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ON THE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OF MUSIC.
A school in the polite arts properly signifies that succession of artists, which has learned the principles of the art from some eminent master, either by hearing his lessons or studying his works, and consequently who imitate his manner either through design or from habit. Musicians seem agreed in making only three principal schools in music: namely, the school of Pergolesi in Italy, of Lulli in France, and of Handel in England; though some are for making Rameau the founder of a new school, different from those of the former, as he is the inventor of beauties peculiarly his own.
Without all doubt Pergolesi'st music deserves the first rank; though excelling neither in variety of movements, number of parts, nor unexpected flights, yet he is universally allowed to be the musical Raphael of Italy. This great master's principal art consisted in knowing how to excite our passions by sounds, which seem frequently opposite to the passion they would express : by slow solemn sounds he is sometimes known to throw us into all the rage of battle; and, even by faster movements, he excites melancholy in every heart that sounds are capable of affecting. This is a talent, which seems born with the artist. We are unable to tell why such sounds affect us : they seem no way imitative of the passion they would express, but operate upon us by an
· [The Essays, No. III. to XXIII. inclusive, first appeared in • The British Magazine, commenced in January 1760, by Dr. Smollett. Of the twenty-one papers only three were reprinted by Goldsmith, in the collection of 1765.]
+ [Pergolesi was born at Casano, near Naples, in 1704, and died in 1737, at the age of thirty-three. Horace Walpole is of opinion that Gray, who regarded his vocal compositions as models of perfection, first brought them into Er gland.)
inexpressible sympathy; the original of which is as inscrutable as the secret springs of life itself. To this excellence he adds another, in which he is superior to every other artist of the profession, the happy transition from one passion to another. No dramatic poet better knows to prepare his incidents than he: the audience are pleased in those intervals of passion, with the delicate, the simple harmony, if I may so express it, in which the parts are all thrown into figures, or often are barely unison. His melodies also, where no passion is expressed, give equal pleasure from this delicate simplicity: and I need only instance that song in the Serva Padrona, which begins Lo conosco à quegl' occelli, as one of the finest instances of excellence in the duo.
The Italian artists in general have followed his manner, yet seem fond of embellishing the delicate simplicity of the original. Their style in music seems somewhat to resemble that of Seneca in writing, where there are some beautiful starts of thought; but the whole is filled with studied elegance and unaffecting affectation.
Lulli,* in France, first attempted the improvement of their music, which in general resembled that of our old solemn chants in churches. It is worthy of remark in general, that the music of every country is solemn in proportion as the inhabitants are merry; or, in other words, the merriest, sprightliest nations are remarked for having the slowest music; and those whose character it is to be melancholy, are pleased with the most brisk and airy movements. Thus in France, Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, the national music is slow, melancholy, and solemn; in Italy, Eng. land, Spain, and Germany, it is faster, proportionably as the people are grave. Lulli only changed a bad manner, which he found, for a bad one of his own. 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 prerails in their best performances.
* (This fortunate musician, the son of a peasant, was born in the neighborhood of Floren e in 1633. He was in such favor with Louis XIV., that he could listen to the music of no other composer. He died in 1678, in his fifty. fourth year. See Hogarth's Musical History, ch. iv. p. 69.]
The English school was first planned by Purcell. † 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,ġ yet adopted the English manner; he had long labored to please by Italian composition, but without success; and though his English Oratorios are accounted inimitable, yet his Italian Operas are fallen into oblivion. Pergolesi excelled in passionate simplicity; Lulli 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 performance 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 ex pressed. 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.
* [Rameau, styled by his countrymen the Newton of Harmony,' was born at Dijon in 1683, and died at Paris in 1767, in his 84th year.]
+ (Henry Purcell was born in 1658, and died in 1695.]
+ [It was of course only the music that was ever ascribed to Rizzio—not the words:
"O the broom, and the bonny bonny broom,
And the broom of the Cowdenknows!
l' the bought, milking the ewes,”' &c.
[The preceding Essay drew forth the following reply from a correspondent;
which being communicated by Dr. Smollett to Goldsmith, he answered it in the form of notes; and, for the sake of those notes, the communication is here given.)
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* Purcell from the head of the English School, to erect in his room a foreigner (Handel), who has not yet formed any school.
* Had the Objector said melodious Purcell, it had testified at least a greater acquaintance with music, and Purcell's peculiar excellence. Purcell in melody is frequently great: his song made in his last sickness, called • Rosy 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, Purcell 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.-0. G.
+ Handel may be said as justly as any man, not Pergolesi excepted, to
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, beeause he left some monuments of his art in England. He says that Handel, though originally a German (as most certainly he was, and continued so to his last breath), yet adopted the English manner.f Yes, to be sure, just
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. Bat 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 Purcell's as from that of modern Italy. Consequently, Handel may be placed at the head of the English school.-0. G.
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 Eng. land but moderately skilled in his art; had he learned here all his excellency in coloring 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. It is 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 both 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.-0. G.
+ Handel was orginally a German ; but, by a long continuance in England, be might have been looked upon as naturali :ed to the country. I don't pretend