In the Middle Ages, the much-used art of Counterpoint was developed by the people of England and the Netherlands. In the Elizabethan age, the music of England was scarcely less important than her literature. Under Charles II, she could boast of Henry Purcell, one of the few great names in music. But in the 19th century her musical glory had faded, and sentimental songs and popular ballad-operas seemed all that she could produce. Her musical leaders went bravely to work, importing such composers as Mendelssohn and Wagner, and building up great music schools. There was, however, no high standard of taste in the country, so the task proceeded slowly. A race that is gifted with real love of music, and possesses worthy Folk-songs, can easily develop great composers ; but England, like the United States, is too commercial for the best results. Dvorâk once said of the English people: “They do not love music ; they respect it.”
Stanford.For some years, a group of five men were the advance guard of England’s development. While none of them showed any remarkable inspiration, their work was learned and thorough, and prepared the way for men of more originality. The foremost of them was Charles Villiers Stanford (Dublin, Ireland, 1852). After studying under Reinecke and Kiel, he became organist and conductor at Cambridge University. His works include five symphonies (among them the “Irish”), two overtures, an “Irish Rhapsody,” a piano concerto, two oratorios, and several cantatas; but he is best known by his operas. Of these, “Shamus O’Brien” is most popular, because of its subject. while “Much Ado about Nothing” shows much grace and elegance. “The Canterbury Pilgrims” aims to picture old England, as the “Meistersinger” did old Germany. Stanford’s work is always carefully planned, but not deeply inspired.
Parry.Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (Bournemouth, England, 1848) was Professor of Music at Oxford University, 1900-1908. He has composed four symphonies and two overtures, the “Tragic” and “Guillem de Cabestane 1,” but his most important work has been in the field of o-atorio. His sacred works include “Judith,” “De Profundis,” “Job,” and “King Saul,” also a great Magnificat and Te Deum. These, too, show excess of erudition, and are somewhat academic in character; but in all his choral work Parry displays a breadth and power that deserve high prais His incidental music to the “Frogs” and the “Birds” o f Aristophanes is also worthy of mention. His contributions to musical literature are very important.
Other Musical Leaders.Alexander Campbell Ma,kenzie (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1847) became teacher and conductor in his native city, afterwards joining the University forces. His “Colomba,” an early opera, displays much real dramatic worth; more, in fact, than his later productions. Among his other works are two oratorios, “The Rose of Sharon” and “Bethlehem,” while his entr’actes for “Manfred” and his powerful “Coriolanus” music also deserve notice. Frederic Hymen Cowen (Kingston, Jamaica, 1852) studied with Reinecke, Moscheles, and Kiel, and conducted in many cities, including Melbourne, Australia. He has written two oratorios, “Ruth” and “The Deluge,” four operas, including “Pauline” and “Harold,” and several can-tatas, of which “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Water Lily” are delightfully poetic. But his six symphonies are his most valuable works, the “Scandinavian,” “Idyllic,” and “Welsh” ranking in the order named. Arthur Goring Thomas (Eastbourne, England, 1850-London, 1892) devoted himself to the lighter style of romantic music, in which his opera “Esmeralda” and his posthumous cantata “The Swan and the Skylark” met with the most success.
With these five should be classed Sir 1. Frederick Bridge, often called in jest “The Westminster Bridge” because of his post as organist in Westminster Abbey. His works include many cantatas, oratorios, and lesser sacred pieces. His teaching has been made delightful by his inimitable humor, which often appears in his compositions also. Other men of this school are Walter Cecil Macfarren, Sir Walter Parratt, and Charles Harford Lloyd, while the excellent work of Sir Arthur Sullivan in light opera must not be forgotten.
Elgar.In Edward William Elgar (Broadheath, England, 1857) we find a man who is possessed of real originality, and takes rank with the world’s great composers. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that he is almost wholly self-taught. Son of an organist, he soon grew familiar with the instrument, and gained further musical experience by playing in a theatre orchestra at Worcester. Too poor to go to Germany, he lived by teaching violin at first. He went through various books on harmony and orchestration, gaining much from Mozart’s “Thorough-Bass School,” and Parry’s articles in Grove’s dictionary. He ruled a score for the same number of bars and instruments as in Mozart’s G-minor symphony, and wrote a work in this forman exercise which he considers of the utmost value. When he obtained a new orchestral work, he would go into the fields to study it.
His Works. Elgar first won attention by his cantata “The Black Knight,” given at a Worcester festival. Its success caused him to continue with “The Light of Life” and “King Olaf,” the latter displaying much direct power and orchestral mastery. His “Variations,” which won a London triumph, possess great intrinsic worth ; but each one is intended to portray some friend of the composer’s, and the work thus has an added meaning for his acquaintances. “The Dream of Gerontius,” a setting of Cardinal Newman’s sacred poem, met with remarkable favor. It is not altogether unified in effect, but contains many passages of compelling beauty and sublimity. It has been heard in many countries, and one German writer considers it the greatest sacred work of the last century, exc “Requiem” of Brahms. “The Apostles,” a later is the first part of a proposed trilogy. It displays excellence, but at times is too mystic and psycholo effect. Other works by Elgar are three overtures : tractive “Froissart,” the broadly-popular “Cockaignical of London), and the more recent “In the South.” The music to “Diarmid and Grania” is also worth mentio , while the five songs, entitled, “Sea Pictures,” show re arkable breadth and nobility.
Coleridge-Taylor.England boasts the first grea negro composer in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (London, Dngland, 1875). Son of an educated African father and white mother, he began violin lessons at six. At a more mature age, he studied piano with Ashton and compositiin with Stanford. His early works included a number of a thems, some chamber-music, and a symphony in A-mino . For his beloved violin he wrote the passionate “Souther ~ Love-Songs” and “African Romances,” also the “Hi watha” sketches. In 1898, he became world-famous by his cantata “Hiawatha’s Wedding-Feast,” which he followed wi’h “The Death of Minnehaha” and “Hiawatha’s Departure.” These display a strength and profusion of passion that s ay all hearers, and the glowing richness of the instrumentation forms an appropriate frame for Longfellow’s picture. Later vocal works are “The Atonement” and “The Blind irl of Castel-Cuillé.” His other compositions include an orchestral ballade with violin, an Idyll, a Solemn Prelude, the usic to “Herod,” and four waltzes. All show breadth of tre tment, and effects of real beauty attained by simple means.
Bantock.Some younger composers have headed a move-ment for greater originality, under the lead of G anville Bantock (London, England, 1868). His one-act operas “Caedmar” and “The Pearl of Iran” show much war th of color, and his musical ideas are always worthy of th great literary conceptions in which he delights. His two overtures, “Eugene Aram” and “Saul,” the suite of “‘ ussian Scenes,” and the more recent rhapsody, “The Time Spirit,” are the work of a truly musical nature. His greatest effort, however, is a set of twenty-four symphonic poems, illustrating Southey’s “Curse of Kehama.”
Other Composers.In the new movement are William Wallace, Erskine Alton, Reginald Steggall, Stanley Hawley, and Arthur Hinton. Clarence Lucas and Cyril Scott are two other young men of prominence.
Edward German is a composer of remarkable gifts, for he attains effects of the utmost grace and musical beauty by the simplest diatonic themes. His “Rival Poets” and “Merrie England” are worthy examples of light opera, while the “English Fantasia,” the symphonic poem “Hamlet,” the suite “The Seasons,” and the “Welsh Rhapsody” are all works of pleasing freshness and originality. German has also made a name in the special field of incidental music, his settings including “Romeo and Juliet,” “As You Like It,” “Much Ado about Nothing,” “The Tempest,” and several other plays. In a period when many composers are losing themselves in the intricacies of the modern orchestral style, the clear simplicity of German’s compositions is an example of the utmost value.
The Belgian School: Benoit.The new school of Belgium, fostered by the Brussels Conservatory, owes its origin chiefly to Peter Benoit (Harlebeke, Flanders, 1834 –Antwerp, 1901), who broadened its influence by his teaching at the Flemish School of Music, in Antwerp. His early opera, “Het Dorp in t’Gebergte” (The Village in the Mountains), showed delightful local color. A second opera, a mass, a concerto, and a choral symphony increased his fame, but he is identified chiefly with the cantata. His great works in this field include “Oorlog” (War), “Lucifer,” “De Schelde,” “De Rhyn,” the Rubens cantata, and “Promethée.” They are modern in effect, and show breadth of conception and real inspiration, united with ripe technical mastery. They have been described as great decorative pictures in tone, suggesting vistas of grand palaces, armies in battle array, rich fields of grain, mystic visions of the spirit world, or gorgeous triumphal marches.
Gilson.Paul Gilson (Brussels, Belgium, 1865) rias writ-ten for orchestra .a Dramatic Overture, a Festival Overture, a Canadian and an Irish Fantasy, half a dozen suites, the “Bucolics” of Virgil, and other lesser works. But his best-known composition is the set of symphonic sketches entitled, “La Mer.” This illustrates a poem of Levis, f-equently read before the performance. The different mDvements depict sunrise at sea, and the many-colored splendors of dawn; the rollicking songs and lively dances of the sea-man ; a love-duet and parting between a sailor and his sweetheart; and a fatal tempest, in which the themes of the sailors’ choruses are introduced in mocking irony as the ship goes down. Through it all runs a vein of poetic fancy, well suggesting the beauty and mystery of the sea. The oratorio “Francesca da Rimini” is another strong work, the best of Gilson’s productions in that form.
Lekeu. Guillaume Lekeu (Verviers, Belgium, 1870-1894) was a composer whose early death cut short a career of great promise. His chief studies were pursued in Paris, where he came under the elevating influence of Franck. The subtle delicacy of his harmonic effects is a result of this teaching, and Lekeu seems like a member of the French school who strayed across the border by mista Other Composers.Edgar Tinel (Sinay, Flanders, 1854) is another pupil of the Brussels Conservatory, where he studied with Fétis. His great work is the three-Dart oratorio “Franciscus,” treating the story of St. Francis of Assisi. Other works are “Sainte Godelive” and the music to “Polyeucte.”
Jan Blockx (Antwerp, Belgium, 1851) is the most popular opera composer of his country. His greatest success is the “Herbergsprinses” (Princess of the Inn), a work with a strong dramatic plot and music of remarkable freshness and vigor. “Thyl Uylenspiegel,” in Blockx’s opera of that name, is no longer the graceless rogue of the old German story, but a popular hero who rescues Maestricht from the Spaniards. Other operas of this composer are “The Bride of the Sea,” and “Maitre Martin,” an earlier work. Other composers prominent in the new movement are Keurvels, Wambach, Mortelmans, Vleeshouwer, and Mathieu. The first place among the women is occupied by Juliette Folville, the young violinist, who has written the opera “Atala,” a march, parts of a symphony, and many smaller works.
Music in Holland.Richard Hol was for many years the Nestor of the Dutch composers. His fame was assured by the patriotic hymn, “Comme je t’aime, O mon pays,” and his long career of activity was of great service to the cause of music in Holland. He was a prolific composer, and an excellent critic and journalist. Julius Roentgen, who studied under Reinecke and Lachner, was better known as pianist than as composer, but produced an excellent concerto, also “Das Gebet,” for chorus and orchestra, and other works. The best of the younger men are Bernard Zweers and Alphonse Diepenbrock, while others deserving mention are Van t’Kruys, Gottfried Mann, Dirk Schaefer, and the Brandt-Buys brothers. Among the women-composers, Catherine van Rennes and Hendrika van Tussen-Broek have done excellently in small forms, while Cornelia van Oosterzee attempts ambitious orchestral work, and Cora Dopper has entered the field of opera. Amsterdam has be-come a great musical centre, and Holland, no less than Belgium, is reaping the result of the widespread educational movement.
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