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Answers to Questions

Edited by LOUIS C. ELSON
 
Readers are reminded that no questions sent in to this department can be answered unless accompanied by the full name and address of the sender, not necessarily for publication. This is asked simply as a guarantee of good faith, and is customary for all journals publishing a similar department. We shall therefore be obliged to leave unanswered all letters which are not accompanied by the writer's name and address. Either the initials or a nom du plume will be used in our printed columns.
 
 
 
1. Please inform me what music is now most in use for performance at weddings. Is it customary to play during the service where the only instrument available is the piano? (M. H.)
 
Of course, the most used pieces are still the old favorites, the Bridal Chorus from "Lohengrin" and the Wedding March from Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream" music. But there are many other suitable pieces, such as Lassen's "Epithalame," or Jensen's "Hochzeitsmusik," containing the well-known "Brautgesang." Any good publisher should be able to furnish a list of appropriate marches and other music. The piano is perfectly suitable, and piano arrangements may be readily obtained.
 
 
2. Please give me the names of the four singers who are considered the greatest in each of the following voices:—Soprano, contralto, bass and tenor. (R. E. S.)
 
Anyone making a list of the four best contemporary artists in each voice must be a brave man, because all who are left out will become his sworn enemies. The following list may therefore be considered a suggestion rather than an assertion, for there are many great artists abroad of whom we scarcely hear at all. Among those now on the stage, and not about to retire, the following names seem most prominent: —Sopranos, Melba, Tetrazzini, Fremstad, Destinn. Contraltos, Gerville-Réache, Homer, Schumann-Heink, Brema. Among tenors, Slezak, Caruso, Van Dyck, Dalmores. Among basses (or bass baritones), Chaliapine, Renaud, Van Rooy and Gilibert.
 
If artists of the past are desired, as well as the present. the list might read as follows:—Grisi, Malibran, Tietjens, Patti, Alboni. Phillips. Scalchi, Gerville-Réache; Mario, Rubini. Nourrit, Jean de Reszke; Lablache, Fischer, Plancon, Edward de Reszke.
 
 
3. What does 8 under a note with the bass clef mean? (C. F. J.)
 
It usually means, with the octave below.
 
 
4. Which is thought to be the greatest piano piece of von Weber? (T. H.)
 
It depends on who does the thinking. Thus Marx considers Weber's sonatas greater in some respects than Beethoven's, though very few critics will agree with him. The most popular piece is of course the "Invitation to the Dance," which is still a favorite. The two polonaises are considered Weber's most representative piano works. If we include the concertos, his Concertstück, Op. 79, has been the most widely known.
 
 
5. Please give the story of the Passion, and tell how it differs from the Oratorio. (O. P. W.)
 
The Passion at first was really one of the old miracle or mystery plays, with action as well as music. These arose in England and France in the 12th century, and entered Germany and Italy in the 13th. The revival of "Everyman" shows what many of these plays were like, though "Everyman" has practically no music. The compositions were contrapuntal in style, being a combination of plain-song effects with the freedom of the popular chanson. Abuses crept in during the 14th century, but at the end Of the 16th we find Saint Philip Neri' reviving the so-called "Drama sacra per musica." As he used the Oratory of his church, the works were called Oratorios. The real Oratorio, however, began with Cavalieri's, "Rappresentazione dell'Anima e del Corpo." written in the new monodic (homophonic) style which he claimed to have originated. This piece was brought out in 1600, the year when Peri "Euridice," the first opera, appeared. Thus the Passion changed into the Oratorio by the gradual disappearance of acting and the substitution of harmony and melody for the old contrapuntal plain-song.
 
 
6. Give the names of some famous personages who disliked music of all kinds. (I. C.)
 
The writer Swift was a noted example. The lack of musical understanding depends wholly on the brain, as the case of von Bülow proves. During his childhood he was not musical in the least. But in youth he received a hard knock on the head, in an accident, and after that he showed an aptitude for music. After he died it was found that the accident had caused a slight lesion in his head, but no one knows just why this should have brought musical ability, unless it meant a greater sensitiveness to vibrations. The moral appears to be that unmusical people should be knocked on the head, but this process is rather too drastic until we know more of the subject.
 
 
7. Is the knee swell found on small or parlor organs ever used for the same purpose in large church organs? (Rural.)
 
Large church organs have the swell operated by a pedal, either of the balanced or the swinging-rod type, but mostly the former.
 
 
8. I would like to know the names of the men and women who were considered the greatest exponents of Wagner and his theories. (A. S. F.)
 
Among composers, Schumann became interested in Wagner's earlier works, but Liszt was always his firm adherent. The "mad king," Ludwig of Bavaria, did invaluable service as patron. Among singers devoted to the Wagnerian cause, Materna showed the greatest zeal. Of the conductors, Richter, Seidl and Thomas were foremost in giving Wagnerian excerpts. For other names, see any large life of Wagner.
 
 
Q. Were singers in the days of Jenny Lind, Malibran and Mario as highly trained as they are now? Has not the new form of music drama made it necessary for singers to become more musicianly? (F. Q.)
 
A. Singers were better trained in the matter of coloratura work, or display singing filled with runs, trills and embellishments, but the new form of music drama has forced them to become more musicianly, as well as declamatory and dramatic. Coloratura singing is now on the wane, and few singers of to-day can do even scant justice to the chief roles in such works as "Semiramide" or "The Barber of Seville." But we cannot even claim all the strong voices. Thus Mrs. Billington who could drown a trumpet with her voice, would have been more audible as "Electra" than even a successful singer like Mme. Mazarin, who created the part here, while Lablache had a bass voice far more ponderous than any "Wotan" upon the stage to-day.
 
 
Q. What is a strophic song, and why is it so called? (J. L.)
 
A. A strophic song, or, better, a song in the strophe form, is one which has music only for the first stanza, the later stanzas being repeated to the same music. A song that has music throughout, and does not go back to the beginning for another stanza, or "verse," is called an art-song. The strophe form has two very definite faults—first, if the poem is long, the repetition of the music causes monotony, as in many of the old ballads ; second, the same music is often used for words of different or even opposite character. Thus the third phrase in Hullah's "Three Fishers," of almost savage intensity, suits well in its last occurrence, "The women are weeping and wringing their hands," but does not fit at all, at first, to the words, "Each thought of the woman who loved him the best." The singer, of course, gives each line a different expression, but cannot entirely offset the defect in the form. Schubert's "Miller's Flowers" is another example of a poor employment of the strophe form. Where the poem expresses only one sentiment, as in Schubert's "Das Wandern" and "Ungeduld," the strophe form is properly used; but changing sentiments, such as that of the "Erl King," for instance, must be set in an art- song. Such a poem as Kingsley's "When All the World Is Young, Lad," ought only to appear in art-song form, since the first verse suggests major and the second minor. Tennyson's "Ask Me No More" is definitely an art-song, yet both of these have been set as strophe forms—which is a musical crime.
 
 
Q. Are the different movements of the suite always in the same key? (S. of C.)
 
A. It is a fault of the old suite that its movements were all in the same key. It is possible that this was done for the sake of the lutenist, who had to retune when the key changed; but before 1722, when Bach adopted the present or tempered scale in his "Well-Tempered Clavichord," it was not practicable to modulate far from the key. So the Bach suites were almost always in one key. His "Christmas Oratorio," which extended over twelve days, came back to the original key on the twelfth day, which shows what a stickler for key he was. Of course, the modern orchestral suite may have its movements in different keys, as also the piano suite of the present.
 
 
Q. Which German-born musician has done the most for music in the United States? I refer to musicians who have emigrated to the United States. (D. K.)
 
A. The one who has done the most, by far, is Theodore Thomas, who, although born in East Friesland in 1835, was of German parentage. He was one of the early directors of the Cincinnati College of Music, but he is best known by his long career as orchestral leader in Chicago. In this post he showed himself thoroughly progressive, and always devoted to the highest ideals. Through his friendship with Liszt he obtained and gave some of the Wagnerian excerpts in America before they were performed in Europe. In my "History of American Music" the reasons for considering Theodore Thomas the most influential of all foreigners in the field of American music are given in detail.
 
 
Q. Kindly tell something of the work of the composer Wollenhaupt. Was he an American or a German? (F. S.)
 
A. Heinrich Adolf Wollenhaupt was a German, born at Schkeuditz, near Leipsic, in 1827. He came to New York in 1845, as teacher and concert pianist. Ten years later he made a successful concert tour in Europe. He wrote nearly a hundred brilliant piano pieces. Among the most interesting of these are the Military March, Op. 31 ; the Valses Styriennes, Op. 27 and 47 ; the Improvisation, Op. 30 ; the Nocturne, Op. 32, and the Schero (sic) Brillante, Op. 72.
 
 
Q. Please tell the difference "between a transition and a modulation. (New Reader.)
 
A. A modulation is a change from one key to another. A transition is a short passage linking one part of a musical form to a following part. Thus when the first part, or exposition, of a sonata form is repeated, there is often a returning passage leading back into the first theme, and a transition passage (second ending) leading on to the development. Thus Beethoven's fourth symphony, first movement, has fourteen measures of return and two of transition.

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