Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

The work ends with a rapid iteration, molto crescendo, of the first motive -- in diminution. Now that we have reviewed the entire composition, there is one feature worthy of special emphasis. The structure as a whole (as we have stated) is clearly divided into three main parts; but when we examine the third part by itself, we find that it follows the lines of the sonata-form. For there is a first portion, with a main theme in F-sharp major, and a second theme -the new melody -- in D-major; the passage for pianoforte in E-flat major stands for the development, and the movement concludes with a distinct third portion, both first and second theme being in the home key. Thus the structure represents a carefully planned union of the variation form and the sonata-form which were special favorites of Franck. The work, which, after earnest study, will surely be enjoyed and loved, ranks with the Istar Symphonic Variations by d'Indy and the two sets on themes from Paganini by Brahms as the acme of what the variation form may indeed be when treated by a master.


CHAPTER XVIII
THE MODERN FRENCH SCHOOL -- D'INDY AND DEBUSSY

NOT only as the most distinguished of César Franck's pupils, but by reason of his undoubted musicianship and marked versatility -- his works being in well nigh every form -- Vincent d'Indy (1851still living) is rightly considered to be the most representative composer of his branch of the modern French school.1Whether history will accord to him the rank of an inspired genius it is as yet too early to decide; but for the sincerity and nobility of his ideas, for his finished workmanship and the influence he has exerted, through his many-sided personality, in elevating public taste and in the education of young musicians, he is worthy of our gratitude. D'Indy is a patriotic Frenchman believing profoundly that French music has an important rôle to bear; who has incarnated this belief in a series of

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1
This school may be said to contain two groups: one, the pupils of César Franck -- d'Indy, Chausson, Duparc, Rousseau, Augusta Holmes and Ropartz, the chief feature in whose style is a modernization of classic practice; a second consisting of Debussy, Ravel, Dukas and Florent Schmitt, whose works manifest more extreme individualistic tendencies.

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