Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

The student will be repaid for informing1 himself as fully as possible concerning Weber's career and artistic ideals, for he was a genuine though early exponent of Romantic tendencies. Of marked versatility, of no mean literary skill and of such social magnetism and charm that he might properly be considered a man of the world, as well as an artist, Weber was thus enabled to do pioneer work in raising the standard of musicianship and in bringing the art of music and ordinary, daily life into closer touch.


CHAPTER XIII
SCHUMANN AND MENDELSSOHN

IN distinction from pioneers like Schubert, slightly tinged with Romanticism, and Weber who, though versatile, was somewhat lacking in creative vigor, Schumann ( 1810-1856) stands forth as the definite, conscious spokesman of the Romantic movement in German art just as Berlioz was for art in France. He was endowed with literary gifts of a high order, had a keen critical and historical sense and wrote freely and convincingly in support of his own views and in generous recoginition of the ideals of his contemporaries. Many of his swans, to be sure, proved later to be geese, and it is debatable how much good was done by his rhapsodic praise to young Brahms; whether in fact he did not set before the youngster a chimerical ideal impossible of attainment. Schumann early came under the influence of Jean Paul Richter, that incarnation of German Romanticism, whom he placed on the same high plane as Shakespeare and Beethoven. An intimate appreciation of much that is fantastic and whimsical in Schumann is possible only through acquaintance with the work of this Jean Paul. Schumann's first compositions were for the piano- forte --in fact his original ambition2 was to be a pianoforte virtuoso --and to-day his permanent significance depends on the spontaneity in conception and the freedom of form manifested in these piano-

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1
The life in Grove's Dictionary is well worth while; there are essays by Krehbiel and others and, above all, the biographical and critical accounts in the two French series: Les Musiciens Célèbres, and Les Maitres de la Musique.
2
Because of an unfortunate accident to one of his fingers this ambition, however, had to be abandoned. The world thereby gained a great composer.

-172-

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