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Serenade, where, if one does not precisely double the pace of a part of the orchestra, the other part cannot play, for each whole measure of the one corresponds to a half measure of the other, and seeing that he could not put the requisite dash into the end of the first allegro, I resolved to be leader thereafter, and no longer to intrust any one with the communication of my intentions to the players. I have broken this resolve only once, and one will see what came of it.* After the first performance of this symphony a music journal in Paris published an article which overwhelmed me with invectives, and began in this witty fashion: ‘Ha! has hal—haro! haro! Harold!” Moreover, the day after this article appeared, I received an anonymous letter, in which some one, after deluging me with still grosser insults, reproached me ‘for not having the courage to blow out my brains.”
I think it may be said that the master forces of the Romantic
revival in England, and, after England, the most of Europe, were Scott and Byron. They were the vulgarizers (as it were) of its most human and popular tendencies; and it is scarce possible to exaggerate the importance of the part they bore in its evolution. In their faults and in their virtues, each was representative of one or other of the two main tendencies of his time. With his passion for what is honorably immortal in the past, his immense and vivid instinct of the picturesque, his inexhaustible humanity, his magnificent moral health, his abounding and infallible sense of the eternal varieties of life, Scott was an incarnation of chivalrous and manly duty; while Byron, with his lofty yet engaging cynicism, his passionate regard for passion, his abnormal capacity for defiance, and that overbearing and triumphant
* Berlioz refers to Habeneck, who put down his bâton and took snuff at a critical moment, just before the attack of the “Tuba mirum” in the Requiem, December 5, 1837.
individuality which made him one of the greatest elemental forces ever felt in literature, Byron was the lovely and tremendous and transcending genius of revolt. Each in his way became an European influence, and between them they made Romanticism in France. The men of 1830, it is true, were neither deaf to the voices nor blind to the examples of certain among their own ancestors: Ronsard, for instance, and the poets of the Pleiad, Rousseau and Saint-Simon, André Chénier and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Villon and Montaigne and Rabelais. But it is a principal characteristic of them that they were anxiously cosmopolitan. They quoted more languages than they knew. They were on intimate terms with all the names in the aesthetic history of the world. They boxed the compass for inspiration, and drank it in at every point upon the card: from Goethe, Schiller, Hoffmann, Heine, Iffland, Beethoven, Weber in Germany; from Dante, Titian, Rossini, Piranesi, Gozzi, Benvenuto in Italy; from Constable, Turner, Maturin, Lawrence, Shakespeare, Thomas Moore in England; from Calderon, Goya, Cervantes, the poets of the “Romancero,” in Spain. But all these were later in time than Byron and Scott, or were found less potent and less moving when they came. Thus, the “Faust” of Goethe was not translated until 1823; the “Eroica” of Beethoven, whose work was long pronounced incomprehensible and impossible of execution, was only heard in 1828, the real “Freischütz” some thirteen years after;” while Macready's revelation of Shakespeare, till then (Voltaire and Ducis and the Abbé Prévost notwithstanding) not much except a monstrous and mysterious name, was contemporaneous with Habeneck's of Beethoven. Scott and Byron, on the other hand, had but to be known to be felt, and they were known almost at once. I have said that the effect of Romanticism was a revolution in the technique, the material, and the treatment of the several arts. I do not think I affirm too much in stating that, but for Scott and Byron, the revolution would have come later than it did, and would, as regards the last two, have taken a different course when it came. . . . Nor may it be forgotten—in truth, it cannot be too constantly
* “Der Freischütz” was performed for the first time in Paris, with due consideration for Weber's music, at the Opéra, June 7, 1841. Castil-Blaze's impudent and foolish version, “Robin des Bois,” was produced at the Odéon, December 7, 1824.—P. H.
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recalled—that Romanticism was above all an effect of youth. A characteristic of the movement—which has been called “an aesthetic barring-out”—was the extraordinary precocity of its heroes. The “Dante et Virgile” and the “Radeau de la Méduse,” the “Odes et ballades” and “Hernani,” “Antony” and “Henri Trois et sa cour,” “Rolla” and the “Nuits,” the “Symphoniefantastique” and the “Comédie de la Mort,” are master-stuff of their kind, and are all the work of men not thirty years old. Now Byron is pre-eminently a young man's poet; and upon the heroic boys of 1830–greedy of emotion, intolerant of restraint, contemptuous of reticence and sobriety, sick with hatred of the platitudes of the official convention, and prepared to welcome as a return to truth and nature inventions the most extravagant and imaginings the most fantastic and far-fetched—his effect was little short of maddening. He was fully translated as early as 1819–20; and the modern element in Romanticism—that absurd and curious combination of vulgarity and terror, cynicism and passion, truculence and indecency, extreme bad-heartedness and preposterous self-sacrifice —is mainly his work. You find him in Dumas's plays, in Musset's verse, in the music of Berlioz, the pictures of Delacroix, the novels of George Sand. He is the origin of “Antony” and “Rolla,” of “Indiana” and the “Massacre de Scio,” of Berlioz’s “Lélio” and Frédérick’s “Macaire”; as Scott is that of “Bragelonne” and the “Croisés à Constantinople,” and Michelet's delightful history. As regards these elements, then, Romanticism was largely an importation. As regards technique, the element of style, it was not. Of this the inspiration was native: the revolution was wrought from within. The men of 1830 were craftsmen born: they had the genius of their material. The faculty of words, sounds, colors, situations, was innate in them: their use of it is always original and sound, and it is very often of exemplary excellence. It is hard to forgive— it is impossible to overlook—the vanity, the intemperance, the mixture of underbred effrontery and sentimental affectation, by which a great deal of their achievement is spoiled. Such qualities are “most incident” to youth; and in a generation drunk with the divinity of Byron they
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were inevitable. Bad manners, however, are offensive at any age, and the convinced Romantique, as he was all too prone to make a virtue of loose morals, was all too apt to make a serious merit of unmannerliness. But good breeding and moral perfectness are not what one expects of the convinced Romantique: what we ask of him—what we get of him without asking—is craftsmanship, and craftsmanship of the rare, immortal type. Hugo has written a whole shelf of nonsense; but in verse, at least, his technical imagination was Shakespearian. The moral tone of “Antony” is ridiculous; but it remains the most complete and masterly expression of some essentials of drama which the century has seen. The melodic expression of (say) “Harold en Italie” and the “Messe des Morts” may, or may not, be strained and thin; but, if only his orchestration be considered, the boast of their author, “J'ai pris la musique in instrumentale oil Beethoven l’a laissée,” is found to be neither impudent nor vain. In a sense, then, it is fitting enough that the year of “Hernani” [1830) should be accepted as a marking date in the story. If it have nothing else, assuredly “Hernani” has style; and the eternizing influence of style is such that, if all save their technical achievement were forgotten, the men of 1830 would still be remembered as great artists.
FANTASIA FoR ORCHESTRA AND SOLO OBOE ON FRENCH Folk THEMEs, Op. 31 . . . . . . . PAUL MARIE THEODORE VINCENT D'INDy
(Born at Paris, March 27, 1851*; now living there.) The “Fantaisie pour orchestre et hautbois principal sur les thémes populaires français” was composed in 1888 and published in 1908. The orchestral portion of the work is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, a set of three kettledrums, triangle, and strings.
* The year 1852 is given by the composer. , The catalogue of the Paris Conservatory gives, 1851, and 1851 is also given by Mr. Adolphe Jullien, who says he verified the date by the register of d'Indy's birth. M. Louis Borgex in his life of d'Indy (1913) also gives 1851.
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