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we have just cited, avec leur fierté accoutumée, et les Italiens 6 ne peuvent exécuter la notre; Donc, notre musique vaut mieuc
que la leur; Ils ne voient pas, qu'ils dévoient tirer une consé
quence toute contraire, et dire, Donc, les Italiens ont une mé• lodie, et nous n'en avons point.'
From this digression, which has been longer than we anticipated, we return to our musicians of the latter end of the last century. We shall say a few words as to the music of our own country, before entering upon that of Germany.
Among musical countries, England makes, we fear, but a sorry figure;-so small is the number of her indigenous composers, compared with the hosts from Italy or Germany, that she can scarcely boast of having a music of her own. She may exult in the Metrical Psalmodies of Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins,—or in such divine compositions of Maister William Bird,' and . Maister Giles Farnabie,' or the Carman's Whis. tle,'* and Jhon cum kiss me now,' which are preserved in that rare and curious collection, called Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book,-or she may glory in the laboured pieces of that rare professor, . Maister John Bull, Doctor of Musicke,' whose compositions are so difficult of execution, that they were impracticable even to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, although a first-rate performer upon the virginals, -and, after all, the music may not be one whit better than what Thomas Mace quaintly designates as whining, yelling, toling, screeking, short-squareeven ayres.' But a species of dramatic composition was now getting into favour in England, which was the means of bringing music into fashion, and calling forth the powers of the few original and good composers this island has to boast of, During the reigns of James, and Charles the I., a favourite amusement at court, and also at the houses of the nobility, was the representation of short musical interludes, called Masques. These were performed with the most splendid decorations, and the parts usually acted by the nobles themselves. Henrietta, Charles's Queen, was particularly partial to these entertainments, and frequently took the principal character herself, Ben Jonson was in general the writer of these Masques; and Harry Lawes, who is more likely to be immortalized by Milton's Sonnet than his own airs, was the composer of the music. In
* We have had the pleasure to hear the · Carman's Whistle.' It is composed by Bird, and was the favourite tune of Queen Elizabeth. It has more air than the other execrable compositions in her Majesty's Virginal Book; and more resembles a French Quadrille, than any modern tune we can compare it to.
at a very early age; and, like all other wonderful children, there are of course many anecdotes of his precocity. He received his first instructions from the organist at Halle, his native city, and finished lais musical education at Hamburg forming himself upon the best Italian and German models. He was only fourteen when he played the second harpsichord at the Hamburg opera; and the same year he produced an opera, which had a run of thirty successive nights. After passing a few years in Italy, he returned to Germany, and settled at Hanover, where he was much encouraged by the Elector. The connexion between the Courts of England and Hanover, tempted him, in 1710, to accept an invitation from some amateurs in London, who had known him at Hanover. His first visit was only for a year; but he got leave from the Elector to repeat it, shortly after his return. The tempting offers made him in London induced him to settle there, in spite of his engagement to the Elector--who chose to resent this neglect when he became King of England. Handel however contrived, by a little artifice, to get again into favour:~A Royal party of pleasure upon the Thames had been announced, and directions given at Court to have a barge of musicians in attendance. Handel got notice of this; and composed for the occasion those celebrated pieces, which, from the circumstance, have been called his Water Music. He conducted the performance himself; disguised, so as not to be detected. The King, who really had a German ear for music, was very much delighted, and begged to know who the composer was.
A German baron, who was a friend to Handel, and in the secret, told him that it was written by a countryman and faithful servant of his Majesty; but who, fearing he had incurred the displeasure of so gracious a patron, dared not, in a more open manner, contribute to the amusement of his sovereign. Upon which the King declared, that if Handel was the culprit, he bad his entire forgiveness; and, moreover, substantiated his gracious pardon by the donation of 2001. a year. Handel's chief excellence is in his sacred music. Yet, of all his Oratorios, only a few have stood the test of time. Even when they were first produced, several were very unsuccessful; and very often were performed to such empty houses, that the king (George II.), who was a constant attender, composed nearly the whole audience. Lord Chesterfield, one even, ing coming out of the theatre, was asked by a friend if the Ora. Addison disliked music, and that his friend Steele was a patentee of one of the other theatres, whose audiences were much thinned by the Opera.
torio was over? • Oh! no,' said he, they are now singing • away; but I thought it best to retire, lest I should disturb the • king in his privacies.' Handel would often joke upon the emptiness of the house, which he said would make de moosic sound all de petter.” During the latter years of his life, he was afflicted with blindness; but still continued to superintend the performances of his Oratorios. But it must have been a melancholy sight to see him led to the organ, and afterwards, in front of the audience, to make his accustomed obeisance. It was observed, that with many parts of his own music he was unusually agitated :-more particularly with that affecting air in Sampson,
• Total eclipse, -no sun—no moon,-' which so peculiarly applied to his own situation. He died on Good Friday, 1759; and had, for many days before his death, expressed a wish to his physician, Dr Warren, that he might breathe his last on that day. Twenty-five years after, being exactly a century from his birth, that splendid musical festival, which commemorated his genius and memory, took place in Westminster Abbey. It consisted of selections from his works, which were performed by a band of 563 instrumental, and 514 vocal performers. These were stationed at the west end of the broad aisle; the Court, and the rest of the audience, to the amount of nearly four thousand persons, were accommodated at the east end, and in galleries arranged along the body of the aisle. A striking proof of the great excellence of the performers is, that there never was more than one general rehearsal for each day's performance:—this appears truly wonderful, when we recollect that vast numbers of the band, both vocal and instrumental, had never performed together before, many being amateurs, who volunteered their services. The whole money received amounted to twelve thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds,-a prodigious sum, and showing, perhaps better than any thing else, the eagerness with which people from all quarters flocked to this splendid exhibition of musical talent, to do honour to the memory of abilities so superior to the common standard of human excellence.
It remains only to consider the Music of Germany,- for the details of which, we must refer to the Lives of Haydn and Mozart’;-all that is connected with the music being contained in the history of the two great composers of that country. It was our first intention to have entered into an analysis of the work in question; but we have already sufficiently tried the patience of our readers, and shall not exhaust it, by extending this article any
further. We can most satisfactorily turn them over to the book itself; which is a translation of Letters written from