Handel's Orchestration (Concluded)

Ebenezer Prout
1884 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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more » ... Circular. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from on Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:14:58 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 326 326 THE MUSICAL TIMES. JUNE 1, IS84. THE MUSICAL TIMES. JUNE 1, IS84. task may better be discharged in a separate paper. But I would impress upon them a sense of the very grave responsibility under which they are placed by circumstances. To a large extent they have the immediate future of English music in their hands, and can secllre for it success or failure as they please. Every amateur, therefore, is concerned in what they do, and has reason to implore their careful action towards the development of our art on a sound basis and not on modern and unproven theories. My own anxiety as to this is great. I urge nay, imploreour composers to conserve everything distinctively English, so long as it is not adverse to true progress, and to develop their art, as far as may be, along English lines. This applies especially to lyric drama. Germany, France, Italy have a lyric drama of their own, and though in England we possess nothing very deEnite to work upon, our composers should take good heed of what there is, and so build upon the sure foundation of national taste. Above all, let them avoid mere theorising by way of remedying actual defects. There's too much abstract willing, purposing In this poor world. We talk by aggregates And think by systems, and, being used to face Our evils in statistics, are inclined To cap them with unreal remedies Drawn out in haste on the other side the slate. By avoiding this by amending the old rather than devising the new -our composers may build us up an English art, and make themselves an everlasting name. HANDEL'S ORCHESTRATION. BY EBED\'EZER PROUT. (Co1cludecZ from page 260.) I AM at length approaching the termination of m) labours; for though there still remain for notice a large number of the oratorios, it will be readily understood that many of the special orchestral effects to be found in them will have been already met with in earlier works. It is true that even towards the close of his life Handel continued to make fresh experiments in instrumentation, and such of course, I shall point out as I proceed, but as a whole I shall be able to get through the rest of the series far more rapidly than has often been practicable in the works of which I have already spoken. The first work to be dealt with in this article-the " DettingenTe Deum " (I743) illustrates what I have just said. It is richly scored, for strings, oboes, bassoons, three trumpets, drums, and organ, and abounds in contrasts of colour * but I find nothing in it which has not been spoken of in preceding articles. I therefore pass on to " Semele," also written in I743. In this work it is only needful to notice the effective orchestration of the introduction to the third act, in which the sleep of Somnus in his cavern is depicted by the moving figure in quavers for two violoncellos doubled by two bassoons, and the treatment of the drums. In two choruses of the first act " Avert these omens," and " Cease, cease your vows," Handel uses the drums without the trumpets to represent the rumbling of the thunder-storm-and in the third act Jupiter's ()ath to Semele, which brings about her destruction, is followed by a peal of thunder, imitated by a drum solo entirely unaccompanied. It is worth noting that in these cases Handel has nowhere used the roll of the drums, as might have been expected, but has given the instruments passages of semiquavers. Similarly, in " Fixed in His everlasting seat" ("Samson"), at the words " His thunder roars," the drums have a Egure of six quavers in the bar instead of a rollS which Handel seldom employs.
doi:10.2307/3356500 fatcat:5t3x5hh6angc7g7gawnn6vgnoe