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term discords. These primitive elements of composition were rational, because founded upon experience—the ear naturally indicated them ; but as the principles upon which they rest, in a theoretical sense, were then unknown, and indeed are so still, except to a few men of science and research, these rules were followed up by the absurd theory which has prevailed from that time, and which, as music has progressed since the first success of Haydn, is studied only to be violated and forgotten.
We shall adduce a single example to show how much dependence is to be placed upon this theory. One of its fundamental maxims, borrowed indeed from the mathematicians, and erroneously applied to music, establishes, that in. tervals form perfect consonances in proportion to the smallness of their ratios : that therefore an octave is the most perfect consonance, because it is, with regard to its fundamental note, as two are to one ; that the fifth is the next perfect, because it is in the ratio of three to two; and that the major third is an imperfect consonance, because its vibrations are as five are to four. Now the octave is nothing more than a unison, or repetition of the same note, one degree higher or lower; and fifths are pleasing to the ear only in certain positions, and cannot be tolerated in consecution. How then can either of these intervals be termed perfect, in contradistinction to the third, so flattering to the ear, so beauti. ful in consecution, and so exquisitely barmonious, and which is termed imperfect?
But is the maxim itself correct? Are consonances in music really perfect in proportion to the sinaliness of their ratios. In the diatonic scale are to be found six perfect fifths, but all do not bear the same ratios; for only three of them, namely, that upon the tonic, that upon the mediant or third note of the scale, and that upon the dominant, give the ratio of three to two. The fifth upon the supertonic or second note of the scale, is in the ratio of thirteen lo nine ; that upon the subdominant or fourth note, in the ratio of sixteen to eleven; and that upon the submediant or sixth note, in the ratio of twenty to thirteen. In the same scale there are only three major thirds, two of which, that upon the tonic and that upon the dominant, give ihe ratio of five to four, whilst the third upon the subdominant, is as thirteen are to eleven. Now, if the smallness of the ratios be the test of perfection, it necessarily follows, that the major thirds upon the tonic and dominant are more perfect consonances than the fifths upon the subdominant and submediant; and the third upon the subdominant, a more perfect consonance than the last of these fifths. There is something still stronger. Seconds, sevenths, and ninths, are termed discorils. But the ratio of the minor seventh upon the tonic, is as seven are to four; that of the ninth upon the tonic, as nine to four; and that of the second upon the tonic, as nine to eight. Therefore, if consonances be perfect in proportion to the smallness of their ratios, the second, seventh, and ninth, opon the tonic, must be more perfect consonances than three of the perfect fifths above enumerated, and one of the major thirds- which is absurd.
This maxim, however, has been taken for granted, and a host of inferences drawn from it, which serve with it, and some other maxims equally fallacious, as the groundwork of a superstructure, terined the theory of music, forming the only scientific study for musicians during the last three centuries. The rules of composition deduced from such palpable errors are, as may naturally be supposed, fallacies in principle, and hostile to the attainment of excellence of the art. A non-observance of them is now considered so lawful, that many composers of the present day, trusting entirely to instinctive tact and perception, neglect to study them, and for want of a fixed principle of guidance, leave spois and blemishes upon the brightest emanations of genius.
Let it not however be imagined, that we are here condemning the study of counterpoint; quite the reverse ; we consider its study, even under its severest forms, absolutely necessary for the attainment of excellence in musical composition. It accustoms the mind to classic purity and correctness, and gives wonder. ful facility in the construction of compact and flowing melodies in the intermediate parts of harmony; thus imparting great powers to imitation, which, blended with broad masses of effect-with all the beauty of light, shade, and color, forms one of the most imaginative and powerful resources of modern composition. We could, however, wish that counterpoint was divested of those difficult and uncer. lain roles, which discourage the young artist, and deter him from its study. It
might, and we say so with certainty, be reduced to its natural elements; each of ite rules might rest upon a simple and self-evident principle, and the road to its attain. ment be considerably abridged.
But in recommending the practice of counterpoint, we are bound to add, that its intricacies ought to be mere objects of study. Nothing is more heavy, ungraceful, and displeasing to a refined taste, than the performance of those elaborate specimens of science, wonderful in the ingenuity and knowledge they display, but devoid of life and poetry. Double, triple, and quadruple counterpoints at the octave, the tenth and the twelfth-double, triple, and inverted figures, and the vast family of canons, may be compared with the elaborate studies of the painter, whereby he gradually acquires excellence in drawing and beauty of form. They are the car upon which genius rides triumphant;-but they constitute only the car - they partake not of the triumph
When the progress in the mechanical powers of musical instruments led Haydn to burst through the bonds with which the theory of the contrapuntists had cramped and confined his earlier inspirations, the new effects he produced were as litile understood and relished, as, at the present day, are the posthumous quarters of Beethoven. The mind being warped by the stiff, hard, and cold mel. odies, formal modulations, and dry, monotonous counterpoint of the old composers, was unprepared for that fulness of effect, that force of coloring, those in. tellectual beauties, which suddenly burst upon it. Thus some time elapsed ere it could resume its natural bias, and appreciate the new creations of Haydn's genius.
Much more merit is due to that great composer than the mere excellence of his compositions ; for had he not possessed enough of energy and firm determination to trample under foot the prejudices of his age, and raise a noble edifice upon their ruins, the world would, perhaps, never have possessed a Mozart, or a Beethoven. Certain it is, that had not Haydn led the way, Mozart would never have thrown off the trammels of the old school. It is true, that the whole organ. ization of Mozart vibrated to music-to beautiful and intellectual music, full of melting pathos, and exquisite tenderness, -and, at the same time, teeming with the noblest elevation and dignity. But his mind was not formed of materials stern enough to make him an innovator-it soared not to the creation of a new art. If Haydn had not lived, Mozart would have been a mere contrapuntist, but the first of contrapuntists ; he would have excelled Palestrina, and Leo, and Pergolese, and, in some points, have surpassed even Handel; but finding the ice already broken, and with Haydn's innovations and orchestral effects before him from his very infancy, his mind was naturally directed to the use and study of those new beauties. Thus, besides the elegance and classic purity of his compositions, he brought instrumentation and orchestral power to a degree of perfection which surpassed even the wonderful results of Haydn's labors.
But it was reserved for a still more powerful mind to give life and being to those high and energetic powers which constitute the beauty of the modern German school of music. It was reserved for Beethoven to discover, and bring forth, that endless variety of effects and resources, which render modern excellence in music a thing of the mind, not of sound or matter. He it is who has opened an interminable field for future generations to explore ; exhaustless, even after the parts of it which he has himself cultivated.
Beethoven was early initiated by his master, Albretsberger, into the mysteries of severe and free counterpoint, but without being subjected to the trammels, which, before Haydn's time, were the forced concomitants of all musical composition. With this study he combined that of instrumentation, both chamber and orchestral, from the works of Haydn and Mozart; so that at the very outset of his musical career, he was enabled to obtain a glimps of those beauties which he has since so wonderfully developed. But even at this early period of his life, the results of his art were not sufficiently perfect to meet his ideas of excellence, and this naturally led his mind to seek for new and more powerful effects. Already bursting with its mighty conceptions, it looked forward to an increase of power to give them vent; and when ihat power was found, those marvellous productions which, until they were properly executed, excited surprise, and even ridi.
eule, and then ad miration and surpassing delight, burst successively forth, like the wonders of Nature's creation..
It has been thought, by some, that Beethoven was a man of other ages, not of his own. He was of such opinion himself, as he has often stated to the writer of this sketch. He used to say, in the confidence of friendship, that he was born two centuries before his time. Great as are the works he has left to posterity, his grandest conceptions are forever lost, because, consistently with his fame, he found it impossible to put them into a shape so as to preserve them. In the present state of instrumental mechanism, and the present constitution of orchestras, even with all the powers of the brass harmony, he knew that their execution was impossible. Future generations alone could bring instrumental performance to a sufficient degree of perfection for the attainment of effects incomprehensible to the present race of men. In his day-dreams, Beethoven had dived into the thoughts and feelings of future ages, he had anticipated the improvements of times to come, and his inspirations corresponded with such improve. ments. His favorite speculation was an orchestra composed entirely of such men as Paganini-all of surpassing excellence in mechanism, in accentuation, in conception, and in the.poetry of execution. The lamentable deafness which embittered the latter years of his life, and shut him out not only from communion with his fellow-men, but from the enjoyment of his art, gave a permanent character to these creations of his fancy; and under the terrible visitation which cast a darkness over his existence, he was happy in the imaginative enjoyment of that sublime and wonderful harmony-of those highly-wrought and astounding effects -of those darkly tragic and terrific associations and of those melting strains of tenderness and love, which be alone could conceive, but which, had he embodied them in a form to come before his contemporaries, would have encountered the scorn and ridicule of men unable to comprehend the workings of his great mind, or to catch a single spark of that enthusiasm which imparted a prophetic instinct to his genius. The works he has left show what he could have done had he found mind and mechanical powers to give utterance to his thoughts. They will ever remain as the most powerful productions of the art, and as such descend to the most distant ages.
The peculiar organization of Beethoven's mind, led him to the dark and the terrible. In his loftier inspirations, he was the spirit of the air; he could • ride on the whirlwind and direct the storm ; ' roam through the gloomy recesses of the haunted glen and forest-rake up the pangs of the conscience-stricken wretch, and hurl upon him the shafts of hopeless despair. In his other moods, he was mild and gentle, though always forcible and energetic in the utterance of his feel. ings. He would then contemplate the sunny and glowing landscape in nature's loveliest forms ;-the, verdant hill, and dell, and lawn, and coppice,-reflecting the streamy rays of light in a thousand colors, ever vivid, yet ever changing; the murmur of the rippling brook, the humming of insects, the chirping of birds, the lowing of cattle, and the village bell; the sun when he washes his disk in the western ocean, sending forth fiery streams of gold and purple, which recede into indistinctness as they gradually mingle with the colder azure of the evening sky; and the broad, pale moon, shedding her beams of gentle light over the repose of the world. It was such contemplations as these which led to his beautiful pastorale symphony-a work we have never yet heard executed, even by the Philharmonic band, in a manner perfectly corresponding with the highly-wrought notions, perhaps fastidious and unreasonable, with which our enthusiasm for the master has inspired us. In our huinble judgment, there still remains much to study-much to understand and develop in this noble production.
It was conceived and composed at a secluded village near Vienna, to which Beethoven was accustomed to walk by a winding and unfrequented path. Here he would sit upon a stile, and enjoy the landscape before him; and it was on this seat that he imagined the extraordinary work, in which he has attempted to describe by sounds all that he saw, heard, or felt. The music conveys a wonderful picture of a beautiful and living landscape, acting upon an imagination imbued with the most powerful perception of poetry. Amid the tranquil beauty of the scenery before him, he could not resist the delineation of a thunder-storm, with which he was one day overtaken in returning from this favorite spot.
With a mind which harmonised so closely with the darkest kind of sublimity gloomy, powerful, energetic, and terrible—the heart of Beethoven yearned with the gentlest and most lovely feelings. He was formed for affection, friendship, and philanthropy; and the streamy and bright melodies which pervade his works, depict a nature flowing with kindness. They are gleams of sunshine bursting through the murky darkness of the prison-house, and bringing relief and consolation to its snffering occupant. In the poetry of Beethoven's mind, a feeling or tenderness was mixed up with the wildest and most terrific of his imaginings; and it bursts forth in melting strains of exquisite melody, even in the midst of his most sombrous modulations.
To the grandeur of his conceptions, Beethoven may be compared to Michel Angelo ; but with the same loftiness of imagination, the same vasiness of thought, his mind was more picturesque-he presented his ideas in a more attractive form, though with equal vigor and energy. There was a harshness, a cast-iron severity, in the soul of Michel Angelo, from which Beethoven was exempt; and in the terrifically subliine sabjects of the latter bis most powerful effects are associated with kindly and amiable feelings. In the development of his thonghts, he calls to his and the most striking sounds of the aniinated world-the most pic. turesque associations of nature's loveliest, as well as her grandest forms; and there breathes throughout his great masterpieces, a loftiness of virtue, and philan. thropy, which tramples the spirit of evil in the dust.
With powers so constituted, and a genius struggling to give utterance to things hitherto unutterable, and beyond the conception of his contemporaries, it is not surprising, that Beethoven should have found the orchestras which had served to express the thoughts of Haydn and Mozart, inadequate to convey his mighty imaginings. This led to his employment of the brass instruments, and gave birth to those marvellous effects of his creation, which have since had so strong an influence upon modern instrumentation.
Beethoven has tried every branch of his art, and in each has been equally saccessful. Instrumental music was evidently the bent of his mind, for to it he applied his greatest energies ; and he conveys by the effects which he imparts to it, sentiments more powerful than words conld express. Words he considered as obstruction, because they necessarily restricted ihre utterance of his thoughts to the compass and power of the human voice.
His church music, consisting chiefly of masses and motels, is cast in the loftiest moald; it raises the soul above all earthly things, and brings it into communion with its Creator. His oratorio of the Mount of Olives, is one of the most magnificent creations in the art; it bears down every thing of the kind that has preceded it, even the sublime works of Handel. The chorus, Hallelujah to the Son of God,' contains an elevation of thought, a power and dignity of design, a full and flowing majesty of effect, which places it incomparably above every chorps by Handel; and if this oratorio were performed as Beethoven conceived it, which has certainly never been the case in this country, it would throw every other composition of the same nature at an immeasurable distance.
Words always acted as a damper upon the genius of Beethoven ; for they checked the flights of his exuberant fancy, which he found it somewhat difficult, at first, to sober down to the compass of vocal music. Thus, when he attempted the musical drama, and produced the wonderful opera of Fidelio his sole dramatic work, he was at a loss from the beginning, to adapt words to his conceptions, or rather to make his melodies correspond with the words of his libretto. Before he began, he examined the dramatic works of Mozart, and other writers, to see how they managed their vocal effects; and in the first act of Fidelio may be found palpable imitations of Mozart in this particular. But in the first finale, and ihroughout the last act, Beethoven is again himself-original, wonderful, and surpassing all his competitors in beauty and vigor of thought, and in power of expression. Though this is the only opera he ever wrote, it will remain one of the standard dramatic compositions of his country; and it has laid open those marvellous powers of dramatic instrumentation, of which Weber, Meyerbeer, and Spohr have since so successfully availed themselves.
Beethoven's earliest inspirations were directed to chamber music. The first work which he brought before the public, was a set of three trios for piano-forte, violin, and violoncello. The new and striking effects contained in these trios, and the sweetly-flowing melodies which pervade them, have preserved their high pre-eminence over all subsequent compositions of the same description Those of Hummel and Onslow, which stand next in rank with equal claims in point of merit, remain at an immense distance below those of Beethoven.
The next publication of this great composer, was his three sonatas for the pianoforte, dedicated to llaydn, containing effects equally novel and splendid, and such as had never before been imagined on that instrument. He afterwards' produced several sonatas for violin and piano-forte, and three or four for piano-forte and violoncello, one of which, in G minor, he afterwards executed with Dragonetti, who played the violoncello part on the double bass. This was the first contact of these two great artists; and it was this performance that gave Beethoven a first conception of those magnificent effects of bass, by which he imparts such extraordinary power to his symphonies.
Mozart might have been supposed to have exhausted, before Beethoven appeared, all that was intellectual in quartet and quintet writing, and Haydn's quarlets contained such endless variety in the same branch of art, that nothing original seemed left to be done. But Beethoven, who had before tried his skill upon a set of trios for violin, viola, and violoncello, and upon a grand trio for the same instruments, in imitation of Mozart's grand trio, next appeared as a quar. tet, and afterwards a quintet writer. His quartets, so original, so totally dissimilar from those of Boccherini, Haydn, Mozart, or any preceding composer, burst upon the world as a new light, and raised emotions never before experienced. There is a vividness of thought and energy of expression, which excites in the mind sensations of a novel and delightful kind. The three quartets dedicated to Prince Rosamouffsky, teem with intellectual beauties, and would alone be sufficient, as would any single one of Beethoven's works, to transmit his fame to the remotest generations of man.
His quintets are of a more gloomy and penitential cast. They express the work. ings of dark and superstitious minds, acting under the impulses of remorse and fanaticism, and yet yielding, in spite of themselves, to the most amiable feelings of human nature. There is a prodigious power of mind in these quintets ; but to hear them to our heart's content, they must be performed by five professors, pos. sessing not only the talent of mechanical execution, but gifted with poetry and enthusiasm. Such music as this was not composed for vulgar minds; to feel it as it ought to be felt, the soul must be warmed at the fire of genius. They who are insensible to the creeping thrill which vibrates upon all the nerves at once in a shudder of delight, are not formed to understand these master-pieces.
The most magnificent efforts of Beethoven's imagination have been applied to his grand symphonies. When the first of them appeared, it excited as much surprise and opposition as did those of Haydn thirty years before. The author was called a madman; the execution of the music was said to be impossible ; but by dint of rehearsals and perseverance, its beauties were at length understood, and its performance became much less difficult than was at first imagined. All these symphonies are master-pieces ; but there are bright and sunny effects about the one in A, and an expression of plaintive and dignified tenderness in its andante in A minor, which, in our estimation, place it above those in C, D, and B flat.
No orchestra in Europe has succeeded better in performing these symphonies, than the Philharmonic band of this country, if we except only the pastorale, in wbich, as we have before ventured to observe, there is yet much to improve.
"The grand battle symphony, requiring the power of two distinct orchestras, is not calculated for a concert-room, where its effects would be lost for want of space. We have been present at several performances of this symphony on the continent, but we never heard it so well executed, as some ten or twelve years ago, at one of our own theatres, under the direction of Sir George Smart.
On Beethoven's posthumous works we shall offer bui very few observations, They were evidently conceived and written down in that spirit in which he in. dulged during the latter years of his life, and which, however well it may be understood in after ages, is at present incomprehensible, except to a chosen few,