The Origins of Eighteenth-Century Classic Style
( Originally Published 1915 )
EVERY MUSICIAN will at once perceive the profound differences which divide the so-called "classic" style of the close of the eighteenth century from the grand "pre-classic" style of J. S. Bach and Handel; the one with its ample rhetoric, its strict deductions, its scholarly polyphonic writing, its objective and comprehensive spirit; the other lucid, spontaneous, melodious, reflecting the changing moods of individual minds which throw themselves wholly into their work, presently arriving at the Rousseau-like confessions of Beethoven and the romantics. It seems as though a longer period must have elapsed between these two styles than the length of a man's life.
Now let us note the dates: J. S. Bach died in 1750, Handel in 1759. Karl Heinrich Graun also died in 1759. And in 1759. Haydn performed his first symphony. The date of Gluck's Orfeo is 1762; that of Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach's earliest sonatas, 1742. The ingenious protagonist of the new symphony, Johann Stamitz, died before Handel—in 1757. Thus the leaders of the two great artistic movements were living at the same time. The style of Keiser, Telemann, Hasse, and the Mannheim symphonists, which is the source of the great Viennese classics, is contemporary with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and Handel. More, even in their lifetime it enjoyed precedence over them. As early as 1737 (the year following Handel's Alexander's Feast, and preceding Saul and the whole series of the magnificent oratorios) Frederick II of Prussia,. then crown prince, wrote to the Prince of Orange:
"Handers best days are over; his mind is exhausted and his taste out of fashion."
And Frederick II contrasted with this art, which was now "out of fashion," that of "his composer," as he describes Graun.
In 1722-1723 when Johann Sebastian Bach applied for the post of Cantor of St. Thomas' in Leipzig to succeed Kuhnau, Telemann was greatly preferred, and it was only because the latter did not want the post that it was given to Bach. This same Telemann, in 1704 at the beginning of his career, when he was as yet hardly known, outstripped the glorious Kuhnau, so powerful already was the influence of the new fashion. Subsequently the movement only gained in strength. A poem by Zacharia which reflects with sufficient accuracy the opinion of the most cultivated circles in Germany, The Temple of Eternity, written in 1754, places Handel, Hasse, and Graun on the same level, celebrates Telemann in terms which one might employ today in speaking of J. S. Bach, but when it comes to Bach and "his melodious sons," it finds nothing to glorify in them but their skill as performers, as kings of the organ and the clavier. This judgment is also that of the historian Burney (1772). And assuredly it is calculated to surprise us. But we must be on our guard against facile indignation. There is little merit in out-pouring, from the height of the two centuries which divide us from them, a crushing disdain upon the contemporaries of Bach and Handel who judged them so incorrectly. It is more instructive to seek to understand them.
And in the first place let us note the attitude of Bach and Handel in respect to their age. Neither one nor the other affected the fatal pose of the misunderstood genius as so many of our great or little great men of today have done. They did not wax indignant; they were even on excellent terms with their luckier rivals. Bach and Hasse were very good friends, full of mutual esteem. Telemann in his childhood had formed a warm friendship with Handel; he was also on the best of terms with
Bach, who chose him as godfather to his son, Philipp Emanuel. Bach entrusted the musical training of another of his sons, his favorite, Wilhelm Friedemann, to Johann Gottlieb Graun. Here was no trace of party spirit. On each side there were gifted men who esteemed and liked one another.
Let us try to bring to our consideration of them the same generous spirit of equity and sympathy. Bach and Handel will lose nothing of their colossal stature thereby. But we may well be surprised to find them surrounded by an abundance of fine works and of artists full of intelligence and genius; and it should not be impossible to understand the reasons which their con-temporaries had for their preferences. Without speaking of the individual value of these artists, which is often very great, it is their spirit which leads the way to the classic masterpieces of the close of the eighteenth century. Bach and Handel are two mountains which dominate but close a period. Telemann, Hasse, jommelli, and the Mannheim symphonists are the rivers which have made for themselves a way toward the future. As these rivers have poured themselves into greater rivers—Mozart and Beethoven—which have absorbed them, we have for-gotten them while still beholding the lofty summits in the distance. But we must be grateful to the innovators. They were full of vitality once and they have handed it down to us.
The reader will remember the famous quarrel between the ancients and the modems inaugurated in France toward the close of the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault and Fontenelle, who opposed to the imitation of antiquity the Cartesian ideal of progress, revived twenty years later by Houdar de la Motte in the name of reason and of modern taste.
This quarrel extended beyond the personality of those who began it. It corresponded with a universal movement of European thought, and we find similar symptoms in all the greater western countries and in all the arts. They are strikingly apparent in German music. The generation of Keiser, Telemann, and Mattheson felt from childhood an instinctive aversion to those who represented antiquity in music, for the contrapuntists and canonists. At the source of the movement is Keiser, whose artistic influence over Hasse, Graun, and Mattheson (as well as Handel, for that matter) was profound and decisive. But the first to express these feelings definitely, emphatically, and repeatedly was Telemann.
As early as 1704, confronting the old musicologist Printz, Telemann assumed the attitude of Democritus opposing Heraclitus:
"He bitterly lamented the extravagances of the melodists of today. As for me, I laughed at the unmelodious works of the old writers."
In 1718 he quoted this French couplet in support of his attitude:
"Ne les eleve pas (les anciens) dans un ouvrage saint, Au rang ou dans ce temps les auteurs ont atteint."
This is a frank declaration for the moderns against the ancients. And what do the moderns mean to him? The moderns are the melodists.
"Singen is das Fundament zur Music in allen Dingen, Wer die Composition ergreifft, muss in seinen Satzen singen."
(Song is the foundation of music in all things. Who composes must sing in all that he writes.)
Telemann adds that a young artist must turn to the school of the Italian and young German melodists, not to that "of the old writers, who write counterpoint till all is blue but are devoid of invention and write for fifteen and twenty voices obbligati, in which Diogenes himself with his lantern would not find a drop of melody."
The greatest musical theorist of the age, Mattheson, was of the same opinion. In his Critica Musica (1772) he boasted "of having been, vanity apart, the first to insist emphatically and expressly upon the importance of melody." . . . Before him, he says, there was no musical composer "who did not leap over this first, most excellent and most beautiful element of music as a cock leaps over burning coals."
If he was not the first, as he professed, he at least made most noise about the matter. In 1713 he entered upon a violent battle in honor of melody as against the Kontrapuntisten, who were represented by an organist of Wolfenbüttel, Bokemeyer, as learned and pugnacious as himself. Mattheson saw nothing in canon and counterpoint but an intellectual exercise with-out power to touch the heart. To move his adversary to repentance he chose as arbitrators Keiser, Heinichen, and Telemann, who pronounced in his favor. Bokemeyer declared him-self defeated and thanked Mattheson for having converted him to melody, "as the sole and true source of pure music."
"Wer auf Instrurnenten spielt muss des Singens kundig sein." (Who plays on instruments must be versed in song.) And Mattheson:
"Whatever music one is writing, vocal or instrumental, all should be cantabile."
This predominant importance given to cantabile melody, to song, overthrew the barrier between the different classes of music by upholding as the model for all the class in which vocal melody and the art of singing had blossomed into perfection: the Italian opera. The oratorios of Telemann, Hasse, and Graun and the masses of the period are in the style of opera. In his Musikalische Patriot (1728), Mattheson breaks a lance against the contrapuntal style of church music; here as elsewhere he wishes to establish "the theatrical style" because this style, ac-cording to him, enables the composer to attain better than any other the aim of religious music, which is "to excite virtuous emotions." All is, or should be, he says, theatrical, in the widest sense of the word theatralisch, which denotes the artistic imitation of nature. "All that produces an effect upon men is theatrical. . . Music is theatrical.... The whole world is a gigantic theater." This theatrical style will permeate the whole art of music, even in those of its departments that seem most remote from it, the lied and instrumental music.
But this change of style would not have marked a living progress if the opera itself, which was the common model, had not been transformed at the same period by the introduction of a new element which was to develop with unexpected rapidity: the symphonic element. What is lost as regards vocal polyphony is regained in instrumental symphony. The great conquest of Telemann, Hasse, Graun, and Jommelli in opera was the recitativo accompagnato, the recitative scene with dramatic orchestration. It was in this respect that they were revolutionists in the musical world. Once the orchestra was introduced into the drama, it gained and kept the upper hand. In vain did people lament that the fine art of singing would be ruined. Those who supported it as against the old contrapuntal art did not fear to sacrifice it at need to the orchestra. Jommelli, so respectful of Metastasio in all other matters, opposed him with regard to this one point with immovable resolution. One must read the complaints of the old musicians: "One no longer hears the voice; the orchestra is deafening."
As early as 1740 at the performances of opera the audience could no longer understand the words of the singers unless it followed them in the libretto; the accompaniment smothered the voices. And the dramatic orchestra continued to develop throughout the century. "The immoderate use of the instrumental accompaniment," says Gerber, "has become a general fashion." The orchestra swamped the theater to such an extent that at a very early period it freed itself from the stage and claimed in itself to be theater and drama. As early as 1738, Scheibe, who with Mattheson was the most intelligent of the German musicologists, was writing symphony-overtures, which expressed "the content of the pieces," after the fashion of Beethoven's overtures for Coriolanus and Fidelio. I shall not speak of the descriptions in music which abounded in Germany about 1720, as we see from Mattheson's bantering remarks in his Critica Musica. The movement came from Italy, where Vivaldi and Locatelli, under the influence of the opera, were writing program concertos which were spreading all over Europe.
Then the influence of French music, "the subtle imitator of nature," became preponderant over the development of Tonmalerei in German music. But what I wish to point out is that even the opponents of program music, those who like Mattheson scoffed at the extravagance of the descriptions of battles and tempests, of musical calendars, of the puerile symbolism which represented in counterpoint the first chapter of St. Mat-thew or the genealogical tree of the Savior or which, to represent Christ's Twelve Apostles, wrote as many parts—even these attributed to instrumental music the power of representing the life of the soul.
"One can very well represent merely with instruments," says Mattheson, "greatness of soul, love, jealousy, etc. One can represent all the passions of the heart by simple harmonies and their concatenation, without words, so that the hearer grasps and understands the development, the meaning, and the ideas of the musical utterance as though it were an actual spoken utterance."
A little later, about 1767, in a letter to Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the poet Gerstenberg of Copenhagen expressed with perfect lucidity the idea that true instrumental music, and especially clavier music, ought to give articulation to precise feelings and subjects; and he hoped that Philipp Emanuel, whom he described as "a musical Raphael," would realize this art.
Musicians, then, had become plainly aware of the expression and descriptive power of pure music; and we may say that certain German composers of this period were intoxicated by the idea. Of these was Telemann, for example, for whom Tonmalerei takes the foremost place.
But what we must painly realize is that it was not merely a literary movement that was in question, seeking to introduce extra-musical elements into music, making it a sort of painting or poetry. A profound revelation was occurring in the heart of music. The individual soul was becoming emancipated from the impersonality of form. The subjective element, the artist's personality, was invading the art with an audacity that was absolutely unprecedented. It is true that we recognize the personality of J. S. Bach and Handel in their powerful works. But we know how rigorously these works are unfolded in accordance with the strictest laws, which not only are not the laws of emotion but which evidently evade or contradict them by intention; for whether in the case of a fugue or an aria da capo, they inevitably bring back the motives at moments and in places determined upon beforehand, whereas emotion requires the composer to continue upon his path and not to retrace his steps. And they are laws which, on the other hand, dread fluctuations of feeling, consenting to them only on condition that they present. themselves under symmetrical aspects, contrasts of a somewhat stiff and mechanical nature between the piano and the forte, the tutti and concertino in the form of "echoes," as they were called in those days. It seemed inartistic to express one's individual feeling in an immediate fashion; one had perforce to interpose between oneself and the public a veil of beautiful and impersonal forms. Doubtless the works of this period gained thereby their superb appearance of lofty serenity which hides the little joys and little sorrows. But how much humanity they lose thereby! This humanity gives musical utterance to its cry of emancipation with the artists of the new period. Obviously we cannot expect that it will at the first step attain the palpitating freedom of a Beethoven. Yet the roots of Beethoven's art exist already in the Mannheim symphonies, in the work of that astonishing Johann Stamitz, whose orchestral trios written in 1750 mark a new period. Through him instrumental music became the supple garment of the living soul, always in movement, perpetually changing, with its unexpected fluctuations and contrasts.
I do not wish to exaggerate. One can never express in art an emotion in all its purity, but only a more or less approximate image of it; and the progress of a language such as music, can only approach the emotion more and more closely without ever attaining it. I shall not pretend, therefore (for that would be absurd), that the new symphonists broke the old framework and liberated thought from the slavery of form; on the contrary, they established new forms; and it was at this period that the classic types of the sonata and the symphony, as defined today in the schools of music, definitely imposed them-selves. But although to us these types may have become superannuated, although our modern emotions are inconvenienced and to some extent hampered by them, although they have at last assumed an appearance of scholastic conventionality, we must reflect how free and vital they appeared then by comparison with the accustomed forms and style. Moreover, we may affirm that to the inventors of these new forms or to those who first made use of them, they seemed much freer than to those who followed. They had not yet become general; they were still personal to their creators, fashioned according to the laws of their own thought, modeled on the very rhythm of their breathing. I have no hesitation in saying that the symphony of Stamitz, though less rich, less beautiful, less exuberant, is much more spontaneous than that of a Haydn or a Mozart. It is made to its own measure; it creates its forms; it does not submit to them.
What impulsive creatures are these first symphonists of Mannheim! To the indignation of the old musicians, and above all the pontiffs of northern Germany, they dare to shatter the esthetic unity of their work, to mix one style with another, and to put into their compositions, as a critic observes, "halting, unmelodious, base, burlesque, and dismembered elements, and all the feverish paroxysms of the continual alternation of the piano and the forte." They profit by all the recent conquests, by the progress of the orchestra, by the audacious harmonic researches of a Telemann, replying to the scandalized old masters who tell him that one must not go too far, that one must go "down to the very depths if one wishes to deserve the name of master." They profit also by the new styles of music, by the Singspiel which has just taken shape. They boldly introduce the comic style into the symphony side by side with the serious style, at the risk of scandalizing Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who sees in the eruption of the comic style (Styl so beliebte komische) an element of decadence in music--a decadence which was to lead to Mozart. In short, their law is that of life and nature—the same law which is about to permeate the whole art of music, resuscitating the lied, giving birth to the Singspiel, and leading to those experiments in the utmost freedom in theatrical music which are known as Melodrama: free music united to free speech.
For this great breath of liberation of the individual soul we should be grateful; it stirred the thought of all Europe about the middle of the eighteenth century before expressing itself in action by the French Revolution and in art by romanticism. If the German music of that time is still far removed from the romantic spirit ( although we already find in it certain precursory signs) it is because it was secured from the excesses of artistic individualism by two profound emotions: the consciousness of the social obligations of art and a passionate patriotism.
We know how Germanic sentiment decayed in German music at the close of the seventeenth century. The most disdainful idea was entertained of it abroad. We may remember that in 1709 Lecerf de la Viéville, speaking of the Germans, re-marked that "their reputation in music is not great," and that the Abbe de Châteauneuf admired a German performer all the more because he came from "a country that is not addicted to producing men of fire and genius." The Germans subscribed to this judgment; and while their princes and wealthy burgesses passed their time in traveling through Italy and France and aping the manners of Paris or Venice, Germany was full of French and Italian musicians who laid down the law, imposed their style, and were "all the rage."
In the first twenty years of the eighteenth century an intellectual change was already making itself felt. The musical generation which surrounded Handel at Hamburg-Keiser, Telemann, Mattheson—did not go to Italy; it prided itself in not doing so and was beginning to realize its own strength. Handel himself at first refused to make the Italian pilgrimage; at the period when he was writing his Almira at Hamburg he affected a great contempt for Italian music. The failure of the Hamburg opera compelled him, however, to make the classic journey; and once he was in Italy he surrendered to the charm of the Latin Circe, like all those who have once known her. Still, he took from her the best part of her genius without impairing his own; and his victory in Italy, the triumph of his Agrippina at Venice in 1708, was of considerable effect in re-storing Germany's pride; for the echo of this success was immediately heard in his own country. These remarks apply even more forcibly to the success of his Rinaldo in London, in 1711. Think of it: here was a North German who, as all Europe agreed, had beaten the Italians on their own ground! The Italians themselves admitted it. The Italian scores which he wrote in London were at once performed in Italy. The poet, Barthold Feind, in 1715 told his compatriots at Hamburg that the Italians called Handel "l'Orfeo del nostro secolo" (the Orpheus of our age). "A rare honor," he adds, "for no German is spoken of thus by an Italian or a Frenchman, these gentry being accustomed to scoffing at us "
With what rapidity and vehemence did the national sentiment revive in German music during the following years! In 1728 Mattheson's Musikalische Patriot exclaimed: "Fuori Barbaril (Out, barbarians!) Let the calling be forbidden to the aliens who encompass us from east to west, and let them be sent back across their savage Alps to purify themselves in the furnace of Etna!"
In 1729 Martin Heinrich Fuhrmann published some frantic pamphlets attacking the Italian Opern-Quark.
Above all, Johann Adolf Scheibe was indefatigable in restoring the national pride from 1737-1740 with his Critischer Musicus, while in 1745 he states that Bach, Handel, Telemann, Hasse, and Graun, "to the glory of our country, are putting all the foreign composers, whoever they are, to shame." . . . "We are no longer imitators of the Italians; we may with much better reason boast that the Italians have at last become the imitators of the Germans. . . . Yes, we have at last discovered that good taste in music of which Italy has never as yet offered us the perfect model. . . . Good taste in music (the taste of a Hasse or a Graun) is the peculiar characteristic of the German intellect; no other nation can pride itself on this superiority. Moreover, the Germans have for a long time been the chief masters of instrumental music, and they have retained this supremacy.
Mizler and Marpurg express themselves to the same effect. And the Italians accept these verdicts. Antonio Lotti writes to Mizler in 1738:
"Miei compatrioti sono genii e non compositori, ma la very composizione si trova in Germanio." (My countrymen are talented, but not composers; the true art of composition is found in Germany.)
We see the change of front that has come about in music. First we have the period of the great Italians who triumphed in Germany; then that of the great Italianate Germans, Handel and Hasse. And then the time of the Germanized Italians, of whom Jommelli was one.
Even in France, where people were much more stay-at-home, not caring greatly what was happening in Germany, it was realized that a revolution was taking place. As early as 1734, Séré de Rieux recorded Handel's victory over Germany.
"Flavius, Tamerlan, Othon, Renaud, Cesar, Admete, Siroe, Rodelinde et Richard, Eternal monuments dresses a sa memoire, Des Opera Romains surpassèrent la gloire, Venise lui peut-elle opposer un rival?"
Grimm, who was a snob and would have taken good care not to advertise a kinship that would have injured him in the eyes of the public, congratulates himself in a letter to the Abbé Raynal in 1752 on being the compatriot of Hasse and Handel. Telemann was feted in Paris in 1737; Hasse was no less warmly welcomed in 1750, and the Dauphin requested him to write the Te Deum for the accouchement of the Dauphiness. Johann Stamitz obtained a triumphant reception for his first symphonies in Paris about 1754-1755. And soon after this the French newspapers made a crushing reference to Rameau, contrasting him with the German symphonists; or to be exact, they said: "We shall not commit the injustice of comparing Rameau's overtures with the symphonies which Germany has given us during the past twelve or fifteen years."
German music, then, had regained its position at the summit of European art; and the Germans realized it. In this national feeling all other differences were effaced; all German artists, to whatever group they belonged, set aside their causes of dispute; Germany united them without distinction of schools.
It was not only the pride of the musicians that was exalted but also their patriotism. Patriotic operas were written. Even in the courts where Italianate music prevailed, as in that of Frederick II at Berlin, we see Karl Heinrich Graun singing Frederick's battles—Hochkirchen, Rossbach, Zorndorf--either in sonatas or dramatic scenes. Gluck wrote his Vaterlandslied (1700) and his Hermannschlacht to words by Klopstock. Presently the young Mozart, in his palpitating letters written from Paris in 1778, is moved to fury against the French and Italians:
"My hands and feet are trembling with the ardent desire to teach the French to acknowledge, esteem, and fear the Germans more and ever more."
This exacerbated patriotism, which displeases us in great artists like Mozart because it makes them grossly unjust to the genius of other races, had at least the result of compelling them to emerge from their atmosphere of arrogant individualism or debilitated dilettantism. To German art, which breathed a rarefied atmosphere and would have perished of asphyxia had it not inhaled for two hundred years the oxygen of religious faith. This new influence brought a rush of fresh air. These new musicians did not write for themselves alone; they wrote for all their fellow-countrymen; they wrote for all men.
And here German patriotism found itself in harmony with the theories of the "philosophers" of those days: art was no longer to be the appanage of a select few; it was the property of all. Such was the credo of the new period, and we find it repeated in every key:
"He who can benefit many," says Telemann, "does better than he who writes only for a small number."
"...Wer vielen nutzen kan, Thut besser als wer nur fur wenige was schreibet. . . ."
Now to be beneficial, Telemann continues, one must be readily understood by all. Consequently the first law is to be simple, easy, lucid:
"I have always thought highly of facility," he says. "Music should not be a labor, an occult science, a sort of black magic.
Mattheson, writing his Volkommene Kapellmeister (1739), which is the code of the new style, the musical manual of the new school, requires the composer to put great art on one side, or at least that he should conceal it; the problem is to write. difficult music in an easy manner. He even says that the musician, if he wishes to write a good melody, should endeavor to ensure that the theme shall have "an indefinite quality with which everybody is already familiar." (Of course, he is not speaking of expressions already employed which seem so natural that everybody thinks he is familiar with them.) As models of this melodic Leichtigkeit he recommends the study of the French.
The same ideas are expressed by the men at the head of the Berlin school of the lied, whose Boileau was the poet Ramler.
In his preface to his Oden mit Melodien (1753-1755) Ramler recommends the example of France to his fellow-countrymen. In France, he says, everyone sings, in all classes of society:
"We Germans study music everywhere, but our melodies are not like these songs that pass without difficulty from mouth to mouth. . . . One should write for all. We live in society. Let us make songs that are neither so poetical that the fair singers cannot understand them nor so commonplace and empty that intelligent folk cannot read them."
The principles which he then sets forth are exorbitant. They led, none the less, to a crop of songs in the popular style, im Volkston; and the absolute master of this style, the Mozart of the popular lied, Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, tells us in the preface to one of his charming collections of songs im Volkston (1784):
"I have endeavored to be as simple and intelligible as possible. Yes, I have even sought to give all my inventions the appearance of things already known—on the condition, of course, that this appearance must not be a reality."
These are precisely Mattheson's ideas. Side by side with these melodies in the popular style there was an incredible outgrowth of "social" music—Lieder geselliger Freude, Deutsche Gesange for all ages, for the two sexes, "for German men," for children, for the fair sex (fur's schöne Geschlecht), etc. Music had be-come eminently sociable.
Moreover, the leaders of the new school did wonders in the matter of diffusing the knowledge and love of it on every hand. Consider the great periodical concerts which were then established. About 1715 Telemann began to give public performances at the Collegium Musicum which he had founded in Hamburg. It was more particularly after 1722 that he organized regular public concerts at Hamburg. These were held twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at four o'clock. The price of admission was one florin eight groschen. At these concerts Telemann conducted all sorts of compositions: instrumental music, cantatas, and oratorios. These concerts, attended by the most distinguished persons of the city, closely followed by the critics, directed with care and punctuality, became so flourishing that in 1761 a fine hall was erected, comfortable and well warmed, where music found a home of its own. This was more than Paris had had the generosity to offer her musicians until quite recently. Johann Adam Hiller, who taught Mefe, who in turn taught Beethoven—Hiller, one of the champions of the popular style in the lied and the theater, in which he founded the German comic opera, contributed greatly, as did Telemann, to diffuse a knowledge of music throughout the nation by conducting from 1763 onward the Liebhaberkonzerte (Concerts for Music Lovers) at Leipzig, where the famous Gewandhauskonzerte were given at a later date.
Here, then, we have a great musical movement which is quite unexpected: this national movement includes a number of foreign elements. The new style which took shape in Germany in the course of the eighteenth century and subsequently blossomed forth into the Viennese classics is in reality far less purely German than the style of J. S. Bach. Yet Bach's style was less purely German than is commonly admitted, for Bach had assimilated something of French and Italian art; but in him the basis had remained echt deutsche—genuinely German. It was otherwise with the new musicians. The musical revolution which was fully accomplished from about 1750 onward and which ended in the supremacy of German music was—however strange it seems—the product of foreign movements. The more perspicacious historians of music, such as Hugo Riemann, have clearly perceived this but have not dwelt upon it. Yet it should be emphasized. It is no insignificant fact that the leaders of the new instrumental music of Germany, the first symphonists of Mannheim, Johann Stamitz, Filtz, and Zarth, should be natives of Bohemia, as were the reformer of German opera, Gluck, and the creator of the melodrama and the tragic German Singspiel, George Benda. The impetuosity, the spontaneous impulse, and the naturalness of the new symphony were a contribution of the Czechs and Italians to German music. Nor was it a matter of indifference that this new music should have found its focus and its center in Paris, where the first editions of the Mannheim symphonies appeared. There Stamitz went to conduct his works and found in Gossec an immediate disciple. There, too, other of the Mannheim masters had established themselves: Richter at Strasbourg and Bach at Bordeaux. The critics of northern Germany who were hostile to the movement were completely conscious of the importance of these facts. They qualified these symphonies as "symphonies in the recent outlandish manner" and their authors as "musicians in the Parisian fashion."
These affinities with the peoples of the West and South are manifested not only in the symphony. Jommelli's operas at Stuttgart (and at a later date Gluck's) were transformed and revivified by the influence of the French opera which his master, Duke Karl Eugen, imposed upon him as a model. The Singspiel, the German comic opera, had its cradle in Paris, where Weiss saw and heard Favart's little works, and was by him transplanted into Germany. The new German lied was in-spired by French examples, as was expressly stated by Ramler and Schulz, the latter of whom continued to write lieder with French words. Telemann's training was more French than German. He had made the acquaintance of French music firstly in Hanover about 1698 or 1699 when he was at the Hildesheim gymnasium; secondly in 1705 at Soran when he fed, he tells us, "on the works of Tully, Campra, and other good masters" and "devoted himself almost entirely to their style, so that in two years he wrote as many as two hundred French overtures"; and thirdly at Eisenach, the home of Johann Sebastian Bach, which (let us remember) was about 1708-1709 a center of French music, Pantaleon Hebenstreit having "arranged the chapel of the Duke in the French manner," and having succeeded so well that, if we are to believe Telemann, "it surpassed the famous orchestra of the Paris Opera." A journey to Paris in 1737 finally turned the German Telemann into a French musician; and while his works remained in the repertoire of the oratorio singers of Paris, he himself, at Hamburg, was carrying on an enthusiastic propaganda in favor of French music. We see a characteristic peculiarity of the period in the tranquility with which the pioneer of the new style declares in his autobiography (1729):
"As for my styles in music (he does not say my style), these are well known. First there was the Polish style, then the French style, and above all the Italian style, in which I have written most profusely."
I cannot in these hasty notes lay especial stress upon certain influences, more particularly on that of Polish music, which has been taken too little into account though its style furnished many inspirations to the German masters of that period. But what I wish to make clear just now is that the leaders of the new German school, though imbued with a very profound sense of nationality, were steeped in foreign influences which had crossed all parts of the German frontier—Czech, Polish, French, and Italian. This was not an accident; it was a necessity. German music, despite its power, had always had a sluggish circulation. The music of other countries—ours, for example—has chiefly need of nourishment, of fuel to feed the machine. It was not fuel that was lacking in German music but air. It certainly was not poor in the eighteenth century; it was rather too rich, embarrassed by its wealth; the chimney was choked, and the fire might well have died out but for the great current of air which Telemann, Hasse, Stamitz and their like let in through the door—or all the doors opened upon France, Poland, Italy, and Bohemia. South Germany and the Rhineland, Mannheim, Stuttgart, and Vienna were the centers in which the new art was elaborated; we see this plainly enough from the jealousy of North Germany, which was for a long time hostile to the new movement. It is not with the paltry idea of belittling the greatness of the classic German art of the close of the eighteenth century that I am pointing out what it owes to foreign influences and elements. It was necessary that this should be so, in order that this art should quickly become universal, as it did. A narrow and self-regarding sense of nationalism has never brought an art to supremacy. Quite the contrary, it would very soon result in its dying of consumption. If an art is to be strong and vital, it must not timorously take refuge in a sect; ,it must not seek shelter in a hothouse, like those wretched trees which are grown in tubs; it must grow in a free soil and extend its roots unhindered wherever they can drink in life. The soul must absorb all the substance of the world. It will nevertheless retain its racial characteristics; but its race will not waste away and become exhausted as it would if it fed only upon itself; a new life is transfused into it, and by the addition of the alien elements which it has assimilated it will give this new life a power of universal irradiation. Urbis, orbis. The other races recognize themselves in it, and not only do they bow to its victory, they love it and enter into fellowship with it. This victory becomes the greatest victory to which an art or a nation can lay claim: a victory of humanity.
Of such victories, which are always rare, one of the noblest examples is, in music, the classic German art of the close of the eighteenth century. This art has become the property, the food of all; of all Europeans, because all races have collaborated in it, all have put something of themselves into it. The reason Gluck and Mozart are so dear to us is that they belong to us, to all of us. Germany, France, and Italy have all contributed to create their spirit and their race.