Great Italian and French Composers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Great Italian and French Composers.

Shortly after Moscheles had left Paris, his son forwarded to him most friendly messages from Rossini, and continues thus:  “Rossini sends you word that he is working hard at the piano, and, when you next come to Paris, you shall find him in better practice....  The conversation turning upon German music, I asked him ’which was his favorite among the great masters?’ Of Beethoven he said:  ’I take him twice a week, Haydn four times, and Mozart every day.  You will tell me that Beethoven is a Colossus who often gives you a dig in the ribs, while Mozart is always adorable; it is that the latter had the chance of going very young to Italy, at a time when they still sang well.’  Of Weber he says, ’He has talent enough, and to spare’ (Il a du talent a revendre, celui-la).  He told me in reference to him, that, when the part of ‘Tancred’ was sung at Berlin by a bass voice, Weber had written violent articles not only against the management, but against the composer, so that, when Weber came to Paris, he did not venture to call on Rossini, who, however, let him know that he bore him no grudge for having made these attacks; on receipt of that message Weber called and they became acquainted.

“I asked him if he had met Byron in Venice?  ‘Only in a restaurant,’ was the answer, ’where I was introduced to him; our acquaintance, therefore, was very slight; it seems he has spoken of me, but I don’t know what he says.’  I translated for him, in a somewhat milder form, Byron’s words, which happened to be fresh in my memory:  ’They have been crucifying Othello into an opera; the music good but lugubrious, but, as for the words, all the real scenes with Iago cut out, and the greatest nonsense instead, the handkerchief turned into a billet-doux, and the first singer would not black his face—­singing, dresses, and music very good.’  The maestro regretted his ignorance of the English language, and said, ’In my day I gave much time to the study of our Italian literature.  Dante is the man I owe most to; he taught me more music than all my music-masters put together, and when I wrote my ‘Otello,’ I would introduce those lines of Dante—­you know the song of the gondolier.  My librettist would have it that gondoliers never sang Dante, and but rarely Tasso, but I answered him, ’I know all about that better than you, for I have lived in Venice and you haven’t.  Dante I must and will have.’”


An ardent disciple of Wagner sums up his ideas of the mania for the Rossini music, which possessed Europe for fifteen years, in the following:  “Rossini, the most gifted and spoiled of her sons [speaking of Italy] sallied forth with an innumerable army of Bacchantic melodies to conquer the world, the Messiah of joy, the breaker of thought and sorrow.  Europe, by this time, had tired of the empty pomp of French declamation.  It lent but too willing an ear to the new gospel, and eagerly quaffed the intoxicating potion, which Rossini poured out in inexhaustible streams.”  This very well expresses the delight of all the countries of Europe in music which for a long time almost monopolized the stage.

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Great Italian and French Composers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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