« AnteriorContinuar »
abroad,” were included among “rogues, (the violin were living; and since their day vagabonds, and sturdy beggars," and were until now, all attempts to improve the violin to be punished as such; and in Cromwell's by changing its form in any manner have usurpation, an act was passed, declaring failed. “fiddlers " rogues and vagabonds—as it is The violin was introduced into England most likely the generality of them were. by Charles the Second, who was restored to England did not want for rogues at that the throne in 1660. Four years after this, time.
the English took New-York, and the next The French also lay claim to the inven- year, 100,000 of the population of London tion of this disreputable crowding instru- perished of the plague, which was before the ment. On the portico of the Cathedral of establishment of newspapers like ours. We Notre Dame in Paris, the building of which give these dates to convey an idea of the was begun in the tenth century, is a figure time, and of the changes that have taken representing King Chilperic with a sort of place since. violin in his hand. And so late as the close In 1670, King Charles established a band of the sixteenth century, or just before the of twenty-four violins, tenors and basses; and modern instrument took its form, the violin about this time a celebrated solo player is indicated in some old Italian scores thus : named Baltzar came over to London. He piccoli violini alla Francese; rendering it could run up and down on the instrument, probable that the reduction which took place says the old Chronicle of Anthony Wood, in size, from the ancient viols and violas, is “in divers waies, all in good tune;" and to be ascribed to the French.
when he played on one occasion, a famous In Italy there were also early instruments musician looked down at his feet to see if he of the violin family. In the old paintings of had “huffs," as if to ascertain if he were not the Decameron of Boccaccio, the ladies and a devil. This was before the death of Milgentlemen are represented playing upon the ton, 1674, and before the passage of the lute and viol, some of the ladies, in partic- act of Habeas Corpus, the sure remedy in ular, using the latter instrument. Also, in all cases of false imprisonment, 1678. the celebrated painting of the marriage of The most valued of the old violins were Cana, by Paul Veronese, the foreground made at Cremona, in Italy, about 1650, by contains portraits of his brother artists, who Stradivarius, Guanerius, and the brothers are represented performing upon stringed Amati. Many of these are still in use, and instruments like those now in use.
counterfeits of them without number. The The modern violin dates from the begin. Stradivarius violins are the largest and ing of the seventeenth century, or about the loudest, while the Amati excel in sweetness. year 1600; and Italy has the honor of its The best of these instruments sell in Europe parentage. Let us consider what was trans- for enormous prices. Viotti's Stradivarius piring in the world about two hundred and sold at Paris in 1824 for 3800 francs. They fifty years ago.
have never been equalled. Some have imaShakspeare had not ceased writing; he gined their excellence to lie in the varnish, or died in 1614, and New-York was settled by in the wood, and these have accordingly been the Dutch about the same year. In 1605, imitated in all possible ways. The old varthe Gunpowder Plot took place, the anniver- nish has been subjected to chemical analysis, sary of which is still celebrated in New-Eng- but the secret of it is lost; wood from anland, where the Pilgrims did not land till cient organs and buildings has been employtifteen years after. Our translation of the ed with like ill success. The highest-priced Bible dates from 1611. In 1625, Charles modern French instruments are the most the First was beheaded. Louis XIV. the exact copies that can be made of the old ones, Great, began to reign in France in 1643. even in the most minute particulars. Yet In 1652, the Jews were restored by Crom- the old ones possess, in addition to the sweetwell to England, from which they had been ness and smoothness which only age can imbanished more than three hundred years. part, a peculiar sonorous, rich, and penetratThe Great Plague of Naples, which destroy- ing quality of tone, that has never been even ed 400,000 people in six months, broke out approached by a modern instrument. They in 1656.
will sound smooth near at hand, and make At this time the great Italian makers of themselves heard equally well in the full orchestra; showing that it is not the rough- expression. But, many modern players find ness, but the purity of tone which commands it easier to conquer his pizzicato runs and the most effect.
harmonics, than to imitate him in legitiEvery other thing connected with the vio- mate playing. The evil, however, must cure lin has changed except its shape. The old itself in time; the burlesque is the most short bow, such as was used by Corelli, trivial and variable of all forms of art. would excite a general smile if brought into It is a singular fact in the history of Art, any of our orchestras ; and so would that that no artist of any sort ever created such great master's style of bowing, with a stiff an universal sensation throughout Europe wrist. The loose wrist was not in general as did this wonderful performer. No singuse, even in Handel's time. The idea of er, not even the most celebrated of the shifting to the third position would a little be- time, was ever greeted by such enthusiastic fore have been thought indicative of insanity. audiences, or could set in motion such quanOn the old music was written “Gare l'ut!" tities of the “circulating medium.” Even (look out for the c!) whenever a C had to Jenny Lind in America has not surpassed be played on the upper string, several bars this remarkable “ crowder,” as the old Engbefore it came, in order to give the performer lish has it. Nor did ever any painter, time to quiet his nerves for the immense sculptor, architect, or any man, by whatever stretch. Now, the player must often go an title he should be called, who set out to octave higher without any caution, and, it please his fellow-men through forms of beaushould be added, without always hitting his ty, attain to such a distinction and such a note. The whole mode of writing for the command of wealth. And it might be addinstrument has changed. As the loose wrist ed, that no artist ever had so much of noncame into use, the doubling of notes in forte sense written about him. The furore which passages, which could not have been played he kindled has not even yet died away. We in the old way, was introduced in the orches- have never known a musical person,
who tra, and increases ten-fold the brilliancy of heard him, who was tired of expatiating on effect. So with innumerable other combi- the miracles of his extraordinary performance. nations, both of bowing and fingering. Yet it is a frail tenure by which the artist,
Tartini, the great master of bowing, is however successful he may be, holds his esteamed the founder of the modern school. power. A little finger broken, and the hand After him, Giardini and Pugnani made still that held the sceptre so firmly, could have further advancement, both in the bow and held it no longer; while the great world in the management of the left hand. Some would bave moved on as before he came; of their compositions present examples of and the great world is singularly forgetful
. great difficulties conquered to little purpose; “To tave done," says Ulysses, “is to hang yet they are interesting as illustrations of like a rusty coat of mail, in monumental what was once thought to be a bold style. mockery." Those forms of art which recede Viotti was perhaps the first artist who farthest from the physical and material, and should be considered to have established which task the subtle energies within, are, the modern school, though many great per- after all
, the safest. The great performer formers aided in bringing it to perfection. may delight thousands in his lifetime, and Viotti's bowing was large and free, and his enrich and ennoble himself; but the compoexecution full of fire. He had the true in- ser, sitting and smoking in some old parlor spiration of a musician; his compositions are in the outskirts of a city, elaborating points therefore still interesting.
and figures over a German stove, though he After Viotti, the great French and Ger- may earn but a little money, just enough to man artists, Rode, Baillot, Kreutzer, Lafont, live comfortably upon, bas yet an estate, Spohr, De Beriot, and a host of others, in- of which (thanks to the mercy of Provicreased still more the powers of the instru- dence, in seldom afflicting our minds) he ment, until at length PAGANINI, one of the cannot be suddenly deprived. Even the deworld's wonders, came from Italy, and found- vastation of battles passes over him without ed what must be designated the modern touching lim; the great Emathian conqueror fanciful or solo school. His extraordinary bid spare the house of Pindar, when facility in all sorts of difficulties was no less
“ temple and tower remarkable than his command of tone and Went to the ground.”
and so it is said Napoleon spared the house more, have contributed by their admirable of Haydn in the suburbs of Vienna. In con- performances to elevate their beautiful art nection with the marvellous success of Paga- in the estimation of thousands of the citinini, it may be mentioned, as a circumstance zens of this our young and restless nation, which the vulgar little dream of, that music and have thus, by instilling new ideas of costs more money than any other art in the beauty, aided in refining society.* world. It is estimated that the works of For there is no art more elevating than II ANDEL have caused the exchange of more music; pone more powerful to charm down value than those of any artist, musician, and silence the rough passions and a lowor poet, who has ever lived, not excepting thoughted cares” of men. It is the most even the writings of Homer, whose works universal, and, in many of its forms, the even now, at the distance of so many centu- most intelligible of all the arts. Its images ries, give employment to so many minds, steal upon the mind in a mode that permits hands, and steam-engines. It was probably no avoidance; once beard, they haunt the with some dim notion of the truth this illus- memory, and keep the fancy busy with trates, that a young man in Boston came to beautiful expressions. The composer is an eminent artist to learn the violin. Mr. rightly thus named ; for it is he who comHerwig, whose name will be remembered by poses mankind. He sings the lullaby to many lovers of the violin, told the writer his race, and gives it pleasing dreams in that during the first successes of Ole Bull in place of the unquiet thoughts of the inevitthis country, a young man called on him able pains and woes of existence. His ofone morning to inquire about some lessons. fice harmonizes with his whose duty it is He wished to know how long it would take to keep alive the Christian hope of a better to learn, and whether three months would life to coine ; and this all recognize in the not be sufficient. He was in the boot man- propriety of sacred music in our churches. ufacturing business, but disliked the con- It may seem extravagant, but if one reflects, finement, and wished to exchange the em- it cannot appear going too far to claim for ployment for one more congenial to him. a great violinist no mean position among There was Ole Bull, he said, making a for- the benefactors of our species. tune by playing the violin, and it had oc- At all events, his profession is not a very curred to him, that if he could acquire it inviting one to those ungifted with true muwithout too much trouble, he didn't see sical enthusiasm. He has before him long why he should not do the same ! This in- years of practice, to be begun and continued dividual deserves to be remembered as with with unwavering perseverance. In his case out question the boldest speculator of this there is no royal road to excellence; and speculative age. His conception of the dif he must be able to find his reward in his ficulties of the instrument almost equals that art itself. He should bear in mind the epiof the person who, when he was asked if he taph which it is said may be found in could play the violin, made the immortal Wolverhampton churchyard in England, reply, that he“ didn't know, for he never and which, lest he may never have seen, had tried !” We will not sully the reputa- shall be here transcribed : tion of the accomplished artist and leader of Jenny Lind's orchestra, by quoting his name
ANNO DOMINO 1753, as a voucher for the truth of this latter story. “Near this place lies Claudius Phillips, To the violinist there is something in it quite whose absolute contempt for riches, and inoverwhelming
imitable performance on the violin, made Even to enumerate the names of the him the admiration of all who knew him." great performers of our day, would require almost as much space as we have devoted But it is not necessary to devote oneself to our entire history. Some of the first so exclusively to the art, in order to attain have been heard in this country, and have spread a general knowledge of the capabili- * For some hints respecting performance on ties of their wondrous instrument. Vieux- the violin, the reader is referred to an article on temps, Olé Bull, Artot, Sivori, and others the subject, by the writer, in the American Review of great merit, such as Mr. Joseph Burke, elaborate essay upon music in the number for
for December, 1847, and to a general and more Henri Appy, Miska Hauser, and many | February of the same year.
a respectable degree of skill upon the violin; that of an inherently dead and scratchy enough at least to place ordinary music with quality in his violin; and no wonder. If he in reacb, and thus to add to the amusements does not, he speedily becomes a nuisance to of the domestic circle. There is no instru- his friends ; for if there is any species of torment more social in its character, and none ture to be ranked the most unendurable of that is, when it is properly cultivated, more all, it is the performance of a new beginner elegant and refining. Its small size renders on a bad instrument. it a convenient companion in travel, and a By the common consent of civilized nagood amateur of it will never lack society, tions, beginners on the violin are expected whatever may be his taste. We know of an to retire for practice to the attics, which instance where it enlivened a long sea-voy- affords, perhaps, another reason for supposage; another where a very moderate skill ing the instrument to have had its origin upon it became an additional resource to a in Greece. There we will leave him, with forlorn schoolmaster in Indiana; and still his scales and studies before him. We fananother, where a gentleman of considerable cy we can almost hear that everlasting secliterary attainments was glad to avail him- ond study of Kreutzer. Enough; let the self of it in the city
door be listed, and let there be a door to the The great obstacle with most amateurs, staircase below, that the birth-chamber of has hitherto been the difficulty of obtain the nascent Paganini may be as secluded as ing a fair instrument at a convenient price. the seventh heaven of Mahomet. Few of the best are ever in the market, be- If this brief sketch shall contribute to ing retained among professors acquainted spread a knowledge of the violin, the writer with their merit. Generally there is a long hopes it may thus render a service to the interval between first-rate instruments and art of Music—the art divine--the art in such as are to be had at any price in the which there may be found consolation unmusic-shops. The learner soon gives up in der whatever can be inflicted by misfortune, despair, when his own scraping is added to or by false and cruel men,