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RECORDS OF COMPOSERS.
BY GEORGE J. 0. ALLMAN.
“ Vergiss die treuen Tödten nicht."
KÖRNER. “ Theirs is the merit, mine 'tis to record."
Pope's HOMER's ILIAD.
Record I.-SIMONE Mayer.
" Quì canto dolcéménte ;
Quì disse una paròla ; e quì sorrise." (1760—1845.)
The year 1800 witnessed the triumph of his The recent death of this eminent musician, opera, “ Lodoiska,” a work evincing high power who was the most dangerous rival Rossini ever and much originality of thought : it met with encountered, and whose compositions, though very great success. In the following year he now to a great extent neglected, once filled the produced a new opera buffa, “ Le Duc Girovast musical arena of Germany and Italy with nate,” which is still spoken of for its comic delight and admiration, induces me to begin the humour and vivacity with high eulogium, though present series with a short sketch of his life, now “ departed from amongst us." trusting that it will not prove uninteresting to,
In 1802 he produced his noble opera seat least , some of my readers.
ria, “I mistero Eleusini,” which immediately Simone Mayer was a native of Sandersdorf, in stamped him as a composer of no common Bavaria, and was born in the year 1760: at a order, and obtained at once a high reputation ; very early age he was sent to Italy to study the indeed it is very generally believed that it was art in which he afterwards became so bright an the influence of this opera, partaking so much ornament; and, till the time of his death, almost of the gentle yet solid style of the immortal entirely making that country his home, he may Mozart, that smoothed the way for the introducbe considered to have achieved his fame there, tion and reception of that great composer's since that was the theatre of his success. In works into Italy; the prevalent feeling against 1902, after severe contest with several them being that they would be found too diffivery able competitors, he obtained the appoint- cult, both for singers and instrumentalists. It ment of Maestro di Capella to the church of was not until the year 1812 that the exquisite Santa Maria Maggiore di Bergamo
“ Il Don Giovanni," the master work of him
whom no vict'ry gained By might of interest, but gloriously won
“ Death from his immortality could not By high achievement
Divide," which he filled till his death. In 1791, through was for the first time performed in Italy, a period the interest of Piccini, he produced at the Fenice of twenty-five years having elapsed since its first in Venice his first opera, “Saffo.”
production! But notwithstanding it was brought In the year 1799 he brought out “Gli Ori- out in a very unartistical and inefficient manner, ginali,” since better known under the title of indubitably a very great drawback, it imme“ 11 Fanatico per la Musica," an opera which, diately (as, how could it be otherwise) took its although not possessing the high comic cha- position there, as it had in all other countries racter, and sparkling and brilliant lightness, that had witnessed its representation, as the first with which Cimarosa might have invested it opera the world had ever seen; and since then (mainly owing to the constitutional difference all the chefs d'æuvres of this illustrious combetween these great composers), is yet a work : poser have been frequently performed on the possessing very considerable merit, and which ex- Italian stage, and their sublimity and beauty cited a very lively interest among the cognoscenti duly felt and appreciated. - ve beg their pardon, savans--of Paris, on its But, to return : Mayer, in the year 1813, paid production there, when the role of the Fanatico a visit to Vienna, where he enchanted the Vienwas so excellently represented by Barilli. The air | nese by producing an opera buffa, “L'Equivoco," allotted to Aristea, * Che dice mal amore,” is a which displayed great and striking originality, lovely and gem-like riplet from the “ cooling and tended much to raise him in the esteem of waters of melody, and was never inore effec- not only his own, but his adopted countrymen ; ively given than by Madame Barilli
for we must not suppose otherwise than that,
during his self-banishment from his own land, | (and has maintained its position) on more there were many
stages than any other opera before or since
produced. Eyes that, through the loom
The greater part of these works were first Of space, kept faithful watch and ward
performed at Venice, where he sometimes made For his young fame."
short stays; and not the least remarkable sign
of his genius is, that even the most sceptical He also brought out this year, “ Ginevra di critics joined in allowing, that though he proScozia,” the drama of which is founded on the duced his operas one after another in such rapid touching episode in the “Orlando Furioso" of succession, yet that they were each marked with Ariosto. What a fine and beautiful subject is a distinctive feature; that the music contained this for dramatic effect! so happy and natural beauties of an entirely different character and in its construction, and so admirably adapted to model, and admirably in keeping with the style be expressed through the medium of music. of the drama and business of the scene. As an No wonder that it has been so popular a subject instance of this, in the same season, and closely for young composers to work upon. There following each other, he produced his “Medea" have been many that have attempted it; but, and “Elisa,” two works of the most opposite whether from the poverty and ill-desert of the character; the former containing music of the music, or the recollection of Mayer, it is certain most tragic and passionate kind, adapted to its that, with the exception of a chef d'auvre of grand and terrible subject; the latter breathing Mohül to this story, all have ere this departed to only of the most gentle and tender pathos. Both the “tomb of all the Capulets,” meeting a na- these operas have been heard in England. The tural death (if being strangled at their birth be Elisa" was performed once at a private cona natural death): that of Mayer, however, still cert, given for the benefit of Ambrogetti
. But continues a favourite stock opera, both in Ger- it is to the celebrated tragic singer and actress, many and Italy, and it well deserves to be so. Madame Pasta, that we are indebted for our
From this time his pen, always a facile one, acquaintance with the beautiful “Medea in Cowas busily employed. He composed and pro- rinto." United to the dramatic vigour and duced altogether nearly seventy operas, gene- power of Gluck, in sublimity of conception, it rally bringing out two or three in each year, contains much that reminds us of the exquisite and always more or less successfully. Of these tender phrases that so much distinguished seventy it is said that scarcely one met with Mozart." Indeed, born in the same country a determined fiasco. Amongst the most suc- that gave birth to that extraordinary genius, cessful, besides those already recorded, may be it is no theme for wonder that he was gifted mentioned, “ Albramo ed Adelasia,” an opera with no inconsiderable portion of “the electric seria, which appeared in 1808, and was per- fire of genius” of his predecessor, and the formed in London some years afterwards, but similarity of style, which is certainly appawithout much success; though his countrymen, rent in his works, is rather to be admired generally, think it the finest of his works. In than otherwise. With Mayer, to the softer 1809 another comic opera, “ Il venditor d'Aceto," graces of the Italian cantó, was added the saw the light (or rather the stage lights), and more solid and energetic harmony of his proved very successful: its overture is very own country, the result of a deeper mode light and graceful, and is frequently used as an of thought, and consequent greater acquireoccasional overture both in Italy and Germany, ments. Words fail to express the emotion where an opera possesses none (as is the case caused by the sublime air in which Medea, with many), or the original one is not relished. placed between her two children, alternates from
In 1812 he produced, perhaps the most po- feelings of the most touching and womanly tenpular of all his operas, * La Rosa bianca e la derness, to at once “the blaze of passion," and rosa rossa;” the scene being laid in England the most violent paroxysm of despair and reduring the time of the wars of the Roses venge: in the hands of Madame Pasta it was --and though, generally speaking, dramas electrifying. This fine singer united in hersell that have a particular political tendency, even the acme of tragic singing and acting ; the inthough a mere matter of history, rarely prove passioned delivery and action of the Siddons, successful ; yet in this instance-abounding and the wonderful vocal power of Catalani, exas it does with strikingly dramatic situations, celling that singer by far in greatness of exand melodies of the most pleasing and natural pression, and power of commanding the feelings kind, the interest of the piece, which is centred of her auditory :in
Bands, whom mutual wrong And fate and fury drive along,”
is well developed and sufficiently kept alive--it proved eminently so; and it may be said of this opera, that, with the exception of some of Mozart's and Rossini's, it has been represented
" - Hers was a voice that charm'd
The French place Mayer, in point of merit, poser ; but the veteran lived to witness the in the intermediate place between Mozart and triumph of his pupil Donizetti, and was avenged. Rossini; but nigher to the former than the Although he received repeated and most advanlatter : his melody, like Paers, has not the sim- tageous offers from London, and other counpheity of the Italian school; but then, as is the tries, such was his attachment for Bergamo that style of his own country's harmony, his accom- he could not be induced to quit that place except paniments display a higher range of idea, and for a short stay at Venice. "He expired on the are much fuller and more minutely wrought. 2nd December, 1845, and we conclude with the They think that he has less enthusiasm, less apposite line of Petrarchcomic gaiety than the latter, but that he possesses more knowledge of music as a science;
“Ma cèrto il mio Simón è in Paradiso." that its formation and construction are supe- Pace! pace! pace! rior, and more dramatic. They consider him an innorator, but with more correctness, because being a well read and well studied musician, he had more weapons to use than Rossini, and superior artistic skill taught him to use them EVENING HYMN OF THE TWO more effectually. They argue that he never
FRIENDS. seems to proceed with his subject as its opening would presuppose; and though, from some un
(From the German of Voss.) accountable timidity, he seems to stop midway in his career, yet he is distinguished for the very
Down sinks the sun ; the dying day refined mode of treating his harmonies, which
More beautiful is growing, forms indeed the chief characteristic of the Ger- Touching the trees with tender ray man school. By his own countrymen he is ge- Through golden blushes glowing. nerally termed “the diminished Mozart.” Our Dear friend ! athwart the trembling grass own opinion (and the general opinion of England See gentle gales caressing pass : is the same) inclines us to place him, judging So may our well-spent morning prime from the works with which we are already ac
Set in a glorious evening time. quainted, rather below both. At times indeed he indisputably rises in the scale of art compared The golden fringe that skirts the sky with Rossini, and soars above him; but, mostly, Seems o'er yon hill to hover, he lacks the evident dramatic tact and purpose
Tinging the reed and cedar high that distinguish the Pesarese Sivan; and yet his
Gilding the small stream over ; melodies abound with the most original and ex
Whilom beneath the wave's bright mirror pressive ideas. Who that aspires to a taste
Blue-mantled heav'n is imag'd ever,
Thus may our souls the image bear in music is unacquainted with
Oh! quanto l'anima,” and “ Che vuol la bella rosa?” He is
Of goodness, beauty everywhere ! also the composer of several charming canzonette di camera; among them, “Quando penso
Twilight the sweet restorer is a quell' istante," a lovely and tender air." His Of friend to friend, in hall and bower--
The season of sweet social bliss, music to Metastasio's celebrated canzonetta,
The home-affection's nestling hour. " Grazie all' ungami tuoi,” has become celebrated and much admired.
The peasant 'neath yon shady tree
Fondles his dear ones lovingly: Up to the time of his death he resided prin
Lay we our languid limbs along cipally, and filled satisfactorily and with honour, This quiet bank, then raise the song ! the situation of Maestro di Capella, at Bergamo, admired and esteemed by all, not only for his Sing we—for hark ! the nightingale great talents, but for the rare modesty by which The list'ning air rejoices. they were accompanied. He was founder of a
'Tis gratitude awakes the peal Conservatorie in that city. He has left numerous That rings from hundred voices ! compositions for the church, most of which were Hark! the shepherd's evening prayer composed before he produced his first opera, all Floats upon the sleepy air : possessing great beauty; among them a grand
Shall we not rejoice and praise, mass, composed in honour of his city's patron
And the heavenly chorus raise ? saint, and several oratorios—“ Jacob a Lebano
Should we cease our hymning sweet, fugiens,” “ David,” “ Tobiæ matrimonium,"
Echo would the song repeat.
ELIZA Leslie. “ Sisera,” “Passion,” “ Jepthah.” Of his mass, the German press of the time spoke in such terms as to lead us to suppose that it equals, if it does not almost rival, the same species of com
Tæe Glow-worm.-A glow-worm sat, uncon. position that has been rendered so perfect by scious of his starry light, in the soft grass of a gar. his compatriots, Mozart and Haydn. Mayer's den. Softly his neighbour, a large toad, crept out career may be said to have ceased on the ap- of the rotten weeds, and spat out all its venom on pearance of Rossini in the musical horizon, bim. " Alas! what have I done to thee ?" said the though it was some time before Rossini could poor worm?" "Yes," retorted the monster, “ Why stem the torrent of public favour for our com
dost thou shine ?"-From the German.
NI A GARA.
BY MISS LESLIE.
“ Years will roll on as they have roll'd, and thou
Shalt speak in thunder as thou speakest now."
Every good Mussulman considers it a duty to so covered is the whole channel with spreading perform, once in his life, a pilgrimage to the masses of snowy white.* shrine of his prophet at Mecca; and every Our next and best view of the rapids was American endeavours to make, at least, one from the bridge thrown across them to Bath visit to the falls of Niagara. But the most island; from whence there is another and much devout Osmanlee that prostrates himself before smaller bridge to Ship island, a picturesque the tomb of Mahomet can feel no access of little spot covered with trees, most of them pines ; religious fervour that will compare with the the tallest of which slant backwards, something sensations inspired, even in a mind and heart of like the masts of a vessel; and there is one with ordinary sensibility, by the sight of this sublime the stem inclining forward, in the manner of a cataract—the wonder of the Atlantic world— bowsprit, its lower branches almost dipping into the glorious temple not made with hands, where the foam. We sat here, awhile, on a rustic the incense of Nature rises, for ever, towards bench beneath the shade, and looked up and Nature's God, as the compressed waters of one down, and all around, scarcely knowing where vast inland sea pour down into another. to fix our eyes. Our islet lay trembling amidst
On arriving at Niagara, my young companion the turmoil of the white and maddening waters and myself
, notwithstanding our impatience, had that seemed ready every moment, as they hurried sufficient self-command to resolve on economiz- past, to tear it from its foundation and sweep it ing our enjoyment, or rather lengthening it out, away over the falls. Looking up the stream we in seeing Niagara by degrees, reserving for saw an ocean of froth, whirling and tumbling the last the grand view that comprises the amid fragments of sunken rock; and leaping whole of the falls at once. We found that we over, and bounding off from other rocks more were right, and that the sum of our delight was elevated, but so hidden amid the volumes of greater in consequence.
foam pouring over them and the clouds of We began at the rapids, the first or upper smoke-like spray rising high above, that their part of which can be seen to great advantage positions could only be indicated by the war of from a balcony at the back of the Cataract waters raging round the impediments they rainly House, that looks out directly upon it. Indeed, interposed to the passage of the resistless flood
. the rapids are so near, that small rills, and from the ridges of this bed of rocks that had foam-wreaths belonging to them, ripple about never been seen uncovered, and from their deep the ground close under the windows of the cavities, sprung out innumerable torrents,arching hotel; so that in going out, you step over those like the jet of a vast fountain, or dancing up little accessories to the stupendous torrent. high and sparkling in the bright blue summer
The rapids commence very gradually, be- air; the breeze sometimes wafting aside the ginning where the bottom of the river first cloud of snow-white mist that veiled the wild becomes slightly rocky. A few bells of white foam are scattered far apart on the surface of * In speaking of Niagara, it is probably the dark green water, the current seeming to correct to designate all localities south of it, of increase in velocity. As it proceeds, the foam- nearer to Lake Erie, as being below the falls ; for, in specks become larger and closer, till they run our hemisphere, north of course is up, and south into long wreaths. Then these wreaths unite, down; though certain Yankees do talk of down and become ridges; and the ridges follow each east.”. But it is more usual, and seemingly more other so closely, that they blend together into natural, to regard the rapids, while they rush along to high wide crests of foam, that stretch from pour themselves down the rocks, as being above shore to shore; crowding one upon another, they are in common parlance; it being understood, on
rather than below the cataract. And such, indeed, hurrying wildly on into those before them, and the narrow strait called the Niagara river, that doen overtaken by those behind. By the time the signifies towards Lewiston and Ontario, and expo rapids have passed the Cataract House, scarcely towards Buffalo and Erie. This may be wrong ; a streak of green can be discovered among them, it seems right, at least when you are there.
and graceful forms of the lesser cataracts. But beneath the bright sky of summer, and darkenthe rocks, though they seemed to enrage the ing beneath a canopy of heavy storm-clouds; waters to fury, could not arrest their mighty the lightning flashing across its ever-rolling force. On they came, terrific in all their velocity; torrents, and the thunder of upper air uniting rearing, rushing, surging, flying along as if with that whose deep tones ascend for ever from maadly eager to basten their headlong plunge the recesses of the caverned depths below its down the tremendous precipice, and roll away to feet. I thought how it must look tinted with lose their glories in the wide and tranquil bosom the crimson and purple clouds that curtain the of the Ontario lake.
close of an autumnal day, “when the clear cold This view of the rapids would alone have evening's declining," and the fantastic trees on been a sufficient compensation for a much these islands and these rocks come out in the longer and more fatiguing journey. Had we varied and glowing colours of that gorgeous seen no more, we should have seen enough. It season; colours scarcely less splendid than was here I first experienced those indescribable those of the sunset sky. sensations of delight, overpowered by feelings of And in winter, when it has all its beauties to awe and reverence, without which few have itself, when the trees are denuded, the rocklooked on Niagara. My eyes were filled with plants withered, masses of ice lying along the tears. I could not speak. 'I felt as if the spirit shores, and the country round presenting one of the Creator was before me, and almost in his vast desert of snow; even in winter, Niagara own divine form. I seemed to hear his holy must still be beautiful in the crystal pendents voice, and feared to interrupt it.
hung on the rocks and trees by its freezing Retracing our steps, we again crossed the spray; and sublime in the overpowering force bridges, and then descended a high steep bank, with which it struggles against the ice that vainly which, when half way down, brought us in view essays to block up its progress. of the whole of the American falls; the flood, on I left my companion engaged in sketching ; arriving near the pitch of the precipitous ledge, and ascending the hill, I turned into what is branching off to supply a whole crescent of ca- there called The Grove, a beautiful piece of woodtaracts. Our eyes were first attracted by a land, with the trees sufficiently thinned to leave a range of three lofty rocks, the face of each pro- cool shade without obstructing the view. Foljecting out beyond that on its left side, and pre- lowing a winding path that led through it to the senting an outline that has caused them to be verge of the cliffs, I suddenly emerged upon a called the Three Profiles. Rolling over the view of what I easily recognized as the great surmits of these cliffs, and pouring down in Horse-shoe Fall, curved into the form that its vast white sheets tinted with the liveliest green, name denotes, extending entirely across the we saw the highest and most beautiful of the river, and resting its farthest extremity against falls ; light feathery flakes of foam springing off the Table Rock on the Canada shore, with the from the sides of the torrent and trickling in Clifton House in its immediate vicinity. The silver rills over the dark and broken masses of whole assemblage of the Niagara Falls was now stone, from whose crevices, forever wet, grew before me in all their varied forms of grandeur out such shrubs and plants as love to climb and beauty, My nephew soon joined me; and about the rocks and delight in perpetual mois- exclaimed that the scene was well worth a voyture. By leaning over an old crooked tree that age across the Atlantic. bends forward on the verge of the steep on Many persons have acquired an erroneous which we stood, we saw a lesser but very beau- idea that the immediate environs of Niagara are tiful cascade pouring from a deep recess' in the tame, common-place, and in no way correspondrock beneath our feet.
ing to the sublimity of the cataract, which has Turning towards the left, we beheld the been said, by some, to owe much to the effect of largest sheet of the American falls descending contrast. This is the reverse of truth. But there from the main branch of the rapids, and throw- are people so prone to cavilling at everything, ing itself “in cne impetuous torrent down the (or so devoid of taste) as to enjoy nothing; and steep,” its outline retiring back towards the some few of these profess themselves disapcentre, so as to assume somewhat the form of a pointed at Niagara. They are much to be crescent. I was lost in admiration, transported, pitied. Nature is always true to herself, and the bewildered with delight. I could only exclaim, land-scenery about Niagara is in unison with " See there!"-and oppressed with emotion, it that of the water. The rocks, chiefly sandstone was long before I could utter another word. and blue limestone, are lofty, wild, and rugged.
When my thoughts and feelings began to Some are nearly perpendicular, some slope take a definite form, my only regret was that back, and others project forward, impending every being that I loved, every one indeed that over the waters that rage below. In some places I knew, was not there at that moment to look they are deeply indented or honey-combed by at Niagara. It seemed like something too grand, the incessant action of the spray flying against too beautiful to last ; like a inagnificent scene them. The trees and wild vines, that that would pass away while we were yet gazing from the fissures of these rifted walls, appear to on it. I could imagine nothing more charming give them support, as well as to derive it from than to live in its immediate neighbourhood for them; clasping their tangled and dripping roots at least a year; seeing it under all its different and their twining branches against the masses aspects ; ín sunshine and in tempest; glittering of cracked, disjointed stone which seem already