1760

 

 

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 Pergolese in Italy, of Lully 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.

[… 75 …]

The English school was first planned by Purcel: he attempted to unite the Italian manner, that prevailed in his time, with the ancient Celtic carrol and the Scotch ballad, which probably had also its origin in Italy: for some of the best Scotch ballads (the Broom of Cowden-knows, 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, yet adopted the English manner: he had long laboured to please by Italian composition, but without success; and though his English oratorios are accounted inimitable, yet his Italian operas are fallen into oblivion.  Pergolese excelled in passionate simplicity; Lully 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 performances of the rest may be pleasing, tho’ 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 expressed.  In this particular he has seldom found [76] success: he has been obliged, in order to express passion, to imitate words by sounds, which tho’ 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 by several exceeded.[1]

 

 

 

Feb 18

To the Author of the BRITISH MAGAZINE.

 

Sir,

When I first understood that an author of distinguished abilities had submitted himself to the task of furnishing out a monthly Magazine, it gave me great pleasure; […] But as you are to be supposed accountable for every article that appears in your collection, I must ask your leave to object against some things advanced in your Magazine of January, under the title of The different Schools of Musick.  The author of this article seems too hasty in degrading the * harmonious Purcel from the head of the English school, to erect in his room a [182] foreigner (Handel), who has not yet formed any school .  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, because he left some monuments of his art in England .  He says that Handel, tho’ originally a German, (as most certainly he was, and continued so to his last breath) yet adopted the English manner §.  Yes, to be sure, just as much as Rubens the [183] painter did [.…]

[184 …]

 

I am, Sir,

Your most humble Servant,

Feb. 18,

1760.                                         S.R.[2]

 

 

 

Art. 26.  The Tears of Music, a Poem, to the Memory of Mr. Handel.  With an Ode to the River Eden.  By the Reverend J. Langhorne, 4to.  Price 1s.  Griffiths.

 

We have had frequent opportunities of doing justice to Mr. Langhorne’s merit on former occasions, and on none has he had more just pretensions to our approbation than at present: there is something so truly musical in the flow of his numbers, his transitions of passion are so artfully managed, and his epithets in general so new and just, that he really deserves an high rank among our modern poets.  This may be truly said of him, that though he abounds with faults, though he sometimes spins his thoughts too fine, yet in all his attempts he scatters some poetical strokes that are entirely natural and new.  The repetition of the epithet long in the following quotation may be ranked among the number.

 

                  —–All silent now.

Those airs that breathing o’er the breast of Thames,

Led amorous Echo down the long, long vale.’ [324]

 

The description of the different movements in music are equally new.

 

‘I feel, I feel the sacred impulse——hark!

Wak’d from according lyres the sweet strains flow

In symphony divine: from air to air

The trembling numbers fly: swift bursts away

The flow of joy; now swells the flight of praise.

Springs the shrill trump aloft; the toiling chords

Melodious labour thro’ the flying maze;

And the deep base his strong sounds rolls away,

Majestically sweet.’

 

There is a variety in the numbers of the following passages that must please every ear.

 

  ‘But, hark! What pleasing sounds invite mine ear,

So venerably sweet?  ’Tis Sion’s lute.

Behold her hero! From his valiant brow

Looks Judah’s lyon, on his thigh the sword

Of vanquish’d Apollonius——The shrill trump

Thro’ Bethoron proclaims th’ approaching fight.

I see the brave youth lead his little band,

With toil and hunger faint; yet from his arm

The rapid Syrian flies.  Thus Henry once,

The British Henry, with his way-worn troop,

Subdued the pride of France——now louder blows

The martial clangor, lo Nicanor’s host!

With threat’ning turrents crown’d, slowly advance

The ponderous elephants.——

The blazing sun, from many a golden shield

Reflected, gleams afar.  Judean chief!

How shall thy force, thy little force sustain

The dreadful shock!

The hero comes——’Tis boundless mirth and song,

And dance and triumph, every labouring string,

And voice, and breathing shell in concert strain

To swell the raptures of tumultuous joy.

O master of the passions and the soul,

Seraphic Handel! How shall words describe

Thy music’s countless graces, nameless powers!’

[…][3]

 

 

 

ART. XL.  A Poem to the Memory of George Frederick Handel.

Small 4to.  11 pages.  Price 1s. 6d.  Faulder.  1791.

 

A note at the conclusion informs us, that this poem was written in the year 1760, by the late Dr. Langhorne.

In these pretty, cold rhymes an affectation of enthusiasm gives a stiffness to the language; and the sentiments evidently coming from the head, create no sympathy in the heart.  The frigid combination of images and phrases, furnished by a retentive memory, may shew the ingenuity of the writer; but the reader will not easily retain forced associations, or the studied flow of sentimental declamation.

We shall subjoin a specimen to justify, or confute, our criticism.  P. 8.

  ‘Hark! What angelic sounds, what voice divine

Breathes thro’ the ravish’d air! my rapt ear feels

The harmony of heaven.  Hail, sacred Choir!

Immortal Spirits, hail!  If haply those

That erst in favour’d PALESTINE proclaim’d

Glory and peace: her angel-haunted groves,

Her piny mountains, and her golden vales

Re-echo’d peace—But, oh! suspend the strain—

The swelling joy’s too much for mortal bounds!

‘Tis transport even to pain.

  Yet, hark! what pleasing sounds invite mine ear

So venerably sweet!  ‘Tis SION’s lute,

Behold her hero* ! from his valiant brow

Looks JUDAH’s lyon, on his thigh the sword

Of vanquish’d APOLLONIUS—The shrill trump

Thro’ BETHORON proclaims th’ approaching fight.

I see the brave youth lead his little band,

With toil and hunger faint; yet from his arm

The rapid Syrian flies.  Thus HENRY once,

The British HENRY, with his way-worn troop,

Subdu’d the pride of France—Now louder blows

The martial clangor: lo, NICANOR’s host!

With threat’ning turrets crown’d, slowly advance

The ponderous elephants——

The blazing sun, from many a golden shield

Reflected, gleams afar.  Judean chief!

How shall thy force, thy little force sustain

The dreadful shock!

The Hero* comes—’Tis boundless mirth and song

And dance and triumph; every labouring string,

And voice, and breathing shell, in concert strain,

To swell the raptures of tumultuous joy.

  ‘O master of the passions and the soul,

Seraphic HANDEL! how shall words describe

Thy Music’s countless graces, nameless powers![4]

 

 

 

Feb 22

Miss Brent was so ill Yesterday that she could not perform in the Oratorio.[5]

 

 

 

Feb 26

In the Press and speedily will be published, / MEMOIRS of the Life of the late GEO. FREDERICK HANDEL.  To which will be added, a Catalogue of his Works, and Observations upon them. / Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall.[6]

 

 

 

Feb 27

Miss Brent is so far recovered of her Illness, that ’tis hoped she will be able to perform in the Oratorio this Evening.[7]

 

 

 

Mar 4

[Mary Delany to Mrs Dewes, 4 March 1760]

 

[...] yesterday to Geminiani’s concert; it was pretty full. [...] The music began at half an hour after seven; I was extremely pleased with it: there is a spirit of harmony and prettiness of fancy which no other music (besides our dear Handel’s) has.[8]

 

 

 

Mar 12, 25

NEW MUSIC. / This Day is published, / PARADISE LOST; a new Oratorio in Score; as it was performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden.  Compos’d by Mr. Smith. / [...] / Printed for J. Walsh, [...]

[added line on 25 March:] By whom in a few Days will be publish’d, / Zimri, an Oratorio; compos’d by Mr. Stanley.[9]

 

 

 

Mar 21

This Day is published, Price 1 s. / THE TEARS of MUSIC; a Poem to the Memory of Mr. HANDEL.  With an Ode to the River EDEN. / By the Reverend J. LANGHORNE. / Printed for R. Griffiths in the Strand. [...][10]

 

 

 

Mar 29

NEW MUSIC. / This Day is published, / ZIMRI, an Oratorio, composed by Mr. Stanley; Paradise Lost, an Oratorio, composed by Mr. Smith: As they were performed at Covent-Garden Theatre. [...] / Printed for J. Walsh, [...][11]

 

 

 

[February and March 1760]

POETRY and PLAYS.

[…]

                  Paradise Lost, an Oratorio, 1s.  Dodsley.

[…]

                  Paradise lost, a new Oratorio in Score, 1s. Walso [sic].[12]

 

 

 

March

POETICAL.

[...]

3.  The Tears of Musick.  By the Rev. J<ohn> Langhorne, pr. 3s.  Griffiths.

[...]

7.  The Triumph of Time and Truth; an Oratorio, pr. 1s.  Dodd.

8.  Zimri; an Oratorio, pr. 1s.  Griffiths.

9.  Paradise Lost; an Oratorio, pr. 1s.  Dodsley.[13]

 

 

 

About this time (c. 1760) Signor Passerini was eminent in Dublin as a composer—the Signora, his wife, a first-rate singer.  Passerini had Oratorios performed, and Serenatas, as he called them, of his own composition.  He had two nephews, little brown Italian boys, Tenino and Ceccino, whom he brought up with musical rigour:—his dress was a black velvet coat, tissue waistcoat, and large flowing powdered wig.  He had the stage laid out and built up for his Serenatas, which generally brought a crowded audience.  One night, Dick Sparkes (son to Isaac the famous comedian) contrived to have a large corking-pin hooked to the top of his wig, and fastened by a string to the clouding over the stage in the carpenter’s gallery.  The house was full, the curtain rose and Passerini was discovered on an eminence, sitting in high pomp, his bow and violin in hand, ready to strike off as composer and leader of [57] the full band, when, at a signal of the mischievous contriver of the frolic, who, with his companions, was in the cloudings, up went the wig, leaving Passerini in his bald head.  The effect of this on the audience may be easily imagined; but such was the musical encouragement in Dublin, that Passerini, with his benefit, concerts, &c. was enabled to live there in very good style.[14]

 

 

 

[list of books published]

 

49.  The tears of music.  A poem to the memory of Mr Handel.  By the Rev. Mr Langhorne.  1s  Langhorne.

[…]

51.  Zimri.  A new oratorio.  1s.  Griffiths.[15]

 

 

 

Apr 16

Next Week will be published, / In Octavo, Price bound Three Shillings and Six-pence, / (With his Head finely engraved,) / MEMOIRS of the Life of the late GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL.  To which is added a Catalogue of his Works, and Observations upon them. / Printed for R. and J. Dodsley, in Pall-mall.[16]

 

 

 

Apr 24

This Day is published, / In One Volume, Octavo, Price bound 3s. 6d. / With an Engraving of his HEAD, / MEMOIRS of the Life of the late GEO. FREDERICK HANDEL.  To which is added, a Catalogue of his Works, and Observations upon them. / Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall.[17]

 

 

 

April

                  24. Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederick Handel, &c. Dodsley.  [These memoirs are wrote with so much skill and judgment, and some passages in the life of this great master of music are so very extraordinary, that we are resolved to oblige our readers with an abridgment thereof, in our next.] [sic][18]

 

 

 

April

                  Memoires [sic] of the Life of George Frederick Handel.  Dodsley, 3s. 6d.[19]

 

 

 

May

Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederic Handel.  Pr. 3s.  Dodsley.

This is rather a history of the works, than a detail of the life of that great artist, replete with a great variety of just and ingenious remarks on his different compositions.[20]

 

 

 

May–September

MEMOIRS of the LIFE of the late GEORGE-FREDERICK HANDEL.

[...]

[477 ...]

                  Handel bequeathed the greatest part of his ample fortune to his niece; a plain indication of the strong affection he always bore to her mother, who was his only sister by both parents.  Thus have we gone through our abstract of the life of this excellent master of musick, which we doubt not has been very agreeable to the generality of our readers; but for the catalogue of his works, and the masterly observation on them, we must refer them to the book itself.[21]

 

 

 

Jun 14

[Mary Delany to Mrs Dewes, 14 June 1760]

 

                  To whom was I obliged for Mr. Handel’s Life?  Mrs. Don. hand was on it, and you sent it.  I like it very much, though I don’t give up a point or two, which we shall talk over, and I have not time to write about.[22]

 

 

 

July

A VAUXHALL ADVENTURE,

by Way of BALLAD.

Inscribed to the Rt. Hon. the Earl of E—ng—n.

[…]

“Come view that Apollo done by Roubilliac,

“With scarcely a tatter to cover his back;

“’Tis an emblem of Genius, for few folks think fit,

“In these days to aid either merit or wit.

“The taste of the age is as rude as the stone,

“Yonder figure of Handel is mounted upon;

“As hard as the marble, the hearts of the great

“Are clos’d, if that virtue attend at the gate.[23]

 

 

 

ART. IX.  Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederic Handel.  To which is added, a Catalogue of his Works, and Observations upon them.  8vo.  Pr. 3s.  Dodsley.

 

The lovers of harmony will, no doubt, be highly delighted with memoirs, which, indeed, contain but few interesting particulars of the life, but great variety of pretty observations on the compositions of this sublime artist.  Not to rob them of any part of their satisfaction, we shall proceed, without adding any remarks of our own, to give as compendious an abstract as the nature of the performance will admit.  George Frederic Handel, was the son of an eminent practitioner in physic at Hall, in Upper Saxony.  Intended for the study of the civil law, he discovered so early a propensity to music, and exhibited such astonishing proofs of genius at the age of seven years, that his father, with some difficulty, was prevailed on to yield to the boy’s inclinations.  For improvement he traveled to Berin, Hamburgh, Florence, Venice, Naples, and Rome, where he was received with all those honours and marks of distinction due to an artist of his class.  Correlli, Scarlatti, and the greatest composers and performers Italy, the soil of taste, ever bred, were filled with admiration at the genius of young Handel, both as a composer and performer; the latter, in particular, courted his friendship, and pursued him through different peregrinations, as if to catch his genius.  The opera of Rodrigo was composed at Florence, for which he was presented with a sum of money, and a fine service of plate, by the Grand Duke.  He was discovered in Venice at a masquerade, while he was playing on a harpsichord in visor.  Scarlatti was present, and affirmed, that either it must be the young Saxon or the devil.  His opera of Agrippina was composed at the request of several Venetian nobility, [307] and performed twenty-seven nights successively, with expressions of applause altogether extravagant.  Enchanted with his melody, combined with the utmost grandeur and sublimity of harmony, Viva il caro Sassone! Resounded from every part of the theatre; insomuch that a stranger, who should have beheld the manner in which the audience was affected, would have concluded their senses were distracted.

 

After a residence of six years in Italy he returned to his native country, and went fro thence to the court of Hanover, where his Electoral Highness immediately settled a yearly pension on him of 1500 crowns, as an inducement to stay.  He obtained leave, however, to visit the court of the Elector Palatine, and to pass a year in London, where he arrived in 1710, at the age of twenty-six.  His compositions, and vast execution on the harpsichord and organ, had already spread his fame over Europe; it cannot therefore be questioned, but his arrival in England was matter of joy to all admirers of his elegant art.  He was soon introduced at court, and honoured with marks of the Queen’s favour.  Many of the nobility were impatient for an opera of his composing, and to gratify their wishes, he finished Rinaldo in a fortnight.  Its success was answerable to its merit; the admired Nicolini sung in it, and the whole town flocked to hear the finest singer chant the most sublime and correct performance ever exhibited in London.  His engagements at Hanover obliged him to leave England, to the great regret of all lovers of music; but towards the end of the year 1712, he procured leave to make a second visit, on condition that he limited it to a reasonable time.  In this particular Handel’s conduct seems blameable.  Enamoured with England, where he was highly caressed, he forgot his engagements to the Elector, never returning to that court; but had the good fortune to obtain his pardon on the accession of that prince to the throne of Great Britain, and to have the pension of 200 l. per annum, granted by the late Queen, now doubled.  Here we have an entertaining account of the musical factions formed among the nobility; the one side patronizing Handel with as much zeal as the others supported Buononcini.  By dint of merit Handel carried it against all opposition; a musical academy was founded, and, for the space of ten years, this art flourished in greater perfection in England, than in any other part of the world.  At last, the rough manners of Handel occasioned disputes between him and his best performers; a new faction raised its head, engaged the inimitable Faranelli [sic], and after a stout resistance, drove our hero to Hibernia, where he was received with the honours due to Apollo himself. [308]

 

In the year 1741-2 he returned to London, and recommenced those oratorios at Covent-Garden with great success, which, but a little time before were exhibited in the same place to very thin audiences.  From this aera we may date his prosperity, and uninterrupted good fortune.  Upon this change his first care was to apply some part of it to the relief of objects exposed to the miseries of perpetual confinement: it was afterwards consecrated to the service of the most innocent and helpless of the human species; and the Foundling Hospital, in some degree, owes its continuance, as well as prosperity, to the beneficient and public spirit of Handel.  In 1751 a gutta senera deprived him of sight, and, for a time, sunk him into the deepest despondency.  Towards the close of his life, his mind was frequently disordered, though, at intervals, he remained in the full vigour of all his faculties, till the 14th day of April, 1759, when he expired.

 

Such are the outlines of this entertaining sketch of Mr. Handel’s life, replete with curious anecdotes and remarks, and penned in a stile not inelegant, or unlike the hand of the ingenious author of a pretty performance on musical expression.  The critique on Handel’s stile and composition, speaks rather the writer of taste than the master in harmony; it is pleasing, airy, and superficial, well adapted for the reading of a gentleman, but little calculated to improve the scholar.  His character of Hasse and Buononcini, favours strongly of biographical partiality, which would make every other artist in the same way sink under the superior merit of his hero.  Their pieces are by no means of that thin flimsy texture, which our author insinuates, tho’ the harmony be less full than in many of Handel’s performances.  In the operas of Dido and Semiramide, Hasse excels Handle in the delicacy of the recitative and irresistible sweetness of the air, as much as he is excelled by him in any part of composition.  Buononcini’s Funeral Anthem may be esteemed a master-piece of the happy union of melody and harmony; superior indeed to any thing in this kind by Handel, or indeed any other master, unless we except the Stabat Mater of the inimitable Pergolesi.  There can, indeed, be no parallel drawn between these elegant composers and Handel; however, we may venture to say, that if he exceeded them in fertility of inventions, in sublimity of thought, and strength of genius, they as far surpassed him in delicacy of feeling, in flight of fancy, in passion, and that power of fine imagination which melts the soul, and dissolves it in dying extasy of sound.[24]

 

 

 

October

A Remark upon one part of the Memoirs of the late Mr Handell.  (See p. 159)

 

The author of the Memoirs of the life of Mr Handel says (p. 203.) “that, of his talents in composing for a single instrument, we need no better proofs than are given us in his harpsichord-lessons.  The first sett, which were printed by his own order, will always be held in the highest esteem, notwithstanding those real improvements in the style for lessons, which some masters have since hit upon, Handel’s having one disadvantage owing entirely to their peculiar excellence.  The surprising fullness and activity of the inner parts, increases the difficulty of playing them to so great a degree, that few persons are capable of doing them justice.  Indeed there appears to be more work in them, than any one instrument should seem capable of dispatching.”  I hope the author of the Memoirs will not be displeased, if I should presume to offer my sentiments upon these works of the late Mr Handel, and to dissent from him upon that subject; because it is clear to me, that many of the compositions, called harpsichord-lessons, are nothing else but voluntaries, and consequently can have no effect but upon the organ; for it is impossible to express the continuance of a note upon the harpsichord; besides, the style of a Fugue and that of a lesson is very different; and to play a Fugue upon the harpsichord, is as injudicious as to perform a Lesson upon the [451] organ. *  In order to adapt things properly to both instruments, it is requisite that all composers should consider the continuance of the note upon one, and the discontinuance of it upon the other.  This is a principal thing, and can never be too much attended to.—Dominico Scarlatti (tho’ an excellent composer of lessons) has not always observed this, any more than Alberti, Smith, and many others.

 

I beg leave also to make a remark upon Handel’s overtures.

 

I have often thought, that as an overture is, as its name imports, an opening, the subject of it should be general. *  The overture (for example) to the mask of Acis and Galatea is a general subject, and therefore an overture; but, as for all the rest of them, I have always considered them in the style of concert’s.  What is here offered is by no means with a view to lessen the importance of that late prodigy of a genius, (the ever memorable and truly celebrated Mr Handel) but only to shew that the best compositions may be improperly ’titled,

                                                                                                                                                                                    W. H.[25]

 

 

 

Sep 13

[Mastra, Portugal, 13 September 1760]

 

You are not to laugh when I tell you that I had the honour to pay a visit to His Majesty’s bell-ringer, who is as great a man as ever pulled the ropes of a bell, and as eminent in his way as Plato was in his own.  Besides that he can make those bells sound in regular subordination, he can also ring so many curious chimes upon them, that he delights the whole court.  But what constitutes him a great man and a genius, are two instruments he has invented, one form’d of many bits of wood, the other of many bits of brick.  Those bits he lays down in a particular order upon a table: then takes up two small wooden hammers, and plays upon them.  What sweetness is contained in wood and bricks!  Upon both he plays the very best overtures of Handel and the most difficult lessons of Scarlati.  Master [Eugene Nicholas] Egan [Irish organist], who has himself added a new treble to the Organ, [176] and of course is a proper judge of these matters, honours and loves this man, though but a Bell-ringer, and is not jealous of his abilities, because they do not interfere with his own.[26]

 

 

 

October

[natural beauties of Dargel, Ireland]

                  Musick hath wonderful effects in this glyn, to ravish the ear, to soften and delight the soul.  The symphony of flutes, violins, and voices, lull the soul to softness and repose; while the clangor of trumpets, drums, French and hunting horns, rouse the spirits to martial ardour and courage, by many echoes and musical sounds.  Handel’s grand chorus in the Messiah would have wondrous effects at this place, from hills, mountains, and grottoes.  It would be doing injustice to the noble proprietor of this unparalleled charming scene, should we omit to mention, that he hath caused an excellent in to be built at Tynchinch, near the Dargel and the Deer-park, for the accommodation of travellers [sic], situated in a most pleasing vale, with prospects of hills, dales, water, bridges, farm-house, &c.[27]

 

 

 

                  In 1759 [correct: 1760], he published “The Death of Adonis, a Pastoral Elegy from Bion;” and so prolific was his muse, that, in the course of the same year, he produced “The Tears of Music, a Poem, to the Memory of Mr. Handel,” with an “Ode to the River Eden.”

[…]

                  The “Poem to the Memory of Mr. Handel,” may be considered as the genuine and animated wailings of Poetry, who deplores her sister’s loss in Handel, in very elegant and harmonious verse.  There is a considerable variety in the numbers, which are happily adapted to the subject, and modulated to a judicious correspondence with the images and the sentiments.  In the passage beginning, “I feel, I feel, the sacred impulse,” &c. the pauses and cadences of the numbers are so sweet and mutable. That it must revive the idea of a fine band in the mind of every amateur of the science of music.[28]

 

 

 

[“NAMES / OF THE / SUBSCRIBERS.”]

 

George Frederick Handel, Esq;[29]

 

 

 

[…] While he [i.e. Tom] was there [i.e. Marshelsea], as Milton say on another occasion, [133]

“He liv’d a Blank,

“And from the chearful Ways of Men cut off.

                  I beg Pardon for this Quotation; I am as great an Enemy to Pedantry as any of my Readers: But I thought those two Lines so apt; and then the Author of them is so unknown, except for a few Songs of his, that Mr. Handal set; altho’ he wrote a Poem, call’d Paradise Lost; and those People who have read it, and those People who have not, all say it’s a very fine Thing.

                  Milton, in this Point, resembling several fine Women of Quality.  The whole Town mention their Names with great Familiarity; but few, very few, are happy enough to taste their Beauties.[30]

 

 

 

                  And agreeable to this we find, that a whole Age scarcely produces such an Architect as Sir Christopher Wren, such a Portrait-Painter as Vandyke, such a Composer of Music as Mr. Handel, or such a Watch-maker as Mr. Graham; [...][31]

 

 

 

LAMBETH, or LAMB-HITHE, a parish on the Surrey side of London [...] But just by Lambeth palace are Spring-gardens or Vauxhall, the most elegant place for public entertainment about London, or indeed in England, with fine pavilions, delightful walks, shady groves, splendid decorations, an orchestra for a band of music the best in England, above 1000 lamps, two curious figures, the one of Apollo, and the other of Handel, a celebrated masters of music.[32]

 

 

 

                  This Disposition to find fault (as a learned and judicious Physician [/xliv] remarks) discovers a poor and low Genius, directly opposite to that of Longinus, who declares expresly [sic], that he took no Pleasure in the Blemishes of any Author *.

[xliii-xliv]

 

“[...] I have been credibly inform’d, that there is one of the Vicars, who is said to understand Music better than any of the rest, as I’m told he plays the Organ very well; (tho’ some of you are ill-natur’d enough to say, it is in the old-fashion’d Stile *; [...]”

[279-81]

 

“[...] This tallies exactly with an Inconsistency I have heard, that many of those Vicars reproach the Organist for not having a quick Finger *, yet complain that he [313] plays nothing but Jiggs:

[312-15]

 

“[...] The Opera is set to Music by one Mr. Handel, who is universally esteemed, by all Masters and Judges of that Science, to be the greatest Composer in the World *.”

[337-38][33]

 

 

 

[Plate II:]  air in Judas Macchabeus [coronation]

[Plate XIII, (21):] 

 

Objections against playing Fugues in three or four Parts on the Harpsichord.

 

THIS is a Kind of playing that forty Years ago was much more in Vogue than it is at present; but, as it has still some Partizans, it is necessary here to examine its Nature, in order to form a Judgment, whether it is fit for a Harpsichord or not.

IT has been in this Treatise all along endeavoured to demonstrate, that if the Vibration of one String ceases some time before the Vibration of another begins, in some one of the Notes of a continued Passage, it will not only cause an indifferent Tone to come from the Instrument, but the Musick then will not be played as it is written.  Now if we allow these Premisses, it follows, that many Passages in Fugues and other Compositions in three or four Parts, cannot be played on the Harpsichord, neither as they are written, nor with a good Tone.  And as a Proof of this Assertion, let us observe Part of the Fugue in the fourth Suit of Mr. Handel’s first Sett [sic] of Lessons, [printed by J. Walsh] [sic] beginning at the 32d Bar; see (21), in which we shall find not only that it is impossible to hold every Note its full Length, according to the past Rules, as it does not admit of a Regularity of Fingers; but also by the too great Nearness of the Parts, the Ear will confound the Passages of one Part with those of another, and often reduce the Effect of four Parts to that of two.  And when it so happens, that the [22] Musick is so much interwoven, that the Ear cannot reduce it to two Parts, then it has often the Effect of meer [sic] Thorough-bass.

MANY Musick-masters have never thought of this Defect, because while they play, or hear a Fugue played, they generally look upon the Book, and their Imagination fills up all the Deficiencies of the Performance: But it is not so with the unskilled Person that hears it at a Distance; for such a one has nothing to listen to but the Effect, and when that is defective, then he must be displeased rather than entertained.

AS a Proof of the Effect that many Passages in Lessons of this Kind must have, let the Hearer turn his Back to the Performer, and listen to the same Piece of the Fugue above-mentioned, played once in the four Parts, and again played as marked at (22), which is exactly as the Ear reduces it, and he will find a great Difficulty in distinguishing one from the other; unless he be directed by the Tone of the Instrument, which undoubtedly will be better in the last Way than in the first, as the Vibrations of the Strings will be less interrupted by the better Application of Fingers.

AS a further Proof that when two Parts are too near each other, the Ear reduces the Effect of two into that of one, let us play the Example (23) with two Hands, and then play the same Example reduced to one Part, only with [23] one Hand at (24), and unless we have Recourse to our Imagination, the Ear will not find any sensible Difference between them.

BUT if, by lowering the under Part an Octave, we put these two Parts at a greater Distance, and play it as at (25) then the Effect of two Parts will be surely felt.

UPON the whole, I really believe, that Passages with complicated Parts in the Manner above mentioned, are not natural for the Instrument, and therefore ought to be avoided as much as possible; witness Mr. Handel’s Conduct in this Particular: For when he composed the above quoted Suits of Lessons, he was a young Man, and, in all Probability, followed the then reigning Taste in his Compositions, without reflecting any further; but when Experience shewed him the true Power of the Harpsichord, in a maturer Time of Life, he has published his celebrated first six Concertos for the Organ or Harpsichord; in which it is worth observing, that he has put only one Fugue amongst them all; tho’ he is, in my Opinion, one of the best Composers of Fugues that ever existed, and himself very fond of introducing them in all his Works.  And mark, that in this very Fugue there are not Passages enough composed in three Parts, dispersed here and there in the Solos of the Harpsichord, that would make up five Bars together.  All the rest being composed in two Parts only. [24]

THESE six Concertos, in my Opinion [excepting some few short slow Movements entirely calculated for the Organ] [sic] are composed in the true Stile of the Harpsichord, and when played according to the above Rules, the Vibration of the Strings is seldom or never interrupted.

[… 25 …]

WERE I to examine most of the printed Collections of Lessons for the Harpsichord, I doubt not that I should find amongst them several of the different Composers no way inferior to these for Exactness in the Point in Question; but I am satisfied to have endeavoured to prove by the Works of these two celebrated Masters [i.e. Handel and Dominico Alberti], the Necessity there is of composing for, and playing on the Harpsichord, in such a Manner as that the Fulness of the Vibration may not be lost.[34]

 

 

 

                  As we went along, he told me that the last house he lodged in he paid three guineas a week; but that his musick, and the concourse of the virtuosi who came to see him, prevented other lodgers from staying in the house; and therefore, as he would rather discommode himself than others, he had taken room at his taylors; that it was in an obscure place, but then it was cheap, retired, and commodious for his business.

[...] He left me at the outisde of the room till he struck a light, which revailed to my eyes the most litter’d dirty hole I had ever seen: [... 61]

                  He then set down and played Handel’s water musick, and several other pieces, on the glasses, that indeed made some amends for the wretched appearance of every thing about him.[35]

 

 

 

SONG CLIV.

Set by Mr. Handel.

LET me wander not unseen

By hedge-row Elm, or Willow green;

[...][36]

 

 

 

SONG XLI.

The GOLDFINCH to CHLOE.

A young Lady, remarkably fond of a Song of Mr. Handel’s, beginning with, ’Tis Liberty, &c. had a tame Goldfinch, who used to hop about her Harpsichord whilst she sung it; which, at last, flying away, occasion’d the following Words.

 

RECITATIVE.

TO Handel’s pleasing Notes, as Chloe sung

The Charms of Heav’nly Liberty,

A gentle Bird, till then with Bondage pleas’d,

With Ardour panted to be free;

His Prison broke, he seeks the distant Plain;

Yet ere he flies, tunes forth this parting Strain.

 

AIR.

Whilst to the distant Vale I wing,

Nor wait the slow Return of Spring;

Rather in leafless Groves to dwell,

Than in my Chloe’s warmer Cell:

Forgive me, Mistress, since by thee

I first was taught sweet Liberty. [34]

                                                          

Soon as the welcome Spring shall chear,

With genial Warmth, the drooping Year,

I’ll tell, upon the topmost Spray,

Thy sweeter Notes improv’d my Lay,

And in my Prison learn’d from thee,

To warble forth sweet Liberty.

 

Waste not on me an useless Care,

That kind Concern let Strephon share;

Slight are my Sorrows, slight my Ills,

To those which he, poor Captive! feels,

Who, kept in hopeless Bonds by thee,

Yet strives not for his Liberty.[37]

 

 

 

SONG CLXIII.

DUET.

Set by Mr. Handel.  Sung by Mr. Beard and Mrs. Young.

WHEN Phoebus the Tops of the Hills does adorn,

How sweet is the Sound of the echoing Horn!

[...][38]

 

 

 

SONG CCXX.

Set by Mr. Handel.

GOD save great George, our King,

Long live our noble King,

God save the King!

Send him victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

                  God save the King!

 

O Lord, our God, arise,

Scatter our Enemies,

                  And make them fall:

Confound their Politics,

Frustrate their knavish Tricks;

On him our Hopes we fix,

                  God save us all!

 

Thy choicest Gifts in Store

On George be pleas’d to pour,

                  Long may he reign!

May he defend our Laws,

And ever give us Cause

To sing, with Heart and Voice,

                  God save the King![39]

 

 

 

[“TO A FRIEND. / ELEGY THE THIRD.”]

XIV.

Music could once my ravish’d ears delight,

And strike exstatic feelings thro’ my breast,

Whether the strain was solemn, loud, or light,

Joy in my apt attention stood confess’d.

 

XV.

Now O Corelli! are thy graces fled!

The graces, which from Phoebus’ lyre you caught!

And Handel’s fire which might provoke the dead,

Can scarce awake my dull unfeeling thought.[40]

 

 



[1] [Oliver Goldsmith], The British Magazine 1 (1760): 74-76.

* Had the Objector said melodious Purcel, it had testified at least a greater acquaintance with music, and Purcel’s peculiar excellence.  Purcel 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 exceeding simple.  His opera of Prince Arthur, the words of which were Dryden’s, is reckoned his finest piece.  But [182] what is that, in point of harmony, to what we every day hear from modern masters?  In short, with respect to genius, Purcel had a fine one: he greatly improved an art but little known in England before his time; for this he deserves but 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.

Handel may be said as justly as any man, not Pergolese excepted, to 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.  But 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 Purcel’s as from that of modern Italy.  Consequently Handel may be placed at the head of the English school.

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 shewn that he had them not upon his arrival.  Had Rubens come over to England but moderately skilled in his art; had he learned here all his excellency in colouring, 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.  Not the country in which a man is born, but his peculiar stile, 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, but 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.  Primatice, 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.

§ Handel was originally a German; but, by a long continuance in England, he might have been looked upon as naturalized to the country.  I don’t pretend to be [183] a fine writer: however, if the gentleman dislikes the expression, (although he must be convinced it is a common one) I wish it were mended.

[2] The British Magazine 1 (1760): 181-84.

[3] The Critical Review 9 (January-June 1760): 323-24.

* Judas Maccabeus.

* Chorus of youths, in Judas Maccabeus.

[4] The Analytical Review 11 (1791): 207-08; repr.The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, ed.Marilyn Butler and Janet Todd, 7 vols. (Washington Square, NY: New York University Press, 1989) 7:396-97.

[5] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 23 February 1760, [2].

[6] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 26 February 1760, [1].

[7] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 27 February 1760, [2].

[8] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1861), 3:586.

[9] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 12 March 1760, [4]; Tuesday 25 March 1760, [4].

[10] The Public Advertiser, Friday 21 March 1760, [4].

[11] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 29 March 1760, [4].

[12] Miscellaneous Correspondence … Vol. III (London: W. Owen and the author, 1764), 373.

[13] The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 29 (1760): 167.

[14] John O’Keeffe, Recollections of the Life of John O’Keeffe, written by Himself, 2 vols. (London: 1826), 1:56-57.

[15] The Gentleman’s Magazine 30 (1760): 145.

[16] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 16 April 1760, [1].

[17] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 24 April 1760, [1].

[18] The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 29 (1760): 224.

[19] Miscellaneous Correspondence ... Vol. III (London: W. Owen, and the author, 1764), 398.

[20] The British Magazine 1 (1760): [324] (wrongly numbered “140”).

[21] The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 29 (1760): 228-29, 363-64, 387-88, 473-77.

[22] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1861), 3:595.

[23] The British Magazine 1 (1760): 493.

[24] The Critical Review 9 (January-June 1760): 306-08.

* The author of the Memoirs say, that the surprising fullness and activity of the inner parts increase the difficulty of playing them; and this is true; and for a clear proof of it, we need only examine the suite quatrieme, in the first volume (p. 31) where this observation is strongly exemplified.

There were two Scarlatti’s, viz. Alessandro Scarlatti, and Domenico Scarlatti.

The first composition of Scarlatti’s is a voluntary; the continuance of the note being consulted thro’ the whole.

* In a voluntary and a concerto I always expect a fugue, but never in an overture and a lesson.

[25] The Gentleman’s Magazine 30 (1760): 451-52.

[26] Joseph Baretti, A Journey from London to Genoa, through England, Portugal, Spain, and France, 2 vols. (London: T. Davies and L. Davis, 1770), 1:175-76.

[27] The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 29 (1760): 515.

[28] The Poetical Works of J. Langhorne, D. D. With the Life of the Author.  Cooke’s Edition (London: C. Cooke, [1798]), 6, 18.

[29] The Dramatic Works of Aaron Hill, Esq, 2 vols. (London: T. Lownds, 1760), 1:no pagination.

[30] George Alexander Stevens, The History of Tom Fool, 2 vols. (London: T. Walker, 1760), 1:132-33.

[31] J[oseph]. Massie, A Representation concerning the Knowledge of Commerce as a National Concern; Pointing out the Proper Means of Promoting such Knowledge in this Kingdom (London: T. Payne, 1760), 5.

[32] [John Barrow], A New Geographical Dictionary.  Containing a Full and Accurate Account of the several Parts of the Known World, 2 vols. (London: J. Coote, 1760), 2:no pagination.]

* Vide Dr. Mackenzie’s Note, in his admirable History of Health, &c. Page 233.

                  I was once witness to a nice Piece of Criticism, at the Performance of Mr. Milton’s L’ Allegro, il Penseroso, set by Mr. Handel; when, as one of the Singers was speaking the Recitative, where are these Words;

                                    “But let my due Feet never fail,

                                    To walk the studious Cloisters pale, &c.”

The discerning Critic began to exclaim most unmercifully against the Singer, for his Stupidity in saying Due Feet; whereas, to be sure, said he, it should be my Two Feet never fail, &c.  There was a Conjuror for ye!  The Spectator wisely remarks, That the Triumph of Wit, is to make your Good-nature subdue your Censure; to be quick in seeing Faults, and slow in exposing them.

* I know there are many modern Singers, that pique themselves upon what is called Expression, supposing it to be quite a new Thing; as likewise several Players on the Harpsichord and Organ, who imagine their Fore-fathers were Fools; but, let the former remember, that there was one Mr. Samuel Elford belonged to the Chapel-Royal, &c. in Queen Anne’s Time, of whom Dr. Croft, in the Preface to his Anthems, gives this Eulogium: [...] There was [280] also one Mr. Powell, that I heard sing, RETURN, O GOD OF HOSTS, in Mr. Handel’s Oratorio of SAMPSON, in the proper Key, to a crouded Audience at Christ-Church Hall, which, I believe, is the largest Room in the University of Oxford, except the Theatre, when he was upwards of 60 Years of Age: This Gentleman (for he well deserv’d that Epithet) had a Voice, in my Opinion, equal, if not superior to any Englishman’s in the Kingdom; and wou’d have sung as elegantly as any Person whatever, if he had not affected the Italian Taste so much as he did.  And as to the present Performers on the Harpsichord, &c. I must take the Liberty of acquainting them, that there lived in the Reign of King James the 1st, one Dr. Bull, of whom I need say no more, than that he was reckon’d the finest Player in the World. [...] And as for Composers, the late Mr. Henry Purcell, may justly be allow’d one of the greatest Geniusses [sic] that ever liv’d, as his numerous and excellent Works sufficiently demonstrate.  The inimitable Mr. Gibbons [...] amongst many other incomparable Pieces, composed a [281] Full-Service, now constantly performed at all Cathedrals, which, for its fine Air, and Contrivance, has not as yet, been equall’d, and perhaps will never be excell’d.  Besides these two, there were a great Number of eminent Masters long before their Time, as may be seen by a List of them, at the End of Mr. Morley’s Introduction to Practical Musick [...] And to speak only of two more, not many Years since, liv’d the most surprizing Mr. Magnus, who as his Name imports, was really a great Player, tho’ in other Respects a downright Ideot: [...] Nor must I forget the famous Mr. Thomas Roseingrave, whom I’ve heard play an Extempore FUGE, for an Hour and half together, in four Parts, almost all the Way, with such wonderful Variety and Judgment, as if he had been twenty Years in composing it.  The Delicacy, as well as Grandeur of the late immortal Mr. Handel’s Performances on the Organ, are, as yet, too well remember’d to need any Mention concerning them, and worthy to be the Pattern of our present Organists.

* I remember a Story which I was told by a very eminent Organist, and an exceeding good Master of Music, but cou’d not submit to the present Taste of playing every Thing as if they were Jiggs.  This Gentleman chanc’d to have an Occasion to go to London, upon some Business, and being intimately acquainted with a particular Friend of the late Mr. Handel’s, was, by [?t]his Means, introduced to that great Musician, and had the Pleasure of drinking a Glass of Wine with him.

                  Accordingly when this Organist went Home again, he was determin’d to impose upon his Country Auditors, and therefore invited several of the Gentry in the Town to spend an Evening with him; when, after he had told the Company that he had been instructed by the famous Mr. Handel, many of them begg’d he wou’d give them a Lesson, which he presently obliged them with, and at the same Time, play’d a little trumpery Piece that he compos’d on Purpose, wherein he alternately cross’d his Hands, like old Joe Baker the Kettle-Drummer, and with as great an Air, as if he had practis’d to do so all his Life-Time, tho’ without any Regard to the Harmony, but only to surprize and deceive his Spectators; which really produc’d the desir’d Effect, several of them seeming to be quite astonished; and when he had finish’d his burlesque [313] Prelude, very kindly thank’d him, and told him, that they never heard any one so much improv’d, in so little a-while, as he was, tho’ he had not even heard Mr. Handel play: But, as the Saying is, As the Fool thinketh, so the Bell tinketh.

                  I have known some young Sparks that have been sent to London to learn Music, where they’ve not continu’d above a Year or two, and got, perhaps, half a Dozen showy Lessons by rote, who, when they went into the Country again, and flourish’d away with them, have been look’d upon as Wonders of the Age; and yet, I have met with many of these Prodigies, who cou’d neither play twenty Bars extempore, or take even an easy Minuet off at Sight, if they might have the World.  Thus, as the Proverb says, Amongst the common People, Scoggan is a Doctor. [...] I will finish this Note with a Saying of Mr. Handel’s: Some Gentlemen asking him to play Signior Scarlatti’s Lessons, (most of which are [314] cross-handed) he told them, his Belly was too big to play such Lessons as those; tho’ I rather imagine he despis’d all such Sort of Tricks, as I don’t find that in any of his Music for the Harpsichord, he ever compos’d any Thing in that Manner, and yet his Lessons, and Organ-Concertos, must undoubtedly be acknowledged to be the finest Pieces of the Kind, that ever were published.

[... 315 ...]

                  I actually shou’d not be surpriz’d, if, in this Wonder-working Age, a Person was to advertise, that he would undertake to perform Mr. Handel’s, Signior Gallupi’s, Mondonville’s, Giardini’s, or any such Lessons, with his Teeth; or that a Man shou’d write a fine Hand with a Pen stuck in his Nose.  Pardon the Impropriety of the Expression.

* This Gentleman, of whom it may justly be said, Praxi Musices maxime peritus, i. e. in Practical Music, he was the Greatest without an Equal, or without Compare, hath set Music to three Languages, viz. Italian, German, and English, with more Propriety than ever was done by any one beside; two Italian Oratorios, namely, La Resurrezzione, and Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità; and two Operas, to wit, Rinaldo, and Aggripina; all which were composed by him before he was twenty Years of Age, were perform’d in Italy, even in Correlli’s [sic] Time, who play’d the first Violin Part to some, if not [338] all of those Performances.  Mr. Handel was born at Halle in Saxony, (a Part of the King of Prussia’s Dominions) and died April the 14th, 1759, aged 75, the next Day after he had performed an Ex tempore Voluntary on the Organ, in the Sacred Oratorio called the Messiah.

                  N. B. He was the only Master of Music that ever cou’d govern a Set of Singers: And he himself was often obliged to use very rough Means, as well as bitter Words, before he cou’d accomplish it.

[33] John Piper [= John Alcock], The Life of Miss Fanny Brown, (A Clergyman’s Daughter:) (Birmingham: the author, 1760).

[34] Nicolo Pasquali, The Art of Fingering The Harpsichord (Edinburgh: Rob. Bremner, [?1760]), 21-25.

[35] The Real Story of John Carteret Pilkington.  Written by Himself (London: [?], 1760), 60-61.

[36] The Musical Miscellany: Or Songster’s Pocket Companion (London: T. Caslon, 1760), 163.

[37] The Bull-Finch.  Being a choice Collection of the newest and most favourite Engish Songs which have been sett to Music and sung at the Public Theatres & Gardens (London: R. Baldwin, R. Horsfield, and J. Wilkie, [?1760]), 33-34; also in The Musical Miscellany: Or Songster’s Pocket Companion (London: T. Caslon, 1760), 283-84.

[38] The Bull-Finch.  Being a choice Collection of the newest and most favourite Engish Songs which have been sett to Music and sung at the Public Theatres & Gardens (London: R. Baldwin, R. Horsfield, and J. Wilkie, [?1760]), 150-51.

[39] The Bull-Finch.  Being a choice Collection of the newest and most favourite Engish Songs which have been sett to Music and sung at the Public Theatres & Gardens (London: R. Baldwin, R. Horsfield, and J. Wilkie, [?1760]), 210.

[40] [John Lettice], Love Elegies (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1760), 15.