The Story Of Chamber Music
By N. (Nicholas) Kilburn

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The Story of Chamber Music

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BY N. Kilburn Mus. Bac. (Cantab.) Conductor of the Middlesbrough, Sunderland, and Bishop Auckland Musical Societies. London The Walter Scott Publishing Co., Ltd. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1904...


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Berlioz , who, by the way, wrote no chamber music save a serenade for two flutes and harp (“L’Enfance du Christ”), in his imaginative fashion somewhere speculates as to which of his own works he would preserve if it were ordained that all except one should perish. In like manner, we may ask ourselves which of the great forms of musical composition we would plead for in case all the rest were doomed to destruction. Music for the orchestra, with its vivid colours, its strength and delicacy; the vast range of choral music; works for the organ, that huge modern plexus of pipe and reed;—these and others no doubt have strong claims on our musical affections. But, if forced to such a choice, it is certain that many a musician would, without hesitation, pledge himself to uphold the claims of Chamber music, for who can measure the almost infinite variety...


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THE BEGINNINGS OF CHAMBER MUSIC. How Chamber Music began — Early Chamber Music compositions — Musical position of England — Purcell — J.S. Bach — Great violin makers — Haydn and Mozart — Corelli and the compass of the violin — William Shield and 5/4 time. “ In the time of the Frankish kings,” says Mr. H.E. Krehbiel, [3] “the word chamber was applied to the room in the royal palace in which the monarch’s private property was kept, and in which he looked after his private affairs. When royalty took up the cultivation of music it was as a private, not as a court function, and the concerts given for the entertainment of the royal family took place in the king’s chamber or private room. The musicians were nothing more nor less than servants in the royal household. This relationship endured into the present century. Haydn was a Haus-officier...


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CHAMBER MUSIC INSTITUTIONS AND CONCERTS. John Banister’s concerts — Thomas Britton, the musical coalman — Britton’s concerts — “Music Meetings” — Oxford Music School — Pepys’s Diary — Evelyn’s Diary — Frederick the Great — Bach and the Emperor — The Emperor Frederick’s compositions — Dando concerts — John Ella and The Musical Union — Analytical programmes and position of platform — Quartett Association — Dannreuther’s Musical Evenings — Sir Charles Hallé’s recitals — Monday Popular Concerts — Joachim — Various chamber music institutions — Japanese chamber music. With the general advancement which we thus see had taken place in instrumental music, there naturally arose a desire for its performance, and this led to the establishment of Concerts, both private and public. Burney in his History of Music tells us that upon the decease of Baltzar the Lubecker, who was the first leader of King Charles the Second’s new Band...


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HAYDN, P.E. BACH, DITTERSDORF, HANDEL. J.S. Bach — Joseph Haydn — Philipp E. Bach — Dittersdorf — Early quartetts of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven — Silence as an effect in music — Haydn’s quartetts — Haydn’s Kaiser Quartett — Haydn’s other chamber music — Handel. Haydn (1732-1809) has been called the “Father of the Symphony,” and by some the origin of the Quartett (meaning, of course, that for strings) has been ascribed to him. How far this is accurate can only be determined by an examination of what was being done by others about the same time; but it may be safely said that, in the absolute sense, no enduring art form has been the creation of one man. There has always been a growth, although it is no doubt true that at a certain stage of the process some one with genius has, as it were, put the top...


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MOZART. Mozart’s C major Quartett — Mozart’s string quartetts — The genius of Mozart — Mozart’s other chamber music — Wagner on Mozart — Mozart’s letter to his father. “ I declare to you before God, as a man of honour, that your son is the greatest composer that I know either personally or by reputation; he has taste, and, beyond that, the most consummate knowledge of the art of composition.” Such are the remarkable words of Haydn, spoken to Mozart’s father. The compositions played on the occasion when this was said were the String Quartetts numbers 458, 464, and 465 of the Köchel Thematic Catalogue of Mozart’s works, the last-named in C major, being that whose introductory passage is said to have given much offence to the purists of that time, on account of the following unusual harmony, which even to-day sounds (like some of Bach’s) quite modern:— Mozart....


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BEETHOVEN . Beethoven as democrat — Rhythmic similarities — Beethoven’s first and last compositions — Musical humour — The distinction in Beethoven’s chamber music. The genius of this remarkable man has left us a heritage of undying beauty in every department of the art, and especially in that of chamber music. “Beethoven [19] (1770-1827) was the first great democrat among musicians. He would have none of the shackles which his predecessors wore, and he compelled the aristocracy of birth to bow to the aristocracy of genius. But such was his reverence for the style of music which had grown up in the chambers of the great, that he devoted the last three years of his life almost exclusively to its composition; the peroration of his proclamation to mankind consists of his last Quartetts—the holiest of holy things to the chamber musicians of to-day.” With regard to these works it has...


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SCHUBERT, MENDELSSOHN, SCHUMANN, AND SPOHR. Schubert as song-writer — Schubert’s chamber music — Mendelssohn — Mendelssohn’s position in England — Mendelssohn’s character — Mendelssohn’s chamber music — Schumann — Schumann as absolute musician — The E♭ Piano Quintett — Piano trios — Spohr’s opinion of Beethoven’s work — Characteristics of his compositions. Schubert’s fame rests chiefly on his songs, but in the domain of instrumental music he also did some remarkable work, although it can hardly be said that he fundamentally influenced the art in this direction. He lived (1797-1828) in Vienna at the same time as Beethoven, and many of his compositions show distinctly how much he was influenced by the genius of that great musician. Schubert’s works are distinguished by a spontaneous flow of beautiful melody. He possessed, by right of nature, the utmost artistic opulence, but unfortunately, owing chiefly to his birth and early circumstances, this was...


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BRAHMS AND DVOŘÁK. Opinions of Brahms — Weingartner — H.T. Finck — Bülow on Rubinstein — H. Davey — Schumann — W.J. Henderson — Philip Spitta — Sir Hubert Parry — W.H. Hadow — Piano Trio, op. 8: two versions — Horn Trio, op. 40 — String Sextett in B♭ — String Sextett in G major — Piano Quartett in G minor — Quintett in F minor — String Quartetts — Thematic resemblances — String Quintetts — Clarinet Quintett — Dvořák — Revival of Bohemian music — Birthplace and early career — Criticisms on his works — His symphonic poems for orchestra — An American national style of music — The Negro Quartett — String Quartetts — Piano Quartetts — Piano Trios — String Sextett — Other chamber music. The individuality of Brahms (1833-97) was quite as pronounced as that of Spohr, although in a different way, but his creative...


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CHAMBER MUSIC OF THE RUSSIAN COMPOSERS. Russian chamber music — Glinka — Quartett by Ippolitoff-Ivanoff — Quartett by Gretchaninoff — Mozart on melody — Russian schools of musical thought — Belaieff — String Quartett on name Belaieff — Arensky — Trio in D minor: Arensky — Sokoloff — Tanyeëff — Kopyloff — Tschaïkovsky. A comparatively unexplored field presents itself in the chamber music by Russian composers. Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, Kopyloff, Sokoloff, Gretchaninoff, these are a few of the almost unknown names of this school. No doubt certain chamber works by Tschaïkovsky, Arensky, and one or two others are a little known in England, but those of the composers named hardly at all. Glinka, César Cui, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Liadoff, Glazounoff, and Tanyeëff are also composers whose chamber music is deserving of serious attention, for recent musical history contains nothing more interesting than the progress of Russian music. Glinka (1803-57) is usually regarded as the...


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RICHARD STRAUSS AND ANTON BRUCKNER. Position with regard to classical form — Strauss’s chamber music — Bruckner’s character and individuality — Bruckner’s symphonies — String quintett in F major — Hanslick on Bruckner’s works — Krehbiel on Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony — Weingartner’s opinion. Richard Strauss , born at Munich in 1864, is without doubt one of the most distinguished of living musicians, and although his recent works are written in a very advanced style, it cannot be said that he has arrived at this condition without due deliberation, for his earlier compositions are all in classical form, and his present position is therefore due to growth rather than to a wanton setting aside of the established forms in which the great masters wrought. It is only when we come to the symphonic poem “Don Juan,” op. 20, that we find him embracing the programme music ideal, and all the seven...


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CHAMBER MUSIC OF RECENT TIMES. Trio by E. Schütt — Trio by Kirchner — Raff’s C minor Trio — Balfe’s Trio in A major — Trio: C. Hubert Parry — Trio: Bargiel — Sterndale Bennett’s Trio, op. 26 — Trio, D minor: F.E. Bache — Trio, E flat: Nawratil — Trio: Goetz — Trio: Schmidt — Other Trios — String Trios — Quartett: Mackenzie — E flat Quartett: Rheinberger — Quartett: W. Rabl — Quartett: Prout — Quartett: Verdi — Quartett: Onslow — Quartett: W.H. Veit — Unusual combinations. Here we must notice a few chamber compositions, chosen chiefly from the works of musicians of our own or of recent times. No special method of selection is followed, nor must the list be regarded as at all an exhaustive one. Only what is thought may prove acceptable and useful to earnest amateurs is mentioned. A Trio, Walzer Märchen , op....


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A. Chronological and Biographical. B. Glossary of Terms....

Appendix A. Chronological and Biographical.

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1510. Caspar Duiffoprugcar (Bologna); about 1510. The reputed inventor of the violin, although there can be no doubt that this instrument was a slow growth from earlier forms. 1533. V. Galilei (Florence), 1533-1600. Violin and lute player. Member of the celebrated circle of artists who met at the residence of Count Bardi in Florence. 1535. Andreas Amati (Cremona), 1535-1611. Head of the family of celebrated violin makers. 1543. Ganassi , a Venetian writer, mentions three varieties of violins as Viola di Soprano, di Tenore, e di Basso; and Castiglione alludes to a composition for “Quattro Viole da Arco,” which may of course be taken for the String Quartett. 1557. Thomas Morley (London), 1557-1604. Famous English composer, who wrote certain instrumental pieces, after the manner of chamber music, for lute, citterne, flute, treble and bass viol. He also wrote some excellent vocal music. 1567. Claudio Monteverdi (Cremona), 1567-1643. A composer of...

Appendix B. Glossary of Terms.

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Absolute Music , music per se without relation to the arts, or to any presentation whatever outside of it. [43] Chamber Music Pitch. Formerly absolute pitch did not exist. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the pitch was high. This we find according to the old organs, which are some of them a tone higher than our present French diapason. Chamber pitch in olden times differed from church pitch. The adoption of a uniform pitch is very much to be desired at the present time. Divertimento , a kind of chamber music suite, or combination of pieces of a pleasing and diverting kind. Gudok , a violin-like Russian instrument with drones. Volte Subito, or Vide Sequens , written usually V.S. It means turn over quickly, or see what follows. Violone , the Italian name for the double bass. Musica da Camera , chamber music (Italian). The term came into use...