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THE NEW

MONTHLY BELLE ASSEMBLÉE.

March, 1850.

A SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF MUSIC, FROM THE

EARLIEST TIMES.

BY A MUSICAL GRADUATE.

(Continued from page 70.)

CHAP, III.

almost unnecessary. Death was the only god

whom it was impossible to propitiate; and, conWe now come to the era of the Trojan war, a period of which our chief knowledge is

in sequently, we learn that he was the “ only one

to whom no altar was erected, and no hymns were derived from the poems of Homer, the “great so » sire of song.” The date of this event, as well as

With respect to military music, the trumpet is the age of Homer, is a disputed point amongst

mentioned by Homer in a simile; yet it is agreed chronologists. The weight of evidence, how

that it was unknown to the Greeks during the ever, seems to place the date of this celebrated

Trojan war, though perhaps in common use in siege about 1185 B.C. The diversity of opinion

the poet's time. Heralds performed the trumas to dates does not appear to affect the state

pet's office during the siege of Troy; and the ments of the poet, either as to men or things ; l vociferous Stentor is immortalized by Homer as for implicit reliance appears to have been always the most illustrious throat-performer of antiplaced in them. Music is mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey

quity. upwards of fifty times, and always with rapture. “Stentor the strong, endued with brazen lungs, It is, however, invariably, so closely connected Whose throat surpassed the noise of fifty tongues." with Poetry, that it is difficult to discriminate to

Iliad, book 5. which science the poet's praises belong. The The use of music in private life occurs continulyre, indeed, is constantly in the hands of the ally in Homer's poems. In his time it was bard, but merely as an accompaniment to the

considered so essential an accomplishment for voice. Of mere instrumental music, no traces princes, that both Achilles and Paris are repreappear in the works of Homer. Even dancing

sented as performers on the lyre. The former, seems to have been accompanied by the voice: when in resentment for the loss of his mistress, “Then to the dance they form the vocal strain, and visited during his retirement by his friends, Till Hesperus leads forth the starry train.”

is found in his tent, soothing his irritated feel

Odyssey, book 15 ings by singing and playing on the harp : The probable real state of Music in Homer's “ Amus'd at ease the godlike man they found, time will be most accurately ascertained by the

Pleas'd with the solemn harp's harmonious

sound.enumeration of the oply instruments mentioned in the original poems. These are the three

Iliad, book 9. ancient favourites already described-the syrinx, Not only the heroes of Homer are musical, but the flute, and the lyre; we may justly conclude, some of his divinities. He seems to bave been therefore, that no others were known at the time peculiarly sensible of the charms of music, of of the Trojan war.

which, and its effects, the Iliad and the Odyssey That the Greeks, and before them the Egyp- contain many exquisite descriptions. In the dans and Hebrews, employed music in solemn | rapturous language which he employs on the sacrifices, as well as upon joyful occasions, is so subject, and the variety of his beautiful allucertain and well known, that illustrations are sions to it, he, more nearly than any other

pozt, approaches our Shakspere, the unrivalled | Funeral Games celebrated in honour of Achilles. eulogist of Music.

| Thucydides says, that in very remote antiquity Homer has celebrated several bards in his there were games of bodily exercise, and of poems; and from what he says of them, it is ' music, in which cities exbibited their respective quite evident that they resembled the Scalds or choruses.At Olympia, however, poetical and Bards of the northern nations of Europe. They | musical contests were subordinate to the athletic sang their poems extempore, in the streets of land gymnastic exercises; though even these cities, and palaces of princes, where they were were accompanied by the flute; as was also the treated with the greatest respect; and they chariot-race; while the trumpet was used during claimed for themselves the powers of inspira- the horse-race. In the 96th Olympiad (396 tion.

B.c.), a prize was instituted at the Olympie From Homer to Sappho (who flourished up-Games, for the best performer on the trumpet ; wards of 600 B.c.) there is nearly a total blank so that we may suppose this to have been the in the annals of the Arts; but in the interval we first solo instrument in use among the ancients. know that several eminent musicians lived, and / Yet the perforiners on the trumpet seem to have that a great improvement took place in Grecian | been merely heralds, who sounded signals at the Music. The following are the most distinguished public Games and religious ceremonies ; for musicians of this period :-'Thaletes, of Crete, which purpose we may judge that the greatest who was an excellent flutist and singer; Eume-noise was considered the greatest excellence! lus, who wrote the history of his country in the As a further proof that musical contests formed shape of an historical ballad ; Archilochus, of a part of the exhibitions at the Olympic gaines, Paros, who is considered to have been the in- / we need only observe that the Emperor Nero, ventor of lyric poetry, and dramatic melody ; ) who regarded every great musician as his rival, Olympus, the Phrygian, said to have been a disputed the prize in music there, in all its descendant of the first Olympus, already men- forms, subinitting to all the preparatory distioned; Terpander, and Tyrtæus: the former iscipline and rigorous laws during performance. looked upon as the inventor of musical notation, The institution of the Pythic Games has an art of the utmost importance for ascertaining already been hinted at, when the god Apollo was and preserving melody, which before his time the subject before us. They consisted at the was traditional, and wholly dependent on me- / first of 'poetical and musical contests only, and mory. His name is also rendered illustrious by the prize was adjudged to him who had written his hymns for the cithara in heroic verse, as and sung the best hymn in honour of Apollo, well as by his perforinances both upon that | At the first celebration of these Games, it is said instrument and the flute, by which he succes- | that Hesiod was refused admission among the sively won four prizes at the Pythic games. I candidates, on account of his inability to accomTyrtaus, an Athenian general, and musician, ispany himself on the lyre; and that Homer, celebrated by all antiquity for the composition of though he went to Delphos to consult the oracle, military songs and airs, as well as the perform- yet on account of his blindness and infirmities, ance of them. The Spartans paid him the made but little use of his talent of singing greatest honours; and it was their practice that and playing upon the lyre at the same time. the soldiers, before going on a military expedi- | Hence it appears, that though musical contests tion, were sunmoned to the king's tent, to listen were, perhaps, not ranked among the regular to his warlike songs. On one occasion, when and established exercises of the Olympie Games, the battle was going against the Lacedæinonians, no others were admitted in the Pythic during to whom he was acting the part of a musician, the first ages of their celebration. However, he suddenly quitted the soft Lydian mode, and about 591 B.C., several other kinds of comba began to play in the bold Phrygian, which so were united with the musical contests at D re-animated the retiring troops, that they re-l phos, and afterwards constantly repeated in the turned to the charge, and gained the victory. ) second year of each Olympiad. Dr. Burney, This account is given by the Greek historian, quoting from Pausanias, says, “ From th Thucydides.

| there were prizes, not only for the musicians We are now insensibly led to consider what, who sung best to the accompaniment of share Music had in the four principal or Sacred cithara, the only object of contention at Games of the ancient Greeks-the Olympic, the original institution of these Games, but others, Pythic, the Namæan, and the Isthurian Games. both to such as should sing best to the accola A very superficial glance, however, is all we paniment of the flute, and to those who, what shall be able to bestow upon this copious the greatest precision and taste, played on subject.

instrument alone, without singing. Here began In the year 776 B.C., the Olympic Games be-/ the separation between Music and Poetry :: gan to be regularly celebrated once in about four previous trials of skill having been confined years. “All the Grecian games,” says Dr. Bur- l vocal music, accompanied indeed by instrumet ney, “ seem to have originated from the honours / but where poetry was materially concert paid to deceased heroes by their surviving friends The chief poets and musicians of this per at their obsequies ;” but in process of time they were Sappho, Simonides, and Pindar-namico became of general importance to all the states of too well known to need any comment. Greece. “ Though Homer does not mention No proofs need be cited of Music mars the Olympic Games, he minutely describes the been used at the Nemæan and Isthmian Games

A Skeich of the History of Music, froin the Eurliest Tinus.

131

for the fact seems suíliciently authenticated and information concerning several particulars relaadmitted; and as the accounts of these given tive to her father Nereus, and the watery eleby Dr. Burney and others, present neither per- ment, that are quite out of my ken, I was in sons nor events of consequence or interest, we hopes of obtaining some satisfaction from this shall pass on to the two solemn festivals of fish; but he tells me that he is too young and Athens, known under the denomination of ignorant to be able to satisfy my curiosity, and Panathenean Games. These were of very high refers me to that grown gentleman before your antiquity, their institution being ascribed to majesty, who is much better acquainted with Orpheus, in honour of the goddess Minerva, aquatic affairs.” The tyrant understood him, the patroness of that city. Foot and horse- and had the complaisance to send him the turraces, athletic exercises, and poetical and musi- bot. But though, from this instance, he appears cal contests, took place on these occasions. The to have been high in favour with Dionysius, he last are said to have been founded by Pericles. afterwards proved so awkward a courtier, that he Singers of the greatest eminence, accompanied preferred the labour of carrying stones from a by performers on the flute and cithara, exercised quarry to the disgust of praising the bad verses their talents here upon subjects prescribed by of his patron. the direciors of these exhibitions. Premiums Antigenides was, in his youth, flute-player in were likewise given to players on the flute-an ordinary to Philoxenus, and accompanied him instrument in the highest esteem throughout in the musical airs which he had set to his own Greece, but in particular request at Athens; verses. It was therefore no wonder that he perhaps froin the legendary account of its inven- should have, in his turn, disciples of the first tion by Minerva, the protectress of that city. class himself, and be caressed by the greatest

The institution of prizes for instrumental princes. Plutarch attributes to him the transmusic, must have eminently promoted the in-porting Alexander to such a degree by his perprovement of that branch of the Art. It is cer- formance at a banquet, that he seized his arms, tain, however, that very soon a noisy and vo- and was on the point of attacking his guests. ciferous style of music was introduced at these The Lacedæmonians had a song, which said, Games. Lucian speaks of a young flute-player, that “a good performer on the fule would make a named Harmonides, who, on his first public ap- man brave every danger, and face even IRON pearance at thein, began a solo with so violent a itself.Notwithstanding this musician was so blast, intending to surprise and elevate the audi- high in reputation, he seemed to regard public ence, that he breathed his last breath into his favour as a precarious possession, and was never flute, and died on the spot. And it is also re- elated by the applause of the multitude. He corded, that the trumpet-players at these exhi- endeavoured to inspire his disciples with the bitions were overjoyed when they found they same sentiments; and in order to console one bad neither rent their cheeks nor burst their of them, who, though possessed of great abilities, blood-vessels by their exertions; and they used had received but little applause from his audia capistrum, or bandage, extending round the ence; “ The next time you play,” said he, “ shall head, under the ears, with a hole for the mouth, be to me and the Muses." Antigenides was so and supported by a transverse piece going over fully persuaded of the coarse taste of the comthe crown of the head. This was to prevent mon people, that one day, hearing at a distance their cheeks from swelling. Had Shakspere a violent burst of applause to a player on the the terrible blasts of these flute-players in his flute, he said, “ there must be something very memory, when he penned the line

bad in that man's performance, or those people “ Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!”

would not be so lavish of their approbation.”

Antigenides was author of many novelties upon The most noted musicians in connexion with the flute. He increased the number of holes, the Athenian Games, were Philoxenus, Anti- which extended the compass of the instrument, genides, Dorion, Ismenias, and Lamia--a flute and probably rendered its tones more flexible, player of the highest merit. Philoxenus was not and capable of greater variety. only a celebrated poet-musician, but also an in- Dorion is mentioned by Plutarch as a flutenovator in music; and ancient musical inno-player who had made several changes in the vators were generally improvers of their art. music of his time, and who was the head of a For instance, Timotheus was publicly censured, sect of performers, opponents to another sect, and banished from Sparta, for adding three of which Antigenides was the chief. Dorion, strings to the lyre! Philoxenus seems to have though much celebrated as a great musician and been as much celebrated for his jests as for his poet, is better known to posterity as a volupmusical skill. Being served with a small fish at tuary. Both his music and poetry are lost; the table of Dionysius of Syracuse, and seeing however, many of his pleasantries are preserved. an enormous turbot placed before the tyrant, Supping one night with Nicocreon, in the island he put the head of the little fish close to his of Cyprus, and admiring a rich gold cup that mouth, and pretended to whisper to it; then was placed on the sideboard, “The goldsmith placed it close to his ear, as if to receive the will make you just such another,” says the answer more distinctly. Upon being asked | prince, “whenever you please.” “He'll obey by Dionysius for an explanation of this mum- your orders much better than mine, sir," says mery, he said, “ I am writing a poem, sir, upon Dorion; “ so let me have that, and do you beGalatea, one of the Nereids; and as I want speak another." Upon bearing the description

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