« ПредишнаНапред »
LOVE TILL DEATH.
BY CORNELIUS WEBBE.
Though Time, through avarice of such treasure
Will steal the gold from every tress,
I shall behold their snowiness ;-
Though Time succeed in slowly stealing
The red rose from thy face so fair,
That sees young beauty fading there ;
And quench the fire their glance betrays ;
Give me but their last dying rays;
Into that stoop which tells of age,
Grace to thy last steps on this stage,
Though Time may change thy voice so tender,
Breathing the sweets of music round,
In its own efforts feebly drowned ;
And none but love remembers thee,
In the same earth my home shall be ;
KREISLER, THE CHAPEL-MASTER.
FROM THE GERMAN OF HOFFMANN.
WHENCE comes he ? Nobody knows. Who were his parents ? None can tell. Whose pupil is he ? That of a good master, for he plays excellently well; and, as he possesses sense and understanding, we may tolerate him, nay even grant him the privilege of instructing our children in music. * And he has really and truly been chapel-master,' added the diplomatic persons, to whom he had once, in a fit of good humour, showed a document of the directors of the royal theatre, in which he, “John Kreisler, chapel-master, is dismissed from his appointment, because he resolutely refused to set to music an opera written by the Poet Laureate ; also, for having several times, at a table d'hote, spoken irreverently of the primo uomo, and endeavoured to extol and prefer before him, in quite extravagant, although almost incomprehensible terms, the prima donna, a girl whom he had instructed in singing. Nevertheless, he was permitted to retain the title of chapel-master; nay, he might even return to his post, as soon as he should have totally laid aside certain peculiarities, and ridiculous prejudices, and notions; as for example, that the Italian school of music had altogether vanished, &c. &c., and fully believe in the excellence of the Poet Laureate, who was universally acknowledged to be a second Metastasio. His friends maintained, that nature had tried a new receipt on his organization; and that the experiment led, for that too little phlegm had been mixed up with his over susceptible feelings, and with an imagination glowing even to flames, so that the counterpoise was lost, which was essential to the artist, in order to enable him to live in the world, and to conform to its methodical and cold-hearted customs. Be that as it may, John was driven hither and thither by his inward emotions, and dreaming conceptions, as upon an eternally moving sea, and seemed in vain to seek the haven of peace and serenity, in which alone genius can exert its powers. So it happened then, that his friends could never induce him to write an opera; or, when written, to leave it undestroyed. Sometimes he composed at night, when in the highest state of excitement; he called up his friend who dwelt under the same roof, in order to play over to him, while yet under the influence of inspiration, what he had written with incredible celerity; he shed tears of joy over his successful work; he esteemed himself the happiest of men ;-but the following day the noble composition was committed to the flames !
Song operated almost destructively upon him, because his imagination was then intensely stimulated; and his spirit mounted into a region, whither none could follow him without danger: on the other hand, he frequently amused himself for hours by playing the most extraordinary themes upon the piano-forte, with beautiful harmonic changes and imitations, and in working them out into the most skilful passages. When he had succeeded in this to his wish, he continued for several days in a cheerful key, and a certain waggish irony seasoned the conversation with which he delighted his small circle of familiar friends.
On a sudden he vanished-nobody knew for why,' or whither. Many
maintained that he had betrayed various symptoms of insanity; and, in fact, he had been seen to skip out of the house, singing merrily, with two hats on his head, and a couple of tuning-forks, stuck like daggers, in his red girdle ; his more familiar friends, however, thought nothing at all of this; for these violent irruptions, generated by some inward raging fire, had long been peculiar to the enthusiast.
All inquiries after him proving fruitless, and his friends coming to consult about his small stock of musical and other works, Fräulein von B- came forward, and declared, that it became her alone to take charge of the small property of her dear instructor and friend, whom she would by no means give up for lost. The friends handed over to her, with great pleasure, all that they had found; and, as upon the unruled pages of many of the sheets of music, short notes were discovered, mostly humourous, rapidly written with pencil, in happy moments, the faithful pupil permitted the friends of the ill-fated Johannes to copy them, and to preserve them as the unpretending productions of momentary excitement.
THE CHAPEL-MASTER'S MISERIES. They are all gone- I might have known it by the whispering, humming, and buzzing through all the keys; it was a true swarm of bees quitting the hive to roam. Gottleib has placed fresh candles, and a bottle of Burgundy before me, upon the piano-forte. Play, I cannot any more, for I am quite exhausted; my old noble friend here upon the music desk is the cause of it, who has now twice carried me through the air, as a Mephistophiles did Faust upon his mantle, and that so high, that I did not see and regard the diminutive sons of Adam below me, notwithstanding they may have made noise enough. A wretched, worthless, ill-spent evening! But now I am well again. However, while playing, I drew out my pencil, and noted, page 63, under the last system, a few good exertions with the right hand, while the left worked on in the stream of the tones. Behind, upon the blank pages, I continue to write~ I quit crotchets and intervals, and, with true delight, like the convalescent invalid, who cannot desist from telling what he has suffered, I here minute down circumstantially the hellish torments of the day's tea party. However, not for myself alone, but that all who may delight and edify themselves here sometimes with my copy of John Sebastian Bach's variations for the piano-forte, published by Nägeli, 'in Zürich, may find my notes at the end of the 30th variation, and turn the leaf over to read them. Such will guess, at once, their true connection; they know that privy counsellor Röderlein keeps a charming house here, and has two daughters, of whom all the beau monde maintain, with enthusiasm, that they dance like goddesses, speak French like angels, and sing, and play, and draw, like the muses. Privy counsellor Röderlein is a rich man; at his quarterly dinners he produces the finest wines, and the most costly dishes ; all is conducted upon the most elegant scale; and whoever does not enjoy himself like a god at his wife's tea parties, has no ton, no spirit, and, above all, no taste for the fine arts! These are, in fact, always taken into consideration; together with tea, punch, wine, ices, &c., a little music is always presented, and very graciously accepted like the rest. The arrangement is as follows: after each guest has been allowed sufficient time to drink as many cups of tea as he pleases, and the punch and ices have been twice handed round, the servants bring out the card tables, for the elder and graver part of the company, who prefer the playing of cards to that of music, which, in truth, makes not such a needless noise, and where the only sound is the chinking of money
At this signal, the more youthful portion of the company press round the Demoiselles Röderlein; a tumult arises, in which one may distinguish the words, Pray, Miss Röderlein, do not deny us the enjoyment of your neavenly talent'-'O do sing something, my dear — Cannot possibly'• cold the last ball — practised nothing'. pray now'-' pray do'' we intreat,' &c. In the interim Gottleib has opened the piano-forte, and burthened the desk with the well-known music book. Mamma now calls over from the card table, Chantez donc, mes enfans !' that is the signal for my role; I take my seat at the piano, and the Misses Röderlein are conducted in triumph to the instrument. Now arises a trifling difference : neither will sing first. • You know, dear Nanette, how dreadfully hoarse I am.' • Am I less so, then, dear Maria ?' • But I sing so badly.' • Oh do begin, love,' &c. My ingenious idea, (and I have it each time) that both might begin together with a duo, is universally applauded, the book looked through, and the carefully-turned page at length found; and now we commence, • Dolce dell'anima,' &c.
The Misses Röderleins”. talents are not, in fact, contemptible. I have been here five years, and for four years and a half I have been their musical instructor; in this short period of time Miss Nanette has made such progress, that after hearing an air about ten times at the theatre, and practising it, at most, the same number on the piano-forte, she sings it off in such a style, that one knows directly what it is intended for. Miss Maria catches it at the eighth time, and if she be frequently a quarter tone lower than the instrument, one can endure it to the end for the sake of such a pretty face, and such charming rosy lips. After the duet succeeds an universal chorus of applause. Now we interchange ariettas and duettinos, and I hammer away gaily at the accompaniments, for the thousandth time. During the songs and duetts, the Finance Minister's lady has given the company to understand by softly joining in, that she sings too. Then Miss Nanette says, “But now, my dear Eberstein, you must let us hear your divine voice. There is a fresh tumult. “She has a cold—she knows nothing by heart.' Gottleib brings two. arms full of music. Then for for the bustle of tuning it over and over! At first she will sing Revenge,' &c. then · Hebe see,' then · Alas, I love.' In an agony, I propose, A while upon the meadow,' but she is for the superior geure, she wants to exhibit her powers. 'Constancy' is fixed upon.-Oh bawl, squeak, mew, gurgle, groan, moan, quaver and quiver away right merrily! I have commenced the fortissimo passage, and shall play myself deaf. O Satan! Satan! which of thy infernal spirits has entered this throat, to force, and strain, and twist, and tug at all its tones ? Four strings are broken-already-one hammer is disabled. My ears ring, my head turns, my nerves tremble. Are, then, all the impure tones of the screeching market-cryers' trumpets concentrated in this one little throat ?It has exhausted me. I take a glass of Burgundy.-Outrageous applause followed Lady Eberstein's performance; and somebody remarked, that the Finance Minister's lady and Mozart had very much heated me. I smiled, with downcast looks, sillily enough, as I am aware.
Now all the talents that have hitherto glowed in concealment, begin to burst forth, and wildly clash with one another. Musical excesses are
resolved on : ensembles, finales, chorusses, are to be performed. The Canon Kratzer sings a heavenly bass, as a coxcomb remarks, at the same time introducing himself, modestly, as only a second tenor, although a member of several singing academies and clubs. Quickly every thing was organized for the first chorus in Titus. That went off admirably! The Canon, standing close behind my chair, thundered the bass over my head, as if he had been singing in the cathedral with a trumpet and kettle-drum obligato; he hit the notes bravely, but the time he took, in his hurry, was almost as slow again as it ought to be; however, he remained so far true to himself, that throughout the piece he followed at the distance of only half a bar. The others betrayed a decided affection for the Greek music, which, as is well known, the Greeks being ignorant of harmony, moved in unisons: they all sang theupper part, with little variations, occasioned by accidental rises and falls of an inharmonic interval. This, somewhat noisy performance, caused a general tragi-comical tension, which extended itself even to the card tables; for the players could not, as before, join in so melo-dramatically with short phrases interwoven with the music; as for example, Oh I loved'. 'eight and twenty'—'was so happy'- I pass'-knew not- whilst!'
the pains of love'-' the colour, &c. It had a very pretty effect. I filled my glass. That was the climax of to-night's musical display-now it is over, thought I so I closed the book, and rose. Then comes the Baron, my antique tenorist, to me, and says, "O, my dear chapel-master, you must give us one of your extempore fantasias, and do give us only one-a short one only—pray, do.' I replied dryly, that my fantasias are clean gone out of my head; and while we are thus talking about it, a devil, in the shape of an elegant with two waistcoats, has discovered Bach's variations, which were in my hat in the antichamber; he imagines that they are some such things as Nel cor piu.' 'Ah vous dirai 'je ma maman,' &c. and will have me play them off. I decline : then the rest of the party all fall upon me. Well then, listen, and burst with the blue devils !' thinks I, and so I fall to work.
At No. 3 several ladies-went away, followed by the second tenor. The Misses Röderlein, because it was their master who was playing, held out, without repining, until No. 12, No. 15 put the man with two waistcoats to flight. Purely out of excessive politeness, the Baron remained till No. 30, only drinking a good deal of the punch, which Gottleib had placed upon the instrument for me. I should have concluded happily, but this No. 30, the thema, carried me away with irresistible force. pages expanded themselves, suddenly, into a gigantic folio, in which a thousand imitations and variations of themes were written for me to play. The notes started into life, and glistened, and swarmed to and fro before my eyes. Electric fire passed through my fingers into the keys--the spirit, whence it emanated, outfled the composer's ideas. The whole saloon was filled with a dense vapour, in which the wax lights burned more and more dimly. Sometimes a nose peeped out, sometimes a pair of eyes; but they vanished again instantly. And so I was left alone, with my Sebastian Bach before me, and Gottleib attending me like a spiritus familiaris. I drink. Ought an honest musician to be so tortured with music as I have been to-day, and as I so frequently am tortured ? Truly, with no science is there so much misuse, as with the noble and divine science of music. And how easily is her tender nature profaned !
Have you true talent, and a sincere love for the science ? well; then