« ПредишнаНапред »
Venusberg-Tannhäuser, with a touch as it certainly is his most popular creaeternally true to nature, bursting the tion, “ Lohengrin.” The superb acting fetters of an unruly sensual life, and and singing of Malles. Titiens, Nilsson, sighing for a healthier activity, Tann- and Albani, will be fresh in the minds häuser seeing for a moment only, in of many readers. The choruses in Eng: the pure love of Elizabeth, the reconcili- land have never yet been up to the mark, ation of the senses with the spirit, a but the band under Sir Michael Costa, reconciliation made for ever impossible at its best, renders the wondrous prelude by the stupid bigotry of a false form of to perfection. religion, but which is ultimately sealed The whole of " Lohengrin” is in that and accomplished by love and death in prelude. The descent of the Knight of heaven ;-this is the human and sublime the Swan from the jasper shrines of the parable of the drama, wrought out with sacred palace of Montsalvat, hidden the fervor of a religious devotee, and away in a distant forest land- his holy epitomized in that prodigious overture mission to rescue Elsa from her false wherein the dirge of the Church mingles accusers-his high and chivalric lovewith the free and impassioned song of his dignified trouble at being urged by the minstrel knight, and clashes wildly her to reveal his name, that insatiable with the voluptuous echoes of the fatal feminine curiosity which wrecks the Venusberg.
whole--the darker scenes of treachery by Wagner's progress was now checked which Elsa is goaded to press her fatal by that storm of invective which burst inquiry-the magnificent climax of the out all over Germany-not on account first act-the sense of weird mystery that of “Rienzi,” but in consequence of the hangs about the appearance and reap“Flying Dutchman," and especially of pearance of the swan, and the final de
Tannhäuser.” The reason is simple. parture of the glittering Knight of the The power of “Rienzi," the audacity of Sangraal-allegory of heavenly devotion its sentiment, the simplicity of its outline, stooping to lift up human love and and the realism of its mise en scène, dashed with earth's bitterness in the together with a general respect for the attempt;—to those who understand the old opera forms, ensured it a hearing pathos, delicacy, and full intensity of the which resulted in a real triumph. But Lohengrin” prelude, this and more in “Tannhäuser" the new path was will become as vivid as life and emotion already struck out, which singers, band, can make it. “Lohengrin" in its elevaaudience, critics, and composers, in a tion, alike in its pain, its sacrifice, and body, refused to tread-in short, aria, its peace, is the necessary reaction from recitative, and ballet were dethroned, and that wreck of sensual passion and resuddenly found themselves servants ligious despair so vividly grasped in the where they had been masters.
scenes of the Venusberg, in the pilgrim In 1843, the "Flying Dutchman" was chant and the wayside crucifix of "Tannproduced at Dresden, and failed. “ Ri- häuser.” enzi” was still revived with success. Wagner now sent the “ Dutchman” and • Tannhäuser” to various theatres, The " Lohengrin” was finished in 1847, former was tried at Berlin in 1844, and but the political events of the next few failed. Spohr had the intelligene to take years brought Wagner's career in Gerit up at Cassel, and wrote a friendly and many to an abrupt conclusion. His appreciative letter to Wagner, but the growing dissatisfaction with society coinMS. scores were, as a rule, returned by cided, unconsciously no doubt, with the the other theatres, and the new operas failure of his operas after that first dawn seemed to react on the earlier success, of success. He now devoted himself for at Hamburgh "Rienzi" failed. to criticism and politics. He read
Meanwhile, failure, together with the Schopenhauer, whose pessimist philosoclose sympathy of a few devoted friends, phy did not tend to soothe his perturbed convincing him that he was more right spirit; and during the next ten years, than ever, Wagner now threw himself from 1847 to 1857, he spoke to the into the completion of that work which world from different places of exile in is perhaps on the whole his most perfect, that series of political and ästhetical
pamphlets to which I have before Messrs. Dannreuther and Bache, brought alluded.
about the rise of the new Wagner moveIn 1855, owing to the earnest advocacy ment in England, which received its deof M. Ferdinand Praeger, who for thirty velopment in the interest occasioned by years, through evil report and good re- the Bayreuth Festival, and reached its port, has never ceased to support Wag- climax in the Wagner Festival actively ner, the Philharmonic Society invited promoted by Herr Wilhelmj, and underhim over to London, and whilst here taken by Messrs. Hodges and Essex, in he conducted eight concerts. He was 1877, at the Albert Hall. not popular: he was surprised to find I have anticipated a little, because that the band thought it unnecessary space obliges me to draw briefly to the to rehearse, and the band was sur- close of this sketch. Mina, Wagner's prised that he should require so much first wife, was now dead. I cannot here rehearsal. But he drove the band in tell at length how Liszt (whose daughter, spite of itself, and the band hated him. Cosima von Bülow, became Wagner's They said he murdered Beethoven with second wife in 1870) labored with unhis báton, because of the freedom and tiring zeal to revive Wagner's works, and inspiration of his readings. Mendels- how his efforts were at last crowned sohn's Scotch symphony had been delib- with success all over Germany in 1849erately crushed,-or it was the only 50. It was a popular triumph. I rething that wenty-according to which member old Cipriani Potter, the friend paper you happened to read. He did of Beethoven, saying to me at the time not care for the press, and he was not when the English papers teemed with much surprised that the press did not the usual twaddle about Wagner's music care for him. The unfailing musical in- being intelligible only to the few, “ It is telligence of the Queen and Prince Albert all very well to talk this stuff here, but in was the one ray of sunlight in this his Germany it is the people, the common second visit to our inhospitable land, but people, who crowd to the theatre when the power of the man could not be hid Tannhäuser' and 'Lohengrin even from his enemies; his culture aston- given.” I have noticed the same at the ished the half-educated musicians by Covent Garden concerts; it was always whom he was surrounded, his brilliant ori- the pit and gallery who called for the ginality impressed even his own friends, Wagner nights, whilst the opera which who saw him struggling through an im- had the great run with Carl Rosa's Engperfect acquaintance with French and lish Company was the “ Flying DutchEnglish to make himself understood. man,” and “Tannhäuser" and " Lohen
Thus Wagner passed through England grin" at both the other houses were infor a second time, leaving behind him a variably the crowded nights. vague impression of power and eccen- In 1861 the Parisians showed their tricity, the first of which the musical taste and chic by whistling “Tannpress did its best to kill, whilst fanning häuser” off the stage. the second into a devouring flame, which In 1863 Wagner appeared at Vienna, swallowed up Wagner's reputation. Prague, Leipsic, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Notwithstanding Praeger's exertions, Pesth, and conducted concerts with briltwenty-one years flitted by, and little liant success. In 1864 his constant enough was heard of Richard Wagner in friend, the Crown Prince, now Ludwig this country until, owing to the increas- II. of Bavaria, summoned him to Muing agitation of a younger school of nich, where the new operas of “Trismusicians, foremost among whom we tan” in 1865, and "Meistersinger” in must name Mr. Edward Dannreuther 1868, “ Das Rheingold" in 1869, and and Mr. Walter Bache, the “Flying “Die Walküre” in 1870, were succesDutchman" was at last indifferently sively given with ever-increasing appreproduced at Covent Garden.
ciation and applause. In 1874 Herr Hans von Bülow, pupil The "Meistersinger," through which of Liszt and great exponent of Wagner's there runs a strongly comic vein, deals music, came over, and by his wonderful with the contrast between the old stiff playing, aided steadily by the periodical forms of minstrelsy by rule and the Wagnerian and Liszt concerts given by spontaneous revolt of a free, musical,
and poetical genius, and the work forms well duet between Brünnhild and the a humorous and almost Shaksperian god Wotan. To long drawn-out enpendant to the great and solemn min- chanting melody Brünnhild's head sinks strelsy which fills the centre of Tann- on her father's breast-she can but sob häuser. In Wagner's opinion it is the that she has loved him dutifully, and opera most likely to find favor with an implore him if she is to become a morEnglish audience, a point which we hope tal's bride to surround her rock with an English audience may soon determine fire, and bar her from all but the bravest. for itself.
It is now almost dark, a faint red light “Tristan and Iseult," in which the lingers on the supple yet lordly form of drama and analysis of passion-love and Brünnhild. A strange languor comes death-is wrought up to its highest pitch, over her--the god lays her gently on was thrown off between the two first the rock-and waves her into her long and two last great sections of the Tetral- sleep. Then he calls for the fire-godogie, and the Tetralogie, itself planned and as he lifts his spear a burst of fire twenty years ago and produced at breaks out and runs round the stage-in Bayreuth in 1876, stands at present as another moment the whole background the last most daring and complete man- is an immense wall of rose-colored flame. ifestation of Wagner's dramatic, poetic, To the most enchanting and dreamlike and musical genius.
music of silver bells, harps, and flutes, The purpose and power of that great the sleep of the Walküre begins - the cycle of Scandinavian and German god scales the rocks, stands for myths, unrolled in the four colossal moment in the midst of the fire, then dramas of “Rheingold, ” “Walküre," passes through it out of sight as the cur
Siegfried," and "Götterdämmerung, tain falls. would carry me far beyond the limits of But, indeed, it is hard to select. The this article. Fragments only of the exquisite scene where Siegfried listens music can be presented in the concert- to the birds in the golden summer woods, room, and these, bereft of the sister arts, and understands their language, the wild must necessarily lose much of their effect. mountain rocks, and the war maidens But after studying well the written rushing through the clouds, alighting drama, we may close our eyes and allow and shouting to each other from peak to some of the Bayreuth scenes to flash peak, or the passage of the gods over once more before the mind's eye.
the rainbow-bridge into the halls of WalThe elemental prelude of the “Rhein- halla, or, lastly, the death of Siegfried gold,” full of deep and slumbrous sound, and the dusk of the gods;—the Albert wafts us away from all account of time Hall Festival will revive gleams of all and space. The dim grey-green depths these. of the Rhine alone become visible. We Long will that prodigious last scene of are aware of the deep moving of the the “Götterdämmerung" linger in the Rhine water, and the three Undines are memory of those who saw it at Bayreuth. seen like faint shadows, swimming and Brünnhild draws the gold ring of the singing, guardians of the Rheingold. Rheingold-the cause of such grief and The dark King of the Undergrounds manifold pain-from her finger, and comes climbing
after them amongst the flings it back into the Rhine from whence rocks, but he is scarcely visible in the it was stolen. Her black Walküre horse gloom. Presently the Rheingold begins has been brought to her; she waves high to brighten. A shaft of radiance strikes a flaming torch, and casts it upon the through the water—the Undines scream bier of Siegfried. The flames rise in with joy; then through the whole depths vast fiery columns. At that moment, in of the Rhine streams an electric light, the lurid glow of the flaming pyre, the shining upon a distant rock, dimmed to water, still flashing with moonlight' besoftest yellow only by the water, and the hind, begins to surge up and advance famous “Rheingold! Rheingold !" wild upon the shore; and the Rhine daughcry of the Rhine daughters, breaks forth ters, singing the wildest Rhine music, with the golden illumination of the Rhine are seen floating to and fro. Beyond, a depths.
ruddy light broadens until the distant Or let the curtain rise on the last fare. sky discloses the courts of the Walhalla
in Aames. With a crash like thunder, mense dramatic cycle of the “ Niebelunin the foreground the house of Hagen gen Ring,” and, quite apart from the falls, and whilst the mighty conflagration music, we may well be impressed with Aares up in the distance, the Rhine over- the poetical genius which has welded flows to rushing music and submerges all these strange elements of Scandinathe whole stage. With this scene of un- vian and Germanic myth into such a equalled dramatic splendor ends the im- whole.—Contemporary Review.
JAPANESE MINIATURE ODES.
THERE are, probably, few nations that ful thing all the more warmly for its do not point to their poetical literature being useless, may be weak-minded as their chiefest glory. In England, in enough to feel a certain satisfaction on Germany, in Italy, in Greece, the na- learning that there is at least one literational poets are by their countrymen ture wholly governed by the precept that awarded the palm over the great prose delight - not instruction - should be writers, while even in France itself, poetry's end and aim, and that the poet's where, to an outsider, the distance be- mission is fully accomplished if he leaves tween a Pascal and a Racine, between our minds dazzled with the graceful Voltaire as author of Mahomet and the flights of his imagination, and our ears Henriade and Voltaire as author of the ringing with the most harmonious Siècle de Louis XIV. apears like a yawn- cadences. It is not, however, pretended ing chasm, the compatriots of those wri- that the great family likeness running all ters are very loth to allow so trenchant through the productions of the Japanese a judgment, and would often seem, in- classic age, and which is but a natural deed, entirely reversing it, to point to result of a concentration and unity of the laurels of a Racine, a Corneille, and national life almost unparalleled in the even a Boileau as the chief national title history of any other land, amounts to to imperishable renown.
an absolute identity of characteristics in In Japan, however, this rule does not their various branches; nor can it be hold. There the prose and the poetry here attempted to discuss in detail the of the classic age take equal rank in the features of a whole literature. Not even popular appreciation, and, indeed, in an appreciation of the poetry as a whole countless cases it is the same men and comes within the scope of this paper. the same women that have attained to But, leaving aside the religious songs and equal celebrity both as prosaists and as the longer odes of the earliest ages, as poets. The foreign criti will feel dis well as the lyric drama of a somewhat posed to re-echo this impartial judgment; later period, we must content ourselves for it will strike him forcibly, on perus- with a few criticisms and illustrations of ing the classic literature of Japan, that the thirty-one syllable stanzas, so well the same faults and the same excellen- known to every student of Japanese lit. cies stamp all its productions (except, erature under the name of Shorter perhaps, the very earliest) — the same Odes,” and which have not only, from insinuating graces of style, the same love the 9th century downwards, been by far of nature, the same pathetic, and, to us the most popular form of poetical comWesterns, modern-seeming, tenderness, position, both with writers and readers the same harping upon a few ideas, and among the natives themselves, but are the same absence of philosophic depth. also, in the opinion of those outsiders, Few tasks, indeed, could be more diffi- best qualified to pronounce on such a cult than to have to draw any code of subject, the most characteristic of all morals, any approach to a system of the productions of the Japanese muse. metaphysics from the writings of the A poem complete in thirty-one syllapoets of Japan-an admission which will bles! Strangely as such an idea may appear to many Western readers to be strike a European, the notion of an epic the acknowledgment of a grave deficien- in a dozen cantos would seem to these cy, while others, perhaps, who, in this Easterns to the full as strange, and vastly utilitarian age, would welcome a beauti- more appalling; for in no other quarter of the globe does the doctrine that day of the fourth moon, takes the place “ brevity is the soul of wit " find so left vacant by the nightingale on the many votaries. A prosody which knows preceding evening (the last evening of nothing of either rhyme or assonance, spring); and so on, down to the end of alliteration, parallelism, quantity or ac- winter. Next comes incipient love, folcentual stress, may likewise appear a lowed by all the other phases of the tencontradiction in terms. What then, in der passion-and a large and important Japan, constitutes the difference between division this is-while elegies, travelling prose and verse, if all these distinguishing odes, acrostics, and odes congratulatory marks be missing? Well; in order that and miscellaneous bring up the rear. a composition may be rhythmical, the Such is, in brief, the order followed in words of which it is composed must be the Collection of Odes Ancient and Modso arranged as to fall into lines of either ern, published A.D. 905, by command of five or seven syllables, which lines must the Mikado Daigo, and from which, as succeed one another in a certain order; the most celebrated of the Poetical and that order, in the thirty-one syllable Collections of the Twenty-one Reigns, the odes, is 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. Also many inver- majority of our illustrations will be sions unknown in prose are permitted; drawn. plays upon words and a peculiar kind Of all the excellencies of the ancient of terms called “pillow-words," are in- Japanese poets, none can have a greater troduced for the sake of grace and charm for the modern English reader than euphony, and, above all, no barbarous their passionate love of nature, and their Chinese expression must ever cross the tender interpretation of her mysteriespuetic threshold. So much for the outer qualities which are inherited by their form, touching which, indeed, if all its otherwise strictly practical descendants minutive were to be noticed, a sufficiently at the presert day. Take, for instance, long treatise might be written by any the following stanza :Japanese scholar who did not pause to ask himself whether it would be ever
Softly the dews upon my forehead light :
From off the oars, perchance, as feather’d read. What will be of wider interest is
spray, the contents of these miniature poems. They fall, while some fair junk bends on her The contents are various, it need way
Across the Heav'nly Stream on starlit night. scarcely be said ; for the ponderous tomes of the Collection of a Myriad Leaves, The "Heavenly Stream" is the Japaof the many-titled collections some
nese name for that which we call the times classed together as the Poetical Col- Milky Way. lections of the Twenty-one Reigns, and of Or, again, listen to the following, -one all the other collections and selections of the odes on the snow :which still continue to grow year by When from the skies that wintry gloom year, even under the government of his
enshrouds present gracious Majesty, when so much The blosoms fall and flutter round my head, else that had appeared to be ineradica- Methinks the spring e'en now his light must bly fixed in the national affection is seen O'er heav'nly lands that lie beyond the clouds. scattered to the winds and become “as a dream when one awaketh"-all these The flowers to which the snow is here hundreds and hundreds of volumes of compared are those of the splendid douthirty-one syllable odes cannot but treat ble cherry-tree, the king of trees, whose of a multiplicity of subjects. In most praises these far Eastern bards are never of the collections, indeed, the poems are tired of singing. One of the most celeregularly classified under various heads: brated of them, Narihira, even goes so first Spring, wherein the odes on the far, by an extreme of rapture, as almost different flowers of that delightful sea- to curse these two lovely flowers. He son succeed each other in the order in exclaims :which such flowers bloom -- first the If earth but ceased to offer to my sight plum-blossom, and then the cherry, the The beauteous cherry-trees when flowering, most precious of all flowers; after that, Ah! then, indeed, with peaceful, pure delight in early summer, the wisteria, accompa
Mine heart might revel in the joys of spring! nied by the cuckoo, which, on the first Rather far-fetched, perhaps. But then