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II.-Wagner and Beethoven-Cadences and Counterpoint

IHOPE no one will feel disappointed at my having devoted so much of my last essay to the Wagnerian orchestra. The truth is that in ,Vagner's best works the music of the instruments is so much the most important part of the whole that i t would be sheer affectation to refuse them the prominent place to which their Significance entitles them. It is interesting. to notice that in this aspect of his work Wagner is almost the exact antithesis of his great contemporary, Verdi. In an early Verdi opera" such a,s Trovat01·e or Rigoletto, the orchestral writing is often uninspiring, to say the least of i t , and the task of sustaining the interest is left almost entirely to the singers. And though his later productions show in the instrumental treatment such an enormously increased power as often amounts to genius, he nevertheless continues to throw upon the voices the chief burden of dramatic expression. In so doing he was following the example of his great Italian predecessor8, all of whom had preferred to focus attention on the leading characters (who were also the solo singers) rather than distract their audience, as they would have put i t , by elaborate orchestration or complex ensembles. This plan has i ts advantages and dramatic potentialities, as Verdi's own work shows, but i t has seldom proved congenial to a German composer. Germany has nev'er been a nation of great solo voices, as Italy has been, and for the highest expression of th German musical mind we must look, not to the A1·ia, but to the Symphony_ * Even Mozart, that most Italian of German opera-writers, shows himself a genuine Teuton in this respect, his ingenious ensembles, extended Ji1inales, and subtle orchestmtion being quite unlike anything in the productions of his Italian contemporaries. And when we come to study the development of German

* In this connexion i t may possibly be r elevant to point out that the Chorale, Germany's most typical contribution to purely vocal art, is essentia.lly a concerted piece, even when i t is sung in unison.