i8 CHAP. II. His influence on the Romanticists, His stimulating Duality HISTORY OF PIANOFORTE MUSIC. which they were written have become totally obso- lete, the style, and even the technic of these compo- sitions is such, that whoever wishes to take a high rank as a pianist, must devote to them the most earnest and diligent study. This is doubly true if the pianist aims beyond mere technic, at high ar- tistic qualities and musicianship. Said Robert Schu- mann, "Make the 'Well Tempered Clavichord' your daily bread; then you will surely become a thorough musician." This advice, coming from a writer apparently as far removed as possible from the manner and style of Bach, is highly significant Chopin and Mendelssohn, who, with Schumann, made the Modern Romantic School of pianoforte writing, were diligent students of Bach, and drew a large part of their inspiration from him. These facts may help to show us how immensely important Bach's influence has been, and still is. The secret of this influence lies partly in the profound originality, and the inspired quality of Bach's genius, and partly in the unsurpassed intellectual grasp and power by which his works are everywhere characterized. The study of a Bach fugue is an intellectual exercise of the most salutary kind; an exercise, the severity of whose demands on mental concentration and on the power of sustained thinking, constitutes a most valuable means of intellectual discipline. There is no keener intellectual pleasure than these works afford, to him who has mastered them. Bach's instrumental works are the culmination of the polyphonic or contrapuntal style. Up to his
G. F. HAENDEL. time this was the prevalent manner of writing, and almost the only one cultivated by musicians. The monophonic style, indeed, had already a beginning. Opera airs and folk songs had been transferred to the keyed instruments; some dance music also had come to be written in this style. But the aim of all composers was to write good counterpoint, and that in the strict style, canons and fugues. Freer forms were also used, as described in the preceding chapter, which gave more scope to the fancy of the com- poser. Though founded on the fugal style, they often showed a reaching out after a freer, more elastic and flexible means of emotional expression than was to be found in the comparatively stiff formality of the strict mode of writing. One, especially, of these works, the Chromatic Fantasia of Bach, is a distinct prophecy of the Romantic School, which was to appear a hundred years later. GEORGE FREDERICK HAENDEL (commonly called in England Handel), was born in Halle, Feb. 23, 1685. His family was not musical, and whence he obtained his musical gifts it is not easy to determine. But gifts he had, which were not to be repressed. His father was a physician, who despised all art and artists, and even went to the extreme of keeping his son from school, lest he should there learn some- thing of music. But the boy learned somehow, in spite of his father. He used to practice on an old spinet, with muffled strings, which, with somebody's connivance, he had hidden in the garret, and by the time he was seven years old, had become no mean CHAP. II. Haendel. The boy learns to Play.