Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

subject, whatever it may be; and it is so comprehensive and so judicious, that he scarcely ever fails of adapting his music to the character of the sentiment. If the subject be soft and pathetic, his notes are smooth and moving-if sorrowful, deep, sad and mournful; if it aspires to magnificence and sublimity, they assume a loftier tone, and swell with majesty and grandeur.

If ever there existed a musician who could lay just claim to origi. nality, that man was Handel. He drew all his stores from nature and from the force of his own genius, and was indebted to no one ei. ther for his style or his thoughts. He could not bend his talents to think after any body else; conscious of the strength of his own powers, he disdained imitation, and trusted confidently to them alone. His music therefore is, properly speaking, his own; and what gives it uurivalled grace and dignity is this: not only that it is constructed on the purest principles of harmony, but also supported by a noble base, so peculiar to himself, whilst a rich and agreeable stream of melody runs throughout, and animates the whole; and that in a degree which is not to be equalled in the works of any other composer, either ancient or modern.

I cannot, therefore, hesitate in affirming, that as he stands first and foremost of all others in his profession, his works deserve to be held in the bigliest admiration, and to be studied by all the loyers of music.

But, notwithstanding this, much is it to be regretted that a light and frivolous kind of music should attract so many admirers at the present day, whilst Handel, comparatively speaking, is attended to only by a few; those few however are men for the most part of sound judgment and refined taste, and competent to decide on the relative merits of rival composers.

For my part I must confess (and I am far from arrogating to myscif the praise of a critical knowledge of music) that when I have heard a fine passage of Handel performed on the organ, by that great master, Mr. CHARLES Wesley, and afterwards hear a piece of music of any other composer, though given with all the feeling of that inimitable performer, there still is, to iny ear, a thinness of tone, a lightness and want of expression, which sink the latter almost to insignificance by a comparison with the former. It may be said, however, after all, who is entitled to set up his own opinion as the standard of taste? for what is agreeable to one person may not be so

!

to another. Tastes are various ; so I acknowledge they are, but still we cannot surely admire the taste of that man who in poetry would prefer SHENSTONE & GAY, to MILTON and SHAKESPEARE; or in painting, would esteem a picture by the hand of CARLO MARATTı, or Luca GIORDANO, beyond the learning and the genius sb distinguishable in the works of RAPHAEL and MICHAEL Angelo.

I cannot, Sir, close these remarks without adverting again to the extraordinary ability of MR. CHARLES Wesley. I know his just partiality to Handel, and I know also that few, if any, have ever surpassed him in giving upon that noble instrument, the organ, the full and characteristic expression to his music, Possessed of a profound knowledge of his art, accompanied with a graceful and masterly execution, he touches every note with life and spirit, and calls forth all the latent beauties of his favourite author. He feels with all the soul of Handel.

No performer can lay just claim to excellence unless his mind die rects and inspires his execution. Excellence, though it cannot be acquired without practice, is not to be attained by practice alone.Nature must furnish the ground-work; she must give sensibility, and what may not be improperly termed, a poetic feeling. Witlis out this the performer may indeed acquire a considerable degree of accuracy, and a surprising power of execution, enough to amuse and gratify, and even astonish a mixed and common auditory ; bat he will never satisfy the critic's ear, for his music will be wholly de. ficient in pathos and expression, and consequently will fail to awaken the passions and touch the heart.

Poeta nascitur, non fit” is a just observation, and is equally appli. cable to musicians and poets. It is this sensibility which gives such a charm to MR. CHARLES WESLEY's exccution, and has ranked him so deservedly high among the professors of his art; nor yet is he eminent only as a performer of other men's works, his own composi. tions, to many of which I lave frequently listened with delight, are at once remarkable for taste and originality of invention. Ilis talents are of the first order, and his merits have been fully acknowledged by the first judges of music, particularly by his Majesty and the Prince Regent.

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS was such an enthusiastic admirer of Michael Angelo, that he laboured unceasingly in his official discourses addressed to the Royal Academy, to impress on the ininds

of the students the superlative excellences of that great man. So much was he struck with ihe importance of holding him up as a model for the study and imitation of artists, and so anxious was he to impress them with the high idea of the talents of that extraordinary person, that he declared it to be his ardent wish, that tbe last word he should utter in the president's chair, (a kind of dying bequest) should be MICHAEL ANGELO!!!

The professor of music might with truth apply a corresponding sentiment to HANDEL, and warmed with the same admiration of the musician, as that which the late President of the Royal Academy entertained towards the father of the Roman school, he might, with equal propriety and equal dignity, express to his pupils the wish, that the last word he should address to them, from the professor's chair, might be Handel!

I am, Mr. Editor,
Your Constant Reader,

C. T.

TO THE EDITOR.

Str,

IT

T is now admitted, that the delight which almost every individual receives from music, combined with the leisure which wealth and civilization afford to most classes, and the taste for intellectual pleasures growing out of these two causcs, have brought the science into universal practice and request. Its cultivation must therefore proceed with an accelerated velocity. Professors will become more numerous; and as the propagation of art depends mainly upon them, as it is desirable both for themselves and the amateurs, that their intercourse should be preserved by the surest and safest ties, an essay on the character of the professors of music appears to me to be well worthy a place in such a work as Tue QUARTERLY MUSICAL Review. At present, Mr. Editor, the character of the profession is clouded and obscured by strong facts and by stronger prejudiccs (which it must be confessed have their foundation in these

facts,) sufficient to close the doors, and to sbut the hearts of a great proportion even of liberal persons, against all avoidable intercourse with men and women, who with so much of accomplishment to recommend them, have at the same time among them no small num, ber of examples of laxity of principle to exclude them from society, I am quite ready to grant, that the many suffer for the few, and that there exists a great confusion relative to the several orders of musicians. It is to endeavour to clear up these points, and to propose a remedy, that I put pen to paper.

In considering this subject, the first reflection I ought to make, in order to except against invidious imputation, is, that my observations are not confined to this or any particular point of time. They embrace the general experience of the past. The class that attaches the most attention (I do not say it is the highest,) is that of those singers who appear upon the stage. It is perhaps a necessary consequence, that vocalists of this description will earn a far larger sum than can be obtained by any other branch of the profession, Hence great talents will be attracted into the vortex of the theatre, where experience shows that the million have lost their moral sense in the delirious whirl of public applause, and fallen victims to private solicitation, to seduction, and to dissolute pleasures. I shall not now stop to enquire into the causcs which facts prove to exist in sufficient force to produce so constantly the same results. But I may be permitted to reinark, and it is of importance to do SO,

that the musical character thus becomes associatrd with the theatrical, and, however unjustly, is taken to be amenable for all the faults and vices that do actually belong or that are supposed to belong to the stage. This, Sir, is a broad distinction, and admits of a vast declension. The denomination of a player or a public singer is alike applicable to Mr. Young, Mrs. SIDDONS, or Miss Sterrens, and to the stroller from barn to b: rn; and when we depart from the Metropolis, we gradually descend froin the pinnacle of greatness in art to its most occult depths of misery and degradation. But the association is irremediable; and it is not more unfrequent in the one degree in which the illustrious exceptions we have quoted by name are ranked, to find the most depraved instances of departure from tbc rules of morality, than in the other where licentious profiigacy kas the extenuation of all the temptations that lurk round poverty

and passion,

Рp

In intimate relation with the English Theatre stands the Italian Opera. The manners of foreigners engaged in such pursuits are notoriously more luxurious and dissolute than consists with those notions which distinguish the great body of the English nation. There are doubtless very eminent exceptions, but it is the exception that establishes the rule.

It is needless for me, Mr. Editor, to pass through the several degrees that divide the musical, as they must do every other profession. I would rather treat the subject generally than particularly, for reasons which must be obvious. I must however stop to remark, that even the teachers of music are of necessity ranked with those who exercise the art personally and publicly. Now I conceive, that of all classes of musicians, the teachers are the most respectable, and not the least consequential on account of their daily admission and the influence of their manners upon the minds of the children committed to their care. Their circle extends itself every hour; and I must do these ladies and gentlemen the justice, to proclaim, that their moral character, their manners, and their general attainments, have kept more than equal pace with the advances of the science to which they devote themselves. The introduction of females as assistants in the art of tuition is a striking improvement, both in the condition of the sex and of society.

We may now proceed to our purposed examination more at large.

In the world, rank, wealth, and talents are the accessories which mark men from the herd, and neither of these distinctions is without its pride and its prejudice. It might present more difficulty than I am disposed to encounter to decide to which of the three the greater share belongs. But talent is unquestionably the most susceptible and the most sensitive. Rank is seldom uncombined with wealth and educa. tion; all its pride and all its prejudice are therefore tinged, heightened or softened by circumstances not common to mere opulence, which, however, is not now often found unaccompanied by education, except in the very first founders of a fortune. Among persons of condition, there is a general disposition to treat talent with respect, and to employ its powers usefully and honorably. But I nay venture to say that to whatever familiarity they may occasionally admit professors, they never for a moment lay aside the opinion that it is a matter of condescension on their part. They note with that nice tact which is

« AnteriorContinuar »