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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 197 pages of information about Great Italian and French Composers.

“He falls short of his mark in situations of profound pathos (save perhaps in the sleep-song of ’Masaniello’).  He is greatly behind his Italian brethren in those mad scenes which they so largely affect.  He is always light and piquant for voices, delicious in his treatment of the orchestra, and at this moment of writing—­though I believe the patriarch of opera-writers (born, it is said, in 1784), having begun to compose at an age when other men have died exhausted by precocious labor—­is perhaps the lightest-hearted, lightest-handed man still pouring out fragments of pearl and spangles of pure gold on the stage....  With all this it is remarkable as it is unfair, that among musicians—­when talk is going around, and this person praises that portentous piece of counterpoint, and the other analyzes some new chord the uoliness of which has led to its being neglected by former composers—­the name of this brilliant man is hardly if ever heard at all.  His is the next name among the composers belonging to the last thirty years which should be heard after that of Rossini, the number and extent of the works produced by him taken into account, and with these the beauties which they contain.”

MEYERBEER.

I.

Few great names in art have been the occasion of such diversity of judgment as Giacomo Meyerbeer, whose works fill so large a place in French music.  By one school of critics he is lauded beyond all measure as one whose scientific skill and gorgeous orchestration are only equaled by his richness of melody and genius for dramatic and scenic effects; “by far the greatest composer of recent years;” by another class we hear him stigmatized as “the very caricature of the universal Mozart... the Cosmopolitan Jew, who hawks his wares among all nations indifferently, and does his best to please customers of every kind.”  The truth lies between the two, as is wont to be the case in such extremes of opinion.  Meyerbeer’s remarkable talent so nearly approaches genius as to make the distinction a difficult one.  He can not be numbered among those great creative artists who by force of individuality have molded musical epochs and left an undying imprint on their own and succeeding ages.  On the other hand, his remarkable power of combining the resources of the lyric stage in a grand mosaic of all that can charm the eye and car, of wedding rich and gorgeous music with splendid spectacle, gives him a unique place in music; for, unlike Wagner, whose ideas of stage necessities are no less exacting, Meyerbeer aims at no reforms in lyric music, but only to develop the old forms to their highest degree of effect, under conditions that shall gratify the general artistic sense.  To accomplish this, he spares no means either in or out of music.  Though a German, there is but little of the Teutonic genre in the music of Weber’s fellow pupil.  When

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