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vanni presents to us the same thought seven times a week, if we wish to yield to it so many.
The artists 100 are the young children of our sickly manhood, or wearied out old age. On us life has pressed till the form is marred and bowed down, but their youth is immortal, invincible, to us the inexhaustible prophecy of a second birth. From the naive lispings of their uncalculating lives are heard anew the tones of that mystic song we call Perfectibility, Perfection.
Artist biographies, scanty as they are, are always beautiful. 'The tedious cavil of the Teuton cannot degrade, nor the surley superlatives of the Italian wither them. If any fidelity be preserved in the record, it always casts new light on their works. The exuberance of Italian praise is the better extreme of the two, for the heart, with all its blunders, tells truth more easily than the head. The records before us of the great composers are by the patient and reverent Germans, the sensible, never to be duped Englishman, or the sprightly Frenchman ; but a Vasari was needed also to cast a broader sunlight on the scene. tist lives are interesting. And those of the musicians, peculiarly so to-day, when Music is the living, growing art. Sculpture, Painting, Architecture are indeed not dead, but the life they exhibit is as the putting forth of young scions from an old root. The manifestation is hopeful rather than commanding. But music, after all the wonderful exploits of the last century, grows and towers yet. Beethoven towering far above our heads, still with colossal gesture points above. Music is pausing now to explain, arrange, or explore the treasures so rapidly accumulated; but how great the genius thus employed, how vast the promise for the next revelation ! Beethoven seems to have chronicled all the sobs, the heart-heavings, and god-like Promethean thefts of the Earth-spirit. Mozart has called to the sister stars, as Handel and Haydn have told to other spheres what has been actually performed in this ; surely they will answer through the next magician.
The thought of the law that supersedes all thoughts, which pierces us the moment we have gone far in any department of knowledge or creative genius, seizes and lifts us from the ground in music. “ Were but this known all would be accomplished," is sung to us ever in the triumphs of harmony. What the other arts indicate and philosophy infers, this all-enfolding language declares, nay publishes, and we lose all care for tomorrow or modern life in the truth averred of old, that all truth is comprised in music and mathematics.
By one pervading spirit
As sages taught where faith was found to merit
WORDSWORTH. “ Stanzas on the power of sound.” A very slight knowledge of music makes it the best means of interpretation. We meet our friend in a melody as in a glance of the eye, far beyond where words have strength to climb; we explain by the corresponding tone in an instrument that trait in our admired picture, for which no sufficiently subtle analogy had yet been found. Botany had never touched our true knowledge of our favourite flower, but a symphony displays the same attitude and hues; the philosophic historian had failed to explain the motive of our favourite hero, but every bugle calls and every trumpet proclaims him. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
Of course we claim for music only a greater rapidity, fullness, and, above all, delicacy of utterance. All is in each and each in all, so that the most barbarous stammering of the Hottentot indicates the secret of man, as clearly as the rudest zoophyte the perfection of organized being, or the first stop on the reed the harmonies of heaven. But music, by the ready medium, the stimulus and the upbearing elasticity it offers for the inspirations of thought, alone seems to present a living form rather than a dead monument to the desires of Genius.
The feeling naturally given by an expression so facile of the identity and universality of all thought, every thought, is beauti. fully expressed in this anecdote of Haydn.
When about to compose a symphony he was in the habit of animating his genius by imagining some little romance. An interesting account of one of these is given in Bombet's life of Haydn, p. 75.
“ But when his object was not to express any particular affection, or to paint any particular images, all subjects were alike to him. The whole art consists,' said he, in taking up a subject and pursuing it.' Often when a friend entered as he was about to compose a piece, he would say with a smile, Give me a subject,'- Give a subject to Haydn ! who would have the courage to do so ? • Come, never mind,' he would say, 'give me anything you can think of,' and you were obliged to obey."
Many of his astonishing quartettes exhibit marks of this (piece of dexterity, the French Chevalier is pleased to call it.) They commence with the most insignificant idea, but, by degrees, this idea assumes a character; it strengthens, increases, extends itself, and the dwarf becomes a giant before our wondering eyes.”
This is one of the high delights received from a musical composition more than from any other work of art, except perhaps the purest effusions of lyric poetry, that you feel at once both the result and the process. The musician enjoys the great advan. tage of being able to excite himself to compose by his instrument. This gives him a great advantage above those who are obliged to execute their designs by implements less responsive and exciting. Bach did not consider his pupils as at all advanced, till they could compose from the pure mental harmony, without the oul. ward excitement of the instrument; but, though in the hours of inspiration the work grows of itself, yet the instrument must be of the greatest use to multiply and prolong these hours. We find that all these great composers were continually at the piano. Haydn seated himself there the first thing in the morning, and Beethoven, when so completely deaf, that he could neither tune his violin and piano, nor hear the horrible discords he made upon them, stimulated himself continually by the manual utterance to evolution of the divine harmonies which were lost forever to his bodily ear.
It is mentioned by Bombet, as another advantage which the musician possesses over other artists, that
“ His productions are finished as soon as imagined. Thus Haydn, who abounded in such beautiful ideas, incessantly enjoyed the pleasure of creation. The poet shares this advantage with the composer ; but the musician can work faster. A beautiful ode, a beautiful symphony, need only be imagined, to cause, in the mind of the author, that secret admiration, which is the life and soul of artists. But in the studies of the military man, of the architect, the sculptor, the painter, there is not invention enough for them to be fully satisfied with themselves; further labors are necessary. The best planned enterprise may fail in the execution ; the best conceived picture may be ill painted ; all this leaves in the mind of the inventor an obscurity, a feeling of uncertainty, which renders the pleasure of creation less complete. Haydn, on the contrary, in innagining a symphony, was perfectly happy; there only remained the physical pleasure of hearing it performed, and the moral pleasure of seeing it applauded.”
Plausible as this comparison appears at first; the moment you look at an artist like Michel Angelo, who, by deep studies and intensity of survey, had attained such vigor of conception and surety of hand, that forms sprang forth under his touch as fresh, as original, and as powerful, as on the first days when there was light upon the earth, so that he could not turn his pencil this way or that, but these forms came upon the paper as easily as plants from the soil where the fit seed falls,—at Raphael, who seemed to develop at once in his mind the germ of all possible images, so that shapes flowed from his hand plenteous and facile as drops of water from the open sluice, we see that the presence of the highest genius makes all mediums alike transparent, and that the advantages of one over the other respect only the more or less rapid growth of the artist, and the more or less lively effect on the mind of the beholder. All high’art says but one thing ; but this is said with more or less pleasure by the artist, felt with more or less pleasure by the beholder, according to the flexibility and fulness of the language.
As Bombet's lives of Haydn and Mozart are accessible here through an American edition, I shall not speak of these masters with as much particularity as of the three other artists. Bombet's book, though superficial, and in its attempts at criticism totally wanting in that precision which can only be given by a philosophical view of the subject, is lively, informed by a true love for beauty, and free from exaggeration as to the traits of life which we most care for. The life of Haydn is the better of the two, for the calm and equable character of this great man made not much demand on insight. It displays throughout the natural decorum and freedom from servile and conventional restraints, the mingling of dignity and tenderness, the singleness of aim, and childlike simplicity in action proper to the artist life. It flowed a gentle, bounteous river, broadening ever beneath the smiles of " calm pouring sun. A manly uniformity makes his life intelligible alike to the genius and the citizen. Set the picture in its proper frame, and we think of him with great pleasure, sitting down nicely dressed, with the diamond on his finger given him by the King of Prussia, to compose the Creation, or the Seven Words. His life was never little, never vehement, and an early calm hallowed the gush of his thoughts. We have no regret, no cavil, little thought for this life of Haydn. It is simply the fitting vestibule to the temple of his works.
The healthy energy of his nature is well characterized by what is said of his “ obstinate joy.”
“ The magic of his style seems to me to consist in a predominating character of liberty and joy. This joy of Haydn is a perfectly natural, pure, and continual exaltation; it reigns in the allegros, it is perceptible even in the grave parts, and pervades the andantes in a sensible degree