- The difference between decorative and symphonic instrumentation is admirably shown by Gluck.
It is therefore not a criterion which can do justice to the principles of Wagner's non-symphonic art, for its.
His appeal to musicians was made in a threefold capacity, and we have, therefore, to deal with Liszt the unrivalled pianoforte virtuoso (1830 - r848); Liszt the conductor of the "music of the future " at Weimar, the teacher of Tausig, Billow and a host of lesser pianists, the eloquent writer on music and musicians, the champion of Berlioz and Wagner (1848-1861); and Liszt the prolific composer, who for some five-and-thirty years continued to put forth pianoforte pieces, songs, symphonic orchestral pieces, cantatas, masses, psalms and oratorios (1847-1882).
The invention of the damper-pedal in the pianoforte epitomizes the difference between polyphony and symphonic art, for it is the earliest device by which sounds are produced and prolonged in a way contrary to the spirit of "real" part-writing.
This brings us to the latest radical change effected in instrumentation, the change from symphonic to dramatic principles.
Bach's sonatas; then the medium itself began to suggest wider horizons and new possibilities of treatment; his position at Eisenstadt enabled him to experiment without reserve; his genius, essentially symphonic in character, found its true outlet in the opportunities of pure musical structure.
His first symphony was written in 1862-1867; his opera Prince Igor, begun in 1869, was left unfinished at his death, and was completed by RimskyKorsakov and Glazounov (1889); his symphonic sketch, "In the Steppes" (1880) is, however, his best-known work.
At present we can only be certain that the criterion according to which Brahms, being a symphonic writer, has no mastery of orchestration whatever, is not a criterion compatible with any sense of symphonic style.
To write an account of symphonic instrumentation in any detail would be like attempting a history of emotional expression; and all that we can do here is to point out that the problem which was, so to speak, shelved by the polyphonic device of the continuo, was for a long time solved only by methods which, in any hands but those of the greatest masters, were very inartistic conventions.
The enormous dramatic development in the symphonic music of Beethoven made the problem of the Mass with orchestral accompaniment almost insoluble.
There is hardly one of Wagner's orchestral innovations which is not inseparably connected with his adaptation of music to the re q uirements of drama; and modern conductors, in treating Wagner's orchestration, as the normal standard by which all previous and contemporary music must be judged, are doing their best to found a tradition which in another fifty years will be exploded as thoroughly as the tradition of symphonic additional accompaniments is now exploded in the performances of Bach and Handel.
A crowd of instruments that seemed at first to overwhelm it in sympathetic comments is perfectly dramatic and appropriate on the symphonic scale.