Old Scores and New Readings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about Old Scores and New Readings.
the intervals of bullying or coaxing prima donnas or still more petulant male sopranos was not wholly a misfortune; if it sometimes compelled him to set down mere musical arithmetic, or rubbish like “Honour and arms,” and “Go, baffled coward,” it sometimes drew his grandest music out of him.  The dramatic oratorio is a hybrid form of art—­one might almost say a bastard form; it had only about thirty years of life; but in those thirty years Handel accomplished wonderful things with it.  And the wonder of them makes Handel appear the more astonishing man; for, when all is said, the truth is that the man was greater, infinitely greater, than his music.


It is a fact never to be forgotten, in hearing good papa Haydn’s music, that he lived in the fine old world when stately men and women went through life in the grand manner with a languid pulse, when the earth and the days were alike empty, and hurry to get finished and proceed to the next thing was almost unknown, and elbowing of rivals to get on almost unnecessary.  For fifty years he worked away contentedly as bandmaster to Prince Esterhazy, composing the due amount of music, conducting the due number of concerts, taking his salary of some seventy odd pounds per annum thankfully, and putting on his uniform for special State occasions with as little grumbling as possible, all as a good bandmaster should.  He had gone through a short period of roughing it in his youth, and he had made one or two mistakes as he settled down.  He married a woman who worked with enthusiasm to render his early life intolerable, and begged him in his old age to buy a certain cottage, as it would suit her admirably when she became a widow.  But he consoled himself as men do in the circumstances, and did not allow his mistakes to poison all his life, or cause him any special worry.  His other troubles were not very serious.  A Music Society which he wished to join tried to trap him into an agreement to write important compositions for it whenever they were wanted.  Once he offended his princely master by learning to play the baryton, an instrument on which the prince was a performer greatly esteemed by his retainers.  Such teacup storms soon passed:  Prince Esterhazy doubtless forgave him; the Society was soon forgotten; and Haydn worked on placidly.  Every morning he rose with or before the lark, dressed himself with a degree of neatness that astonished even that neat dressing age, and sat down to compose music.  Later in each day he is reported to have eaten, to have rehearsed his band or conducted concerts, and so to bed to prepare himself by refreshing slumber for the next day’s labours.  At certain periods of the year Prince Esterhazy and his court adjourned to Esterhaz, and at certain periods they came back to Eisenstadt:  thus they were saved by due variety from utter petrifaction.  Haydn seems to have liked the life, and to have thought moreover that it was

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Old Scores and New Readings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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