Popular Music History:
Music In England
The Musical World Of The Present - 1905
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The Musical World Of The Present - 1905
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The purely English movement in music, which had already reached a notable progress when the earlier pages of this work were penned, has continued and grown in depth and strength. The foregoing list of composers omits at least two who might well have been included. At the head is the name of Sir. C. Hubert H. Parry (1848- ) principal of the Royal College of Music and professor of music at Oxford University. Dr. Parry, besides gaining early influence in music by his writings in Grove's Dictionary of Music and elsewhere, has produced a succession of imposing works in oratorio and symphony style, mostly for the English festivals. His more notable ones are the following: " Judith" (Birmingham, 1888) ; "job" (Gloucester, 1892); "King Saul" (Birm. 1894) also four symphonies, various overtures and occasional pieces in large forms, music for pianoforte, chamber instruments, songs, etc. Professor Parry has the degree of doctor of music from Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburg; he was knighted in 1898. He is a charming and highly efficient personality, and his influence as an educator is of great value.
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-) is also a member of the faculty of the Royal College of Music, and distinguished as a conductor and composer. He has four operas to his credit, all leaning strongly toward the Irish school of melody and folk song, Ireland being the native country of the composer. " The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan"; "Savonarola" ( Hamburg, in German, 1884) ; " The Canterbury Pilgrims" (Covent Garden, 1884) and "Shamus O'Brien" (London, 1896-very successful); also oratorios, " The Resurrection" (1875); " The Three Holy Children" (Birmingham, 1885) ; " The Revenge" (Leeds, 1886) ; " The Bard" (Cardiff, 1895).
Quite recently two English names have attracted very general attention throughout the musical world. First of these is that of Sir. Edward Elgar (1857- ) a self-made musician, who has gained very wide celebrity as a master of original force and a genius for orchestral coloring, by his two large oratorios, "The Dream of Gerontius" (1900); "The Apostle" (1904); and by several strongly marked works for full orchestra, of which the chief are, "Variations upon an Original Theme," overtures, "Froissart," "Cockaigne," and a symphony. In point of freshness of musical fantasy and clever constructive technic, Elgar is generally held to be the most successful composer England has as yet produced.
Mr. Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875- ) is the son of an African physician, who studied in London, and is not-able as the first composer of negro blood whose works have gained general currency. He has written for orchestra as well as for pianoforte and chamber instruments; but the work which brought him into prominence was his settings of "Scenes from Hiawatha" by Longfellow. These show fresh melodic ideas and clever and interesting qualities. It is too soon to estimate whether his success is the beginning of a world-career as composer, or merely a limited career as the first composer of his race.
The Russian school, so prodigiously stimulated by Glinka, Rubinstein and Tschaikovsky, has been greatly indebted to two virtuosi who at this writing (1905 ), are still active in it. Mili Balakirev (1836- ) made his debut as virtuoso pianist as early as 1862, but within a few years his work became more that of an orchestral and operatic conductor, in which province he attained eminence. In 1872 he retired to private life. He has written in various styles, but perhaps his best known work is his oriental fantasia for piano, "Islamey," a sort of "howling Dervish" rhapsody upon a curious oriental melody. The piece is a curiosity as well as enormously difficult of performance. Many of his other works for piano are sane and enjoyable. His main service to the art of his country has been as conductor, and through his personal intercourse with young musicians.
Nikolas Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was educated for the navy and attained rank and position, but his fondness for music gradually absorbed his attention more and more, and his talents were such that he was appointed teacher of composition in the Petersburg conservatory as early as 1871. In this position he has been of very great influence upon many younger composers whose names are now beginning to be celebrated. Rimsky-Korsakov, himself, is a follower of the Berlioz-Liszt tendencies in orchestral music, and these qualities are well illustrated in his oriental symphony, "Antar," and the legend "Sadko," both of which are now played the world over. Three of his operas have been played at the National Opera in Petersburg: "Pskowitjanka," "Die Mainacht" (1880), and "Snegorutschka" (1882). His works are characterized by extremely original and picturesque instrumentation, themes of unusual cut leading to developments still less expected. His technic is universally commended, but it is not so generally agreed whether like Tschaikovsky, he will eventually stand as a composer of world-currency. He is at least a highly influential and interesting figure.
Alexander Glazounov (gla-tsoo'-nov) (1865- ), was induced to give himself up to music through the influence of Balikerev and Rimsky-Korsakov, and with such success that his first symphony was produced in 1881, and again in 1884 in Weimar, under the auspices cf Liszt. Since then Glazounov has written voluminously. Of his seventy or eighty opus members more than half are for full orchestra. There are five symphonies, a variety of dance forms, ballets and the like, a few overtures, a piano sonata, many songs, etc. He is distinguished for a spontaneous vein of melody, good structural technic and freshness of ideas, but, like Schubert, whom in some points he resembles, he seems to lack the faculty of self-criticism. His pieces in serious moods are too long for the mood and the inherent weight of the ideas. At least this is the impression thus far.
Among other influential names. in this school is to be mentioned that of Eduard Napravnik (1839- ), a Bohemian musician educated at Prague, but now for many years prominent as conductor and composer in Russia. Napravnik has composed several operas upon Russian subjects, which have had at least an encouraging success, symphonies, overtures, and much salon music.
The role of pianoforte virtuosi so brilliantly inaugurated by Anton Rubinstein, his brother Nicolas, and Balakirev, has lately been advanced by the names of Alexander Siloti, Arthur Friedheim, Vladimir de Pachmann and Leopold Godowsky.
The oldest of these artists, Vladimir de Pachmann (1848- ) was the son of a professor in the University of Vienna, but born in Odessa, and made his debut in Paris in 1869, since which he has been prominently before the public as an exponent of the pianistic qualities of the music of Chopin. Next in succession comes Arthur Friedheim, born at Petersburg in 1859, pupil of Rubinstein for one year and of Liszt for eight years, and by him highly esteemed as a gifted artist. He is also a superior conductor. For many years he resided in the United States.
Alexander Siloti (1863- ) made his debut in 1880 and enjoys a wide celebrity as an interesting and artistic pianist and a charming personality. He was taught by Nicolas Rubinstein and Tschaikovsky at the Moscow conservatory, in which he was afterwards teacher. He spent three years with Liszt at Weimar. His concert tours in Europe have been of distinguished success. In 1900 he made an American tour.
The youngest of the newer virtuosi, Leopold Godowsky (1870-), was born in the old Lithuanian city of Wilna,. Russia, of jewish parents. After a career as wonder child he studied in Berlin then later in Paris, and resided for ten years in America, where also he married. Godowsky is held to. have advanced the standard of pianoforte virtuosity in a marked degree, by developing in the left hand all the powers formerly reserved for the right hand, and giving that also still newer and more subtle things to do. His art is of the most finished description, and is well illustrated in his fifty studies founded upon those of Chopin. Many of these works are of exquisite beauty, and terribly difficult.
In Germany there are, besides Godowsky, three other very great pianists, and also a number of what might be classed as virtuoso orchestral conductors, who have found ways of imparting to orchestral playing much of the concentration and authoritative interpretation formerly realized by pianists, singers and violinists only.
Moriz. Rosenthal (1862- ) born in Lemberg, of Jewish parents, has gained a world-wide fame as a brilliant and commanding player. Eugene d'Albert (1864-) born at Glasgow, son of a famous composer of dance music and conductor, was thoroughly educated as a musican in England and Germany, belonging later to the coterie which surrounded Liszt. He is author of the text as well as the music of several operas: "Der Rubin" ? (1893) founded upon Hebbel's fairy comedy; "Ghismonda" (Dresden, 1895, moderate success) ; and musical comedy, "Die Abreise" (1898). Also of two pianoforte concertos and a variety of orchestral and chamber music, as well as works for piano.
In the general estimation, Ferruocio Busoni (1866-) is held to share with Godowsky the honor of having advanced the art of piano playing beyond where he found it. He was born of musical parents, near Florence, (thus the first Italian piano virtuoso since Muzio Clementi) but has lived all his later life in Germany.
As a player he has devoted his main efforts to the works of Bach and Liszt. Of the former he has made some extraordinary transcriptions and paraphrases, which he plays with astonishing breadth, power and poetry. He is also a composer of most distinguished promise, al-ready represented by about forty opus numbers, embracing chamber music, orchestral and piano works, etc.
Germany is peculiarly the home of the orchestra, and within later years some remarkably gifted orchestral conductors have gained world-wide fame. Among these are to be mentioned Anton Siedl (1850-1898) who was secretary to Wagner during the composition of "Parsifal" and who afterwards became celebrated for the musical beauty of his intepretations, the "Mastersingers" being perhaps his masterpiece ; Hans Richter (1843- ) who was secretary to Wagner-during the composition of the later parts of the "Ring" and "Die Meistersinger," later holding most important positions in Vienna and England; Arthur Nikisch (1855- ) like Seidl, a Hungarian, at present occupies the most distinguished position of any conductor in the world, his work extending far beyond his regular engagements at Berlin and Leipsic to all the cities of Europe. Nikisch was conductor of the Boston Symphony orchestra for three years. He was succeeded then by Emil Paur (1855-) as in several previous positions. Felix Weingertner (1863-) at present in Berlin, is not alone a distinguished conductor but also a productive composer of 'symphonies and other music of high ideals, the ultimate value of which is as yet undetermined.
In France two virtuoso conductors have been known and have distinguished themselves by the enthusiasm and finish of their work. Edouard Colonne (1838) was for some years a cellist in the orchestra of Theodore Thomas. In Paris he holds a position. peculiarly his own. Charles Lamoureux ( 1834-1903) like Colonne, was born at Bordeaux, educated in the conservatory as violinist, and became celebrated for the excellence of his orchestra and the catholicity of his taste. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, M. Chevillard.
In America, the German Theodore Thomas (1835—1905) not only established orchestras bearing his name, but performed an educational work in giving finished interpretations of the whole orchestral repertory, during about thirty years public life, his last thirteen years being spent in Chicago, where his name is held in peculiar honor. In later times these eminent conductors are beginning to travel and conduct especial performances wherever a fine body of players is available. They thus impart to the profession something of the flavor of the traveling virtuoso, and by means of the enthusiasm they awaken, conduce still more to interest in the art of musical interpretation.
In Germany the lull in musical production incident to the concentration of attention upon the much discussed principle and methods of Richard Wagner seems to have had the effect of retarding the development of composers immediately successful with the public, even the colossal artist, Johannes Brahms, being long over-shadowed by this highly absorbing artistic movement in art. Later, however, one name stands out with a distinctness approching that of Wagner, fifty years earlier, namely that of Richard Strauss (1864- ) born at Munich, son of a distinguished horn player. He thus grew up in the sound of the orchestra, learning to play all the instruments from childhood, and his musical education went through the orthodox curriculum of the music school, in which Strauss distinguished himself by comforming rather closely to the principles of classical art. His first symphony was produced by Levi in 188r, being his Op. 12. His serenade for wind instruments was brought out by Buelow at Meiningen, leading to hi-appointment as court musical director there. Very soon was called back to Munich as conductor, but since 1894 he has been conductor of the royal opera at Berlin, where he still resides. He attracted attention first of all by his songs, some with piano accompaniment, others originally scored for orchestra songs extremely graphic in mood and in the musical means of expression. His larger works are the following: "From Italy" a fantastic symphony, Op. 16; "Don Juan," tone poem, Op. 20; "Macbeth," tone poem, Op. 23; "Guntram" opera, Op. 25 (produced 1903) ; " Tod und Verklarung" (Death and Apotheosis), tone poem, Op. 24; "Till Eulenspigel's Merry Pranks," fantastic rondo, Op. 28; " Thus Spike Zarathustra," Op. 30, tone poem; " Don Quixote," fantastic variations, Op. 35; " Ein Heldesleben" (A Hero's Life), tone poem, Op. 40.