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' of a number of such artists!' Perhaps, human nature being what it is, the critic may be excused for thinking that the non-acceptance of Rienzi' at the Paris opera, where the star of Meyerbeer was in the ascendant, may have had its share in the composer's revulsion of feeling against the vulgar 'craftsmanlike performance' of modern opera, and his resolution, shortly after, to drop once for all any connexion with 'that frivolous institution."

With the aim of substituting for this art, which could claim no higher title than being a diversion, something which would raise the audience from the vulgar interests of daily life and ' enable them to comprehend and adore the highest and most significantly beautiful that the human mind can adore,' the composer was led, in the first instance, to abandon altogether the field of history or real life for that of popular tradition or Mythos, on the ground that in the personages who act in such legends all which is merely conventional or accidental disappears, and they become rather concrete representations of abstract qualities in human nature, and therefore both of more universal interest and more suitable for illustration by music, which is not then required to deal with incongruous and prosaic circumstances, but only with broad types of human character or phases of human feeling. We pointed out that Gluck also drew his subjects almost entirely from Greek legend, though retaining a good deal more of real humanity than is to be found in the fantastic figures that occupy Wagner's stage. If, however, it be objected on the one hand that human semblance is almost entirely eliminated from these personages of Gothic fable, and that it is impossible to feel a dramatic interest in them, on the other hand it may be conceded that musical drama, being so far removed in its very nature from realism, finds its most congenial subjects in the region of romance rather than of real life. The more important aim of Wagner, however, was the solution of the problem of the union on equal terms of music and poetry, in place of

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* The fact that Wagner in the first instance failed where Meyerbeer was enjoying a brilliant success, seems the most rational explanation, also, of the almost childish spite and vituperation with which the very name of the composer of the Huguenots' seems to inspire the faithful adherents of Wagner; as far, at least, as the word 'rational' can be used in such a connexion. The Hebrew cohort of composers, of whom Meyerbeer was the Coryphæus, seem indeed to have rendered themselves equally obnoxious to both camps, judging from the icy sarcasm of Rossini's reply to an inquiry, when he was going to write another opera- Quand les Juives ont fini leur Sabbat.'

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the previous almost invariable subordination of the poem to the musical form. Wagner seems to have been led to his attempt in this direction by considerations somewhat distinct from those of Gluck, and based on a more definitely constructed philosophical theory. His aim is not merely to retrench and repress incongruous development of the music at the expense of the poem and the situation, but to arrive at a union or blending of the two arts in which they shall be completely interdependent, and in which the form of the musical setting shall arise directly from that of the poem, and the progress of the two be synchronous. Such a union is not only, in his scheme, the means for the resuscitation of opera, but is the natural end to which the art of music has been tending. The tendency, as he believes, of every separate branch of art is, after having arrived at the full extent of its own capabilities, to ally itself to a sister art. Thus, recognising instrumental music in the form it was brought to by Beethoven as the complete and highest expression of the possibilities of that art, he was seized with the ambition of turning the whole stream of 'Beethovenian music' in the direction of the drama, and achieving by the union of the two a higher and more intense expression than either separately could rise to. The initial difficulty in the way of such a combination of course is that while poetry produces its effect by concentrated expression, music, as we usually understand the term, works by extension in time, by repetition and sequence, and is under the dominion of strict rhythm which will not bend to follow the multitudinous and varied alternations of speech and action in all the details of an elaborate drama. Either the poem, as heretofore, must give way to the music, or the musical form must give way to the poem. Wagner practically does not deny the dilemma; in the work which forms the most complete example of his method, he elects the latter alternative, in fact, and deprives his music of the two qualities of rhythm and tune (which latter unsophisticated people term 'melody') to make it interpenetrate with the words and the stage action; but he assures us that, so far from music being in any way weakened or degraded thereby, tune and rhythm are, in fact, not only non-essential qualities of music, but even indications that it is in a primitive and incomplete state.

The reasoning on which this sufficiently audacious theory is maintained is worth attention, as it touches a broader question than mere opera reform, and we shall have to allude to it again. Looking back to the beginnings of music, Wagner considers that the quality of rhythm came to be engrafted on music,

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and regarded as an essential characteristic of the art, from the fact that the first use of music, by the Greeks, was as an accompaniment to the rhythmical movement of the dance. When the early Church adopted or adapted their primitive melodies, she dropped their vivacious rhythms as being only connected with the heathen art of dancing, and thereby deprived them of their sole means of expression; and we can convince ourselves even to this day of the uncommon poverty ' of expression in ancient melody when deprived of its orna'ment of rhythm, by imagining it without the harmony which at present supports it.' But the Christian spirit, in order to raise the expressive power of melody, invented polyphonic harmony on the basis of the four-part chord, which by its 'characteristic changes served henceforth as a motive of expression to the melody-an end which had formerly been attained by means of its rhythm.' When, with the decline of the Church, a vivacious inclination became predominant in the Italians also, in regard to the application of music, they solved the difficulty by restoring to melody its original rhythmical properties, and thus applying it to song as it had formerly been applied to dance.' This Wagner regards as nothing less than a relapse into Paganism,' the result of which has been that modern melody is almost entirely indifferent to the verse, and its variation-like movement was in the end dictated solely by vocal virtuosi, while the resource of polyphonic harmony was entirely thrown aside, Italian operatic melody remaining satisfied with a harmonic basis of such astounding poverty that it might exist without any accompaniment whatever.' The treatment of the rhythmical form of music by the German composers we pass over for the present, as it touches more closely on another part of our subject; merely remarking that the final result of Wagner's theory is the adoption of a musical setting of his poems, in which rhythm is discarded in the voice parts, and to a great extent evaded or concealed in the accompaniment, and which aims at a completely polyphonous character; i.e. it is music in which no one part or melody stands out from among the rest as predominant, but in which the effect is produced by the combination of the whole. Even the voice is no exception; for musically the voice is for the most part treated as an instrument among the other instruments, distinguished by its timbre and enunciation rather than by the character of the passages assigned to it; and æsthetically the voice, the actor, may be regarded as supplying the text for the musical commentary of the orchestra. As for the demand for melody,'

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'the reiterated cry of superficial musical amateurs' for this desired element only proves that they derive their notion of melody from works in which, side by side with melody, there 'is a sustained tunelessness serving as background.' As, according to Wagner, music is melody, and no music is possible without melody, this complaint must merely mean that he does not give the superficial critics the particular kind of melody they wish for. They wish for the first narrow form of melody as it appeared in the dance-tune. He offers them a combination of melodies which are to be as the multitudinous voices, for example, of the forest on a summer night; where, however many sounds strike upon the ear, they all appear as the one great forest-melody-a melody which will haunt the listener, but which cannot be hummed or repeated; to hear it again 'he must return to the woods on a summer night. Would it 'not be folly if he were to catch a sweet wood-bird, so as to 'train it at home to whistle a fragment of that great forestmelody? We are not, therefore, to condemn the composer for not giving us what he never aimed at or intended. We are to accept or to judge his work as what it is intended for a poem recited by the actors in musical tones and accompanied by an orchestra whose combined sounds form a perpetual illustrative tone-picture of the actions and passions of the drama, towards which the orchestra occupies the same position as the chorus in the Greek drama; a comparison used by the composer perhaps rather to render his aim clearer than as implying a precise parallel between the two, which it may be readily seen that there is not.

It is not to be supposed, however, that this complete and rounded theory of musical drama was arrived at immediately on the composer's flight from the blandishments of popular opera, or that it is fully represented by those works which have been performed in England, either partially or entirely.* On the contrary, Wagner is particularly desirous to impress on his critics that his theories have arisen to a great extent from the direction in which he was impelled in the course of composition; and that he is not open to the charge constantly made against him of deliberately putting music together upon à priori principles. We are, of course, bound to give due weight to such a statement, however irreconcilable with some apparent facts. The chain of sequence of the composer's works exhibits, however, a gradual progress in one direction. The

*Two only have been given complete on the English stage'Lohengrin' and 'Der fliegende Holländer.'

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Fliegende Holländer,' the successor of Rienzi,' is by its comparatively small dimensions and the romantic and legendary character of its subject, direct evidence of the re-action from the genre of the Paris opera; but the composer was still under the influence of the traditional power of operatic music, which had hitherto made a poem that did not admit of numerous ' verbal repetitions nearly impossible.' In Tannhäuser,' again, a great deal of the extended musical form and verbal repetition was retained, to which the lyrical nature of many of the situations naturally tended; though we see the beginning of the composer's recoil from rhythmical form in his refusal even to allow the minstrels in the competition a true lyric song, a concession which would have been quite consistent with, and even demanded by, the situation; while the more connected lyrical form assigned to Tannhäuser in his praise of Venus seems an exemplification of the pagan' theory of rhythm. Still, in its main features and design, Tannhäuser' may be called a work of the Weber school, or at least with strong reflections of Weber. In Lohengrin' the departure from precedent is carried further; with the exception of the wedding chorus, which of course is a metrical hymn, there is not a single connected melodic piece with the to-and-fro sway and rhythm which we call tune;' though there are snatches of melody in the old style, such as the outburst of Elsa at the triumph of her deliverer, which presents a melodic subject' such as a composer of the traditional school would have worked up into a grand prima donna air. The treatment of the orchestra approaches much nearer than in Tannhäuser' to that broad and vague tone-picturing to which the composer was tending; and the instrumental preludes to the acts lose all reminiscence of the old Overture form. The chorus on the stage, however, still retains its old dimensions and importance, and indulges in set pieces longer and more elaborated in form, indeed, than operatic choruses have generally been. After Lohengrin,' it appears that the composer's genius fell among thorns,' and that he was occupied long and wearily with considerations, antipathetical, as he says, to the very nature of the artist temperament, as to the establishment of a correct theoretic basis for the further prosecution of the art in the channel he had adopted. From the depression resulting from these wanderings in the tortuous labyrinth of theory, he was raised again to his natural temperament, as if recovered from a long malady,' by the ambition of embodying his ideas in a great work on a scale which would in itself put it out of the category of ordinary opera, and the performance of which was only to be attempted

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