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June 3, 1867; it contains a good deal of local colour drawn from Scotland.
Sullivan's first oratorio, The Prodigal Son, written in the summer of 1869, was composed for the Worcester Festival of 1869, and performed at the Crystal Palace, December 11, 1869. When in Paris, Sullivan had been struck by some Arab music, and in this oratorio he has made clever use of his recollections.
The next overture from Sullivan's pen was the Overture di Ballo, com. posed for the Birmingham Festival of 1870.
He also wrote some incidental music for the Merchant of Venice, written for a revival of that play at Manchester in the autumn of 1871, when Charles Calvert was manager of the theatre. The play was put on the stage with great magnificence; the music was original, and full of character and spirit from beginning to end.
The Cantata On Shore and Sea was composed for the opening of the London International Exhibition in May, 1871, when Sullivan repre. sented the English School; Gounod contributed a Motet, Gallia, for France; Hiller, a Grand March, for Germany; and an Italian piece, a four-part chorale set to some stanzas of Lord Houghton's, was the work of Pinguti.
The Times of May 2 wrote as follows :
“ Last, not least, England was represented, and we may add, worthily represented, by Mr. Arthur Sullivan, who contributed a dramatic cantata, entitled On Shore and Sea.
“ The music of Mr. Sullivan is full of interest, but the work is of too great importance to be dismissed in the few lines which just now are all we can possibly devote to it. ... In certain parts of the cantata the young composer has employed the strange intervals which distinguish the Oriental, and especially the Turkish and Egyptian, styles of melody. He has done this, moreover, with eminent success, because he has done it in such a way that genuine music is never kept out of mind. From the brief orchestral introduction, which ushers in the opening chorus of sailors, to the end, there is always something to invite attention; and, in fact, hardly one of the ten 'numbers' into which the cantata is divided can be set aside as unworthy special notice. Mr. Sullivan himself conducted the performance, which was received with high favour, and what is more, thoroughly deserved it.”
A Festival Te Deum, written for the recovery of the Prince of Wales, at the request of the Directors of the Crystal Palace, was first performed at a grand fête there May 1st, 1872, and repeated on the 18th July, 1872, on the same scale.
Some of Sullivan's music, including his Symphony, was performed at Leipzig, at the Gewandhaus Concerts, in 1867—a fact which is no small honour to an Englishman. The Festival Te Deum was done last year with great éclat in Paris, and the overture“ In Memoriam was played twice at the celebrated Conservatoire Concerts, so that the composer may fairly be said to have attained a European reputation. He is the first English composer whose works were ever done in Paris at the Conservatoire Concerts; the honour of production at Leipzig he shares with Sterndale Bennett and Macfarren.
Sullivan was made Principal of the National Training School for Music some years ago, an important position, involving a considerable influence upon the tone-culture of the country.
He has a great gift for conducting, which is quite distinct from the gift of a composer. He took the Glasgow Concerts, the first important concerts which he conducted, in 1875-76 and 1876-7. The stick is as natural to him as the pen. He has more than once conducted at the Crystal Palace, when his own works have been done. He also conducted the English Concerts at the Paris Exhibition; and in 1878-9 the Promenade Concerts at Covent Garden.
There is more than the rhythmic wave of the bâton involved in the conducting of concerts. There is the business of engaging the band, the solo singers, of giving each their parts, of selecting a programme to meet the public taste, a practical list containing something of novelty, of correcting errors in the scores and mistakes in the singers, of finding suitable occasions when one concert will not clash with another; all these details and worries make the business of a conductor no sinecure, especially when, as in Mr. Sullivan's case, his health is not very strong, and he suffers a good deal.
The Light of the World, the libretto by Mr. George Grove, so well known in the musical as well as the literary world, and one of Mr. Sullivan's oldest friends, was brought out in 1873. It illustrates the history of the Life of Christ. This work has been frequently produced since, as, for instance, at the Festival at Liverpool, and at the Hereford Festival of this year. It contains some beautiful music.
The Light of the World is the last serious work Sullivan has done. Some incidental music to Henry the Eighth was done for Calvert in the autumn of 1877, with a song, the words of which Henry VIII. was very fond of, “Pastime with Good Company.” The department of music that has made Sullivan most famous lately is comic opera. His first work of this kind, The Sorcerer, a two-act opera, was done in conjunction with W. S. Gilbert, and brought out at the Opera Comique, where it performed an enormous number of times. It was followed by H.M.S. Pinafore, which most people in England have heard, and which in America has created a furore, nothing like which has been known since the Jenny Lind fever. The composer has suffered by this piracy not only pecuniarily, but also artistically, as, because they have no correct orchestral score over there, his music has been set for the orchestra in a manner approximate only to the right one.
A popular operetta of his is the Trial by Jury, the book being by Burnand. Sullivan's brother Frederick created the part of the Judge in this piece, and died from the overwork consequent upon the continued performance of it.
Sullivan's songs are more popular than any English songs of the last thirty or forty years. Such as “ The Snow lies White," “O Fair Dove, O Fond Dove,” “Will he come ? ” “The Lost Chord,” “Sweethearts," “Let me dream again,” have had an extraordinary sale.
An amusing evidence of the extent to which these songs are in vogue is afforded by a character in William Black's amusing “True Legend of a Billiard Club." Referring to the dove supposed to be perched on a rigging, and addressed in repeated appeals by a lady at sea, the stout squire, who has heard the said dove adjured in his drawing-room and the drawing-rooms of his friends by all his feminine acquaintance till his prosaic soul is weary of it, whispers hoarsely, “ Gad, sir ! if I could only find that pigeon flying about my lawn, and if I had a cartridge handy, I'd stop that woman's screeching for the brute pretty quick.”
Mr. Sullivan has also turned out some exquisite part songs, which are published by Novello, and will always keep up his reputation, such as “O hush thee, my Babie,” “ Joy to the Victors, &c." Among other works. may be named a Morning Service in D, Te Deum and Jubilate; several anthems, including the famous anthem “ Sing O Heavens," and "O God, Thou art worthy to be praised.” The very remarkable hymn, “The Son of God goes forth to War,” Mr. Sullivan has arranged to St. Anne's tune, set in harmony, distributed among voices, and worked up with a great effect, and it
now a favourite hymn in many a church choir. We must not omit here to mention the collection of hymn tunes that he has edited for the Christian Knowledge Society, in which he has enriched the Church with many a fine and favourite tune. “Onward Christian Soldiers” is a good specimen of these melodies, which are all eminently singable and appropriate.
Sullivan is one of the best accompanyists upon the piano, a greater art in itself than the average accompanyist realises. By his songs he was no doubt most widely known, until his recent great success in comic opera. Songs are the profitable things to a composer if they have any success at all. Considerable works, such as oratorios and operas, bring more honour than profit.
Mr. Sullivan is a bachelor, and, as will be seen by our dates, is still quite a young man. He has lived for a number of years in Victoriastreet, where he does the bulk of his work, the gloom of London streets bringing no cloud upon the brightness of his musical thoughts. He is shortly proposing to visit America, taking with him a new work, which it is proposed to bring out there.
It cannot be said in his case that a prophet is without honour in his
own country, for he has had the singular distinction of receiving Honorary Degrees of Doctor from the Universities of both Oxford and Cambridge. He has also had conferred upon him several foreign distinctions and orders, the Legion of Honour, House of Coburg, &c. A life such as his is to be prized, for his work gives a pure and high pleasure to the world, an overflowing cup of delight, with nothing bitter in it.
Within a castle haunted,
As castles were of old,
And on its rim of gold
“Whatever bard would win me
Three bards of lyre and viol,
By mandate of the king,
To find the magic string,
Then, after much essaying
The first,-a minstrel hoary,
Who many a rhyme had spun,-
Of battles fought and won ;
Although the bard was lauded,