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A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chrysander, Friedrich

CHRYSANDER, Friedrich, born July 8, 1826, at Lübthee, in Mecklenburg, studied at the university of Rostock, lived for some time in England, and now resides on his own estate at Bergedorf, near Hamburg. Chrysander is known to the musical world chiefly through his profound and exhaustive researches on Handel, to which he has devoted his life. His biography of Handel, standing evidence of these studies, is not yet completed.[1] In detail and historical research this work is all that can be wished, but its view of Handel's abstract importance as a musician must be accepted with reservation, and has indeed roused considerable opposition. It cannot be denied that Chrysander's bias for Handel in some measure prejudices his judgment. He represents him not only as the culminating point of a previous development, and the master who perfected the oratorio, but as the absolute culminating point of all music, beyond whom further progress is impossible. While holding these views Chrysander is naturally a declared opponent of all modern music; he is also partial, if not unjust, in his criticisms on the older masters, such as J. S. Bach. Besides these biographical studies Chrysander is occupied in editing the complete works of Handel for the German 'Handel-Gesellschaft.' [ Handel.] His laborious collations of the original MSS. and editions, his astounding familiarity with the most minute details, and his indefatigable industry, combine to make this edition a work of the highest importance, at once worthy of the genius of Handel and honourable to the author. Amongst other writings of Chrysander .may be mentioned two admirable treatises, 'Über die Moll-tonart in Volksgesängen,' and 'Über das Oratorium' (1853); also 'Die Jahrbücher für Musikalische Wissenschaft,' of which 2 vols., 1863–67, have been published (Breitkopf & Härtel); and finally a number of articles in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipsic (which he edited from 1868 to 71), violently criticising the productions of the modern school. He has also published some excellent editions of Bach's Klavierwerke (4 vols., with preface; Wolfenbüttel, 1856), and Carissimi's oratorios Jephte, Judicium Salomonis, Jonas, and Baltazar, which appeared in his collection 'Denkmüler der Tonkunst' (Weissenborn, Bergedorf). Upon the whole it would not be unfair to say that Chrysander is more a learned professor than a musician. For his research and industry every one is grateful to him; but his opinions as a conservative critic have provoked much vehement, not to say personal, opposition.

[ A. M. ]

[App. p.591 adds "For his chief work as editor of Handel's works see Händel-Gesellschaft in this Appendix. Of the 'Denkmäler der Tonkunst' edited by him, vol. 1 of Corelli and vol. 2 of Couperin are published and the second and final volumes of each nearly ready; and the Te Deum of Urio is published. The 'Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung' was edited by him from 1869 to 1871 and again from 1875 to 1883, when it became extinct. The 'Jahrbücher für musikalische Wissenschaft' ceased to appear after vol. 2. His life of Handel has been laid by on account of the constant and absorbing labour on the edition of Handel's works; but it is believed that there is still hope of its resumption and completion."]

[ R. M. ]

  1. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipsic: vol. 1, 1858; vol. 2, 1860; vol. 3, part 1, 1867.