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Florence.-Rome.-Abbate Santini.-Miserere.


of the one as of the other. He brought me his Te Deum, 'written in eight parts, requesting me to correct some of the 'modulations, as G major predominates too much; so I mean to 'try if I cannot introduce some A minor or E minor.' And henceforth the good old priest enjoys the distinction rare to his cloth, of being very holy without being very monotonous.

Of all these things-together with researches in and about the Holy City, amenities of anonymous duchesses and amiable English friends, worship at the shrines of the old painters, Torlonia balls, the Holy Week, and the election of a new Pope, the composer gives us the liveliest possible pictures. But no such engagements distracted him from his own serious purposes. The chief of these, next to his regular work of composition-to which the interval between breakfast and noon was always devoted-was the unravelling of that mysterious Miserere music of the Papal chapel, which a jealous official reserve on the one hand, and popular devotional rapture on the other, have established as the arch-puzzle or miracle of the Holy City. While other miracles have triumphed over mere material laws, this has asserted its supremacy by vanquishing the convictions and habits of double-proofed Protestantism, as well as of the most arid philosophy. Men who could laugh at liquefactions and scoff at curative bones, have succumbed to the cadences of Allegri, in the gradual darkness, as thoroughly as if the acolytes of the altar extinguished intellects and candles by the same act. The wonder is, of course, not diminished by the fact that such parts of the music as have been carried away by sacrilegious memories and reproduced in other places, have as resolutely refused to be grand or impressive, as the glow-worm refuses to shine in the prosaic glare of daylight. When released, however, from the immediate spell of the Miserere, reason, the inexorable analyst, at once returns to the attack; and it is inferred that music which is grand only in one place must derive its grandeur from the place; and so the genius loci and the solemn ceremonial are credited with the effects previously attributed to the music. But to actual listeners, this explanation, though containing some truth, is by no means satisfactory, and it becomes needful to reconsider the music itself and the peculiarities of its performance. Mendelssohn was admirably adapted for this task by his great memory, his quick musical susceptibility, and his strong practical sense; and he fulfilled it in a scientific spirit wholly free from irreverence. He informs Zelter, in his report of the matter, that from the very first moment he felt sensations of reverence and piety. But even these feelings had their scientific value, and he regards them as fortunate.' I consider such a mood indis



'pensable for the reception of new ideas; and no portion of the general effect escaped me, although I took care to watch each separate detail. To accomplish the latter purpose he took excellent steps, by mounting a ladder leaning against the wall, and was thus placed close to the roof of the chapel; so that he had the music, the priests, and the people far beneath him in gloom and shadow. Seated thus alone,' says he, without the vicinity of any obtrusive stranger, the impression made on me was very profound.' Not so profound, however, as to make him forget his scientific mission; for he saw plainly enough the 'shadow of Baini's long arm moving up and down,' so settling conclusively the current conjecture that the singing was in spontaneous time, one voice simply following the other. He also collected a considerable number of the cadences and embellimenti, and by noticing closely at what points the most thrilling effects were produced, arrived at the conclusion that the mysterious charm lay, not in the original notes of the composition, but in these cleverly constructed embellimenti, which are traditional, and are applied indiscriminately to the Misereres of various composers. In the remarkable letter to Zelter the notation of the most effective of these ornamental phrases is quoted; and to musical readers, bearing in mind the fine quality of the voices at command for their execution, they sufficiently account for the thrill which they invariably produce. It results, therefore, that while the Holy Week music of the Papal chapel must surrender all claim to be called classical, it is so far legitimate that it is the real growth of the scene and circumstances amidst which alone it is to be heard. And so the young inquirer, having solved his problem by ascending, like other notable discoverers, to an elevation commanding a bird's-eye view of the phenomena, comes down again to the social and work-day life of terra firma.

Before, however, leaving the subject of Roman church-music, Mendelssohn records his general opinion of the modern uses of the Gregorian modes; and we read it with interest, bearing as it does on the conviction elsewhere expressed in this Review, that the true fire and vital meaning of sacred music passed into the popular psalmody of the Reformation, and has left little more than fossilized ancient forms, furbished a little for the world's curious inspection, in the great Roman museum. After quoting the actual notes to which the solemn Tenebræ facta sunt was chanted, he says:

'I cannot help it, but I own it does irritate me to hear such holy and touching words sung to such dull, drawling music. They say it is canto fermo, Gregorian, &c.; no matter. If at that period there

Naples.-Contrast with London.-The Alps. 305

was neither the feeling nor the capability to write in a different style, at all events we have now the power to do so; and certainly this mechanical monotony is not to be found in the scriptural words; they are all truth and freshness, and moreover expressed in the most simple and natural manner. Why, then, make them sound like a mere formula? And, in truth, such singing as this is little more! The word "Pater" with a little flourish, the " "meum " with a little shake, the "ut quid me"-can this be called sacred music? There is certainly no false expression in it, because there is none of any kind; but does not this very fact prove the desecration of the words? A hundred times during the ceremony I was driven wild by such things as these; and then came people in a state of ecstasy, saying how splendid it had all been. This sounded to me like a bad joke, and yet they were quite in earnest!'

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After Holy Week Mendelssohn spent some time in Naples, of whose scenery and social life he gives graphic descriptions; but it is curious that, in presence of the bluest of skies and seas, he finds himself yearning, more than in any other place, for the very different conditions of English life. Naples,' he writes, 'does not realize to my mind the idea of a centre for a great 'nation, which London offers in such perfection;' and on the occasion of his brother Paul's intended visit to London, he gives the first clear expression of that affectionate preference for England which so largely influenced his subsequent career. 'That smoky 'place is fated to be now and ever my favourite residence; my 'heart glows when I even think of it, and I paint to myself my 'return there,' &c. This was written when he was about turning his willing steps northward. After revisiting Rome for a brief period, he took Florence, Genoa, Milan, and the Italian lakes, on his way; and travelling by the Simplon road and the Valais, he at length exulted to find himself on the Col de Balme, face to face with Mont Blanc and all its glittering glaciers. From this point, for more than a month, Mendelssohn becomes the thorough mountaineer, throwing himself into the rough labours and boisterous pleasures of Alpine pedestrianism with an abandon which the students of some of his Allegros will well understand. There is no evidence that he won his spurs by surmounting any of those deliciously dangerous Cols or peaks which have such a fascination for the chivalry of the Alpine Club; but he made long stretches' on storm-haunted roads, sketched the scenery, mingled with the peasantry, and learned to jodel, finding music au naturel an agreeable change from music secundum artem. Not, indeed, that the latter form of it was quite driven from his brain, for we find him borrowing music-sheets from a forestranger's daughter, that he may write versions of songs by Goethe and Uhland; and having on one occasion been disappointed of a

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lodging at Interlachen, he makes the gay confession, 'I was out of humour for half an hour, and obliged to sing Beethoven's 'Adagio in A flat major, three or four times over, before I could 'recover my equanimity.' There were occasions when Nature and Art contended before him for musical supremacy; and he never failed to throw in reinforcements to both parties, on a scale that must have astonished his allies. Pausing, for instance, for a few days in the beautiful valley of Engelberg (where he filled a whole sketch-book with pictures), he found himself, on a grand fête day, engaged to play the organ at a solemn religious service in the famous monastery of that place; and we have here his lively record of the transaction.

In the morning I performed my duties as organist-it was a grand affair. The organ stands close to the high altar, next to the stalls for the "patres;" so I took my place in the midst of the monks, a very Saul amongst the prophets. An impatient Benedictine at my side played the double-bass, and others the violins; one of the dignitaries was first violin. The pater præceptor stood in front of me, sang a solo, and conducted with a long stick as thick as my arm. The élèves in the monastery formed the choir, in their black cowls; an old decayed rustic played on an old decayed oboe, and at a little distance two more were puffing away composedly at two huge trumpets with green tassels; and yet with all this the affair was gratifying. It was impossible not to like the people, for they had plenty of zeal, and all worked away as well as they could. A mass by Emmerich was given, and every note of it betrayed its "powder and pigtail." I played thorough-bass faithfully from my ciphered part, adding wind instruments from time to time, when I was weary; made the responses, extemporized on an appointed theme, and at the end, by desire of the prelate, played a march, in spite of my repugnance to do this on the organ, and was then honourably dismissed.'

There is abundant evidence in these letters that the scenery of Switzerland was a source of intense excitement to the composer's poetical temperament; but it is not clear that nature had as yet touched the deepest springs of sympathy within him. His feeling in her presence at this time, as might have been expected from his years, was rather passionate than profound :'The feeling and the love

That had no need of a remoter charm
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.'

Sixteen years afterwards there came a time when, staggering from the mortal blow of the death of his sister Fanny, he fled to these same mountains like a stricken deer; and, doubtless,

Two Alpine periods.-Munich.-Paris.


they then opened to him revelations which rather informed and soothed his spirit than delighted his vision :—

'A sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.'

We obtain no glimpses of the composer's personal moods during this later mountain seclusion, but such as are derived from Mr. Chorley's touching account of his interviews with him at Interlachen.* For his deepest feelings he had now no confidant but his art. They stand written in the solemn beauty of his great Quartett in F minor, the most purely emotional and selfrevealing of all his compositions.

At Munich, to which city the composer hurried after taking leave of the Alps, he found himself suddenly plunged into the bewilderments of public life. He gave a great concert, for the benefit of the poor, to eleven hundred people, and a small concert, equally crowded, though attended by only thirty persons for it was given in his own private room-to the chief dignitaries of the city, who insisted on his extemporizing, and made,' he says, ' such a tremendous uproar that, nolens, I 'was forced to comply, though I had nothing in my head but 'wine-glasses, benches, cold roast meat, and ham.' This lively scene was varied on the following evening by a summons to play before the Queen and the Court, where, every time you 'moved your elbow you pushed against an Excellency;' and when the Queen afterwards spoke to the composer about his power of carrying away his audience, he 'begged to apologise for carrying away her Majesty.'

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The winter was spent by Mendelssohn in Paris, which he found then, as ever, a residence little congenial to him. The city was utterly consumed with politics, and art seemed to be chiefly regarded as a convenient medium for cursing the 'juste milieu. Paris certainly amused the composer, and at the Conservatoire some courtesies were extended to him in the superb French style; but he felt himself in a strange element, and under its influence a curious change came over the tone of his letters, which lost their usual blithe enthusiasm, and took a dash of irony in its place. Finding that it was as inevitable for him to talk politics in Paris as to be lazy in Italy, in Switzer⚫ land a wild student, and in Munich a consumer of cheese and 'beer,' he mentions that in the Chamber of Deputies he saw 'the Milieu in a light great coat, and that he was attacked by

• Modern German Music, vol. ii. p. 383. By H. F. Chorley.

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