Life Sketches Of Composers Of Classical Music
( Originally Published 1920 )
DELPHIN ALARD was one of the great French teachers of the violin, and a writer of valuable studies for the instrument; and it is in these capacities that he is now chiefly remembered, though he was also a noted virtuoso, and composed much music of a brilliant character. He was born at Bayonne in 1815, and was a pupil of Habeneck at the Paris Conservatoire. He succeeded Baillot as professor of the violin there in 1843, and taught till 1875. Among his most famous pupils was Sarasate. He died in 1888.
J. S. BACH.
Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest of all musicians, was a member of a very large family for several generations renowned through their pre-eminence in music. During his life he held several posts as Kapellmeister or musical director, the most important of which was that in Leipzig, from 1723 to his death, when he was musical director of the University and Cantor of the St. Thomas School. He wrote music for orchestra, chorus, organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. which has been the wonder of the modern world, since appreciation of his greatness was revived by Mendelssohn and his con-temporaries eighty years ago. His works for clavichord and harpsichord have a very important place and are among the most prized of all music for those instruments and their modern successor, the pianoforte. Of these the most famous is the collection of forty-eight preludes and fugues, in two books, called "The Well-tempered Clavichord." These show not only his supreme mastery of the contrapuntal style, in which he was greatest, but also the inexhaustible musical inspiration, poetical feeling, and romantic impulse that his genius possessed.
A "well-tempered clavichord" means one that is tuned in the modern system of equal temperament, by which pieces can be played in all the different keys, while in the old unequal temperament the more remote keys were so out of tune as to be impossible. Bach favored the adoption of the equal temperament; and the "well-tempered clavichord," in which all the major and minor keys are used, each succeeding prelude and fugue being in a key a semitone higher than the preceding one, of course required this system of tuning.
The clavichord was a small keyed instrument of exceedingly delicate tone, in which the strings were struck by brass tangents, fixed at right angles on the farther end of the key-levers. The tangent remained pressed against the string as long as the key was held down, and an effect of "vibrato" (called "bebung") was obtainable, quite unknown to the modern pianoforte. The clavichord was Bach's favorite instrument at home, and he preferred it to the harpsichord or spinet, the more common instruments of the class in the eighteenth century.
"Inventions" is a term used by Bach alone as referring to musical compositions. It may be taken to mean about the same as "impromptus." The inventions he intended for students of the clavichord, as he stated on the title page of the first edition (1723), but not merely as technical exercises. They are to serve especially, he says, to cultivate a cantabile style of playing; also to stimulate the taste for extemporizing and composition. They have lost not a jot of their value to-day as technical exercises, and behind their formal outlines there is an inexhaustible store of poetical ideas.
Bach's "English suites" are said to have been composed for some distinguished English amateur, whence their title. The general form of the suite as a succession of dance tunes he kept, without attempting any development of his own. The four principal divisions were the Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue. Before the Gigue often came a Bourree, Minuet, Passepied, or Gavotte, as a kind of intermezzo. There is a prelude for each of the suites, and the successive movements are not only highly developed in form, but have a rich harmony and deep musical content. "Such magnificently broad Sarabandes, such daringly wild Gigues, Bach never again wrote," says Spitta.
The "French suites," probably so called without Bach's knowledge, are shorter and less broadly developed than Bach's other suites, and the movements correspond more closely to the original types of the dance forms. 1f they are French in character it is only in their graceful and amiable spirit. They follow in the main the general Suite-form, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, with various kinds of interludes inserted before the Gigue, and they are without preludes.
The Italian concerto, being for one piano, without accompaniment, can scarcely be called a concerto in strictness. But Bach had made his concertos more and more a matter for the soloist and pushed the accompaniment in the background; in this one the accompaniment disappeared entirely. The form of the concerto was originally devised for the violin by the Italian masters. In this piece the violin character most clearly appears in the andante, with its richly ornamented melody; and it is specially with reference to this that the appellation "Italian" was applied to the concerto. This was the "Italian taste" mentioned in Bach's title to the work.
Bach's solo sonatas for the violin-or rather sonatas and suites, for he wrote three of each-are unique of their kind. They had no precursors, and have had no successors that are worthy of the name. In these works for violin without accompaniment he finds expression for the same sort of grandeur and polyphonic fulness as in his music for the organ and clavier. He makes the violin speak in many voices. By extending the use of double-stopping and the skilful employment of the open strings, he attains an almost incredible fulness of tone. In the contrapuntal passages the voices enter and re-enter with almost the same freedom and independence as in an organ fugue. The movements of the suites are in the character of the old dance forms of the eighteenth-century suites. The sonatas are distinguished from them in not being composed of dance movements; but they are essentially different in form from the modern sonata.
The Ciaccona of the suite in D minor is one of the most famous of Bach's compositions, a gigantic piece that tests the highest powers of the greatest artists. A ciaccona was a slow dance form in triple time, on a short theme continually repeated in new aspects and enriched with contrapuntal and other ornament. This one is built on five themes that appear in such elaborate figuration and polyphonic complications that they are often not discernible except upon close study.
L. VAN BEETHOVEN.
Beethoven, the greatest of all modern musicians, he who ushered in the new world of musical thought at the beginning of the nineteenth century, died at Vienna, where he had lived and worked for all the mature years of his life. Beethoven was in his earlier years a pianist by profession; it was as a pianist that his first reputation was made, and for a considerable time after he had shown his power as a composer, he was regarded by his fellow-townsmen as chiefly a pianist. Hence it is natural that some of his greatest and most influential work was written for the piano. He wrote nothing more important for his instrument than the five concertos. The first two were composed at not a long distance apart (the one now called the second, in B flat, was really composed first) in 1795 and 1798. The one in C, Beethoven played at his first public appearance in Vienna in 1795. It is related that he wrote it down only a few hours before he had to appear; and that at the rehearsal, the piano being half a tone too flat, he transposed it to C sharp. The third concerto, in C minor, was composed in 1800, and shows an advance in style such as would be expected in a work contemporaneous with the septet, the first symphony, the string quartettes, Op. 18. This Beethoven also played publicly for the first time in 1803. In the fourth concerto, G major, composed in 1806, and the fifth, in E flat, composed in 1809, we enter upon a different phase of Beethoven's work, the so-called "second period," his mature period, "a time of extraordinary greatness, full of individuality, character, and humor, but still more full of power and mastery and pregnant strong sense."
Beethoven's sonatas must rank with his concertos in the importance of their part in his artistic development. He devoted much attention to this form of art; the thirty-two sonatas of his "master period" extend from 1796 to 1822, and they show the whole development of his three styles.
Beethoven's ten sonatas for violin and piano are among his best beloved and most popular works. With few exceptions, as the sonata dedicated to Rudolph Kreutzer, they are not manifestations of the profoundest depths of Beethoven's musical nature; but they show all his skill and unerring sense of form and line, and are some of the loveliest and most spontaneous outpourings of his creative faculty. Most of them belong to what the biographers have agreed to call his "first period" : the period when the influence of Haydn and Mozart was still strongly felt in his work. The first eight of them were composed between the years 1798 and 1802. The adagios frequently show Beethoven's most fervid and uplifted style, the scherzos are graceful, the first movements and rondos spirited and brilliant. The "Kreutzer" sonata, Op. 47, composed in 1803, first shows the influence of the "second" style that is more characteristic of Beethoven's most individual work: a greater passion, a greater eloquence are manifested in it, as in the other works of the same period composed about the same time-the "Waldstein" piano sonata, the "Eroica" symphony, the "Appassionata" piano sonata, "Fidelio." The last sonata dates from 1810; and is far from the tragic and lofty spirit that marks the "Egmont" music, the quartette, Op. 95, the great B flat trio that originated at about the same period. It is full of grace and charm, elusive yet unmistakable.
W. S. BENNETT.
Sir William Sterndale Bennett was, until the new light of Elgar came, the most brilliant contribution by England to the at of music since Purcell. He was a pupil and friend of Mendelssohn and Schumann, and the Mendelssohn influence is marked in his music. He attained great prominence in English musical affairs and died in 1875. His piano pieces are wonderfully polished, clear, and suave, and Schumann found in them beauty of form, poetic depth, clearness, and ideal purity as in Mendelssohn's.
Bertini was noted as a pedagogue, a composer, and a pianist of the Clementi school as extended by Cramer and Hummel. He lived at a period when flashy virtuosity was in vogue-the sort of thing that Schumann founded his "Neue Zeitschrift" to combat and overcome. Yet Bertini was inalterably opposed to it, and both as a pianist and composer exemplified the highest ideals. His technical studies are still highly regarded and much used by judicious teachers.
Georges Bizet died just three months after the production of his masterpiece, "Carmen," which proved him to be a true genius of original power. As a pupil of the Conservatoire he gained the Roman prize. His compositions were not appreciated at their full worth during his life, because of their individuality, and it is only since his death that his true value has been understood. The most important of his productions, before "Carmen," was the incidental music that he wrote for Alphonse Daudet's play of "L'arlesienne"-"The Woman of Arles,"-which was produced in 1872, as an attempt to revive the melodrama, or spoken drama to the accompaniment of illustrative music. The piece was at that time a failure, how-ever; whereupon Bizet arranged four of the numbers as a suite for concert performance by orchestra. The second suite of four numbers was afterwards arranged by Ernest Guiraud. There were originally twenty-four numbers in all. The prelude of the first suite is based on an old Provencal Christmas song. The farandole is a wild dance native to the south of France.
The name of Theobald Bohm is inseparably connected, with the modern development of the flute and of other wood-wind instruments. He entirely changed their construction, fixing the position and size of the holes with reference not solely to convenience in fingering, but also to purity and fulness of tone, and prompt and accurate "speaking"; also facilitating performance in keys previously difficult. He was born in Munich in 1794, and died there in 1881. He was court musician in the royal orchestra, and composed many brilliant pieces for the flute and also invaluable etudes.
The first set of his Hungarian dances was published in 1869, and immediately attained an enormous popularity. But there was also a protest raised by some who accused Brahms of appropriating the melodies of others and enriching himself at their expense; for all these Hungarian dances are based on dances by Hungarian composers, or are paraphrases of them. Brahms did not reply to the charge, but his publisher refuted it, though. it was sufficiently refuted already by the fact that the title page bore the words "arranged by Johannes Brahms." The composers have all been identified and their names, most of them little known, published. The second set of Hungarian dances was published in 1880. The popularity of them has resulted in the publication of all sorts of arrangements.
Brahms' four symphonies are among the greatest monuments of modern art. In an age that is seeking new ideals and new means of expression, Brahms held fast to the old principles, and showed that in the forms outlined by Haydn and Mozart and so vastly ex-tended by Beethoven there was still room for the highest individuality, and all the aspirations of modern art to express themselves. His first symphony was not published till 1877, when he was forty-four years old and had produced numerous works of chamber music. It was immediately hailed as one of the most important productions of the period, and Von Billow dubbed it the "Tenth Symphony," in evident connection with the nine of Beethoven. The other three followed the first at shorter intervals, and each was recognized at its appearance as a work of monumental beauty, profundity, and impressiveness. In all of them the outlines of the classical form are preserved, except in the fourth, of which the last movement is a passacaglia-an old dance form consisting of variations on a short "ground bass."
Max Bruch has gained eminence as a composer by a few works, most important of which is the violin concerto, Op. 26, which he composed in his twenty-seventh year. It at once gained the high esteem of both performers and the public, and has been one of the most popular works in the violinist's repertory ever since. Bruch was born in Cologne in 1838, and has occupied a number of posts as conductor and teacher. His greatest successes have been made in this violin concerto; to a less degree in the second concerto (D minor) and other violin works, and in his epic choral works with orchestra.
Cecile Louise Stephanie Chaminade is one of the few recognized and distinguished women composers. She showed great musical precocity as a child, both as a pianist and as a Composer. Ambroise Thomas said of her: "This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman." She has written several works in the larger forms, a ballet symphony, "Callirhoe"; a lyric symphony, "Les amazons"; a comic opera, "La sevillane"; but her reputation rests chiefly on her piano works, which are numerous and popular. They are marked by insinuating melody and sparkling rhythms and a dainty expressiveness that has always exercised a captivating effect. Her songs, too, with a wealth of melodic charm, have also been widely popular.
Most of Chopin's best and ripest work was achieved after his settlement in Paris, where he lived from 1831, when he was twenty-one years old, till his death. It was always influenced to a greater or less degree by his strong feeling of Polish nationalism, although individual characteristics of his genius and the potent influence of the romantic school are compelling factors in his music. It is, at any rate, sui generic, and has retained its vitality more than any other music of its immediate period. In 1829 he first came prominently before the great public, when he made a trip through Europe, winning admiration for the beauty and delicacy of his playing. In Paris he became one of the most noted personages of the time, and was in great demand as virtuoso and teacher.
One of his pupils was Karl Mikuli, a Pole, who settled in Paris in 1844; and the years of study he had under the master made him an authority on his methods and style of playing his own compositions. His edition of Chopin's works are therefore of exceptional value to students and players.
The name of Muzio Clementi is one of the landmarks in the history of piano-playing. He was one of the principal influences in introducing a modern style of the art. He was a great performer and teacher, and also a composer of charm, according to the spirit of his time. The enduring esteem in which his chief work, the "Gradus ad Parnassum," is held by the greatest players and teachers of modern times, shows how essentially correct and how firmly based on fundamentals was his method of playing and teaching. He was born in Rome in 1752, and brought up as a musician. His early compositions were well received, and as a virtuoso he made successful tours. His artistic career was interrupted and finally arrested by his success as a piano manufacturer and music publisher in London.
The "Gradus," published in 1817, is a series of one hundred superb studies. These are of the most varied description, and were evidently not arranged systematically by the composer. Modern pedagogues have felt the impossibility of using them in the order in which Clementi placed them. Max Vogrich has performed the very important service of classifying and rearranging them according to their practical formative, and intellectual content.
That he was the greatest virtuoso of his time was the contemporary verdict upon Arcangelo Corelli as a player. He was one of the founders of the art of the violin, both in technical performance and in composition for it. He was born near Bologna, Italy, in 1653, and died in Rome in 1713. He visited Paris and Germany and was attached to the court in Munich; but the later years of his life he spent in Rome as one of the most famous musicians of his time. His compositions survive as among the noblest and most beautiful productions of the pre-classical period, and many distinguished pupils handed down the principles of his art as a violinist.
J. B. CRAMER.
Johann Baptist Cramer, one of the founders of the modern piano-forte style, was a pupil of Clementi, whose methods he adopted and handed on. He was born at Mannheim in 1771, but lived most of his life in London, where he died in 1858. Like his master Clementi, his artistic career was interrupted and finally broken off by his success in business, as a music publisher. Cramer's fame is chiefly pre-served by his piano studies, which formed a part of his great "Method" for the instrument. These studies are still among the most valuable material for training in piano-playing and are constantly used by the best masters.
Carl Czerny's name is still one with which to conjure success in the mastery of piano technique. His enduring monument, in a vast mass of more than one thousand musical compositions, is his series of studies for technical training. Their value and surpassing merit have been gratefully acknowledged for almost a hundred years. Czerny was born in Vienna in 1791, and died there in 1857. He had lessons of Beethoven, of whom he was a favorite, and remained the friend. He soon gave up his career as a public pianist and devoted himself to teaching. His style was based on that of Clementi, and he also learned from Hummel. He trained many distinguished pupils, among them Liszt and Thalberg.
C. DE BERIOT.
Charles Auguste de Beriot was one of the first of modern violin virtuosos, who brought about the change from the classical severity of the older French school to meet the newer spirit of the age that found expression in the virtuoso's achievements in music. He was born in Belgium in 1802, and from his first appearances in Paris as an artist exercised an indescribable charm by the brilliancy, grace, and piquancy of his playing. He became speedily one of the greatest virtuosos of the day. He married Mme. Malibran, the great singer, but their union was severed by her death a few months later. In 1843 he became professor of violin at the newly founded Brussels Conservatory, retiring in 1852. He died in 1870. He composed much for his instrument; in his earlier years, facile and brilliant "airs varies"; later more serious concertos (seven in number), and some chamber music; as well as a remarkable "Ecole transcendentale" for the violin.
Ferdinand David exercised a great and lasting influence on the art of the violin by his teaching at the Conservatory in Leipzig from 1843 to the time of his death in 1873, and as concertmaster of the° Gewandhaus from 1836. He was born in 1810 in Hamburg, and was a pupil of Spohr and Hauptmann. He developed the technique of the violin along lines of his own, and had a great influence on musical taste by first playing Bach's solo violin sonatas and suites and Beethoven's last quartettes. His own compositions are sound and dignified, if not inspired music.
Antonio Diabelli's fame rests partly on having supplied Beethoven with a theme for a noted set of pianoforte variations. But among his own compositions are a number that are valued by teachers for their melodious charm and their availability for teaching. Diabelli was born near Salzburg in 1781, and died in Vienna in 1858. Like Clementi and Cramer, he stopped his career as a musician to become a music publisher. In Vienna he published much of Schubert's work.
J. J. F. DOTZAUER.
Justus Johann Friedrich Dotzauer exercised an important influence on the art of playing the violoncello through his invaluable studies, which remain an indispensable part of every cello player's equipment. He was born near Hildburghausen, Germany, in 1783; played in the Meiningen Court orchestra in Leipzig, and for many years in Dresden. After more than forty years in that city he was pensioned, and died in 1860. He had a number of famous cellists as his pupils, and composed an opera and many other works in the larger forms, especially cello concertos.
Famous both as composer and organist, Theodore Dubois, one of the most distinguished of French musicians, was born at Rosnay, France, in 1837. In the Conservatoire at Paris he won the Roman prize. On his return he became chapel master at Sainte Clotilde, and then succeeded Saint-Satins as organist at the Madeleine; he was professor at the Conservatoire, and from 1896 to 1905 its director. He is a very fertile composer, and has produced half a dozen operas, several symphonies, and symphonic works, cantatas, and oratorios (one of the best known being his "Paradise Lost"), and many pieces for piano and organ, as well as songs.
J. L. DUSSEK.
Johann Ladislaw Dussek was one of the fathers of modern piano technique and Contributed in important points to its development.
He was a Bohemian and born in 1761. He became organist and finally a virtuoso pianist (under the advice of C. P. E. Bach), travel-ling in many parts of Europe. Dussek's playing was praised for its fine cantabile style, which he was one of the first to cultivate. He spent a dozen years in England, and the last four years of his life in Paris, where he was greatly honored and where he outshone the virtuosos, Steibelt and Wolff. He died near Paris in 1812, after a singularly fortunate career.
H. W. ERNST.
Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst was one of the most famous violinists of the nineteenth century. Born in Moravia in 1814, he studied at the Vienna Conservatory, and later under Mayseder; and at the age of sixteen appeared as a public performer. Fascinated by Paganini, then at the height of his fame, Ernst followed him from town to town, endeavoring to master the secrets of his power. He won a great name all through Europe, and died at Nice in 1865. As a composer he produced pieces that have long been favorites with violinists, mostly on the order of virtuoso displays pieces, especially his F sharp minor concerto.
Without Field's nocturnes there would not have been-at least, in the form in which they exist-Chopin's. Not only the name, but also the whole style and matter of these pieces were strikingly new and original, freed as they were from the trammels of a set form. Field was an Irishman, born in Dublin in 1782. His family was musical, and he was brought up under severe musical discipline. As a pupil of Clementi he was trained in the best methods and had great success. Going to St. Petersburg in 1804, he became the fashionable teacher and virtuoso, which success he duplicated in Moscow. In that city he died in 1837.
Noted as a violinist and the son of a noted violinist, Federigo Fiorillo was born in 1753 in Brunswick, Germany, where his father, an Italian by birth, was conductor. He played as a soloist in various cities, and in London for some years was viola player in Salomon's famous quartette. The date of his death is uncertain, but was later than 1823. He composed much music, but the best known of his works, and his title to a share of immortality, are the "36 Caprices," studies for the violin, which have become indispensable to every well-trained player.
N. W. LADE.
Niels W. Gade was one of the founders of the Scandinavian national school of musical composition, which has been carried to a more characteristic and pungent form of expression by his successor, Grieg. He was born in Copenhagen in 1817, and died there in 1890. His first successful work, the overture "Nachklange von Ossian," in 1840 attracted wide-spread attention, and he came under the influence of Mendelssohn and Schumann in Leipzig, where he succeeded the former as conductor of the Gewandhaus concerts. Returning to Copenhagen, however, in 1848, he remained there the rest of his life. There he was active as conductor and composer, wielding a beneficent influence. His symphonies and overtures, his cantatas and his chamber music have a lasting place in the productions of the modern romantic school.
Benjamin Godard was a characteristic representative of the modern French grace and charm in melody and rhythm, in salon music of the highest type. He was largely concerned with music of a larger scale; with operas, symphonies, and chamber music, some of which was very successful in Paris and Brussels. Outside of those cities, however, he is chiefly known by his delightful piano pieces, of which he wrote many. He was a thorough Parisian, born in the French capital in 1849, educated there at the Conservatoire, active there in composition and in the production of his works. He died at Cannes in 1895.
Edvard Grieg's place in the development of nationalism in music is a highly important one; while the wonderful musical richness of his work, its melodic beauty, its harmonic originality and effectiveness, its fascinating rhythmic qualities, have made him one of the most popular and deeply beloved of all modern composers. He was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1843. Studying at Leipzig he found the prevailing influences there dry and unsympathetic. In 1863 he studied with Gade and came under Hartmann's influence, and then he was profoundly stirred by his intercourse with Rikard Nordraak, a young Norwegian composer, with whom he entered on a crusade "against the effeminate Mendelssohnian-Gade Scandinavianism, turning with enthusiasm into the well-defined path along which the Northern school is now travel-ling." The results of this are evident in his piano pieces, in which the boisterousness, the gloom and melancholy, the tenderness and wistfulness of the Scandinavian people are mirrored. He has used many native idioms, without refining away their characteristic tang and even occasional harshness, and his work deserves a place beside Chopin's, Liszt's, Dvorak's, as being thoroughly representative of the spirit of a nation and its song.
"Holberg's time" was from 1684 to 1754. That is to say, it was the period in musical history before the development of the sonata, when the suite was the most generally acepted form of instrumental composition. The suite was a succession of idealized dance forms, and the sarabande, gavotte, and rigaudon are such dances. Grieg has preserved their formal aspect, while putting much of his own individuality into their musical content.
Ernst Haberbier was a cosmopolitan musician, chiefly known in his time as a pianist, though he has left an enduring record as a composer in his "Etudes-poesies," which alone of his works survive. He was born in Konigsberg on October 5, 1813, and met with success as a pianist in St. Petersburg, London, and Paris, where he created a sensation. In 1866 he settled in Bergen, Norway, as a teacher, and there he died while playing at a concert, in 1869. His "Etudes-poesies" are a set of twenty-four picturesque and characteristic pieces, highly romantic in their style and representing vividly hits of scenery, of picturesque fancy, and mood painting.
G. F. HANDEL.
Handel composed his harpsichord pieces at the height of his fame in London, between 1720 and 1735, where they were very popular. He had a varied career in his youth, as organist, violinist, and conductor in various parts of Germany. 1n 1706 he visited Italy and made a furore with several operas, on his return becoming Kapellmeister to the elector of Hanover. His visits to England were so successful that in 1712 he made his stay permanent. His popularity became very great in London, where he brought out a number of Italian operas, in great rivalry with Bononcini and others, but finally failed; and in 1741 turned to oratorio composition, with which he occupied him-self exclusively to the end of his life. He wrote numerous works for orchestra and organ besides those already mentioned, and his influence upon English music was so overpowering as almost to exclude all original development there until very recent years.
Moritz Hauptmann, born at Dresden in 1792, died at Leipzig in 1868. He made his chief reputation as a learned theorist, a master of counterpoint and classic form; and as a teacher of those and allied subjects in the Leipzig Conservatory. There he was professor from 1842 till his death. He published many important theoretical works, which are the basis of much of the modern doctrine of musical structure; but he was also a finished and accomplished composer. He wrote an opera, choral music, and many chamber works which are highly esteemed.
Josef Haydn's work was to effect the transition from the old form of instrumental music, the suite, to the modern sonata form, as it is employed in the symphony, the string quartette, and the solo sonata.
He was a pioneer of originality and power in his gradual perfection of the elements of outline and design that have been confirmed and developed by the great masters that followed him. His early years were embittered by poverty. He finally was appointed by Prince Esterhazy Kapellmeister of his orchestra at his country place at Eisenstadt. Here for many years he had leisure and the disposition of an orchestra for working out the development of form and instrumental style in which he was interested. His visits to England in 1791 and 1794 brought him increased fame and affluence, and his last years were loaded with honors.
Stephen Heller as pianist, teacher, and composer, was prominent for fifty years in Paris, where he lived from 1838 to 1888. He was a Hungarian. He wrote voluminously for the piano alone; his music is distinguished for its elegance and refinement, varied and forceful rhythms, exquisite melody, and for a poetic sentiment to which his distinctive titles in many cases give the key. He wrote several hundred pieces, comprised in more than one hundred and fifty opus numbers. Besides his characteristic pieces he wrote many admirable etudes, in the higher and more musical sense, for the development more of taste and expression than of technique.
Adolphe Henselt was one of the most accomplished pianists of his day. He was born in Bavaria in 1814, and died in Silesia in 1889. He studied with Hummel, and aroused great enthusiasm by his early public performances in 1837. In 1838 he received royal appointments at St. Petersburg, where he spent many years of his life. He seldom appeared in public, owing to great nervousness; but he was hailed by Schumann as one of the greatest players. His music is noted for its lyric grace and charm and also for many characteristic and beautiful pianistic effects produced in it.
J. N. HUMMEL.
Johann Neopomuk Hummel was born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1778 and died in Weimar in 1837. He attracted the interest of Mozart in his early years, and profited by his instruction in piano-playing, becoming one of the most distinguished virtuosos of the day, at one time regarded as the equal of Beethoven. His compositions have taken their place as among the lesser classics of this period. They are brilliant in their treatment of the piano, and carefully wrought in respect of workmanship.
The talent of Adolf Jensen made him one of the most subtly delicate and refined lyric composers of the middle of the last century. Born at Konigsberg in 1837, he died at Baden-Baden in 1879. Poverty hindered his early advancement. He eked out a living by teaching and in the minor post of a conductor in small cities. His genius found fullest expression in his songs. His piano pieces have a buoyant and poetic felicity, graceful in fancy, and finely chiselled in execution.
Halfdan Kjerulf was among the earlier of the Scandinavian corn-posers to feel the influence of the folk-songs of his native land. He was hampered in the musical ambitions of his early life. Born at Christiania in 1818, he first studied theology; not till he was twenty-two was he free to devote himself to music, and not till he was thirty-two could he take regular instruction (in Leipzig, from Richter). He lived very quietly in his native Norway, devoting him-self chiefly to songs and piano pieces, expressing the poetical thought and feeling of his own country. He died in 1868, looked up to by Grieg and other Scandinavians as a sort of patriarch of their art.
Rodolphe Kreutzer has tasted of immortality as the one to whom Beethoven dedicated one of his greatest violin sonatas, and by whose name it is universally known. To all violinists his fame is ever renewed through his "Etudes" or caprices, an indispensable part of the study of every performer on the violin. All the rest of Kreutzer's many works are forgotten; but these etudes preserve his memory as a great master. He was an industrious composer; he early showed talent as a musician and attained prominence in Paris as player, composer, and teacher in the Conservatoire.
Friedrich Kuhlau is now chiefly remembered by his sonatas and sonatinas for two and four hands upon the piano, though in his day he was a noted operatic and chamber music composer. He was a German, born in Hanover in 1786; but he spent much of his life in Copenhagen, and died there in 1832. He was a player of the flute by profession, and wrote many pieces also for that instrument.
Theodor Kullak was a pianist and pedagogue of exceptional attainments, Born in Posen in 1818, he showed precocious talent, but was made to study medicine at first, In 1842 he studied with Czerny and others in Vienna, but settled in Berlin, where he founded and conducted a famous music school. His instructive works for piano are classics in their way, and his "School of octave-playing" has never been surpassed. He trained many distinguished artists.
Ferdinand Laub was one of the great nineteenth-century violin virtuosos. He was born in Prague in 1832, and died in the Tyrol in 1875. He studied at the Prague Conservatory and appeared in concerts at the age of eleven. He thereafter played in many places throughout Germany, and in 1853 succeeded Joachim as concert-master in Weimar. In 1855 he went to Berlin as teacher and player, and there formed a string quartette that became one of the most famous ones of the time. He made many brilliant tours as a virtuoso, and in 1866 was appointed violin professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Failing health caused his retirement some years before his death.
J. M. LECLAIR.
Jean Marie Leclair was one of the founders of the classical French school of violinists. His style and methods were derived from Corelli. He was born at Lyons in 1697, and began his career as a ballet dancer at Rouen. Then Somis discovered his talent and taught him the violin. The only positions he ever held were subordinate places in the Opera orchestra and the royal band, though he was eminent as a player and composer. His compositions were a potent force in the development of the art, and are still cherished as among the noblest examples of the classical style. He was assassinated by an unknown person, for an unknown reason, on his own doorstep in 1764.
Hubert Leonard was an eminent violinist and teacher; born near Liege, Belgium, in 1819, he died in Paris in 1890. He was a pupil of Habeneck at the Paris Conservatoire, and played in the orchestras of the Opera and the Opera Comique. He made brilliant and ex-tended concert tours in the later 40's, and then succeeded de Beriot as professor of the violin at the Brussels Conservatory. Here he remained till 1867, when he retired on account of ill-health, and thereafter lived in Paris as a teacher. He published many important etudes and a School for the violin, and edited many of the classical works for the instrument.
Franz Liszt was one of the most remarkable figures of the nineteenth century in music. It was pre-eminently his privilege to advance the art of piano-playing to its highest development, and establish a new standard not only of technique but of interpretation. He was also a voluminous composer in many forms, and especially for his own instrument. His piano music shows an extraordinarily skilful utilization of the new technical possibilities, color, and sonorities of the instrument introduced by him; it shows also an ardent striving after the romantic spirit and the employment of picturesque methods of incorporating poetical ideas into tones. His life was one of remarkable activity and zeal in promoting the modern ideas of his time, and assisting by his enormous influence the men who represented them. His piano music is of the greatest variety, ranging from simple song-like pieces of short compass, to virtuoso pieces of dazzling brilliancy and transcendent difficulty, as the two concertos, the etudes, the Hungarian rhapsodies, and the sonata. 1n them all, however, will be found the most acute sense of pianistic effect and the most skilful employment of the possibilities and characteristics of the instrument.
"Les preludes" is the third of Liszt's symphonic poems, this style of programme music being devised by Liszt, to break away from the definite, formal pattern of the orthodox symphony. Its form has nothing fixed, but is derived from the poetic aspects of the subjects it illustrates. Thus "Les preludes" is based upon a poem by Lamartine, the French poet of the romantic period about 1830, contained in his "Meditations poetiques." Lamartine describes human life as a succession of preludes to that unknown song whose first solemn note is sounded by Death. In this piece Liszt follows Lamar-tine in describing some of the ideal phases of human life-love, the storms of life, the peace of pastoral quietness, and again the activity that sounds the trumpet signals for strife. Love, grief, peace, and victory are the four phases represented in tones by Liszt.
Mendelssohn was one of the chief exponents of the romantic school of the first half of the nineteenth century, while yet adhering in all essentials to the principles of form and euphony established by the classical composers. To the time of his death in 1847 he enjoyed an enormous popularity. To the wide extension of this, nothing contributed more than his "Songs without Words," a style of short piano piece of romantic and poetic content, which, while he did not invent it, he developed with much skill and originality. In these little pieces is contained a vast range of feeling and emotion expressed with con-summate technical perfection of finish. Mendelssohn's oratorios, "Elijah" and "St. Paul," and his symphonies and overtures, are the greatest of his works, and his songs also contain many beauties. He was born into the rich Mendelssohn family of Berlin bankers, and having every opportunity for developing his talent, made remarkable exhibitions of precocity both as a pianist and composer. Among the most noteworthy episodes in his short life were his work in conducting the Gewandhaus orchestra in Leipzig, his establishment of the Leipzig Conservatory, and his several visits to England, where he had great influence and popularity.
Wilhelm Bernhard Molique was famous as a violinist and composer. Born at Nuremberg in 1802, he studied under Rovelli at Munich, and became a member of the imperial orchestra in Vienna, then succeeded Rovelli in 1820 as leader in the Munich orchestra. He won fame by extended tours throughout Europe till 1849, when he settled in London, remaining there till 1866, enjoying success as solo and quartette player, teacher, and composer. He died in 1869. He composed an oratorio, "Abraham," and many solo pieces for violin, including six concertos; also a cello concerto.
As a pianist, a teacher, and a composer, Ignaz Moscheles was among the most prominent musicians of his lifetime, which extended from 1794 to 1870. He was precocious as composer and pianist, and in his early days he had much personal intercourse with Beethoven in Vienna, where he studied. He obtained great fame as a piano virtuoso. In 1821 he settled in London, and in 1846 joined the Leipzig Conservatory under Mendelssohn, where he lived the rest of his life and trained many distinguished pianists. His piano music is energetic, brilliant, and strongly rhythmical, and of great dignity of style, including characteristic pieces, fantasies, and etudes.
Moritz Moszkowski is one of the most brilliant and fertile composers for the piano of the present day. He is Polish by birth, but is of German training. He was born in Breslau in 1854, and made his first public appearance as a pianist in Berlin in 1873. He was highly successful for many years as a concert pianist, while at the same time he was increasing his fame by his compositions, which have attained a great and far-reaching popularity.
W. A. MOZART.
Although his greatness is now measured by his operatic and symphonic works, as well as his piano sonatas, Mozart was also one of the greatest pianists of his day. He was a "wonder child," and was taken over Europe by his father, who exploited his piano-playing in private and public concerts. He made marvellous progress in composition, and his music aroused universal wonder and admiration. He was for some time in the employment of the Archbishop of Salzburg, but resigned his place in 1777 because of indignities heaped upon him, and insufficient income, but resumed it again in 1779 for two years, leaving it then to settle in Vienna. There his later operas were composed and performed, bringing him fame but little money, and with his wife he lived in penury. His last work was his "Requiem," the subject of which aroused in him superstitious forebodings of his death, and he died before he could complete it. His piano music shares the beauty and distinction of his music in the larger forms; joy is its keynote; melody is lavishly expended in them, and they show the finest taste and elegance, and, above all, euphony and plastic beauty of form. Apparently simple in their structure, they are a stumbling block to the superficial.
Pietro Nardini was one of the famous classical violinists and composers for the violin, of the eighteenth century, when Italy produced the leaders in this branch of music. He was born in Fibiana, Tuscany, in 1722, and died in Florence in 1793. He was a pupil of the great Tartini. In 1753 he became solo violinist to the court in Stuttgart, and remained there till 1767, when he returned to Italy, living with Tartini till the latter's death in 1770, when he became solo violinist and director of the court music at Florence. Nardini commanded a soulful cantilena, and his numerous violin solos and concerted pieces demand this quality especially from their executants.
Niccolo Paganini was the greatest of all violin virtuosos, and con-tests with Franz Liszt the title of the greatest virtuoso on any musical instrument who ever lived. But unlike Liszt, Paganini lacked a truly high and musical gift. His powers were chiefly comprised in a marvellous mastery of the technical difficulties of the violin, and in an undreamed-of extension of its possibilities. His compositions have a certain originality and charm, but their purpose is almost wholly to exploit the brilliancy and novelty of the mechanical devices that he himself introduced. He showed early promise and his talent was forced by his father. He studied in Rome, and even then experimented with new effects. He made his first concert tour at the age of thirteen, and then entered upon his checkered career, in which artistic success was mingled with dissipation of all sorts. In 1828, he appeared in Vienna and threw the city into a delirium of excitement. This success was repeated all over Europe. The end of his life was pitiable, being under the stress of unsuccessful speculation and lawsuits.
Ignaz Joseph PIeyel occupied a large place in the musical life of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Born near Vienna in 1757, he became a pupil of Haydn, and was prominent as a conductor in various places. Finally, after the beginning of the French Revolution, he went to Paris and started a piano factory that is still one of the foremost in Europe. Pleyel was enormously prolific as a composer-many symphonies and a great mass of chamber music attest his industry, if not his inspiration. His "instructive" works are still highly esteemed. He died near Paris in 1831.
Joachim Rail was born in,„ Switzerland. His early talent recommended him to Mendelssohn and Liszt, and, encouraged by them, he devoted himself to composing. He was a composer of prodigious fertility and industry, and had an inexhaustible vein of melody, with a thorough mastery of the technical requirements of the art. Misfortune accompanied him, however, and his pecuniary condition as well as his popularity and facility often led him to force his genius to unwise overproduction. He lived for a time in Cologne, then in Wiesbaden, where he was in great demand as a piano teacher, and in 1877 he was appointed director of the Hoch Conservatory, in Frank-fort. In 1863 his first symphony, "An das Vaterland," won the prize of the "Friends of Music" in Vienna, and his popularity became then greater than ever. Raft was a romanticist of conviction, and sought in music a definite expression of the concrete. Thus, in his symphony "Lenore," he expounds the story told in Burger's ballad of the same title. This somewhat grisly story is of Lenore and her young soldier lover, who is separated from her to go to the wars, and is there killed; but his spirit comes back to fetch her, and together they ride on a ghostly horse, amid all unearthly terrors invisible to living mortals. The love of the pair is described in the first two movements. 1n the third, Wilhelm, the lover, is shown departing for the wars, through the picturesque and brilliant march that is universally familiar. The last movement is full of the terrors of the ride.
Carl Reinecke held for many years a dignified place in the world of music as director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as a pianist of amiable gifts, especially in the interpretation of Mozart, and as a composer of great melodic fluency and winning grace. He studied the piano and became intimate with Schumann and Mendelssohn, taught at the Cologne Conservatory, and was called to Leipzig as conductor and professor at the Conservatory in 1860. He resigned in 1895. He had many distinguished pupils. His compositions are very numerous, and especially those for young players are full of charm.
J. P. RODE.
Jacques Pierre Joseph Rode is another of the past masters of the violin whose fame is conserved by his instructive works for his instrument. His "Twenty-four caprices in the form of studies, in the twenty-four major and minor keys" are famed and indispensable to every student of the violin. He was born in Bordeaux, February 16, 1774; a pupil of Viotti, he became one of the first professors in the newly opened Conservatoire in Paris. Later he was violinist to the Czar of Russia. He travelled much, and while in Vienna Beethoven wrote for him his Romance, Op. 50. His last appearance in Paris was a failure. He died in 1830.
Pietro Rovelli came of a family of noted Italian musicians; he was a pupil of Rodolphe Kreutzer in Paris and also modelled his style on that of the great Viotti. As a solo artist he won many of the successes that were open to virtuosos in the early part of the nineteenth century in France, Germany, and Austria. His career extended from 1793 to 1838, and his playing was considered "simple, expressive, graceful, noble; on the whole, classical; the kind of playing that wins the heart of the listener." He composed much; but little has survived except his caprices.
Anton Rubinstein was one of the greatest pianists of the world; but even more than for fame as a pianist did he yearn for fame as a composer. He showed precocity as a pianist, and was recognized by Liszt, under whose advice he continued his studies. His tours brought him tremendous success in fame and money, and his compositions were greatly admired. In 1858, returning to Russia, he was appointed conductor, and in 1862 founded the Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg. He visited America in 1872 with great success. He composed many works in all styles, including a sort of Biblical opera that he devised himself. Many of his piano pieces, his fourth concerto, and the smaller works have been enduringly popular. He had a great gift of melody and of rhythmic charm; but by his Russian contemporaries he was refused a place in the Russian school of composers because of his cosmopolitanism.
Domenico Searlatti was one of the chief writers for the harpsichord-the predecessor of the piano-in the first half of the eighteenth century. His father was the great operatic composer, Alessandro Scarlatti, and he himself soon made a name as the fore-most Italian harpsichordist. In 1709 he competed with Handel on a visit to Rome, and was worsted by him. He occupied various posts in Rome, London, Lisbon, Naples, and Madrid, spending twenty-five years in the Spanish capital as music master in the royal family. He composed a great number of pieces for his instrument, short and brilliant, and was the first to study especially the characteristics of the harpsichord and adapt his compositions to them. He wrote in the free style, with graceful and brilliant ornamentation and passage work, in distinction to the older contrapuntal style; and much of his writing demands technique suggesting that of the modern piano.
Xaver Scharwenka, one of the most noted of modern pianists, was born in Posen in 1850, and after studying in Berlin, appeared there as a pianist in 1869. He was also a teacher there in Kullak's academy. After some years of virtuoso playing he founded an academy in Berlin of his own. In 1891 he came to New York, but returned to Berlin in 1898 and is now teaching there. His piano pieces are attractive and brilliant, frequently showing the characteristics of the Polish folk-song.
Julius Schneider lived the eighty years of his life, between 1805 and 1885, in Berlin, where he was born, and there attained high rank as an organist and composer, chiefly of organ music and sacred choral pieces, though he also produced two operas, a piano concerto, piano sonatas, and other chamber works. He was organist at the Friedrichwerder church, singing teacher at the Municipal Industrial School, Royal Music Director, teacher at the Royal Institute for Church Music, and Royal Inspector of Organs. Besides receiving these honors, he was conductor of several choral societies.
Franz Schubert, "the most poetic musician who ever lived," as Liszt called him, had. a life short and full of hardship and disappointment, yet also of good-fellowship. His gifts were astounding, and he began composing and playing as a mere child; throughout his life he poured forth music with a fecundity that only Mozart could equal. His life was mostly spent in Vienna, but without official position, and he eked out a precarious living with lessons and the sale of his compositions, for which he was miserably paid. He never gained great success with the public during his life, though some of his songs were popular. Among his works his songs and the two great symphonies take the highest rank; but the piano pieces are exquisite and characteristic examples of his poetic genius.
Robert Schumann stands as the most distinguished and characteristic representative of the romantic movement in music in the nineteenth century. He was the son of a bookseller, born in 1810 in Zwickau, and intended for the law, for which reason he attended Leipzig and Heidelberg universities, and his early technical training in music was not that of a professional, either in playing or composing. He finally, however, devoted himself to music; but injury to his hand prevented him from becoming a pianist, so that his attention was turned to composition. He also fought for the cause of good music by founding a musical journal and writing much for it. His first music was for the piano, in which he developed a style of his own, and a class of short poetic pieces, often descriptive in an ideal sense, and illustrative of some idea outside of music. Thus one of the most characteristic sets of such pieces is that called "Kreisleriana," intended to illustrate a personage in the stories of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Kapellmeister Kreisler, a quaint, mournful, and fantastic figure. There are eight pieces in the set, of widely divergent emotional and musical expressiveness; and some have said that in thus depicting the character of Hoffman's hero, Schumann was in reality giving a portrait of himself. Schumann married Clara Wieck, the distinguished pianist; in 1840, and was appointed professor in the Leipzig Conservatory; later he lived in Dresden and in Düsseldorf, where he conducted. 1n 1853 signs of insanity developed ; in 1854 an attempt to commit suicide compelled his confinement in an asylum, where he died in 1856.
Among the most gifted of the younger Scandinavian composers is Christian Sinding, a Norwegian, born in 1856. He studied first in Christiania, then in Leipzig under Reinecke, where he was befriended by Adolf Brodsky. Since his student years he has lived in Christiania and Copenhagen. His first great reputation was made by his symphony in D, produced in 1890. His chamber music is praised, his songs, original in conception and expression, are becoming increasingly popular, and his piano pieces are strikingly fresh and strong. Sinding makes less use of the characteristic Norse spirit in music than Grieg, as to melodic and rhythmic folk-song elements ; but it is in evidence, though he fearlessly follows the trend of his own individuality.
Ludwig Spohr was one of the most original and commanding influences in the nineteenth-century art of the violin and as well a composer of serious and artistic power. He was born in Brunswick, April 5, 1784. He began work early, and was assisted by the Duke of Brunswick. He made concert tours, and began to publish his compositions by the time he was eighteen. At twenty-five he was a conductor. He appeared in many European cities as player and conductor; but for short periods till 1822, when he became court conductor at Hesse Cassel, which post he kept till the end of his life, October 22, 1859. Here he produced operas of his own, symphonies, oratorios, solo and concerted pieces for violin, and chamber music. As a player his style was individual, broad, and pure. His music has always been very highly esteemed, and for many years his symphonies and orchestral pieces were constantly played. His violin concertos are greatly prized by violinists for their perfection of style.
Daniel Steibelt was one of the noted piano virtuosos of his time, which was from 1765, when he was born in Berlin, to 1823, the date of his death in St. Petersburg. He was a travelling virtuoso, and won much fame. He lived from 1790 to 1797 in Paris, then in London, and in the course of his subsequent travels had a contest in piano-playing with Beethoven, in which he was worsted. In 1810, after many wanderings, he settled in St. Petersburg as conductor of the French opera.
Johann Strauss's title, the "Waltz King," epitomizes the nature of his genius. He was first and foremost a composer of dance tunes, a dealer in dance rhythms; and even his most delightful operettas, of which he wrote many, are built upon dance rhythms. He was born in Vienna in 1825, the son of another "Waltz King," Johann Strauss, the elder, who brought the waltz into its great popularity. The younger Johann had to devote himself to music secretly, because of his father's opposition. He was at one time a conductor in St. Petersburg, but Vienna was his life, and in his music he expressed the light-hearted gayety and elegant grace of the city and its people. He wrote over four hundred pieces of dance music, many of which spread like wildfire through Europe and America, and many operettas, the best of which, as "Die Fledermaus," and "Der Zigeunerbaron," are classics of their kind. He died in Vienna in 1899.
One of the greatest of the founders of the art of the violin, in performance and composition, was Giuseppe Tartini, born in Pirano, Italy, April 8, 1692. He stood very near the beginnings of the artistic development of the violin, and carried it many important steps forward by his work. He was a roystering youth, and was compelled to pass two years in monastic retirement, from which he emerged an artist. Veracini, the great violinist, had a decisive influence on him and his example led him to perfect his own style. He was appointed solo violinist of the Basilica of San Antonio at Padua, and there spent the rest of his life, dying in 1770. He made a name not only as a daring and a powerful innovator in violin playing, but as a composer of classic breadth and depth. One of his most important services was the development of the modern bow, long, elastic, and responsive to the player's slightest pressure. He left an enormous number of compositions, one of the most famous being "The Devil's Trill," a sonata which he declared the devil played to him in a dream; a solo surpassing all he had ever heard. Awakening, he tried to reproduce what he had just heard. The result was this sonata; but Tartini declared it to be so inferior to what he had heard in his sleep that he would have broken his instrument and abandoned music if he could have lived in any other way.
Peter Iljitch Tchaikowsky was the greatest of the composers of Russia since the musical impulse was started in that country by Glinka seventy or eighty years before. He was also one of the most original, powerful, and fertile of modern composers. At first he studied law; but soon became a pupil of Rubinstein's at the newly established conservatory of St. Petersburg. Later he became an instructor there; but after 1877 devoted himself wholly to composition. His life was uneventful; one of its singular episodes was the bestowal upon him of an annual income by an admirer, a woman, on condition that he should never try to see her. This made him independent of drudgery. He travelled, and gained inspiration for some of his works in Italy; but they are mostly intensely Russian in feeling, and embody much of the wild, sad, tender, and boisterous spirit of the Russian folk-music. His greatest works are orchestral, but his operas are much played in Russia. His piano works are graceful and melodious.
Tschaikowsky's sixth "Pathetic Symphony" is inseparably connected with the sad story of the composer's last days. He wrote of it that "its programme is wholly subjective, and often during my wanderings, composing it in my mind, I have wept bitterly." He "put his whole soul into it." The symphony was produced under the composer's direction in St. Petersburg on October 28, 1893. It was coolly received. He named it the "Pathetic Symphony" the morning after this performance. On November 2d he was taken ill with a disease soon diagnosed as cholera, and on the next day he died. From his brother's account it is plain that his death was from natural causes, and any talk of suicide is unfounded. The premonition of death that some see in the symphony is not borne out by the story of the composer's last days. The lamentation, the abysmal sorrow of the fourth movement by some of his friends who knew his thoughts, is said to be not individual, but rather to have a national or a historical significance.
J. A. VAN EYKEN.
Among the Netherlanders who have kept alive the ancient fame of the Low Countries in music has been Jan Albert van Eyken, a noted organist and a composer in many branches of the art. He was born at Amersfoort, Holland, in 1822, and appeared in public as pianist and violinist at the age of thirteen. He studied at Leipzig and devoted himself to organ playing. He was organist at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Elberfeld, and a noted player, being in demand all over Germany. He died at Elberfeld in 1868. He composed much music in many forms, but his organ works, which are numerous, are best known.
Robert Volkmann, a Saxon by birth, spent more than forty years in Pesth, where he caught much of the Hungarian spirit in his music. He was born in 1815, and died in 1883. At Leipzig he received the encouragement of Schumann, and the influence of Schumann is to be seen in much of his work. After teaching music in Prague, he settled in Pesth, where he was for some years a teacher in the Academy. His most important works are symphonies and overtures.
C. M. VON WEBER.
Carl Maria von Weber is best known as the founder of the roman-tic German opera; but he was a musician of remarkable versatility and touched no department of the art without enriching it. He was born in Oldenburg in 1786, and died in London in 1826, where he had gone to produce his opera "Oberon." For years he lived with his father a wandering life in a travelling dramatic company. He learned various parts of his art from different masters, among them Michael Haydn. He was for a short time conductor of the opera in Breslau, and after various wanderings, producing his operas and playing as a concert pianist, he became conductor of the opera at Prague. There he made such a mark that in 1816 he was made conductor of the opera at Dresden. He made an overwhelming triumph with "Der Freischutz" in Berlin and elsewhere, in 1821. This with the later "Euryanthe" are his master works.
His four solo sonatas have had an important place in the repertory of the piano. There is something romantic, chivalrous, highly imaginative in them, and they are filled with that dramatic fire and brilliancy that are so significant an element in his greater operas. Added to this he had a remarkable gift of alluring melody; the sonatas were thus made into moving and highly colored dramatic pictures of an ideal character.
The name of Henri Vieuxtemps stands among the foremost of those who have contributed to the development of modern musical art. He was precocious. Born in Verviers, Belgium, in 1820, he was well trained, and played publicly at the age of six. De Beriot took him as a pupil, and soon he dazzled and delighted the Parisian public at the age of eight. For five years he studied, then started on a concert tour-a concert tour which lasted almost all his life, for he was incessantly travelling and playing. He soon became pre-eminent among his contemporaries. He came to this country three times, in 1844, 1857, and 1870. From 1846 to 1852 he was professor in the St. Petersburg Conservatory and soloist to the Czar; then recommenced his wanderings. In 1871 he was made professor at the Brussels Conservatory; but two years later he was stricken with paralysis and had to give up. He died in 1881. His compositions are numerous and brilliant, and are greatly prized by modern players on account of their consummate expertness in the idiom of the instrument.
G. B. VIOTTI.
The transition from the old classical Italian school of violin playing to the distinctively modern school is generally attributed to Giovanni Battista Viotti. He was born in Fontaneto, Italy, March 23, 1753. He showed precocity; he finally reached the care of Paganini, the great Italian violinist, who took him on a tour through Europe.
Everywhere Viotti aroused great enthusiasm. In Paris in 1782 he made a deep impression. There he stayed, till the Revolution drove him to London, and became a favorite there. When Haydn visited London in 1794 and 1795 Viotti was leader of the orchestra at his benefit concerts. He undertook operatic management in London, and then tried in 1818 to raise the Paris Opera from artistic decadence; but in vain. He returned to London and died there in 1824. Viotti's compositions are important landmarks in the history of modern development, and certain of his twenty-nine concertos are still played, especially the twenty-second. They show an advance (which he made hand in hand with Mozart) in broadening the dimensions of the form, developing it after the model of the sonata and elaborating the resources of the orchestra.
Tommaso Vitali lives in the minds of musicians to-day chiefly through his Chaconne with variations, which is considered a worthy precursor of Bach's great movement in the same form. Vitali was born at Bologna, Italy, about the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1706 he was elected a member of the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna and served for several years in Modena as conductor of the court orchestra. He composed several sonatas, and was the teacher of a number of excellent violinists.
Henri Wieniawski was one of the greatest of that remarkable group of violinists who made notable the middle and later years of the nineteenth century. Born in 1835, in Lublin, Poland, he was a "wonder child" and made a remarkable record as a pupil of Massart at the Paris Conservatoire. He made European tours in his boyhood with steadily increasing fame, and in 1872 he started with Anton Rubin-stein on a famous artistic tour of the United States. He was already recognized as one of the greatest virtuosos of the time, and his style was marked by a Slavic passion and impetuosity that carried all before it. Wieniawski occupied for a time the post of violin professor at the Conservatoire at Brussels, where he succeeded Vieux-temps. One of his pupils is Leopold Lichtenberg of New York, editor of his Caprices, who is one of the best performers and one of , the most authoritative teachers in the United States. Wieniawski composed many pieces, concertos, and other works that exemplify the brilliant style of writing for the violin. He died in Moscow in 1880.