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time held the sovereignty of Provence; the residence of the Popes at Avignon; the love of pleasure, ivhich affluence had fomented among the Italians; the munificent rewards which they bestowed on the instruments of their pleasures, concurred to ,promote a science, in which modern Italy, and afterwards France, rivalled ancient Greece. The following ages were so far convinced of the obligation they were under to Provence, as to imagine that Charlemagne, in the division ot his dominions, had given up the entire property of it to the poets, jesters, minstrels, and other members of the mirths ulscience.
The learned Muratori, in his twenty-ninth Dissertation on the Antiquities of Italy in the middle age, makes mention from cotemporary monuments, of the plenary (turn very frequently held by the princes and states of Italy, and at which there never failed to be companies of minstrels, mimes, jesters, buffoons, mountebanks, &c. Under the generical name of Courtsex (Uomini di cortej these people,
guli perceperunt indumenta 'va/orii admit/as decent ducatorumpro quoque* Thar of Galeazzo Visconti drew together such a number, that the gratuities amounted to plufquam septem millia pannorum bonorum. Lastly* above fifteen hundred were present at a plenary court held by the Ma. latestas at Rimini.
These largesses encouraged, supported, and perpetuated the pleasurable arts, which thus amply partook of the riches with which Italy at that time abounded. They had not such a good time of it in other countries, where œconomy seconded the anathemas which the church used frequently to fulminate against those profane amusements. The emperor Henry II. on his marriage with Agnes Jdes Poitiers, sent away, without the least entertainment or reward, an infinite multitude of virtuosos, whom the confident expectation of another kind of treatment had drawn to that solemnity. The princes and nobility, in order to rid themselves of such expence, and at the same time to be revenged of those ful
joining their talents, improved the minations which curtailed their di
merriments of the jocund seasons, versions, would sometimes let loose
which sometimes lasted a whole the virtuosos on die clergy, em
Sionth. During all this time, they powering them to levy contribu
wtre handsomely boarded, and, tious for their reward; a licence
agreeably to a custom of which some adumbrations are to be met with in Aristophanes, Martial, and St. Augustine, each on his dismission had a suit of clothes given to him; and it was nothing uncommon for the top performers of each
which, in a council held at Ravenna, in 1286, was condemned a* importunith abufi<va.
At this very epocha the Italians had regular plays, whilst the French knew nothing beyond farces, half burlesque and half religious, such
kind to be presented with chains of as the Simp/e Mother, the As:, with silver, and even of gold, horses with rich caparisons, &c. At the "edding of Antony, De la Scala, a list was taken of above two lmndred of these virtuosos, qui _fin~ Vol. XIL
exhibitions of the Passion, and the mysteries, and this only in holiday times, sottishly imagining, that thus acting the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and God himself, were act* M of ©f exalted devotion: whereas, in Italy, the Corti bandite, or festive companies, who resorted to these festivals, of which public notice was given some time before the celebration, composed among themselves plays strictly confdimiable to the rules of drama, and animated by a judicious combination of all the several powers of poetry, music, and dancing; together with ballets relative to the main action.
". The stage-phyers," fays an old Milanese chronicle, "used to «' sing the feats of Rowland and "Oliver; and these songs were "intermixed with, and followed •* by, dances accompanied with «' music, performed by buffoons, "and mimes in various evolutions, "equally grave and graceful."
Donison the monk, in the first; book of his poem on the famous countess Matilda, has in a single line, not indeed very harmonious, summed up the several instruments which formed the orchestras of those ! spectacles:
. 7ympana cum cytarh,sli'visque ly_ risque sonant hœc.
Spectacles of this sort had likewise their decorations and machines, which indeed were the main part in that exhibition, described in the following manner by John Villani:
« The citizens," fays he, " of *' St. Friano's quarter at Florence, ** had an old custom of giving H every year an exhibition, the ** scheme of which was always "new, and strikingly singular. "In the beginning of the year "1304, that jocund body gave no"tice, that wboever was for knowrt ing news. &om the other world
(snper uoiielle de Valtrt monii) should repair, on the 1st of May, to the bridge which divides the city of Florence. On the day appointed, the bed of A?no wa» found covered with machines, representing dens and cavemi of various forms, in which) amidst fire, flames, shrieks, ejaculations, and howlings, wereseen the tortures which devils, under a thousand hideous forms, were busy in inflicting on the damned; when, lo! i» the height of the (how, At . bridge being then only of wood, part of it gave way under the crowd." In those ages of darkness I have met with only one act of hostility between Italy and France, relating to music; and that is, in a decree of the republic of Bologna, which Ghirardacci, in his history of that republic places in the year 1288. That decree orders, Ut cmttru Francigenorum in flateis camamii ad cantandum amnino marari mnfojsent.
I know of no monument, which any sure judgment may formed of the state of Italian Basic during those times: it may only be supposed, that the opportanitiM of distinguishing itself at the festivals and exhibitions, which wen infinitely more frequent in Italy than in France; the kind reoeptic* which entertaining talents every where met with, together with the rewards bestowed on the 'Coryphti of those arts, must of course havi powerfully improved and stimulated the natural dispositions of those numerous companies* which devoted' themselves to music, asthw settled business.
I- had made myself fare ©f find
lag some information, concerning the state and the respective claims of the Italian and the French music, in that letter of Petrarch's, where he lays before Urban V. the several
It must be added, that Italy, in the com osition of musical dramas, Was some centuries before-hand with France; and that those aukivard groupss of pilgrims j who open
reasons, which in his opinion en- ed the first theatre in Paris with
titled Italy and the Italians to that representations of the passions,
pontiff's preference above France! brought the first notion of them
and the French: whereas in this, from Italy.
and all the articles of mere plea fore, he seems to give the superio rity to th6 French, but reserves the solid and essential qualities for his own countrymen: Demoribus vul
Indeed, we find from the ancient Italian chronicles, that such representations of the' Passion and other mysteries, prevailed iri Italy, so early as the thirteenth century.
garibus,hys\v;, fateor Gallos etfa- The grand jubilee in the following cetoshomines,et gufiunm 'verborumque century, drawing numberless crowds
uviitm, qui libenter ludunl, laute ccetiatti creorb bibunt, wvide to>vvi<vani*r: •uera autem gravitas et. realis mralitas afiud 1 talcs semper suit. Epist. Genii, lib. ix. ep. i.
As to the remaining monuments of French music under the fame epochs, they have all passed through abbe Lebeuff's handsj the «nost ancient are of the eleventh century. He has seen some of the two following centuries: he has perused the old French ballad-ma*erj: he has examined the count de Champaign's famous ballads, wth Danz Gauthier's songs and lamentations': and in all these compositions, even those of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he could fee only " tunes with little or no "melody; tunes, in which many "graces were left to be supplied "by the singers; tunes, which
were mere Gregorian singing,
and that of the seventh mood, of which every branch of the sine arts ■JJ all others the most dull and dis. was so highly indebted to it. 'agreeable, and at the same time From Florence these representa"the most difficult: but," adds tions quickly spread into all the we judicious censor, "the ears of Italian states that were able to fup"that time probably were accuf- port-the great expences of decora'tomed to them, so that those tions, dresses, and machines, which •I 'u116* ^eeme^ ^ne> an(* afiectsd even then were -• pan of these pel-.
them accordingly." formanecs. ^
M a John
of pilgrims from all parts of Eu-
As to dramatic compositions in
John Antony Baif, who had be* brought up among these shows,' during the embassy of his father (the celebrated Lazarus Baif) at Venice, was the first who introduced the taste for them into France. He turned his house into an academy of music, which was frequented with applause both by the court, and city; but this academy died with its founder.
Amidst all the fondness of Catha•rine de Medicis, and the Italians in her suite, for their country exhibitions, all that the annals of French music mention of this species, is only a kind of opera, acted in 1582, at the rejoicings of the famous nuptials of the duke de Joyeuse and the princess of Vaudemont.
I had hopes of finding some insight into the state and the respective claims of both musics, towards the close of the fifteenth century, in the poem by Jean le Maire de Beiges, called the reconciliation of the two languages. The poet's scope in it was, to bring about a thorough peace and agreement between two nations separated by the Alps, and still more by the difference of the climate, of manners and customs, as to action; and by accents,- gestures, and pronunciation, as to speech.
The author of this poem, which for the most part consists of triplets, after the Italian manner, places about Venus a music loose and wanton like berjtlf; and the instrumental part of which was quite in a new taste; the old psaiterions, dulcimers, and pipes, being thrown •side for harps and monochords.
Whether the poet meant to indicate the Italian improvements in iastrjwejtfal music, or had Jiis eye
on some efforts of the French in that kind, scarcely could the latter support them, even under the reign of Francis I. though that prince was eminent for munificence to the fine arts, and his wars laid open a communication between France and Italy.
The Louvre collection of ordinances has one of Charles VI. dated the 24th of April, 1407, in favour of the science of Minftrelism, and its practitioners, the chief of whom' was stiled King. In the fame collection there is even a memoir concerning a like ordinance, issued by king John, in favour of the Paris minstrels. However eœinent we may suppose these hands to have been, Francis I. thought nt to bring back, and to procure from Italy, several virtuosi in this kind. One of the most distinguished was Mercer Albert. Aretin, in a letter of the 16th of June, 1538, compliments him on his excelling lit a» art, di che, fays he to hiva,Jitte lium, e <vi hasatto si caro a fua maefa 1 al mondo, i. e. "of which you Kt "the luminary, and which has (o "endeared you to bis majesty, and "to the world." He conclude* with desiring him tOjdeliver to die king a letter which he had writtej to him. 7""«y
Whether these musicians h« gone retrograde; whether (which is little probable) Henry II. and Catharine de Medicis had, on the decease of Francis I. sent thea back to their own country; or whether, during their stay in FranCCi th& art had been prodigiously injproved in Italy; Brantome, in his Life of Marshal Brissac, tells m,. "that this nobleman, who wif "for a long time Henry the lid's "gaaexal jn Piedmont, had tbe
* best band os violins in all Italy, "and paid them very handsomely. « The late king, Henry II. and "his queen, hearing great com"mendations of them, asked them "of the marshal, to teach their "band, who were good for no'' thing, and no more than as little "Scotch rebecks in comparison of "them. . They were im 'lediately "sent, the head performers being "Jacques Marie and Baltazarin: "the latter, coming, afterwards to *' be valet de chambre to the "queen, was named M. de Beaux"Joyeux."
If the state of music in the country deletes to come into account, I might mention, that in 1672, Lews XIV. passing through the capital of a province nearest to Pans? that city, which now has regularly, two concerts a week, could give the king no other musical entertainment than a concert in the manner of that in Scarron's comic opera, that is, of eight choir-boys, two of whom fang, two played on the top of a bass-viol, and the four others were hanged to four violoncellos, under the direction of the master of the choristers. This the proprietor of the house, where the "ng had taken up his lodgings, accounted art event fit to be transrtitted to posterity in a picture; and from the very picture have I taken this description.
On the second revival os the fine arts^in France, under M. Colbert's ministry, to whom it owed that of music, is well known. Some zealous Frenchmen will have it, that Lully acquired his whole skill and knowledge on this fide the Alps; y*t for the symphonies of his first °peta he could find only sorry re<>ttkit the faintness of.whicji for a
long time shackled a- genius, whose sublimity and fire was not known till it met with instruments capable of keeping pace with it.
A writer, both cotemporary with that renovation, and an excellent judge, has spoken of it with equal truth and impartiality. "M. Lul. ," ly," says he, "has enriched our "musical representations with the "most happy productions of art, "knowledge, genius, and experi"ence combined. Born in the: "country of sine productions, and "on the other hand, habituated "to our ways, by living long in "France, he has, from the dis"position of his nation blended "with ours, made that masterly "mixture of one and the other, "which pleases, which affects, *' which ravishes, and, in a word, "instead of leaving any thing in "Italy for us to envy, enables us "to set it copies." 4
The Italians, who are most" able to form an estimate, have the fame thoughts of Lully, and likewise of Rameau and Mondonville; nay, the standard by which they judge of their own music, is the melody which these French harmonists have hit on, and which, they complain, is often wanting in the productions of their modern composers.
Persevering in the contrast between them and the French, they have retained the ancient simplicity in the accompaniments, and still more strictly in their touch of the organ. Every note is distinctly heard, and the masculine gravity of their play answers to the majesty of the places, where this instrument is peculiarly admitted. It commonly executes the thoroughbass of the psalmody, and afterwards performs its part piano, with
M 3 out