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movements. Thus in France, Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, the national music is slow, melancholy, and solemn; in Italy, England, Spain, and Germany, it is faster, proportionably as the people are grave. Lully only changed a bad manner, which he found, for a bad one of
His drowsy pieces are played still to the most sprightly audience that can be conceived; and even though Rameau, who is at once a musician and a philosopher, has shown, both by precept and example, what improvements French music may still admit of, yet his countrymen seem little convinced by his reasonings; and the Pont-Neuf taste, as it is called, still prevails in their best performances.
The English school was first planned by Purcel : he attempted to unite the Italian manner, that prevailed in his time, with the ancient Celtic carol and the Scotch ballad, which probably had also its origin in Italy; for some of the best Scotch ballads, « The Broom of Cowdenknows,» for instance, are still ascribed to David Rizzio. But be that as it will, his manner was something peculiar to the English; and he might have continued as head of the English school, had not his merits been entirely eclipsed by Handel. Handel, though originally a German, yet adopted the English manner : he had long laboured to please by Italian composition, but without success; and though his English oratorios are accounted inimitable, yet his Italian operas are fallen into oblivion. Pergolese excelled in passionate simplicity: Lully was remarkable for creating a new species of music, where all is elegant, but nothing passionate or sublime: Handel's true characteristic is sublimity; he has employed all the variety of sounds and parts in all his pieces : the performances of the rest may be pleasing, though executed by few performers; his require the full band The attention is awakened, the soul is roused up at his
pieces; but distinct passion is seldom expressed. 'In this particular he has seldom found success; he has been obliged, in order to express passion, to imitate words by sounds, which, though it gives the pleasure which imitation always produces, yet it fails of exciting those lasting affections which it is in the power of sounds to produce. In a word, no man ever understood harmony so well as he; but in melody he has been exceeded by several.
[The following OBJECTIONS to the preceding Essay having been
addressed to Dr SMOLLETT (as Editor of the BRITISH MAGAZine, in which it first appeared), that gentleman, with equal candour and politeness, communicated the MS to Dr GOLDSMITH, who returned his answers to the objector in the notes annexed.—Edit.]
Permit me to object against some things advanced in the paper on the subject of THE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OF Music. The author of this article seems too hasty in degrading the harmonious Purcel' from the head of the English school,
Had the objector said melodious Purcel, it had testitied at least a greater acquaintance with music, and Purcel's peculiar excellence. Purcel in melody is frequently great: his song made in his last sickness, called erect in his room a foreigner (Handel), who has not yet formed any school.' The gentleman, when he comes to communicate his thoughts upon the different schools of painting, may as well place Rubens at the head of the English painters, because he left some monuments of his art in England.” He says, that Handel, though originally
osy Bowers, is a fine instance of this ;- but in harmony he is far short of the meanest of our modern composers, his fullest harmonies being exceedingly simple. His Opera of Prince Arthur, the words of which were Dryden’s, is reckoned his finest piece., But what is that in point of harmony,
to what we every day hear from modern masters ? In short, with respect to genius, Purcel had a fine one; he greatly improved an art but little known in England before his time: for this he deserves our applause; but the present prevailing taste in music is very different from what he left it, and who was the improver since his time we shall see by and by.
may be said as justly as any man, not Pergolese excepted, to have founded a new school of music. When he first came into England his music was entirely Italian : he composed for the Opera ; and though even then his pieces were liked, yet did they not meet with universal approbation. In those he has too servilely imitated the modern vitiated Italian taste, by placing what foreigners call the point d'orgue too closely and injudiciously. But in his Oratorios he is perfectly an original genius. In these, by steering between the manners of Italy and England, he has struck out new harmonies and formed a species of music different from all others. He has left some excellent and eminent scholars, particularly Worgan and Smith, who compose nearly in his manner; a manner as different from Purcel's as from that of modern Italy. Consequently Handel may be placed at the head of the English school.
2 The objector will not have Handel's school to be called an English school, because he was a German. Handel, in a great measure, found in England those essential differences which characterize his music; we have already shown that he had them not upon his arrival. Had Rubens come over to England but moderately skilled in his art; had he learned here all his excellency in colouring and correctness of designing; had he left several scholars excellent in his manner behind him; I should not scruple to call the school erected by him the English school of painting. Not the country in which a man is born, but his peculiar style either in painting or in music—that constitutes him of this or that school. Thus Champagne, who painted in the manner of the French school, is always placed among the painters of that school, though he was born in Flanders, and should consequently, by the objector's rule, be placed among the Flemish painters. Kneller is placed in the German school, and Ostade in the Dutch, though born in the same city. Primatis, who may be truly said to have founded the Roman school, was born in Bologna; though, if his country was to determine his school, he should have been placed in the Lombard. There might several other instances be produced; but these, it is hoped, will be sufficient to prove, that Handel, though a German, may be placed at the head of the English school.
a German (as most certainly he was, and continued so to his last breath), yet adopted the English manner.' Yes, to be sure, just as much as Rubens the painter did. Your correspondent, in the course of his discoveries, tells us besides, that some of the best Scotch ballads, « The Broom of Cowdenknows,» for instance, are still ascribed to David Rizzio.” This Rizzio must have been a most original genius, or have possessed extraordinary imitative powers, to have come, so advanced in life as he did, from Italy, and strike so far out of the common road of his own country's music.
'Handel was originally a German; but by a long continuance in England, he might have been looked upon as naturalized to the country. I do not pretend to be a fine writer: however, if the gentleman dislikes the expression (although he must be convinced it is a common one), I wish it were mended.
* I said that they were ascribed to David'Rizzio. That they áre, the objector need only look into Mr. Oswald's Collection of Scotch Tunes, and he will there find not only « The Broom of Cowdenknows, but also « The Black Eagle,» and several other of the best Scotch tunes, ascribed to him. Though this might be a sufficient answer, yet I must be permitted to go farther, to tell the objector the opinion of our best modern musicians in this particular. It is the opinion of the melodious Geminiani, that we have in the dominions of Great Britain no original music except the Irish; the Scotch and English being originally borrowed from the Italians. And that his opinion in this respect is júst (for I would not be swayed merely by authorities), it is very reasonable to suppose, first, from the conformity between the Scotch and ancient Italian music. They who compare the old French Vaudevilles, brought from Italy by Rinuccini, with those pieces ascribed to David Rizzio, who was pretty nearly contemporary with him, will find a strong resemblance, notwithstanding the opposite characters of the two nations which have preserved those pieces. When I would have them compared, I mean I would have their bases compared, by which the similitude may be most exactly seen. Secondly, it is reasonable from the ancient music of the Scotch, which is still preserved in the Highlands, and which bears no resemblance at all to the music of the low-country. The Highland tunes are sung to Irish words, and flow entirely in the Irish manner. On the other hand, the Lowland music is always sung to English words.
A mere fiddler,' a shallow coxcomb, a giddy, insolent, worthless fellow, to compose such pieces as nothing but genuine sensibility of mind, and an exquisite feeling of those passions which animate only the finest souls, could dictate; and in a manner too so extravagantly distant from that to which he had all his life been accustomed !—It is impossible. He, might indeed have had presumption enough to add some flourishes to a few favourite airs, like a cobbler of old plays when he takes it upon him to mend Shakspeare. So far he might go; but farther it is impossible for any one to believe, that has but just ear enough to distinguish between the Italian and Scotch music, and is disposed to consider the subject with the least degree of attention.
S. R. March 18, 1760.
THERE can be perhaps no greater entertainment than to compare the rude Celtic simplicity with modern refinement. Books, however, seem incapable of furnishing the parallel; and to be acquainted with the ancient manners of
· David Rizzio was neither a mere fiddler, nor a shallow coxcomb, nor a worthless fellow, nor a stranger in Scotland. He had indeed been brought over from Piedmont, to be put at the head of a band of music, by King James V. one of the most elegant princes of his time, an exquisite judge of music, as well as of poetry, architecture, and all the fine arts. Rizzio, at the time of his death, had been above twenty years in Scotland : he was secretary to the Queen, and at the same time an agent from the Pope; so that he could not be so obscure as he has been represented.