Images de page
PDF
ePub

when he has exhausted his invention in producing every practicable combination of notes; and every imaginable transition from one key to another. Music, he continued, like other things, is subject to its revolutions"; and though her good genius droops for the present, the time must arrive, and that perhaps not far distant, when the phenix will revive, and the world once more acknowledge the authority of the former school as it deserves. Handel he spoke of with the veneration due to his apotheosis. That wonderful man, said he, anticipated every thing that is to be known in the art, and must be for ever new.

He dwelt much on the modesty of Haydn, one of whose peculiarities was, that he never could be brought to form the most distant idea of his own' merits; and this, he assured me, was not affectation, but pure unsophisticated unconsciousness of having any thing to be proud of.

As a further evidence of the decadence of public taste in regard to music, he told me that there has not for years been known such a.

thing as a quartetto in a private house from one end of Paris to the other. The prevailing rage for the last twenty years has been for singing with pianoforte or harp accompaniment: one of the consequences of which is, that the first rate professional violinists have deserted the fine school of Viotti, for airs with variations, tortured to worse than death, to the agonies of dying, to suit the vitiated palate of the public, to whom difficulty and excellence have long been synonymous.

Viotti he considered not only as the greatest of all performers on the violin, but also the choicest of all composers for that instrument.

While I was making some observations on the last morceau Haydn ever wrote, to which the words je suis foible et vieux” were adapted by himself, he interrupted me by observing, that he was present at the time he wrote it; and that attempting to compose a quick movement as a finale, after a long essay to propitiate the muse at the pianoforte, he at last owned he was unable to find one idea, (“il ne pouvoit rien trouver”). Times are altered, said the good old Haydn: when I was young, the ideas would come unsought; now I am obliged to seek for them, and, worse still, to seek for them in vain,

It gave me great pleasure to hear this prime of my favourites spoken of with so much respect and enthusiasm by his last surviving most intimate friend and pupil, and a person in every way qualified to form so just an opinion of his transcendant merits. — It was truly the laudatus ab laudato.

For the last twenty years Pleyel has written nothing. I praised his quartetto in G minor (Op. II.), observing, that I looked upon it as one of his happiest efforts; an opinion in which he did not seem averse to join. This quartetto, said he, I dedicated to Haydn. It requires all the parts to be very well sustained, and accurately together, to give the right effect. Το whatever subject our conversation might happen to stray, he always returned to Haydn; and certainly never was a movement done more justice to, or played with a more genuine Pleyel resided in England before the revolution, but having property in France, was obliged to return, and has never since left the country. At present he passes a great part of his time in country retirement, the quiet of which he finds necessary at his advanced age; but his health, though infirm, is far from bad.

con amore,

19th. - Louvre. To be of much service to strangers, Miss Stark ought to publish an edition of her book every year or two. The last is of little use, many of the numbers on the statues being altered, or the statues themselves removed to other places in the Museum.

I am much puzzled in trying to account for the immeasurable distance there is between the merits of the Greek and Roman sculpture, which is so very visible, even among what remains of the splendid contents of the Louvre: nor can I discover any other solution of the difficulty so feasible as the common supposition, which is attended with hardly less, namely, that while the former copied entirely from nature, the latter were content servilely to study from the copy. But can we suppose that a nation which

D

has left such bright examples in poetry, would not have spurned the idea of belonging to the servum pecus in any other of the sister arts? Yet is there hardly any thing extant, I believe, of Roman sculpture, very much above mediocrity. It strikes me there must be some other cause operating as a restraint upon national genius, not to be resolved on any of the commonly received principles. Let it be explained why England has never produced one original air worth a farthing in comparison of those in which the other three integral parts of the kingdom abound. How is it that contiguous countries, in constant habits of intercourse with each other, and who have access to the same means of improvement, and the same exemplars to copy, continue from age to age so essentially asunder in the scale of merit? I am convinced a great deal of undue, if not hurtful stress, is laid upon

the study of models, and the maxim about devoting nights and days to the exemplaria Græca. Besides, have we not seen that the brightest geniuses the world ever produced,

« PrécédentContinuer »