Symphonies and Their Meaning; Third Series, Modern Symphonies
Philip H. Goepp
Part 4 out of 5
_I.--1. Funeral March._--A call of trumpet, of heroic air and tread, is
answered by strident chords ending in a sonorous motive of horns that
leads to the funeral trip, of low brass. The mournful song of the
principal melody appears presently in the strings, then returns to the
funeral trip and to the strident chords. The first trumpet motive now
sounds with this clanging phrase and soon the original call abounds in
other brass. The deep descending notes of the horns recur and the full
song of the funeral melody much extended, growing into a duet of cellos
and high woodwind,
[Music: (Strings, bassoons and clarinets)]
and further into hymnal song on a new motive.
[Music: (Wood, horns and strings)
(Bass notes in lowest wood and strings)]
So the various melodies recur with new mood and manner. Suddenly, in
fierce abandon, a martial tramp of the full band resounds, in gloomy
[Music: _Suddenly faster. Impassioned_
(Rapid descending figure in violins)
(Tuba and strings)]
the violins in rapid rage of wailing figure: the trumpet strikes the
firm note of heroic plaint.
Wild grief breaks out on all sides, the strings singing in passionate
answer to the trumpet, the high wood carrying on the rapid motion. At
the height of the storm the woodwind gain control with measured rhythm
of choral melody. Or perhaps the real height is the expressive double
strain, in gentle pace, of the strings, and the wood descending from on
[Music: (Woodwind doubled below)
(Strings doubled above)
(Brass and strings)]
The duet is carried on in wilder mood by most of the voices.
A return to the solemn pace comes by imperceptible change, the softer
hues of grief merging with the fiercer cries. Now various strains sound
together,--the main funeral melody in the woodwind.
In the close recurs the full flow of funeral song, with the hymnal
harmonies. In the refrain of the stormy duet the sting of passion is
gone; the whole plaint dies away amid the fading echoes of the trumpet
_I.--2._ The second movement, the real first Allegro, is again clearly
in two parts. Only, the relative paces are exactly reversed from the
first movement. In tempestuous motion, with greatest vehemence, a
rushing motive of the basses is stopped by a chord of brass and
strings,--the chord itself reverberating to the lower rhythm.
[Music: _In stirring motion. With greatest vehemence_
(Brass and strings)
(Bass of wood and string)
Throughout the whole symphony is the dual theme, each part spurring the
other. Here presently are phrases in conflicting motion, countermarching
in a stormy maze. It is all, too, like noisy preparation,--a manoeuvring
of forces before the battle. Three distinct figures there are before a
blast of horn in slower notes, answered by shrill call in highest wood.
There enters a regular, rhythmic gait and a clearer tune, suggested by
[Music: (Horns, oboes and 1st violins, G string)
(Strings and wood)
(Tuba and strings)
In the brilliant medley there is ever a new figure we had not perceived.
So when the tune has been told, trumpets and horns begin with what seems
almost the main air, and the former voices sound like mere heralds.
Finally the deep trombones and tuba enter with a sonorous call. Yet the
first rapid trip of all has the main legend.
As the quicker figures gradually retire, a change of pace appears, to
the tramp of funeral. Yet the initial and incident strains are of the
former text. Out of it weaves the new, slower melody:
[Music: _Much slower_ (in the tempo of the former funeral march)
(Flutes and clarinets)
Throughout, the old shrill call sounds in soft lament. Hardly like a
tune, a discourse rather, it winds along, growing and changing naively
ever to a new phrase. And the soft calls about seem part of the melody.
An expressive line rising in the clarinet harks back to one of the later
strains of the funeral march.
The second melody or answer (in low octaves of strings) is a scant
disguise of the lower tune in the stormy duet of the first movement. Yet
all the strains move in the gentle, soothing pace and mood until
suddenly awakened to the first vehement rhythm.
Before the slower verse returns is a long plaint of cellos to softest
roll of drums. The gentle calls that usher in the melody have a
significant turn, upwards instead of down. All the figures of the solemn
episode appear more clearly.
On the spur of the hurrying main motive of trumpets the first pace is
once more regained.
A surprise of plot is before us. In sudden recurrence of funeral march
the hymnal song of the first movement is heard. As suddenly, we are
plunged into the first joyful scene of the symphony. Here it is most
striking how the call of lament has become triumphant, as it seems
without a change of note. And still more wonderful,--the same melody
that first uttered a storm of grief, then a gentle sadness, now has a
firm exultant ring. To be sure, it is all done with the magic trip of
bass,--as a hymn may be a perfect dance.
Before the close we hear the first fanfare of trumpet from the opening
symphony, that has the ring of a motto of the whole. At the very end is
a transfigured entrance,--very slowly and softly, to a celestial touch
of harp, of the first descending figure of the movement.
_II.--3. Scherzo._ Jovial in high degree, the Scherzo begins with the
thematic complexity of modern fashion. In dance tune of three beats
horns lead off with a jolly call; strings strike dancing chords; the
lower wind play a rollicking answer, but together with the horns, both
strains continuing in dancing duet. Still the saucy call of horns seems
the main text, though no single tune reigns alone.
_Scherzo. With vigor, not too fast_
(Strings and flutes)
(Clarinets and basses)]
The violins now play above the horns; then the cellos join and there is
a three-part song of independent tunes, all in the dance. So far in
separate voices it is now taken up by full chorus, though still the
basses sing one way, trebles another, and the middle horns a third. And
now the high trumpet strikes a phrase of its own. But they are all in
dancing swing, of the fibre of the first jolly motive.
A new episode is started by a quicker _obligato_ of violins, in
neighboring minor, that plays about a fugue of the woodwind on an
incisive theme where the cadence has a strange taste of bitter sweet
harmony in the modern Gallic manner.
(Bass of brass and wood)]
Horns and violins now pursue their former duet, but in the changed hue
of minor where the old concords are quaintly perverted. But this is only
to give a merrier ring to the bright madrigal that follows in sweetly
clashing higher wood, with the trip still in the violins. Thence the
horns and violins break again into the duet in the original key. Here
the theme is wittily inverted in the bass, while other strings sing
another version above.
So the jolly dance and the quaint fugue alternate; a recurring phrase is
carried to a kind of dispute, with opposite directions above and below
and much augmented motion in the strings.
In the dance so far, in "three time," is ever the vigorous stamp on the
third beat, typical of the German peasant "_Laendler_." Here of a sudden
is a change as great as possible within the continuing dance of three
steps. "More tranquil" in pace, in soft strings, without a trace of the
_Laendler_ stamp, is a pure waltz in pretty imitation of tuneful theme.
[Music: _More gently_ (G string) (D string)
And so the return to the vigorous rough dance is the more refreshing.
The merry mood yields to a darker temper. "Wild" the strings rush in
angry fugue on their rapid phrase; the quaint theme is torn to shreds,
recalling the fierce tempest of earlier symphony.
But the first sad note of the Scherzo is in the recitative of horn,
after the lull. A phrase of quiet reflection, with which the horn
concludes the episode as with an "_envoi_," is now constantly rung; it
is wrought from the eerie tempest; like refined metal the melody is
finally poured; out of its guise is the theme now of mournful dance.
"Shyly" the tune of the waltz answers in softest oboe. In all kinds of
verses it is sung, in expressive duet of lower wood, of the brass, then
of high reeds; in solo trumpet with counter-tune of oboe, finally in
high flutes. Here we see curiously, as the first themes reappear, a
likeness with the original trumpet-call of the symphony. In this guise
of the first dance-theme the movements are bound together. The _envoi_
phrase is here evident throughout.
At this mystic stage, to pure dance trip of low strings the waltz
reenters very softly in constant growing motion, soon attaining the old
pace and a new fulness of sound. A fresh spur is given by a wild motion
of strings, as in the fugal episode; a new height of tempest is reached
where again the distorted shreds of first dance appear, with phrases of
the second. From it like sunshine from the clouds breaks quickly the
original merry trip of dance.
The full cycle of main Scherzo returns with all stress of storm and
tragedy. But so fierce is the tempest that we wonder how the glad mood
can prevail. And the sad _envoi_ returns and will not be shaken off.
The sharp clash of fugue is rung again and again, as if the cup must be
drained to the drop. Indeed, the serious later strain does prevail, all
but the final blare of the saucy call of brass.[A]
[Footnote A: In the Scherzo are chimes, accenting the tune of the dance,
and even castanets, besides triangle and other percussion. The second
movement employs the harp and triangle.]
_III.--4. Adagietto._[A] "Very slowly" first violins carry the
expressive song that is repeated by the violas.
[Footnote A: The Adagietto is scored simply for harp and strings; nor
are the latter unusually divided.]
(Strings and harp)]
A climax is reached by all the violins in unison. A new glow, with
quicker motion, is in the episode, where the violins are sharply
answered by the violas, rising to a dramatic height and dying away in a
vein of rare lyric utterance.
It is all indeed a pure lyric in tones.
_III.--5. Rondo-Finale._ The whole has the dainty, light-treading humor
that does not die of its own vehemence. Somewhat as in the Ninth
Symphony of Beethoven,--tyrant of classical traditions, the themes
appear right in the beginning as if on muster-roll, each in separate,
unattended song. A last chance cadence passes down the line of voices
and settles into a comfortable rhythm as prevailing theme, running in
melodious extension, and merging after a
[Music: (Clarinets, horns and bassoons) (Flutes and oboes)
hearty conclusion in the jovially garrulous fugue.
Here the counter-theme proves to be one of the initial tunes and takes a
leading role until another charming strain appears on high,--a pure
nursery rhyme crowning the learned fugue. Even this is a guise of one
of the original motives in the mazing medley, where it seems we could
trace the ancestry of each if we could linger and if it really mattered.
And yet there is a rare charm in these subtle turns; it is the secret
relevance that counts the most.
The fugue reaches a sturdy height with one of the first themes in lusty
horns, and suddenly falls into a pleasant jingle, prattling away in the
train of important figures, the kind that is pertinent with no outer
(Strings, bassoons and horns)]
Everywhere, to be sure, the little rhythmic cadence appears; the whole
sounds almost like the old children's canon on "Three Blind Mice";
indeed the themal inversion is here the main tune. Then in the bass the
phrase sounds twice as slow as in the horns. There are capers and
horseplay; a sudden shift of tone; a false alarm of fugue; suddenly we
are back in the first placid verse of the rhythmic motive.
Here is a new augmentation in resonant horns and middle strings, and the
melodious extension. A former motive that rings out in high reed, seems
to have the function of concluding each episode.
A new stretch of fugue appears with new counter-theme, that begins in
long-blown notes of horns. It really is no longer a fugue; it has lapsed
into mere smooth-rolling motion underneath a verse of primal tune. And
presently another variant of graceful episode brings a delicious
lilt,--_tender, but expressive_.
With all the subtle design there is no sense of the lamp, in the gentle
murmur of quicker figure or melodious flow of upper theme. Moving is the
lyric power and sweetness of this multiple song. As to themal
relation,--one feels like regarding it all as inspired madrigal, where
the maze and medley is the thing, where the tunes are not meant to be
distinguished. It becomes an abandoned orgy of clearest counterpoint.
Throughout is a blending of fugue and of children's romp, anon with the
tenderness of lullaby and even the glow of love-song. A brief mystic
verse, with slow descending strain in the high wood, preludes the
returning gambol of running strings, where the maze of fugue or canon
is in the higher flowing song, with opposite course of answering tune,
and a height of jolly revel, where the bright trumpet pours out the
usual concluding phrase. The rhythmic episode, in whimsical change, here
sings with surprise of lusty volume. So the merry round goes on to a big
resonant _Amen_ of final acclaim, where the little phrase steals out as
naturally as in the beginning.
Then in quicker pace it sounds again all about, big and little, and
ends, after a touch of modern Gallic scale, in opposing runs, with a
last light, saucy fling.
Mahler, we feel again, realizes all the craving that Bruckner breeds for
a kernel of feeling in the shell of counterpoint. Though we cannot deny
a rude breach of ancient rule and mode, there is in Mahler a genuine,
original, individual quality of polyphonic art that marks a new stage
since the first in Bach and a second in Beethoven. It is this bold revel
in the neglected sanctuary of the art that is most inspiriting for the
future. And as in all true poetry, this overleaping audacity of design
is a mere expression of simplest gaiety.
[Footnote A: Born in 1864.]
Much may be wisely written on the right limits of music as a depicting
art. The distinction is well drawn between actual delineation, of figure
or event, and the mere suggestion of a mood. It is no doubt a fine line,
and fortunately; for the critic must beware of mere negative philosophy,
lest what he says cannot be done, be refuted in the very doing. If
Lessing had lived a little later, he might have extended the principles
of his "Laocoeon" beyond poetry and sculpture into the field of music.
Difficult and ungrateful as is the task of the critical philosopher, it
must be performed. There is every reason here as elsewhere why men
should see and think clearly.
It is perhaps well that audiences should cling to the simple verdict of
beauty, that they should not be led astray by the vanity of finding an
answer; else the composer is tempted to create mere riddles. So we may
decline to find precise pictures, and content ourselves with the music.
The search is really time wasted; it is like a man digging in vain for
gold and missing the sunshine above.
Strauss may have his special meanings. But the beauty of the work is
for us all-important. We may expect him to mark his scenes. We may not
care to crack that kind of a nut.[A] It is really not good eating.
Rather must we be satisfied with the pure beauty of the fruit, without a
further hidden kernel. There is no doubt, however, of the ingenuity of
these realistic touches. It is interesting, here, to contrast Strauss
with Berlioz, who told his stories largely by extra-musical means, such
as the funeral trip, the knell of bells, the shepherd's reed. Strauss at
this point joins with the Liszt-Wagner group in the use of symbolic
motives. Some of his themes have an effect of tonal word-painting. The
roguish laugh of Eulenspiegel is unmistakable.
[Footnote A: Strauss remarked that in _Till Eulenspiegel_ he had given
the critics a hard nut to crack.]
It is in the harmonic rather than the melodic field that the fancy of
Strauss soars the freest. It is here that his music bears an individual
stamp of beauty. Playing in and out among the edges of the main harmony
with a multitude of ornamental phrases, he gains a new shimmer of
brilliancy. Aside from instrumental coloring, where he seems to outshine
all others in dazzling richness and startling contrasts, he adds to the
lustre by a deft playing in the overtones of his harmonies, casting the
whole in warmest hue.
If we imagine the same riotous license in the realm of tonal
noise,--cacophony, that is, where the aim is not to enchant, but to
frighten, bewilder, or amaze; to give some special foil to sudden
beauty; or, last of all, for graphic touch of story, we have another
striking element of Strauss's art. The anticipation of a Beethoven in
the drum of the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony, or the rhythmic whims of
a Schumann in his Romantic piano pieces suggest the path of much of this
license. Again, as passing notes may run without heed of harmony, since
ancient days, so long sequences of other figures may hold their moving
organ-point against clashing changes of tonality.
Apart from all this is the modern "counterpoint," where, if it is quite
the real thing, Strauss has outdone the boldest dreams of ancient school
men. But with the lack of cogent form, and the multitude of small
motives it seems a different kind of art. We must get into the
view-point of romantic web of infinite threads, shimmering or jarring in
infinite antagonism (of delayed harmony). By the same process comes
always the tremendous accumulation towards the end. As the end and
essence of the theme seems a graphic quality rather than intrinsic
melody, so the main pith and point of the music lies in the weight and
power of these final climaxes.
_TOD UND VERKLAeRUNG (DEATH AND TRANSFIGURATION), TONE POEM_
It may be well to gather a few general impressions before we attempt the
study of a work radical in its departure from the usual lines of tonal
There can be no doubt of the need of vigilance if we are to catch the
relevance of all the strains. To be sure, perhaps this perception is
meant to be subconscious. In any case the consciousness would seem to
ensure a full enjoyment.
It is all based on the motif of the Wagner drama and of the Liszt
symphonies, and it is carried to quite as fine a point. Only here we
have no accompanying words to betray the label of the theme. But in the
quick flight of themes, how are we to catch the subtle meaning? The
interrelation seems as close as we care to look, until we are in danger
of seeing no woods for the trees.
Again the danger of preconception is of the greatest. We may get our
mind all on the meaning and all off the music. The clear fact is the
themes do have a way of entering with an air of significance which they
challenge us to find. The greatest difficulty is to distinguish the
themes that grow out of each other, as a rose throws off its early
petals, from those that have a mere chance similarity. Even this
likeness may have its own intended meaning, or it may be all beside the
mark. But we may lose not merely the musical, but even the dramatic
sequence in too close a poring over themal derivation. On the other hand
we may defy the composer himself and take simply what he gives, as if on
first performance, before the commentators have had a chance to breed.
And this may please him best in the end.
We must always attend more to the mood than to themal detail as
everywhere in real music, after all. Moments of delight and triumph we
know there are in this work. But they are mere instants. For it is all
the feverish dream of death. There can be no earlier rest. Snatches they
are of fancy, of illusion, as, says the priest in Oedipus, is all of
It may be worth while, too, to see how pairs of themes ever occur in
Strauss, the second in answer, almost in protest, to the first. (It is
not unlike the pleading in the Fifth Symphony of the second theme with
the sense of doom in the first.) So we seem to find a motive of fate,
and one of wondering, and striving; a theme of beauty and one of
passion,--if we cared to tread on such a dangerous, tempting ground.
Again, we may find whole groups of phrases expressive of one idea, as of
beauty, and another of anxious pursuit. Thus we escape too literal a
Trying a glimpse from the score pure and simple, we find a poem,
opposite the first page, that is said to have been written after the
first production. So, reluctantly, we must wait for the mere
reinforcement of its evidence.
_Largo_, in uncertain key, begins the throb of irregular rhythm (in
strings) that Bach and Chopin and Wagner have taught us to associate
with suffering. The first figure is a gloomy descent of pairs of chords,
with a hopeless cry above (in the flutes). In the recurrence, the turn
of chord is at last upward. A warmer hue of waving sounds (of harps) is
poured about, and a gentle vision appears on high, shadowed quickly by
a theme of fearful wondering. The chords return as at first. A new
series of descending tones
[Music: (Flute an 8ve. higher) (Oboe)
(Harp with arpeggio groups of six to the quarter)]
intrude, with a sterner sense of omen, and yield to a full melodic
utterance of longing (again with the
[Music: (Solo violin muted)
(Harp with arpeggio groups of six to the quarter)]
soothing play of harp), and in the midst a fresh theme of wistful fear.
For a moment there is a brief glimpse of the former vision. Now the
song, less of longing than of pure bliss, sings free and clear its
descending lay in solo violin, though an answering phrase (in the horns)
of upward striving soon rises from below. The vision now appears again,
the wondering monitor close beside. The melancholy chords return to dim
the beauty. As the descending theme recedes, the rising motive sings a
fuller course on high with a new note of eager, anxious fear.
All these themes are of utmost pertinence in this evident prologue of
the story. Or at least the germs of all the leading melodies are here.
In sudden turn of mood to high agitation, a stress of wild desire rings
out above in pairs of sharp ascending chords, while below the wondering
theme rises in growing tumult. A whirling storm of the two phrases ends
in united burst like hymn of battle, on the line of the wondering theme,
but infused with
[Music: _Alla breve_
(Bass doubled below)]
resistless energy. Now sings a new discourse of warring phrases that
are dimly traced to the phase of the blissful melody, above the theme of
[Music: (Theme in woodwind)
(Answer in basses)]
They wing an eager course, undaunted by the harsh intruding chords. Into
the midst presses the forceful martial theme. All four elements are
clearly evident. The latest gains control, the other voices for the
nonce merely trembling in obedient rhythm. But a new phase of the
wistful motive appears, masterful but not o'ermastering, fiercely
pressing upwards,--and a slower of the changed phrase of blissful song.
The former attains a height of sturdy ascending stride.
In spite of the ominous stress of chords that grow louder with the
increasing storm, something of assurance comes with the ascending
stride. More and more this seems the dominant idea.
A new paroxysm of the warring themes rises to the first great climax
where the old symbol of wondering and striving attains a brief moment
of assured ecstatic triumph.
In a new scene (_meno mosso_), to murmuring strings (where the theme of
striving can possibly be caught) the blissful melody sings in full song,
undisturbed save by the former figure that rises as if to grasp,--sings
later, too, in close sequence of voices. After a short intervening
verse--_leicht bewegt_--where the first vision appears for a moment, the
song is resumed, still in a kind of shadowy chase of slow flitting
voices, _senza espressione_. The rising, eager phrase is disguised in
dancing pace, and grows to a graceful turn of tune. An end comes, _poco
agitato_, with rude intrusion of the hymnal march in harsh contrast of
rough discord; the note of anxious fear, too, strikes in again. But
suddenly, _etwas breiter_, a new joyous mood frightens away the birds of
Right in the midst of happenings, we must be warned against too close a
view of individual theme. We must not forget that it is on the
contrasted pairs and again the separate groups of phrases, where all
have a certain common modal purpose, that lies the main burden of the
story. Still if we must be curious for fine derivation, we may see in
the new tune of exultant chorus the late graceful turn that now,
reversing, ends in the former rising phrase. Against it sings the first
line of blissful theme. And the first tune of graceful beauty also finds
a place. But they all make one single blended song, full of glad bursts
Hardly dimmed in mood, it turns suddenly into a phase of languorous
passion, in rich setting of pulsing harp, where now the later figures,
all but the blissful theme, vanish before an ardent song of the
wondering phrase. The motive of passionate desire rises and falls, and
soars in a path of "endless melody," returning on its own line of
flight, playing as if with its shadow, catching its own echo in the
ecstasy of chase. And every verse ends with a new stress of the
insistent upward stride, that grows ever in force and closes with big
reverberating blasts. The theme of the vision joins almost in rough
guise of utmost speed, and the rude marching song breaks in; somehow,
though they add to the maze, they do not dispel the joy. The ruling
phase of passion now rumbles fiercely in lowest depths. The theme of
beauty rings in clarion wind and strings, and now the whole strife ends
in clearest, overwhelming hymn of triumphant gladness, all in the
strides of the old wondering, striving phrase.
The whole battle here is won. Though former moments are fought through
again (and new melodies grow out of the old plaint), the triumphant
shout is near and returns (ever from a fresh tonal quarter) to chase
away the doubt and fear. All the former phrases sing anew, merging the
tale of their strife in the recurring verse of united paean. The song at
last dies away, breaking like setting sun into glinting rays of
celestial hue, that pale away into dullest murmur.
Still one returning paroxysm, of wild striving for eluding bliss, and
then comes the close. From lowest depths shadowy tones sing herald
phrases against dim, distorted figures of the theme of beauty,--that
lead to a soft song of the triumphant hymn, _tranquillo_, in gentlest
whisper, but with all the sense of gladness and ever bolder straying of
the enchanting dream. After a final climax the song ends in slow
The poet Ritter is said to have added, after the production of the
music, the poem printed on the score, of which the following is a rather
In the miserable chamber,
Dim with flick'ring candlelight,
Lies a man on bed of sickness.
Fiercely but a moment past
Did he wage with Death the battle;
Worn he sinks back into sleep.
Save the clock's persistent ticking
Not a sound invades the room,
Where the gruesome quiet warns us
Of the neighborhood of Death.
O'er the pale, distended features
Plays a melancholy smile.
Is he dreaming at life's border
Of his childhood golden days?
But a paltry shrift of sleep
Death begrudges to his victim.
Cruelly he wakes and shakes him,
And the fight begins anew,--
Throb of life and power of death,
And the horror of the struggle.
Neither wins the victory.
Once again the stillness reigns.
Worn of battle, he relapses
Sleepless, as in fevered trance.
Now he sees before him passing
Of his life each single scene:
First the glow of childhood dawn,
Bright in purest innocence,
Then the bolder play of youth
Trying new discovered powers,
Till he joins the strife of men,
Burning with an eager passion
For the high rewards of life.--
To present in greater beauty
What his inner eye beholds,
This is all his highest purpose
That has guided his career.
Cold and scornful does the world
Pile the barriers to his striving.
Is he near his final goal,
Comes a thund'rous "Halt!" to meet him.
"Make the barrier a stepping,
Ever higher keep your path."
Thus he presses on and urges,
Never ceasing from his aim.--
What he ever sought of yore
With his spirit's deepeth longing,
Now he seeks in sweat of death,
Seeks--alas! and finds it never.
Though he grasps it clearer now,
Though it grows in living form,
He can never all achieve it,
Nor create it in his thought.
Then the final blow is sounded
From the hammer-stroke of Death,
Breaks the earthly frame asunder,
Seals the eye with final night.
But a mighty host of sounds
Greet him from the space of heaven
With the song he sought below:
Man redeemed,--the world transfigured.
_DON JUAN. (TONE POEM.)_
A score or more of lines from Lenau's poem of the same title stand as
the subject of the music.
O magic realm, illimited, eternal,
Of gloried woman,--loveliness supernal!
Fain would I, in the storm of stressful bliss,
Expire upon the last one's lingering kiss!
Through every realm, O friend, would wing my flight,
Wherever Beauty blooms, kneel down to each,
And, if for one brief moment, win delight!
* * * * *
I flee from surfeit and from rapture's cloy,
Keep fresh for Beauty service and employ,
Grieving the One, that All I may enjoy.
My lady's charm to-day hath breath of spring,
To-morrow may the air of dungeon bring.
When with the new love won I sweetly wander,
No bliss is ours upfurbish'd and regilded;
A different love has This to That one yonder,--
Not up from ruins be my temple builded.
Yea Love life is, and ever must be now,
Cannot be changed or turned in new direction;
It must expire--here find a resurrection;
And, if 'tis real, it nothing knows of rue!
Each Beauty in the world is sole, unique;
So must the love be that would Beauty seek!
So long as Youth lives on with pulse afire,
Out to the chase! To victories new aspire!
* * * * *
It was a wond'rous lovely storm that drove me:
Now it is o'er; and calm all round, above me;
Sheer dead is every wish; all hopes o'ershrouded,--
It was perhaps a flash from heaven descended,
Whose deadly stroke left me with powers ended,
And all the world, so bright before, o'erclouded;
Yet perchance not! Exhausted is the fuel;
And on the hearth the cold is fiercely cruel.[A]
[Footnote A: Translation by John P. Jackson.]
In the question of the composer's intent, of general plan and of
concrete detail, it is well to see that the quotation from Lenau's poem
is twice broken by lines of omission; that there are thus three
principal divisions. It cannot be wise to follow a certain kind of
interpretation[A] which is based upon the plot of Mozart's opera. The
spirit of Strauss's music is clearly a purely subjective conception,
where the symbolic figure of fickle desire moves through scenes of
enchantment to a climax of--barren despair.
[Footnote A: In a complex commentary William Mauke finds Zerlina, Anna
and "The Countess" in the music.]
To some extent Strauss clearly follows the separate parts of his
quotation. Fervent desire, sudden indifference are not to be mistaken.
The various love scenes may be filled with special characters without
great harm, save that the mind is diverted from a higher poetic view to
a mere concrete play of events. The very quality of the pure musical
treatment thus loses nobility and significance. Moreover the only
thematic elements in the design are the various "motives" of the hero.
_Allegro molto con brio_ begins the impetuous main theme in dashing
[Music: _Allegro molto con brio_
(Doubled in higher 8ve.)]
[Music: (Woodwind doubled in higher 8ve.)]
and masterful career.
[Music: (Doubled in higher 8ve.)]
The various phases are mingled in spirited song; only the very beginning
seems reserved as a special symbol of a turn in the chase, of the sudden
flame of desire that is kindled anew.
In the midst of a fresh burst of the main phrase are gentle strains of
plaint (_flebile_). And now a tenderly sad motive in the wood sings
against the marching phrase, amidst a spray of light, dancing chords.
Another song of the main theme is spent in a vanishing tremolo of
strings and harp, and buried in a rich chord whence rises a new song
(_molto espressivo_) or rather a duet, the first of the longer
The main melody is begun in clarinet and horn and instantly followed (as
in canon) by violins. The climax of this impassioned scene is a titanic
chord of minor, breaking the spell; the end is in a distorted strain of
the melody, followed by a listless refrain of the (original) impetuous
motive (_senza espressione_).
The main theme breaks forth anew, in the spirit of the beginning. It
yields suddenly before the next episode, a languorous song of lower
strings (_molto appassionato_), strangely broken into by sighing phrases
in the high wood (_flebile_). After further interruption, the love song
is crowned by a broad flowing melody (_sehr getragen und
ausdrucksvoll_)--the main lyric utterance of all. It has a full length
of extended song, proportioned to its distinguished beauty. The dual
quality is very clear throughout the scene. Much of the song is on a
kindred phrase of the lyric melody sung by the clarinet with dulcet
chain of chords of harp.
Here strikes a climactic tune in forte unison of the four horns (_molto
espressivo e marcato_). It is the clear utterance of a new mood of the
[Music: (Four horns in unison) (Full orchestra)]
subjective phase. With a firm tread, though charged with pathos, it
seems what we might venture to call a symbol of renunciation. It is
broken in upon by a strange version of the great love song, _agitato_ in
oboes, losing all its queenly pace. As though in final answer comes
again the ruthless phrase of horns, followed now by the original theme.
_Rapidamente_ in full force of strings comes the coursing strain of
impetuous desire. The old and the new themes of the hero are now in
stirring encounter, and the latter seems to prevail.
The mood all turns to humor and merrymaking. In gay dancing trip serious
subjects are treated jokingly (the great melody of the horns is
mockingly sung by the harp),--in fits and gusts. At the height the
(first) tempestuous motive once more dashes upwards and yields to a
revel of the (second) whimsical phrase. A sense of fated renunciation
seems to pervade the play of feelings of the hero. In the lull, when the
paroxysm is spent, the various figures of his past romances pass in
shadowy review; the first tearful strain, the melody of the first of the
longer episodes,--the main lyric song (_agitato_).
In the last big flaming forth of the hero's passion victory is once more
with the theme of renunciation,--or shall we say of grim denial where
there is no choice.
Strauss does not defy tradition (or providence) by ending his poem with
a triumph. A final elemental burst of passion stops abruptly before a
long pause. The end is in dismal, dying harmonies,--a mere dull sigh of
emptiness, a void of joy and even of the solace of poignant grief.
_TILL EULENSPIEGEL'S MERRY PRANKS_
_In the Manner of Ancient Rogues--In Rondo Form_
Hardly another subject could have been more happy for the revelling in
brilliant pranks and conceits of a modern vein of composition. And in
the elusive humor of the subject is not the least charm and fitness.
Too much stress has been laid on the graphic purpose. There is always a
tendency to construe too literally. While we must be in full sympathy
with the poetic story, there is small need to look for each precise
event. We are tempted to go further, almost in defiance, and say that
music need not be definite, even despite the composer's intent. In other
words, if the tonal poet designs and has in mind a group of graphic
figures, he may nevertheless achieve a work where the real value and
beauty lie in a certain interlinear humor and poetry,--where the labels
can in some degree be disregarded.
Indeed, it is this very abstract charm of music that finds in such a
subject its fullest fitness. If we care to know the pranks exactly, why
not turn to the text? Yet, reading the book, in a way, destroys the
spell. Better imagine the ideal rogue, whimsical, spritely, all of the
people too. But in the music is the real Till. The fine poetry of
ancient humor is all there, distilled from the dregs of folk-lore that
have to us lost their true essence. There is in the music a daemonic
quality, inherent in the subject, that somehow vanishes with the
concrete tale. So we might say the tonal picture is a faithful likeness
precisely in so far as it does not tell the facts of the story.
Indeed, in this mass of vulgar stories we cannot help wondering at the
reason for their endurance through the centuries, until we feel
something of the spirit of the people in all its phases. A true mirror
it was of stupidity and injustice, presented by a sprite of owlish
wisdom, sporting, teasing and punishing[A] all about. It is a kind of
popular satire, with a strong personal element of a human Puck, or an
impish Robin Hood, with all the fairy restlessness, mocking at human rut
and empty custom.
[Footnote A: On leaving the scene of some special mischief, Till would
draw a chalk picture of an owl on the door, and write below, _Hic fuit_.
The edition of 1519 has a woodcut of an owl resting on a mirror, that
was carved in stone, the story goes, over Till's grave.]
It is perhaps in the multitude of the stories, paradoxical though it
seem, that lies the strength. In the number of them (ninety-two
"histories" there are) is an element of universality. It is like the
broom: one straw does not make, nor does the loss of one destroy it;
somewhere in the mass lies the quality of broom.
In a way Till is the Ulysses of German folk-lore, the hero of trickery,
a kind of _Reinecke Fuchs_ in real life. But he is of the soil as none
of the others. A satyr, in a double sense, is Till; only he is pure
Teuton, of the latter middle ages.
He is every sort of tradesman, from tailor to doctor. Many of the
stories, perhaps the best, are not stories at all, but merely clever
sayings. In most of the tricks there is a Roland for an Oliver. Till
stops at no estate; parsons are his favorite victims. He is, on the
whole, in favor with the people, though he played havoc with entire
villages. Once he was condemned to death by the Luebeck council. But
even here it was his enemies, whom he had defrauded, that sought
revenge. The others excused the tricks and applauded his escape. Even in
death the scandal and mischief do not cease.
The directions in Strauss' music are new in their kind and dignity. They
belong quite specially to this new vein of tonal painting. In a double
function, they not merely guide the player, but the listener as well.
The humor is of utmost essence; the humor is the thing, not the play,
nor the story of each of the pranks, in turn, of our jolly rogue. And
the humor lies much in these words of the composer, that give the lilt
of motion and betray a sense of the intended meaning.
The tune, sung at the outset _gemaechlich_ (comfortably), is presumably
the rogue _motif_, first in pure innocence of mood. But quickly comes
another, quite opposed in rhythm, that soon hurries into highest speed.
These are not the "subjects" of old tradition.
And first we are almost inclined to take the "Rondo form" as a new
roguish prank. But we may find a form where the subjects are independent
of the basic themes that weave in and out unfettered by rule--where the
subjects are rather new grouping of the fundamental symbols.[A]
[Footnote A: It is like the Finale of Brahms' Fourth Symphony, where an
older form (of _passacaglia_) is reared together with a later, one
within the other.]
After a pause in the furious course of the second theme, a quick piping
phrase sounds _lustig_ (merrily) in the clarinet, answered by a chord of
[Music: _Molto allegro_
token. But slowly do we trace the laughing phrase to the first theme.
And here is a new whim. Though still in full tilt, the touch of demon is
gone in a kind of ursine clog of the basses. Merely jaunty and clownish
it would be but for the mischievous scream (of high flute) at the end.
And now begins a rage of pranks, where the main phrase is the rogue's
laugh, rising in brilliant gamut of outer pitch and inner mood.
At times the humor is in the spirit of a Jean Paul, playing between
rough fun and sadness in a fine spectrum of moods. The lighter motive
dances harmlessly about the more serious, intimate second phrase. There
is almost the sense of lullaby before the sudden plunge to wildest
chaos, the only portent being a constant trembling of low strings. All
Bedlam is let loose, where the rogue's shriek is heard through a
confused cackling and a medley of voices here and there on the running
phrase (that ever ends the second theme). The sound of a big rattle is
added to the scene,--where perhaps the whole village is in an uproar
over some wholesale trick of the rogue.
And what are we to say to this simplest swing of folk-song that steals
in naively to enchanting strum of rhythm. We may speculate about the
Till as the
people saw him, while elsewhere we have the personal view. The
folk-tunes may not have a special dramatic role. Out of the text of
folk-song, to be sure, all the strains are woven. Here and there we
have the collective voice. If we have watched keenly, we have heard how
the tune, simply though it begins, has later all the line of Till's
personal phrase. Even in the bass it is, too. Of the same fibre is this
demon mockery and the thread of folk legend.
We cannot pretend to follow all the literal whims. And it is part of the
very design that we are ever surprised by new tricks, as by this saucy
trip of dancing phrase. The purely human touches are clear, and almost
moving in contrast with the impish humor.
An earlier puzzle is of the second theme. As the composer has refused to
help us, he will not quarrel if we find our own construction. A possible
clue there is. As the story proceeds, aside from the mere abounding fun
and poetry, the more serious theme prevails. Things are happening. And
there come the tell-tale directions. _Liebegluehend_, aflame with love, a
melody now sings in urgent pace, ending with
a strange descending note. Presently in quieter mood, _ruhiger_, it
gains a new grace, merely to dash again, _wuetend_, into a fiercer rage
than before. Before long we cannot escape in all this newer melody a
mere slower outline of the second theme. A guess then, such as the
composer invites us to make, is this: It is not exactly a Jekyll and
Hyde, but not altogether different. Here (in the second theme, of horn)
is Till himself,--not the rogue, but the man in his likes and loves and
suffering. The rogue is another, a demon that possesses him to tease
mankind, to tease himself out of his happiness. During the passionate
episode the rogue is banned, save for a grimace now and then, until the
climax, when all in disguise of long passionate notes of resonant bass
the demon theme has full control. But for once it is in earnest, in dead
earnest, we might say. And the ominous chord has a supreme moment, in
the shadow of the fulfilment.
A new note sounds in solemn legend of lowest wood, sadly beautiful, with
a touch of funeral pace.[A]
[Footnote A: Strauss told the writer that this was the march of the
jurymen,--"_der Marsch der Schoeffen_." Reproached for killing Till, he
admitted that he had taken a license with the story and added: "In the
epilogue,--there he lives."]
The impish laugh still keeps intruding. But throughout the scene it is
the Till motive, not the rogue, that fits the stride of the death-march.
To be sure the rogue anon laughs bravely. But the other figure is in
[Music: (Lowest woodwind)]
The sombre legend is, indeed, in a separate phase, its beauty now
distorted in a feverish chase of voices on the main phrase. It is all a
second climax, of a certain note of terror,--of fate. In the midst is a
dash of the rogue's heartiest laugh, amid the echoes of the fearful
chord, while the growing roar of the mob can be heard below. Once again
it rings out undaunted, and then to the sauciest of folk-tunes,
_leichtfertig_, Till dances gaily and jauntily. Presently, in a mystic
passage, _schnell und schattenhaft_
(Strings reinforced by clarinets and horns)]
(like fleeting shadow) a phantom of the rogue's figure passes
stealthily across the horizon.
_Etwas gemaechlicher_, a graceful duet weaves prettily out of the Till
motive, while the other roars very gently in chastened tones of softest
The first course of themes now all recurs, though some of the roguery is
softened and soon trips into purest folk-dance. And yet it is all built
of the rascal theme. It might (for another idle guess) be a general
rejoicing. Besides the tuneful dance, the personal phrase is laughing
and chuckling in between.
The rejoicing has a big climax in the first folk-song of all, that now
returns in full blast of horns against a united dance of strings and
wood. After a roll of drum loud clanging strokes sound threatening
(_drohend_) in low bass and strings, to which the rascal pipes his theme
indifferently (_gleichgueltig_). The third time, his answer has a
simulated sound (_entstellt_). Finally, on the insistent thud comes a
piteous phrase (_klaeglich_) in running thirds. The dread chords at last
vanish, in the strings. It is very like an actual, physical end. There
is no doubt that the composer here intends the death of Till, in face of
Follows the epilogue, where in the comfortable swing of the beginning
the first melody is extended in full beauty and significance. All the
pleasantry of the rogue is here, and at the end a last fierce burst of
the demon laugh.
The work followed a series of tone-poems where the graphic aim is shown
far beyond the dreams even of a Berlioz. It may be said that Strauss,
strong evidence to the contrary, does not mean more than a suggestion of
the mood,--that he plays in the humor and poetry of his subject rather
than depicts the full story. It is certainly better to hold to this view
as long as possible. The frightening penalty of the game of exact
meanings is that if there is one here, there must be another there and
everywhere. There is no blinking the signs of some sort of plot in our
domestic symphony, with figures and situations. The best way is to lay
them before the hearer and leave him to his own reception.
In the usual sense, there are no separate movements. Though "Scherzo" is
printed after the first appearance of the three main figures, and later
"Adagio" and "Finale," the interplay and recurrence of initial themes is
too constant for the traditional division. It is all a close-woven drama
in one act, with rapidly changing scenes. Really more important than the
conventional Italian names are such headings as "Wiegenlied"
(Cradle-song), and above all, the numerous directions. Here is an almost
conclusive proof of definite intent. To be sure, even a figure on canvas
is not the man himself. Indeed, as music approaches graphic realism, it
is strange how painting goes the other way. Or rather, starting from
opposite points, the two arts are nearing each other. As modern painting
tends to give the feeling of a subject, the subjective impression rather
than the literal outline, we can conceive even in latest musical realism
the "atmosphere" as the principal aim. In other words, we may view
Strauss as a sort of modern impressionist tone-painter, and so get the
best view of his pictures.
Indeed, cacophony is alone a most suggestive subject. In the first place
the term is always relative, never absolute,--relative in the historic
period of the composition, or relative as to the purpose. One can hardly
say that any combination of notes is unusable. Most striking it is how
the same group of notes makes hideous waste in one case, and a true
tonal logic in another. Again, what was impossible in Mozart's time, may
be commonplace to-day.
You cannot stamp cacophony as a mere whim of modern decadence. Beethoven
made the noblest use of it and suffered misunderstanding. Bach has it in
his scores with profound effect. And then the license of one age begets
a greater in the next. It is so in poetry, though in far less degree.
For, in music, the actual tones are the integral elements of the art.
They are the idea itself; in poetry the words merely suggest it.
A final element, independent of the notes themselves, is the official
numbering of themes. Strauss indicates a first, second and third theme,
obviously of the symphony, not of a single movement. The whole attitude
of the composer, while it does not compel, must strongly suggest some
sort of guess of intending meaning.[A]
[Footnote A: At the first production, in New York, in obedience to the
composer's wish, no descriptive notes were printed. When the symphony
was played, likewise under the composer's direction, in Berlin in
December, 1904, a brief note in the program-book mentions the three
groups of themes, the husband's, the wife's and the child's, in the
first movement. The other movements are thus entitled:
II.--_Scherzo._ Parents' happiness. Childish play. Cradle-song (the
clock strikes seven in the evening).
III.--_Adagio._ Creation and contemplation. Love scene. Dreams and cares
(the clock strikes seven in the morning).
IV.--_Finale._ Awakening and merry dispute (double fugue). Joyous
The "first theme" in "comfortable" pace, gliding
[Music: 1st Theme
(Cellos and fagots)
(Cellos, bassoons and horns)]
into a "dreamy" phrase, begins the symphony. Presently
a "peevish" cry breaks in, in sudden altered key; then on a second,
soothing tonal change, a strain sings "ardently" in upward wing to a
bold climax and down to gentler cadence, the "peevish" cry still
breaking in. The trumpet has a short cheery
[Music: _With fire_
call (_lustig_), followed by a brisk, rousing run in wood and strings
(_frisch_). A return of the "comfortable" phrase is quickly overpowered
by the "second theme," in very lively manner (_sehr lebhaft_), with an
answering phrase, _grazioso_, and light trills above.
[Music: 2d Theme _With great spirit_
(Strings, wood, horns and harps)
The incidental phrases are thus opposed to the main humor of each theme.
The serene first melody has "peevish" interruptions; the assertive
second yields to graceful blandishments. A little later a strain appears
_gefuehlvoll_, "full of feeling," (that plays a frequent part), but the
main (second) theme breaks in "angrily." Soon a storm is brewing; at the
height the same motive is sung insistently. In the lull, the first
phrase of all sings gaily (_lustig_), and then serenely (_gemaechlich_)
in tuneful tenor. Various
[Music: (Largely in strings)]
parts of the first theme are now blended in mutual discourse.
Amidst trembling strings the oboe d'amore plays the "third theme." "Very
tenderly," "quietly," the
[Music: 3d Theme _Quietly_ (Strings)
second gives soothing answer, and the third sings a full melodious
Here a loud jangling noise tokens important arrivals. Fierce, hearty
pulling of the door-bell excites the parents, especially the mother, who
is quite in hysterics. The father takes it decidedly more calmly. The
visitors presently appear in full view, so to speak; for "the aunts," in
the trumpets, exclaim: "Just like Papa," and the uncles, in the
trombones, cry: "Just like Mama" (_ganz die Mama_). There can be no
questioning; it is all written in the book.
It is at least not hazardous to guess the three figures in the domestic
symphony. Now in jolly Scherzo (_munter_) begin the tricks and sport of
babyhood. There is of course but one theme, with mere comments
[Music: _Gaily. Scherzo_
of parental phrases in varying accents of affection. Another noisy scene
mars all the peace; father and child have a strong disagreement; the
latter is "defiant"; the paternal authority is enforced. Bed-time comes
with the stroke of seven, a cradle-song (Wiegenlied) (where the child's
theme hums faintly below). Then, "slowly and very quietly" sings the
"dreamy" phrase of the first theme, where
[Music: _Rather slowly_ (Cradle song) (Clarinets singing)
the answer, in sweeping descent, gives one of the principal elements of
the later plot. It ends in a moving bit of tune, "very quietly and
expressively" (_sehr ruhig und innig_).
Adagio, a slow rising strain plays in the softer
[Music: _Very quietly and expressively_
wood-notes of flute, oboe d'amore, English horn, and the lower
clarinets; below sings gently the second theme, quite transformed in
feeling. Those upper notes, with a touch of impassioned yearning, are
not new to our ears. That very rising phrase (the "dreamy" motive), if
we strain our memory, was at first below the more vehement (second)
now the whole themal group is reversed outwardly and in the inner
feeling. Indeed, in other places crops out a like expressive symbol, and
especially in the phrase, marked _gefuehlvoll_, that followed the second
theme in the beginning. All these motives here find a big concerted song
in quiet motion, the true lyric spot of the symphony.
Out of it emerges a full climax, bigger and broader now, of the first
motive. At another stage the second has the lead; but at the height is a
splendid verse of the maternal song. At the end the quiet, blissful tune
sings again "_sehr innig_."
_Appassionato_ re-enters the second figure. Mingled in its song are the
latest tune and an earlier expressive phrase _(gefuehlvoll)_. The storm
that here ensues is not of dramatic play of opposition. There are no
"angry" indications. It is the full blossoming in richest madrigal of
all the themes of tenderness and passion in an aureole of glowing
harmonies. The morning comes with the stroke of seven and the awakening
cry of the child.
The Finale begins in lively pace (_sehr lebhaft_) with
[Music: (Double Fugue) 1st theme
a double fugue, where it is not difficult to see in the first theme a
fragment of the "baby" motive. The second is a remarkably assertive
little phrase from the cadence of the second theme (quoted above). The
son is clearly the hero, mainly in sportive humor, although he is not
free from parental interference. The maze and rigor of the fugue do not
prevent a frequent appearance of all the other themes, and even of the
full melodies, of which the fugal motives are built. At the climax of
the fugue, in the height of speed and noise, something very delightful
is happening, some furious romp, perhaps, of father and son, the mother
smiling on the game. At the close a new melody that we might trace, if
we cared, in earlier origin, has a full verse "quietly and simply"
(_ruhig und einfach_) in wood and horns, giving the crown
[Music: _Quietly and simply_ (Woodwind and horns)
(With sustained chord of cellos)]
and seal to the whole. The rest is a final happy refrain of all the
strains, where the husband's themes are clearly dominant.
The present estate of music in Italy is an instance of the danger of
prophecy in the broad realm of art. Wise words are daily heard on the
rise and fall of a nation in art, or of a form like the symphony, as
though a matter of certain fate, in strict analogy to the life of man.
Italy was so long regnant in music that she seems even yet its chosen
land. We have quite forgotten how she herself learned at the feet of the
masters from the distant North. For music is, after all, the art of the
North; the solace for winter's desolation; an utterance of feeling
without the model of a visible Nature.
And yet, with a prodigal stream of native melody and an ancient passion
of religious rapture, Italy achieved masterpieces in the opposite fields
of the Mass and of Opera. But for the more abstract plane of pure tonal
forms it has somehow been supposed that she had neither a power nor a
desire for expression. An Italian symphony seems almost an anomaly,--as
strange a product as was once a German opera.
The blunt truth of actual events is that to-day a renascence has begun,
not merely in melodic and dramatic lines; there is a new blending of the
racial gift of song with a power of profound design.[A] Despite all
historical philosophy, here is a new gushing forth from ancient fount,
of which the world may rejoice and be refreshed.
[Footnote A: In the field of the _Lied_ the later group of Italians,
such as Sinigaglia and Bossi, show a melodic spontaneity and a breadth
of lyric treatment that we miss in the songs of modern French composers.
In his Overture "_Le Baruffe Chiozzote_" (The Disputes of the People of
Chiozza) Sinigaglia has woven a charming piece with lightest touch of
masterly art; a delicate humor of melody plays amid a wealth of
counterpoint that is all free of a sense of learning.]
In a SYMPHONY BY GIOVANNI SGAMBATI,[A] IN D MAJOR, the form flows with
such unpremeditated ease that it seems all to the manner born. It may be
a new evidence that to-day national lines, at least in art, are
vanishing; before long the national quality will be imperceptible and
[Footnote A: Born in 1843.]
To be sure we see here an Italian touch in the simple artless stream of
tune, the warm resonance, the buoyant spring of rhythm. The first
movement stands out in the symphony with a subtler design than all the
rest, though it does not lack the ringing note of jubilation.
The Andante is a pure lyric somewhat new in design and in feeling. It
shows, too, an interesting contrast of opposite kinds of slower
melody,--the one dark-hued and legend-like, from which the poet wings
his flight to a hymnal rhapsody on a clear choral theme, with a rich
setting of arpeggic harmonies. A strange halting or limping rhythm is
continued throughout the former subject. In the big climax the feeling
is strong of some great chant or rite, of vespers or Magnificat. Against
convention the ending returns to the mood of sad legend.
The Scherzo is a sparkling chain of dancing tunes of which the third, of
more intimate hue, somehow harks back to the second theme of the first
A Trio, a dulcet, tender song of the wood, precedes the return of the
Scherzo that ends with the speaking cadence from the first Allegro.
A Serenata must be regarded as a kind of Intermezzo, in the Cantilena
manner, with an accompanying rhythm suggesting an ancient Spanish dance.
It stands as a foil between the gaiety of the Scherzo and the jubilation
of the Finale.
The Finale is one festive idyll, full of ringing tune and almost bucolic
lilt of dance. It reaches one of those happy jingles that we are glad to
hear the composer singing to his heart's content.
_GIUSEPPE MARTUCCI. SYMPHONY IN D MINOR._[A]
[Footnote A: Giuseppe Martucci, 1856-1911.]
The very naturalness, the limpid flow of the melodic thought seem to
resist analysis of the design. The listener's perception must be as
naive and spontaneous as was the original conception.
There is, on the one hand, no mere adoption of a classical schedule of
form, nor, on the other, the over-subtle workmanship of modern schools.
Fresh and resolute begins the virile theme with a main charm in the
motion itself. It lies not in a tune here or there, but in a dual play
of responsive phrases at the start, and then a continuous flow of
further melody on the fillip of the original rhythm, indefinable of
outline in a joyous chanting of bass and treble.
A first height reached, an expressive line in the following lull rises
in the cellos, that is the essence of the contrasting idea, followed
straightway by a brief phrase of the kind, like some turns of peasant
song, that we can hear contentedly without ceasing.
(Lower reed, horns and strings)]
Again, as at the beginning, such a wealth of melodies sing together that
not even the composer could know which he intended in chief. We merely
feel, instead of the incisive ring of the first group, a quieter power
of soothing beauty. Yet, heralded by a prelude of sweet strains, the
expressive line now enters like a queenly figure over a new rhythmic
motion, and flows on through delighting glimpses of new harmony to a
[Music: (Flute and oboe, doubled below in clarinet)
The story, now that the characters have appeared, continues in the main
with the second browsing in soft lower strings, while the first (in its
later phase) sings above in the wood transformed in mildness, though for
a nonce the first motive strikes with decisive vigor. Later is a new
heroic mood of minor, quickly softened when the companion melody
appears. A chapter of more sombre hue follows, all with the lilt and
pace of romantic ballad. At last the main hero returns as at the
beginning, only in more splendid panoply, and rides on 'mid clattering
suite to passionate triumph. And then, with quieter charm, sings again
the second figure, with the delighting strains again and again
rehearsed, matching the other with the power of sweetness.
One special idyll there is of carolling soft horn and clarinet, where a
kind of lullaby flows like a distilled essence from the gentler play--of
the heroic tune, before its last big verse, with a mighty flow of
[Music: _dolce e tranquillo_
(Horn) (Two horns)
sequence, and splendidly here the second figure crowns the pageant. At
the passionate height, over long ringing chord, the latter sings a
sonorous line in lengthened notes of the wood and horns. The first
climax is here, in big coursing strains, then it slowly lulls, with a
new verse of the idyll, to a final hush.
The second movement is a brief lyric with one main melody, sung at first
by a solo cello amidst a weaving of muted strings; later it is taken up
by the first violins. The solo cello returns for a further song in duet
with the violins, where the violas, too, entwine their melody, or the
cello is joined by the violins.
Now the chief melody returns for a richer and varied setting with horns
and woodwind. At last the first violins, paired in octave with the
cello, sing the full melody in a madrigal of lesser strains.
An epilogue answers the prologue of the beginning.
Equally brief is the true Scherzo, though merely entitled Allegretto,--a
dainty frolic without the heavy brass, an indefinable conceit of airy
fantasy, with here and there a line of sober melody peeping between the
mischievous pranks. There is no contrasting Trio in the middle; but just
before the end comes a quiet pace as of mock-gravity, before a final
A preluding fantasy begins in the mood of the early Allegro; a wistful
melody of the clarinet plays more slowly between cryptic reminders of
the first theme of the symphony. In sudden _Allegro risoluto_ over
rumbling bass of strings, a mystic call of horns, harking far back,
spreads its echoing ripples all about till it rises in united tones,
with a clear, descending answer, much like the original first motive.
The latter now continues in the bass in large and smaller pace beneath a
new tuneful treble of violins, while the call still roams a free course
in the wind. Oft repeated is this resonation in paired harmonies, the
lower phrase like an "obstinate bass."
Leaving the fantasy, the voices sing in simple choral lines a hymnal
song in triumphal pace, with firm cadence and answer, ending at length
in the descending
[Music: _Allegro risoluto_
(Strings, with added wood and horns)]
phrase. The full song is repeated, from the entrance of the latter, as
though to stress the two main melodies. The marching chorus halts
briefly when the clarinet begins again a mystic verse on the strain of
the call, where the descending phrase is intermingled in the horns and
There is a new horizon here. We can no longer speak with
half-condescension of Italian simplicity, though another kind of primal
feeling is mingled in a breadth of symphonic vein. We feel that our
Italian poet has cast loose his leading strings and is revealing new
glimpses through the classic form.
Against a free course of quicker figures rises in the horns the simple
melodic call, with answer and counter-tunes in separate discussion. Here
comes storming in a strident line of the inverted melody in the bassoon,
quarrelling with the original motive in the clarinet. Then a group sing
the song in dancing trip, descending against the stern rising theme of
violas; or one choir follows on the heels of another. Now into the play
intrudes the second melody, likewise in serried chase of imitation.
The two themes seem to be battling for dominance, and the former wins,
shouting its primal tune in brass and wood, while the second sinks to a
rude clattering rhythm in the bass. But out of the clash, where the
descending phrase recurs in the basses, the second melody emerges in
full sonorous song. Suddenly at the top of the verse rings out in
stentorian brass the first theme of all the symphony to the opening
chord of the Finale, just as it rang at the climax in the beginning.
A gentle duet of violins and clarinet seems to bring back the second
melody of the first movement, and somehow, in the softer mood, shows a
likeness with the second of the Finale. For a last surprise, the former
idyll (of the first Allegro) returns and clearly proves the original
guise of our latest main melody. As though to assure its own identity as
prevailing motto, it has a special celebration in the final joyous
EDWARD ELGAR. AN ENGLISH SYMPHONY[A]
[Footnote A: Symphony in A flat. Edward Elgar, born in 1857.]
There is a rare nobility in the simple melody, the vein of primal hymn,
that marks the invocation,--in solemn wood against stately stride of
[Music: (_Andante nobilmente e semplice_)
(Basses of strings, _staccato_)]
lower strings. A true ancient charm is in the tune, with a fervor at the
high point and a lilt almost of lullaby,--till the whole chorus begins
anew as though the song of marching hosts. Solemnity is the essence
here, not of artificial ceremony nor of rhymeless chant,--rather of
In passionate recoil is the upward storming song (Allegro) where a group
of horns aid the surging crest of strings and wood,--a resistless motion
of massed melody. Most thrilling after the first climax is the sonorous,
vibrant stroke of the bass in the
[Music: _Allegro appassionato_
(Strings, wood and horns)
(See page 308, line 10.)]
recurring melody. As it proceeds, a new line of bold tune is stirred
above, till the song ends at the highest in a few ringing, challenging
leaps of chord,--ends or, rather merges in a relentless, concluding
descent. Here, in a striking phrase of double
[Music: (Violins and clarinets in succession)
(Strings, the upper 3d doubled in higher reed)]
song, is a touch of plaint that, hushing, heralds the coming gentle
figure. We are sunk in a sweet romance, still of ancientest lore, with a
sense of lost bliss in the wistful cadence. Or do these entrancing
strains lead merely to the broader melody that moves with queenly tread
(of descending violins) above a soft murmuring of lower figures? It is
(Harp and wood doubled above)]
in a lower voice and rises to a height of inner throb rather than of
outer stress. The song departs as it came, through the tearful plaint of
double phrase. Bolder accents merge suddenly into the former impassioned
song. Here is the real sting of warrior call, with shaking brass and
rolling drum, in lengthened swing against other faster sounds,--a revel
of heroics, that at the end breaks afresh into the regular song.
Yet it is all more than mere battle-music. For here is a new passionate
vehemence, with loudest force of vibrant brass, of those dulcet strains
that preceded the queenly melody. An epic it is, at the least, of
ancient flavor, and the sweeter romance here rises to a tempest more
overpowering than martial tumult.
It is in the harking back to primal lore that we seem to feel true
passion at its best and purest, as somehow all truth of legend, proverb
and fable has come from those misty ages of the earth. The drooping
harmonies merge in the returning swing of the first solemn hymn,--a mere
line that is broken by a new tender appeal, that, rising to a moving
yields to the former plaint (of throbbing thirds).
A longer elegy sings, with a fine poignancy, bold and new in the very
delicacy of texture, in the sharp impinging of these gentlest sounds. In
the depths of the dirge suddenly, though quietly, sounds the herald
melody high in the wood, with ever firmer cheer, soon in golden horns,
at last in impassioned strings, followed by the wistful motive.
A phase here begins as of dull foreboding, with a new figure stalking in
the depths and, above, a brief sigh in the wind. In the growing stress
these figures sing from opposite quarters, the sobbing phrase below,
when suddenly the queenly melody stills the tumult. It is answered by a
dim, slow line of the ominous motive. Quicker echoes of the earlier
despond still flit here and there, with gleams of joyous light. The
plaintive (dual) song returns and too the tender appeal, which with its
sweetness at last wakens the buoyant spirit of the virile theme.
And so pass again the earlier phases of resolution with the masterful
conclusion; the tearful accents; the brief verse of romance, and the
sweep of queenly figure, rising again to almost exultation. But here,
instead of tears and recoil, is the brief sigh over sombre harmonies,
rising insistent in growing volume that somehow conquers its own mood. A
return of the virile motive is followed at the height by the throbbing
dual song with vehement stress of grief, falling to lowest echoes.
Here begins the epilogue with the original solemn hymn. Only it is now
entwined with shreds and memories of romance, flowing tranquilly on
through gusts of passion. And there is the dull sob with the sudden
gleam of joyous light. But the hymn returns like a sombre solace of
oblivion,--though there is a final strain of the wistful romance, ending
in sad harmony.
_II.--Allegro molto._ The Scherzo (as we may venture to call it) begins
with a breath of new harmony, or is it a blended magic of rhythm, tune
and chord? Far more than merely bizarre, it calls up a vision of Celtic
warriors, the wild, free spirit of Northern races. The rushing jig or
reel is halted
[Music: _Allegro molto_
(Strings with kettle-drum)]
anon by longer notes in a drop of the tune and instantly returns to the
quicker run. Below plays a kind of drum-roll of rumbling strings. Other
revelling pranks appear, of skipping wood, rushing harp and dancing
strings, till at last sounds a clearer tune, a restrained war-march with
touch of terror in the soft subdued chords, suddenly growing to
[Music: (Violas and clarinets)
(Wood, basses and strings)]
volume as it sounds all about, in treble and in bass.
At last the war-song rings in full triumphant blast, where trumpets and
the shrill fife lead, and the lower brass, with cymbals and drums (big
and little) mark the march. Then to the returning pranks the tune roars
in low basses and reeds, and at last a big conclusive phrase descends
from the height to meet the rising figure of the basses.
Now the reel dances in furious tumult (instead of the first whisper) and
dies down through the slower cadence.
An entirely new scene is here. To a blended tinkle of harp, reeds and
high strings sounds a delicate air, quick and light, yet with a tinge of
plaint that may be a part of all Celtic song. It were rude to spoil
[Music: (Woodwind, with a triplet pulse of harp and rhythmic strings)]
its fine fragrance with some rough title of meaning; nor do we feel a
strong sense of romance, rather a whim of Northern fantasy.
Over a single note of bass sings a new strain of elegy, taken up by
other voices, varying with the
tinkling air. Suddenly in rushes the first reel, softly as at first; but
over it sings still the new sad tune, then yields to the wild whims and
pranks that lead to the war-song in resonant chorus, joined at the
height by the reel below. They change places, the tune ringing in the
bass. In the martial tumult the tinkling air is likewise infected with
saucy vigor, but suddenly retires abashed into its shell of fairy sound,
and over it sings the elegy in various choirs. The tinkling melody falls
suddenly into a new flow of moving song, rising to pure lyric fervor.
The soft air has somehow the main say, has reached the high point, has
touched the heart of the movement. Expressively it slowly sinks away
amid echoing phrases and yields to the duet of elegy and the first reel.
But a new spirit has appeared. The sting of war-song is gone. And here
is the reel in slow reluctant pace. After another verse of the fairy
tune, the jig plays still slower, while above sings a new melody. Still
slower the jig has fallen almost to funeral pace, has grown to a new
song of its own, though, to be sure, brief reminders of the first dance
jingle softly here and there. And now the (hushed) shadow of the
war-song in quite slower gait strides in lowest basses and passes
quietly straight into the Adagio.
[Music: (Strings with lower reeds and horns)
_III._--Assured peace is in the simple sincere melody, rising to a glow
of passion. But--is this a jest of our poet? Or rather now we see why
there was no halt at the end of the Scherzo. For the soothing melody is
in the very notes of the impish reel,--is the same tune.[A] Suddenly
hushing, the song hangs on high over delicate minor harmonies.
[Footnote A: There seems to be shown in this feat at once the
versatility of music as well as the musician in expressing opposite
moods by the same theme. The author does not feel bound to trace all
such analogies, as in the too close pursuit we may lose the forest in
In exquisite hues an intimate dialogue ensues, almost too personal for
the epic vein, a discourse or madrigal of finest fibre that breaks (like
rays of setting sun) into a melting cadence of regret. We are doubly
thrilled in harking back to the sweet, wistful romance, the strain of
the first movement.
[Music: (Harp, wood and strings)]
Across the gauzy play, horns and wood blow a slow phrase, like a motto
of Fate in the sombre harmony, with one ardent burst of pleading.
In clearer articulation sings a dual song, still softly o'ercast with
sweet sadness, ever richer in the harmonies of multiple strings, tipped
with the light mood,--and again the wistful cadence. Siren figures of
entrancing grace that move amid the other melody, bring enchantment that
has no cheer, nor escape the insistent sighing phrase. Once more come
the ominous call and the passionate plea, then assurance with the
returning main melody in renewed fervor. Phases of dual melody end again
with the wistful cadence. The tranquil close is like one sustained fatal
farewell, where the fairy figures but stress the sad burden.
_IV._--The beginning is in lowest depths (Largo). First is the stalking
figure of earliest movement, from the moment of despond. It is answered
by a steadily striding theme, almost martial, save for the
(_Pizz._ cellos with _stacc._ bassoons)]
slowness of pace. Not unlike the hymn of the first prologue in line of
tune, it bears a mood of dark resignation that breaks presently into the
touching plea of the wistful cadence.
The whole is a reflective prologue to the Finale: a deep meditation from
which the song may roll forth on new spring. The hymn has suddenly
entered with a subtly new guise; for the moment it seems part of the
poignant sigh; it is as yet submerged in a flood of gloom and regret;
and the former phrases still stride and stalk below. In a wild climax of
gloom we hear the former sob, earlier companion of the stalking figure.
Hymnal strains return,--flashes of heavenly light in the depths of hell,
and one passionate sigh of the melting cadence.
_Allegro_,--we are carried hack to the resolute vigor of the earlier
symphony, lacking the full fiery charm, but ever striving and stirring,
like Titans rearing mountain piles, not without the cheer of toil
itself. At the height comes a burst of the erst yearning cadence, but
there is a new masterful accent; the wistful edge does not return till
the echoing phrases sink away in the depths.
A new melody starts soaring on the same wing of
[Music: (Strings and clarinets)
(_Staccato_ strings _con 8ve._)]
blended striving and yearning of which all this song is fraught. In its
broader sweep and brighter cheer it is like the queenly melody of the
The Titan toil stirs strongly below the soft cadence; the full, fierce
ardor mounts heavenward. Phases now alternate of insistent rearing on
the strenuous motive and of fateful submission in the marching strain,
that is massed in higher and bigger chorus. As gathers the stress of
climax, the brass blowing a defiant blast, the very vehemence brings a
new resolution that is uttered in the returning strenuous phrase.
Again rises the towering pile. At the thickest the high horns blow loud
a slow, speaking legend,--the farewell motive, it seems, from the end of
Adagio, fierce energy struggling with fatal regret gnawing at the heart.
Gripping is the appeal of the sharp cry almost of anguish into which the
toiling energy is suddenly resolved. Again the fateful march enters, now
in heroic fugue of brass and opposite motion of strings and reed,--all
overwhelmed with wild recurring pangs of regret.
And so "double, double, toil and trouble," on goes the fugue and follows
the arduous climb (into the sad motto in the horns), each relieving the
other, till both yield again to the heart-breaking cry.
The cheerier melody here re-enters and raises the mood for the nonce.
Soon it falls amid dim harmonies. Far in the depths now growls the dull
tread, answered by perverted line of the hymn.
A mystic verse sounds over pious chords of harp in the tune of the
march, which is sung by antiphonal choirs of strings,--later with fuller
celestial chorus, almost in rapture of heavenly resignation. Only it is
not final; for once again returns the full struggle of the beginning,
with the farewell-legend, and in highest passion the phrase of regret
rung again and again--till it is soothed by the tranquil melody. The
relentless stride of march too reaches a new height, and one last,
moving plaint. When the fast chasing cries are in closest tangle,
suddenly the hymn pours out its benediction, while the cries have
changed to angelic acclaim. Here is the transfigured song in full
climactic verse that fulfils the promise of the beginning. A touch of
human (or earthly joy) is added in an exultant strain of the sweeping
melody that unites with the hymn at the close.
SYMPHONIES IN AMERICA
When we come to a view of modern music in symphonic design, written in
America, we are puzzled by a new phase of the element of nationalism.
For here are schools and styles as different as of far corners of
Europe. Yet they can be called nothing else than American, if they must
have a national name. In the northern centre whence a model orchestra
has long shed a beneficent influence far afield, the touch of new French
conceits has colored some of the ablest works. Elsewhere we have cited a
symphony more in line with classical tradition.[A]
[Footnote A: A symphony by Wm. W. Gilchrist. Vol. II, Appendix.]
Perhaps most typical is a symphony of Hadley where one feels, with other
modern tradition, the mantle of the lamented MacDowell, of whom it may
be said that he was first to find in higher reaches of the musical art
an utterance of a purely national temper.
_HENRY HADLEY. SYMPHONY NO. 3, B MINOR._[A]
[Footnote A: Opus 60, Henry Hadley, American, born 1871.]
With virile swing the majestic melody strides in the strings, attended
by trooping chords of wood and brass, all in the minor, in triple
[Music: _Moderato e maestoso_
(Harp and wind)
(All the trebles)
(Strings with lower 8ve.)]
the bass is a frequent retort to the themal phrase. For a moment a
dulcet line steals in, quickly broken by the returning martial stride of
stentorian horns, and of the main theme in full chords. Strange, though,
how a softer, romantic humor is soon spread over the very discussion of
the martial theme, so that it seems the rough, vigorous march is but the
shell for the kernel of tender romance,--the pageant that precedes the
queenly figure. And presently, _piu tranquillo_, comes the fervent lyric
song that may indeed be the chief theme in poetic import, if not in
outer rank. After a moving verse in the strings,
[Music: _Piu tranquillo_
(_Pizz._ basses _8va._) (Added woodwind)]
with an expressive strain in some voice of the woodwind or a ripple of
the harp, it is sung in tense chorus of lower wood and horns,--soon
joined by all the voices but the martial brass, ending with a soft echo
of the strings.
Now in full majesty the stern stride of first theme is resumed, in
faster insistence,--no longer the mere tune, but a spirited extension
and discussion, with retorts between the various choirs. Here the
melodious march is suddenly felt in the bass (beneath our feet, as it
were) of lowest brass and strings, while the noisy bustle continues
above; then, changing places, the theme is above, the active motion
Long continues the spirited clatter as of warlike march till again
returns the melting mood of the companion melody, now sung by the
expressive horn, with murmuring strings. And there are enchanting
flashes of tonal light as the song passes to higher choirs. The lyric
theme wings its rapturous course to a blissful height, where an
intrusion of the main motive but halts for the moment the returning
When the first vigorous phrase returns in full career, there is somehow
a greater warmth, and the dulcet after-strain is transfigured in a glow
greater almost than of the lyric song that now follows with no less
response of beauty. In the final spirited blending of both melodies the
trumpets sound a quicker pace of the main motive.
In the Andante (_tranquillo_) the sweet tinkle of church-bells with
soft chanting horns quickly defines the scene. Two voices of the
strings, to the
[Music: (Bells and harp in continuous repetition)
(Strings, with added choir of lower reeds)]
continuing hum of the bells, are singing a responsive song that rises in
fervor as the horns and later the woodwind join the strings. Anon will
sound the simple tune of the bells with soft harmonies, like echoes of
the song,--or even the chant without the chimes.
In more eager motion,--out of the normal measure of bells and hymn,
breaks a new song in minor with a touch of passion, rising to a burst of
ardor. But it passes, sinking away before a new phase,--a bucolic
[Music: _Poco piu mosso_
(Clar'ts & horns)
fantasy of trilling shepherd's reed (in changed, even pace), supported
by strumming strings. The sacred calm and later passion have yielded to
a dolorous plaint, like the dirge of the Magyar plains. Suddenly the
former fervor returns with strains of the second melody amidst urging
motion (in the triple pace) and startling rushes of harp-strings. At the
height, trumpets blare forth the first melody, transformed from its
earlier softness, while the second presses on in higher wood and
strings; the trombones relieve the trumpets, with a still larger chorus
in the romantic song; in final exaltation, the basses of brass and
strings sound the first melody, while the second still courses in treble
Of a sudden, after a lull, falls again the tinkle of sacred chimes, with
a verse each of the two main melodies.
The Scherzo begins with a Saltarello humor, as of airy faun, with a
skipping theme ever accompanied by a lower running phrase and a prancing
[Music: _Allegro con leggerezza, ben sostenuto_
strings, with a refrain, too, of chirruping woodwind. Later the skipping
phrase gains a melodic cadence. But the main mood is a revel of gambols
and pranks of rhythm and harmony on the first phase.
In the middle is a sudden shift of major tone and intimate humor, to a
slower pace. With still a semblance of dance, a pensive melody sings in
the cellos; the graceful cadence is rehearsed in a choir
[Music: _Poco meno mosso_
of woodwind, and the song is taken up by the whole chorus. As a pretty
counter-tune grows above, the melody sings below, with a blending of
lyric feeling and the charm of dance. At a climactic height the horns,
with clumsy grace, blare forth the main lilting phrase.
The song now wings along with quicker tripping counter-tunes that slowly
lure the first skipping tune back into the play after a prelude of high
festivity. New pranks appear,--as of dancing strings against a stride of
loud, muted horns. Then the second (pensive) melody returns, now above
the running counter-tune. At last, in faster gait, to the coursing of
quicker figures, the (second) melody rings out in choir of brass in
twice slower, stately pace. But the accompanying bustle is merely
heightened until all four horns are striking together the lyric song. At
the end is a final revel of the first dancing tune.
The Finale, which bears the unusual mark _Allegro con giubilio_, begins
with a big festive march that may seem to have an added flavor of old
English merrymaking. But as in the other cantos of the poem there
[Music: _Allegro con giubilio_
(Basses in 8ve.)]
is here, too, an opposite figure and feeling. And the more joyous the
gaiety, the more sweetly wistful is the recoil. Nay there is in this
very expressive strain, beautifully woven in strings, harp, woodwind and
horns, a vein of regret that grows rather than lessens, whenever the
melody appears alone. It is like the memory, in the midst of festival,
of some blissful moment lost forever.
Indeed, the next phase seems very like a disordered chase of stray
memories; for here a line of martial air is displaced by a pensive
strain which in
[Music: (Cello and harp with harmony of wood, horns and strings)
turn yields to the quick, active tune that leads to a height of
But here is a bewildering figure on the scene: Lustily the four horns
(helped by the strings) blow in slow notes against the continuing motive
an expressive melody. Slowly it breaks upon our ears as the wistful air
that followed the chimes of Sunday bells. It has a stern, almost sombre
guise, until it suddenly glows in transfigured light, as of a choir of
Slowly we are borne to the less exalted pitch of the first festive
march, and here follows, as at first, the expressive melody where each
hearer may find his own shade of sadness. It does seem to reach a true
passion of regret, with poignant sweet sighs.
At length the sadness is overcome and there is a new animation as
separate voices enter in fugal manner in the line of the march. Now the
festive tune holds sway in lower pace in the basses; but then rings on
high in answer--the wistful melody again and again, in doubled and twice
When we hear the _penseroso_ melody once more at the end, we may feel
with the poet a state of resigned cheer.
A remarkable work that shows the influence of modern French harmony
rather than its actual traits, is a SYMPHONY BY GUSTAV STRUBE.[A] It is
difficult to resist the sense of a strain for bizarre harmony, of a
touch of preciosity. The real business of these harmonies is for
incidental pranks, with an after-touch that confesses the jest, or
softens it to a lyric utterance. It cannot be denied that the moving
moments in this work come precisely in the release of the strain of
dissonance, as in the returning melody of the Adagio. Only we may feel
we have been waiting too long. The desert was perhaps too long for the
oasis. _Est modus in rebus_: the poet seems niggardly with his melody;
he may weary us with too long waiting, with too little staying comfort.
He does not escape the modern way of symbolic, infinitesimal melody, so
small that it must, of course, reappear. It is a little like the
wonderful arguments from ciphers hidden in poetry.
[Footnote A: Of Boston,--born in Germany in 1867.]
It cannot he denied that the smallness of phrase does suggest a
smallness of idea. The plan of magic motive will not hold _ad
infinitesimum_. As the turn of the triplet, in the first movement,
twists into a semblance of the Allegro theme, we feel like wondering
with the old Philistine:
... "How all this difference can be
'Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee!"
But there is the redeeming vein of lyric melody with a bold fantasy of
mischievous humor and a true climax of a clear poetic design. One reason
seems sometimes alone to justify this new license, this new French
revolution: the deliverance from a stupid slavery of rules,--if we would
only get the spirit of them without the inadequate letter. Better, of
course, the rules than a fatal chaos. But there is here in the bold
flight of these harmonies, soaring as though on some hidden straight
path, a truly Promethean utterance.
It is significant, in the problem of future music, that of the
symphonies based upon recent French ideas, the most subtly conceived and
designed should have been written in America.
_I._--In pale tint of harmony sways the impersonal phrase that begins
with a descending tone. We may
[Music: _Andante_ (Melody in flute and violas)
(Cellos with basses in lower 8ve.)]
remember[A] how first with the symphony came a clear sense of tonal
residence. It was like the age in painting when figures no longer hung
in the gray air, when they were given a resting-place, with trees and a
[Footnote A: See Vol. I, Chapter I.]
Here we find just the opposite flight from clear tonality, as if
painting took to a Japanese manner, sans aught of locality. Where an
easy half-step leads gently somewhere, a whole tone sings instead.
Nothing obvious may stand.
It marks, in its reaction, the excessive stress of tonality and of
simple colors of harmony. The basic sense of residence is not abandoned;
there is merely a bolder search for new tints, a farther straying from
Soon our timid tune is joined by a more expressive line that rises in
ardent reaches to a sudden tumult, with a fiery strain of trumpets where
we catch a glimpse of the triplet figure. After a dulcet lullaby
[Music: (Flute with _tremolo_ of high strings)
(New melody in ob. and violas)
(Cellos with sustained lower B of basses)]
of the first air, the second flows in faster pace (_Allegro commodo_) as
the real text, ever with new blossoming variants that sing together in a
madrigal of tuneful voices, where the descending note still has a part
in a smooth, gliding pace of violins.
In gayer mood comes a verse of the inverted (Allegro) tune, with other
melodic guises hovering about. When the theme descends to the bass, the
original Andante phrase sings in the trumpet, and there is a chain of
entering voices, in growing agitation, in the main legend with the
quicker sprites dancing about. At the height, after the stirring song
of trumpets, we feel a passionate strife of resolve and regret; and
immediately after, the descending tone is echoed everywhere.
A balancing (second) theme now appears, in tranquil
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