Symphonies and Their Meaning; Third Series, Modern Symphonies
Philip H. Goepp
Part 5 out of 5
(Violas & cellos)
(Sustained harmony in violins, bassoons and flute)]
flow, but pressing on, at the end, in steady ascent as to Parnassian
summit. Later comes a new rejoinder in livelier mood, till it is lost in
a big, moving verse of the Andante song. But pert retorts from the
latest new tune again fill the air, then yield in attendance upon the
returning Allegro theme. Of subtle art is the woof of derived phrases. A
companion melody, that seems fraught of the text of the second subject,
sings with rising passion, while the lower brass blow lustily in
eccentric rhythm of the Allegro phrase and at the height share in the
We feel a kinship of mood rather than of theme, a coherence that we
fear to relate to definite figures, though the descending symbol is
clear against the ascending. An idyllic dialogue, with the continuing
guise of the Allegro phrase turns to a gayer revel in the original pace,
with a brilliant blare of trumpets.
The free use of themes is shown in the opposite moods of the triplet
phrase, of sadness, as in Andante, or buoyant, in Allegro. Here are both
in close transition as the various verses return from the beginning,
entwined about the first strain of the Andante, gliding through the
descending tone into the second soothing song with the Parnassian
A full verse of the first Andante melody sings at the heart of the plot,
followed by the strange daemonic play that keeps the mood within bounds.
Indeed, it returns once more as at first, then springs into liveliest
trip and rises to an Olympian height, with a final revel of the triplet
_II._--With a foreshadowing drop of tone begins the prelude, not unlike
the first notes of the symphony,
[Music: _Adagio, ma non troppo_
(Clar'ts and bassoons)]
answered with a brief phrase. On the descending motive the main melody
Tenderly they play together, the melody with the main burden, the
lighter prelude phrase in graceful accompaniment. But now the latter
sings in turn a serious verse, rises to a stormy height, the horns
proclaiming the passionate plea amid a tumultuous accord of the other
figures, and sinks in subdued temper. In a broader pace begins a new
line, though on the thread of the descending motive, and with the
entering phrase of the prelude winds to a climax of passion. The true
episode, of refuge and solace from the stress of tempest, is in a song
of the trumpet through a shimmering gauze of strings with glinting harp,
to a soft murmuring in the reeds.
[Music: _Animando_ (Violins)
(_Trem._ violins doubled above in oboes)
(Cellos with sustained lower B of basses)
Main melody in trumpets]
In a new shade of tone it is echoed by the horn, then in a fervent close
it is blended with a guise of the prelude phrase, that now heralds the
main melody, in a duet of clarinet and violins. At last in the home
tone the horn sings amid the sweet tracery the parting verse, and all
about sounds the trist symbol of the first (descending) motive.
_III._--The Scherzo is in one view a mad revel of demon pranks in a new
field of harmonies. Inconsequential though they may seem, there is a
real coherence, and, too, a subtle connection with the whole design.
To be sure, with the vagueness of tune that belongs to a school of
harmonic exploits a certain mutual relation of themes is a kind of
incident. The less defined the phrases, the easier it is to make them
Undoubted likeness there is between the main elfin figure and the first
phrase of the symphony.
[Music: (Oboes, with lower 8ve. and higher 8ve. of piccolo)
The triplet is itself a kind of password throughout. With this multiple
similarity is a lack of the inner bond of outer contrast.
The mood of demon humor finds a native medium in the tricks of new
Gallic harmony. Early in the prelude we hear the descending tone, a
streak of sadness in the mirth. Answering the first burst is a strange
stroke of humor in the horn, and as if in
[Music: (_Tremolo_ 1st violins)
(1st horn) (Clarinets doubled above in strings)]
serious balance, a smooth gliding phrase in the wood. Now the first
figure grows more articulate, romping and galloping into an ecstasy of
fun. A certain spirit of Till Eulenspiegel hovers about.
Out of the maze blows a new line in muted trumpets, that begins with the
inverted triplet figure, and in spite of the surrounding bedlam rises
almost into a tune. At the height the strange jest of the horns reigns
From the mad gambols of the first figure comes a relief in sparkling
calls of the brass and stirring retorts in pure ringing harmonies. In
the next episode is a fall into a lyric mood as the latest figure glides
into even pace, singing amid gentlest pranks. Most tuneful of all
sounds is the answer in dulcet trumpet while, above, the first theme
The heart of the idyll comes in a song of the clarinet
[Music: (Cl. _espressivo_)
(_Pizz._ strings with higher 8ve. of upper voice)
(Wood and horn and strings) (Clar. and bassoons)]
against strange, murmuring strings, ever with a soft answer of the lower
New invading sprites do not hem the flight of the melody. But at the
height a redoubled pace turns the mood back to revelling mirth with
broken bits of the horn tune. Indeed the crisis comes with a new rage of
this symbol of mad abandon, in demonic strife with the fervent song that
The first theme returns with a new companion in the highest wood. A
fresh strain of serious melody is now woven about the former dulcet
melody of trumpet in a stretch of delicate poesy, of mingled mirth and
tenderness.--The harmonies have something of the infinitesimal sounds
that only insects hear. With all virtuous recoil, here we must confess
is a masterpiece of cacophonic art, a new world of tones hitherto
unconceived, tinkling and murmuring with the eerie charm of the
forest.--In the return of the first prelude is a touch of the descending
tone. From the final revelling tempest comes a sudden awakening. In
strange moving harmony sings slowly the descending symbol, as if
confessing the unsuccessful flight from regret. Timidly the vanquished
sprites scurry away.
_IV._--The first notes of the Finale blend and bring back the main
motives. First is the descending tone, but firm and resolute, with the
following triplet in
[Music: _Allegro energico_ (Higher figure in strings & wood)
(Wood, horns and lower strings) (Strings and wood)]
inversion of the Scherzo theme.
It is all in triumphant spirit. From the start the mood reigns, the art
for once is quite subordinate. Resonant and compelling is the motive of
horns and trumpets, new in temper, though harking back to the earlier
text, in its cogent ending. Splendid is
(Wood & strings doubled below)
(Horns and trumpets)]
the soaring flight through flashes of new chords. There is, we must
yield, something Promethean, of new and true beauty, in the bold path of
harmonies that the French are teaching us after a long age of slavish
The harking back is here better than in most modern symphonies with
their pedantic subtleties: in the resurgence of joyous mood, symbolized
by the inversion of phrase, as when the prankish elfin theme rises in
Out of these inspiriting reaches sings a new melody in canon of strings
(though it may relate to some shadowy memory), while in the bass rolls
the former ending phrase; then they romp in jovial turn of rhythm.
[Music: (Oboes, doubled below in bassoons) (Strings, doubled below)
(Horns) (_Pizz._ cello doubled below)]
A vague and insignificant similarity of themes is a fault of the work
and of the style, ever in high disdain of vernacular harmony, refreshing
to be sure, in its saucy audacity, and anon enchanting with a ring of
new, fiery chord. As the sonorous theme sings in muted brass, picking
strings mockingly play quicker fragments, infecting the rest with
frivolous retorts, and then a heart-felt song pours forth, where the
accompanying cries have softened their mirth. Back they skip to a joyous
trip with at last pure ringing harmonies.
At the fervent pitch a blast of trumpets rises in challenging phrase, in
incisive clash of chord, with the early sense of Parnassian ascent. At
the end of this brave fanfare we hear a soft plea of the descending tone
that prompts a song of true lyric melody, with the continuing gentlest
touch of regret, all to a sweetly bewildering turn of pace. So tense
[Music: (Continuing organ pt. of violins) (Fl. & clar. _dolce_)
(Melody in ob. _dolce_)
and subtle an expression would utterly convert us to the whole harmonic
plan, were it not that just here, in these moving moments, we feel a
return to clearer tonality. But it is a joy to testify to so devoted a
work of art.
With the last notes of melody a new frisking tune plays in sauciest
clashes of chord, with an enchanting stretch of ringing brass. A long
merriment ensues in the jovial trip, where the former theme of horns has
a rising cadence; or the tripping tune sings in united chorus and again
through its variants. After a noisy height the dulcet melody (from the
descending tone) sings in linked sweetness. In the later tumult we rub
our eyes to see a jovial theme of the bass take on the lines of the
wistful melody. Finally, in majestic tread amid general joyous clatter
the brass blow the gentle song in mellowed tones of richest harmony.
_CHADWICK.[A] SUITE SYMPHONIQUE (IN E FLAT)._
[Footnote A: George W. Chadwick, American, born in 1854.]
With a rush of harp and higher strings the Suite begins on ardent wing
in exultant song of trumpets (with horns, bassoons and cellos) to quick
palpitating violins that in its higher flight is given over to upper
reeds and violas. It is answered by gracefully drooping melody of
strings and harps topped by the oboes, that lightly descends from the
heights with a cadence long delayed, like the circling flight of a great
bird before he alights. Straightway begins a more pensive turn of phrase
(of clarinet and lower strings) in distant tonal scene where now the
former (descending) answer sings timidly in alternating groups. The
pensive melody returns for a greater reach, blending with the original
theme (in all the basses) in a glowing duet of two moods as well as
melodies, rising to sudden brilliant height, pressing on to a full
return of the first exultant melody with long, lingering, circling
The listener on first hearing may be warned to have a sharp ear for all
kinds of disguises of the stirring theme and in a less degree, of the
second subject. What seems a new air in a tranquil spot, with strum of
harp,--and new it is as expression,--is our main melody in a kind of
inversion. And so a new tissue of song continues, all of the original
fibre, calming more and more from the first fierce glow. A tuneful
march-like strain now plays gently in the horns while the (inverted)
expressive air still sounds above.
[Music: (Oboe with 8ve. flute) (Oboe)
(Horns) _Calmato ed espressivo assai_]
When all has quieted to dim echoing answers between horn and reed, a
final strain bursts forth (like the nightingale's voice in the
surrounding stillness) in full stress of its plaint. And so, in most
natural course, grows and flows the main balancing melody that now
pours out its burden in slower, broader pace, in joint choirs of wood
[Music: _Meno mosso e largamente_
(Woodwind above, strings below)
It is the kind of lyric spot where the full stream of warm feeling seems
set free after the storm of the first onset. In answer is a timid,
almost halting strain in four parts of the wood, echoed in strings. A
new agitation now stirs the joint choirs (with touches of brass), and
anon comes a poignant line of the inverted (main) theme. It drives in
rising stress under the spurring summons of trumpets and horns to a
celebration of the transfigured second melody, with triumphant cadence.
Nor does the big impulse halt here. The trumpets sound on midst a
spirited duet of inverted and original motives until the highest point
is reached, where, to quicker calls of the brass, in broadest pace the
main subject strikes its inverted tune in the trebles, while the bass
rolls its majestic length in a companion melody; trombones, too, are
blaring forth the call of the second theme.
Brief interludes of lesser agitation bring a second chorus on the
reunited melodies in a new tonal quarter.
In mystic echoing groups on the former descending answer of main theme
the mood deepens in darkening scene. Here moves in slow strides of
lowest brass a shadowy line of the second melody answered by a poignant
phrase of the first. Striking again and again in higher perches the dual
song reaches a climax of feeling in overpowering burst of fullest brass.
In masterful stride, still with a burden of sadness, it has a solacing
tinge as it ends in a chord with pulsing harp, that twice repeated leads
back to the stirring first song of main theme.
Thence the whole course is clear in the rehearsal of former melodies.
Only the pensive air has lost its melancholy. Here is again the lyric of
warm-hued horns with plaintive higher phrase, and the full romance of
second melody with its timid answer, where the nervous trip rouses
slowly the final exultation. Yet there is one more descent into the
depths where the main melody browses in dim searching. Slowly it wings
its flight upwards until it is greeted by a bright burst of the second
melody in a chorus of united brass. And this is but a prelude to the
last joint song, with the inverted theme above. A fanfare of trumpets on
the second motive ends the movement.
The Romanze is pure song in three verses where we cannot avoid a touch
of Scottish, with the little acclaiming phrases. The theme is given to
the saxophone (or cello) with obligato of clarinet and violas; the bass
is in bassoons and _pizzicato_ of lower strings. One feels a special
gratitude to the composer who will write in these days a clear, simple,
original and beautiful melody.
The first interlude is a fantasy, almost a variant on the theme in a
minor melody of the wood, with a twittering phrase of violins. Later the
strings take up the theme in pure _cantilena_ in a turn to the
major,--all in expressive song that rises to a fervent height. Though it
grows out of the main theme, yet the change is clear in a return to the
subject, now in true variation, where the saxophone has the longer notes
and the clarinet and oboe sing in concert.
There follows a pure interlude, vague in motive, full of dainty touches.
The oboe has a kind of _arioso_ phrase with trilling of flutes and
clarinets, answered in trumpets and harp.
Later the first violins (on the G string) sing the main air with the
A double character has the third movement as the title shows, though in
a broadest sense it could all be taken as a Humoreske.
With a jaunty lilt of skipping strings the lower reeds strike the
capricious tune, where the full chorus soon falls in. The answering
melody, with more of sentiment, though always in graceful swing with
tricksy attendant figures, has a longer song. Not least charm has the
concluding tune that leads back to the whole melodious series.
Throughout are certain chirping notes that form the external connection
with the Humoreske that begins with strident theme (_molto robusto_) of
low strings, the whole chorus, xylophon and all, clattering about, the
high wood echoing like a band of giant crickets,--all in whimsical,
varying pace. The humor grows more graceful when the first melody of the
Intermezzo is lightly touched. The strange figure returns (in roughest
strings and clarinet) somewhat in ancient manner of imitation. Later the
chirruping answer recurs. Diminishing trills are echoed between the
Slowly the scene grows stranger. Suddenly in eerie harmonies of newest
French or oldest Tartar, here are the tricks and traits where meet the
extremes of latest Romantic and primeval barbarian. In this motley
cloak sounds the typical Yankee tune, first piping in piccolo, then
grunting in tuba. Here is Uncle Sam disporting himself merrily in
foreign garb and scene, quite as if at home. If we wished, we might see
a political satire as well as musical.
After a climax of the clownish mood we return to the Intermezzo
The Finale begins in the buoyant spirit of the beginning and seems again
to have a touch of Scotch in the jaunty answer. The whole subject is a
group of phrases rather than a single melody.
Preluding runs lead to the simple descending line of treble with
opposite of basses, answered by the jovial phrase. In the farther course
the first theme prevails, answered with an ascending brief motive of
long notes in irregular ascent. Here follows a freer flow of the jolly
lilting tune, blending with the sterner descending lines.
Balancing this group is an expressive melody of different sentiment. In
its answer we have again the weird touch of neo-barbarism in a strain of
the reed, with dancing overtones of violins and harp, and strumming
chords on lower strings. Or is there a hint of ancient Highland in the
drone of alternating horns and bassoons?
Its brief verse is answered by a fervent conclusive line where soon the
old lilting refrain appears with new tricks and a big celebration of its
own and then of the whole madrigal of martial melody. It simmers down
with whims and turns of the skipping phrase into the quiet
(_tranquillo_) episode in the midst of the other stress.
[Music: (With lower 8ve.)
(With _pizz._ quarter notes in basses and strings)]
The heart of the song is in the horns, with an upper air in the wood,
while low strings guard a gentle rhythm. A brief strain in the wind in
ardent temper is followed by another in the strings, and still a third
in joint strings and wood. (Again we must rejoice in the achievement of
true, simple, sincere melody.) The final glowing height is reached in
all the choirs together,--final that is before the brass is added with
a broader pace, that leads to the moving climax. As the horns had
preluding chords to the whole song, so a single horn sings a kind of
epilogue amid harmony of strings and other horns. Slowly a more vigorous
pulse is stirred, in an interlude of retorting trumpets.
Suddenly in the full energy of the beginning the whole main subject
sounds again, with the jolly lilt dancing through all its measures,
which are none too many. The foil of gentle melody returns with its
answer of eerie tune and harmonies. It seems as if the poet, after his
rude jest, wanted, half in amends, half on pure impulse, to utter a
strain of true fancy in the strange new idiom.
A new, grateful sound has again the big conclusive phrase that merges
into more pranks of the jaunty tune in the biggest revel of all, so that
we suspect the jolly jester is the real hero and the majestic figures
are, after all, mere background. And yet here follows the most tenderly
moving verse, all unexpected, of the quiet episode.
The end is a pure romp, _molto vivace_, mainly on the skipping phrase.
To be sure the stately figures after a festive height march in big,
lengthened pace; but so does the jolly tune, as though in mockery. He
breaks into his old rattling pace (in the Glockenspiel) when all the
figures appear together,--the big ones changing places just before the
end, where the main theme has the last say, now in the bass, amidst the
_LOEFFLER.[A] LA VILLANELLE DU DIABLE_
_(The Devil's Round)_
(After a poem by M. Rollinat. Symphonic poem for Orchestra and Organ)
[Footnote A: Charles Martin Loeffler, born in Alsace in 1861.]
Few pieces of program music are so closely associated with the subject
as this tone picture of the Devil's Round. The translation of M.
Rollinat's "Villanelle," printed in the score is as follows:[A]
Hell's a-burning, burning, burning. Chuckling in clear staccato,
the Devil prowling, runs about.
He watches, advances, retreats like zig-zag lightning; Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
In dive and cell, underground and in the air, the Devil, prowling,
Now he is flower, dragon-fly, woman, black-cat, green snake; Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
And now, with pointed moustache, scented with vetiver, the Devil,
prowling, runs about.
Wherever mankind swarms, without rest, summer and winter, Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
From alcove to hall, and on the railways, the Devil, prowling, runs
He is Mr. Seen-at-Night, who saunters with staring eyes. Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
There floating as a bubble, here squirming as a worm, the Devil,
prowling, runs about.
He's grand seigneur, tough, student, teacher. Hell's a-burning,
He inoculates each soul with his bitter whispering: the Devil,
prowling, runs about.
He promises, bargains, stipulates in gentle or proud tones. Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
Mocking pitilessly the unfortunate whom he destroys, the Devil,
prowling, runs about.
He makes goodness ridiculous and the old man futile. Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning.
At the home of the priest or sceptic, whose soul or body he wishes,
the Devil, prowling, runs about.
Beware of him to whom he toadies, and whom he calls "my dear sir."
Hell's a-burning, burning, burning.
Friend of the tarantula, darkness, the odd number, the Devil,
prowling, runs about.
--My clock strikes midnight. If I should go to see Lucifer?--Hell's
a-burning, burning, burning; the Devil, prowling, runs about.
[Footnote A: A few translated verses may give an idea of the original
Hell's a-burning, burning, burning.
Cackling in his impish play,
Here and there the Devil's turning,
Forward here and back again,
Zig-zag as the lightning's ray,
While the fires burn amain.
In the church and in the cell
In the caves, in open day,
Ever prowls the fiend of hell.
But in the original the first and last lines of the first verse are used
as refrains in the succeeding verses, recurring alternately as the last
line. In the final verse they are united.--The prose translation is by
In the maze of this modern setting of demon antics (not unlike, in
conceit, the capers of Till Eulenspiegel), with an eloquent use of new
French strokes of harmony, one must be eager to seize upon definite
figures. In the beginning is a brief wandering or flickering motive in
furious pace of harp and strings, ending ever in a shriek of the high
[Music: _Presto (il piu possibile)_
(Strings with rhythmic chords in the tonic)
(With opposite descending chords)]
is a descending phrase mainly in the brass, that ends in a rapid jingle.
[Music: (Brass with quicker figures in strings and wood)]
There are various lesser motives, such as a minor scale of ascending
thirds, and a group of crossing figures that seem a guise of the first
motive. To be sure the picture lies less in the separate figures than in
the mingled color and bustle. Special in its humor is a soft gliding or
creeping phrase of three voices against a constant trip of cellos.
After a climax of the first motive a frolicking theme begins (in English
horn and violas). If we were forced to guess, we could see here the
dandy devil, with pointed mustachios, frisking about. It is probably
another guise of the second motive which presently appears in the bass.
A little later, _dolce amabile_ in a madrigal of wood and strings, we
may see the gentlemanly devil, the gallant. With a crash of chord and a
roll of cymbals re-enters the first motive, to flickering harmonies of
violins, harp and flutes, taken up by succeeding voices, all in the
whole-tone scale. Hurrying to a clamorous height, the pace glides into a
_Movimento di Valzer_, in massed volume, with the frolicking figure in
To softest tapping of lowest strings and drums, a shadow of the second
figure passes here and there, with a flash of harp. Soon, in returning
merriment, it is coursing in unison strings (against an opposite motion
in the wood).
At the height of revel, as the strings are holding a trembling chord, a
sprightly Gallic tune of the street pipes in the reed, with intermittent
flash of the harp, and, to be sure, an unfamiliar tang of harmonies and
strange perversions of the tune.[A] In the midst is the original
flickering figure. As the whole chorus is singing the tune at the
loudest, the brass breaks into another traditional air of the
Revolutionary Song of 1789.[B] While the trip is still ringing in the
strings, a lusty chorus breaks into the song[C] "La Carmagnole," against
a blast of the horns in a guise of the first motive.
[Footnote A: "A la villette," a popular song of the Boulevard. Mr.
Philip Hale, who may have been specially inspired, associates the song
with the word "crapule," "tough," as he connects the following
revolutionary songs, in contrapuntal use, with the word "magister,"
"teacher,"--the idea of the pedagogue in music. It may be less remote to
find in these popular airs merely symbols or graphic touches of the
swarming groups among which the Devil plies his trade.]
[Footnote B: The famous "Ca ira."]
[Footnote C: In the wealth of interesting detail furnished by Mr. Hale
is the following: "The Carmagnole was first danced in Paris about the
liberty-tree, and there was then no bloody suggestion.... The word
'_Carmagnole_' is found in English and Scottish literature as a nickname
for a soldier in the French Revolutionary army, and the term was applied
by Burns to the Devil as the author of ruin, 'that curst carmagnole,
Grim guises of the main figures (in inverted profile) are skulking about
to uncanny harmonies. A revel of new pranks dies down to chords of muted
horns, amid flashing runs of the harp, with a long roll of drums. Here
_Grave_ in solemn pace, violas and bassoon strike an ecclesiastical
incantation, answered by the organ. Presently a Gregorian plain chant
begins solemnly in the strings aided by the organ while a guise of the
second profane motive intrudes. Suddenly in quick pace against a fugal
tread of lower voices, a light skipping figure dances in the high wood.
And now loud trumpets are saucily blowing the chant to the quick step,
echoed by the wood. And we catch the wicked song of the street (in the
English horn) against a legend of hell in lower voices.[A]
[Footnote A: The religious phrases are naturally related to the "priest
or sceptic." In the rapid, skipping rhythm, Mr. Hale finds the
tarentella suggested by the "friend of the tarantula."]
In still livelier pace the reeds sound the street song against a trip of
strings, luring the other voices into a furious chorus. All at once, the
harp and violins strike the midnight hour to a chord of horns, while a
single impish figure dances here or there. To trembling strings and
flashing harp the high reed pipes again the song of the Boulevard,
echoed by low bassoons.
In rapidest swing the original main motives now sing a joint verse in a
kind of _reprise_, with the wild shriek at the end of the line, to a
final crashing height. The end comes with dashes of the harp, betwixt
pausing chords in the high wood, with a final stifled note.
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