Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/366

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

masters. In conjunction with Fayolle he then undertook the publication of his 'Dictionnaire des Musiciens' (2 vols., 8vo., Paris, 1810–11). Though devoted to his scientific studies and hampered with an unsuccessful business, Choron could not resist the temptation of trying his powers as a composer, and gave to the public 'La Sentinelle,' a song still popular, and introduced in many French plays. But his great scheme was his 'Introduction a l'étude générale et raisonnée de la Musique,' a capital book, which he left unfinished, because his necessities obliged him to devote his time to teaching music and to accept the situation of 'Directeur de la musique des fêtes publiques' from 1812 to the fall of Napoleon. He was appointed director of the Académie royale de Musique (Opera) in January 1816, but the appointment having been rudely revoked in 1817 he founded a school for the study of music, which was supported by the government from 1824 to 1830 under the title of 'Institution royale de Musique classique et religieuse,' but declined rapidly when deprived of external aid. Amongst the musicians educated by Choron in this famous school we shall mention only the composers Dietsch, Monpou, Boulanger-Kunzé, G. Duprez, Scudo, Jansenne, and Nicou-Choron; the lady singers Clara Novello, Rosine Stolz, and Hébert-Massy.

The premature death of Choron may be attributed to disappointments and difficulties after the fall of Charles X. This learned musician and very kind-hearted man composed a Mass for three voices, a Stabat for three voices, and a number of hymns, psalms, and vocal pieces for the church; but his best titles to fame, after the works already mentioned, are his translations and editions of Albrechtsberger's works, his 'Méthode concertante de Musique à plusieurs parties' (Paris, 1817), his 'Méthode de Plain-Chant,' his 'Manuel complet de Musique vocale et instrumentale ou Encyclopédie musicale,' which was published by his assistant Adrien de La Fage in 1836–38 (Paris, 6 vols. and 2 vols. of examples), and several other didactic treatises, which contributed greatly to improve the direction of musical studies in France. In fact, Choron may be considered as a pedagogue of genius, and he had the credit of opening a new field to French musicians, such as Fétis, Geo. Kastner, and Adrien de La Fage, A full list of his essays, titles, and prefaces of intended works, revised treatises of Italian, German, and French didactic writers would be too long for this dictionary; it is given by Fétis in a remarkable article on Choron in his 'Biographie Universelle.' For more detailed information the reader may be referred to that work and to the 'Eloges' of Gauthier (Caen, 1845) and A. de La Fage (Paris, 1843). Scudo, in his 'Critique et Littérature musicales' (Paris, 1852, p. 333), has given a vivid picture of Choron as director of his school of music. Choron's drawback appears to have been a want of perseverance, and a propensity to forsake his plans before he had carried them out. But he exercised a very useful influence on musical education in France, and will not soon be forgotten there.

[ G. C. ]

CHORUS. 1. The body of singers at an opera, oratorio, or concert, by whom the choruses are sung.

2. Compositions intended to be sung by a considerable body of voices—not like glees, which are written for a single voice to each part, or like part-songs, which may be sung indifferently by single voices or larger numbers. Choruses may be written for any number of parts, from unison (Bach, No. 5, in 'Ein' feste Burg'; Mendelssohn, parts of No. 7 in 'Lauda Sion') and two parts (Haydn, Credo of Mass No. 3; Mendelssohn, No. 2 of 95th Psalm) to 40 or 50; but the common number is from 4 to 8. Handel mostly writes for 4, though occasionally, as in 'Acis and Galatea,' for 5, and, in 'Israel in Egypt,' for 8, divided into two choirs. In the latter days of the Italian school, Gabrielli, Pitoni, etc., wrote masses and motets for as many as 10 and 12 choirs of 4 voices each. Tallis left a chorus in 40 independent parts, called his '40-part song.' Choruses for 2 choirs are called double choruses; those in Handel's 'Israel in Egypt' and Bach's 'Matthew Passion' are the finest in the world. The two choirs answer one another, and the effect is quite different from that of 8 real parts, such as Palestrina's 'Confitebor,' 'Laudate,' or 'Domine in virtute' (see De Witt's ed. ii. 132, etc.), Gibbons's 'O clap your hands,' or Mendelssohn's 'When Israel out of Egypt came.' Handel often begins with massive chords and plain harmony, and then goes off into fugal treatment. In the 'Darkness' chorus in 'Israel,' he introduces choral recitative; and Mendelssohn does something similar in the chorus in 'St. Paul,' 'Far be it from thy path.' In his 'Kirchen Cantaten' Bach's choruses are often grounded on a chorale worked among all the parts, or sung by one of them, with independent imitative counterpoint in the rest. But for these varieties see the article Form.

In the opera the chorus has existed from the first, as is natural from the fact that opera began by an attempt to imitate the form of Greek plays, in which the chorus filled an all-important part. Till Gluck's time the chorus was ranged in two rows, and however stirring the words or music they betrayed no emotion. It was he who made them mix in the action of the piece. In modern operas the choruses are absolutely realistic, and represent the peasants, prisoners, fishermen, etc., who form part of the dramatis personæ of the play.

[App. p.591 adds that "the word was very commonly used, in the 17th and 18th centuries, to denote the concerted conclusion of duets, trios, etc., and was in fact the exact equivalent of our 'ensemble.' The meaning of the word has frequently been misunderstood, as for in many modern editions of Purcell's well-known duet 'Hark, my Daridcar!' where the last ensemble section, beginning 'So ready and quick is a spirit of air' has been omitted, no doubt under the impression that the word 'Chorus' meant that these bars were to be sung by many voices. Conclusive proof that the word was used commonly in this sense is afforded in many of Handel's Italian operas, in the scores of which the names of the quartet of soloists are placed at the beginning of their respective lines in ensemble numbers, though the movement is entitled 'Coro.'"]

[ G. ]

CHOUQUET, Gustave, born at Havre April 16, 1819, has written the verses of a great many choruses and songs. He contributed for a number of years to 'La France musicale,' and 'L'Art Musical' still giving occasional musical articles to 'Le Ménestrel' and the 'Gazette musicale'; but his chief works are 'Histoire de la Musique dramatique en France, depuis ses origines jusqu'a nos jours,' Paris, 1873, and 'Le Musée du Conservatoire national de Musique,' Paris, 1875, two works containing original views and much in-