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The Great German Composers   By: (1840-)

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First Page:

THE GREAT GERMAN COMPOSERS

By George T. Ferris

Copyright 1878, by D. Appleton and Company

NOTE.

The sketches of composers contained in this volume may seem arbitrary in the space allotted to them. The special attention given to certain names has been prompted as much by their association with great art epochs as by the consideration of their absolute rank as composers.

The introduction of Chopin, born a Pole, and for a large part of his life a resident of France, among the German composers, may require an explanatory word. Chopin's whole early training was in the German school, and he may be looked on as one of the founders of the latest school of pianoforte composition, whose highest development is in contemporary Germany. He represents German music by his affinities and his influences in art, and bears too close a relation to important changes in musical form to be omitted from this series.

The authorities to which the author is most indebted for material are: Schoelcher's "Life of Handel;" Liszt's "Life of Chopin;" Elise Polko's "Reminiscences;" Lampadius's "Life of Mendelssohn;" Chorley's "Reminiscences;" Urbino's "Musical Composers;" Franz Heuffner's "Wagner and the Music of the Future;" Haweis's "Music and Morals;" and articles in the leading Cyclopædias.

CONTENTS.

Bach

Handel

Gluck

Haydn

Mozart

Beethoven

Schubert, Schumann, and Franz. Chopin

Weber

Mendelssohn Wagner

THE GREAT GERMAN COMPOSERS.

BACH.

I.

The growth and development of German music are eminently noteworthy facts in the history of the fine arts. In little more than a century and a half it reached its present high and brilliant place, its progress being so consecutive and regular that the composers who illustrated its well defined epochs might fairly have linked hands in one connected series.

To Johann Sebastian Bach must be accorded the title of "father of modern music." All succeeding composers have bowed with reverence before his name, and acknowledged in him the creative mind which not only placed music on a deep scientific basis, but perfected the form from Which have been developed the wonderfully rich and varied phases of orchestral composition.

Handel, who was his contemporary, having been born the same year, spoke of him with sincere admiration, and called him the giant of music. Haydn wrote: "Whoever understands me knows that I owe much to Sebastian Bach, that I have studied him thoroughly and well, and that I acknowledge him only as my model." Mozart's unceasing research brought to light many of his unpublished manuscripts, and helped Germany to a full appreciation of this great master. In like manner have the other luminaries of music placed on record their sense of obligation to one whose name is obscure to the general public in comparison with many of his brother composers.

Sebastian Bach was born at Eisenach on the 21st of March, 1685, the son of one of the court musicians. Left in the care of his elder brother, who was an organist, his brilliant powers displayed themselves at an early period. He was the descendant of a race of musicians, and even at that date the wide spread branches of the family held annual gatherings of a musical character. Young Bach mastered for himself, without much assistance, a thorough musical education at Lüne burg, where he studied in the gymnasium and sang in the cathedral choir; and at the age of eighteen we find him court musician at Weimar, where a few years later he became organist and director of concerts. He had in the mean time studied the organ at Lübeck under the celebrated Buxtehude, and made himself thoroughly a master of the great Italian composers of sacred music Palestrina, Lotti, Vivaldi, and others.

At this period Germany was beginning to experience its musical renaissance . The various German courts felt that throb of life and enthusiasm which had distinguished the Italian principalities in the preceding century in the direction of painting and sculpture... Continue reading book >>




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