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No. CVI.

JANUARY, 1840.

ART. I. The Life of Haydn, in a Series of Letters written at Vienna; followed by the Life of Mozart, with Observations on Metastasio, and on the Present State of Music in France and Italy. Translated from the French of L. A. C. BOMBET, with Notes by WILLIAM GARDINER, Author of "The Music of Nature." Boston: J. H. Wilkins and R. B. Carter. 1839. 16mo. pp. 389.

WHEN this title-page first met our eye, we were pleased with the thought, that a new book, or at least a book with new notes, had appeared, upon the lives of these Fathers of Music. We hailed it as a happy omen, that the public mind was turning back to those undefiled wells, to the principles of a pure taste; and that, amidst the dazzle and glitter of an artificial and exaggerated style, the beauties of these great composers were again beginning to be appreciated. In this expectation we have been disappointed.

There is nothing new in the volume but the title-page, and the preface of the American publishers. The original "Letters" by Bombet were written between the years 1808 and 1814. These were soon after translated into English, and published with notes, by the author of the "Sacred Melodies," William Gardiner. A reprint of the work was issued in Providence, Rhode Island, by Miller and HutchVOL. L. - No. 106.


ens, and Samuel Avery, in 1820. Since that time, the author of the Notes marked "G.," has become a favorite from his "Music of Nature," published in 1832, and his name is therefore given in the title-page of the new reprint, as more likely to render the work attractive.

But, although the work contains nothing which has not been before the public for more than twenty years in England, and nearly as long in America, we feel indebted to the publishers for the reprint of 1839. The original work is interesting; it contains much information, and much pleasant discussion; it is written con amore by a hearty admirer of Haydn and Mozart, and one apparently capable of appreciating their merits. No one, who has any love for music, can fail to be interested by the lively remarks and the pleasant style of the French writer. And as for the notes, by Gardiner, we agree with the writer quoted in the new preface, that, "here he has shown some of his finest powers of description." The work is worthy of a place in the libraries of intelligent men, and Messrs. Wilkins and Carter have published it in becoming style. Their volume would not disgrace the fastidious centre-table, or the fancy book-case; whereas the old Providence edition was very shabby, and fit only to be thrown into a rubbish closet, with departed spelling-books, and the mortal remains of dictionaries, grammars, and geographies.

Moreover, it is a good book to be presented to a community, among whom music is, comparatively, but just transplanted. Musical taste, in this country, is yet to be formed. We have nothing like national music, because we have nothing like national taste. We have not even a decided preference for any particular style. We like the music of Haydn, or of Handel; but we do not find, that it is more congenial to our fancy than that of Rossini, or Bellini. We do not decide in favor of Italian music over that of Germany, or of French music over that of Scotland. On the whole, perhaps, the simple Scottish airs are the most generally relished in America. But the preference is not decided enough in favor of any class or style of music, to indicate that there is here, as in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, a distinctly marked national taste.

The inquiry is interesting, whether such a taste is the gift of nature, or rather a result of cultivation. If it be the

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