude [Pg 312]Debussy found such illuminating inspiration. Lekeu completed the study of harmony with Gaston Vallin, a pupil of Franck, and soon came under the influence of Franck himself. After Franck's death, he continued composition lessons with d'Indy. D'Indy urged Lekeu, as a native Belgian, to compete for the Belgian prix de Rome. In 1891 he obtained the second prize with a cantata Andromède. Its performance later was so successful as to question the decision of the judges. In 1892 Lekeu wrote the sonata for piano and violin, which was frequently played by Ysaye. In the same year he finished a Fantasie symphonique on two folk-tunes of Angers. While working at a piano quartet, Lekeu died suddenly in 1894 from a relapse after typhoid fever. Despite the contrary indications in his music, Lekeu was of a gay, outgoing nature, full of spontaneity and exuberance.

Besides the works mentioned he left songs, a piano sonata, chamber music and orchestral pieces, among them symphonic studies on 'Hamlet' and 'Faust' (second part). It is perhaps inevitable that much of his music should be immature, but the sonata for piano and violin and the piano quartet show indisputable gifts of a very high order, in which melodic inspiration, frank harmonic experiments (some of them more felicitous than others), an original and thoughtful kind of beauty, and strong delineation of tragic moods are the most salient qualities.

Alexis de Castillon (1838-73) showed early aptitude for music, but was educated for the army in deference to the wishes of his family. After leaving the military school of Saint-Cyr, he became a cavalry officer. But the impulse toward music was too strong and after several years he resigned from the army. He had studied music in a desultory fashion before, and now turned to Victor Massé (the composer of a popular operetta, Les Noces de Jeannette). From him he learned little[Pg 313] or nothing. In 1868 Duparc introduced de Castillon to César Franck, who gladly received him as a pupil. De Castillon served valiantly during the Franco-Prussian war and then returned to his chosen profession only to die two years later, leaving piano pieces, songs, some half a dozen chamber works including the piano and violin sonata op. 6, a concerto for piano, orchestral pieces, and a setting of the 84th Psalm. By reason of the vicissitudes of his life, de Castillon was never able to do justice to his gifts. The sonata, a string quartet, and a piano quartet, op. 7, show a native predisposition for chamber music, which assuredly would have ripened had the composer's life been spared. At his funeral were assembled Bizet, Franck, Lalo, Duparc, d'Indy, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, and others who had 'loved the artist and the man.'[57] Impressed by this assemblage one of de Castillon's relatives remarked: 'Then he really had talent!'[58]

Charles Bordes (1865-1905) should receive some mention, not only for his piano pieces, songs, sacred music, and orchestral works, but for innumerable transcriptions and arrangements of folk-songs, cantatas, vocal pieces by various French composers, and his anthology of religious music of the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Furthermore his organization of the Chanteurs de Saint Gervais gave a decided impulse toward the revival of sacred music, and his labors at the Schola in Paris and the branch established at Montpellier give evidence of his untiring devotion to the cause of art.

In contrast to the pathetic incompleteness of the careers of Chausson, Lekeu, de Castillon, and Bordes, Guy Ropartz has been enabled by reason of his long activity to round out his talent. Joseph-Guy-Marie Ropartz was born at Guincamp in the north of France in [Pg 314]1864. After completing his general education he graduated from the law school at Rennes and was admitted to the bar. Then, like d'Indy and Chausson, he gave up law for music, entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Dubois and Massenet. In 1887 he left the Conservatoire to be a pupil of Franck. In 1894 he became director of the conservatory at Nancy, a position which he still holds.

Ropartz has been an industrious composer, and among his works are incidental music for four dramas, including Pierre Loti's and Louis Tiercelius' drama Pêcheur d'Islande; a music drama, Le Pays; four symphonies; a fantasia; a symphonic study, La Chasse du Prince Arthur; several suites for orchestra; two string quartets; a sonata for violoncello and piano, and one for violin and piano; many songs and vocal pieces including a setting of the 137th Psalm.

Following the principles of Franck, he tends toward cyclical forms on generative themes, and in addition employs Breton folk-songs in orchestral and dramatic works. The symphony in C major, by its treatment of a generative phrase, emphasizes his fidelity to his master, but despite effective and transparent orchestration the work is lacking in strong individuality and in inherent logic and continuity in development. The sonatas for violin and for violoncello with piano display adequate workmanship and conception of style but do not possess concrete musical persuasiveness. Ropartz appears in the most favorable light when his music gives free utterance to nationalistic sentiment and 'local color.' His Breton suite and the Fantasia have a rustic piquancy and rhythmic verve which give evidence of sincere conviction.

Le Pays is said by no less an authority than Professor Henri Lichtenberger to belong to 'the little group of works which, like Pelléas et Mélisande of Debussy, Ariane et Barbe-bleue of Dukas, Le Cœur du Moulin[Pg 315] of Déodat de Séverac, L'Heure espagnole of Ravel, have distinct value and significance in the evolution of our French art.'[59] But a study of the music does not entirely bear this out. Ropartz shows in this music drama an obvious gift for the stage, and his music clearly heightens the dramatic situations. In its freedom from outside influence it undoubtedly possesses historical significance, but in compelling originality it does not maintain the level of the works mentioned above.

The foregoing pupils of Franck are those who have best illustrated the didactic standpoint of their revered master, both as regards technical treatment and uncompromising self-expression. Of these d'Indy is incomparably the most distinguished by virtue of the continuity of his development, the intrinsic message of his music, and his remarkable faculty for organization in educative propaganda. If Chausson, Lekeu, and Bordes were prevented from reaping the just rewards to which their gifts entitled them, they attained not only enough for self-justification but have left a definite imprint on the course of modern French music.

In conclusion, though Franck's pupils are not iconoclastic, though they seem ultra-reactionary in some respects, their united efforts have preserved intact the traditions of one of the noblest figures in French music, and in their works is to be found music of such lofty conception, admirable technical execution, and fearless expression of personality as to make the task of disparagement futile and ungrateful. Moreover, this influence has not ceased with the actual pupils of Franck. The names and works of Magnard,[60] Roussel, de Séverac and Samazeuilh attest the fact that the Franckian tradition is still a living force.

[Pg 316]

While Emmanuel Chabrier and Gabriel Fauré showed the way for new vitality in musical expression and the pupils of Franck demonstrated that the resources of conservatism were not yet exhausted, new movements were also on foot which may be classified as belonging to the 'impressionistic or atmospheric' school. A consideration of this movement, together with some unclassifiable figures and an indication of the work of some younger men, will follow in the next chapter.

E. B. H.


[44] Vincent d'Indy: César Franck, pp. 82 et seq.

[45] Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'aujourd'hui, pp. 230 et seq.

[46] Octave Séré: Musiciens français d'aujourd'hui, p. 83.

[47] Ibid., p. 83.

[48] S. I. M., April 15, 1911.

[49] Vincent d'Indy: César Franck.

[50] Autobiographical Sketch in 'The Music-Lover's Calendar,' Boston, 1905.

[51] Charles Bordes founded the Chanteurs de St. Gervaise in 1892 to perform sixteenth-century music, and more worthy later choral works. Including the study of plain-chant, better standards in modern church music, and higher requirements in organists, this association became the Schola Cantorum in 1894. As a school it was incorporated as above.

[52] The theme of the Beloved, employed in the orchestral poem Souvenirs, op. 62.

[53] From the Cévennes region.

[54] Melody employed in the service proper to the Feast of the Assumption.

[55] 'On accuse les compositeurs de debussysme, on ne leur reproche plus d'être wagnériens.'—Preface to 2nd edition, Fervaal, Étude thématique, by Pierre de Bréville and Henri Laubers Villars.

[56] Octave Séré: Musiciens français d'aujourd'hui, p. 272.

[57] Louis Gallet: Notes d'un Librettist, quoted by Octave Séré in Musiciens français d'aujourd'hui, p. 73.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Lowell Institute Lecture, Jan. 7, 1915. Reported in the 'Boston Transcript.'

[60] Magnard died in September, 1914, somewhat quixotically defending his cause against the Germans.

[Pg 317]


Impressionism in Music—Claude Debussy, the pioneer of the 'atmospheric' school; his career, his works and his influence—Maurice Ravel, his life and work—Alfred Bruneau; Gustave Charpentier—Paul Dukas—Miscellany; Albert Roussel and Florent Schmitt.

The trend of ultra-modern French music has been so swift in its development that the significant episodes crowd upon one another's heels when they do not stride along side by side. Within a year or two after the death of César Franck and Edouard Lalo, while Saint-Saëns was in the full tide of his ceaseless productivity, while Massenet, then famed as the composer of Manon, was shortly to meditate his Thaïs and La Navarraise, while the irrepressible Chabrier was beginning to pay the toll of his strenuous activity, while Fauré's songs had already won recognition for their subtle mixtures of sensuousness and mysticism, while d'Indy and Chausson were evolving their individuality on the lines laid down by their revered master, there arose strikingly new principles of musical expression, involving a new æsthetic standpoint, an enlargement of harmonic resource, supplying a new and vital idiom which is perhaps the most characteristically Gallic of the ultra-modern movements centred in Paris. These principles have crystallized into the impressionistic or 'atmospheric' school, whose rise during the past fifteen or twenty years has been little short of meteoric.

The subject of parallelism between the arts with a definite interacting influence is a fertile one for discussion. While but little space can be devoted here to[Pg 318] enlargement upon this topic, it may be observed that with the advance of culture the intervening time before one art reacts upon another becomes shorter. If the Renaissance was relatively slow in affecting music, the revolutionary outbreaks of 1830 and 1848 were more nearly synchronous, while in the case of realism and impressionism, the resulting confluence of principles was nearly simultaneous. Fortunately the basic methods of impressionism in painting and poetry are so well understood that no definition of their purposes is needful beyond a reminder that they aim to subordinate detail in favor of the effect as a whole. In music impressionism is obtained by procedures analogous if markedly dissimilar from those employed in painting. The results are alike in that both arts have gained enormously in scope of subject as well as in greater brilliancy, elusive poetry and human significance in their treatment.


It is not too much to say that Claude Debussy may be considered as the real originator of impressionism in music, although he did not begin to compose in this manner. But Debussy's success has brought forth a host of imitators in France, Russia, England, and even the United States, while so essentially Teutonic a composer as Max Reger has passed through a Debussian phase. Another composer who has contributed to the development of impressionistic method is Maurice Ravel, and he undoubtedly has derived much from Debussy. At the same time he displays many original characteristics which have nothing in common with Debussy, and hence he cannot be dismissed as a mere echo of the older composer. Impressionism has become so essentially a part of ultra-modern French musical evolution as to merit a clear exposition of its claims and the achievements of its founders.

[Pg 319]

Claude-Achille Debussy was born at St. Germain-en-Laye, not far from Paris, August 22, 1862. His father was ambitious to make a sailor of his son, but a certain Mme. Mautet, whose son was a brother-in-law of Paul Verlaine, herself a pupil of Chopin, was so impressed by the boy's piano playing that she prepared him for entrance into the Paris Conservatory. He obtained medals in solfeggio and piano playing, but was less fortunate in the harmony class. In the class of Émile Durand the study of harmony resolved itself into an effort to discover the 'author's harmony' for a given bass or soprano, hampered by rules 'as arbitrary as those of bridge.'[61] Debussy also entered Franck's organ class at the Conservatory, but here also he was at odds with the master, whose urgings 'modulate, modulate!' during the pupil's improvizations seemed too often without point. In 1879 Debussy journeyed to Russia with Mme. Metch, the wife of a Russian railway constructor, in the capacity of domestic pianist. He made slight acquaintance with Balakireff, Borodine, and Rimsky-Korsakoff, but never came across Moussorgsky, who was destined later to exercise so marked an influence upon his dramatic methods. The dominant expression which he brought back from Russia was that of the fantastic gypsy music, whose rhapsodic and improvisatory character addressed itself readily to his fancy. At last Debussy entered the composition class of Ernest Guiraud, and here his ability quickly asserted itself. After a mention in counterpoint and fugue in 1882, he obtained a second prix de Rome in 1885, and the first prize in the year following with the cantata 'The Prodigal Son,' entitling him to study in Rome at governmental expense.

From Rome Debussy sent back to the Institute, as required, a portion of a setting of Heine's lyrical drama Almanzor, a suite for women's voices and orchestra, [Pg 320]'Spring,' recently published in a revision for orchestra alone; a setting of Rossetti's 'The Blessed Damozel' for voices and orchestra (finished after his return to Paris), and a fantasy for piano and orchestra which has never been published or performed.

On his return to Paris Debussy made the acquaintance of Moussorgsky's Boris Godounoff in the first edition, before the revisions and alterations made by Rimsky-Korsakoff. This work was an immense revelation of the possibilities of a simple yet poignant dramatic style, and undoubtedly was fraught with suggestion to the future composer of Pelléas. A visit to Bayreuth in 1889, where he heard Tristan, Parsifal, and the Meistersinger, showed Wagner in a new light to Debussy. But on repeating the trip in the following year he returned disillusionized and henceforth Wagner ceased to exert any influence whatever upon him. For some time at this period Debussy was generously aided by the publisher Georges Hartmann, who had likewise encouraged de Castillon and Massenet. During these years Debussy composed many piano pieces and songs, among them the Arabesques (1888), the Ballade, Danse, Mazurka, Reverie, Nocturne, and the Suite Bergamasque, all dating from 1890. These piano pieces exhibit Debussy as a frankly melodic composer of indubitable refinement and imagination, in a vein not far removed from that of Massenet, although possessing more distinction and poetic sentiment. Among the songs the early Nuit d'étoiles (1876), Fleur des blés (1878), and Beau Soir (1878) are experimental, the last of the three being the most interesting. The 'Three Melodies' (1880), containing the songs La Belle au bois dormant, Voici que le Printemps, and Paysage sentimental, the Ariettes oubliées (1888, but revised later) show a marked progress in concreteness of mood and harmonic subtlety. Three songs (1890) on texts by Verlaine, L'Échelonnement des haies, La Mer est plus belle,[Pg 321] and Le Son du Cor s'afflige, and the Cinq poëmes de Baudelaire (1890), show a further evolution of lyric delineation. If the latter are unequal (Le Balcon and Le jet d'eau are the most vital) they at least demonstrate an æsthetic ferment toward the later Debussy. Mandoline (also 1890) is also a direct premonition of a maturer style. In confirmation of this steady evolution one must recall that side by side with the palpable influence of Massenet in the cantata 'The Prodigal Son' (especially in the prelude) and in the second movement of the suite 'Spring' there were likewise harmonic individualities and expressive sentiments in the first movement of the suite, and in the delicately pre-Raphaelitic 'Blessed Damozel' which presage the developments to come.

However, the direct stimulus which guided Debussy in his search for personal enfranchisement did not come from musical sources,[62] but from association with poets, literary critics, and painters. From 1885 onwards,[63] the symbolist poets Gustave Kahn, Pierre Louys, Francis Vielé-Griffin, Stuart Merrill, Paul Verlaine, Henri de Regnier, the painter Whistler, and many others were in the habit of meeting at the house of Stéphane Mallarmé, the symbolist poet, for discussion on a variety of æsthetic topics. The Salon de la Rose-Croix, formed by French painters as an outcome of pre-Raphaelite influence, grew out of these meetings. Verlaine and Mallarmé had founded the 'Wagnerian Review' as a medium for exposition of the essential unity of all the arts. As a result of these critical inquiries and debates, Debussy was struck with the possibility of attempting to transfer impressionistic and symbolistic theories into the domain of music.

The first concrete instance of a deliberate embodiment of impressionistic method is to be found in the exquisite 'Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun' (1882), [Pg 322]founded on the poem by Mallarmé. Here Debussy succeeded admirably in translating the vague symbolism of the poem into music of languorous mood and ineffably delicate poetry. This brief piece, novel and striking in both harmonic and expressive idiom, marks a departure into a field of fertile consequence and far-reaching import both intrinsically and historically.

It was in the summer of 1892, also, that Debussy quite by chance came across Maeterlinck's play Pelléas et Mélisande. Both the intensely human elements in the drama and its sensitive symbolism made a strong appeal to Debussy's newly awakened æsthetic instincts and, after obtaining permission to utilize the play as an opera text, he at once set to work upon it. For ten years Debussy labored upon Pelléas with a patient striving to realize in music its humanitarian sentiment, its creative poetry and its tragedy. During these years of gradual distillation of thought he attained slowly but surely the inimitable style of his maturity. But in the meantime he composed also in various other fields.

Already the songs, Fêtes galantes (1892), on Verlaine's poems showed in their delicately impressionistic introspection that the 'Afternoon of a Faun' was no casual experiment. Similarly, the Proses Lyriques (1893), although unequal, exhibit clearly, especially in the songs De Rêve and De Grève, a formulation of the whole-tone idiom, which was later to become a characteristic feature of Debussy's style. A string quartet (also 1893) was, by virtue of its inevitable restriction, a momentary abandonment of the impressionistic ideal, but within these limitations Debussy achieved an astonishing individuality, charm of mood, and clearcut workmanship, particularly in the thoughtful, slow movement and the piquant scherzo. In 1898 he returned to the impressionistic vein with three Chansons de Bilitis from the like-named volume of poems by Pierre Louys. The naïveté, humor, and penetrating[Pg 323] poetry of these lyrics were akin to the imaginative vein of the Fêtes galantes.

In the following year Debussy gave a larger affirmation of his impressionistic creed with the Nocturnes for orchestra entitled 'Clouds,' 'Festivals,' and 'Sirens' (the latter with a chorus of women's voices). These pieces, although avowedly programmistic, do not attempt realistic tone-painting, but aim rather to suggest impressionistic moods growing out of their titles. The slow procession of clouds, the dazzling intermingling of groups of revellers, the elusive seduction of imaginary sirens are pictured with an atmospheric verity that far transcends the possibilities of realistic standpoint. Musically the Nocturnes are distinguished by their intrinsic potency of expression, their basic formal coherence and logic of development, their concreteness of mood, and their picturesqueness of detail. The use of a chorus of women's voices, vocalizing without text, a feature already employed in 'Spring,' was not original to Debussy, for Berlioz had already employed it in his highly dramatic but little known Funeral March for the last scene of 'Hamlet' (1848). But Debussy's highly coloristic and ingenious application of the medium greatly enhances the pervasive poetry of this Nocturne, and transforms it into a virtual novelty. Not the least interesting harmonic consideration of this piece is the use, with some definite system, of the whole-tone scale, which Debussy later exploited so remarkably, and of which up to this time only transient suggestions had appeared.

During his long contemplative absorption in Pelléas Debussy had not entirely neglected composition for the piano. A Marche écossaise 'on a popular theme' ('The Earl of Ross's March') for four hands (1891, orchestrated in 1908) is piquant and vivacious without being particularly characteristic. A 'Little Suite' for the same combination (1894), if somewhat slight musically,[Pg 324] is pleasing for its clarity and simple directness. In 1901, however, Debussy showed a far more definite originality, both pianistically and harmonically, in a set of three pieces entitled Pour le Piano, with the subtitles 'Prelude,' 'Sarabande' and 'Toccata.' If the prelude suggests something of the style of Bach, if the Sarabande is to a certain extent a modernization of the gravity of Rameau, and the toccata bears a resemblance in its fiery impulsiveness to Domenico Scarlatti, these pieces are none the less positively characteristic of Debussy in their fundamentals. The frank use of the whole-tone scale in the prelude, the harmonic boldness of the sarabande with its sequences of sevenths, and the ingenious piano figures in the toccata are the external evidences of a basically individual conception. If these pieces do not display the impressionism that is indigenous to the later Debussy, they represent a transition stage of far from negligible interest.

With the performances in 1902 of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra Comique Debussy attained an immediate and definite renown. There was abundance of opposition, disparagement, and ill-natured criticism, but the work was too obviously significant to be downed by it. To begin with it was epoch-making in the annals of French dramatic art in that it marked a complete enfranchisement from the influence of Wagner. Debussy had been censured for saying that melody in the voice parts (that is, formal melody) was 'anti-dramatic,' but his by no means unmelodic recitative with its fastidious attention to finesse of declamation justified the restriction of the melodic element to the orchestra. If the dramatic style of Pelléas, in its economy of musical emphasis, was directly modelled upon Moussorgsky's Boris, the evolution of this idea in which the orchestra throughout, with the exception of a few climaxes, maintained a transparent delicacy of sonority, established a new conception of dramatic[Pg 325] style as well as new resources in sensibility of timbre. Harmonically, Pelléas shows both a surprising unity (considering that it occupied Debussy for ten years at a transitional phase of his career) and a remarkable extension of devices scarcely more than hinted at in his earlier works. It is difficult to formulate these innovations briefly, but they may be grouped under three general headings. First, an æsthetic abrogation of certain conventional harmonic procedures; the free use of consecutive fifths and octaves, sequences of seventh chords (in which Fauré definitely anticipated Debussy), and of ninths. In these seemingly anarchistic over-rulings of tradition Debussy was guided by a sure and hyper-sensitive instinct. Second, the employment of modal harmonization, sometimes strict but more often free, with a singularly felicitous dramatic connotation. Third, the development of a logical manner founded on the whole-tone scale. Debussy cannot claim that he originated the whole-tone scale, since it was used by Dargomijsky in the third act of 'The Stone Guest' (1869), by various neo-Russians, notably Rimsky-Korsakoff, by Chabrier, Fauré, and d'Indy (in the second act of Fervaal); nevertheless he can be said to have made this idiom his own by his flexible and discriminating manipulation of its resources. Debussy does not employ the whole-tone scale as monotonously as is often supposed. On the contrary, one of the marked features of his harmonic style is its resourceful variety.

Debussy's use of motives constitutes the very antipodes of Wagner's somewhat cumbrous symphonic development of them. If at first Debussy's treatment seems too fluid and lacking in continuity, a closer study of the score (especially in the orchestral version) will reveal not only a flexible adaptation of motives to the dramatic situations, but a logical and constructive development often with considerable contrapuntal dexterity.[Pg 326] Furthermore, a formal coherence is maintained without the artifices of symphonic development.

But the import of Pelléas does not consist merely in the historical or technical value of its innovating features, although this is patent. It resides primarily in the basic poignancy with which the music illustrates and reinforces the touching drama by Maeterlinck, as well as its intrinsic surpassing beauty and poetic thrall. It is because Debussy has characterized the innocent, gentle Mélisande, the ardent Pelléas, Golaud haggard with jealousy, the childlike carelessness of Yniold during a questioning of such import to his father, with such searching fidelity to the creations of the poet that we find music and drama in accord to an extent seldom witnessed in the history of opera. It is because Debussy has brought such freshness of musical invention and profound aptness of interpretation in such scenes as the discovery of Mélisande by Golaud, the questioning end of Act I, the animated scene between Pelléas and Mélisande in Act II, their long love scene in Act III, the dramatic duet at the end of Act IV, and the death scene of Mélisande in Act V, that this opera occupies a unique position. The characterization of the forest, of the subterranean vaults of the château, of the remorse of Golaud after his deed of vengeance, and the purifying majesty of death show Debussy as a poet and dramatist of indisputable mastery. Indeed, it is not too much to say that Pelléas et Mélisande occupies a position in modern French music akin to that of Tristan und Isolde in German dramatic literature.

After Pelléas, Debussy turned again to the impressionistic style in piano pieces and orchestral works of progressive evolution. With the 'Engravings' for piano (1903) containing 'Pagodas,' 'Evening in Grenada,' 'Gardens in the Rain,' he continued the impressionistic method of 'The Afternoon of a Faun' with an amplified harmonic and expressive idiom. 'Pagodas,'[Pg 327] founded on the Cambodian scale, and the Spanish suggestions in 'Evening in Grenada' are characteristic instances of the French taste for exoticism; 'Gardens in the Rain' is founded upon an old French folk-song which Debussy used later in the orchestral Image, Rondes de Printemps. All three are markedly individual, and display the poetic insight of Debussy tempered by discretion. 'Masks' and 'The Joyous Isle' (both 1904) contain alike fantastic exuberance and an increasingly personal pianistic and harmonic style. The latter in particular contains a homogeneity of thematic development supposedly incompatible with an impressionistic method. Two sets of Images (1905 and 1907) make still greater demands upon the impressionistic capacity of the listener, sometimes at the expense of concrete musical inventiveness, but those entitled 'Reflections in the Water' and 'Goldfishes' offer no diminution of imaginative vitality. 'The Children's Corner' (1908), a collection of miniatures, are sketches of poetic appeal, though relatively slight. The final number, 'Golliwog's Cakewalk,' is a fascinating French version of ragtime style. Mr. André Caplet has orchestrated these pieces with sensitive taste. Two series of 'Preludes' (1911 and 1913) exhibit both the virtues and defects of Debussy's piano music. In some the piano is scarcely equal to the impressionistic demands made upon it, others touch the high-water mark of Debussy's versatile invention. In the first set, 'Veils,' 'The Wind in the Plain,' 'The Enveloped Cathedral' are felicitously impressionistic; the 'Sounds and Perfumes Turn in the Evening Air,' 'The Girl with Flaxen Hair' are lyrically atmospheric, while in 'Minstrels' is to be found another inimitably humorous transcription of ragtime idiom. In the second set, La Puerta del Vino is an imaginatively exotic Habañera; La terrasse des audiences des clair de lune is of rarefied emotional atmosphere; 'The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers' and Ondine[Pg 328] are brilliant bits of delicate fancy; 'General Lavine—Eccentric' is another witty adaptation of rag-time in the Debussian manner. 'Fireworks,' a brilliantly impressionistic study ending with a distant refrain of the Marseillaise in a key other than that of the bass, approaches realism, a final climax, before the above-mentioned refrain, consisting of a double glissando on the black and white keys simultaneously. 'Fireworks' is also notable for a cadenza which is not in Debussy's harmonic style, and which closely resembles cadenzas characteristic of Maurice Ravel. But, with the historic precedent of Haydn in his old age learning of Mozart in orchestral procedure, one must not deny the same privilege to Debussy. This detail is not without its piquant side, because Ravel has been unjustly reproached for too many 'obligations' to Debussy.

In the meantime Debussy has published several sets of songs entitled to mention. A second collection of Fêtes galantes (1904) shows a slight falling off in spontaneity, but Le Faune is imaginative and felicitously inventive, and in the Colloque sentimental an ingenious quotation is made from an accompaniment figure of En Sourdine in the first collection, justifiable not only on account of the sentiments of the text in the second song, but for the reminiscent alteration of the original harmonies. A charming song, Le Jardin (presumably 1905), from a collection of settings by various French composers of poems by Paul Gravollet, having a delightful running accompaniment over a measured declamation of the text, must be regarded as one of Debussy's best. With some departure from his usual choice of texts, Debussy has successfully set three Ballades (1910) by François Villon, reproducing with uncommon picturesqueness the archaic flavor of the poem. The same year witnessed the publication of Le Promenoir des amants on poems by Tristan Lhermitte, whose delicate poetic style is more characteristic of his[Pg 329] established individuality. Of the 'Three Poems by Mallarmé' (1913) one must admit an exquisite but somewhat tenuous musical sentiment, not entirely free from the 'polyharmonic' influence now current in Paris.

Among Debussy's vocal works, especial stress should be laid on the spontaneous and spirited settings for unaccompanied mixed chorus of the Trois Chansons of Charles d'Orléans (1908). Here Debussy has caught the spirit of these fifteenth-century poems most aptly, and yet has not departed essentially from his own individuality. It is incredible that these choruses are not better known, and that they are not in the repertory of more choral societies.

In the meantime it is not to be supposed that Debussy had relinquished orchestral composition since his success with Pelléas et Mélisande. In 1904 he wrote two dances, Danse profane and Danse sacrée, for the newly invented chromatic harp with accompaniment of string orchestra. These pieces are pleasingly archaic in character and yet not unduly so, illustrating an unusual capacity in Debussy's inventive imagination. 'The Sea,' three symphonic sketches for orchestra (1903-1905), produced in 1905, cannot be considered entirely successful in spite of many remarkable qualities. Here Debussy has attempted a subject which has proved disillusionizing for many composers, and one which is perhaps beyond the scope of his imagination. There are picturesque and beautiful episodes in the first movement, particularly the last pages, but the effect of the movement as a whole is disjointed. The second movement, Jeux des Vagues, is thoroughly charming in its fanciful delineation of its title, and possesses more continuity of development. The third movement, again, is less satisfactory, although the climax is stirringly triumphant. In 1909 Debussy published three Images for orchestra: Gigues (not published until 1913, although announced with the others),[Pg 330] Ibéria, and Rondes de Printemps. Gigues is a slight if charming piece, with vivacious rhythms and no little originality of orchestral effect; Rondes de Printemps is a fantastic and sensitive impressionistic sketch, founded upon the same folk-song which Debussy employed in 'Gardens in the Rain' from the 'Engravings,' here treated with the contrapuntal resources of imitation and augmentation. If an episode in the middle of the piece is less vital both in invention and treatment, the effect of the whole is full of poetry, especially at the climax where the strings divided have a sequence of inverted chords of the eleventh descending diatonically with magical effect. But the most significant by far of these Images is Ibéria (the ancient name for Spain), in which Debussy has given free play to his exotic imagination and his faculty for impressionistic treatment. Like Chabrier's España, Debussy's Ibéria is still Spain seen through a Frenchman's eyes, but with an enormous temperamental difference in vision. In the first section, 'Through the Streets and Byways,' Debussy has never shown more fantastic brilliance and vivid, almost garish, interplay of color. In the second portion, 'The Perfumes of Night,' he has never exceeded its poignant atmosphere of surcharged sensibility. A theme for divided violas and violoncellos recalls the emotional heights of Pelléas. The last movement, 'Morning on a Fête Day,' shows an impressionism intensified almost to realism. As a whole Ibéria is perhaps the most satisfying example of Debussy's mature method, in which we find an undiminished vitality of imagination combined with irreproachable workmanship. Debussy's orchestral style, while difficult to adjust satisfactorily, is full of delicate and brilliant coloristic effects side by side.

In 1911 Debussy wrote incidental music for Gabriel d'Annunzio's drama 'The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian.' It is a thankless task to appraise dramatic music apart[Pg 331] from its intended adjuncts, especially when it is somewhat fragmentary in character. There is an abundant use of the quasi-archaic idiom (already employed in the first of the Dances for harp and strings), which found its justification in the mystical character of the drama. Also there seems a little straining of impressionistic resources in harmony, and not a little effective choral writing. An orchestra of unusual constituence gave opportunity for effects of a striking character. But the fact remains that the music loses much of its appeal apart from the conditions for which it was written.

Of late Debussy has taken to the ballet, influenced no doubt by the example of his contemporaries and the magnificent opportunities for performance offered by the annual visits of Diaghilev's Russian Ballet. Florent Schmitt was one of the first of ultra-modern Frenchmen to try this form with his lurid and masterly Tragédie de Salomé (1907); then followed Paul Dukas with La Péri (1910), Maurice Ravel with 'Daphnis and Chloë' (1911), and other works to be mentioned later.

In 1912 Debussy published Jeux, ballet in one act on a scenario by Nijinsky, and Khamma, of the same dimensions, by W. L. Courtney and Maud Allan. Finally, in 1913, he composed the miniature ballet-pantomime La Boîte aux joujoux, by André Heller. In these works he has shown a natural theatrical and scenic instinct which is extraordinary, a sensitive adaptation of music to dramatic situations, and a surprising versatility in spite of his previous vindications of this quality. The plot of Jeux is slight and fantastically unreal and improbable, but it has afforded a basis for impalpable music of great subtlety and distinction, in which the appeal to Debussy's imagination was obvious. Khamma, admirably contrived from the dramatic point of view for the logical introduction of dancing, exhibits a breadth of conception and a heroic quality[Pg 332] which is rare in Debussy. Unfortunately, incidents have prevented this ballet from being performed (as far as may be ascertained), but this assuredly has not been on account of the inadequacy of the music. La Boîte aux joujoux differs totally from the two preceding in being, as its title-page asserts, a ballet for children. It is not an unalloyed surprise from the pen of the composer of the 'Children's Corner,' but it combines genuine poetry, humor, mock-realism, and a judicious miniature medium that is entirely original. If musically at least La Boîte aux joujoux presupposes a very sophisticated child, that does not prevent it from making an instant appeal to mature listeners.

For many years it has been announced that Debussy has been at work on operas taken from Poe's stories 'The Devil in the Belfry' and 'The Fall of the House of Usher.' There have also been rumors that he was at work on a version of the story of Tristan. It is a foregone conclusion that these works will not appear until their scrupulous composer is satisfied with every detail.

Like other modern French musicians Debussy has a ready pen and exceedingly interesting critical opinions. He has served as critic for the Revue blanche and for Gil Blas, and many articles on a wide range of subjects have appeared in these periodicals. His conversations with M. Croche[64] have served as an amiable disguise for the expression of his personal views on music.

When we come to survey as a whole the personality and achievement of Debussy we discover that he has been influenced by a fair number of composers, but that their effect has been for the most part superficial and transitory. Such was the contributory share of Chopin and Grieg; Moussorgsky is prominently influential alike for his dramatic style and his fidelity to nature; other Neo-Russians have by their orchestral [Pg 333]idiom helped to cultivate his sense of timbre; Fauré and Chabrier both guided him harmonically; Massenet with his sure craftsmanship had more than a casual admiration from Debussy; even the fantastic figure of Erik Satie, an exaggerated symbolistic musician of grotesque ideas but inefficient technique, helped him to avoid the banal path. But the mainstay of Debussy's reputation is simply that of his concrete musical gifts, his inventiveness, his ability to characterize, and pervading æsthetic instinct. It is not by virtue of his determination to be impressionistic in music, nor by the extension of the possibilities of the whole-tone scale, or free modal harmonization, nor by his original pianistic style, despite the intrinsic and historic significance of these, that he has come to be the leading representative of ultra-modern French composers of the revolutionary type, in opposition to the reactionary if modernistic d'Indy. It is because a certain creative field, which others had approached tentatively, has been made to yield a scope of subject, a variety of utterance and an æsthetic import hitherto totally unsuspected. While the impressionistic (or symbolistic) style has in Debussy's hand become a flexible, fanciful, fantastic or poignantly human idiom, its real weight can be appreciated only by neglecting the harmonic novelty or the stylistic medium and concentrating on the direct utterance of the music itself. It is through this basic eloquence of musical speech that Debussy is significant. It is for this reason that, with Strauss, he must be regarded as the chief creative figure of his generation. To realize the simple, almost primitive, attitude of Debussy toward his art it may be illuminating to quote from an article from his pen in response to inquiries 'On the present state of French music,' put by Paul Landormy in the Revue bleue (1904), translated by Philip Hale.[65]

'French music is clearness, elegance, simple and natural declamation; French music wishes, first of all, to give pleasure. Couperin, Rameau—these are true Frenchmen.' Debussy has always admired Rameau, witness his Hommage à Rameau in the first set of the Images for piano and his obvious predilection for the eighteenth-century qualities of lucidity and transparent outline of much of his music. It must not be forgotten that Debussy has joined Saint-Saëns, d'Indy, and Dukas in the revision of Rameau's works for the complete edition. Later in the same article we find Debussy reiterating the view expressed above as to the function of music with an insistence that is both Latin and even Pagan in the best sense. 'Music should be cleared of all scientific apparatus. Music should seek humbly to give pleasure; great beauty is possible between these limits. Extreme complexity is the contrary of art. Beauty should be perceptible; it should impose itself on us, or insinuate itself, without any effort on our part to grasp it. Look at Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart! These are great artists.'

To sum up, Debussy has brought the impressionistic and symbolistic style into music; he has evolved a supple harmonic idiom devoid of monotony, not chiefly characterized by the whole-tone scale as many believe, but comprising a simple style, a taking archaism, an application of modal style, and an extension of the uses of ninths and other chords. He has developed an incredibly simple and yet effective dramatic style, which makes 'Pelléas and Mélisande' one of the significant works of the century. He has extended the nuances and the figures of piano style, and has increased the subdivision of the orchestra into delicate, almost opalescent, timbres. But more than all, he has given to music a new type of poetry, a rarefied humanity, and new revelations of the imagination. It is too soon to judge of the durability of his work, but his historical position is secure—a lineal descendant of French eighteenth-century great musicians with the vision and the creative daring of the twentieth.

[Pg 334]


Claude Debussy

After a photo from life

[Pg 335]

If the widespread imitation of Debussy may be taken as an indication, no further proof of the vitality of his creative innovations is needed. Richard Strauss has not disdained to use the whole-tone scale in Salome (the entrance of Herod), Reger has followed suit in the 'Romantic Suite'; Puccini has drawn upon the same idiom in 'The Girl of the Golden West'; Cyril Scott in England and Charles Martin Loeffler in the United States have gone to the same source, despite their indisputably individual attainments. In Paris itself the followers of Debussy are rife, and his influence is as contagious as that of Wagner thirty years ago. A figure long misjudged as a mere echo of Debussy, who after an interval of fifteen years has shown that he steadily followed his own path in spite of some manifest obligations to the founder of impressionism in music is Maurice Ravel. Since he is easily second in importance among the members of the 'atmospheric' group, he deserves, therefore, to be considered immediately after Debussy.


Joseph-Maurice Ravel was born March 7, 1875, in the town of Ciboure, in the department of the Basses-Pyrénées in the extreme southwest of France, close to the Spanish border. From early childhood, however, he lived in Paris. At the age of twelve his predisposition toward music asserted itself by his delight in the major seventh chord, which he employed with such insight later.[66] He was accordingly given lessons in piano-playing and composition. His earliest works were some variations on a chorale by Schumann, and [Pg 336]the first movement of a sonata. In 1889 he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied the piano with de Bériot, harmony with Pessard, counterpoint and fugue with Gedalge, and composition with Fauré. Despite his application he did not meet with the success his efforts deserved. In 1901, however, he was awarded the second prix de Rome for his cantata Myrrha, and it is said that some of the jury favored him as a choice for the first prize. In the two following years he was unsuccessful, and in 1904 he did not attempt to compete. In 1905 he offered himself as candidate, but was refused permission. This exclusion, when he had already attracted much attention as a composer, which may have been partly due to his audacity in 'writing down' ironically to the reactionary jury of 1901, aroused protests of so violent a nature as to start an inquiry into conditions at the Conservatory, with the result that Théodore Dubois was forced to resign as director and Gabriel Fauré was appointed in his place. Since then Ravel has devoted himself entirely to composition and the record of his life is to be found most persuasively in his work. Ravel has served several times on the committee of the Société Nationale, and he is a charter member of the Société Musicale Indépendante.

Before proceeding to a consideration of Ravel's music, it may be well to enumerate the various influences he has undergone. The first was Chabrier, whose Trois Valses romantiques for two pianos aroused his admiration when scarcely more than a boy. Then, as in the case of Debussy, the fantastic personality and curious music of Erik Satie appealed to his imagination. Some of Fauré's harmonic procedures and some of his mannerisms, such as the abuse of sequence, have left their traces in the pupil. Some of Debussy's harmonic innovations have obviously affected Ravel, just as he has accepted his impressionism, but a careful study of the[Pg 337] latter's works will show a definite line of cleavage in both particulars, beginning at an early stage of his career. The exoticism of the Neo-Russians and their sense of orchestral timbre have undoubtedly exercised a powerful charm over Ravel.

After some unpublished songs, and a Sérénade grotesque for piano composed in 1894, Ravel published his first music in 1895, a Menuet antique for piano, which Roland Manuel describes as 'a curious work in which are voluntarily opposed, so it seems, scholastic contrapuntal artifices and the most charming radicalism (hardiesses).' Ravel's next work was two pieces for two pianos entitled Les Sites Auriculaires, one a Habañera (1895), showing an astonishing harmonic independence for so young a composer, which was utilized later in the 'Spanish Rhapsody' for orchestra, the other Entre Cloches (1896), which is said to have been incorporated in La Vallée des Cloches, included in the piano pieces entitled Miroirs in 1896 also. Ravel composed the first of his published songs, Sainte, on a poem by Mallarmé, for which the music is charmingly archaic, somewhat in Fauré's manner, but not devoid of independence. In 1898 followed the 'Two Epigrams' for voice and piano, on texts by Clément Marot (fifteenth century), in which Ravel again appropriately employed an archaic idiom curiously intermingled with ninth chords. In this same year Ravel composed his first orchestral work, the overture Shéhérazade (performed by the National Society in the following year), which has never been published. Two piano pieces, a Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899), whose poignantly elegiac mood shows its composer in a new light as regards sensibility, and brilliant tour de force, Jeux d'eau (1901), full of harmonic novelty and strikingly original pianistic style, are both significant advances. It was the bold personality of the latter piece that served to expose and accentuate the ironic caricature[Pg 338] of a sentimental style to be found in Myrrha which prejudiced a reactionary jury against him. A string quartet (1902-03) at once made a profound impression on account of the relative youth of its composer, for its command of a difficult medium, its polish and symmetry of form, its poetry and depth of sentiment. If the last two movements are inferior in substance and inspiration, the scherzo is piquant and novel, while the first movement, particularly in its poetic close, stands in the front rank of modern French chamber music literature. If the theme of the first movement by its harmonization in a sequence of seventh chords suggests Fauré, there is no denying the personality of the work as a whole. Three songs for voice and orchestra, Shéhérazade (1903), on poems by Tristan Klingsor (pseudonym for Tristan Leclère), are unequal, but the first, Asie, reflects the varied exoticism of its text with sympathetic charm.

Five pieces for piano entitled Miroirs (1905) present Ravel's individuality in a clear light as regards his impressionistic method. Without the maturity of a later collection of piano pieces, they reflect, as their title indicates, various aspects of nature with the illusion demanded by impressionistic method, and at the same time exhibit profundity of insight and delineative poetry. The foundation of Ravel's thematic treatment, unusual pianistic idiom, his personal harmonic flavor, and his personal sentiment are all to be found therein. In these pieces no trace is to be found of external influence; the composer speaks in his own voice. Oiseaux tristes, a melancholy landscape with some realistic touches; Une barque sur l'Océan, broadly impressionistic sketch of large dimensions; Alborada del Graciosa, exhibiting that Spanish exoticism which has often tempted Ravel; and La Vallé des Cloches, of sombre yet highly poetic atmosphere, are the most striking. A sonatina for piano of the same year pleases by the[Pg 339] polish of its form, its successful correlation of detail and the individuality of its contents. A humorous song, 'The Toy's Christmas' (also 1905), later provided with orchestral accompaniment, is an ingenious and vivacious trifle.

In 1906 Ravel reasserted his gifts as a delicate realist with the songs entitled 'Natural Histories,' on texts by Jules Renard. With a musical imagery that is at once ironic and replete with sensitive observation, Ravel depicts the peacock, the cricket, the swan, and other birds. An Introduction and Allegro (1906) for harp with accompaniment of string quartet, flute and clarinet is chiefly remarkable for the grateful virtuosity with which the harp is treated. In 1907 Ravel showed at once technical mastery of the orchestra and a skillful reproduction of Spanish atmosphere with a 'Spanish Rhapsody,' which is both brilliant and poetic. This work must be considered with Chabrier's España and Debussy's Ibéria as one of the graphic pictures of exoticism in French musical literature. To this same year belongs 'The Spanish Hour,' text by Franc Nohain entitled a 'musical comedy' (but not in our sense), in which Ravel attempted to revive the manner of the opera buffa. The comedy contains inherent improbabilities and the text is often far from inspiring, but Ravel has written ingenious, humorous and poetic music which far exceeds the book in value. This opera presents a running commentary in the orchestra on a few motives, leaving the voices to declaim with freedom, while the brilliant and picturesque orchestration adds greatly to vivacity and charm of the music.

In 1908 Ravel composed a set of four-hand pieces, 'Mother Goose,' of ingenuity, humor, and poetic insight. These pieces have since been orchestrated with incomparable finesse and knowledge of instrumental resource, forming an orchestral suite, and, with the addition of a prelude and various interludes, they have also[Pg 340] been transformed into a ballet. In 1908, also, Ravel composed three poems for the piano, Gaspard de la Nuit, on prose fragments by Aloysius Bertrand, which in technical style and contents mark the acme of his achievement in literature for the piano. Ondine and Scarbo, the first and third of these pieces, illustrate their 'programs' with an illuminating poetry that is both brilliant and profound in insight. The second, Le Gibbet, with a persistent pedal note in the right hand over extraordinarily ingenious harmonies, possesses a genuinely sinister and tragic depth.

These poems contrast sharply with Debussy's Images of the same year. The latter are more obviously impressionistic, but Ravel has disposed his uncanny technical equipment with such expressive mastery and such interpretative vitality as to fear no comparison with the older composer. If by contrast the Valse nobles et sentimentales (1910) for piano are agreeable jeux d'esprit, they none the less possess qualities that win our admiration. Frank boldness of style, fantastic irony, and sentimental poetry go hand in hand, united by a grateful piano idiom. The epilogue in particular, with its reminiscences of various waltzes, gives a formal continuity which relieves the set as a whole from any charge of disjointedness.

Ravel's masterpiece is his 'choreographic symphony' Daphnis et Chloé (1906-11), first performed by Diaghilev's Russian Ballet in 1912. In this work Ravel disproves emphatically the possible charge that he is a composer of miniatures, for from the formal aspects it shows continuity and coördination of development in the symphonic manipulation of its motives. Dramatically it is in remarkable accord with the atmosphere, the action and the development of the scenario by the famous ballet-master and author of plots Michel Fokine. The music not only possesses interpretative vitality on a far larger scale than Ravel has ever shown[Pg 341] before, but, aside from its astonishing brilliancy and its coloristic poetry, it has a contrapuntal vigor of invention and treatment which are absolutely convincing. From the harmonic standpoint Ravel has attained a new freedom and an elastic suppleness of idiom that is bewildering. His treatment of a large orchestra, augmented by the use of a mixed chorus behind the scenes, is vitally brilliant and marvellously poetic even in the light of his previous achievements. All in all, Daphnis et Chloé is one of the most significant dramatic works of recent years, and can worthily be placed side by side with Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and Dukas' Ariane et Barbe-bleue for its intrinsic merits and historical attributes.

For some years Ravel has been engaged upon a setting of Hauptmann's Versunkene Glocke. It is also announced that he is at work upon a trio, a concerto for piano on Basque themes, and an oratorio, Saint François d'Assise. With his recent successes in mind, these projected works engage a lively expectation.

In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that Ravel cannot, like Debussy, claim to be a pioneer. He was fortunate in being enabled to profit by the swift development of new idioms, to absorb the exuberance of Chabrier, the suave mysticism of Fauré, the illuminating impressionism of Debussy, and the scintillant exoticism of the Neo-Russians. But, while he owes no more to his predecessors than Debussy, he has had the advantage of having matured his style at an age which was relatively in advance of Debussy. It must be recognized that as a whole Ravel's music lies nearer the surface of the human heart than Debussy's. It is not usual to find that depth of poetry or of human sentiment which distinguishes so considerable a portion of Debussy's music. Ravel, on the other hand, is more expansive in his scope; he captivates us with his humor, his irony, his dappling brilliancy, and with an[Pg 342] almost metallic grasp in execution of a pre-conceived plan. His harmonic transformations exert a literal fascination, though their technical facility obscures their purpose, but underneath there is seldom an inner deficiency of sentiment. If his impressionism is tinged with quasi-realistic effects, there is no lack of genuine homogeneity of style. In fact, his skillful blending of the two tendencies is one of the chief features of his originality. In such works as the Pavane, the first movement of the String Quartet, in Asie from Shéhérazade, in La Vallée des Cloches, in Ondine and Le Gibbet, and in many episodes of Daphnis et Chloé Ravel offers a convincingly human sentiment which only emphasizes his essential versatility of expression. For in his characteristic vein of ironic brilliance and fantastic subtlety he carries all before him.


If the work of Bruneau and Charpentier does not follow in historic or chronological sequence that of Debussy and Ravel, their juxtaposition is defensible since the former in common with the latter have received their individual stimulus from sources extraneous to music. In the case of Bruneau the vitalizing motive is the literary realism of Émile Zola; in that of Charpentier the direct inspiration comes from socialism or at least a socialistic outlook.

Louis-Charles-Bonaventure-Alfred Bruneau was born in Paris, on March 1, 1857. His father played the violin, his mother was a painter, thus an æsthetic environment favored his artistic development. Alfred Bruneau entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of sixteen; three years later he was awarded the first prize for violoncello playing. He studied harmony for three years in Savard's class, became a pupil of Massenet and was the first to win the second prix de Rome in 1881[Pg 343] with a cantata Geneviève. For some years previously Bruneau had been a member of Pasdeloup's orchestra, and in 1884 an Overture héroïque (1885) was played by this organization. Other orchestral works—La Belle au bois dormant (1884) and Penthesilée (a symphonic poem with chorus, 1888)—belong to this period.

Despite some fifty songs, choruses, a Requiem, and some pieces for various wind instruments and piano, Bruneau is essentially a dramatic composer, and it is chiefly as such that he deserves consideration. His first dramatic work, Kérim, the text by Millet and Lavedan (1886), is an unpretentious opera of eminently lyric vein, in which a facile orientalism plays a prominent part. It displays the technical fluidity which might be expected of a pupil of Massenet, and possesses a slight, though palpable, individuality. A ballet, Les Bacchantes (1887), not published until 1912 and recently performed, is in the old style of detached pieces without continuous music. Here Bruneau has been successful in dramatic characterization, but the music is again largely a reflection of Massenet.

It was not until 1891 that Bruneau gave evidence of his characteristic style and individual dramatic method which he has since pursued steadily. French musicians had awakened to the permanent significance of Wagner's dramatic principles, and it is not surprising, therefore, to find that Bruneau accepted these in slight degree. His Wagnerian obligations are virtually limited to an attempt to unite music and text as intimately as possible, to employ leading-motives as symbols of persons or ideas, and to avoid formal melody in the voice parts except at essentially lyric moments. His development of motives, while to a certain extent symphonic, is in fact markedly different from that of Wagner, and his recitatives depart from the traditional accompanied recitatives in that they employ as nearly as[Pg 344] possible the inflections of natural speech over single chords.

The kernel of Bruneau's dramatic method lies in his ardent championing of realism as a guiding principle in general, and his admiration for Émile Zola as a man and as a literary artist in particular. With the exception of Kérim all his operas have been on subjects taken from Zola's works, or on texts by Zola himself. With the ideals of realism in mind, Bruneau has avoided legendary subjects, although many of his works are symbolic, and he has preferred to treat dramas of everyday life, animated by the passions of ordinary mortals. As Debussy reflected the impressionism or symbolism of poets, painters, and dramatists in his music, so Bruneau's operas are a counterpart of the realistic movement. In place, therefore, of the stilted, unreal action which disfigures even the finest conceptions of Wagner, Bruneau has sought to replace it with a lifelike, tense, and rapid simulation of life itself. His realism has even led to the discarding in his later operas of verse for prose from obvious realistic considerations. In spite of some Teutonic sources, Bruneau is eminently Gallic in his musical and dramatic standpoint, and, while certain formulas of his teacher, Massenet, persist for a time, in the main he is rigorously independent. For a time Bruneau was considered revolutionary in his harmonic standpoint, but musically at least he cannot be called iconoclastic, or even progressive. The strength of his achievement lies entirely in his qualities as a dramatist pure and simple.

The first work which embodied Bruneau's realistic attitude was Le Rêve (1891), text by Gallet after Zola's novel. The essence of the work dramatically lies in the mystical temperament of the heroine, Angélique, who loves the son of a priest (born before his father, a widower, entered the priesthood) despite the opposition[Pg 345] of his father. When she is apparently dying the priest restores her by a miracle and consents to the marriage, only to have the bride fall lifeless as she leaves the church. While Bruneau's musical treatment of Angélique's mystical hallucinations is in a sentimental manner that recalls Massenet, the opera as a whole shows dramatic power of an independent character. Bruneau's second opera in his new style, L'Attaque du Moulin (1893), the dramatization by Gallet of a story by Zola in Les Soirées de Médan, dealing with an episode of the Franco-Prussian war, is far more vital both in drama and music. The mill, the source of life to the miller, Merlier, and his daughter Françoise, is attacked by the enemy. Dominique, a foreigner, who is betrothed to Françoise, is found with powder marks on his hands and is condemned to be shot. The enemy retreat, leaving a sentinel at the mill. The sentinel is assassinated and Merlier is to be shot for the deed. Although Dominique confesses that he did the deed, Merlier dies in his stead so that his daughter may be happy. Bruneau has been equally happy in delineating the peace which reigns at the mill before the arrival of the enemy and the celebration of Françoise's betrothal, and in depicting the brutalities of war and the unselfish death of Merlier. L'Attaque du Moulin is a work of solid inspiration, clarity of style and vivid dramatic force. The Institute of France awarded the Monbinne prize to its composer.

Messidor (1897), text by Zola himself, deals with the struggle between capital and labor and the love of the poor Guillaume for the capitalist's daughter Hélène. The capitalist is ruined, saner economic conditions are brought about and the lovers are united. For a drama which is both sociological and symbolistic Bruneau has written music of broadly humanitarian character and a vitally descriptive vigor. His musical[Pg 346] style is firmer and his conceptions are realized with less crudeness than in previous works. L'Ouragan (1901), whose action turns upon a devastating hurricane in a fishing village, and also the tempestuous passions of its inhabitants, has a primitive quality characteristic of both author and composer. There is conscious symbolism in this work also in the distinction of types found in the three feminine characters. Of this opera Debussy wrote: 'He (Bruneau) has, among all musicians, a fine contempt for formulas, he walks across his harmonies without troubling himself as to their grammatical sonorous virtue; he perceives melodic associations that some would qualify too quickly as "monstrous" when they are simply unaccustomed.'[67]

L'Enfant roi (1905), Naïs Micoulin (1907), and La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret (1907) display qualities similar to Bruneau's other operas, in which close adjustment to the drama and consistent musical treatment are the notable features. Naïs Micoulin, text by Bruneau himself after Zola's novel, is particularly admirable for its clarity of style, its absence of mannerism, and its vital depiction of two types of jealousy and the faithful devotion of the hunchback, Toine.

Beyond his activity as a dramatic composer, especial mention should be made of Bruneau's work as a critic. He has contributed to many magazines, and he has acted as musical critic for the Gil Blas, Le Figaro, and Le Matin. He has collected three volumes of able criticism, Musiques d'hier et de demain (1900), La Musique Française (1901), containing much valuable historical material, and Musiques de Russie et Musiciens de France (1903). In these volumes he has shown himself a vigorous and broad critic of catholicity of taste and striking discrimination.

To sum up the dramatic work of Bruneau as a whole, he must be considered as representing a sincere phase [Pg 347]of French evolution at a critical time. While it is questionable whether realism can be a permanently successful basis for opera, a form in which æsthetic compromise and illusion are inherent, there is no denying the courageous independence of his position and the plausible defense of his methods which his operas constitute. It must be confessed, however, that Bruneau's dramatic instinct takes precedence over his concrete musical gifts and the former carries off many scenes and episodes in which the latter lags behind. In short, Bruneau's gift for the stage is unquestionable, and his dramatic innovations must remain identified with French progress in this medium. His most obvious defect lies in the inequality of his musical inspiration. If his melodic sense is frank and spontaneous as in the prelude to Act I of L'Attaque du Moulin, the broad theme after the curtain rises in Act I of Messidor, the introduction and 'Sowing Song' in Act II of the same opera, the 'Song of the Earth' in Naïs Micoulin, the contour of Bruneau's melodies is, on the other hand, too often awkward and devoid of distinction. Likewise his thematic manipulation is lacking in flexibility or striking development, especially in the too obvious employment of the devices of 'augmentation' and 'diminution' (see L'Ouragan, prelude to Act I). Yet the allegorical Ballet of Gold in Act III of Messidor and the Introduction to Act IV of the same work show that Bruneau has sensibility toward symphonic qualities. Bruneau's harmonic idiom is rather monotonous and devoid of that subtle recognition of style that we find in the impressionistic school. On the other side, its wholesome vigor has the sincerity which is the hall-mark of realism. As a harmonist Bruneau is not advanced.

Despite the flaws that one can find in Bruneau the musician, they are perhaps after all the defects of his virtues. At a time of wavering and uncertainty, Bruneau showed uncompromising sincerity, stuck to his[Pg 348] guns, defied opinion with a resolution and a reckless adherence to his æsthetic standpoint worthy of a friend of Zola. If his works have not the involuntary persuasion that we find in other ultra-modern French operas, one must acknowledge a preëminent dramatic gift, possessing in its presentation of sociological and humanistic problems vitality, high purpose and moments of indubitable inspiration. If Bruneau's musical defects hamper to a certain extent his wider recognition, his fearless independence, his utter contempt for imitation of others, and the remarkable dramatic affinity between his conceptions and those of Zola's are too striking not to be considered an interesting episode in French dramatic evolution.

While Bruneau's operas, apart from a few performances in London, Germany, and New York, have received attention chiefly in France, Gustave Charpentier, despite his relatively small productivity, has won a universal recognition.

Gustave Charpentier was born in the town of Dieuze in Lorraine, June 25, 1860. After the Franco-Prussian war his parents came to live in Tourcoing, not far from Lille. As a boy Charpentier showed natural aptitude for the violin, clarinet, and solfeggio, although he was obliged to work in a factory to support himself. His employer became so struck with his musical ability that he sent him to the Conservatory at Lille, where he obtained numerous prizes. As a result of this the municipality of Tourcoing granted him an annual pension of twelve hundred francs to study at the Paris Conservatory. In 1881 he began his work there as a pupil of Massart, the violinist. He was not successful in competition and, moreover, was obliged to leave to fulfill his military service. Returning to the Conservatory, he took up the study of harmony and later entered Massenet's class in composition. He was unsuccessful in a fugue competition, but in 1887 he[Pg 349] received the first prix de Rome for his cantata Dido, which showed distinct dramatic gift and a concise and logical continuity of musical development.

From Rome he sent back as the required proofs of his industry an orchestral suite 'Impressions of Italy,' permeated with Italian atmosphere and folk-song, a symphony-drama, 'The Life of a Poet,' for solos, chorus and orchestra, which may be regarded as a precursor of his later dramatic work, and the first act of 'Louise.' This last was, however, not presented to the Institute, as that institution considered that 'The Life of a Poet' might count for two works.[68]

On returning to Paris Charpentier went to live in Montmartre, the Bohemian and artistic quarter, and entered passionately into the life about him. It presented the inspiration and material which he wished to embody in musical conceptions. He absorbed both the socialism of the quarter and its Bohemian disparagement of artistic and moral convention. Thus he witnessed the aspiration of artists, their enthusiasm for a life of freedom, together with its inevitable degradation. He studied its types avidly, and reproduced them with a verisimilitude that has made them well nigh immortal. During these years he composed many of the Poèmes chantés (published as a whole in 1894), the songs, Les Fleurs du mal (1895), on poems by Baudelaire; the Impressions fausses, on poems by Verlaine, including La Veillée rouge (1894); symbolic variations for baritone and male chorus with orchestra; and La Ronde des Compagnons (1895), for the same combination. In 1896 his Sérénade à Watteau (the poem by Verlaine) for voices and orchestra was performed in the Luxembourg gardens. In 1898 a cantata, Le Couronnement de la muse, depicting an established Montmartre custom, later incorporated in 'Louise,' was given in the square of the Hôtel de Ville. As a whole, [Pg 350]these vocal works, with the exception of the cantata, are of interest merely as showing the early style of the composer and for their premonitions of his later idiom. Charpentier is not a born song-writer and his settings of Baudelaire's Le Jet d'eau, La Mort des amantes and L'Invitation au voyage, of Verlaine's Chevaux de bois and Sérénade à Watteau have been easily surpassed by Debussy and Duparc. The most attractive are a setting of Mauclair's La Chanson du chemin for solo voice, women's chorus and orchestra, and the Impressions fausses by Verlaine, in which his dramatic and socialistic bent is more plausible.

In the meantime Charpentier had been working steadily at his 'musical novel' Louise, both text and music by himself, which he had begun at Rome. This work, perhaps the most characteristic of his style, was performed for the first time at the Opéra-comique, February 3, 1900. It was an instant and prolonged success, and its composer was not only famous but prosperous financially. Since the recognition of 'Louise' Charpentier has suffered from irregular health. The production of 'Julien' (1896-1904) at Paris, June 4, 1913, announced as a sequel to 'Louise,' has added little to his reputation. It is founded largely on the music of 'The Life of a Poet,' with added episodes which contrast incongruously with the idiom of the earlier work. It has been announced that Charpentier has finished a 'popular epic' entitled a Triptych. This, it is said, will contain three two-act operas with the sub-titles, L'Amour au faubourg, Commédiante, and Tragédiante.

In 1900 Charpentier founded the Conservatoire populaire de Mimi Pinson (the generic slang title for the shop-girl) for encouraging the musical education of working girls. But, despite its worthy sociological purpose, this institution has failed. Charpentier has occasionally written critical articles, among them sympathetic[Pg 351] reviews of Bruneau's L'Attaque du Moulin and L'Ouragan.

In considering the music and personality of Charpentier it must be recognized at the outset that he is far removed in emotional and intellectual makeup from other prominent figures in modern French music. A child of the people, absorbing socialistic tendencies from his boyhood, he is a musician of the instinctive type, averse to analysis or pre-conceived theory. As Bruneau drew his inspiration from the creed of realism and the works of Zola, so Charpentier is dominated by his ardent socialistic bent. His music attempts to embody his impressions of life from a democratic standpoint, in which realism and symbolism are sometimes felicitously and sometimes jarringly mingled.

In his musical idiom Charpentier stands close to Massenet, with that involuntary absorption of his teacher's principles which actuates most of the pupils of that facile but marvellously grounded composer. Charpentier is far more sincere, however, in his relations to his art, in that he has not courted popularity or lowered his artistic standard for the sake of success. Despite his obligations to Massenet, Charpentier has a vigorously independent idiom in which Bohemianism and a poetic humanity are the chief ingredients. This asserts itself even if the ultimate source of his style is obvious. He is also indebted to his master for the transparent yet coloristic treatment of the orchestra, in which sonority is obtained without waste or effort. If at times it is evident that Charpentier has not listened to Wagner without profit, the main current of his orchestral procedures, like his basic musical qualities, is preëminently Gallic.

In the early suite, 'Impressions of Italy' (1890), Charpentier has depicted in a pleasing and picturesque style various aspects of nature, the serenades of young men[Pg 352] on leaving the inns at midnight, with responses of mandolins and guitars; the balanced and stately walk of peasant maidens carrying water from the spring; the brisk trot of mules with jingling harnesses and their driver's songs; the wide stretches of country seen from the heights near the 'Desert of Sorrento,' the cries of birds and the distant sounds of convent bells; and for finale a realistic description of a fête night at Naples with the tarantella, folk-songs, bands drowning each other out and general and uproarious gayety. While the musical substance of this suite is undeniably light, Charpentier has mingled Italian melodies, descriptions of nature and a poetic undercurrent with an unusual atmospheric charm and glamour that outweigh concretely musical consideration. His instinctive and coloristic manipulation of orchestral timbres heightens greatly the programmistic illusion.

Though the 'Life of a Poet' (1889-91), scenario and text by Charpentier, is crude and immature, it possesses indubitable dramatic vitality notwithstanding. It tells the tragedy of a young and aspiring poet who would conquer the world of expression, confident in his ability. Gradually he is assailed by doubt, loses his faith and ultimately recognizes that he cannot coördinate the vast problems confronting him into unity. Seeking oblivion in drunkenness, he acknowledges his defeat and the drama of his life is over.

In this work Charpentier has placed symbolism and realism side by side in a way that is disconcerting. After an orchestral prelude entitled 'Enthusiasm,' at once rough, forceful and incoherent, a mysterious chorus with the title 'Preparation' has dramatic power and human sentiment. The second and third scenes, respectively described as 'Incantation' and 'In the Land of Dreams,' are still occupied with the symbolic appeal of the poet to inspiration. Throughout this act the music is effective dramatically, although often not far[Pg 353] removed from tawdry. In the second act, 'Doubt,' there is a luminous charm in the chorus sung by the 'voices of night,' an appropriate interpretation of the poet's harassing uncertainty in the second scene, and an extremely poetic orchestral passage descriptive of his meditations, which ends the act. In the first tableau of the third act, entitled 'Impotence,' an orchestral introduction of some length, again crudely dramatic, depicts graphically the losing struggle of the poet for his artistic soul. The chorus, 'voices of malediction,' curse a divinity which permits the ruin of the artist's dreams. To this, the poet, sombre and fantastic, adds his last plaint of despair and his curse. In the second 'picture' the poet is at a fête in Montmartre. The orchestra paints vividly the riot of cheap bands and the reckless jollity. The chorus echoes the curse of the preceding act and dies away in mysterious murmurs. A dance orchestra (in the wings) plays a vulgar polka, a noisy military band chimes in while passing. To these a melody is dexterously added in the orchestra. A reminiscence of a chorus in the first act is ingeniously contrived with the polka and orchestral melody as accompaniment. The poet, now drunk, apostrophizes a wretched girl of the streets, who replies with mocking laughter. The orchestra suggests the æsthetic disintegration of the poet, the chorus recalls the aspirations of his earlier life and finally the poet voices his defeat.

'The Life of a Poet' is interesting because it presents in a somewhat primitive state the essential characteristics of the mature Charpentier, namely, a palpable dramatic gift, the faculty of poetic and humanizing illumination and differentiation of scenes. In the scene at Montmartre he has not only furnished a precursor of the Bohemian realism in 'Louise,' but he has displayed considerable contrapuntal facility. If the 'Life of a Poet' has the clearly discernible defects of youth, it[Pg 354] has also its vitality and a spontaneous conviction which was prophetic of the future.

The universality of appeal to be found in 'Louise' (finished in 1900, although begun at Rome), a 'musical novel' in four acts, text by the composer, lies chiefly in its simple dramatic poignancy. The story is that of an innocent girl trusting the instincts of her heart in returning the affection of the irresponsible Bohemian poet who lives nearby; her elopement with the poet, her enthralling happiness and brief triumph as 'Muse of Montmartre' shattered by the false report of her father's serious illness; her return to the parental dwelling, her impatient chafing at restraint, her intolerable longing to return to her lover and the facile Bohemian life; her father's anger and her brutal dismissal into the night by him, followed by his curse on Paris. All is basically human and typical of life under all conditions and places. But 'Louise' contains other elements which make alike for retentive charm and for critical admiration. In the first place, it is pervaded by an insinuating glorification of Paris as a city of freedom and provocative attraction, a perpetual Bohemian paradise. Next, by the nature of the plot it affords an opportunity for the librettist to voice a socialistic assertion of the individual's right to personal liberty, somewhat sententiously uttered, and a condemnation of restraint symbolized by parental egotism. 'Louise' also contains a plausible and graphic portrayal of artist life in Montmartre, including the time-honored ceremony of crowning its 'Muse,' by which Charpentier has immortalized types doomed to disappear before the commercialization of the quarter for the foreign visitor. In addition Charpentier may claim distinction for his services as a folk-lorist by introducing the street cries of various vendors to increase 'local color,' recalling the ingenious choruses by Jannequin (of the sixteenth century), such as Les Cris de Paris and Le[Pg 355] Chant des Oiseaux. Thus in time it may be recognized that he has fulfilled an ethnographic purpose of some import.

As the dramatic attraction of 'Louise' resides in its simplicity, so also its musical value resides in its continuous spontaneity, its limpidity of style, devoid of all pretentious scholasticism, in which, however, there is plenty of technical skill and unostentatious mastery of material. Charpentier's dramatic and musical idiom follows the conception of Massenet, in which the constituent elements are balanced, without superfluous insistence upon either. He employs formal lyricism, except when the situation demands it, uses a flowing and melodic declamation which gives free play to the annunciation of the text. He employs motives freely, not in the Wagnerian fashion, however, but in their flexible manipulation succeeds in giving the needful touches of detailed characterization. If his orchestral sonority verges occasionally upon coarseness, as a whole it enhances and colors the dramatic emotions with remarkable skill and poetic fancy.

But, aside from the question of dramatic method, it is the freshness of invention, the skill in characterization, and the ebullient musical imaginativeness of 'Louise' which makes it so unusual among operas. It is more accurate and illusive in its picture of Bohemianism than Puccini's La Bohème, and possesses far more human depth and emotional sincerity throughout. In this respect also it is far above the generality of Massenet's operas, and may be compared, despite their essential difference in musical individuality, to the operas of Bruneau. Charpentier is more of a poet, and his musical invention is far readier. While it may be needless to particularize the domestic scenes in the first act; the prelude to the second act, 'The City Awakens,' with the scene before the dawn in which the rag-pickers, the coal-gleaners, and other characters[Pg 356] of the night-world discuss of life as they have found it; the second scene in the same act, the dressmaker's workshop, with an orchestral part for the sewing machine, in which the sewers converse idly and try to account for Louise's moodiness, the whole first tableau of the third act, in which Julien and Louise sing of the lure of Paris; Louise's scene with her father in the fourth act, all these are concrete examples of the interpretative power of Charpentier the dramatist and composer.

It is difficult to be enthusiastic over Julien. If the hero justifies the opposition of Louise's parents (for the story of 'The Life of a Poet' forms its dramatic basis), the introduction of many allegorical or symbolic episodes not only mars the continuity of the drama, but their musical style offends by its difference from that of the music of 'The Life of a Poet,' upon which Charpentier has drawn so freely for the later opera. While in many instances Charpentier has shown ingenuity in adapting his earlier music, the total result of his labors has not only been disappointing but disillusionizing in the extreme.

As a whole, Charpentier, the poet of 'Impressions of Italy,' the crude but forceful dramatist of the 'Poet's Life,' the mature artist of 'Louise,' has accomplished certain unique aspects of realism with a symbolic or sociological undercurrent. Limited as he is to 'the quarter,' he has been also universal, and his sincere and picturesque vision has something of permanence. As a pupil of Massenet he does not belong to the vanguard, but his plausible synthesis of seemingly contradictory elements has left a permanent impress in the annals of modern French music.

[Pg 357]


While categorical classification is not always essential in criticism, it is somewhat discommoding to acknowledge that a composer cannot conveniently be placed under one logical and comprehensive heading. While assimilation of qualities peculiar to two opposing groups can be unified to a considerable extent, the work of such an artist is inevitably lacking in complete homogeneity. Such a figure is Dukas, who, nevertheless, must be considered a force of considerable vitality in present-day French music.

Paul Dukas was born in Paris, October 1, 1865. Toward his fourteenth year his musical gifts asserted themselves. In 1881, after some preliminary study, he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he was a pupil of Mathias (piano), Dubois (harmony), and Guiraud (composition). In 1888 he was awarded the second prix de Rome for his cantata Valleda. Since he was passed over entirely in the competition of the following year, he left the Conservatory and fulfilled his military service. At this period he had composed three overtures, of which the last, Polyeucte, alone has been published and performed. In his Cours de Composition,[69] d'Indy discloses that Dukas was ill-satisfied with the instruction he received at the Conservatory, and that he subsequently made a profound study of the classics and evolved his own technical idiom. Dukas, however, shows the effect of two schools, that of Franck in much of his instrumental music, and a sympathy with that of Debussy in the dramatic field. To acknowledge this does not mean to tax him with lack of individuality, but merely to recognize the confluence of opposing viewpoints.

The overture Polyeucte (1891) shows surprising command for so young a man of the technique of composition[Pg 358] and orchestration, although unnecessarily elaborate in the former particular. It has the classic dignity of Corneille and at the same time is sincerely dramatic. The Symphony in C (1895-96) shows considerable progress in many respects: clearer part writing, unpretentious yet logical construction, no apparent ambition other than to write sincerely within the limits of normal symphonic style. There is also marked advance in clarity and brilliance in the orchestral style. In 1897 Dukas made a pronounced hit with his fantastic and imaginative Scherzo, L'Apprenti sorcier, after Goethe's ballad, first performed at a concert of the National Society. This work is one of the landmarks of modern French music for its elastic fluency of style, the descriptive imagery of its music, and, above all, its personal note, in which the orchestra was treated with dazzling mastery.

A Sonata for piano (1899-1900) forsakes the vein of programmistic tour de force entirely and exhibits a dignified, almost classic, style whose workmanship is admirable throughout. The theme of the first movement is distinguished, the second less interesting until it appears in the recapitulation with deft canonic imitation. The slow movement is somewhat cold and lacking in inner sentiment; the scherzo is individual, and the finale solid. Similarly the 'Variations, Interlude and Finale,' on a theme by Rameau, for piano (1902), is not only composed with similar preoccupation for thorough workmanship, but its spirit, save for some ever-present harmonic boldness, seems to have proceeded from the epoch of the theme. As a matter of fact, these variations show a post-Beethovenian ingenuity, and genuine skill in perceiving the gracious theme of Rameau in different and engaging lights that make this work conspicuous among piano literature in modern French music. But this music is strongly suggestive of d'Indy and the Schola. A Villanelle for horn and piano[Pg 359] (1906) is a charming piece which achieves individuality despite the limitations of the horn.

But when Dukas' music for Maeterlinck's Ariane et Barbe Bleue (1907) was performed May 10, 1907, after he had begun and rejected 'Horn and Riemenhild' (1892) and 'The Tree of Science' (1899), a greater surprise was in store than upon the occasion when L'Apprenti Sorcier was played for the first time.

Instead of the shrinking figure of the fairy-tale, Ariane is a representative of the feminist movement, if not almost a militant suffragette, who flatly disobeys Bluebeard, opens all the forbidden doors to deck herself with jewels, releases her captive sisters, helps them to free Bluebeard when the infuriated peasants have attacked and bound him, and then returns to her home, leaving her infatuated sisters who have too little imagination to make a decision. Dukas has treated this story in a style that at once admits a coherent and almost symphonic development of motives, and employs a harmonic idiom that profits by all that Debussy has done to extend the whole-tone scale. Dukas does not employ this scale as Debussy has done, but it is obvious that he never would have gone so far if it had not been for his pioneer contemporary. Instead of the translucent orchestra of Pelléas, Dukas has employed one that is appropriately far more robust, but which he has nevertheless used with discretion and reserve. He has taken advantage of the discovery of the jewels in the first act to employ coloristic resources lavishly. Despite the complex obligations in the matter of style, Dukas has produced music of a spontaneously decorative and dramatic type, which makes this opera significant among the works of recent years. While Ariane is unequal, the first scene, excellently worked-out ensemble, the close of the first act, the introduction and first scene of the second, and the close of the work cannot be effaced from the records of modern French opera.

[Pg 360]

In 1910, Dukas had another success with his poëme dansant, La Péri, on a scenario of his own, which has been exquisitely interpreted by Mlle. Trouhanova, to whom it is dedicated. Here is a work of the ballet type, which unites felicitously a sense of structure with a gift for atmospheric interpretation. In this respect, La Péri is one of the most satisfactory of Dukas' works, and one in which his encyclopedic knowledge and his imaginative gifts are best displayed.

In addition to his gifts as a composer, Dukas is an editor and critic of distinction. He has retouched some concertos for violin and clavecin by Couperin; he has revised Les Indes galantes, La Princesse de Navarre and Zephyre by Rameau for the complete edition of that master's works. He made a four-hand arrangement of Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, and together with that distinguished composer finished and orchestrated Fredegonde, an opera left incomplete by Guiraud at his death. In addition, Dukas' articles for the Revue Hebdomadaire and the Gazette des Beaux Arts display erudition and the clairvoyant judgment of the born critic.

Thus, although attaching himself to no one group exclusively, Dukas has, by his capacity for architectural treatment of instrumental forms and his atmospheric gift in dramatic characterization, attained a position of dignity and individual expression.


It is not within the province of this chapter to be all-inclusive, but merely to recognize the achievement of the more notable figures. In consequence a brief mention of some composers of lesser stature, and a slight enlargement upon two of the more distinguished, will suffice to account for present-day activity. There are, however, two precursors of modern French music, who[Pg 361] from the circumstances of their lives and talent have not reached the fruition which they might have deserved. The first of these, Ernest Fanelli, for thirty years lived the life of an obscure and impoverished musician, playing the triangle in a small orchestra, accompanying at cafés, laboring as a copyist. By mere chance, Gabriel Pierné discovered in 1912 an orchestral work, the first part Thebes, a symphonic poem founded on Théophile Gautier's Roman de la Mome, composed 1883-87. The music was found to have anticipated many harmonic effects of a later idiom including a fairly developed whole-tone system. Other works like the Impressions Pastorales (1890), some Humoresques and a quintet for strings entitled L'Ane show their composer to have poetic and descriptive gifts, whose late revelation is not without pathos. Fanelli can exert no historical influence, but he remains an isolated and belated phenomenon whose temporary vogue is doubtless likely soon to suffer eclipse.

Erik Satie, whose name has been mentioned in connection with Maurice Ravel, and who doubtless was not unsympathetic to Debussy since he orchestrated two of his Gymnopédies, was born in 1866 and studied for a time at the Paris Conservatory. But an examination of his music would prognosticate his distaste for that academic institution. He was influenced by the pre-Raphaelites, and by the Salon de la Rose Croix and by the mystical movement in literature generally. His music, chiefly for piano, wavers between an elevated and symbolic mysticism and an ironic and over-strained impressionism. Regarded for years as an eccentric poseur with some admixture of the charlatan, it must now be recognized that he had glimmerings of a modern harmonic idiom and subjective expression in some of its aspects before the generality of modern Parisian musicians. But these qualities were hampered in their development by the ultra-fantastic character[Pg 362] of his ideas, and an incapacity for a coherent development of them. He abhors the tyranny of the barline, and many of his pieces have no rhythmical indication from one end to the other, beyond the relative value of the notes. He is also loath to employ cadences, a prophetic glimpse of the future.

Among his earlier works, the Sarabandes (1887), Gymnopédies (1888), incidental music for a drama by Sar Peladan, Le Fils des Étoiles (1891), Sonneries de la Rose Croix (1892), Uspud, a 'Christian ballet' with one character (1892), Pièces froides (1897) and Morceaux en forme de poire (1903), by their titles alone indicate the character of their musical substance. The Gymnopédies and the Sonneries de la Rose Croix are interesting for their absence of the commonplace and for suggestions of a poetic vein. The later works dating from 1912 and 1913 have fantastic titles which awake the curiosity only to disappoint it by the contents of the music. Aperçus désagréable, Descriptions automatiques, Chapitres tournés en tous sens seem deliberately contrived to affront the unwary, and cannot lay claim to any influence beyond their perverse humor, and occassional ironic caricature as in Celle qui parle trop, Danse maigre and Españana.

Among the many contributors toward the upbuilding of modern French music one must recall the names of Gabriel Pierné for his piano concerto, a symphonic poem for chorus and orchestra, L'An mil, the operas Vendée, La Fille de Tabarin (1900), the choral works La Croisade des Enfants (1903) and Les Enfants de Bethlehem (1907); Deodat de Sévérac for his piano suites Le Chant de la Terre (1900) and En Languedoc (1904), the operas Cœur du Moulin (1909) and Heliogabale (1910); Gustave Samazeuilh for his string quartet, a sonata for violin and piano, the orchestral pieces Étude Symphonique d'après 'la Nef' and Le Sommeil de Canope; Isaac Albéniz, although of Spanish[Pg 363] birth associated with French composers;[70] Roger-Ducasse for orchestral works, a 'mimodrame' Orphée, Louis Aubert for a Fantasie for piano and orchestra, songs, a Suite brêve for orchestra and the opera La Forêt bleue. In addition the names of Chevillard, Busser, Ladmirault, Henri Rabaud, André Messager,[71] Labey, Casella, and others might be added. A figure of some solitary distinction is Alberic Magnard (died 1914), whose operas Yolande, Guercœur and Bérénice, three symphonies and other orchestral works, chamber music, piano pieces and songs, show him to be a serious musician who disdained popularity. Associated with the Schola he partook of d'Indy's artistic stimulus without losing his own individuality.

Two composers whose achievements are the strongest of the younger generation are Albert Roussel and Florent Schmitt. The former, born in 1869, entered the navy, and even visited Cochin-China. In 1898 he entered the Schola, where he studied with d'Indy for nine years. Since 1902 he has taught counterpoint at the Schola. His principal works are the piano pieces Rustiques (1904-6), a Suite (1909), a Trio (1902), a Divertissement for wind instruments (1906), a Sonata for piano and violin (1907-08), the orchestral works 'A Prelude,' after Tolstoy's novel 'Resurrection' (1903), Le poëme de la Forêt, a symphony (1904-6) and three symphonic sketches, 'Evolutions' (1910-11), the last with chorus, a ballet-pantomine, Le Festin de l'Araignée (1913). Of these the best known are the orchestral works and the ballet. If the symphony suggests many traits of d'Indy, there is in it no lack of individual ideas [Pg 364]and treatment. The 'Evolutions' seem far more personal, and in both style and contents convince that Roussel is a genuine creative force. The ballet, 'The Festival of the Spider,' is an ingenious dramatic conception in which the characters are the spider, flies, beetles and worms. The music in its delicate subtlety is ingeniously adapted to the action, and in addition is picturesquely orchestrated with a minimum of resource. Roussel has undergone a long and severe apprenticeship and his later achievements have proved its efficacy.

Florent Schmitt, born 1870, is of Lorraine origin. After some preliminary study, he entered the Paris Conservatory in 1889. Dubois and Lavignac were his first teachers; subsequently he joined the classes of Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. Leaving the Conservatory to undergo his military service, he obtained a second prix de Rome in 1897. In 1900 he was awarded the first prize with the cantata Semiramis. After his prescribed stay at the Villa Medicis in Rome, Schmitt travelled to Germany, Austria and Hungary and even Turkey.

Schmitt has been a prolific composer and space will not permit a consideration of all his works. Those upon which his rising reputation rests are a Quintette for piano and strings (1905-08), the 47th Psalm for solo, chorus, orchestra and organ (1904) and two symphonic poems, Le Palais hanté after Poe, and La Tragédie de Salomé (1907), in its original form danced as a drame muet by Loie Fuller. In addition are many piano pieces for two and four hands, and for two pianos, songs and choruses.

In Florent Schmitt's music is to be found alike the solid contrapuntal workmanship of the Conservatory and the atmospheric procedures of Debussy. These are combined with a striking homogeneity and a dominating force that make Schmitt perhaps the most promising figure among French younger musicians of to-day.[Pg 365] If this praise must be qualified, it must be acknowledged that he is overfluent, and that the triviality of many of his ideas is only saved by his extraordinary skill in treating them. In this respect his resourcefulness is surprising and well-nigh infallible. The massive architectural quality of the quintet, the barbaric splendor of the 47th Psalm,[72] and the passionate and sinister mood of La Tragédie de Salomé make these works significant of the future even in the face of previous achievements by his older contemporaries.

If this survey of modern French composers seem oversanguine in its assertions, even the most conservative critic must admit that their work within the last thirty years has possessed a singularly unified continuity. Striving deliberately to attain racial independence, the various composers have attained their end with a unity of achievement which is not surpassed in modern times. Whether following the counsel of the naturalized Franck, or heeding the iconoclastic tendencies of Chabrier, Fauré and Debussy, and the realistic aspirations of Bruneau and Charpentier, the impressions of Ravel with its added graphic touches of realism, French music has had a distinctive style, a personal explanation of mood and a racial individuality such as it has not shown since the days of Rameau. The question as to its durability may be raised, as has been done in many epochs and countries, but its position in the immediate past, and in certain aspects of the present, leaves no doubt as to its conviction and its import.

E. B. H.


[61] Louis Laloy Monograph on Debussy, Paris, Dorbon ainé, 1909, p. 12.

[62] Laloy: op. cit. p. 52.

[63] Ibid., pp. 20-21, 24-26.

[64] Quarter-note.

[65] Boston Symphony Orchestra Program-book Dec. 21st, 1904.

[66] Roland Manuel: Maurice Ravel et son œuvre (1904), pp. 8 et seq.

[67] Quoted by Octave Séré from La Revue Blanche, May 15, 1901.

[68] Octave Séré: Musiciens français d'aujourd'hui, p. 101.

[69] Cours de Composition, Deuxième Livre, Première Partie, p. 331.

[70] See pp. 405f.

[71] Messager, b. 1853, is most widely known for a number of charming operettas, continuing the traditions of Offenbach and Lecoq, of which Véronique (1898), also produced in America, is probably the best. His most worthy contemporary in this department is Robert Planquette (1850-1903), whose Les Cloches de Corneville ('Chimes of Normandy') is perennially popular.

[72] The 46th in the French Bible.

[Pg 366]


The Musical traditions of Modern Italy—Verdi's heirs: Boïto, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Wolf-Ferrari, Franchetti, Giordano, Orefice, Mancinelli—New paths; Montemezzi, Zandonai, and de Sabbata.


For those to whom music is an entertainment rather than an art, the idea that Italy is the 'land of music' will always exist. Almost an axiom has this popular notion become among such persons. And there is, indeed, little purpose in discouraging the belief. For what is to be gained by destroying an illusion which, in actual working, does no harm? Italy's musical development and that, for example, of Germany, are diametrically opposed to each other. Yet they both stand to-day for something particular and peculiar to their own natures. Man in his evolution has subconsciously wrought certain changes, certain innovations; he has been guided in doing so not so much by his desires as by his national characteristics.

Taking this into consideration there is nothing that cannot be understood in Italy's musical line from Palestrina to Montemezzi. Perhaps the road has been travelled with fewer halts with a view to an ideal than has that of other nations, but it has been in accordance with those things which not only shape a nation's fate but also its art. The Italian race, descended as it is from the Roman, had traditions. The ideals of that group of men known as the Florentine monodists were high. It was their purpose to add such music to the spoken[Pg 367] word as would intensify its meaning and make its effect upon an audience more pronounced. In short, as far back as 1600, when these men flourished, the ambition of Richard Wagner and the music drama, or, if you prefer, the Greek tragedy of Sophokles and Æschylus, was known by Italian musicians who in their composing tried to establish a union between text and music such as the master of Bayreuth only accomplished late in the nineteenth century. With the beginnings of oratorio and opera—they differed little at first—the idea that personal success for the performer was necessary crept in. Had it not, Richard Wagner would not have been obliged to revolutionize the form of production given on the lyric stage. Händel, a German by birth and an Englishman by adoption, wrote florid Italian opera after 1700; he sacrificed the significance of the word to the effectiveness of his vocal writing and produced some things thereby which we of to-day can look upon only as ludicrous. The musical world knows how opera was composed in Italy in the latter part of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century. The librettist was not a poet, but a poetaster; a composer of eminence would call upon him to supply words for an aria already composed and especially adapted to the voice of some great and popular singer. The result naturally was an art-form which was neither sincere nor of real value, except from the standpoint of the singer.

The early Verdi followed the form which was known to him by attending the performances of opera given in his youth in Italy. But he saw the error of his ways and his masterpieces, Aida, Otello and Falstaff, more than atone for his early operas, which have little merit other than their facile melodic flow. Was it not to be expected that after him would come men who would emulate the manner of his last works? Was it unnatural to believe that Italy would interest itself in a more[Pg 368] faithful setting of words to music? And the direct followers of the composer of Otello gave forth something that called the world's attention to their works. That it maintained Italian opera at a plane equal to the three final works of Verdi cannot be said. It was a passing phase and opened the way for the men who are now raising Italian operatic composition to the highest point in its history. As such it served its purpose.

When Giuseppe Verdi died in 1901 there had already been inaugurated the Realist movement in Italian opera. Italy's 'grand old man' had seen Pietro Mascagni achieve world renown with his Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggiero Leoncavallo follow him with the popular I Pagliacci. What he thought of the 'Veritists' we are not favored with knowing. It would seem safe to say that he could not have been deeply impressed by them; for the soul which gave musical expression to the emotions of the dying lovers Radames and Aïda, to the grief-stricken Otello after his murder of the lovely Desdemona, could have had little sympathy with the productions of men who fairly grovelled in the dust and covered themselves with mire in their attempts to picture the primitive feelings of Sicilian peasantry.

One man who is still alive and whose best work has a place in the répertoire of more than one opera house was a valued friend of Verdi. Arrigo Boïto[73] is his name. It was he who prepared for Verdi the libretti of Otello and Falstaff and produced a highly creditable score himself in his Mefistofele. Time was when this modern Italian's version of the Faust story was looked upon by cognoscenti as music of modern trend. In 1895 R. A. Streatfeild, the English critic, spoke of it as [Pg 369]'music of the head, rather than of the heart.' Hear it to-day and you will wonder how he made such a statement, for we have gone far since Mefistofele and to us it sounds pretty much like 'old Italian opera' in the accepted sense. But in its day it had potency. Boïto is, however, a finer littérateur than he is a musician. Since his success with Mefistofele he has not given us anything else. He has, to be sure, been working for many years on a Nero opera, the second act of which—there are to be five—is now completed. But a few years ago he donned the senatorial toga and matters of state have so occupied his attention that he is permitted now to turn his thoughts to music only at intervals. Further, he is already a man well along in years and the impulse to create is no longer strong. Those who know Boïto have reported that he will not complete Nero and that it will go down as a fragment.

Alberto Franchetti, born in 1860 in Turin, has composed Asrael, Cristoforo Colombo and Germania, three long, unimportant works, tried and found wanting. It was Luigi Torchi, the distinguished Italian critic, who, in discussing Asrael called it 'the most fantastic, metaphysical humbug that was ever seen on the stage.' (Torchi wrote this before Charpentier compelled himself to complete his 'Louise'!) Franchetti's leaning is toward the historical opera à la Meyerbeer, his method is Wagnerian. Originality he has none.

Our Realists are before us: Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Giordano, Puccini and Wolf-Ferrari. We have purposely omitted the names of men like Smareglia, Cilea, Tasca and Spinelli. Their music has long since been relegated to oblivion even in their own land. Little of it ever got beyond the Italian boundary. Spinelli's A Basso Porto reached New York in 1900 and was thus described by Mr. W. J. Henderson, music critic of the New York Sun: 'The story is so repulsive, the personages so repellent, the motives so atrocious and the[Pg 370] whole atmosphere of the thing so foul with the smell of the scums and stews of life, that one is glad to escape to the outer air.... As to the music, ... there is not a measure of it which proclaims inspiration. There is not an idea which carries with it conviction.' Mr. Henderson does not even condemn our American operas so ruthlessly! From all of which the nature of Spinelli's opera may be understood.

We in America have for a number of years looked upon Giacomo Puccini as the greatest of living Italian opera composers. His devotees call him the greatest living creator of operatic music. Already his position is becoming insecure, for younger, more inspired and more learned men are appearing on the horizon of Italy's music. The Italians have never held Puccini in the same esteem as have Americans. Despite his many failures Pietro Mascagni has been the pride of Italian musicians and music-lovers. They will grant you that his L'Amico Fritz, Guglielmo Ratcliff and Iris have failed somewhat ignominiously. They will admit that the story of Iris is one of the most revolting subjects ever chosen for treatment upon the stage. Yet you will have difficulty in proving to the contrary when they challenge you to find them a more powerful piece of orchestral writing by an Italian up to 1910 than the 'Hymn to the Sun' from that opera. We know of nothing in modern Italian music so moving as this marvellously conceived prelude, a piece of imaginative writing of the first rank.

Mascagni[74] found himself famous after his Cavalleria. The youthful vigor of that music, crude and immature, gripped his countrymen and the inhabitants of other lands and made them believe that a new voice had appeared whose musical message was to be noteworthy. Here was a composer who had the training, who possessed[Pg 371] definite musical ideas, who understood the stage—by far the most important thing for a composer of opera—but who has failed to add one iota to his reputation though he has worked laboriously since the early nineties to do so. His Ysabeau, which we were promised a few years ago, has achieved perhaps more success in his native land than any of his operas since Cavalleria; some call it a masterpiece, others decry its style as being unnatural to its composer. A hearing in America would do much to clarify the situation. Unfortunately Mascagni is a man who has disputes with publishers, who disappoints impresarios who desire to produce his works and whose domestic relations rise to turbulent climaxes from time to time. This has played a large part in his failure to receive hearings. And it is indeed lamentable to think that his chances for success have been spoiled by such matters.

His musical style is realistic, but it is never extreme. It was Cavalleria and the success gained by it that gave men like Tasca and Spinelli the idea that they, by carrying verismo further, would be received as composers of note. Mascagni has melodic fluency, he writes well for the voice and his management of the orchestra in Iris is proof positive that he has learned how to avoid that ill-balance of instrumental departments which occurs constantly in Cavalleria.

A smaller spirit is Leoncavallo (b. 1858). I Pagliacci, to be sure, remains one of the most popular operas of the day. But that is no proof of greatness. It must be granted that in it he touched a responsive chord; that his music has warmth and emotional force. But what is there in this little tragedy that lifts one up? What is there of thematic distinction? Signor Leoncavallo, like Mascagni, has pursued the muse and written a dozen or two operas since the world approved of his I Pagliacci. He has written Chatterton, I Medici, Maia, a La Bohème after Murger, I Zingari more recently, and he is now writing an opera called Ave Maria. They represent in toto a vast amount of work, but little of achievement. Those who have heard his recent operas agree unanimously that they lack the spark which Pagliacci possesses, that they are honest works by a man who has little to say and who tries to say that little in an imposing manner.

Perhaps the place of Giacomo Puccini will be determined alone by time. He is one of those creators to whom success in overwhelming measure comes, to whom the praise of the masses is granted during his life-time. Signor Puccini has seen his operas made part and parcel of virtually every operatic institution, large and small, that pretends to have a respectably varied repertory. He has witnessed triumphs, he has the satisfaction of knowing that such a singer as Enrico Caruso in one of his operas can fill the vast auditorium of New York's Metropolitan Opera House. His work, now almost completed, if we are to believe those reports which are divulged as authentic, is the achievement of a successful composer. His early operas Edgar and Le Villi are not in the reckoning. Let us pass them by. But he has given us a La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly and La Fanciulla del West. All of them have been accepted, though there may be some dispute as to the place of the last named. Puccini is now fifty-seven years old. He was born in 1858 at Lucca. He has enjoyed worldly possessions as the result of having written music; he is the idol of the public. Has he won the respect of discerning musicians? Has his music been accorded a place alongside that of the great living masters, such as Richard Strauss, Jean Sibelius and Claude Debussy?

Such a problem presents itself in the case of this popular composer for the stage. We would not deny Puccini a claim to respect; he deserves that, if for no other reason than for his having achieved international approval. But when one comes to a wholly serious investigation one fears that he will not be among the elect of his time. And there is this to be considered in arriving at an evaluation of his achievement. He has written music in every case to stories that the world has taken to its heart, witness Manon, La Bohème, Butterfly, Tosca and 'The Girl.' It mattered little to him whether they were dramas or novels. He waited until the public had judged and then set himself to putting them into operatic form. Such a procedure is, of course, any composer's right. And it shows keen insight of, however, a very obvious kind. If the story of one's opera is already popular and admired by the world, half the battle for approval is already won. The big men were often less wise. Weber wrote music to stories that were not only unknown, but that had no especial appeal; and he wrote his inspired music to libretti that were shamefully constructed and amateurishly written.

[Pg 372]


Modern Italian Composers:

Giacomo Puccini Riccardo Zandonai
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari Pietro Mascagni

[Pg 373]

Men of the first rank, who are artists in everything they do, do not choose their subjects in the way Puccini has. For Wagner the writing of a Tristan und Isolde was life—it was as necessary that he work on that particular drama as that he breathe. And to deal with the 'Parsifal' legend when he did was likewise inevitable. Call 'Parsifal' art or twaddle—it matters little which—you must admit that it reflects the master in his almost senile period, interested in just such an absurd conglomeration as Kundry, Amfortas, Klingsor and its other dramatic materials compose. The greatest composers of opera have written because they had to express certain things and because they found a drama which dealt with it. Puccini has been led by what the world approved.

Puccini has been fortunate, indeed. His La Bohème is artistically his best work. In it there is a finer sense of balance and proportion than in anything that[Pg 374] he has done. He has done what few Italians are able to do, namely, he has interpreted the French spirit. This little opera—whose libretto, effective as it is, is in no wise an adequate reduction of Murger's great novel—is replete with comic and tragic moments that amuse and thrill by turns. The fun-making of the jolly Bohemians, Rodolphe, Marcel, Schaunard and Colline, is capitally pictured in music that is as care-free as the souls of the inhabitants of the Quartier Latin. And the death of little Mimi makes a musical scene that has potency to-day,—yes, even though Puccini has since learned to handle his orchestral apparatus with a firmer grip and a mightier sweep.

La Fanciulla del West, which had its world-première in America in 1911, is Puccini's biggest, if not his best, production. We care not a farthing whether his music be typical of California in 1849—we do wish that the carpers who claim that it is not, would enlighten us by telling just what kind of music is typical of it—nor does it matter whether one hear echoes of his earlier operas in it. It suffices that in it he has written with a sweep and a command of his forces such as he exhibits nowhere else and that he has written gorgeously in more than one scene in the work. We have heard that there is not as much melody in it as in his other operas. But, as a matter of fact, Puccini's melodies in 'The Girl' are quite as good as those in his other operas. What is more, they have a pungency which he has attained nowhere else.

But we fear that it is music of our time and that only. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that audiences of 1975 will find in Puccini anything that will interest them. Works that depend, to a large extent, on the appearance of a certain singer in the cast—and Puccini's operas do—will scarcely exert a hold on the public of a day when those singers shall have passed from this world. Antonio Scotti has made Scarpia in[Pg 375] Tosca so vital a histrionic figure, Mr. Caruso sings Cavaradossi so beautifully that only the most blasé opera-goer fails to get real enjoyment from their personations. And so it is to a large degree with his other operas. Puccini bids fair to become another Meyerbeer when fifty years shall have rolled away. He has enjoyed the same shouts of approval from a public no more discerning than was that of Paris of the early nineteenth century; he has been called the most popular operatic composer of his day. Meyerbeer was, too. Yet to-day we can only find him tiresome and boring; we can but wonder how any public listened to his banalities, his deadly fustian, his woeful lack of inspiration, and express approval. Already the music of the future is dawning on our horizon. Those of us who have given it attention know that it is a very different thing from what music has been in the past. What we know of it now may only be a shadow of what is to come. Will it, when it does come and has been accepted, allow a place to the long-drawn phrases of Giacomo Puccini?


Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, born (1876) of a German mother and an Italian father, presents a problem to us. He is a man whose gifts have not at all times been applied to that which was his ideal, but rather to the immediately necessary. If one looks at him in this light—and it is feasible to do so—one can readily understand some of his artistic indiscretions. The mob knows him as the composer of I Gioielli della Madonna ('Jewels of the Madonna,' 1908), his only essay in operatic realism of the objectionable type. The art-lover hails him as the fine spirit that conceived the little operas Il Segreto di Suzanna, Le Donne Curiose, L'Amore Medico, the oratorio La Vita Nuova, some charming though not important songs and several beautiful pieces of chamber[Pg 376] music, among them two sonatas for violin and piano and a quintet for piano and strings.

Wolf-Ferrari is neither Italian nor German; he is a mixture and so it is possible to conceive his thinking music in two ways.[75] By no means is this desirable, but when it exists, what force can alter it? We feel that the 'Jewels of the Madonna'—which those for whom music is an entertainment rather than an art admire so much—is simply a 'bad dream' of its composer's. Before one knows his instrumental music one thinks it was the real Wolf-Ferrari and that the finesse of his other operas was a pose. There are many things which caused the 'Jewels' to be written; persons who know the composer and who were in Munich when it was being written say that the chief one was the need of financial aid. Seeing the shekels pouring into the baskets of composers who did this kind of thing regularly, Wolf-Ferrari 'tried his hand,' thinking that it would be lucrative. That part of the adventure has not been denied him. But it has done him immeasurable harm in the opinions of many who were looking to him for greater things. Its chances are limited—it cannot be sung in Italy on account of its misrepresentation of Neapolitan life—and the Metropolitan Opera House has refused to place it in the répertoire.

What Wolf-Ferrari will do no one can say. His next production may be in his dainty and at all times charming manner. It may quite as readily be a lurid and vulgar thing in the coarse musical style of 'The Jewels.' One can only hope that the widely expressed regrets of cognoscenti on the appearance of this unsavory and uninspired work will have their effect on the composer and that he will give us more in his rococo style, which if not original is at any rate delightful and unique in the music of to-day.

[Pg 377]

Times change and music develops. There is, in fact, no branch of art in which metamorphoses are so quickly accomplished. Not a decade ago Luigi Torchi wrote that Umberto Giordano (b. 1867) was an ultra-modern composer! This from a man whose knowledge and fairness must be viewed with respect. Giordano an ultra-modern! One hesitates to answer such a fatuous assertion. Were it not generally known that what is new in music to-day is rococo to-morrow the case might be a serious one. Umberto Giordano is inconsequential in the evaluating of Italian music-drama. His achievements are the operas Regina Diaz, Mala Vita, Andrea Chénier, Fedora, Siberia and Mme. Sans-Gêne. For the opera-goer of to-day the list has little meaning. Regina Diaz, an early work, occupies a place in that limbo of the past where Puccini's Le Villi has long been slumbering. Mala Vita was a failure, Andrea Chénier and Fedora mild successes. 'Siberia' had meritorious features, notably the Russian folk-songs which were employed verbatim; had Signor Giordano been a musician who had the power to develop them symphonically and thus make them part and parcel of his score his opera might have taken a place in the repertory of the world's opera-houses. Fedora, based on that wretched example of Sardoodledom, was quickly consigned to oblivion and now his long-awaited Madame Sans-Gêne—which he has been thinking about since the time he went to Giuseppe Verdi and asked him whether it would be possible to write an opera in which Napoleon had to sing—has failed to establish him an iota more firmly in the estimation of musicians and lovers of music-drama. Many years have been required for the composition of Sans-Gêne; Giordano, once looked to as one of the 'younger Italians,' is no longer to be placed in that category. He is nearly fifty and he writes slowly. From him little is to be expected. He remains one of those lesser composers,[Pg 378] whose name was brought into prominence by his Andrea Chénier at a time when the interest in Italy's then younger men had been aroused through the unequivocal success of Cavalleria and I Pagliacci.

Giacomo Orefice and Luigi Mancinelli are two men whose activities as composers have resulted in several operas that have had hearings. Orefice has done the operas Mariska, Consuelo, Il Gladiatore, Chopin, Cecilia, Mose, and Il Pane Altri. His Chopin seems to have aroused the most comment; in it he pictured incidents in the life of the great Polish piano composer and in doing so he has employed Chopin's music, setting some of the nocturnes as solos for the voice, etc. He is, however, more of a musical scholar than a composer. Mancinelli, who has divided his time between conducting and composing, has done a 'Hero and Leander,' which had a respectable success when first heard. His other operas are Isora di Provenza and Paolo e Francesca. He has also done two oratorios, Isaia and San Agnese. His musical speech is frankly that of a post-Wagnerian.


Fortunately for the Italian music-drama there are two young men living to-day who have achieved art-works which seem to be the creation of individual thought. Riccardo Zandonai and Italo Montemezzi must carry the banner of their land in the music-drama. The world has not taken them into that much cherished household-word condition, but one does note their attracting attention among musicians. And this is the first step.

Montemezzi is one of those composers who was absolutely unknown outside of his own country until L'Amore dei tre re was heard in New York in 1914. With little heralding the Metropolitan Opera House produced[Pg 379] his work; there were rumors of certain influences being responsible for its being done. Many shook their heads at its chances of being accepted by the public. The final rehearsals were not completed when it was recognized by a few gentlemen of the press that here was a new composer who, though he had nothing wholly original to say, was a man who could speak his lines with distinction. The première came and the little opera was acclaimed. It was at once seen that Signor Montemezzi was a man who harked back to the poetic drama as a basis for his musical structure, that he had no patience with the veritists in opera. He had, as it were, a finer soul, a loftier spiritual outlook than the rank and file of his countrymen who had tried to win in the field of opera within the last fifteen years.

Italo Montemezzi was born in 1876. His works, all operatic, are: Giovanni Gallurese, produced in Turin at the Victor Emmanuel Theatre on January 28, 1905, Hellera, at Turin at the Regio Theatre on March 17, 1909, and L'Amore dei tre re, in Milan at La Scala in the winter of 1913. It is rather strange to note in this composer a total freedom from the long-drawn phrase made so popular by Mr. Puccini. Montemezzi seems to abhor it; and it is to his credit that he can work without it. His earlier operas were less refined, but to-day it is always possible to recognize his restraint in working up his climaxes and his mastery in the highly imaginative orchestral score which he sets down. Nothing that modern orchestration includes is unknown to him, but he is sparing in his use of the instruments: he avoids monotonous stopped brass effects—which modern composers dote on to the distress of their listeners—he speaks a poetic utterance like a man in whom there is that spark that bids him contribute to the art-work of mankind.

But with all his talent he does not possess genius. The man in Italy who has that is Riccardo Zandonai,[Pg 380] whose place is at the head of the leaders in his country's music. Signor Zandonai is in truth young. He is but thirty-two to-day (1915), and he has already done an unquestionably important work. When you know the music of this man you will realize that Italy's place in the music of the future is to be a glorious one. For his followers will be path-breakers like himself. Already one has appeared on the horizon. Of him we shall speak later. To Dickens and his 'Cricket on the Hearth,' which the Latins call Il Grillo del Focolare, Zandonai first gave his attention. This opera was first given at the Politeama Chiarella in Turin on November 28, 1908, followed by his Conchita at the Dal Verme in Milan on November 13, 1912. We pause here to speak of this opera, which though received with an ovation at its every premier performance, barring New York, does not seem to have held its place in the répertoire. The libretto, which is after Pierre Louys's La Femme et le Pantin, is not one that interests the public. Conchita was given, as we said, in Milan, then in London at Covent Garden, then in San Francisco by a visiting company which came over to give a season of opera; Cleofonte Campanini produced it in Chicago and Philadelphia and then brought it to New York for one of the guest performances in February, 1913. No further performances in New York were planned. To pass judgment on it from that performance—which is what actually happened in the case of the newspaper reviewers—was idle. Only Tarquinia Tarquini, the young Italian mezzo-soprano, for whom the composer wrote the rôle, was adequate. The tenor who sang was already losing his best qualities, and the other parts were only moderately well done. The chorus was fair and the orchestra likewise. Mr. Campanini labored to put spirit into the performance, but it seemed that the score was a little too subtle for his rather obvious powers of comprehension.

[Pg 381]

One New York critic agreed with the present writer that in spite of the performance Conchita was the most interesting novelty that had been brought out since Pelléas. Since then everything that this composer has done has been watched with the greatest interest. Conchita was accused of lacking melody, of being 'patchy,' of being overscored in spots. None of these things are true when one knows the work. A week's study of the score reveals among the most gorgeous moments that modern Italy has given us, moments which cannot fail to impress any fair-minded person with their composer's genius. Zandonai is an ultra-modern and he writes without making any concessions to his forces. Conchita may not be a work that fifty years hence will know, but it is far too good an achievement to be allowed to lie on the shelf in these days of semi-sterility in operatic composition.

To Zandonai's list of operas we must add Melenis, which first saw the light at the Dal Verme in Milan on November 13, 1912. It was not successful. Then did Zandonai set himself his greatest task, for he began Francesca da Rimini, using as his libretto a reduction of d'Annunzio's superb drama, the work of Tito Ricordi, the noted Italian publisher. It was done at the Scala in Milan in the spring of 1914 and was a triumph. The following summer brought it to Covent Garden, London, where its success was again instantaneous. The Boston Opera Company had planned to give it in the winter of 1913-1914, but the illness of Lina Cavalieri postponed it. Then Mr. Gatti-Casazza was rumored to have taken it for the Metropolitan Opera in New York for the season of 1914-1915, but it has not been forthcoming.

Of Francesca we can only speak through an acquaintance with the published score. We have not sat in the audience and gotten that perspective which is, perhaps, necessary in estimating a new music-drama's[Pg 382] worth. But the impressions thus gained may be recorded here at any rate. A magnificent drama, containing everything that the musician who would accomplish the wedding of the two arts requires, Mr. Zandonai must have gotten much inspiration in working on it. And the results are plainly there. The full, Italian rich melodic flow, which in Conchita was not always present, the apt sense of illustrating the dramatic moment in tone, the masterly command of modern harmony and a vital pulsing surge are in this music. If Mr. Zandonai ever surpasses the love-scene of Paolo and Francesca he will go down in history as a giant. If he does not he will already at the age of thirty-two have made a distinguished place for himself. Personally we know nothing in modern French, German or Russian music-drama that compares with this, unless it be the great moments in Richard Strauss's Salomé and Elektra. As for the orchestral score of Francesca, we have heard Mr. Zandonai's orchestra, know how he employs his instruments and are certain that in the time between Conchita and this work he has, if anything, progressed. That wonderful sweep which he had at his command in the earlier opera must be present again in this newer one. Should it not be we still feel sure that the work will win on the merits of its distinguished thematic material.

Rumor has it that Zandonai is now engaged on setting Rostand's La princesse lointaine. Some day he may do Cyrano, too, since his publishers acquired all the Rostand dramas two years ago for operatic use. And we may rightly expect important things from him, for he is a musician of the first rank, Italy's genius of to-day. That he is not only a composer for the stage will be explained in the next chapter when we shall treat of his noteworthy art-songs and his orchestral works.

The follower of Zandonai who has been mentioned[Pg 383] though not named, is the boy Vittore de Sabbata. We have learned that he has completed an opera which has made his publishers skeptical as to what he will do in the future. It is said to be so modern in its mode of expression, so difficult to produce, that it has not been definitely decided whether or not it will be undertaken. The score of his Suite for orchestra, written at eighteen, has made us marvel at his ingenuity and his pregnant musical ideas. What he will do is not to be gauged by any rule. He may prove to be a prodigy whose light will have been extinguished long before he is thirty. His health is reported to be very poor and so he may be taken from us before he achieves anything definite. At any rate his name deserves recording, for he may be one of those men who will figure prominently in bearing onward the legion of the Italian music-drama of the future.

Vittorio Gnecchi, born in 1876, has done two operas, Cassandra and Virtù d'Amore. Cassandra was first produced in 1905 at the Teatro Communale in Bologna and has since been heard at Ferrara in 1908, in Vienna at the Volksoper in 1911 and in Philadelphia in 1914. Gnecchi's instrumentation has been much praised, likened in fact to that of Richard Strauss. On its American production several critics found in the scoring of Cassandra much that recalled that of Strauss's Elektra. When they were reminded of the date of production and composition of Cassandra, Gnecchi was soon vindicated from the charge of having copied the Munich composer's orchestral writing.

Worthy of record are Giuseppe Bezzi (b. 1874) with his Quo Vadis, Renzo Bianchi (b. 1887) with his Fausta, Renato Brogi (b. 1873) with Oblio and La Prima Notte, Alessandro Bustini (b. 1876) with Maria Dulcis, Arturo Cadore (b. 1877) with Il Natale, Ezio Camussi (b. 1883) with La Du Barry, Agostino Cantu (b. 1878) with Il Poeta, Leopoldo Cassone (b. 1878) with Al Mulino and[Pg 384] Velda, Roberto Catolla (b. 1871) with La Campana di Groninga, Giuseppe Cicognani (b. 1870) with Il Figlio Del Mare, Domenico Cortopassi (b. 1875) with Santa Poesia, Alfredo Cuscina (b. 1881) with Radda, Ferruccio Cusinati (b. 1873) with Medora and Tradita, and Franco Leoni with Ib e la Piccola Cristina, L'Oracolo, Raggio di luna, Rip Van Winkle and Tzigana.

A. W. K.


[73] B. Padua, Feb. 24, 1842, pupil of the Milan Conservatory, but cosmopolitan in his influences, having visited Paris, Germany (where he was interested in Wagner) and Poland, his mother's home. Two cantatas, 'The Fourth of June' (1860) and Le sorelle d'Italia (1862), were his first published efforts.

[74] B. Livorno, Dec. 7, 1863, pupil of Ponchielli and Saladino in Milan Conservatory.

[75] Born in Venice Jan. 12, 1876, he studied with Rheinberger in Munich in 1893-95, though in the main he is self-taught.

[Pg 385]


Martucci and Sgambati—The symphonic composers: Zandonai, de Sabbata, Alfano, Marinuzzi, Sinigaglia, Mancinelli, Floridia; the piano and violin composers: Franco da Venezia, Paolo Frontini, Mario Tarenghi; Rosario Scalero, Leone Sinigaglia; composers for the organ—The song writers: art songs; ballads—Modern Spanish composers.

One is tempted to halt in the midst of an investigation of Italy's instrumental music to note the unusual progress which this nation of opera-lovers has made in arriving at a point where absolute music has a place in its æsthetic life. And only because Italy, from Boccherini to Sgambati, ignored the development of music apart from that of the stage is it necessary to express wonderment at this worthy advance. A country that could produce a Palestrina, a Frescobaldi and a Corelli, in the days when the art of music was still in its youth, found that it was chiefly interested in the wedding—or attempted wedding—of words and music. There were, to be sure, at all times men who wrote what they thought symphonies of merit, men for the most part who had little to say. Some of them were unable to work with the opera-form as it existed. Their music was, however, the kind that never gets beyond the borders of its own country, if it succeeds in passing the city in which it is first heard. The opera-composers were much too busy getting ready an aria for Signorina Batti or Signor Lodi to study the symphonic form. So Italy went its merry way, without symphony, without chamber music, without the art-song, in fact without everything that belongs to the nobler kind, from the[Pg 386] days of Boccherini, of the much venerated Luigi Cherubini to the appearance in 1843 of the late Giovanni Sgambati.

That period covered, then, from 1770, when Boccherini flourished, till 1850. The reasons for the exclusive interest in opera must be sought in the conditions obtaining in Rome, Milan, Florence, Genoa, Naples and other leading cities. Opera-composers wrote music that the orchestras could manage with little or no trouble; symphonic music, naturally more difficult of execution, was, to begin with, beyond the ability of most of these orchestras. In fact it is only recently that the Italian orchestras have been brought to a real point of efficiency. So Italy went on, still holding high its head as a musical nation—in its own estimation, of course. To make a name as a musician one had to compose a successful opera. A fine string quartet meant nothing to the public, for it was a public that did not know what chamber-music was. There were, to be sure, occasional performances, but they were sporadic, and they had no significance for the people. After all it is not strange that this occurred. Other nations have experienced similar stages in their development in other arts. Italy went through it in music. To-day she has found herself and she is rapidly doing everything in her power to atone for her shortcomings during those many years when opera, in the opinion of her people, was synonymous with music.


Giovanni Sgambati was born in 1843. About the year 1866 he began to make his influence felt and his compositions appeared from the publishers, who, it may be of interest to note, were advised by Wagner to exploit his music. The friendship of Franz Liszt and Sgambati was a very beautiful one; Liszt, in his[Pg 387] really noble and generous way, championed the young Italian, saw in him a desire to do something in which Italians of even that day were not especially absorbed. Sgambati did not show Liszt an opera in the Rossinian manner when the master arrived in Rome in 1861. With serious purpose he brought him a symphony. And Liszt, intelligent musical spirit that he was, looked at it and recognized that here was an Italian who knew what the symphonic form meant, who knew his orchestra, who could write with some distinction. If one does not expect the impossible of a pioneer there is always something to be found in his activity that deserves our aid and sympathy. So Liszt encouraged the young man. Sgambati labored arduously; he accomplished a great deal. In his list of works there are symphonies, two of them, there are chamber works for strings with piano, there is a piano concerto, shorter pieces for the piano, some for violin, many songs, a 'Requiem' and other pieces in various forms. Sgambati as an innovator is nothing; Sgambati as an Italian symphonic pioneer is important. There was work to be done and he did it with a zeal that speaks volumes for his artistic sense. We of to-day might find his symphonies tiresome, we might consider them too consciously Brahmsian without the real Brahms spark, to hold our attention. But their meaning for those men who are producing vital things in Italy to-day is undeniable. Sgambati not only gave the world his compositions; he saw to it that for the first time the symphonic works of the great German masters were produced in his country. And he was among the earliest of the Italians to champion the music of Richard Wagner. Such a man, a musician with the breadth to appreciate Wagner in the days when Wagner was hissed and ridiculed, must in truth have possessed the soul of an artist.

With him worked a colleague, Giuseppe Martucci. Like him, he was a pianist of note as well as a composer.[Pg 388] Martucci came a little later than Sgambati; he was born in 1856, and he is still living to-day (1915). For him, too, there was in music something beyond an opera that filled the theatre from floor to gallery and gave some adored singer the opportunity to disport himself in the unmusical cadenzas and other pyrotechnical passages which composers all around him were manufacturing so assiduously. In placing an estimate on the achievement of Martucci it is not impossible to consider him quite as important a figure as Sgambati. His music, too, has traits that are typically Italian, though based on German models. His two symphonies, his piano concerto in B-flat minor are admirable compositions, none of them heaven-storming in originality, all of them eminently praiseworthy for the solidity of their texture, for the beauty of their design and for the unflinching adherence to high ideals which they embody.

It was hardly to be expected that the two men who set the example for their countrymen in symphonic composition would be geniuses of the first rank. Had they been they would doubtless have worked along other lines. Italian symphonic composition was to be placed on a secure basis not by path-breakers, but by path-makers. This they were. And they were notable examples of what good such men can work. Italy is rapidly making felt her individuality in the contemporary musical world by the strides in original composition which she is taking. To those two pioneers, Giovanni Sgambati and Giuseppe Martucci, must go the credit for having pointed the way to absolute music by Italians, for having toiled so that the men who came after them might take what they had done and build on it individual structures. And also that their followers might have a public that would listen to them.

Nowhere in the world to-day is there more activity in musical composition than among the young Italians.[Pg 389] The world at large seems to know less about them than it does, for example, about the modern French or Russians. This is perhaps largely the fault of the Italian publishers, who do not seem to spread their publications about in other lands as do their colleagues. Yet the sincere and eager investigator cannot go far before he finds a vast amount of engaging new Italian music.


In the field of the symphonic orchestra we meet with Leone Sinigaglia, Riccardo Zandonai, Vittore de Sabbata, Gino Marinuzzi, Franco Alfano, Luigi Mancinelli. In the previous chapter we have dwelt on the music of Zandonai's operas. He is, however, one of those big men who have been moved to do absolute music as well; and he has done several fine things for the concert-hall. Like him, the young de Sabbata, of whom we have spoken, and the older Mancinelli, who is better known as a conductor than as a creative musician, have also contributed to the symphonic literature. The others, barring Alfano, who has done some four unsuccessful operas, are composers of absolute music alone.

Zandonai, Italy's greatest figure, has a symphonic poem, Vere Novo, which must be seriously considered. Though it is really an orchestral piece, the composer has called in the aid of a baritone solo voice in an Ode to Spring, the poem being by the distinguished Gabriele d'Annunzio. In it we find a wonderful command of orchestral effects, an intimate knowledge of the nature of the various instruments and a masterly attention to detail. The strings are subdivided into many parts—and not in vain—and the whole work is unquestionably important. There is also a delightful Serenata Mediovale for orchestra with an important part for a solo violoncello, a composition which has[Pg 390] distinction and geniality at the same time. It had a performance in New York at an all-Italian concert several years ago, but since then it has been unjustly allowed to languish.

Franco Alfano, born in 1876, has done a Symphony in E and a 'Romantic Suite,' two compositions that have done much to make his name respected. For those who do not believe that a real symphony has come out of Italy of the twentieth century an examination of this score may well be advised. It will convince even the most skeptical. Alfano's instrumentation is always good and he knows how to develop his material. Picturesque is the suite consisting of Notte Adriatica (Night on the Adriatic), Echi dell' Appennino (Echoes of the Apennines), Al chiostro abbandonato (To an Abandoned Cloister) and Natale campane (Christmas Bells). These four movements are frankly programmatic. They are not profound, but they are engaging, and they should be made known wherever good orchestras exist. When we think of some of the unsatisfactory French orchestral novelties, German works of no especial distinction that have been produced recently, it would seem the duty of conductors to seek out these Italian scores and present them to the public.

In Leone Sinigaglia, a native of Turin—he was born in 1868—Italy has a composer who has done for the folk-music of his province, if not his country, something akin to what such nationalists as Dvořák and Grieg accomplished. Piemonte is the title of a suite, his opus 36, and Danze Piemontese are two dances built on Piedmontese themes. These melodies of the people, indigenous material that has always proved a boon to gifted composers, have been treated by Sinigaglia with rare skill. He has clothed them in an orchestral garb which sets off their virtues most favorably and their popular nature should play an interesting part in gaining for them the approval of concert[Pg 391] audiences. His 'Rustic Dance' from the suite Piemonte is thrilling, while in the same suite occurs In Montibus Sanctis, in which there is an invocation to the Virgin, serene and aloof in its inflections. The Piedmontese dances are brilliant, racy compositions, a master's development of tunes born of the soil. In bright and gay spirit, too, is his overture Le Baruffe Chiozzotte after a Goldoni comedy. This glistening little overture has already been played in America and never fails to arouse the good spirits of all who hear it.

Sicily comes in for musical picturing in the work of Gino Marinuzzi, born in 1882, a composer whose name is little known. The average musician is not aware of his existence. Yet this modest musician has produced a symphonic poem Sicania and a Suite Siciliana. What Sinigaglia does with the folk-melodies of his native Piedmont Marinuzzi accomplishes by employing Sicilian tunes. And they are very beautiful, too. After all, the results obtained in working on the folk-music of any people depend on the skill of the artist who is welding them into an art-work. Composers enough have tried to make symphonic works of the crude tunes of our Indian aborigines, but few, with the exception of Edward MacDowell in his 'Indian Suite,' have accomplished works of art by their labors. It is, then, a matter of treatment; and both Sinigaglia and Marinuzzi are well equipped to express in tone their conception of folk-songs in artistic treatment, as their orchestral works prove conclusively.

The boy de Sabbata was born in Trieste in 1892. Saladino and Orefice were his masters at the conservatory in Milan and they taught him well. His orchestral technique matches that of Zandonai already and it is almost impossible to imagine what he will arrive at in the future. His Suite in four movements, Risveglio mattutino (A Morning Awakening), Tra fronda e fronda ('Mid Leafy Branches), an Idilio and Meriggio[Pg 392] (Midday), is one of the most amazing orchestral scores we have ever seen. It was written at the age of twenty. De Sabbata is not a Korngold in his musical speech; he is a modern to be sure, but he has none of the qualities which have won for the young Viennese composer such heated discussion. His harmonies are new, yet they do not seem to have been put down with any desire to be different. There is a very distinct personality in this music, and in the third movement of his suite (Idilio) there is some of the warmest writing that has come to our notice in a long time. This young man has imagination, strong fantasy and a keen appreciation of color. At twenty he can say more than most composers at forty. And because he says it in his own way one cannot help thinking that the future will be very bright for him. The only hindrance is his ill health, which is already causing those who are interested in him much concern.

Pietro Floridia, born in 1860, an Italian musician who lives in New York, has written a symphony in D minor, creditable from the standpoint of the student but uninteresting for the public. It has had a performance in New York, where it was cordially, if not enthusiastically, received. Mr. Floridia has also done the operas Carlotta Clepier, La Colonia Libera, Maruzza and Paoletta. Of Luigi Mancinelli's orchestral compositions the Suite Scene Veneziane has been performed in London. They are interesting examples of an Italian whose idiom is post-Wagnerian in the broadest sense. And Alberto Franchetti, better known for his operas, has composed a symphony which Theodore Thomas played shortly after it was composed. Like his other productions it lacks physiognomy totally.

It may not be amiss to digress here to say a word about Signor Marinetti and his Futurist fellows. Their place is not an especially important one in Italy's musical scheme. Their presence does, however, make[Pg 393] them come in for consideration. What Signor Marinetti and his colleagues would have music become none of us will be so rash as to endorse. Thus far he has given performances of works of his own invention, using instruments which make hideous and inartistic noises to express his ideas. He calls them 'gurglers,' 'snorters' and 'growlers.' We are not conservative in our taste; we cannot afford to be, for we have with us the very interesting Arnold Schönberg, who is a Futurist in tendencies, though not of the Marinetti type, and Leo Ornstein, whose music is the dernier cri in our development. Ornstein's music seems to have no relation with musical art of the past; he is an impressionist and writes as he feels. He refuses explanations of his music, further than his stating that he is oblivious to all that has gone before in musical composition, and writes what his emotions tell him to, quite as he hears it before ever a note is set to paper. He employs the piano, stringed instruments, the voice, the orchestra, as the case may be. He is therefore obviously not of Signor Marinetti's tribe. There might be some interest in hearing one of the latter's bombardments, but it cannot have any æsthetic value. It must fail as one of those wayward retrogressions which all arts have experienced at some time in their history. From Marinetti we need fear nothing. He will be forgotten long before the next decade rolls round, when his aggressive experiment in what he calls music will have been heartily exploded as the attempt on the part of an iconoclast to fuse a passing madness with a lofty art.


Italian piano composers are few; only one of them touches the high-water mark. Franco da Venezia is his name and he has put to his credit a Konzertstück[Pg 394] for piano and orchestra and some very unusual shorter pieces for pianoforte solo. The former is regarded as a splendid work. Of the morceaux we cannot say too much. Da Venezia is a man of strong physiognomy. He makes no compromises to win his public, he writes no salon music. Look at his 'Caravan and Prayer in the Desert' and you will know what he can do with the keyboard of the piano! Then turn the pages of a short poem for the piano, L'Isle des morts, in which there is more real feeling than in the volumes of many a fashionable modern Frenchman. Fire has been struck here; nor has it been lighted to express some happy little thought that might please amateur pianists. In this music a tone-poet speaks and his message is worth listening to. Paolo Frontini is another man who has written much for the piano. Not important music is his like that of da Venezia, but he has done some very agreeable pieces, musicianly in execution and certainly worthy of acquaintance. Mario Tarenghi, Muzio Agostini and a half dozen others, whose names would scarcely be worth recording, have contributed small shares. Modern Italy's piano composer is Signor da Venezia. It is to him that we must look for the Italian piano music of the day.

Corelli, Vivaldi, Vitali, Veracini and a host of others held the high standard of their country in violin music in the days of the classic foundations. We have not forgotten Corelli's La Follia, the sonatas of these other men, nor the superb chaconne of Vitali. These men were violinists and their répertoire was acquired and increased by their own compositions. Until Nicolo Paganini appeared in 1782 the Italian violin literature was scarcely enlarged. And Paganini's music had value only as violin music, whereas theirs had and has a place to-day both as music and as music for the violin. Now again an Italian violinist has come forward, the musician who has established a string quartet[Pg 395] in Rome, where he gives his concerts every year for a discriminating public. Rosario Scalero has in a sense atoned for the woeful lack of violin composition in his country. Scalero is not perhaps as original a composer as we would like to have him; he has followed German models and has studied seriously. But his sonata in D minor for violin and piano is one of the best modern sonatas we have, and we must be grateful that it has come to us from a land that has done little since the seventeenth century in producing chamber music for the violin. This sonata leans a little on Brahms, but there is in it at the same time something of that Italian feeling which one recognizes so easily in music, whether it be for the violin, piano, orchestra or what not. Scalero has also put forth revisions of some of the classical sonatas by the old Italian masters, revisions that show his erudition and artistic judgment.

Some short compositions and a 'Piedmontese Rhapsody' by Sinigaglia constitute that very interesting musician's contribution to violin music. They are all of them idiomatically conceived and effective in performance. The Rhapsody is made up of folk-songs of Piedmont, quite as are the orchestral dances which have been discussed. It is an exceptionally felicitous piece to perform, and with orchestral accompaniment it should soon replace such hackneyed music as Saint-Saëns's Rondo Capriccioso. Beyond the efforts of these two men nothing of value is being written for the violin by the modern Italians.

Before turning to the discussion of the art-song we must speak of that curious musical personality, Don Lorenzo Perosi, born in 1872, who is the representative of oratorio in his land to-day. Also the Italian organ composers. Perosi began his career by startling all who knew him with his pretentious works in which he has employed Biblical narratives as the subject for long oratorios. His 'Resurrection of Lazarus' when first[Pg 396] produced in Venice fixed the attention of the world upon him. It was said that a new Palestrina had been found. All kinds of honors were paid him. A street in his native Tortona was named after him. His services as conductor at presentations of his oratorios were sought. We cannot do better than to quote the remarks of Luigi Torchi, who seems to have examined his productions very carefully. He says: 'After all, why this hurrah about Perosi? He, whose recreation in times past was to compose cathedral church hymns after the pattern of the Protestant chorales, writes at present his vulgarly vaunted oratorios. This little abbé, born with theatrical, operatic talent, and not being permitted as a priest to write operas, in fault of religious feeling gives vent by way of compensation to the fullness of his romantic and sentimental exultations. And look at the form of his compositions: a frequency of tedious recitatives with words that follow literally the text of the Bible; little melodies, properly beginnings without endings, without any severe dignity of line, alternate with more or less long instrumental pieces of lyrical character; a couple of modern church anthems, in a work drawn from the New Testament; plain-song harmonized tragically, and some attempts at operatic realism, ecclesiastical harmonies and realistic operatic style.... He follows the lead of Wagner, and makes use of the leit-motif; soon after he delights in turning his back on him, and offers a badly made fugue on a subject that smells of too classic times. He has a fondness for instrumental phrases of much color, but his purely orchestral numbers are puerile, and betray no knowledge of modern orchestration. He has learned to compose pieces without ideas, fugues without developments, and, that he might not be too badly off, orchestral intermezzos, written and orchestrated with the knowledge of a schoolboy. Perosi has undertaken the task of illustrating the life[Pg 397] of our Saviour in twelve oratorios. If he should keep his word, he should be pardoned.'

Thus this abbé-composer is disposed of. Marco Enrico Bossi, born in 1861 in Brescia, has written two oratorios, 'Paradise Lost' and 'Joan of Arc,' fine, sincere works along lines that add little to what has been done in the field before his time. He is at least dignified and knows his craft and so, unlike Perosi, cannot be charged with being a poseur. He is the foremost living organ composer that Italy owns. And it is in this department of activity that he is at his best. Some will think that he should have been mentioned with the orchestral composers. But his orchestral works are of the Sgambati-Martucci kind, and, since he is one of the younger men, it would be hardly proper to discuss academic essays along with the work of those men who are blazing paths. His chamber music, including a fine trio 'In Memoriam,' is creditable but undistinguished. It is only in his organ music that an individual note is found.

Cesare Galeotti, Oreste Ravanello, Polibio Fumagalli, Filippo Capocci, these are names of men who have written in recent years and are writing (some of them) organ music to-day. Capocci has done several sonatas of a pleasing type, as has Fumagalli, while the other two have confined themselves to working in the smaller forms, often with much success.

Two native Italians who have made their homes in America must be mentioned here. They are Pietro Alessandro Yon and Giuseppe Ferrata. Mr. Yon is a young man of unquestioned talent. He was born in Settimo in 1886 and occupies the post of organist of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, New York, devoting a good portion of his time, however, to composition. Just as it is the duty of organists of Anglican churches to turn out an occasional Te Deum or Jubilate, so must the Catholic church organist produce a Mass every now and then. Mr. Yon is one of those who when he[Pg 398] comes forward with a Mass gives us a musical work of distinction, not a pièce d'occasion. He has written a number of them, but particularly fine is his recent Mass in A. Here the true ecclesiastical spirit of the Roman church is to be found; and what a mastery of polyphony does this young Italian exhibit! His organ compositions are also praiseworthy, a charming 'Christmas in Sicily' and a 'Prelude-Pastorale' (Dies est laetitiæ) being characteristic examples.

Giuseppe Ferrata (b. 1866) lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he teaches and composes. His list of works is a long one, including a Messe solennelle for solo voices, chorus or mixed voices and organ or orchestra, a Mass in G minor for male voices and organ, numerous songs, piano pieces, and a dozen or more violin compositions in small forms. He should be praised especially for a very fine string quartet in G major and a group of sterling organ compositions. Mr. Ferrata's path to success has not been made easier by his living in America; it has, in a sense, taken him away from Italy and her ways and, though it has doubtless given him a freer viewpoint, he has had to struggle for a hearing. His compositions are only now being recognized and given performances. He has something to say, has a fine compositional technique, and he is disposed to add to his style the innovations of modern harmonic thought.


Doubtless ninety-nine out of every hundred musicians and music-lovers still believe that Italy has no art-song, that her composers are still devoting their energies to turning out those delectable morceaux in ballad-style which Italian opera singers have sung in the past, and still do, to an extent, when they are called upon to take part in a concert. For these persons,[Pg 399] whose number is a large one, it will be surprising information that Italy is working very seriously in the field of the art-song. And the man who has achieved the most conspicuous place in this department is that young genius, Riccardo Zandonai, already spoken of as a music-dramatist and as a symphonic composer. Whereas some of the songs which can be placed in this class by contemporary Italians still contain germs of the popular Italian song style, Zandonai's songs are indubitably on the high plane which is uninfluenced by popular tendencies.

Mr. Zandonai has doubtless done a great many more songs than we in America have been made familiar with. He has perhaps also written many more than he has published, the case with most composers. Several years ago there appeared three songs, first a setting of Verlaine's Il pleure dans mon cœur, then Coucher de soleil à Kérazur and third Soror dolorosa to one of Catulle Mendès' finest impassioned outbursts. The effect of these songs on musicians who, at the time, had heard no music of Zandonai was tremendous. In every measure was written plainly the utterance of a big personality, who commanded modern harmonies with indisputable mastery. Whether his setting of the lovely Verlaine poem matches or surpasses the widely known one of Debussy is of little consequence. It is not at all like it; Zandonai doubtless was unfamiliar with the Debussy version when he wrote the song and his Il pleure has an atmosphere all its own. The Orientalism of Coucher de soleil à Kérazur is unique—it gives the impression of a twilight conceived through an entirely new lens. But it is in the Soror dolorosa that the composer has written what would seem to be one of his masterpieces. Every drop of the emotional force that Mendès has called out in his glorious stanzas, every bit of the color, of the warmth of the poem is reflected stunningly in this music. It is a wedding of[Pg 400] voice and piano, achieved only by the greatest masters in their most notable songs.

Then there appeared another set of songs, this time five in number. Visione invernale, I due tarli, Ultima rosa (this one to a Foggozzaro poem), Serenata and L'Assiuolo are the titles. You cannot prefer one of these songs to the other if you really get their meaning; only the last one might be said to be not so distinctive. The wonderful dirge of Visione Invernale, the thrilling melodic beauty of Ultima rosa and the lighter Serenata and the tragic narrative of I due tarli ('The Two Worms') grip as do few things in modern music. If Mr. Zandonai has written difficult songs, that is, from the singer's standpoint, it was not unexpected. No composer who really had a message ever wrote to a singer's taste. And Mr. Zandonai never makes concessions.

Guido Bianchini, Enrico Morpurgo, Alfredo Brüggemann, Mario Barbieri—names assuredly strange to many a music-lover—are all men who have contributed significantly to song literature. Morpurgo's Una speranza is typical of him at his best; Bianchini has real modern tendencies. Francesco Santoliquido is known to us through two songs, Tristezza crepuscolare and Alba di luna sul bosco. Tristezza crepuscolare is the better of the two, a magnificent conception, a song that is thrilling in every inflection. There is a strong Puccini tinge in Santoliquido's music, made fine, however, by more restraint than the composer of Tosca knows how to exert. Unusually well managed are the accompaniments, which are rather graphic. Mr. Santoliquido knows how to achieve a climax within a few pages as do few of his contemporaries.

Apart from all these men stands Vittorio Gui, a young composer and conductor, whose career has been furthered by Arturo Toscanini. Signor Gui is an 'ultra' in the best sense of the word. His songs, which have[Pg 401] not been exploited in America at all, are enigmatic. In fact his choice of poems makes them so. He has taken Chinese poems and translated them into Italian, poems that contain that world of Confucian philosophy which is still but little known. There are problems in ultra-modern harmony here which many will not be willing to solve, but which a few have already given serious attention to and from which they have gotten much joy. There is distinction in these songs; a desire to experiment, perhaps, but still the feeling for new paths, new moods, and, above all, a new idiom. The attainment of that may not be so easily accomplished, but Gui is one of the men who are going prominently in that direction.

A word about the ballad composers, Paolo Tosti, P. Mario Costa, Luigi Denza, and Enrico de Leva. Whereas their position in serious music is not one of importance, their appeal to millions entitles them to mention. Tosti is doubtless the ablest of them. His innumerable melodie—the characterization of his songs as such is typical of what Italians thought a song must be before they attempted the art-song—have a melodic fascination. Who has not heard his 'Good-bye' and his L'ultime canzone, two songs which have won a popularity truly universal in scope! And when 'Good-bye,' hackneyed as it is, is sung by a Melba it contains an emotional thrill, theatrical as its appeal may be, insecure as its structure is from the standpoint of the art-song. It would be idle to enumerate Tosti's writings. His songs go into the hundreds. De Leva, Denza, and Costa are of the same creative blood; they believe in pure melodies, none of them distinguished, set to very indifferent Italian texts—not poems—and one and all gorgeously effective for the singer. What these men have produced has developed in Italian singers that failing, namely, the dwelling on all high notes, which is so objectionable. But it has also brought joy[Pg 402] to so many Italians whose sole musical interest was singing, and their place in the development of Italy's music cannot be overlooked. When a hundred years have rolled around perhaps the name of Tosti will be remembered. But it is exceedingly doubtful whether there will be Italians producing a similar kind of music; for by that time Italy's music-lovers will have repudiated this type of banal melodic song, which makes only an emotional appeal and into whose make-up the intellectual has never been allowed to enter.

Italy's right to a place among musical nations of the day cannot be denied. Not only in the producing of worthy music-dramas, of orchestral works, of chamber music, but also in the noble art-song is she active. A change has come over her. Perhaps her musicians are being better trained. Yet the St. Cecilia Academy in Rome, the conservatories in Milan, Naples, Genoa, and Bologna have always equipped their students well. It may not be this so much as it is the imbuing of those who choose lives in art with the responsibility of their calling. Further, it is the advance which musical art has made all over the world. The young Italian composer of to-day has behind him Wagner and his glorious achievement, Strauss and his superb essays in the operatic and orchestral fields, the Frenchmen and their innovations. What did he have fifty years ago? Was it not to the old-style Italian opera that he looked with a burning to achieve a work of this type and win popular success? And one point that affects all modern composition is quite as valid in Italy as it is anywhere: Composers, in fact, musicians in general, are being better educated; they are feeling the correlation of the arts; they have studied the literatures of many nations, they know the paintings of many masters. In this lie the wonderful possibilities of the future! And modern musical art has its pathway, one quite as open and[Pg 403] as free as that of any of its brothers, in which it must accomplish its task. Italy will not be behind in the future as she has been in the past. For she has a Zandonai, a Montemezzi, a Gui to lead her on.

A. W. K.


Since the late Renaissance Spain has been generally regarded as backward in music. And until recently the reputation was deserved. But within the last two decades musicians have become aware that there is a vigorous and extremely talented school of native and patriotic Spanish composers, working sincerely and effectively. As always happens in such cases, we find on closer examination that the revival of musical creativeness is not a recent thing, but has been going on definitely for half a century or more. But every indigenous musical school must go through a period of internal development, and the modern Spanish school has been no exception. It is even probable that this school has by no means begun to approach maturity. Though it assiduously cultivates national materials and even issues national manifestoes, its idiom is borrowed in the main from France, and it is to Paris that the promising young composers still look for tuition and inspiration. The national material as used by the modern Spanish composers has no more been infused into the spirit and technique of their product than the Russian folk-songs were infused into the Russian music of Glinka's time. Modern Spanish music seems to be in a preparatory stage. It has two main lines of activity—the opera and the genre piece for piano. In the former class Spanish composers have produced little that has carried beyond the borders, though their industry is indefatigable. But in piano music they have enriched modern concert literature with many a piece of sparkling vitality and able workmanship.

[Pg 404]

Among the precursors of the recent renaissance the name of Baltasar Saldoni (1807-1891) is most eminent. He was born in Barcelona, and received his education in the monastery of Monserrat. Throughout the greater part of his life he was distinguished as an organist, teacher and scholar as well as a composer. His important works were a symphony, O mia patria; a 'Hymn to the god of Art'; some operas and operettas, and a quantity of church and organ music written in a severe contrapuntal style. Miguel Eslava (1807-1878) also deserves mention both as composer and scholar. But greater than either is Felippe Pedrell (born 1841 and still living), who with Isaac Albéniz (born 1860) may be called the founder of modern Spanish music. Both were ardent nationalists; both were thorough and industrious scholars; and both wrote with distinction in large forms as well as small. Though Pedrell, the student, was particularly eminent in the department of Spanish ecclesiastical music, Pedrell the composer essayed chiefly those forms which ordinarily bring the maximum of worldly success. His early operas—El último Abencerage (1874), Quasimodo (1875), and 'Cleopatra' (1878)—were produced in Spain at a time when the native public would hardly lend an ear to anything except Italian operas of the old school and its beloved Zarzuelas, or operettas. His orchestral works are large in design and admirably executed. They include a Chanson Latine, the March à Mistral, the Chant de la Montague (a suite of orchestral 'pictures'), and the symphonic poems—'Tasso at Ferrara' and 'Mazeppa.' In addition to many songs and small piano pieces, Pedrell wrote considerable choral music, in particular the noble 'Gloria Mass.' But his greatest work, and the one which has chiefly won him the respect of musicians in outside lands, is his operatic trilogy, 'The Pyrenees,' designed as a sort of hymn of praise to his native land. The whole work was produced in[Pg 405] 1902 in Barcelona, where the composer has worked indefatigably, causing the city to attain a peculiar musical importance somewhat parallel to that which Weimar attained in Germany under the régime of Liszt. The three parts of 'The Pyrenees' are denominated, respectively, Patrie, Amor, and Fides, three words forming an old and illustrious Spanish armorial inscription. In the prologue a bard chants the sorrows of Spain. The first part of the work is the story of a nation sunk into a despair and then liberated. The liberator is symbolized in the hero, the Comte de Foix, while the legendary spirit of the mountains is personified in a juglara, Raig de Lluna. Especially fine is the second act of Patrie, where the sombre chant of the monks mingles with the fanfare of the soldiers, the music of a passing funeral cortège, and the melancholy song of the jongluera.

Whereas Pedrell specialized in ancient Spanish church music, Albéniz made a study of the folk-tunes of his people. And this with the deliberate purpose of using them as a basis for a new Spanish school of composition. With unfailing energy he carried out his life-program, and, though he did not succeed in carrying the fame of his native land into many foreign capitals (except for his superb piano pieces), he gave energy to the awakening instincts of native composers, and set a high standard for their work. He was in his early youth a 'boy-wonder' pianist, and as such studied under some of the most famous masters in Europe, among them Marmontel in Paris, Reinecke in Leipzig, and Liszt in Rome. As a composer he was largely self-taught. His early piano work was undistinguished, but his technical ability grew astonishingly with the course of the years. His opera, Pepita Jimenez, is regarded as the most distinguished operatic achievement of modern Spain. It is frankly a 'folk-opera' and makes lavish use of the specific Spanish rhythms and tunes which the[Pg 406] composer collected in his years of research among the people. The score shows an easy mastery of counterpoint, but the vocal parts are rather uninteresting, and the work as a whole lacks the charm which one would expect. Albéniz's other works for the stage are the operas Enrico Clifford and 'King Arthur,' and the operetta 'The Magic Opal' (produced in London in 1893). The oratorio Christus also has a high place in the music of modern Spain. But Albéniz's most successful works are his piano pieces. These have been called 'the soul of modern Spain.' They seem to range over the whole land, paying homage to a city or a valley, picturing a street scene in festival time or some striking bit of native scenery. Their melodies and rhythms are Spanish from beginning to end. But their technique is that of modern France. Albéniz, and all his compatriots in music, had their best lessons in Paris, and they could not fail to reflect the powerful influence from the north. It is to their credit (to Albéniz's in particular, since he chiefly insisted upon it) that with a French technique and a set of æsthetic ideals unmistakably French they still produced a music that was national and personal. Albéniz's best works for the piano are his two suites, 'Iberia' and 'The Alhambra.' These have taken their place in modern concert programs beside the works of Debussy and Ravel, and have given their composer an international reputation as one of the leading 'impressionists' of modern times.

The most eminent living Spanish composer in this style is Enrico Granados (born 1867). Like Albéniz, he has worked in the larger forms, and his works deserved at least this partial listing: the operas—María de la Alcarria (1893) and Folletto (1898), the symphonic poems, La Nit del Mort and 'Dante'; the incidental music to Mestres' fairy play, Liliano; a quartet and a piano trio, in addition to many songs. But, again like Albéniz, it is in his piano pieces that he has done his best work.[Pg 407] These show all the modern French characteristics—highly spiced harmony, free use of dissonances of the second, clear but astonishingly intricate pianistic style, free use of the whole tone scale and of exotic tonalities, and daring characterization and realism. But its complexity is not so much that of development as of ornamentation—which is a quality more peculiarly Spanish. As with Albéniz's piano works, the composer pays tribute to many a Spanish town and to many a Spanish custom, and loves to introduce a local color at once authentic and suggestive. Granados' most important groups of piano pieces are the Goyescas, the 'Songs of Youth,' the Danzas Españolas, and the 'Poetic Waltzes.'

Hardly inferior to Granados in the writing of genre pieces for piano is Joaquin Turina. This composer's most important piano work is the suite Sevilla, a fascinating group of tone pictures drawn from the daily life of the city. His writing is marked by great delicacy and keen feeling for the finer vibrations of the modern piano. Among his other works we should mention an opera, Fea e con Gracia (1905), a string quartet, and a Scène andalouse for piano and violin (1913). Other Spanish composers who have gained eminence in their native land are K. Usandizaga, who is a pupil of d'Indy, and whose opera Las Coloudrinas was produced in Madrid in 1914; Vives, the composer of the nationalistic opera Tabare (1914); and Costa Nogueras, composer of Flor de almendro (1901), Ines de Castro (1905) and Valieri (1906). Gabriel Grovlez (born 1882) has written colorful piano music in the new style, and Garcia Roble has made successful essays in the larger forms. The great violinist Pablo Sarasate (1884-1908) is eminent as a spirited composer for violin. Raoul Laparra, though he is of Spanish parentage and has worked with Spanish materials, should rather be treated among the composers of modern France.[76]

[Pg 408]

Among the distinguished composers of modern Portugal should be mentioned Verreira d'Arneiro (born 1838), who has gained a wide reputation with his 'Symphonic Cantata' and his opera, 'The Elixir of Youth'; and Carlo Gomez (1839-1896), who was chiefly active as a composer of operas in the Italian style for Italian theatres. The most eminent Portuguese composer of recent times, however, is the admirable pianist Jose Vianna da Motta (born 1868). A quartet and a symphony from his pen have been played with success, but he is best known by his piano pieces, notably the 'Portuguese Scenes' and the five 'Portuguese Rhapsodies.'

H. K. M.


[76] See Volume IX, chapter XIV.

[Pg 409]


Social considerations; analogy between English and American conditions—The German influence and its results: Sterndale Bennett and others; the first group of independents: Sullivan, Mackenzie, Parry, Goring Thomas, Cowen, Stanford and Elgar—The second group: Delius and Bantock; McCunn and German; Smyth, Davies, Wallace and others, D. F. Tovey; musico-literary workers, musical comedy writers—The third group: Vaughan Williams, Coleridge Taylor and W. Y. Hurlstone; Holbrooke, Grainger, Scott, etc.; Frank Bridge and others; organ music, chamber music, songs.


The word renaissance when applied to English musical conditions from about 1870 onwards is convenient but slightly inaccurate. It gives us an easy group-symbol for a large and unexpected outburst of activity; but it does not either state or explain a fact. Re-naissance means 'a being born again,' and that implies previous death. But the flame of life had never quite died out in the country to whose first great composer (Dunstable) the modern world owes the invention of musical art.

In its church and choral music especially there had always been a flicker of life which at least once, in the reigns of Elizabeth and the first James, had blazed up into an astounding vitality. However, it was not to be expected that the nation could go on living at this white heat. The flame burnt itself down, but not out; and the embers of a national art that had once been great enough to light up the wide spaces of the world smouldered through the eighteenth century and far into the nineteenth.

[Pg 410]

The history of this ecclesiastical music might almost have been predicted. Its postulates are merely the isolation and selfishness of the English Church from the days of William and Mary to those of the Oxford movement. But there are some other factors governing the productions of 'secular' music; and these we must examine.

From about the time of Purcell's death onwards (1695) England was engaged in eating up as much of the world as possible. And the result was national indigestion. Already in Charles II's time there had been alarming signs of an after-dinner torpidity which could find pleasure only in the latest trickeries imported from France. The old healthy delight in music as the recreation of freemen was disappearing; and the Englishman, spending his long day in the conquest, the civilization, and the administration of his great empire, found himself in the evening too weary for anything but contemptuous applause.

Hence began the artistic invasion of England. The foreigner was quick to see his opportunity in the preoccupations of the nation. Over the sea he came in shoals, impelled partly by the very natural belief in his own nation as the source of all kultur, and principally by his interest in the pound sterling. And, once landed, there he remained. His motto was that of the old Hanoverian countess: 'Ve kom for all your goots.'

It is unnecessary in this place to detail either the methods or the pernicious effects of this unnatural domination. Händel was a great, good, and pure-minded man, but when he came to England in 1710 he came to be a curse and an incubus brooding over the English spirit for 150 years. Music very nearly died there and, when the corpse showed any signs of reviving, some foreign professor was always at hand to stifle its faint cries, or, if that was not enough, to do a little quiet blood-letting 'just to make sure.' Even in[Pg 411] the third quarter of the nineteenth century England maintained men like Karl Halle (later Charles Hallé, and later still Sir Charles Hallé) who were content to accept position, affluence, and titles, giving in exchange bitter and persistent opposition to the creative art of their adopted country.

This deplorable state of affairs continued more or less down to the middle year of last century. About that time certain forces came into play which have markedly changed the social and artistic conditions of England. And only in this sense can we say that there has been such a thing as a renaissance or rebirth of music. Looked at from the twentieth-century end of the telescope the changes seem violent and unbelievable; but, if we put the glass down and walk through the country itself, we shall be forced to accept them as only a natural and inevitable broadening of the landscape.

The main fact on which we wish to dwell here is that between the years 1870 and 1915 England has been able to assert her nationality in music. And this is a matter of the deepest interest to all Americans who love their country. The preponderance of blood here is Anglo-Saxon and, though America has the advantages and disadvantages of a mixed population, she has yet to learn the lesson already learned by some other peoples, that only by the paths of nationalism can she scale the heights of internationalism.

In more ways than one America's 1915 is England's 1870. The American composer need not engrave this fact on his notepaper, but he may be recommended by a sincere well-wisher to keep it in his heart. On both the material and the spiritual sides it is true. Watch the orchestral players on a Sunday night at the 'Metropolitan.' They are the sons of the men who were playing in 1870 at Covent Garden. But since then the Englishman has asserted his personality; and to-day[Pg 412] there is scarcely a foreigner in any first-class English orchestra. Again, read through the synopses of novelties in any season's concert programs here. How many are American? Almost none. A hundred million people owning half a continent with vast waterways, prairies, and mountain ranges—yet musically nearly inarticulate! There must be something wrong here.

Let us hasten to add that the brain-stuff of the American composer is just as good as the brain-stuff of any other composer. More than that, he alone of all his countrymen seems to be aware that the price of victory is battle and death in battle.

No one can say that England has yet conquered the world in a musical sense. Still her achievements are much greater than are generally recognized on this side of the Atlantic. The art-works which represent these achievements lie mostly on composers' shelves and in publishers' cellars, kept there partly by their own strangeness and partly by the timidity and self-effacement of their authors.

Already similar works are being produced in America; and it is therefore hoped that a consideration of the musical conditions and processes in England between 1870 and 1915 may be helpful to American composers. One may add that at the earlier date the outside English public was just as heavily ignorant and indifferent as the American public is now. In the one case the leaven came, and in the other is coming from within.


In a short sketch like the present it is not possible to discuss fully the changed social conditions which brought about the English musical renaissance. One must, however, mention two forces which, acting somewhat blindly on the individual, yet produced great effects in the mass. The first of these was the re-cognition[Pg 413] that the man who mattered was the man of the soil. From this re-cognition sprang the whole folk-song movement—a movement whose depth and importance are still very little understood in America. The second is the growth of healthy liberal opinions and the partial reconsideration of the English caste-system. On this change the example of democratic America has undoubtedly had great influence. The result of this levelling upwards and downwards can be seen in the fact that, whereas prior to 1870 the English composer was generally a scallywag, now he is a gentleman.[77]

We have already said that England was never quite dead musically. To the outsider she may have appeared so, but it was really only a 'deep surgical anæsthesia.' And the analogy holds. She had been operated on so often by her German specialists that, as she came out of her sleep, she only very gradually began to ask herself whether, without another operation, she might not be able to find health by dismissing her doctors and changing her mode of life. Naturally it was a wrench to her to send the doctors packing; and her weak system almost, but not quite, refused her new diet of English bread and English water. In other words, if we divide the men of the English musical renaissance into three groups according to age, we shall find that the oldest group—to whom belongs all the honor of the spade—were almost to a man foreign-trained. Their main ideals were Joachim and Brahms, and their chief quarrel with the second and third groups—their pupils, be it said—was the quarrel between German technique and English.

To the most distinguished thinker of that school the correct way of writing a song is still the German way. The rest-of-the-world way is simply wrong. Race, feeling,[Pg 414] national sentiment, all go for nothing. In effect he says: 'You may draw your water from a spring in Kent, in Maryland, or in Siberia; but it won't travel except in disused Rhine-wine bottles.' The proposition only needs stating to be condemned.

This is, in small, the attitude of the oldest group. But we must remember that most of them continually forget their treasonable theories and prove their loyalty to national ideals in their practice. It is not a complete loyalty, but it is one to which all respect and honor are due. We must not judge it by the tree of which it was itself the seed, but by the sickly undergrowth among which it managed to strike root. And this shrivelled stuff is represented to us by such names as E. J. Loder (1813-65), H. H. Pierson (1815-73), and W. Sterndale Bennett (1816-75). The last-named composer in especial is a striking instance of an able but weak personality overwhelmed by circumstance. When he was a student among the Germans his docility to their ideals won Schumann's approval. Returning to England, he found himself, so to speak, hanging in the air like an orchid—without roots. Naturally he withered away. And for many years England had the spectacle of her chief musician dribbling out smooth Anglo-German platitudes, while Germany herself was producing Lohengrin, Tristan, and 'The Ring.' Only one work of his has weathered the storm of the English musical revival—'The Naiads.' But, of course, neither he, nor Loder, nor Pierson had any closer connection with the English renaissance than the glow-worm has with the coming sun. All three of these men were as clever as any living American or English composer. They were all driven into indignant silence, sullen despair, or musical madness by the anti-national conditions of their time.

Contrast their output with that of the seven musical children whom the fairy-stork brought to the rebirth of English music. Their names and natal years are:[Pg 415] Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842), Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (1847), Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848), Arthur Goring Thomas (1851), Frederic Hymen Cowen (1852), Charles Villiers Stanford (1852), and Edward William Elgar (1857). These seven men then—all German-trained except Elgar and Thomas—yet draw a large part of their vitality from the soil on which they were bred. One only needs to hear an Irish Rhapsody of Stanford, a big chorus of Parry, or a gay little song of Sullivan to become aware of a 'new something' in art. And, if the American reader be inclined to doubt this 'new something' at a first hearing, he may be earnestly advised to ask himself this question: 'What would be my first impressions of a symphonic poem by Strauss if that were my first introduction to a German art-work?'

The fertility of all these composers is so amazing that any attempt to catalogue their works would stifle the rest of this volume. Songs, operas, symphonies, sonatas, variations, church music, and choral works all pour forth in an endless stream. Under the one heading, 'works for voice and orchestra,' Parry has 33 entries. Stanford's opus numbers approach 150, and he begins with 7 operas, 7 symphonies, incidental music to 5 plays, and 27 'orchestral and choral works.' Cowen has written 4 operas, 4 oratorios, 6 symphonies, and 18 cantatas; and that is only the beginning of his list. It is plainly impossible even to hint at this enormous mass of material. We must content ourselves with a rapid glance at the distinguishing features of each composer.

Sullivan, the man who endeared himself personally and musically to a generation, needs no introduction. His work is practically summed up in the words 'Savoy Opera.' And these words stand everywhere for melodic charm and fancy, delicate humor, and exquisitely finished workmanship. On the more æsthetic side we owe him a lasting debt 'for his recognition of the fact[Pg 416] that it was not only necessary to set his text to music which was pleasing in itself, but to invent melodies in such close alliance with the words that the two things became (to the hearer) indistinguishable.' His long series of works beginning with 'Contrabandista,' 'Cox and Box,' and 'Trial by Jury' continued through 'Patience,' 'Pinafore,' 'The Mikado,' 'The Yeomen of the Guard,' 'The Gondoliers,' and others, till his death interrupted the composition of his last work, 'The Emerald Isle.' It must be added that both in his simple concert songs and in his choral music Sullivan enjoyed a wide popularity. This is now waning. Of his larger concert works 'The Golden Legend' and the overture 'Di Ballo' possess the greatest vitality.

Mackenzie, who succeeded Macfarren (1813-87) as principal of the Royal Academy of Music, is a man of forceful character. Like Sullivan, he was trained in Germany and came back a brilliant contrapuntist with wide, far-reaching musical intentions. Familiar with every nook in the orchestra, he has produced a mass of concert and opera music all characterized by great technical dexterity and a certain continual color and warmth. More than once the present writer has been surprised by some particularly modern stroke of his orchestral expression and, after ascribing it to the influence of the most neo of neo-continentals, has discovered that Mackenzie was doing it before its supposed author was born. It is a common word in London that Stanford and Mackenzie spend their evenings reading each other's full-scores, both missing out the German parts. Of Mackenzie's works the best known are the violin 'Benedictus' and 'Pibroch,' the orchestral ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci, the cantatas 'The Story of Sayid,' 'The Cottar's Saturday Night,' 'The Dream of Jubal,' and, finally, the ever-popular overture 'Britannia.'

The English public connects Parry's name mainly[Pg 417] with his colossal choral writings and with his directorship of The Royal College of Music. That, however, by no means exhausts the list of his activities. In the realms of song, of symphonic and chamber music, he has shown an astonishing fertility. His productions are marked throughout by a boundless contrapuntal skill based very decidedly on the old order of things. To his heroic mind forty-part writing is probably very much what four-part writing is to the rest of mankind. A sort of hard-knit sincerity and a lyrical grandeur pervade all his works. One feels that, if Milton's father had had his son's genius, he would have been a seventeenth-century Parry. Of humor he has none, but in its place a constant cheerfulness characteristic of a certain very good type of Englishman. His best-loved work is undoubtedly 'Blest Pair of Sirens.' But after that we must mention 'The Glories of Our Blood and State,' L'Allegro ed il Pensieroso, 'Lady Radnor's Suite,' the 'Symphonic Variations in E minor,' and the beautiful series of 'English Lyrics.'

Goring Thomas was an Englishman who, with the help of great natural talent and of long residence in France, almost performed the miracle of successfully changing his nationality. Of course, he had to pay the price; and it was heavy. After burning incense at the altar of French ideals he came back to a country where grand opera was only an annual importation symbolical of financial respectability. He might have done Sullivan's work better than Sullivan. But the fates were inexorably against him. He did not even get a knighthood. Imagine Saint-Saëns caught young and studying Handelian counterpoint at the Royal Academy of Music; or Stravinsky doing 'fifth grade harmony' at the Royal College of Music with his eye on the organ-loft at York Minster or the conductor's seat at the Gaiety as possible goals of his ambition. Either instance will give the curious reader some idea of Thomas's difficulties,[Pg 418] social and psychological. One must add that he cannot be denied great charm of manner and a strong selective gift both in his melody and harmony. He had all the Frenchman's talent for recognizing dramatic effect and securing it swiftly. His best-known works are 'Esmeralda,' 'Nadeshda,' and 'The Swan and the Skylark.'

Cowen is a West Indian Jew. His artistic activities, however, have mainly centred round London and Glasgow. In the former place he has conducted the 'Philharmonic,' and in the latter the Scottish Orchestra. As a composer he has been both over-blamed and over-praised. His blood undoubtedly gives him facility, adaptability, and a somewhat detached viewpoint. These qualities, academically praised by the Anglo-Saxon, yet excite in England a certain half-envious distrust when actually exercised. For instance, the English musician does not care two raps about the style of composition commonly called 'ye olde English'; but he thinks it scarcely proper that Cowen should be able to write in that style so well. Again, in his heart of hearts the professional man probably thinks that King David's ultimate object in writing Psalm 130 was the afternoon service at Westminster Abbey; and here, too, Cowen's pen causes some uneasiness. On the other side of the picture we have had the composer figuring with the public for years as a miracle of charm, grace, and delicate fancy. A fair view of Cowen would probably show him as a composer somewhat isolated from his fellows, naturally inclined to the lighter side of life, and perhaps more anxious for the laurel than for the dust. His easy yet punctilious technique is shown in a long list of popular works. Of these the most successful are his two sets of 'Old English Dances,' the orchestral suite 'The Language of Flowers,' the overture 'The Butterflies' Ball,' the 'Scandinavian,' 'Welsh,' and 'Idyllic' symphonies, and the choral works 'Ruth,' 'The[Pg 419] Rose Maiden,' 'The Sleeping Beauty,' and the 'Ode to the Passions.'

Stanford and Ireland contribute respectively to English musical life and to the empire what a penn'orth of yeast does to a basin of dough. As far as one may judge the ferment cannot be stopped. Its chemical constituents are wit, clarity, and humor, all combined by a delightful ease and precision of technique. Stanford's scores are models of elegant reticence and their 'form' is beyond reproach. In all his work one notices a constant refusal to accept gloom for poetry. He is a musical Oliver Goldsmith of the nineteenth century. No one has done more for the preservation, the arranging, and the publishing of Irish folk-song. Among the best-known of his works are his comic opera 'Shamus O'Brien,' his 'Irish Rhapsodies,' his 'Variations on an English Theme,' and his many fine string quartets and quintets. In the realm of song-literature both original and arranged he has a great record; much of his church music is by now classic on both sides of the Atlantic; and he has made a very special success with his striking Choral Ballads. In these last three departments one may mention his 'Cavalier Songs' and his 'Songs of Old Ireland'; his Services in B-flat, A and F; 'The Revenge,' 'The Voyage of Maeldune,' 'The Bard,' and 'Phaudrig Crohoore.'

Elgar's advantage over the other six members of this group lies, not merely in his comparative youth, but in the fact that he began his serious and prolonged husbandry after the others had done the ploughing. Practically self-educated, he set out with the very noble determination to conquer the world unaided except by his own brains. What this determination means in a densely populated, imperialistic country like England probably very few Americans can realize. From his home in Malvern and later in London he began to issue a series of works, few in number as the men of his[Pg 420] generation counted these things, but of unsurpassed poetical quality. His earlier work, such as 'King Olaf' and 'Caractacus,' met with no very wide appreciation; but, with the appearance of his 'Enigma Variations,' his 'Sea Songs,' and his beautiful oratorio, 'The Dream of Gerontius,' came general European recognition. His present unassailable position in England may be gauged from the fact that his oratorios—saturated with the Roman Catholic spirit—are welcomed even in the English cathedrals. Nor are the Deans and Chapters incensed thereby. Of his other works—such as the overtures 'In the South' and 'Cockaigne,' the 'Pomp and Circumstance' marches, the two enormous Symphonies, the Violin Concerto, and the oratorios 'The Kingdom' and 'The Apostles'—it is not possible to speak here in detail. All Elgar's work is characterized by great sincerity and purity of intention. He is an ample master both of harmony and counterpoint; while his sense of orchestral decoration is astonishing. One must in fairness add that he has often been charged with a certain indecision and melodic indefiniteness. These are perhaps national traits; and the gravamen of this charge may be lightened as Teutonic standards of judgment become less and less generally enforced.

Before leaving this group of composers we must mention the fact—already hinted at—that their general education and social level is undoubtedly high as compared with that of their predecessors. This point need not be elaborated. But its effect is seen in the publication of various volumes dealing with the æsthetic and historical sides of music. Of these, Hubert Parry's two great volumes on 'Johann Sebastian Bach' and 'Style in Musical Art' are easily first. Only second to them is the same author's work on 'The Seventeenth Century' contributed to the 'Oxford History of Music.' And he has three or four others to his credit. Stanford has published two delightful books of memoirs and a short[Pg 421] treatise on 'Musical Composition.' Frederick Corder, besides a considerable list of compositions, has produced three volumes, of which the best-known is 'The Orchestra and How to Write for It.' The awakening taste for musical study at this period can perhaps be best appreciated by considering the wide popularity of Ebenezer Prout's dry, stubborn volumes on musical technique.

Finally, in order to complete the list of names associated with this movement, one must add John Stainer and George Martin, both of St. Paul's Cathedral; Walter Parratt, the distinguished 'Master of the King's Musick'; and Frederick Bridge of Westminster Abbey. Of the dozen men named above ten received titles from the Sovereign.


The members of the second and third groups shared with Elgar the advantages of much improved musical conditions. After twenty-five years' hard work the older generation of composers had educated the country to a wider, deeper, and purer appreciation of music. They had even arrived at a tacit understanding with their countrymen that an Englishman might, under certain conditions, be able to compose. Of this understanding their pupils took immediate advantage. Let us see of what these improved conditions consisted.

In 1880, outside the provincial church festivals, orchestral opportunity for the English composer meant a few concerts conducted by August Manns at the Crystal Palace and a few more given by the London Philharmonic Society. To-day there is a larger number of first-class orchestral players in London than in any other city in the world.

To a large extent this is the result of the insatiable London appetite for musical comedy performed with a beauty and lavishness unknown in America. For[Pg 422] the orchestral player who cannot live by symphony work alone can live by symphony and theatre work combined. The number of orchestras both metropolitan and provincial has thus increased enormously. The percentage of English works played has also increased, though there is still room for some improvement in that respect.

In London alone there are, besides the Covent Garden Orchestra—the Royal Philharmonic, the Queen's Hall,[78] the London Symphony, the New Symphony, and the Beecham. All of these can and do tackle successfully the most modern music. A certain number of excellent amateur orchestras, such as the Royal Amateur, the Stock Exchange, and the Strolling Players, testify to a wide interest in this form of music. Outside London there are permanent orchestras at such places as Bournemouth, Brighton, Glasgow, Harrogate, Liverpool, Manchester, and Torquay.

Among conductors who have at one time or other interested themselves in English music may be mentioned Henry J. Wood, Granville Bantock, Godfrey, Thomas Beecham, Balfour Gardiner, Landon Ronald. And this leaves out of account the theatrical conductors, the older musicians most of whom have conducted either at the Royal Philharmonic or at some provincial festival, and the conductors of choral societies, such as George Riseley, Frederick Bridge, Allen Gill, Henry Coward, and Arthur Fagge.

The second point which calls for notice is the folk-song movement, which has forced composers to reconsider some of the fundamentals of their art and at the same time has furnished them with a mass of material on which to work. We must remember that, from the early middle ages until the present day, the traditional [Pg 423]music of Europe (folk-song) has continued to flow in a sort of underground stream, while the written or professional music has been the main official waterway. The two have constantly joined their currents, and at times the underground stream has actually been in advance of the river overhead.

The important point is that, in England and Ireland at any rate, the folk-song, orally transmitted, has practically evolved as a separate art-form with its own ways and means of expression. And the outstanding feature of the movement is the recognition of this art-form as a thing of beauty, of vitality, and of necessity to the nation. One might make a very fair division of English composers into those who do not use folk-tunes, those who do for cheque-book reasons, and those who do because they must.

In England the missioners of this movement came only just in time. When they visited the country and seaboard towns of such counties as Norfolk and Somerset they found the art of folk-singing unknown except to the oldest inhabitants. Luckily, however, these sturdy grandfathers kept in their minds a great treasure of folk-song, and it was from their lips that our present collections were made. With this work the name of Cecil Sharp will always be honorably joined. There is now very little chance of folk-song dying, but, as everywhere else, the genuine folk-singer is practically extinct.

Irish folk-song has been the subject of conscious literary enquiry for nearly two hundred years. And this is not to be wondered at when we consider that, of all folk-song, it is first in musical charm, variety, and depth of poetical feeling. In this department the most important recent contribution by far is Stanford's monumental edition of the complete 'Petrie Collection'; but, besides that, he has restored and arranged Moore's 'Irish Melodies' and has published two volumes containing altogether eighty Irish songs and ballads with accompaniments. Both in Wales and Scotland there has been a similar but less important activity.

Before concluding this hasty sketch of the English folk-song movement we must point out that its effect on English composition was only gradually felt. The men of the second group had been too strictly trained in the tradition of the elders to feel quite comfortable under the new dispensation. They acknowledged but evaded its power. Their successors, on the other hand, viewed it, not as a curious archæological discovery, but as a living spring from which they could draw their vitality.

The two most eminent names in the second group of composers are undoubtedly Frederic Delius (b. 1863) and Granville Bantock (b. 1868).

The former was born in Bradford, lived for some time in the United States, and finally after long residence and marriage in France became almost a foreigner. Blessed with abundant means, he has always been able 'to cherish his genius' and let the world go hang. When he reappeared in England it was as a solitary stranger unknown even by name to his co-evals. And this sudden reappearance on the wave-crest of a vigorous English propaganda was not made the subject of loud-voiced enthusiasms. His brilliant talents excited a perverse misunderstanding; and he had to live down a certain sore opposition from his contemporaries, many of whom had for years been struggling in the Cave of Æolus to blow up the very wind that sent him into harbor. These are happily things of past history, and he is now accepted by the world as a tone-poet of great power and originality. Of his works—most of which owe their present popularity to the exertions of his friend Thomas Beecham—one may note 'Paris,' 'Brigg Fair,' 'Appalachia,' 'Seadrift,' 'Dance Rhapsody,' and his great 'Mass of Life.' Of his operas, neither 'Koanga' nor 'A Village Romeo and Juliet' seems to have made a pronounced success.

[Pg 424]


Modern British Composers:

Sir G. Hubert H. Parry Sir Arthur Sullivan
Granville Bantock Sir Edward Elgar

[Pg 425]

Bantock is a man of quite another kidney. The son of a London doctor, he has always exerted himself for the benefit of his fellow countrymen. In his younger days as conductor of the New Brighton Orchestra he devoted himself largely to the performance of English music. The present writer, among many others, has to acknowledge that his first chance was offered him by Bantock. At the present time he wields great influence as head of the Midland School of Music at Birmingham. Bantock's work is characterized by fluent expression and vivid coloring. His early experiences have given him an almost uncanny touch in the orchestra. Perhaps no one knows better than he how to 'score heavily' by 'scoring lightly.' In his choice of subjects he leans somewhat toward the exotic and oriental. From his long list of compositions it is only possible to select the orchestral works 'Sappho,' the 'Pierrot of the Minute,' 'The Witch of Atlas,' 'Fifine at the Fair'; and his vocal-and-orchestral works 'Omar Khayyám,' 'The Fire Worshippers,' the six sets of 'Songs of the East,' and the nine 'Sappho' fragments.

Hamish MacCunn (b. 1868) and Edward German (b. 1868),[79] the one a Scot and the other a Welshman, are both more particularly identified with the theatre. MacCunn's early orchestral poems, such as 'The Land of the Mountain and the Flood' and 'The Ship o' the Fiend,' at once brought him wide recognition. Their fine poetical qualities are well known. A large portion of his time, however, has been devoted to operatic conducting and composition. In the latter field he has to his credit such works as 'Jennie Deans' and 'Diarmid.' But, though MacCunn is known to all as an able, brilliant musician, he has had to pay the penalty of his [Pg 426]association with that musical Cinderella, English Opera.

German, on the other hand, though never aiming at the sun, has once or twice hit a star. He succeeded Sullivan at the Savoy and made successes with 'The Emerald Isle,' 'Merrie England,' 'A Princess of Kensington,' and elsewhere with 'Tom Jones.' His incidental music to 'Henry VIII' and 'Nell Gwyn' has been liked into dislike. But German has done a great deal more than this. No account of him would be complete that did not mention his 'Welsh Rhapsody,' his 'Rhapsody on March Themes,' his 'Gypsy Suite,' and his 'Overture to Richard III.'

There is no denying the power, the wide ability, or the technical resource of Ethel Mary Smyth. Judged by her music alone one would say that she was only the nom de guerre of a strong masculine personality saturated with Teutonism. This, however, is only a pleasing fancy. As a fact, the terrific earnestness of her music could never have come from the brain of a mere man. Opera is her stronghold, and her greatest victory therein a fine Cornish drama, 'The Wreckers.'

Neither Walford Davies nor Charles Wood has produced music in great quantity. Both have led somewhat secluded lives; the one as organist of The Temple, and the other as a Cambridge don.

Davies is a man of fastidious taste, a first-class organist and contrapuntist, and a profound student of Bach, Browning, and The Bible. It is said that his coy muse sometimes furls her pinions at the approach of a too red-blooded humanity. However that may be, she has inspired him with at least one subtle and delicately beautiful work, 'Everyman.'

Charles Wood is an Irishman from Armagh, a fine scholarly musician and probably the best all-round theorist in the country. He has a strong interest in the folk-song of his native land and has written a set of[Pg 427] orchestral variations on the tune, 'Patrick Sarsfield.' One of his best things is his string quartet in A minor. In the realm of choral music his 'Ballad of Dundee' may be selected for mention. He has at any rate one great song to his credit—'Ethiopia saluting the colors.'

Arthur Hinton's (b. 1869) work, which is appreciated on both sides of the Atlantic, includes some elaborate pianoforte music, a two-act opera, 'Tamara,' a couple of symphonies, the orchestral suite 'Endymion,' and a good deal of chamber music. His compositions are characteristic of the group to which he belongs. A certain delight in clean, finished workmanship and an incisiveness of expression are their main features.

Arthur Somervell has been throughout his life one of the standard-bearers of the English revival. And he has kept the banner flying both by his enthusiasm for folk-music and by his own compositions. His graceful, refined songs are sung and liked everywhere. Of these perhaps the best known is his cycle from Tennyson's 'Maud.' Among his larger works one may mention his 'Normandy' variations for pianoforte and orchestra and his recent symphony 'Thalassa.' For some years past Somervell has been the official mainspring which keeps the clock of elementary musical education ticking.

One of the most admirable features of the later phases in the English musical renaissance is the quickened and deepened interest shown both in English musical history and in the general topic of musical æsthetics. For the first time since the days of Hawkins and Burney investigators have begun an elaborate search in college, cathedral, and secular libraries. The existence of a vast store of madrigals, of church and instrumental music was scarcely suspected even by professional musicians; and the treasure when unearthed came as a revelation to musical England.

In the field of musical æsthetics there has been an[Pg 428] equally remarkable activity. And it is noteworthy that a number of men who have devoted their lives to purely musical composition have also produced elaborate studies either of the technique, the history, or the psychology of their art. Of these we may name six: Wallace, McEwen, Walker, Tovey, Macpherson, and Buck.

William Wallace is, like MacCunn, a Scot from Greenock. His mental growth had its roots in the stiff classical sub-soil of a public school, and then pushed its way up through the rocks of a university medical course till it flowered in the sweet open air of the R.A.M. composition class. Hence his mind, which almost needs the threefold pormanteau-word 'musiterific' to describe it. Wallace was the first Englishman to write a symphonic poem, and he has made this form something of a specialty. The best known of his six are 'The Passing of Beatrice' and 'Villon.' Of these the latter has been played everywhere, and the present writer has had to satisfy more than one puzzled American enquirer as to how the author of 'Maritana'[80] could possibly have written it! Some of Wallace's songs, for instance 'Son o' Mine,' have acquired a popularity in England almost too great for public comfort. In the field of literature he has produced two remarkable studies in the development of the musical sense—'The Threshold of Music' and 'The Musical Faculty.'

John Blackwood McEwen is, like Wallace, a Scotsman. Furthermore he has the same mental and physical homes—Glasgow University, the R.A.M., and London. He has produced much symphonic and chamber music all characterized by a severe self-criticism, impeccable workmanship, and at times a certain Scottish exaltation. His quartets in A minor and C minor are excellent. Of his symphonic poems the border ballad 'Grey Galloway' can hold up its head in any company. He is an untiring enquirer into musical fundamentals [Pg 429]and, of his five published volumes, the most valuable is 'The Thought in Music.'

Both Ernest Walker and Donald Francis Tovey are university men. The former, who is organist of Balliol College, Oxford, has been much applauded for his songs and chamber music. He has also rendered great and lasting service by his admirable 'History of Music in England.'

Tovey—the distinguished occupant of the Reid Chair of Music in Edinburgh—is a sort of musical Francis Bacon. Few of the English tales as to his learning and memory would be believed if printed in America. The most credible is that he is able to play the sketch-books of Beethoven by heart. His pamphlets of severely analytical criticism have, in a way, set a new standard in this kind; while his work in connection with the eleventh edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' has had the happiest results. Though a very able theorist and historian, Tovey is by no means that alone. He has written a good deal of chamber music, a concerto for pianoforte and orchestra and, one hears, an opera. It is difficult to place these works. Some of the older musicians have hailed them as greatly instinct with the spirit of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, while some of the younger men have catalogued them rather as compilations from those three masters. The composer's own views, throwing a terrific weight onto his isolated notes and phrases, seem to make of music a burden almost too heavy to bear. However this may be, it is quite certain that Tovey has not yet shot his last bolt.

With Stewart Macpherson and Percy C. Buck we may close this list of composer-authors. The former, in addition to a considerable amount of published music, has printed ten volumes, mostly on the technique of composition: the latter, besides his music, has written two valuable works—'The Organ' and 'The First Year at the Organ.' Naturally the greater part of the[Pg 430] literary work in connection with this movement has been done by scholars who are not themselves composers. Most of these men have been in close touch with the leaders of the renaissance; but, even when their work has been purely archæological, it has, so to speak, cleft the rock and released a fountain of inspiration for their creative brethren.

Henry Davey's 'History of English Music' is a pioneer work embodying the results of long and patient research. Its combative determination to claim honor for the honorable is beyond praise. A similar work, less scholarly but equally patriotic, is Ernest Ford's 'Short History of Music in England.' Barclay Squire (of the British Museum), has, with his brother-in-law J. A. Fuller Maitland, done much to revive the national pride in Purcell and to spread an accurate knowledge of the earlier Elizabethan and Jacobean composers. Fuller Maitland himself, apart from his claims as editor of 'Grove' (2d ed.) and as a contributor to the 'Oxford History of Music,' always used his distinguished position at The Times to further the best interests of English music. To this list we may add the names of three other scholar-musicians all associated with the 'Oxford History of Music': W. H. Hadow, the brilliant editor of the work and at present principal of the Armstrong College; H. E. Wooldridge; and (the late) Edward Dannreuther, whose life-span stretched from personal contact with Richard Wagner to patient and sympathetic intercourse with the youngest school of English musicians.

In the special field of instrumental construction and development we have Rev. F. W. Galpin, with his scholarly and delightful volume 'Old English Instruments of Music,' and Kathleen Schlesinger. Of Miss Schlesinger's painstaking and accurate scholarship her country has by no means made the acknowledgment it deserves.

In the realm of more general musical æsthetics and[Pg 431] criticism many names might be mentioned. We must content ourselves with those of Ernest Newman, whose profound works on 'Gluck' and 'Wagner' are discussed everywhere, and E. J. Dent, who has studied certain phases of Mozart's work and has published a classical volume on 'Scarlatti.'

Though it is somewhat outside our special topic, some reference must be made here to the English researches into Greek music. For the first time since the Germans began to inspissate the gloom, a ray or two of light has been allowed to fall upon this difficult subject. In particular D. B. Monro, with his volume 'The Modes of Ancient Greek Music,' has shown that it is not an essential of this study that the reader should always have the sensation of swimming in glue. Since his day Cecil Torr has published a clever work on the same topic; while H. S. Macran and Abdy Williams have both written on Aristoxenus.

This concludes the list of original writers, but, before leaving the subject, a word must be spared for the vast improvement that has appeared during the past few years in the translation of foreign musical texts into English. The value of the work of such men as Claude Aveling, Frederick Jameson, and Paul England can only be appreciated by a comparison of their translations with those of their predecessors. One may add that there is now a persistent cry in the London press for fine English finely sung, and this demand—though not always gratified—is kept before the public by such patriotic critics as Robin Legge, Edwin Evans, and Henry Cope Colles.

Finally, before passing on to the third group, we may here conveniently place together the small band of theatrical composers who have succeeded Sullivan. Musical comedy and the money that comes from writing it are the very sour grapes of the average English symphonist. One and all they applaud what they call 'genuine[Pg 432] comic opera' (meaning Offenbach or anyone else that is old and dead), but decry its much brighter, cleaner, and more musical descendant. The ludicrous snobbery of English life draws a wide black line between the two classes of composer; and the stupidest Mus. Doc. that ever drowned a choir would probably rather have his daughter run off with the butler than marry a musical comedy composer. Nine times out of ten the theatrical man's revenge is that it is he and not the Mus. Doc. that has the butler. For, even under present conditions, the theatre alone in England offers a composer-conductor the chance of an honorable livelihood.

During Sullivan's lifetime he and Gilbert were comic opera; and, though the Savoy cap was tried on such diversely shaped heads as A. C. Mackenzie, Ernest Ford, Edward Soloman, and J. M. Barrie, it never really fitted any of them. Cellier alone—brother of Sullivan's conductor—made a success (elsewhere) with his charming work, 'Dorothy.' We have already mentioned that, after Sir Arthur's death, German completed his unfinished opera, 'The Emerald Isle,' and continued to employ his easy brilliant talents in that field. A later attempt to run a miniature grand opera, written by an Italian (Franco Leoni) but sung in English, was defeated by the two gods of fog, musical and meteorological.

Toward the end of the century theatre-land began to shift westward and northward into the Piccadilly Circus and Shaftesbury Avenue district. The new form of entertainment came into its own, and—if one may quote the words of an eminent Russian violinist—'Musical comedy at Daly's became the top-thing.' Of the men who have been providing the music for the London theatres we may mention four—Jones, Monckton, Talbot, and Rubens.

Sidney Jones's music has been played all the world[Pg 433] over. In 'The Geisha,' 'San Toy,' and many other works he has had the opportunity of exercising his delicate taste and his really very musical mind. He has written more than one extended finale that is a comic opera masterpiece; while the alternate sparkle and quaint tenderness of his melodies are quite irresistible.

Of recent years Lionel Monckton has had the biggest finger in the musical comedy pie. And deservedly so. He owes his present distinguished position mainly to his inexhaustible fund of original melody. Many of these tunes are, in their way, perfect. Their special excellence is lightness, vigor, rhythmic variety and constructional power. If the present writer were subpœnaed before the Court of the Muses to give evidence as to the best tunes made in the past fifteen years he would testify, among others, for Monckton. The Folk-Song Society of 2500 will probably explain him as a solar-myth.

Howard Talbot[81] and Paul Rubens may be bracketed together. The former, though a New Yorker born, has lived his musical life in London. And his charming talent is shown in the many works of which he is either whole-or part-author. Of these the most popular are perhaps 'A Chinese Honeymoon,' 'The Arcadians,' and 'The Mousmé.' Rubens may be specially noticed for his Sullivanesque power of associating his music intimately with his literary text. Not that his music has anything in common with Sullivan's. But the special faculty of making the two things appear one is common to both composers. Rubens nearly always writes his own lyrics and thus, in a delightful manner, revives and vindicates the theory and practice of Greek poetic composition.


With the turn of the century the folk-song movement had sunk deep into the English mind, where it still rests as an anchor for many of their hopes. Accordingly[Pg 434] in this period we find men, like Vaughan Williams, who either base their music entirely on actual folk-song or invent tunes in close spiritual alliance with its ideals. In either case the result is a genuine development of folk-music. On the technical side this group is marked by a much more decided tendency to refuse the highly organized German technique as necessary to its salvation. This again is largely due to an open-minded reconsideration of musical æsthetics, forced upon composers by the special harmonic and melodic features of folk-song. The matter is too large for discussion here; but it is satisfactory to note that more than one Englishman who passed through his student-days with the reputation of a wrong-headed jackass has been able to base his honor on his alleged stupidities.

During recent years there is some change to be noted in the material side of English musical conditions. Apparently there is less love for the oratorio; and therefore less scope for writing it. This symptom of musical life is common to America and England. It is easy to diagnose the reasons. In England they are two: first, on the part of the audience, the dislike of prolonged boredom; and, second, on the part of the composer, an indignant hatred of the organized corruption associated with choral music. The latter point cannot be dealt with here, though it is a common theme of talk among English composers. The musician's compensation is to be found in the extraordinary system of 'choral competitions' and 'festivals' which now honeycomb England with their sweetness. These, beginning with Miss Wakefield's celebrated gathering in Cumberland, have spread all over the country and now offer composers large opportunities for the performance of part-songs and the smaller sort of choral works. The best and highest aims of these English festivals are summarized for Americans in the 'Norfolk Festival' of the Litchfield[Pg 435] County Choral Union founded by Mr. and Mrs. Stoeckel to honor the memory of Robbins Battell.

On the side of actual orchestral opportunity the English composer of to-day is undoubtedly more favored than his American brother. There are more orchestras there; and they are more ready to do native works. The conditions are not perfect by any means, but they are better there than here. As far as the publication of serious music goes the English composer's position is hopelessly bad. He has to contend against ignorance, apathy, and a short-sighted financial timidity far beyond American credence. In addition to that he often has to fight hard against his own seniors who—themselves comfortably off—deny that music, when written, has any commercial existence. A certain London firm, in order to encourage its poorer and younger clientèle to take example thereby, continually cites the readiness of one of its older wealthy composers to take $25 for a choral work. Words can go no further.

It is unnecessary to specify the names of the great English publishing houses which have associated themselves with the English revival. Suffice it to say that they have always been at hand, ready to lighten the burden and the pocket of the composer. But it would not be fair to ignore the firm of Stainer and Bell, which was founded—under a directorate of distinguished musicians—with the prime object of dealing honorably with the composer. The existence of this firm is, in its way, a landmark; or rather a lighthouse for composers who have long had to beat up in the straits of chicanery and dishonesty. Nor must we omit to mention the present extended activity of the Society of Authors. Though founded by Sir Walter Besant some fifty years ago for the special protection of literary men, it has recently formed a sub-committee of composers under the chairmanship of Sir Charles V. Stanford. It is now known as The Society of Authors, Playwrights,[Pg 436] and Composers and, among the last-named workers, has already done valuable service.

The number of composers who might be mentioned in this group is, of course, very large. Now that music has almost risen to the level of golf and horse-racing as a national pastime, it employs the brains of many. The list, we fear, must be ruthlessly pruned. But it will be pruned so as to leave the more prominent branches and even some of the buds visible to the American reader. Of his charity he may be asked to surmise what the author well knows, that some young Englishmen of great original powers are forced by circumstance to spend their days in teaching little girls the fiddle, while others who scarcely condescend below grand opera might just as well be employed on some wholly uninspired task—such as the writing of these pages.

Ralph Vaughan Williams—though he is the most characteristically English of this group—is a Welshman. Large both in body and mind, he has always kept before himself and his fellows a singularly noble ideal. It may safely be said of him that he has never trimmed his course even half a point from what he considered his duty. The music that comes from this simple and courageous mind is naturally of the most earnest—perhaps a little awkward at times, but always deeply sincere. His aims and his outlook are peculiarly national. Let us try to exemplify this. To a fresh-water people like the Americans the attempts of Rubinstein, Wagner, and others to illustrate 'the sea' in music may not appear particularly unsuccessful: to a sea-loving race like the English they are simply puny and ridiculous. Williams has taken this subject, and, in his choral 'Sea Symphony' (words by Walt Whitman), has actually caught up the sounds of the sea as the English hear them. This is a new and a great achievement. Again in his 'London' symphony he has somehow managed to express in sound a thing not hitherto[Pg 437] expressed—the poetry both tragic and comic which dwells in that most wonderful of all towns. In Williams's larger works there is always, quite apart from their actual length, something vast, shadowy, and almost primeval. His landscape is always bathed in a pearly, translucent haze. The subjects loom up and disappear with a suddenness natural in England but unnatural elsewhere. It is as if a Turner canvas had been translated into sound. Of Williams's other works, many of which are directly inspired by the folk-music of which he is an ardent collector, one may mention the orchestral 'Norfolk Rhapsodies,' 'In the Fen Country,' 'Harnham Down,' and 'Boldrewood'; the 'Five Mystical Songs' for baritone, chorus, and orchestra; the beautiful cantata 'Willow-wood' for baritone, female chorus, and orchestra; the six songs, 'On Wenlock Edge,' for tenor voice, string quartet, and pianoforte; and, last, his music to 'The Wasps.'

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) and William Young Hurlstone (1876-1906) both died while still young. The one was an African, the other a pure Englishman. Both died leaving an example to their friends of modesty and cultured simplicity. As far as technique went they could probably have both given Vaughan Williams ninety yards start in a hundred and beaten him. But, in any more serious race, the handicap would probably have had to be reversed. Their sailing-orders as students were perhaps merely to keep the ship's head on Beethoven and Brahms. But, in the case of Taylor, the powerful lode-stone of Dvořák's genius spoilt the compass-readings and drew his ship nearer and nearer to 'the coast of Bohemia.' Of his work the best-known by far is his 'Hiawatha,' the first performance of which at the R.C.M. was heard by at least three members of the first group of composers—Sullivan, Stanford, and Parry. After 'Hiawatha' may be mentioned his cantata 'A Tale of Old[Pg 438] Japan,' his 'Bamboula Rhapsodic Dance' (written for Norfolk, Conn.), and his violin 'Ballade' and 'Concerto.' In Hurlstone's case a constant physical weakness prevented the true development of his really great musical powers. The best of his refined work is found in his sonatas, trios, and quartets. Most of these have been or are now being published in London.

Joseph Holbrooke (b. 1878) is from the land of Cockaigne. His purposeful character and his invincible habit of saying in public what most composers only think in private have made him the enfant terrible of London musical life. In output, energy, and material-command he is probably unsurpassed by any living composer. A strong, blistering style and a constant determination to call his 16-inch guns into action have procured for him many (musical) enemies. He is blessed with a great sense of humor and a very complete knowledge of the way to express it in music. His orchestral variations on 'Three Blind Mice' should be played everywhere. Holbrooke has enjoyed very exceptional opportunities in the way of dramatic performance and full-score publication. This is not to be regretted; especially when one considers the usual disadvantages of the English composer under these two heads. He has written a large quantity of songs and chamber music—some of it for the most curious combinations.[82] Among his larger works one may select his operas 'The Children of Don' and 'Dylan'; his 'Queen Mab' and 'The Bells'; and his 'illuminated' choral symphony 'Apollo and the Seaman.'

Percy Grainger (b. 1883)—pianist, composer, arranger, friend of Grieg, etc.—comes from Australia; and, if that country had not produced him, the concert-agents of the world would have had to invent him. His playing is wonderful. He never writes a dull note, [Pg 439]and he ranges from the Faroe Islands to the Antipodes. He crosses no sea but as a conqueror. Folk-song is his battleship and quaint diatonic harmony his submarine. 'Molly on the Shore,' 'Father and Daughter,' 'Mock Morris,' 'Händel in the Strand,' and 'I'm Seventeen Come Sunday' all attest the 'certain liveliness' of his very happy gifts. He has been applauded by thousands and sketched by Sargent. What he will do next nobody knows—but it is sure to be successful.

Cyril Scott[83] was born, apparently, in the 'Yellow Book.' His slim Beardsleyesque nature seems to be always moving through an elegant exotic shadow-world, beckoned on by his own craving yet fastidious mind. At Pagani's he sits mysteriously in a black stock and cameo. A strange personality, distinguished and uneasy! Certain crippling theories of rhythm and development have at times bent the flight of his muse. His 'Aubade,' Pianoforte Concerto, and Ballad for baritone and orchestra, 'Helen of Kirkconnell,' are notable.

Gustav von Holst[84] for all his name, is English born and bred. Skegness gave him to the world: he has all the energy and tenacity of the east-coast man. The main features of his music are an extremely modern and comprehensive method of handling his subjects, great warmth and variety of orchestral color, and (occasionally it must be confessed) excessive length. His successes have been striking and well deserved. Among his best-known productions are his Moorish work 'In the Street of the Ouled Nails,'[85] his orchestral suites 'Phantastes,' and 'de Ballet,' and (more particularly) his elaborate vocal and orchestral works, such as 'The Cloud Messenger' and 'The Mystic Trumpeter.' A large part of von Holst's time has been given to the composition of Hindu opera on a vast scale; and, as we have [Pg 440]already hinted, composers who take up opera in England have to pay penalties. Among others who have been mulcted in this way are Nicholas Gatty (with three operas, 'Greysteel,' 'Duke or Devil,' and 'The Tempest'); Rutland Boughton (with his scheme of open-air choral drama on the Arthurian legends); J. E. Barkworth (with 'Romeo and Juliet' set directly to Shakespeare's text); George Clutsam, Colin McAlpin, and Alec Maclean.

Norman O'Neill and Balfour Gardiner may be honorably mentioned as among the very few young English composers who ever picture the Goddess of Music as not swathed in crêpe. O'Neill's compositions are manifold. Among the most successful are his capital numbers written as incidental music to 'The Blue Bird.' Gardiner has a shorter list, but all his works have a delightfully boyish and open-air spirit. We may mention his orchestral pieces 'English Dance,' 'Overture to a Comedy,' and 'Shepherd Fennel's Dance.'

One of the most prominent traits in the musical make-up of the young English composer is his persistent cry for loud, complex orchestral expression. Holbrooke was the one who started him on this trail; and now his constant prayer seems to be:

'O mihi si linguæ centum sint, oraque centum.'

Above this school Frank Bridge (b. 1879) stands head and shoulders. What the others do well he does better; and, if they ever attempt to follow him there, he always has a 'best' waiting for them. Though he is quite unknown outside England, one has no hesitation in saying that his superior as a plastic orchestral artist would be hard to find. Among his best works are his three orchestral impressions of 'The Sea,' his two 'Dance Rhapsodies,' and his beautiful symphonic poem 'Isabella.' In chamber music he has been very successful, more especially in the 'Fancy' or 'Phantasy' form recently[Pg 441] revived in England. His 'Three Idylls' for string quartet are both charming and distinguished.

Round Bridge's name may be grouped, for convenience of placing, the names of York Bowen, who has written everything from symphonies and sonatas to a waltz on Strauss's Ein Heldenleben; A. E. T. Bax, whose activities are in some measure the musical counterpart of the 'Celtic twilight' school of poetry; W. H. Bell, the author of 'Mother Cary' and the 'Walt Whitman' symphony; Hamilton Harty, whose 'Comedy Overture,' 'With the Wild Geese,' and 'The Mystic Trumpeter' are all much played in England; and Hubert Bath. To the last-named composer we English owe a debt for his constant refusal to worship the muse with a cypress-branch. His gay, sprightly choral ballads, such as 'The Wedding of Shon Maclean' and 'The Jackdaw of Rheims,' bring him friends wherever they are heard. Bath has also made a specialty of accompanied recitation-music. He has produced nearly two dozen of these pieces; but in this field Stanley Hawley with his fifty-one published compositions easily leads the way. Almost all the musicians mentioned in this paragraph have been before the public at some time or other as conductors. Harty and Bridge in particular have shown themselves to be possessed of very strong gifts in this line.

It is perhaps premature to criticize the very latest swarms of orchestral composers that have issued from the musical bee-hives of London. Certain of them, however, show considerable promise and, in some cases, a rather alarming tendency to soar after the queen-bees of continental hives. This they will probably outgrow as their summer days increase. Among the most recent to try their wings are P. R. Kirby (a Scotsman from Aberdeen), Eugène Goosens, Jr. (with his symphonic poem 'Perseus'), and Oskar Borsdorf (with his dramatic fantasy 'Glaucus and Ione').

[Pg 442]

Among the members of the third group who have shown special excellence in the realm of chamber music B. J. Dale stands preëminent. The first performance of his big sonata in D minor made musical London hold its breath. He has written a great deal of music for the viola (as discovered by Lionel Tertis), and has even defied fate by composing a work for six violas. Dale's powers are very great, and he has probably a good deal to say yet. Richard Walthew and T. F. Dunhill have both an honorable record in chamber music. Both, too, have written on the topic. The former, who, is also a prolific song-writer, has published a volume on 'The Development of Chamber Music'; while the latter, in addition to his many-sided activities, has produced a tactful treatise for students entitled 'Chamber Music.' To the list of those who are specially devoted to this form of composition one may add the names of J. N. Ireland and James Friskin, neither of whom has yet had an opportunity adequate to his undoubted talents.

Naturally, at all times there has been a considerable literature of organ music in England. Almost all the composers mentioned above have written for the instrument. But, among those more specially identified with it and with church music, are W. Wolstenholme, who has more than sixty published compositions; Ernest Halsley, also with a long list; Lemare, whose transcriptions are so well known; T. Tertius Noble; C. B. Rootham; and Alan Gray. James Lyon, the Liverpool organist, has a lengthy record of the most varied sort, from orchestral, vocal, and organ works to church services and technical treatises. A. M. Goodhart, of Eton, has a similar weighty basketful. He has made a specialty of the 'choral ballad.'

We have already given the names of many English song writers. Here there are two groups of Richmonds in the field; those who write for the shop-ballad public,[Pg 443] and those who do not. Most of the 'do nots' have naturally already been dealt with among the more serious composers; though the two spheres of activity by no means always coincide. The following short list—covering practically three generations—includes some of both sorts, but excludes the names of composers already mentioned: Stephen Adams, Frances Allitsen, Robert Batten, A. von Ahn Carse, Coningsby Clarke, Eric Coates, Noel Johnson, Frank Lambert, Liza Lehmann, Herman Löhr, Daisy McGeoch, Alicia A. Needham, Montague Phillips, John Pointer, Roger Quilter, Landon Ronald (principal of the Guildhall School of Music), Wilfred Sanderson, W. H. Squire, Hope Temple, Maude V. White, Haydn Wood, and Amy Woodforde-Finden.

Before closing this highly compressed sketch of the English musical renaissance an apology must be made for a double omission. First, the whole subject of English opera has been ignored as too complex and difficult for treatment. The activities of Carl Rosa, Moody-Manners, Beecham, and others have therefore to be left almost unnoticed. Second, no list has been attempted of the many fine executants produced by England in the past generation. In actual accomplishment some of these have been second to none in the world; though unfortunately their connection with the men of the English revival has often been slight or non-existent. On the other hand, some of the first of these artists have stood, and do now stand, in a very close relationship with the composers. And this mutual sympathy has often had happy results. One can scarcely imagine Stanford's Irish songs without Mr. Plunket Greene to sing them.

The reader who has travelled so far with the author should have by now a fairly clear idea of musical conditions and achievements on the other side. It is hoped that he will not regard his experiences merely as a forty-five-years' sojourn 'in darkest England.' He can[Pg 444] take the writer's word for it that there is plenty of light shining there. But, what with the fogs in the North Sea, the Channel, and the Atlantic, the rays seldom get beyond the coastguard.

C. F.


[77] Out of the very small group of living English opera librettists one is a duke and two are barons—Argyll, Howard de Walden, and Latymer. A strange transformation in the national attitude towards music!

[78] The amount of work done by some of the English orchestras may be gauged from the fact that during the first nine months of the present European war the Queen's Hall Orchestra gave 112 concerts.

[79] Born German Edward Jones.

[80] By Vincent Wallace.

[81] Born Munkittrick.

[82] For instance, a serenade for five saxophones, soprano flügelhorn, baritone flügelhorn, oboe d'amore, corno di bassetto, and harp.

[83] B. Oxton, Cheshire.

[84] B. Cheltenham, 1874.

[85] In Biskra, a street of dancing and singing girls belonging to the Walad-Nail tribe.

[Pg 445]


In English

A. W. Ambros: The Boundaries of Music and Poetry (New York, 1893).

W. F. Apthorp: Musicians and Music Lovers (New York, 1897).

O. B. Boise: Music and its Masters (Phila., 1902).

Charles Burney: A General History of Music (London, 1776).

Robert Challoner: History of the Science and Art of Music (Cincinnati, 1880).

W. Chappell: History of Music (London, 1874).

F. J. Crowest: Story of the Art of Music (New York, 1902).

Edward Dickinson: The Study of the History of Music (New York, 1905).

Edward Dickinson: Guide to the Study of Musical History and Criticism (Oberlin, 1895).

Joseph Goddard: The Rise of Music from Primitive Beginnings to Modern Effects (London, 1908).

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5 vols. (new ed., London, 1904-10).

W. H. Hadow: Studies in Modern Music, 2 vols. (New York, 1892-3).

John Hawkins: General History of the Science and Practice of Music (1776, new ed. 1853).

John Hullah: Lectures on the History of Modern Music (London, 1875).

Bonavia Hunt: History of Music (New York, 1891).

A. Lavignac: Music and Musicians (transl. by Marchant, New York, 1905).

The Oxford History of Music, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1901, 1905, 1902, 1902, 1904, 1905).

C. H. H. Parry: Evolution of the Art of Music (4th ed., 1905).

H. Riemann: Catechism of Musical History, 2 vols. (Eng. transl., London, 1888).

[Pg 446]

W. S. Rockstro: A General History of Music (1886).

J. S. Rowbotham: A History of Music (London, 1885).

Alfredo Untersteiner: Short History of Music, Eng. transl. by Very (New York, 1902).

In German

A. W. Ambros: Geschichte der Musik (Breslau, 1862-1882); new ed. by H. Leichtentritt, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1909).

R. W. A. Batka: Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik (Stuttgart, 1911).

Karl Franz Brendel: Grundzüge der Geschichte der Musik (7th ed., Leipzig, 1888).

Karl Franz Brendel: Geschichte der Musik in Italien, Deutschland und Frankreich (Leipzig, 1860).

Robert Eitner: Quellenlexikon der Musiker (Leipzig, 1900-1903).

Paul Frank: Geschichte der Tonkunst (1863, 3rd ed., 1878).

Nikolaus Forkel: Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik (1778-1801).

Hermann Kretzschmar: Führer durch den Konzertsaal (Leipzig, 1887-1890).

Wilhelm Langhans: Geschichte der Musik des 17., 18., u. 19. Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1912).

A. Naumann: Die Tonkunst in der Kulturgeschichte, 2 vols. (1869-70).

Emil Naumann: Illustrierte Musikgeschichte (new ed. by E. Schmitz, 1913).

Peters Musikbibliothek Jahrbuch, ed. by Schwartz.

[Every volume since 1894 contains a complete (or usually complete) bibliography of books on music published in the respective year.]

A. Reissmann: Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik, 3 vols. (1863-5).

Hugo Riemann: Handbuch der Musikgeschichte, 2 vols. (5 parts), (Leipzig, 1904, 1905, 1907, 1912, 1913).

Hugo Riemann: Musiklexikon [misc. articles], (Leipzig, 1909; new ed., 1915).

Hugo Riemann: Geschichte der Musiktheorie in 9.-19. Jahrhundert (1898).

Karl Storck: Geschichte der Musik (Stuttgart, 1904).

Die Musik (Berlin, Bi-weekly).

Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft (Leipzig).

Zeitschrift and Sammelbände of the Int. Mus. Ges.

[Pg 447]

In French

Alexandre Sofia Bawr: Histoire de la musique (Paris, 1823).

Charles Henri Blainville: Histoire générale, critique et philologique de la musique (Paris, 1767).

Jacques Bonnet: Histoire de la musique, et ses effets, depuis son origine jusqu'à présent (Paris, 1715, Amsterdam, 1725).

M. Brenet: Année musicale.

A. Bruneau: Musiques d'hier et de demain (Paris, 1900).

A. E. Choron & J. A. L. de Lafage: Nouveau manuel complet de musique (Paris, 1838).

F. Clément: Histoire de la musique depuis les temps anciens jusqu'à nos jours (Paris, 1885).

Jules Combarieu: Histoire de la musique, des origines à la mort de Beethoven, 2 vols. (Paris, 1913).

Jean Pierre Oscar Commettant: La musique, les musiciens et les instruments de musique chez les différents peuples du monde (Paris, 1869).

Henri Expert: Les Maîtres Musiciens de la Renaissance Française (20 vols.).

Camille Faust: Histoire de la musique européenne (Paris, 1914).

F. J. Fétis: Histoire générale de la musique (1869).

F. J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique (Brussels, 1837).

S. I. M. (Paris, Monthly).

In Italian

Arnaldo Bonaventura: Manuale di storia della musica (Livorno, 1898).

Giovanni Andrea Bontempi: Historia musica (Perugia, 1695).

Padre G. B. Martini: Storia della musica (Bologna, 1767-1770).

Luigi Torchi: Arte Musicale, 8 vols. Published irregularly.

Alfredo Untersteiner: Storia della musica (1893).

Rivista Musicale Italiana (Turin, Quarterly).

N. B.—See also Special Literature for each chapter (on following pages).

[Pg 448]



In English

Benj. Ives Gilman: Hopi Songs (Boston, 1908).

Richard Wallaschek: Primitive Music (London, 1893).

Carl Engel: An Introduction to the Study of National Music (London, 1866).

Charles Russell Day in 'Up the Niger,' by Mockler-Ferryman (London, 1892).

Willy Pastor: The Music of Primitive Peoples and the Beginning of European Music (Gov't Printing Office, Publ. No. 2223; Washington, 1913).

Frederick R. Burton: American Primitive Music (New York, 1909).

Alice C. Fletcher: Indian Story and Song from North America (Boston, 1900).

Alice C. Fletcher: The Hako: a Pawnee Ceremony (Bureau of American Ethnology, 22nd Annual Report, Part II, Washington, 1904).

Natalie Curtis: The Indian's Book (New York, 1907).

Frances Densmore: Chippewa Music (Part I, Bulletin No. 45, 1910; Part II, Bulletin No. 53, 1913, Bureau of Am. Eth.).

Nathaniel B. Emerson: The Unwritten Literature of Hawaii (Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 38).

In German

Carl Stumpf: Die Anfänge der Musik (Leipzig, 1911).

Karl Bücher: Arbeit und Rhythmus (Leipzig, 1909).

Karl Hagen: Über die Musik einiger Naturvölker (1892).

Josef Schönhärl: Volkskündliches aus Togo (Dresden, 1909).

Theodore Baker: Über die Musik der nordamerikanischen Wilden (Leipzig, 1882).

[Pg 449]

In French

Julien Tiersot: Notes d'ethnographie musicale (Paris, 1905).

Julien Tiersot: Musiques pittoresques (Paris, 1889).

Ernest Noirot: A travers le Fouta-Diallon et le Bambouc (Paris, 1885).

Henri A. Junod: Les chants et les contes des Ba-Ronga (Lausanne, 1897).


In English

Carl Engel: Music of the Most Ancient Nations (London, 1909).

Richard Wallaschek: Primitive Music (London, 1893).

W. A. P. Martin: A Cycle of Cathay (Chicago, 1897).

C. R. Day: The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan (London, 1891).

J. A. Van Aalst: Chinese Music (Shanghai, 1884).

W. Lane: Modern Egyptians (London, 1871).

J. F. Piggot: Music and Musical Instruments of Japan (London, 1893).

A. J. Ellis: On the Musical Scales of Various Nations (1885).

W. Pole: Philosophy of Music (London, 1879).

Sourindro Mohun Tagore: Six Principal Ragas, with a brief survey of Hindoo music (Calcutta, 1877).

G. L. Raymond: Rhythm and Harmony in Poetry and Music (New York, 1893).

In German

R. G. Kiesewetter: Die Musik der Araber (1842).

In French

Julien Tiersot: Notes d'ethnographie musicale (Paris, 1905).

Judith Gautier: Les musiques bizarres à l'exposition de 1900.

Camille Saint-Saëns: Harmonie et mélodie (Paris, 1885).

Charles Pettit: L'Anneau de jade (Paris, 1911).

[Pg 450]

In Spanish

M. S. Fuertes: Musica Arabe-Española (Barcelona, 1853).

Felipe Pedrell: Organografia Musical Antigua Española (Barcelona, 1901).


In English

David Levi: A Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews (London, 1783).

George Rawlinson: The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World (London, 1862).

Carl Engel: Musical Instruments, Hand-Book of the South Kensington Museum.

Carl Engel: Music of the Most Ancient Nations (London, 1864).

Sir John Stainer: The Music of the Bible (London, 1904).

Joseph Bonomi: Nineveh and Its Palaces (London, 1853).

Sir Gardner Wilkinson: Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1878).

Austin Henry Layard: Nineveh and Its Remains (London, 1849).

Prof. H. Graetz: History of the Jews, 5 vols. (London, 1891-2).

W. Flinders Petrie: History of Egypt, 3 vols. (London, 1853).

In German

A. F. Pfeiffer: Über die Musik der alten Hebräer (Erlangen, 1779).

J. L. Saalschütz: Geschichte und Würdigung der Musik bei den Hebräern (Berlin, 1829).

C. R. Lepsius (Editor): Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Ethiopien, 5 vols. (Leipzig, 1897-1913).

F. Dielitzsch: Physiologie und Musik in ihrer Bedeutung für die Grammatik, besonders die Hebräische (Leipzig, 1868).

A. Ackermann: Der Synagogal-Gesang in seiner historischen Entwickelung (1894).

[Pg 451]

In French

Charles Rollin: Histoire ancienne des Égyptiens, des Cartagenois, des Assyriens, des Babyloniens, des Mèdes et des Perses, des Macédoniens, des Grecs (Paris, 1730, Engl. tr., N. Y., 1887-88.)

Cornelius von Pauw: Recherches philosophiques sur les Égyptiens et sur les Chinois (Berlin, 1773).

Abbé Roussière: Mémoire sur la musique des anciens, ou l'on expose les principes des proportions authentiques, dites de Pythagore, et de divers systèmes de musique chez les Grecs, les Chinois, et les Égyptiens. Avec un parallèle entre le système des Égyptiens et celui des modernes (Paris, 1770).

Guillaume André Villoteau: Description de l'Égypte.

Fr. Aug. Gevaert: Histoire et théorie de la musique de l'antiquité (1875-81).

Jean Loret: La musique chez les anciens Égyptiens (in Bibliothèque de la Faculté des Lettres de Lyon).

F. Vigouroux: Psautier polyglotte; appendix (Paris, 1903).

Charles Lenormont: Musé des antiquités égyptiennes (Paris, 1841).



Pythagoras, the great philosopher of the sixth century B. C.

His teachings are known only through his pupils, especially Philalaos (ca. 540 B. C.), of whose writings fragments are preserved.

Plato (427-347 B. C.).

In his 'Republic,' 'De legibus,' 'De furore poetico,' 'Timæus,' 'Gorgias,' 'Alcibiades Philebus,' there are copious references to music.

Archytas of Tarent, a contemporary of Plato.

He was the first to recognize the transmission of tones by air vibration. His theories are cited by Theodore of Smyrna, Claudius Ptolemy, etc.

Aristotle (383-320 B. C.).

In 'Polities' and 'Poetics' he makes frequent references to music.

[Pg 452]

Aristoxenus of Tarent (ca. 320 B. C.), the most important musical theoretician of ancient Greece. His 'Rhythmics' and his 'Elements of Harmonics,' the greatest part of which is lost, have been many times translated and commented on.

Euclid, the great mathematician, a follower of Pythagoras. His 'Sectio canonis' treats of the mathematical relation of tones.

Heron of Alexandria (100 B. C.)

In his 'Pneumatica' he described the water organ (Hydraulis) invented by Ktebisius, his teacher.

Aristides Quintilianus (first to second century, A. D.) of Smyrna. His 'Introduction to Music' (μοὕσϛ ἁρ ονικἣϛ), completely preserved, except for corruptions by copyists, is especially notable for its tables of musical notation.

Plutarch, the celebrated writer of the comparative biographies (50-120 A. D.), wrote an 'Introduction to Music,' full of valuable information on the art.

Claudius Ptolemy, the great Græco-Egyptian geographer, mathematician and astronomer (second century A. D.). His 'Harmonics'—in three books—is an exhaustive theory of the ancient scale system.

Alypius (ca. 360 A. D.). His 'Introduction to Music' is valuable for the copious tables of notation (Alypian tables).

Boethius (475-524 A. D.), the chancellor of Theodoric the Great. He was the chief exponent of Greek musical theory to the Middle Ages. His five books on music ('De Musica') are chiefly based on other works of the Roman period, notably on Ptolemy.

B—Early Modern Writers on Greek Music

Vincenzo Galileo: Dialogo di Vincenzo Galileo ... della musica antica, et della moderna (Florence, 1581).

M. Meibomius (Meibom): Antiquæ musicæ auctores septem (Amsterdam, 1652).

C—Modern Authorities

August Böckh: De metris Pindari (Ed. of Pindar), 1811, 1819, 1821.

August Böckh: Die Entwicklung der Lehren des Philalaos (Berlin, 1819).

[Pg 453]

August Beger: Die Würde der Musik im Griechischen Altertume (Dresden, 1839).

Fr. Bellerman (ed.): Anonymi scriptio de musica (Berlin, 1841).

Fr. Bellerman (ed.): Die Tonleitern und Musiknoten der Griechen (Berlin, 1847).

A. J. H. Vincent: Notice sur trois manuscrits grecs relatifs à la musique (1847).

Carl Fr. Weitzmann: Geschichte der griechischen Musik (Berlin, 1855).

Marquard: Harmonische Fragmente des Aristoxenus (1868).

Oskar Paul: Boethius' fünf Bücher über die Musik (translated and elucidated, Leipzig, 1872).

Fr. Aug. Gevaert: Histoire et théorie de la musique de l'antiquité (Gand, 1875).

Fr. Aug. Gevaert: Les problèmes musicaux d'Aristote (collab. w. J. C. Vollgraf).

Rudolph Westphal: Musik des griechischen Alterthumes (1883).

Rudolph Westphal: Aristoxenus von Tarent (1883).

A. Rossbach und R. Westphal: Theorie der musischen Künste der Hellenen (1885-89).

D. B. Monro: The Modes of Ancient Greek Music (Oxford, 1894).

Carl von Jan: Musicii Scriptores Græci (Leipzig, 1895).

H. S. Macran: The Harmonies of Aristoxenus (Oxford, 1902).

R. von Kralik: Altgriechische Musik (Stuttgart, 1900).

Arthur Fairbanks: The Greek Pæan (Cornell Studies XII, 1900).

Louis Laloy: Aristoxène de Tarente (1904).

A. J. Hipkins: Dorian and Phrygian (Sammelbände der Int. Musik-Ges., Vol. IV, No. 3, pp. 371-81).


In English

The Plain-Song and Mediæval Music Society: Graduale Sarisburiense, with intro. 'The Sarum Gradual'; 'Early English Harmony,' etc., etc.

H. B. Briggs: The Elements of Plainsong (London, 1895).

[Pg 454]

The Benedictines of Stanbrook: Gregorian Music, an outline of musical paleography (1897).

In German

Ferdinand Probst: Die Liturgie der ersten drei Jahrhunderte (1870).

Ferdinand Probst: Die abendländische Messe vom 5. bis zum 8. Jahrhundert (1896).

H. Riemann: Studien zur Geschichte der Notenschrift (1878).

Ph. Spitta: Über Hucbalds Musica Enchiriadis (Vierteljahrs-schrift für Musikwissenschaft, 1889, 1890).

In French

J. B. de Laborde: Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne (1780).

Ed. de Coussemaker: Histoire de l'harmonie au moyen-âge (1852).

Ed. de Coussemaker: Mémoire sur Hucbald (1841).

J. Lebeuf: Traité historique et pratique sur le chant ecclésiastique (1741).

L. Lambillotti: Antiphonaire de Saint-Grégoire (1851).

L. Lambillotti: Esthétique, théorie et pratique de plain-chant (1855).

Dom Joseph Pothier: Les mélodies grégoriennes d'après la tradition (1880).

Paléographie musicale: Les principaux manuscrits, etc.; Instructions, etc.

Dom Germain Morin: Les véritables origines du chant grégorien (1890).

Fr.-Aug. Gevaert: Les origines du chant liturgique de l'église latine (1890).

J. Combarieu: Étude de philologie musicale. Théorie du rhythme, etc. (1896).

G. L. Houdard: L'Art dit grégorien d'après la notation neumatique (1897).

In Italian

Cardinal G. Bona: De divina psalmodia (1653, new ed. 1747).

F. Magani: L'anticaliturgia romana (1897-99).

Guido Gasperini: Storia della semiografia musicale (1905).

[Pg 455]


In English

H. E. Wooldridge: Early English Harmony from the 10th to the 15th Century (1897).

John Stainer: Early Bodleian Music: Dufay and his contemporaries (Oxford, 1909).

In German

G. Jacobsthal: Die Mensuralnotenschrift des 12.-13. Jahrhundert (1871).

H. Bellermann: Die Mensuralnoten und Taktzeichen im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert (1858).

Georg Lange: Zur Geschichte der Solmisation (Sammelb. der Intern. Musik-Ges., I, 1899).

Hans Müller: Hucbalds echte und unechte Schriften über Musik (1884).

Hans Müller: Eine Abhandlung über Mensuralmusik (1886).

Johannes Wolf: Geschichte der Mensuralnotation von 1250-1460 (1904).

Ph. Spitta: Die Musica enchiriadis und ihr Zeitalter (Viertel-jahrsschr. für Musikwissenschaft, 1888 and 1889).

In French

Ed. de Coussemaker: Mémoire sur Hucbald (1841).

Ed. de Coussemaker: Les harmonistes des XIIme et XIIIme siècles (Lille, 1864).

Ed. de Coussemaker: L'Art harmonique au XIIme et XIIIme siècles (Paris, 1865).

Ed. de Coussemaker: Histoire de l'harmonie au moyen-âge (1852).

In Italian

L. Angelini: Sopra la vita ed il sapere di Guido d'Arezzo (1811).

Guido Gasperini: Storia della semiografia musicale (1905).

[Pg 456]


In English

Edmondstoune Duncan: Story of Minstrelsy.

Edward Jones: Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (three parts, 1786, 1802, 1824).

J. F. Rowbotham: The Troubadours and Courts of Love (1896).

E. Hueffer: The Troubadours (London, 1895).

Henry John Chaytor: The Troubadours (Camb., 1912).

W. H. Grattan Flood: History of Irish Music (Dublin, 1906).

In French

Ed. de Coussemaker: Œuvres complètes du trouvère Adam de la Hâle (1872).

Ed. de Coussemaker: L'Art harmonique au XIIme et XIIIme siècles (1865).

Julien Tiersot: Histoire de la chanson populaire en France (1889).

Joseph Anglade: Les troubadours (Paris, 1908).

Antony Méray: La vie au temps des trouvères (Paris, 1873).

E. Langlois: Robin et Marion (Paris, 1896).

A. Jeanroy: Les origines de la poésie lyrique en France au moyen-âge (Paris, 1892).

Anonymous: Résumé historique sur la musique en Norvège.

In German

H. Riemann: Die Melodik der Minnesänger (Musikalisches Wochenblatt, 1897-1902).

R. G. Kiesewetter: Schicksale und Beschaffenheit des weltlichen Gesanges vom frühen Mittelalter, etc. (1841).

Fr. Diez: Die Poesie der Troubadours (2nd ed. by K. Bartsch, 1883).

Fr. Diez: Leben und Werke der Troubadours (2nd ed., 1882).

Paul Runge: Die Sangesweisen der Colmarer Handschrift, etc. (1896).

Karl Bücher: Arbeit und Rhythmus (4th ed., 1909).

Ludwig Erk: Deutscher Liederhort; new ed. by F. N. Böhme (Leipzig, 1893-94).

[Pg 457]

Aug. Reissmann: Geschichte des Deutschen Liedes (Berlin, 1874).

E. Freymond: Jongleurs und Menestrels (Halle, 1833).

J. Beck: Die Melodien der Troubadours (Strassburg, 1908).

R. Genée: Hans Sachs und seine Zeit (Leipzig, 1902).

Friedrich Silcher: Deutsche Volkslieder (Tübingen, 1858).


In English

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Articles on Josquin des Près, Okeghem, Schools of Composition (London, 1904-10).

H. E. Wooldridge: Early English Harmony from the 10th to the 15th Century (1897).

Sir John Stainer: Early Bodleian music: Dufay and His Contemporaries (Oxford, 1909).

Ernst Pauer: Musical Form.

In German

R. G. Kiesewetter: Geschichte der europäisch-abendländischen oder unserer heutigen Musik (1834).

Johannes Wolf: Geschichte der Mensuralnotation von 1250-1460 (Kirchenmusik, Jahrband, 1899).

Guido Adler: Die Wiederholung und Nachahmung in der Mehrstimmigkeit (1882).

Oswald Koller: Der Liederkodex von Montpellier (Vierteljahrsschrift f. Musikwissenschaft, 1888).

In French

Guillaume Dubois (called Crétin): Déploration de Guillaume Crétin sur le tré pas de Jean Okeghem, etc. (Paris, 1864).

Félicien de Ménil: Josquin de Près (Revue Int. de Musique, 1899, No. 21, pp. 1322 ff.).

Félicien de Ménil: L'Ecole contraponctiste flamande du XVe siècle (1895).

E. van der Straeten: La musique aux Pays-bas avant le XIXe siècle (Brussels, 1867-88).

[Pg 458]


In English

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians: art. Monodia, etc.

W. J. Henderson: Some Forerunners of Italian Opera (New York, 1911).

J. A. Symonds: The Renaissance in Italy, 2 vols.

In German

R. G. Kiesewetter: Schicksale und Beschaffenheit des weltlichen Gesanges vom frühesten Mittelalter bis zur Entstehung der Oper (Leipzig, 1841).

Hugo Riemann: Handbuch der Musikgeschichte, Vol II (Leipzig, 1911, 1912, 1913).

Johannes Wolf: Geschichte der Mensuralnotation von 1250-1460 (Leipzig, 1904).

Johannes Wolf: Florenz in der Musikgeschichte des 14ten Jahrhunderts (Sammelbände I. M.-G., 1901-1902).

In Italian

A. d'Angeli: La musica ai tempi di Dante (1904).

Luigi Torchi: La musica istromentale in Italia nei secoli 16º, 17º, e 18º (Rivista musicale, IV-VIII, 1898-1901).


In English

Edward Dickinson: Music in the History of the Western Church (New York, 1902).

J. A. Symonds: Renaissance in Italy, Vol. IV.

In German

P. Graf Waldersee: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, etc. (In Sammlung musikalischer Vorträge, 1884).

R. G. Kiesewetter: Die Verdienste der Niederländer um die Tonkunst (1829).

[Pg 459]

K. von Winterfeld: Johannes Pierluigi von Palestrina, etc., etc. (Breslau, 1832).

K. von Winterfeld: Musiktreiben und Musikempfinden in 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1851).

In French

A. C. G. Mathieu: Roland de Lattre [Orlando di Lasso], sa vie, ses ouvrages (Gand, after 1856).

F.-J. Fétis: Quels ont été les mérites des Néerlandais dans la musique, principalement au XIVe, XVe, et XVIe siècles? (1829).

Henri Florent Delmotte: Notice biographique sur Roland de Lattre connu sous le nom d'Orland de Lassus (Valenciennes, 1836).

G. Felix: Palestrina et la musique sacrée (1896).

In Italian

Giuseppe Baini: Memorie storico-critiche della vita e delle opere di G. Perluigi da Palestrina (Rome, 1828).

Dom Aug. Vernarecci: Ottaviano dei Petrucci (second ed. 1882).


In English

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians: Art. Opera, Peri, Caccini, etc.

R. A. Streatfeild: The Opera (London, 1897).

W. F. Apthorp: The Opera Past and Present (New York, 1901).

In German

R. Eitner: Die Oper, etc. (Vol. X of Publikation älterer praktischer und theoretischer Musikwerke, Berlin, 1881).

A. Heuss: Die Instrumentalstücke des 'Orfeo' (1903).

R. G. Kiesewetter: Schicksale und Beschaffenheit des weltlichen Gesanges vom frühesten Mittelalter bis zur Entstehung der Oper (Leipzig, 1841).

[Pg 460]

Hermann Kretzschmar: Die venezianische Oper und die Werke Cavallis und Cestis (Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, Vol. VIII).

Arnold Schering: Die Anfänge des Oratoriums (Leipzig, 1907).

Emil Vogel: Claudio Monteverdi (Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, Vol. III, pp. 315 ff., Leipzig, 1887).

In French

Fr.-A. Gevaert: La musique vocale en Italie, Vol. I, Les maîtres florentins 1595-1630 (Annuaires da Conservatoire Royale de Bruxelles, 1882).

A. Regnard: La Renaissance du drame lyrique 1600-1876 (Paris, 1895).

Romain Rolland: Histoire de l'opéra en Europe avant Lully et Scarlatti (Paris, 1895).

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'autrefois (Paris, 1912).

Jules Tiersot: L'Orféo de Monteverde (Le Ménestrel, Vol. LXX, Paris, 1904).

In Italian

D. Alaleona: Su Emilio de' Cavalieri, etc. (In Nuova Musica, Florence, 1905).

A. d'Ancona: Sacre Rappresentazioni dei secoli XIV, XV e XVI (Florence, 1872).

A. d'Ancona: Origini del teatro italiano (Palermo, 1900).


In German

Franz Beier: J. J. Froberger (Leipzig, 1884).

Otto Kinkeldey: Orgel und Klavier in der Musik des 16ten Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1910).

Tobias Norland: Zur Geschichte der Suite (Sammelbände der Intern. Musik-Ges., X, 4, 1909).

Hugo Riemann: Zur Geschichte der deutschen Suite (Sammelbände der Intern. Musik-Ges., IV, 4, 1905).

Arnold Schering: Geschichte des Instrumental-Konzerts (Leipzig, 1907).

[Pg 461]

J. P. Seiffert: Sweelinck und seine direkten Schüler (Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 1891).

J. P. Seiffert: Geschichte der Klaviermusik (Leipzig, 1899).

Philipp Spitta: Heinrich Schütz (Leipzig, 1899).

Joseph von Wasieliwski: Die Violine und ihre Meister (Leipzig, 1869, 5th ed. 1911).

Joseph von Wasieliwski: Die Violine im 17. Jahrhundert, etc. (1874).

In French

Romain Rolland: Histoire de l'opéra avant Lully et Scarlatti (Paris, 1895).

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'autrefois (Paris, 1912).

In Italian

Giov.-Batt. Doni: Trattati di musica (Florence, 1763).

Luigi Torchi: La musica istromentale in Italia nei secoli 16º, 17º e 18º (Rivista musicale italiana, IV-VIII, 1898-1901).

Guido Pasquetti: L'oratorio musicale in Italia (Florence, 1906).


In English

W. H. Cummings: Henry Purcell (2nd ed., 1889).

A. Edw. James Dent: Alessandro Scarlatti (London, 1905).

W. Barclay Squire: Purcell's Dramatic Music (Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Ges., V, 4, 1904).

In German

Hugo Riemann: Zur Geschichte der deutschen Suite (Sammelbände der Intern. Musik-Ges., IV, 4, 1905).

Hugo Goldschmidt: Die italienische Gesangsmethode des 17ten Jahrhunderts (Breslau, 1890).

Hugo Goldschmidt: Studien zur Geschichte der italienischen Oper im 17. Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1901-1904).

Hugo Goldschmidt: Zur Geschichte der Arien- und Symphonie-Form (Monatshefte f. Musikgeschichte, 1901, Nos. 4-5).

[Pg 462]

Joseph von Wasieliwski: Die Violine im 17. Jahrhundert und die Anfänge der Instrumentalkomposition (1874).

Heinz Hess: Die Opern Alessandro Stradellas (Leipzig, 1906).

Hermann Kretzschmar: Führer durch den Konzertsaal (Leipzig, 1887, 1888, 1890).

Hugo Leichtentritt: Reinhard Keiser und seine Opern (Berlin, 1901).

Hugo Leichtentritt: Der monodische Kammermusikstil in Italien bis gegen 1650 (in Ambros: Gesch. der Musik, Vol. IV, pp. 774 ff; new ed., 1909).

E. O. Linder: Die erste stehende Oper in Deutschland (Berlin, 1855).

In French

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'autrefois (Paris, 1908).

Jules Écorcheville: De Lully à Rameau, 1690-1730 (Paris, 1906).

Charles Nuitter et E. Thoinau: Les origines de l'opéra français (Paris, 1886).

Arthur Pougin: Les vrais créateurs de l'opéra français: Perrin et Cambert (Paris, 1881).

Henry Prunières: Notes sur la vie de Luigi Rossi (Sammelbände der Intern. Musik-Ges., XII, 1, 1910).

Henry Prunières: Lully (Paris, 1910).

Henry Prunières: Notes sur les origines de l'ouverture française (Sammelbände der Intern. Musik-Ges., XII, 4, 1911).

Édouard Radet: Lully (Paris, 1891).

In Italian

Angelo Catelani: Della opera di Alessandro Stradella (Modena, 1886).

Luigi Torchi: La musica istromentale in Italia nei secoli 16º, 17º e 18º (Rivista musicale italiana, IV-VII, 1898-1901).


In English

W. S. Rockstro: Life of Händel (London, 1883).

Victor Schoelcher: Life of Händel (London, 1857).

J. Mainwaring: Memoirs of the Life of Händel (London, 1906).

[Pg 463]

R. A. Streatfeild: Händel (London, 1909).

C. F. Abdy Williams: Händel (London, 1913).

Charles Burney: Commemoration of Händel.

Sedley Taylor: Indebtedness of Händel to Works by Other Composers (Cambridge, 1906).

Joseph Addison: The Spectator, Nos. 18, 231, 235, 258, 278, 405.

In German

Friedrich Chrysander: Georg Friedrich Händel (3 parts, 1859-67, incomplete).

Friedrich Chrysander: Die deutsche Oper in Hamburg (Allg. Musik-Ztg., 1879-1880).

A. Reissmann: Händel, sein Leben und seine Werke (Berlin, 1882).

A. Stein (H. Nietschmann): Händel, ein Künstlerleben (Halle, 1882-3).

Hermann Kretzschmar: Händel (In Sammlung musikalischer Vorträge, Leipzig, 1884).

Hugo Leichtentritt: Reinhard Keiser in seinen Opern (Dissertation, Berlin, 1901).

A. Schering: Geschichte des Oratoriums (Leipzig, 1911).

In French

Michel Brenet: Haendel; biographie critique (Les Musiciens célèbres, Paris, 1912).

M. Boucher: Israël en Égypte (1888).

G. Vernier: L'oratorio biblique de Haendel (1901).


In English

C. H. H. Parry: Johann Sebastian Bach (London and New York, 1909).

C. L. Hilgenfeldt: Johann Sebastian Bach, from the German of Hilgenfeldt and Forkel, with additions (London, 1869).

Reginald Land Poole: Sebastian Bach (London, 1882).

Albert Schweitzer: J. S. Bach, with preface by C. M. Widor; English translation by E. Newman (Leipzig, 1911).

[Pg 464]

In German

Arnold Schering: Geschichte des Instrumental-Konzerts (Leipzig, 1903).

Arnold Schering: Geschichte des Oratoriums (Leipzig, 1907).

Arnold Schering: Zur Bach-Forschung (Sammelb. der Intern. Musik-Ges., IV, 234 ff., V, 556 ff.).

Johann Forkel: Über Johann Sebastian Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke (Leipzig, 1802).

C. H. Bitter: Johann Sebastian Bach (Berlin, 1862).

S. Jadassohn: Erläuterungen der in Johann Sebastian Bachs Kunst der Fuge enthaltenen Fugen und Kanons (Leipzig, 1899).

S. Jadassohn: Zur Einführung in J. S. Bachs Passionsmusik, etc. (Berlin, 1898).

Ernst Otto Lindner: Zur Tonkunst (Berlin, 1864).

A. Reissmann: Johann Sebastian Bach; sein Leben und seine Werke (Berlin, 1881).

J. A. P. Spitta: Johann Sebastian Bach (Leipzig, 1873-80).

K. Grunsky: Bachs Kantaten; eine Anregung (Die Musik, III, No. 14, pp. 95 ff.).

In French

André Pirro: J. S. Bach (Paris, 1906).

André Pirro: L'esthétique de J. S. Bach (Paris, 1907).

Albert Schweitzer: J. S. Bach, le musicien poète (Paris, 1905).

[Pg 465]



In English

Frederick H. Martens: The French Chanson galante in the XVIIIth Century (The Musician, Dec., 1913).

Ernest Newman: Gluck and the Opera (London, 1895).

R. A. Streatfeild: The Opera (London, 1897).

In German

Oskar Bie: Die Oper (Berlin, 1913).

Karl Grunsky: Musikgeschichte des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1905).

La Mara: Christoph Willibald Gluck (Leipzig, 1912).

Adolph Bernhard Marx: Gluck und die Oper (Berlin, 1863).

R. Pechel und Felix Poppenberg: Rokoko, das galante Zeitalter in Briefen, Memorien Tagebüchern (Berlin, 1913).

Hugo Riemann: Geschichte der Musik seit Beethoven (Berlin, 1901).

A. Schmid: Christoph Willibald Ritter v. Gluck (Leipzig, 1854).

In French

C. Bellaigue: Notes brèves (Paris, 1907).

C. Bellaigue: Un siècle de musique française (Paris, 1907).

G. Desnoiresterres: Gluck et Puccini (Paris, 1875).

A. Julien: Musiciens d'hier et d'ajourd'hui (Paris, 1910).

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'autrefois (Paris, 1912).

E. Schuré: Le drame musical (Paris, 1875).

Julien Tiersot: Gluck (Paris, 1910).

Jean d'Udine: Gluck (Paris, 1912).

Pierre Aubry: Grétry (Paris, 1911).

Hector Berlioz: A travers chants (Paris, 1863).

[Pg 466]

A. Coquard: La langue française et la musique (Le Courrier Musical, Paris, May 1, 1907).

E. Dacier: Une danseuse française à Londres au début du XVIII siècle (S. I. M., May 1, 1908).

Arsène Houssaye: Galerie du XVIIIme siècle: La Regence Melanges extraits des manuscrits de Mme. Necker (Paris, 1798).

Paul Jedlinski: A propos de la reprise d'Iphigénie en Aulide (Le Courrier Musical, Paris, Jan. 15th, 1908).

L. de la Laurencie: Le goût musical en France (Paris, 1905).

Gaston Maugras: Le Duc de Lauzun et la cour intime de Louis XV (Paris, 1895).

Mémoirs de la Comtesse de Boigne (Paris, 1907).

Philippe Momier: Venise au XVIIIme siècle (Paris, 1907).

C. Pitou: Paris sous Louis XV (Paris, 1906).

Henri Prunières: Le cerf de la Vieville et le goût classique (S. I. M., June 15, 1908).

L. Striffling: Goût musical en France au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1912).

H. A. Taine: L'ancien régime.

G. Touchard-Lafosse: Chroniques pittoresques et critiques de l'œil de bœuf: Des petits appartements de la cour et des salons de Paris sous Louis XIV, la régence, Louis XV, et Louis XVI (Paris, 1845).

In Italian

Vernon Lee: Il settecento in Italia (Milan, 1881).


In English

Charles Burney: The Present State of Music in Germany, etc., 2 vols. (London, 1773).

Charles Burney: Present State of Music in France and Italy (London, 1771).

H. F. Chorley: Music and Manners in France and North Germany, 3 vols. (London, 1843).

Kuno Francke: History of German Literature (N. Y., 1913).

Arthur Hassel: The Balance of Power, 1715-1789 (London, 1908).

[Pg 467]

John S. Shedlock: The Pianoforte Sonata, Its Origin and Development (London, 1895).

In German

K. H. Bitter: Karl Philipp Emanuel and W. Friedemann Bach, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1868).

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf: Autobiographie (Leipzig, 1801).

Karl Grunsky: Musikgeschichte des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1905).

S. Bagge: Die geschichtliche Entwickelung der Sonata (In Waldersee Sammlung, Vol. II. No. 19) 1880.

In French

Jules Carlez: Grimm et la musique de son temps (Paris, 1872).

Jules Combarieu: L'influence de la musique d'Allemagne sur la musique française (Petersjahrbuch, 1895).

T. de Wyzewa et G. de Saint-Foix: W. A. Mozart, 1756-77, 2 vols. (Paris, 1912).


In English

Charles Burney: The Present State of Music in Germany, etc., 2 vols. (London, 1773).

Charles Burney: The Present State of Music in France and Italy (London, 1771).

E. J. Dent: Mozart's Operas; a Critical Study (London, 1913).

W. H. Hadow: A Croatian Composer (Haydn) (London, 1897).

Otto Jahn: Life of Mozart (Trans. by Pauline T. Townsend), 3 vols. (London, 1882).

George Henry Lewes: The Life of Goethe.

W. A. Mozart: The Letters of W. A. Mozart (1769-1791). Transl. from the collection of Lady Wallace (New York, 1866).

Ludwig Nohl: W. A. Mozart (Engl. transl. London, 1877).

[Pg 468]

In German

Hugo Daffner: Die Entwicklung des Klavierkonzerts bis Mozart (1908).

Karl Grunsky: Musikgeschichte des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1905).

Eduard Hanslick: Geschichte des Konzertwesens in Wien, 2 vols. (Vienna, 1869-70).

Joseph Haydn: Tagebuch (edited by J. E. Engl), 1909.

Otto Jahn: W. A. Mozart, 4th ed., 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1905-7).

Ludwig Köchel: Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis der Tonwerke W. A. Mozarts (Leipzig, 1862 and 1905).

Hermann Kretzschmar: Führer durch den Konzertsaal, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1895-9).

W. A. Mozart: Gesammelte Briefe (herausg. von Ludwig Nohl), (Salzburg, 1865).

G. N. von Nissen: Biographie W. A. Mozarts, 1828-1848 (Leipzig).

Ludwig Nohl: W. A. Mozart (Leipzig, 1882).

Gustav Nottebohm: Mozartiana (Leipzig, 1880).

C. F. Pohl: Joseph Haydn, 2 vols. [Unfinished], (Leipzig, 1875-82).

C. F. Pohl: Mozart in London; Haydn in London (Vienna, 1876).

Richard Wallaschek: Geschichte der Wiener Hofoper (in Die Theater Wiens, 1907-9).

F. W. Walter: Die Entwicklung des Mannheimer Musik- und Theater-lebens (Leipzig, 1897).

In French

Guiseppe Carpani: Le Haydine (Paris, 1812).

T. de Wyzewa et G. de Saint-Foix: W. A. Mozart, 1756-77, 2 vols. (Paris, 1912).

Henri Lavoix: Histoire de l'instrumentation (Paris, 1878).

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'autrefois: Mozart (Paris, 1908).


In English

Beethoven: Letters; ed. by A. Kalischer, trans. by J. S. Shedlock, 2 vols. (London, 1909).

[Pg 469]

Vincent d'Indy: Beethoven, a Critical Biography, trans. by T. Baker (Boston, 1913).

Sir George Grove: Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies (London, 1896).

Daniel Gregory Mason: Beethoven and his Forerunners (New York, 1904).

Karl Reinecke: The Beethoven Pianoforte Sonatas, trans. by E. M. T. Dawson (London, 1912).

A. Schindler: The Life of Beethoven (including correspondence, etc.); ed. by Moscheles (London, 1841).

Arthur Symons: Beethoven (Essay), (London, 1910).

In German

L. van Beethoven: Sämtliche Briefe; ed. by A. Kalischer, 5 vols. (1906-8).

Paul Bekker: Beethoven (Berlin, 1912).

G. von Breuning: Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause (New ed., 1907).

Theodor von Frimmel: Ludwig van Beethoven, Berühmte Musiker, v. 13 (Berlin, 1901).

Theodor von Frimmel: Beethoven Studien (Munich, 1905-6).

Ludwig Nohl: Beethoven, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1867-77).

Gustav Nottebohm: Beethoveniana, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1872-1887).

Karl Reinecke: Die Beethovenschen Klaviersonaten (1889, new ed., 1905).

Hugo Riemann: Geschichte der Musik seit Beethoven, 1800-1900 (Berlin, 1904).

Alexander Wheelock Thayer: Ludwig van Beethovens Leben, 5 vols., completed and revised by H. Deiters and H. Riemann (1866 [1901], 1872 [1910], 1879 [1911], 1907, 1908).

In French

Jean Chantavoine: Beethoven (Paris, 1907).

Vincent d'Indy: Beethoven (Paris, 1913).

Romain Rolland: Beethoven (Paris, 1909).

[Pg 470]


In English

Henry F. Chorley: Music and Manners in France and Germany (London, 1844).

H. Sutherland Edwards: Life of Rossini (London, 1869).

H. Sutherland Edwards: Rossini and his School (London, 1881).

In German

Oskar Bie: Die Oper (Berlin, 1913).

Max Chop: Führer durch die Opernmusik (Berlin, 1912).

Ferd. Hiller: Künstlerleben (Cologne, 1880).

Dr. Adolph Kohnt: Meyerbeer (Berlin, 1890).

Dr. Adolph Kohnt: Rossini (Berlin, 1892).

H. Mendel: Giacomo Meyerbeer (Berlin, 1866).

Emil Naumann: Italienische Tondichter (Leipzig, 1901).

W. H. Riehl: Musikalische Charakterköpfe (Stuttgart, 1899).

Hugo Riemann: Geschichte der Musik seit Beethoven (Berlin, 1904).

Leo Schmidt: Meister der Tonkunst (Berlin, 1908).

In French

Blaze de Bury: La vie de Rossini (Paris, 1854).

Henri de Curzon: Meyerbeer (Paris, 1910).

Lionel Dauriac: Rossini (Paris, 1905).

Lionel Dauriac: Meyerbeer (Paris, 1913).

L. & M. Escudier: Rossini: Sa Vie et ses Œuvres (Paris, 1854).

Henri Eymieu: L'Œuvre de Meyerbeer (Paris, 1910).

F. Marcillac: Histoire de la musique moderne (Paris, 1875).

Philippe Monnier: Venise au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1907).

Paul Scudo: L'Art ancien et l'art moderne (Paris, 1854).

Mme. de Stendhal: Vie de Rossini (Paris, 1905).

In Italian

Antonio Amore: Vincenzo Bellini, 2 vols. (1892-4).

A. Cametti: Donizetti a Roma (Rivista Musicale Italiana, Vol. XI, No. 4).

Ludovico Settimo Silvestri: Della vita e delle opere di Gioacchino Rossini (Milan, 1874).

[Pg 471]


In English

Honoré de Balzac: The Great Man of the Province of Paris (Eng. trans.).

Hillaire Belloc: The French Revolution (New York, 1911).

Sir Julius A. Benedict: Carl Maria von Weber (In The Great Musicians, New York, 1881).

J. R. S. Bennett: Life of Sterndale Bennett (Cambridge, 1907).

'Charles Auchester,' Musical Novel on Mendelssohn and his Circle.

Henry T. Finck: Chopin and Other Musical Essays (New York, 1894).

James Huneker: Franz Liszt (New York, 1911).

Sebastian Heuse: The Mendelssohn Family, 1729-1847, transl. 2 vols. (New York, 1882).

Franz Liszt: Letters (Trans. by C. Bache, London, 1894).

Franz Liszt: Frédéric Chopin (Trans. Boston, 1863).

J. A. Fuller-Maitland: Schumann (New York, 1884).

Daniel Gregory Mason: The Romantic Composers (New York, 1906).

Felix Mendelssohn: Letters and Recollections (Trans. from F. Hiller by M. E. von Glehn, London, 1874).

F. Niecks: Frederick Chopin as Man and Musician (London, 1904).

Lina Ramann: Franz Liszt, Artist and Man (In the German, Leipzig, 1880-1894), trans.

August Reissmann: Life and Works of Schumann (Trans. London, 1900).

Siegfried Salomon: Niels W. Gade (Cassel, 1856-57).

R. Schumann: Letters. Transl. by May Herbert (London, 1890).

Stephen Stratton: Mendelssohn (Trans. in English Musical Biographies, Birmingham, 1897).

Joseph von Wasielewski: Robert Schumann (Trans. Boston, 1871).

In German

Moritz Karasowski: Friedrich Chopin (3rd ed., Dresden, 1881).

[Pg 472]

W. A. Lampadius: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Leipzig, 1848).

R. Schumann: Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker, 4 vols. (1854).

R. Schumann: Jugendbriefe, herausg. von Clara Schumann (1885).

Philipp Spitta: Ein Lebensbild Robert Schumanns (In Waldersee Sammlung), (1882).

Max von Weber: Carl Maria von Weber, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1864-6).

In French

Hector Berlioz: Mémoires, 2 vols. (Paris, 1870).

Romain Rolland: Musiciens d'aujourd'hui: Berlioz (Paris, 1912).

Julien Tiersot: Hector Berlioz et la société de son temps (Paris, 1903).

Julien Tiersot: Les années romantiques, 1819-1842; correspondance d'Hector Berlioz (Paris, 1903).


In English

G. L. Austin: Life of Franz Schubert (Boston, 1873).

J. Benedict: Sketch of Life and Works of the late Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (London, 1853).

A. D. Coleridge, translator: Kreissle von Hellbron's Life of Franz Schubert (London, 1869).

E. P. Devrient: My Recollections of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, transl. from the German by Natalia Macfarren (London, 1869).

Edmondstoune Duncan: Schubert (London, New York, 1905).

Louis C. Elson: History of German Song (Boston, 1888).

Henry T. Finck: Songs and Song Writers (New York, 1900).

H. F. Frost: Schubert (New York, 1881).

J. A. Fuller-Maitland: Schumann (New York, 1884).

Arthur Hervey: Franz Liszt and His Music (London, New York, 1909).

James Huneker: Franz Liszt (New York, 1911).

K. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Goethe and Mendelssohn, 1821-1831. Transl. by M. E. von Glehn (London, 1872).

[Pg 473]

Elsie Polko: Reminiscences of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, transl. by Lady Wallace (New York, 1869).

August Reissmann: R. Schumann, transl. by A. L. Alger (London, 1900).

W. S. Rockstro: Mendelssohn (London, 1898).

R. Schumann: Letters, Eng. transl. by May Herbert (London, 1890).

Joseph von Wasielewski: Robert Schumann, transl. by A. L. Alger (Boston, 1900).

Janka Wohl: François Liszt, transl. by B. Peyton Ward (London, 1887).

In German

Hermann Abert: Robert Schumann (Berlin, 1903).

Beiträge zur Biographie Carl Loewes (Halle, 1912).

Heinrich Bulthaupt: Carl Loewe (Berlin, 1898).

Walter Dahms: Schubert (Berlin und Leipzig, 1912).

Hermann Erler: Robert Schumanns Leben aus seinen Briefen, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1886).

Robert Franz und Arnold Freiherr Senfft von Pilsach: Ein Briefwechsel, 1861-1888 (Berlin, 1907).

Max Friedländer: Gedichte von Goethe in Kompositionen seiner Zeitgenossen (1896).

Max Friedländer: Beiträge zu einer Biographie Franz Schuberts (1889).

Max Friedländer: Das deutsche Lied im 18. Jahrhundert (1902).

August Göllerich: Franz Liszt (Berlin, 1908).

Richard Heuberger: Franz Schubert (Berlin, 1902).

Ferdinand Hiller: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Köln, 1874).

Julius Kapp: Franz Liszt (Berlin und Leipzig, 1909).

Heinrich von Kreissle: Franz Schubert (Wien, 1861).

La Mara: Briefwechsel zwischen Franz Liszt und Hans von Bülow (Leipzig, 1898).

Rudolf Louis: Franz Liszt (Berlin, 1900).

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Reisebriefe aus den Jahren 1830-1832.

L. Ramann: Franz Liszt als Künstler und Mensch (Leipzig, 1880).

Heinrich Reimann: Robert Schumanns Leben und Werke (Leipzig, 1887).

A. Reissmann: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Berlin, 1867).

A. Reissmann: Robert Schumann, sein Leben und seine Werke (Berlin, 1871).

[Pg 474]

R. Schumann: Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker, 4 vols. (1854).

W. J. v. Wasielewski: Schumanniana (Bonn, 1883).

August Wellmer: Karl Loewe (1886).

Ernst Wolff: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Berlin, 1906).

In French

M. D. Calvocoressi: Franz Liszt (Paris, 1905).

Jean Chantavoine: Liszt (Paris, 1911).

L. Schneider and M. Mareschal: Schumann, sa vie et ses œuvres (Paris, 1905).


In English

Oskar Bie: A History of the Pianoforte and Pianoforte Players (London, 1897).

Thomas F. Dunhill: Chamber Music, a Treatise for Stu