Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

picturesque suggestiveness and pianistic treatment, may fairly be called the ancestor of much that is beautiful in such modern composers as Debussy and Ravel.

As a final estimate of Liszt and as a suggestion for the student's attitude we cite from Niecks the following quotation, since, in our opinion, it is true and forcibly expressed:

" Liszt's works are too full of originality and striking expressiveness to deserve permanently the neglect that has been their lot. Be, however, the ultimate fate of these works what it may, there will always remain to Liszt the fame of a daring striver, a fruitful originator and a wide-ranging quickener."


CHAPTER XVI
BRAHMS

AFTER the novel and brilliant work of the Romanticists had reached its height in the compositions just studied, it seemed as if there were nothing more for music to do. Wagner, with his special dramatic aims and gorgeous coloring, loomed so large on the horizon that for a time all other music was dwarfed. It is, therefore of real significance that just in this interregnum two men, born in the early years of the 19th century, were quietly laying the foundations for eloquent works in absolute or symphonic music. These men were Johannes Brahms ( 1833-1897) and César Franck ( 1822-1890). Following a few preliminary remarks about the significance of symphonic style in general, the next chapters will be devoted to an account of their works and influence.

A striking feature in the development of music since 1850 is the number of symphonies produced by the representative composers of the various nations; and the manner in which these works embody certain phases of style and manifest national tendencies is a subject of great interest. Ever since Beethoven, there has been a universal feeling that the symphony is the form in which a composer should express his highest thoughts. If Wagner and Richard Strauss seem to be exceptions, we must remember that their work for orchestra is thoroughly symphonic both in material and in scope. The difference is chiefly one of terms. Wagner claimed that he merely applied to dramatic purposes Beethoven's thematic development; and the tone-

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