Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/71

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

proved itself incapable of even the most trifling improvement.

[ P. D. ]

AMBASSADRICE, L', opera in three acts; libretto by Scribe; music by Auber; first performed at the Opéra Comique, Dec. 21, 1836.

AMBER WITCH, THE, a romantic opera in four acts, by W. V. Wallace; libretto by H. F. Chorley; first produced at Her Majesty's Theatre, Feb. 28, 1861.

AMBROGETTI, Giuseppe, an excellent buffo, who appeared in 1807, and at Paris in 1815 in 'Don Giovanni'; and at the opera in London in 1817, where he was very successful. His voice was a bass of no great power, but he was an excellent actor, with a natural vein of humour, though often put into characters unsuited to him as a singer; yet he acted extremely well, and in a manner too horribly true to nature, the part of the mad father in Paer's beautiful opera 'Agnese,' while that of the daughter was sung by Camporese. He remained until the end of the season of 1821, in which his salary was £400. He married Teresa Strinasacchi the singer. The date of his death is not known. He was said to have become a monk in France; but in 1838 he was in Ireland, since which nothing has been heard of him.

[ J. M. ]

AMBROS, August Wilhelm. Born Nov. 17, 1816, at Mauth in Bohemia. By virtue of his 'Geschichte der Musik' (Breslau, Leuckart), the 4th vol. of which, reaching to Monteverde and Frescobaldi, appeared July 1878, he must be considered the greatest German authority on all questions concerning the history of European music from ancient Greece to the present day. In spite of having suffered till past his fiftieth year under that curse of dilletantism, serving two masters—being at the same time a hardworked employé in the Austrian Civil Service and an enthusiastic musician and littérateur, pianist, composer, critic and historian—his indomitable pluck and perseverance has enabled him to put forward a formidable array of writings on the history and æsthetics of music, all of which bear the stamp of a rich, highly cultured and very versatile mind. They are as remarkable for their many-sided learning and accuracy as for their lucid arrangement and brilliant diction. Ambros' father, postmaster and gentleman farmer, was a good linguist and excellent mathematician, and his mother, a sister of Kiesewetter, the historian of music, a good pianist of the old school and an accomplished singer. They gave him every chance to acquire the elements of modern culture at the gymnasium and subsequently at the university of Prague; drawing, painting, poetry were not forgotten; music only, which fascinated him above all things, and for instruction in which he passionately longed, was strictly prohibited. It was intended that he should enter the civil service, and music was considered both a dangerous and an undignified pastime. Nevertheless he learnt to play the piano on the sly, and worked hard by himself at books of Counterpoint and Composition. In 1840, after a brilliant career and with the title of doctor juris, he left the university and entered the office of the Attorney-General, where he steadily advanced to Referendarius in 1845, Prosecuting Attorney in matters of the press in 1848, &c. Soon after 1850, when he married, his reputation as a writer on musical matters spread beyond the walls of Prague. He answered Hanslick's pamphlet, 'Vom musikalisch Schönen,' in a little volume, 'Die Gränzen der Poesie und der Musik,' which brought down upon him, especially in Vienna, a shower of journalistic abuse, but which procured for him on the other hand the friendship and admiration of many of the foremost German musicians. It was followed by a series of elaborate essays: 'Culturhistorische Bilder aus der Musikleben der Gegenwart,' which were read with avidity and appeared in a second edition (Leipzig, Mathes) in 1865. Thereupon the firm of Leuckart engaged him to begin his 'History of Music,' his life's work. From 1860 to 1864 he was making researches towards it in the Court Library at Vienna, at Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome. In 1867 he was ransacking the Royal Library at Munich, one of the richest in Europe, and in 1868, 1869, and 1873 was again in Italy extending his quest as far as Naples. The third volume, reaching to Palestrina, was published in 1868. In 1872 and 1874 he published two series of 'Chips from his Workshop,' under the title of 'Bunte Blätter,' being essays on isolated musical and artistic subjects, and written in a sparkling non-technical manner, but full of matter interesting both to professional artists and dilettanti. He was the Professor of the History of Music at the University of Prague; and, thanks to the liberality of the Academy of Science at Vienna, was in possession of sufficient means and leisure to continue his important task. He appeared in public repeatedly as a pianist, and his compositions, Overtures to 'Othello,' and Calderon's 'Magico Prodigioso'; a number of pianoforte pieces, 'Wanderstücke,' 'Kinderstücke,' 'Landschaftsbilder'; numerous songs; a 'Stabat Mater,' two Masses in B flat and A minor, etc., most of which have a strong smack of Schumann, besides proving him to be a practical musician of far more than common attainments, give an additional weight to his criticisms, showing these to stand upon the firm ground of sound technical attainments. He died, June 28, 1876.

[ E. D. ]

AMBROSIAN CHANT. The ecclesiastical mode of saying and singing Divine Service, set in order by St. Ambrose for the cathedral church of Milan about A.D. 384. We have little historical information as to its peculiarities. That it was highly impressive we learn from the well-known passage in St. Augustine's 'Confessions,' book ix. chap. 6.

It has been stated without proof, and repeated by writer after writer on the subject, that St. Ambrose took only the four 'authentic' Greek modes, being the first, third, fifth, and seventh of the eight commonly called the Gregorian