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Under Ferdinand I. of Arragon, the foundation of the Neapolitan school was laid by a Flemish composer of great celebrity, Tinctorius, and by Garnerio and Gafforio, both of whom were natives of the city of Milan. About the same time, with a view of diffusing more extensively a knowledge of the art, the treatise of Jlristoxenes of Tarentum, as well as those of Jiristidcs and Bacchius, were translated from the Greek into Latin. Tinctorius also edited the earliest musical dictionary on record; and, soon after, Gafforio published his works entitled Theoreticum opus Harmonica; Discipline, and dc Practicd Musicm ct de Harmonid Instrumentorum. Stimulated by the example of these celebrated men, a number of Neapolitans entered the list of composers; and about the same time, Ceroni published, in Spanish, a treatise entitled El mclopo, y maestro, tratado de Musica theoretica y pratica.
About the middle of the sixteenth century, many foreign professors flourished at Naples, and contributed in no small degree to the progress of the art, and to prepare the way for the celebrity which the Neapolitan school so justly acquired in the succeeding century. Among them stands, in the boldest relief, Orlando Lassus, who became master of the king's Palatine chapel, and raised by his compositions, to the highest pitch, the enthusiasm of the Neapolitans for harmony. About this period, four colleges were established, without the aid of the government; and from them issued a host of celebrated composers. In a work entitled Regole del Canto Fermo, Ceroni, whose name we have already mentioned, pointed out the absurdity of devoting so much attention to what was then called enigmi del canto; and thus contributed greatly to improve the taste of the Italians for pure and chaste melody, and to facilitate the art of teaching. To enumerate here, in detail, all the Neapolitan composers of celebrity, who flourished from the sixteenth century to the present time, and to present a list of their writings, would swell to an inordinate size this already long article, and prove as unprofitable to the reader as irksome to ourselves. Yet, as we could not, without doing injustice to that renowned school, dismiss it so unceremonious!}", wo must be allowed to offer a few remarks on some of its most eminent pupils and professors. By those who are as easily dazzled by wealth and high rank as by brilliancy of talent, the Prince of Venosa was early cited as a composer of unrivalled merit; and by Laborde in his Essays on Music, and J. J. Rousseau in his Dictionary, nearly the same sentiments are expressed. Next to the prince, as a composer, stands Curti, who, although deprived, like Homer and Milton, of the sense of sight, did honour to the art by the excellence of his melody, and to the Neapolitan school by the extent of his knowledge in counterpoint. But however distinguished Curti might have been for his talents in composition, his reputation was in great measure eclipsed by that of his successor, the inimitable Salvator Rosa, alike renowned for his music, his poetry and his paintings; and of whom, a female writer of our own age has executed a biography with more pretension than success. Among his compositions is cited as worthy of our admiration, the music he made for his own cantatas. The melody of these pieces appears to have been superior to that of many of the author's contemporaries, and is still heard with as much pleasure as surprise. To Salvator Rosa, as a rare musical genius, succeeded Messandre Scarlatti, who, as Count Orloff has well remarked, soon became the arbiter of the school of Naples. After completing his studies in his native city, he repaired to Rome, where he enjoyed the benefit of the instruction of Carissini, at that time at the head of the Roman school. After leaving Rome, Scarlatti visited Bologna, Florence, Venice, and Vienna; and before returning to Naples, visited Rome a second time, and there composed several operas which were received with unbounded applause. To Scarlatti not a little credit is due for having perfected the science and practice of overtures, which, before, were only meagre obligato symphonies, and were by him changed into a kind of musical prologue or index of the action of the piece. Together with Monte Verde, the illustrious founder of the school of Lombardy, he introduced what are called dissonances in music, and invented the da Capo. Among his more celebrated operas, may be cited Mithridates, Cyrus, Telemachns, Turnus, Regulus, and the Principessa Fedele. Besides these compositions, he wrote more than two hundred masses, and a great number of cantatas, many of which continue to be sung in Italy, even at the present time. the talent of invention, and to it united that of the most perfect execution. He excelled in the force and vivacity of musical images and expression,—contributed greatly to the perfection of the recitative; and, in all his compositions, strove as far as could be done, to adapt his music to the sense of the poem.
To Scarlatti succeeded Chrislofano Carcsani and Dominica Gizzi, the latter of whom attained a high renown in the art, and rendered great services to the school in which he had received his instruction.
The next composer whom we shall notice is Domenico Scarlatti, the son of the individual of the same name whom we have already cited. Like his father, Domenico travelled much,—visited most of the schools of Italy, and particularly that of Venice, where he composed operas, and became intimately acquainted with the celebrated Handel. From Venice, he next proceeded to Lisbon, where he was called to direct the music of the royal chapel, and composed operas and sacred pieces which were universally admired. He afterwards visited Rome, Vienna, and Madrid, and composed in each of these cities, operas which met with unbounded and merited applause. The next after Domenico Scarlatti, in point of eminence, is Niccolo Porpora, who derived his instruction from Alessandre Scarlatti, and distinguished himself at Vienna and Venice, by his operas of Jiriane c T&eo, and
As regards Durante, we have only room to remark, that no composer anterior to his time had united to the brilliancy and force characteristic of the school of Naples, so much true musical feeling and expression. Like Palestrina, he devoted himself principally to the composition of sacred music, for which, from his natural bent, he was admirably fitted; and he soon acquired in this species of music a high and merited renown, which he has retained to this day, for the elevation of sentiment that pervades his pieces. But Durante was particularly celebrated for his talent in the art of instruction, and for his improvements in the science of harmony. In support of this assertion, it may be remarked that the Neapolitan school is indebted to him for many of its most renowned pupils, and that he fixed on surer principles than had been done, what has been denominated modern tonality.
The next author of the Neapolitan school, whom we shall mention, is Niccolo Jomelli, who received his instruction from Leo. His first attempts at dramatic compositions evinced consummate skill in the art, and a natural feeling and expression seldom surpassed, or even equalled by his predecessors or contemporaries. Jomelli travelled much—delighted the inhabitants of Rome, Bologna, Venice, Vienna, Naples, Stuttgard, with his enchanting operas, and composed many pieces for the church, which have justly placed him in the highest rank among sacred composers. Jomelli wrote the music of many of the operas of Metastasio, to whom he was united by ties of the sincerest friendship. His principal dramatic works were VErrorc de Vamore, Edoardo, Ezio, Ricimiere, Didone, Eumene, Merope, Jichille in Sciro, Jfigenia, Tulestri, VJittilio Segolo, Demetrio, Vologesc, Bajazette, Jirmida, Demofoonte, &c.
To the same school belonged the celebrated Piccini, who was born at Bari, in 172S, and died at Passy, near Paris, in 1800. Piccini studied under Leo and Durante, and commenced his career of composer at the early age of twelve years. By the beautiful melody and the scientific harmony of his opera, Le Donne Dispettose, he silenced the clamours of Logroscino, long the favourite of the Neapolitans, and acquired the highest renown by the operas of Gelosia and Il Curioso del Propria Danno, which soon succeeded to the former. At Rome, whither he soon after went, he composed many operas of sterling merit, particularly La Cccchina, which has ever since remained a favouritc on the Italian stage. He afterwards visited Florence, Genoa, Turin, Milan, Venice; and, soon after his return to Naples, was called to France, where he acquired a high celebrity, and divided with Gluck the applause of the Parisian amateurs. The dispute between what were denominated the Gluckists and Piccinists, has made much noise among the dilettanti and literati of France. But we have not space to notice it here in detail. The first opera which Piccini caused to be performed at Paris was Roland, the poem of which was written by Marmontel; and such was his success on the occasion, that after the performance he was carried home in triumph by the admiring multitude. After continuing many years in France, he returned to Naples; but having expressed sentiments favourable to liberty in France, he met with a cold reception from his countrymen, and finally retired, with a constitution broken down by disease and mental affliction, to Passy, where, as we have seen, he terminated his mortal career. His principal works, besides those already mentioned, were Iphigenie en Tauride, Phaon, Jilys, Didon, Le Dormeur EveilU, Ch/tem?iestrr, Adelc dc Ponthieu, La Servo Onorata, Ionatha, &c. The number of his various compositions appears incredible, amounting as they do to one hundred and thirty-three Italian, and many French, operas—a considerable number of detached pieces, cantatas, oratorios, and some sacred music.
Among the other composers of the same school, who deserve an honourable mention here, are Pulmu, D^nfossi, Trajclla, Vento, Monopolli, but particularly Sacchini, Paesiello, Zingarelli, and Cimarosa, the immortal author of an immortal work, // Matrimonio Segreto. We are compelled, however, to dismiss them without a particular notice of their labours and of their success, and again to refer such of our readers as are desirous of acquiring much information on the various productions of these masters of the art, to the work of Count Orlofi", and to the Dictionnaire Hislorique des Musiciens, by Messrs. Choron and Fayolle.
On the subject of the Roman school of music, we cannot enter into a minute detail, as it would lead us much farther than we are allowed. It may be proper to remark, however, that although like the Neapolitan school it is distinguished by the fidelity with which the great passions of the soul are portrayed, and by the circumstance, that its pupils endeavoured to render melody the image of the sentiments, yet it differs somewhat from the former by the more austere and grave expression which is discovered in all productions that have issued from it,—a circumstance which may readily be regarded as a natural consequence of the habits and disposition of the Roman people. Among the most celebrated composers of this school, may be enumerated Palestrina, whose name we have already cited, and who devoted himself almost exclusively to sacred compositions,
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