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the world has seen, Mozart, * embodied the characteristics of the music of all the four nations who have made most advance in the art, and that in degrees corresponding to the relative excellence of the music of each nation. Handel did the same, but gave a very great preponderance to the English style of music, which, though it has made him the greater favourite with ourselves, has prevented much of his music from possessing a universal character such as would make it meet with universal appreciation. Much of his music is incomprehensible to his own countrymen, and the admiration for him among them is not great. Those sublime oratorios, which we in England are accustomed to look upon as the master-pieces of all music, are rarely performed in Germany, and those of them which we admire most are performed more rarely than others which we admire less. Mozart was so forcibly struck by the peculiarity of Handel's style, that he composed an elaborate fugue as a parody on it; and this fugue embodies not only Handel's style, but the feeling of the Germans in regard to it. We believe that in Italy and France the oratorios of Handel are almost unknown.
Now, in the early stage of the cultivation of music in this country, a certain proficiency in the art appears to have been very nearly general among the people, and a national style, both of secular and sacred music, was gradually developed by successive composers, until at last it was carried to its highest perfection by Henry Purcell, the greatest musical genius that England has produced. According to the showing of Mr. Chappell, in his elaborate, interesting, and important work on the " Popular Music of the Olden Time," now in course of publication, the music and the composers of England were, during this period, superior to those of all other countries. The whole country seems to have resonnded with merry strains, and to have deserved indeed the appellation of " Merrie England,” which our forefathers lovingly bestowed on it. But since this period, the English, as a people, have neglected education in general and musical education in particular, in the ardour and eagerDess of their pursuit of manufactures and commerce, and of those arts and sciences which bear upon these branches of industry. Their main object has been the acquirement of wealth ; and, in the manner characteristic of them, they have gone straight to the attainment of that object, and have left aside most things which had not some relation to it. Music is the very last thing in the world which could make out a claim on this score, and it has therefore been regarded as an idle and supérfluous accomplishment, any time devoted to the acquirement of which would be so much time lost. It is by no means surprising that, under these circumstances, England should not have produced any superlatively great composers. It would rather have been surprising if she had.
Purcell, then, is the only great composer of whom we can boast. He was undoubtedly a man of true musical genius; but he is the exponent of a style of music entirely peculiar to this country, and lacks universality. While, therefore, we consider it a shame and disgrace to his countrymen that they are so little acquainted with his works, we do not share the opinion that those works are yet destined to meet with universal admiration. Purcell carried the old English style of sacred music to its height. That style is distinguished by a light and graceful
See an article on Mozart in the Musical Times of Ist November, 1856.
flow in the melodies and by simplicity in the combinations. The grave and massive style of the German sacred music had just then been perfected by the great Bach, whose works are almost as little known as those of Purcell.
“ The force of nature could no further go :
Handel united the English and the German styles, and was also influenced in some degree by the Italian and the French. There was thus created a new style of music, approaching much more nearly to a universal character. If a preponderance of the English element in Handel's style has prevented it from fully reaching that character, how much further off must Purcell's style be, which contains the English element simply and solely !
Although, since the time of Purcell, the English as a nation have not devoted themselves to the pursuit of music, and have had no native composers of superlative eminence, they have patronized music and musicians to a greater extent than any other nation. They have spent more money on the patronage of the art than all the rest of Europe put together. For, if they ceased in great measure to practise, they never ceased to love music ; and the fact of their being free from any overweening affection for their own productions and performances, has made them the more ready to do full justice to the productions and performances of others. Nearly all the highest musical talent of the Continent, both inventive and executive, has sought our shores, and has been appreciated, honoured, and rewarded. Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Weber, Spohr, and Mendelssohn, have all sojourned amongst us. Handel became entirely naturalized amongst the English, and produced all his great works here; and some one or more of the great works of each of the others, except Mozart, were first brought out here : Haydn's “Seasons,” Weber's “Oberon,” Spohr's “ Fall of Babylon,” and Mendelssohn's “ Elijah.” And the poetry of England has been wedded to the music of Germany: the poetry of Milton, Shakspeare, Dryden, Gay, and Thomson, to the music of Handel and Haydn. As to the great executive musicians of the Continent, they have all been here ; and, as their name is legion, we will not attempt to enumerate them. England is the great focus to which the distinguished musical talent of all Europe converges, for such talent finds a better market here than anywhere else.
Now, shall we, with some writers, boast of this patronage of foreign music and musicians, or, with others, deplore it? We shall do best to avoid both extremes. Truth lies, as usual
, in the golden mean ; and in this case not in a well, but on the surface.
Why should we boast of our patronage of foreign music and musicians ? What does our patronage show? It shows that we have a love for music. Yes, but a love for music is the lowest stage of musical capacity, not the highest. It would have been far more honourable to us if we had, as a nation, not only a love for the art, but a knowledge of it, such as we once had, and such as the Germans have now. The foreign performers, as we saw in a case that came not long ago before the public, care only for our money, and despise our opinion. The writer was once conversing with a Frenchman on the achievements of various
nations in science and art, and attempted to make out a claim for his countrymen on the score of music, mentioning Purcell as a great com
The Frenchman smiled good-humouredly, and said, "No, no; Newton is your great man : you are mathematicians, not musicians.” And this expresses pretty well the estimation in which English music is held by the people of the Continent generally. We are not acknowledged by them as a musical nation at all. Nor can we expect to be acknowledged as such, so long as we only patronize, and do not practise the art.
But neither do we, on the other hand, agree with those writers who condemn the English patronage of foreign music, and ascribe to it the defective condition of native music. One of these writers says : “Just in proportion as English music and musicians have been neglected, the production of those commodities themselves has declined. It is a common Mark-lane proposition-a mere matter of demand and supply, --and nothing else can rationally be made of it.” Right enough ; it is a Mark-lane proposition, and just about as true as that other Mark-lane proposition, that free-trade in corn has caused the ruin of English agriculture and agriculturists. We know, on the contrary, that the competition of foreign traders has stimulated our agriculture to the utmost, and is fast causing it to be extended and improved. The case is the same in regard to those of our manufactures from which the so-called "protection” has been withdrawn. It is the same in music. If free-trade is good for the industrial arts, it is good for the fine arts. It causes the same diffusion of progress and stimulation of production in the one case as in the other. We believe, therefore, that the importation of foreign musical talent has tended to call forth and develop, not to repress, native talent. If, notwithstanding the increased stimulus, the English have not been able to reach the same standard of excellence, it is because they have not devoted themselves to the cultivation of the art as a national pursuit, but have left it in the hands of a small fraction of the population. But it is sometimes said that it is in consequence of attempting to imitate the style of foreign composers that our recent English composers have failed to achieve anything great ; that they have abandoned their own style, in which they might have been first-rate, and have adopted a style in which they could be only second or thirdrate : for example, that Sir Henry Bishop lost himself by endeavouring to compete with Weber. It is one of the characteristics of a composer of the highest order of genius, that he is able to distinguish himself in any style and all styles; and therefore this only proves that our recent English composers have not possessed genius of that order. We admit that foreign music and musicians are sometimes preferred to English music and musicians for no other reason than that they are foreign. But, absurd as this is, it would be still more absurd to invert the order.
To our mind, all that can justly be made of the patronage of foreign music by the English, is that it proves them to possess a capacity for music, though they have not taken the pains to develop that capacity. And this is the great thing, as regards music, for those to know who are entrusted with the education of the youth of this kingdom. They must have faith in the capacity of our people for music. The idea is entertained by many persons, that the English are not a musical people, and that no teaching will ever make them musical. “Look at our peasants,” say such persons ; "they don't sing as they go about, like the peasants of some countries do; our people don't seem to have a natural impulse to sing, like the people of those countries have : and, that being the case, it is of very little use to try to teach them to sing.” Such persons think that there is some circumstance of race, or climate, or language, which makes the Germans and the Italians musical, and which is absent in our case. The most common theory has been, that nations are musical in proportion as their language is musical. But we have lately met with a writer who maintains the opposite theory, namely, that nations develop music as a separate art in proportion as their language is unmusical. “ The language of ancient Greece," says a writer in the Quarterly Review, “ held music, as it were, in too close an embrace for her to have any independent action. The best music of Italy has never been able to disengage itself from the sweet melody of its language. Only in that nation where the language is hardly musical enough even to be spoken has music raised her voice independently." Strange enough, this same language is considered by the nation itself, and by many foreigners, to be even better suited to music than the Italian.
A good deal also has been said about the genial influence of the “sunny South ;” though it is not at all unlikely that some champion might be found to stand up for the North, for the Swedes are a much more musical people than the Spaniards, and the Germans a more musical people than the Italians. Those who think that the difference arises from ethnological peculiarities forget that we belong to the same race as the nation now most distinguished for music, and that our forefathers were at one time in advance of the rest of the world in this very art for which we are supposed to have no capacity. The real truth of the matter seems to be too obvious to be perceived by people who are always shooting their vision over everything that is near them, who cannot see the forest for the trees. The difference is simply one of education. By the Germans and Italians the national faculty for music has been cultivated ; by us it has been neglected ; and the results are correspondent. In Italy and Germany education has been comprehensive, both in itself and in its diffusion among the people ; and music is one of the departments in which national progress has been made. In England education has been partial in its diffusion, and somewhat special in itself. The concentration of our energies upon the development of our great national resources has made us a “practical” people, and music is just the branch of education which a practical people is most likely to neglect, because it bears almost entirely upon the feelings, and scarcely at all upon the intellect. To this we may add, that by many of our countrymen it has not even been recognised as having anything to do with the feelings, but has been looked upon as a mere gratification of the sense of hearing, and as altogether a matter of outward nature, having an intimate connection with the singing of birds, instead of being, what it really is, an instinct of our inward nature, lying in the very depths of the soul.
But now that English education is becoming more comprehensive in its character, and is being more generally diffused over the nation, music is beginning to take its place as a branch of national education. Various
efforts are being made with a view to spread a knowledge of singing among the people, and various methods are proposed for teaching the subject. Teachers are prepared at the normal colleges for giving instruction in it, and the ability to teach it is almost everywhere required in candidates for the office of master or mistress of an elementary school.
THE MOON'S MOTION.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ENGLISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. SIR, I need scarcely apologize for trespassing on your space once more with reference to a discussion in which thousands and tens of thousands of teachers and parents are interested ; for in nearly all elementary books on geography, the moon is said to rotate on its axis in the same time in which it revolves about the earth. The reason adduced for this is merely that the moon always keeps the same part of its surface towards the earth.
Now, a little reflection will convince your readers of the palpable absurdity of such an inference from the fact mentioned ; and it is passing strange that intelligent writers on geography and astronomy should content themselves with copying, without investigation, the statements of their predecessors on this point. They have, in fact, satisfied themselves with plausible, but fallacious illustrations, in the place of rigid mathematical demonstrations.
To arrive at the truth, we have but to consider that if the moon really bad an axis of rotation, every radius perpendicular thereto would revolve of necessity about its extremity in that axis as a centre; and since one of these radii produced would pass (approximately) through the earth's centre, it is clear that the earth itself, being always on that line, would accompany it in its course round its extremity in the lunar axis. Consequently, to be consistent, the assertors of the moon's rotary motion are bound to maintain that the earth revolves once a month about the moon as a centre; and, moreover, as I demonstrated in your last number, that in describing a circle, the fixed extremity of the given radius does, at the same time, describe the circumference of another circle, of schich the centre is the revolving estremity!
I am at a loss to conceive how the rotationists will endeavour to escape from this ridiculously absurd conclusion. Furthermore, they are bound, on the same principle, to maintain that the sun actually describes the circumferences of as many different circles as there are planets in the solar system : each planet being the centre of one of these circles, and its distance from the sun the radius.
I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
S. A. GOOD. H. M's Dockyard, Pembroke Dock,
22nd Dec., 1856.