Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/120

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The letter B. or col B. in a score is an abbreviation of Basso, or col Basso. (See also Accidentals, Alphabet.)

[ F. T. ]

BABAN, Gracian, a Spanish composer, musical director in the cathedral of Valencia from 1650 to 1665. His masses and motets, written for several choirs, are preserved at Valencia. A Psalm of his is given by Eslava.

BABBINI, Matteo, a celebrated Italian tenor, was born at Bologna, 1754 [App. p.526 "Feb. 19"]. He was intended for the practice of medicine; but, on the death of his parents, took refuge with an aunt, the wife of a musician named Cortoni. The latter instructed him, and cultivated his voice, making him a good musician and first-rate singer. His début was so brilliant that he was at once engaged for the opera of Frederick the Great. After staying a year at Berlin, he went to Russia, into the service of Catherine II. In 1785, he sang with success at Vienna; and in the next season in London, with Mara, when he took, though a tenor, the first man's part, there being no male soprano available. As far as method and knowledge went, he was a very fine singer, but he did not please the English cognoscenti; his voice was produced with effort, and was not strong enough to have much effect. He sang again, however, the next year (1787), and returning to Italy in 1789, appeared in Cimarosa's 'Orazi,' and was afterwards engaged at Turin. In 1792, the King of Prussia recalled him to Berlin, where he distinguished himself in the opera of 'Dario.' During the next ten years he sang at the principal Theatres of Italy, and appeared in 1802, at Bologna, though then 50 years old, in the 'Manlj' of Niccolini, and Mayer's 'Misteri Eleusini.' He now retired from the stage and settled in his native town, where he lived generally esteemed and honoured for the noble use he made of his riches; and died Sept. 21, 1816. His friend, Doctor Pietro Brighenti, published 'Elogio di Matteo Babbini,' Bologna, 1822.

[ J. M. ]

BACCUSI, Ippolito, an Italian monk and musical composer of the 16th century. The dates of his birth and death are unknown, but we find him Maestro di Cappella at the cathedral of Verona in 1590. Scipione Cerreto gives an indication of his exact epoch by saying that he had composed works previously to 1550. This statement Fétis disbelieves, but he does not say why. Baccusi was one of the first composers who introduced into his accompaniments to church music instrumental parts in unison with the voice, in order to support the singers. The works in which he applied this system are printed; the first is intituled 'Hippolyti Baccusi, Eccl. Cath. Veronæ musicæ magistri, missæ tres, tum viva voce tum omni instrumentorum genere cantatu accommodatissimæ, cum octo vocibus, Anadino, Venice, 1596.' The other is a volume containing the psalms used at vespers, with two Magnificats. It has a frontispiece occupied by an analogous inscription of even greater length and, if possible, of even less elegant latinity. The rest of his compositions consist principally of masses, madrigals, mottetti, and psalms, and were published for the most part during his lifetime by Venetians such as Gardano Vincenti and Rampazetti. Isolated pieces of his are found in several miscellaneous publications of the period. Perhaps the most interesting of these is that contributed by him to the volume dedicated by fourteen different Italian composers to their great contemporary, Palestrina.

[ E. H. P. ]

BACH. Though the name of Bach is familiar to all lovers of music, it is not generally known that it was borne by a very numerous family of musicians who occupied not merely honourable but prominent places in the history of their art through a period of nearly two hundred years. In this family musical talent was as it were bequeathed, and it seems almost like a law of nature that the scattered rays of the gift should after a hundred years finally concentrate in the genius of Johann Sebastian, whose originality, depth, and force, exhibit a climax such as only a few great spirits of any time or country have attained. But from this climax the artistic power of the race began to diminish, and with the second generation after its great representative was entirely extinguished. The history of the Bach family is not only a guide towards a just appreciation of the greatness of Sebastian, but it has an independent interest of its own through the eminence of some of its individual members. Born and bred in the Thüringen, the heart of Germany, the family for the most part remained there throughout two centuries; the sons of Sebastian being the first to spread to more distant parts. This stationary condition naturally produced a strong family feeling. According to tradition meetings of all the members took place for the purpose of social intercourse and musical recreation, and it seems that the brothers often married sisters. The Bachs always learned from one another, for they rarely had means for seeking their education elsewhere; thus the artistic sense and capacity of the family was as we have said, hereditary, and by its undisturbed activity during a whole century became an important element in the development of Johann Sebastian. To this family unity also we may ascribe the moral excellence and cultivation of the Bachs.

Fully to appreciate the importance of these qualities in the development of the race, we must consider that these predecessors of Johann Sebastian lived in the miserable time of the Thirty Years' War, and in the midst of the moral indifferentism and collapse of intellectual power which distinguished that unhappy period. Yet the house of Bach exhibits an almost uniform example of moral worth together with a constant endeavour after the highest ideals—qualities which are all the greater because under the circumstances of the time they could hardly meet with recognition or encouragement.

In course of time the towns of Arnstadt, Erfurt, and Eisenach became the centres of the family; there we find its most important representatives, and an uninterrupted sequence through several generations filling the same office; so that, for