Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview
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dent are the following: Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Feldeinsamkeit, Minnelied, Von ewiger Liebe, Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer, Sapphische Ode, Vergebliches Ständchen. An excellent essay on Brahms as a song composer will be found in the preface to the Forty Songs of Brahms in the Musician's Library (The Oliver Ditson Company).

The foregoing illustrations have made clear, we trust, the inspiration and power of Brahms's varied message. His music, therefore, must be approached reverently, sympathetically and with an earnest desire for a better understanding, for Brahms is veritably a giant.


CHAPTER XVII
CÉSAR FRANCK

BEFORE an appreciation of the significant works and influence of César Franck can be gained, it is necessary to have a broad historical perspective of what had been the trend and the limitations of French music prior to his career. Since the time of Couperin and Rameau, musical composition in France had been devoted almost exclusively to opera -- with its two types of grand opera and opéra-comique -- and in this field there had been some French musicians of real, though possibly rather slight, genius: Philidor, Méhul, Grétry, Boieldieu, Hérold and Auber. One searches in vain through French literature for great symphonies, string-quartets, violin sonatas or pianoforte compositions of significance. Berlioz, as we have seen, had composed a number of orchestral works; but, from the standpoint of absolute music, even these rather beg the question as they are so extremely programmistic, dramatic or even theatric. This one-sided development of French music was chiefly caused by the people's innate fondness for the drama, and by the national genius for acting, mimicry and dancing.

Prior to the advent of Franck there were two important pioneers in the broadening tendency which finally became noticeable, SaintSans and Lalo. For great assimilative power, for versatility, for clarity of expression and a finish and finesse peculiarly French, Camille Saint-Saëns ( 1835-still living) is certainly one of the most

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