Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Such is the establishment which the Prince constantly retains in his service, and such is tlie preparation making for the future participation of an enjoyment which of all others, when conducted upon such a scale, attracts into its focus and combines the largest share of intellectual and sensible pleasure we derive from the arts.

In order to convey to our readers, however, a more complete notion of the manner in which music is conducted at Brighton and Carlton House, we are to state that it was a frequent amusement with his Royal Highness to command vocal quintette parties, which were honored by the presence of the Queen, the Princesses, and a few of the nobility. These concerts in truth partook of the character of the domestic habits of the Royal Family, and pourtray the nature of their manners and pursuits. The pianoforte was usually taken by Mr. Asioli, and the performers summoned were, generally, Mrs. Bran. chi Lacy, Messrs. TramMEZZANI, Naldi, Ledesma, and Lacy, with the occasional addition of the CHEVALIER LE CAINEA. On these occasions it was usual for the Prince Regent to hand his Royal Parent to an easy but stately chair, near which were placed two or three others, and at a short distance were dispersed the seats for the rest of the Company. Her Majesty would send for one or two of the ladies to sit near and converse with her in turn, during the intervals of the music. Each retired after a short period, and thus many of the nobility enjoyed the same distinction.

The Princesses also conversed with their accustomed affability. Her Majesty sometimes left the Music Room for tea or cards, and returned, but generally the Regent handed the tea to the Queen, and attended on his mother with that graceful manner and dignified a Tection, for which his Royal Highness has been celebrated by the inmates of Courts, beyond any man in Europe.

On particular occasions of ceremony, such as the first visit of the DUCHESS OF OLDENBURG, and those of the EMPEROR ALEXANner and the King OF PRUSSIA, Concerts upon the most extended scale have been given, and nearly all the great vocal and instrumental talents of the metropolis enlisted, with a degree of splendor and magnificence worthy the exalted rank of the host and of his guests. SALOMON, to whom science is so much indebted for the inducements by wbich he prevailed on Haydn to visit this country, and to compose his immortal symphonies, was generally the leader. MR. C. Kramer conducted, and AsioLi was at the pianoforte.

While CHERUBINI was in England, the Prince, with that attention to talent which he delights to pay, desired that he might be invited to preside at the performance of one of his own fine compositions.

The music selected is so various, that it may be said to embrace every style, for the Prince is really a judge of every description of composition, from the comic opera to the grandest writing of Handel's inspired oratorios and selections; all haye their turn, both in the occasional concerts, and in the nightly performances of the private band at the Pavilion, but no bill is ever prepared,

The Duke of CUMBERLAND is a director of the Concert of Antient Music, and loves the science; but observation of his taste leads us to suppose that his Royal Highness is most attached to concerted pieces, and bis fondness for fine instrumental performances was last winter manifested by his yery frequent attendance at the PHILHARMONIC Society, where the great attraction is the astonishingly accurate and finished execution of the finest and most ela borate compositions for instruments.

The Duke of Sussex has enjoyed, through his long residence in Italy, the ever fresh and living fountain of musical excellence, more complete opportunities for the enlargement and cultivation of his taste in music than any of his Royal Brothers. Tlie Duke is a good musician, can accompany himself on the pianoforte, and has a voice of excellent tone and compass. It has been well formed under several masters, of whom CRESCENTINI stands foremost. Before a series of ill health had impaired the organ, his Royal Ilighness was equal to the execution both of serious and comic music, in the best styles of Italian and English masters. We are happy to understand, that the asthmatic affection which was his tedious companion for so many years, is at length eradicated, and that he now sings with his original power, facility, and expression. Nothing can so well convey to our reaclers the peculiar manner in which the Duke exccutes, as to inform them that the elegant and touching airs published by Crescentini were composed expressly for his Royal Highness, and are particularly adapted to the display of that natural sensibility and musical tact which is inwoven with the coustitution of the Duke of Sussex. At table there are few amateur singers capable of giving so much effect to songs of convivial sentiment. There is scarcely anything more difficult in art or inanners than to call into life, and rouse the high and geucrous feelings, which it is the distinguishing excellence of

this species of singing to produce, and at the same time to divest a table song of its almost universal tendency toward the gross and coarse expression of the fire of the moment. The real object and the true delight is to raise and refine, not lower and degrade and defile the imagination. This art the Duke possesses, and there are few circumstances that can add more to the flow of soul, than a song from his Royal Highness. *

The attainments made by the Duke of CAMBRIDGE bespeak a more uniform attention, and a more solicitous practice of the science however than has been pursued by the other branches of the Royal Family. His voice is a tenor, and his instrument is the violin. His Royal Highness is able to read any music at sight, with the accuracy of a professor, and he was accustomed, when in England, both to play and sing with the ablest performers. Music was a frequest source of amusement in the Duke's apartments. Glee parties, at which the Queen used to be present, were often given by his Royal Highness. On these occasions, the singers were, Mr. BARTLEMAN, MR. VAUGHAN, the Messrs. Kryvetts, &c.—and perhaps bis Royal Highness is attached more to the style of English vocal music than Italian. Upon the whole, we might say, that the Duke of Cambridge bas proceeded further in practical science than his Royal Brothers, were it needful to compare acquirements, which differing somewhat in kind and degree, are equally honorable to the taste of all the branches of a family, whose enjoyment and cultivation of any art is almost certain to insure for it universal acceptance and support in British society, and for its professors, the highest patronage and respect that their attainments and their con.

* The following song, set (we believe) by Mr. Emdin, is one of the Duke's favourites, which he sings with much vivacity and foree.

Gaily still my moments roll,
While I quaif the ftowing bowl;
Care can never reach the soul
That deeply drinks of wine.
See the Lover, pale with grief,
Binds his brow with willow leaf;
But his heart soon finds relief
From drinking deep of wine.
Eyes of fire-lips of dew-
Cheeks that shame the rose's hue;-
What are these to me or you
Who deeply drink of wille?

duct can deserve. Of such a nature is the support which the ROYAL Family, in most of its members, as we have seen, extends to Music and MUSICAL Men.

MARA, BILLINGTON, AND CATALANI. WHILE we were hesitating as to our selection of the fittest character among vocal performers for our present number, the intelligence of the death of the most accomplished of native English singers was transmitted to us from Venice,* and we have to lament in common with the few, whom Mrs. BiLLINGTON's musical talents have occasionally delighted since her retirement froin public life, that she is no longer sensible to the just pride and pleasure which are derived from well-earned and not injudicious praises, and which are the highest and purest rewards that ability can receive or enjoy. The record we are now to make, can only be addressed to the recollection of those of her colemporaries who remain, and to the remembrance of posterity; we may therefore be pardoned, if we should enlarge our sphere of descriptive criticism by the addition of some biographical particulars, which are related after a communication made by herself a very short time before she last quitted England, the country of her birth, to find a grave in a foreign land.

The paternal appellation of Mrs. Billington was WEICHSELL, and her mother, who was a singer of some eminence, died while her offspring, Mr. C. Weichsell, the celebrated violinist, and Mrs. B. were young These children were trained to music at the earliest possible age, and even performed on the pianoforte and violin for the benefit of Mrs. W. at the Haymarket theatre, at six ycars old, a time of life when they might have been well thought incapable of any acquirements deserving public notice. Her first master wasSchroeter, an excellent teacher of the pianoforte, and her father superintended lier musical education with a degree of severity, that could scarcely be justified even by the proficiency of the pupil. Few persons have attained the perfection that Miss WeiCHSELL reached upon this instrument. At fourteen sbe came before the public as a singer, singer, at Oxford, and at sixteen married Mr. Bullington, then a performer on the double bass, who carried her imniediately to Dublin, where she commenced her theatrical career in the opera of Orpheus and Eurydice. Here, perhaps, for the only period of her life, she was doomed to suffer mortification, in tlie greater applause and respect obtained by Miss Wheeler, a singer much inferior to herself; and such was the effect on the ardent mind of Mrs. BILLINGTON, that it had well nigh been the occasion of her quitting the stage in disgust. The reputation of Miss Wheeler procured her an engagement at Covent Garden Theatre for three years; Mrs. BiLLINGTON followed her to London, and no sooner bad she arrived than Mr. HARRIS, the proprietor, and Mr. Lewis, the manager, waited upon hier with a proposal for her to play three nights. So short a trial she positively refused, expressing her desire to substitute twelve nights, under the apprehension that her too anxious solicitude to please her countrymen might defeat her first efforts. Such, indeed, was her distrust that she considered this as a final experiment, and she had determined in the event of any failure either in the case of self possession or of deficiency of powers and attainments to quit the profession of an actress at once. They proceeded to discuss the terms of her engagement, and she desired a salary of twelve pounds per week, to which the managers objected as being the highest sum then given, and as the remuneration assigned to Migs Waeeler, whose reputation was so high and so established. The comparison was unfortunate, it irritated Mrs. B. and she instantly declined to enter into any permanent contract. She consented, however, to appear for the twelve nights, and was advertised for the part of Rosetta, in Arne's opera of Love in a Village. She was announced for the Wednesday night, but the name of Mrs. Billington, late Miss Worchsell, having caught the attention of The King, HIS MAJESTY commanded her appearance to take place two days sooner, a circumstance highly flattering, as it was a solitary instance and contrary to the custom generally observed by the Sovereign.

* Mrs. B. died at her estate of St. Artien, near Venice. + He was also the tutor of Mr. John Cramer in early life.

It will readily be conceived, that Mrs. BILLINGTƠN, whose habits of study and practice had been fixed by the severest exercise of parental authority, omitted no preparatory exertion to ensure her suco cess with the public, under such high auspices. Indeed she labour. ed night and day, and nothing could be more complete than her tri. umph over the esteem of her audience and the rivalry of her former

« AnteriorContinuar »