The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven, Volume II

The cover image was produced by the transcriber using an illustration from the book, and is placed in the public domain.

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THE LIFE OF LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
VOLUME II

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colophon

BEETHOVEN

After Mähler's Portrait of 1804
From the copy in possession of Mrs. Jabez Fox

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The Life of
Ludwig van Beethoven

By Alexander Wheelock Thayer

Edited, revised and amended from the original English manuscript and the German editions of Hermann Deiters and Hugo Riemann, concluded, and all the documents newly translated

By
Henry Edward Krehbiel

Volume II

Published by
The Beethoven Association
New York

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SECOND PRINTING

Copyright, 1921.
By Henry Edward Krehbiel

From the press of G. Schirmer, Inc., New York
Printed in the U. S. A.

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Contents of Volume II

 PAGE
Chapter I. The Year 1803—Cherubini’s Operas in Vienna and Rivalry between Schikaneder and the Imperial Theatres—Beethoven’s Engagement at the Theater-an-der-Wien—“Christus am Ölberg” again—Bridgetower and the “Kreutzer” Sonata—Career of the Violinist—Negotiations with Thomson for the Scottish Songs—New Friends—Willibrord Mähler’s Portrait of Beethoven—Compositions of the Year—A Pianoforte from Erard1
Chapter II. The Year 1804—Schikaneder Sells His Theatre and is then Dismissed from the Management—Beethoven’s Contract Ended and Renewed by Baron Braun—The “Sinfonia Eroica”—Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia—Quarrel between Beethoven and von Breuning—The “Waldstein” Sonata—Sonnleithner, Treitschke and Gaveaux—Paër and His Opera “Leonora”—“Fidelio” Begun—Beethoven’s Growing Popularity—Publications of the Year22
Chapter III. The Year 1805—Schuppanzigh’s First Quartet Concerts—First Public Performance of the “Eroica”—Pleyel—The Opera “Leonore,” or “Fidelio”; Jahn’s Study of the Sketchbook—The Singers and the Production—Vienna Abandoned by the Aristocracy as French Advance—Röckel’s Story of the Revision of the Opera—Compositions and Publications of the Year41
[vi]Chapter IV. The Year 1806—Repetitions of “Fidelio”: A Revision of the Book by von Breuning—Changes in the Opera—The “Leonore” Overtures—A Second Failure—Beethoven Withdraws the Opera from the Theatre—Marriage of Karl Kaspar van Beethoven—A Journey to Silesia—Beethoven Leaves Prince Lichnowsky’s Country-seat in Anger—George Thomson and His Scottish Songs—Compositions and Publications of the Year—The “Appassionata” Sonata and Rasoumowsky Quartets—Reception of the Quartets in Russia and England—The Concerto for Violin57
Chapter V. Beethoven’s Friends and Patrons in the First Lustrum of the Nineteenth Century—Archduke Rudolph, an Imperial Pupil—Count Andreas Rasoumowsky—Countess Erdödy—Baroness Ertmann—Marie Bigot—Therese Malfatti—Nanette Streicher—Doctor Zizius—Anecdotes78
Chapter VI. Princes and Counts as Theatrical Directors: Beethoven Appeals for an Appointment—Vain Expectations—Subscription Concerts at Prince Lobkowitz’s—The Symphony in B-flat—Overture to “Coriolan”—Contract with Clementi—Errors in the Dates of Important Letters—The Mass in C—A Falling-out with Hummel—The “Leonore” Overtures again—Performances of Beethoven’s Works at the “Liebhaber” Concerts—The Year 180798
Chapter VII. The Year 1808—Johann van Beethoven Collects a Debt and Buys an Apothecary Shop in Linz—Wilhelm Rust—Plans for New Operas—Sketches for “Macbeth”—Imitative Music and the “Pastoral” Symphony—Count Oppersdorff and the Fourth Symphony—A Call to Cassel—Organization of Rasoumowsky’s Quartet—Appreciation of Beethoven in Vienna: Disagreement with Orchestral Musicians—Mishaps at the Performance of the Choral Fantasia114
Chapter VIII. Jerome Bonaparte’s Invitation—A New Plan to Keep Beethoven in Vienna—The Annuity Contract—Ries’s Disappointment—Farewell to Archduke Rudolph in a Sonata—The Siege and Capitulation of Vienna—Seyfried’s “Studies”—Reissig’s Songs—An Abandoned Concert—Commission for Music to “Egmont”—Increased Cost of Living in Vienna—Dilatory Debtors—Products of 1809135
[vii]Chapter IX. The Years 1807-09: a Retrospect—Beethoven’s Intellectual Development and Attainments: Growth after Emancipation from Domestic Cares—His Natural Disposition—Eager in Self-Instruction—Interest in Oriental Studies—His Religious Beliefs—Attitude towards the Church163
Chapter X. The Year 1810—Disappointing Decrease in Productivity—The Music for “Egmont”—Money from Clementi, and a Marriage Project—A New Infatuation Prompts Attention to Dress—Therese Malfatti—Beethoven’s Relations with Bettina von Arnim—Her Correspondence with Goethe—A Question of Authenticity Discussed—Beethoven’s Letter to Bettina—An Active Year with the Publishers170
Chapter XI. The Year 1811—Bettina von Arnim—The Letters between Beethoven and Goethe—The Great Trio in B-flat—Music for a New Theatre in Pesth: “The Ruins of Athens” and “King Stephen”—Compositions and Publications of the Year196
Chapter XII. The Year 1812—Reduction of Income from the Annuity—The Austrian “Finanzpatent”—Legal Obligation of the Signers to the Agreement—First Performance of the Pianoforte Concerto in E-flat—A Second Visit to Teplitz—Beethoven and Goethe—Amalie Sebald—Beethoven in Linz—He Drives His Brother Johann into a Detested Marriage—Rode and the Sonata Op. 96—Spohr—The Seventh and Eighth Symphonies—Mälzel and His Metronome—A Canon and the Allegretto of the Eighth Symphony211
Chapter XIII. The Year 1813—Beethoven’s Journal—Illness of Karl Kaspar van Beethoven—He Requests the Appointment of His Brother as Guardian of His Son—Death of Prince Kinsky—Obligations under the Annuity Agreement—Beethoven’s Earnings—Mälzel and “Wellington’s Victory”—Battle Pieces and Their Popularity—Postponement of the Projected Visit to London—The Seventh Symphony—Spohr on Beethoven’s Conducting—Concerts, Compositions and Publications of the Year239
[viii]Chapter XIV. The Year 1814—Success of “Wellington’s Victory”—Umlauf Rescues a Performance—Revival and Revision of “Fidelio”—Changes Made in the Opera—Success Attained—The Eighth Symphony—Beethoven Plays in the Great Trio in B-flat—Anton Schindler Appears on the Scene—The Quarrel with Mälzel—Legal Controversy and Compromise—Moscheles and the Pianoforte Score of “Fidelio”—The Vienna Congress—Tribute from a Scottish Poet—Weissenbach—Tomaschek—Meyerbeer—Rasoumowsky’s Palace Destroyed by Fire261
Chapter XV. The Year 1815—New Opera Projects Considered—“Romulus and Remus”—Settlements with the Heirs of Prince Kinsky—Unjust Aspersions on the Conduct of Kinsky and Lobkowitz—“The Mount of Olives” in England—Negotiations with English Publishers—Diabelli—Charles Neate—Death of Karl Kaspar van Beethoven—His Wishes with regard to the Guardianship of His Son—Growth of Beethoven’s Intimacy with Schindler—Compositions and Publications of the Year304
Chapter XVI. The Year 1816—A Commission from the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde—Guardianship of Nephew Karl—Giannatasio del Rio—Beethoven’s Music in London—The Philharmonic Society—Three Overtures Composed, Bought and Discarded—Birchall and Neate—The Erdödys—Fanny Giannatasio—“An die ferne Geliebte”—Major-General Kyd—Accusations against Neate—Letters to Sir George Smart—Anselm Hüttenbrenner—The Year’s Productions329
Chapter XVII. The Year 1817—Beethoven and the Public Journals of Vienna—Fanny Giannatasio’s Journal—Extracts from Beethoven’s “Tagebuch”—The London Philharmonic Society again—Propositions Submitted by Ries—Nephew Karl and His Mother—Beethoven’s Pedagogical Suggestions to Czerny—Cipriani Potter—Marschner—Marie Pachler-Koschak—Another Mysterious Passion—Beethoven and Mälzel’s Metronome—An Unproductive Year358
Chapter XVIII. The Year 1818—Gift of a Pianoforte from John Broadwood—The Composer Takes Personal Charge of His Nephew—His Unfitness as Foster-father and Guardian—Abandonment of His Projected Visit to London—The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde’s Oratorio—The Nephew and a Mother’s Legal Struggle for Possession of Her Son—The Case Reviewed—The Predicate “van” and Beethoven’s Nobility—Archduke Rudolph Becomes Archbishop of Olmütz—Work on the Mass in D, Ninth Symphony and Grand Trio in B-flat390

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Chapter I

The Year 1803—Cherubini’s Operas in Vienna—Beethoven’s Engagement at the Theater-an-der-Wien—“Christus am Ölberg” again—Bridgetower and the “Kreutzer” Sonata—-Negotiations with Thomson—New Friends—Mähler’s Portrait of Beethoven.

Kotzebue, after a year of activity in Vienna as Alxinger’s successor in the direction, under the banker Baron von Braun, of the Court Theatre, then a year of exile in Siberia (1800), whence he was recalled by that semi-maniac Paul, who was moved thereto by the delight which the little drama “Der Leibkutscher Peters III.” had given him—then a short time in Jena, where his antagonism to Goethe broke out into an open quarrel, established himself in Berlin. There he began, with Garlieb Merkel (1802), the publication of a polemical literary journal called the “Freymüthige,” Goethe, the Schlegels and their party being the objects of their polemics. Spazier’s “Zeitung für die Elegante Welt” (Leipsic) was its leading opponent, until the establishment of a new literary journal at Jena.

At the beginning of 1803, Kotzebue was again in Vienna on his way to Italy. Some citations from the “Freymüthige” of this time have an especial value, as coming, beyond a doubt, from his pen. His position in society, his knowledge from experience of theatrical affairs in Vienna, his personal acquaintance with Beethoven and the other persons mentioned, all combine to enable him to speak with authority. An article in No. 58 (April 12) on the “Amusements of the Viennese after Carnival,” gives a peep into the salon-life of the capital, and introduces to us divers matters of so much interest, as to excuse the want of novelty in certain parts.

... Amateur concerts at which unconstrained pleasure prevails are frequent. The beginning is usually made with a quartet by Haydn or Mozart; then follows, let us say, an air by Salieri or Paër, then a pianoforte piece with or without another instrument obbligato, and the[2] concert closes as a rule with a chorus or something of the kind from a favorite opera. The most excellent pianoforte pieces that won admiration during the last carnival were a new quintet[1] by Beethoven, clever, serious, full of deep significance and character, but occasionally a little too glaring, here and there Odensprünge in the manner of this master; then a quartet by Anton Eberl, dedicated to the Empress, lighter in character, full of fine yet profound invention, originality, fire and strength, brilliant and imposing. Of all the musical compositions which have appeared of late these are certainly two of the best. Beethoven has for a short time past been engaged, at a considerable salary, by the Theater-an-der-Wien, and will soon produce at that playhouse an oratorio of his composition entitled “Christus am Ölberg.” Amongst the artists on the violin the most notable are Clement, Schuppanzigh (who gives the concerts in the Augarten in the summer) and Luigi Tomasini. Clement (Director of the orchestra an-der-Wien) is an admirable concert player; Schuppanzigh performs quartets very agreeably. Good dilettanti are Eppinger, Molitor and others. Great artists on the pianoforte are Beethofen [sic], Hummel, Madame Auernhammer and others. The famous Abbé Vogler is also here at present, and plays fugues in particular with great precision, although his rather heavy touch betrays the organist. Among the amateurs Baroness Ertmann plays with amazing precision, clearness and delicacy, and Fräulein Kurzbeck touches the keys with high intelligence and deep feeling. Mesdames von Frank and Natorp, formerly Gerardi and Sessi, are excellent singers.

A few words may be added to this picture from other sources. Salieri’s duties being now confined to the sacred music of the Imperial Chapel, Süssmayr being far gone in the consumption of which he died on Sept. 16 (of this year—1803), Conti retaining but the name of orchestral director (he too died the next year), Liechtenstein and Weigl were now the conductors of the Imperial Opera; Henneberg and Seyfried held the same position under Schikaneder, as in the old house, so now in the new.

Schuppanzigh’s summer concerts in the Augarten, and Salieri’s Widows and Orphans concerts at Christmas and in Holy Week, were still the only regular public ones. Vogler had come from Prague in December, and Paër, who had removed to Dresden at Easter, 1802, was again in Vienna to produce his cantata “Das Heilige Grab,” at the Widows and Orphans Concert. It was a period of dearth at Vienna in operatic composition. At the Court Theatre Liechtenstein had failed disastrously; Weigl had not been able to follow up the success of his “Corsär,” and several years more elapsed before he obtained a permanent name in musical annals by his “Schweizerfamilie.” Salieri’s style had become too familiar to all Vienna[3] longer to possess the charms of freshness and novelty. In the Theater-an-der-Wien, Teyber, Henneberg, Seyfried and others composed to order and executed their work satisfactorily enough—indeed, sometimes with decided, though fleeting, success. But no new work, for some time past, composed to the order of either of these theatres, had possessed such qualities as to secure a brilliant and prolonged existence. From another source, however, a new, fresh and powerful musical sensation had been experienced during the past year at both: and in this wise:

Cherubini’s Operas in Vienna

Schikaneder produced, on the 23rd of March, a new opera which had been very favorably received at Paris, called “Lodoiska,” the music composed “by a certain Cherubini.” The applause gained by this opera induced the Court Theatre to send for the score of another opera by the same composer, and prepare it for production on the 14th of August, under the title “Die Tage der Gefahr.” Schikaneder, with his usual shrewdness, meantime was secretly rehearsing the same work, of which Seyfried in the beginning of July had made the then long journey to Munich to obtain a copy, and on the 13th—one day in advance of the rival stage—the musical public was surprised and amused to see “announced on the bill-board of the Wiener Theater the new opera ‘Graf Armand, oder Die zwei unvergessliche Tage.’” In the adaptation and performance of the work, each house had its points of superiority and of inferiority; on the whole, there was little to choose between them; the result in both was splendid. The rivalry between the two stages became very spirited. The Court Theatre selected from the new composer’s other works the “Medea,” and brought it out November 6. Schikaneder followed, December 18, with “Der Bernardsberg” (“Elise”), “sadly mutilated.” Twenty years later Beethoven attested the ineffaceable impression which Cherubini’s music had made upon him. While the music of the new master was thus attracting and delighting crowded audiences at both theatres, the wealthy and enterprising Baron Braun went to Paris and entered into negotiations with Cherubini, which resulted in his engagement to compose one or more operas for the Vienna stage. Besides this “a large number of new theatrical representations from Paris” were expected (in August, 1802) upon the Court stage. “Baron Braun, who is expected to return from Paris, is bringing the most excellent ballets and operas with him, all of which will be performed here most carefully according to the taste of the French.” Thus the “Allg. Mus. Zeitung.”

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These facts bring us to the most valuable and interesting notice contained in the article from the “Freymüthige”—the earliest record of Beethoven’s engagement as composer for the Theater-an-der-Wien.

Zitterbarth, the merchant with whose money the new edifice had been built and put in successful operation, “who had no knowledge of theatrical matters outside of the spoken drama,” left the stage direction entirely in the hands of Schikaneder. In the department of opera that director had a most valuable assistant in Sebastian Meier—the second husband of Mozart’s sister-in-law, Mme. Hofer, the original Queen of Night—a man described by Castelli as a moderately gifted bass singer, but a very good actor, and of the noblest and most refined taste in vocal music, opera as well as oratorio; to whom the praise is due of having induced Schikaneder to bring out so many of the finest new French works, those of Cherubini included. It is probable, therefore, that, just now, when Baron von Braun was reported to have secured Cherubini for his theatre, and it became necessary to discover some new means of keeping up a successful competition, Meier’s advice may have had no small weight with Schikaneder. Defeat was certain unless the operas, attractive mainly from their scenery and grotesque humor, founded upon the “Thousand and One Nights” and their thousand and one imitations, and set to trivial and commonplace tunes, should give place to others of a higher order, quickened by music more serious, dignified and significant.

Whether Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler was really a great and profound musician, as C. M. von Weber, Gänsbacher and Meyerbeer held him to be, or a charlatan, was a matter much disputed in those days, as the same question in relation to certain living composers is in ours. Whatever the truth was, by his polemical writings, his extraordinary self-laudation, his high tone at the courts whither he had been called, his monster concerts, and his almost unperformable works, he had made himself an object of profound curiosity, to say the least. Moreover, his music for the drama “Hermann von Staufen, oder das Vehmgericht,” performed October 3, 1801, at the Theater-an-der-Wien (if the same as in “Hermann von Unna,” as it doubtless was), was well fitted to awaken confidence in his talents. His appearance in Vienna just now was, therefore, a piece of good fortune for Schikaneder, who immediately engaged him for his theatre.

Engaged to Compose an Opera

Whether Beethoven had talents for operatic composition, no one could yet know; but his works had already spread to[5] Paris, London, Edinburgh, and had gained him the fame of being the greatest living instrumental composer—Father Haydn of course excepted—and this much might be accepted as certain: viz., that his name alone, like Vogler’s, would secure the theatre from pecuniary loss in the production of one work; and, perhaps—who could foretell?—he might develop powers in this new field which would raise him to the level of even Cherubini! He was personally known to Schikaneder, having played in the old theatre, and his “Prometheus” music was a success at the Court Theatre. So he, too, was engaged. The correspondent of the “Zeitung für die Elegante Welt” positively states, under date of June 29th: “Beethoven is composing an opera by Schikaneder.” There is nothing very improbable in this, though circumstances intervened which prevented the execution of such a project. Still the fact remains, that Schikaneder—that strange compound of wit and absurdity; of poetic instinct and grotesque humor; of shrewd and profitable enterprise and lavish prodigality; who lived like a prince and died like a pauper—has connected his name honorably with both Mozart and Beethoven.

These plain and obvious facts have been so misrepresented as to make it appear that this engagement of Beethoven was a grand stroke of policy conceived and executed by Baron von Braun, who, at the Theater-an-der-Wien (“newly built and to be opened in 1804”), had suddenly become aware of a genius and talent, to which, notwithstanding the “Prometheus” music, at the Imperial Opera, he had been oblivious during the preceding ten years! The date of the transaction is a sufficient confutation of this; as also of the notion that the success of the “Christus am Ölberg” led to his engagement. On the contrary, it was his engagement that enabled Beethoven to obtain the use of the Theater-an-der-Wien to produce that work in a concert to which we now come.

The “Wiener Zeitung” of Saturday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 30, 1803, contained the following

Notice

On the 5th (not the 4th) of April, Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will produce a new oratorio set to music by him, “Christus am Ölberg,” in the R. I. privil. Theater-an-der-Wien. The other pieces also to be performed will be announced on the large bill-board.

Beethoven must have felt no small confidence in the power of his name to awaken the curiosity and interest of the musical public, for he doubled the prices of the first chairs, tripled those[6] of the reserved and demanded 12 ducats (instead of 4 florins) for each box. But it was his first public appearance as a dramatic vocal composer, and on his posters he had several days before announced with much pomp that all the works would be of his composition. The result, however, answered his expectations, “for the concert yielded him 1800 florins.”

The works actually performed were the first and second Symphonies, the Pianoforte Concerto in C minor and “Christus am Ölberg”; some others, according to Ries, were intended, but, owing to the length of the concert, which began at the early hour of six, were omitted in the performance. As no copy of the printed programme has been discovered, there is no means of deciding what these pieces were; but the “Adelaide,” the Scena et AriaAh, perfido!” and the trio “Tremate, empj, tremate,” suggest themselves, as vocal pieces well fitted to break the monotony of such a mass of orchestral music. It seems strange—knowing as we do Beethoven’s vast talent for improvisation—that no extempore performance is reported.

“The symphonies and concertos,” says Seyfried, “which Beethoven produced for the first time (1803 and 1808) for his benefit at the Theater-an-der-Wien, the oratorio, and the opera, I rehearsed according to his instructions with the singers, conducted all the orchestral rehearsals and personally conducted the performance.”[2]

The final general rehearsal was held in the theatre on the day of performance, Tuesday, April 5. On that morning, as was often the case when Beethoven needed assistance in his labors, young Ries was called to him early—about 5 o’clock. “I found him in bed,” says Ries, “writing on separate sheets of paper. To my question what it was he answered, ‘Trombones.’ At the concert the trombone parts were played from these sheets. Had the copyist forgotten to copy these parts? Were they an afterthought? I was too young at the time to observe the artistic interest of the incident; but probably the trombones were an afterthought, as Beethoven might as easily have had the uncopied parts as the copied.” The correspondent of the “Zeitung für die Elegante Welt” renders a probable solution of Ries’s doubt easy. He found the music to the “Christus” to be “on the whole good, and there are a few admirable passages, an air of the Seraph with trombone accompaniment in particular being of admirable effect.” Beethoven had probably found the aria “Erzittre, Erde” to fail of its intended effect,[7] and added the trombone on the morning of the final rehearsal, to be retained or not as should prove advisable upon trial.[3] Ries continues:

Production of “The Mount of Olives”

The rehearsal began at 8 o’clock in the morning. It was a terrible rehearsal, and at half after 2 everybody was exhausted and more or less dissatisfied. Prince Karl Lichnowsky, who attended the rehearsal from the beginning, had sent for bread and butter, cold meat and wine in large baskets. He pleasantly asked all to help themselves and this was done with both hands, the result being that good nature was restored again. Then the Prince requested that the oratorio be rehearsed once more from the beginning, so that it might go well in the evening and Beethoven’s first work in this genre be worthily presented. And so the rehearsal began again.

Seyfried in the article above quoted gives a reminiscence of this concert:

At the performance of the Concerto he asked me to turn the pages for him; but—heaven help me!—that was easier said than done. I saw almost nothing but empty leaves; at the most on one page or the other a few Egyptian hieroglyphs wholly unintelligible to me scribbled down to serve as clues for him; for he played nearly all of the solo part from memory, since, as was so often the case, he had not had time to put it all on paper.[4] He gave me a secret glance whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages and my scarcely concealable anxiety not to miss the decisive moment amused him greatly and he laughed heartily at the jovial supper which we ate afterwards.

The impression made on reading the few contemporary notices of this concert is that the new works produced were, on the whole, coldly received. The short report (by Kotzebue?) in the “Freymüthige” said:

Even our doughty Beethofen, whose oratorio “Christus am Ölberg” was performed for the first time at surburban Theater-an-der-Wien, was not altogether fortunate, and despite the efforts of his many admirers was unable to achieve really marked approbation. True, the two symphonies and single passages in the oratorio were voted very beautiful, but the work in its entirety was too long, too artificial in structure and lacking expressiveness, especially in the vocal parts. The text, by F. X. Huber, seemed to have been as superficially written as the music. But the concert brought 1800 florins to Beethofen and he, as well as Abbé Vogler, has been engaged for the theatre. He is to write one opera, Vogler three; for this they are to receive 10 per cent. of the receipts at the first ten performances, besides free lodgings.

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The writer in the “Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung” alone speaks of the “Christus” as having been received with “extraordinary approval.” Three months afterwards another correspondent flatly contradicts this: “In the interest of truth,” he writes, “I am obliged to contradict a report in the ‘Musikalische Zeitung’; Beethoven’s cantata did not please.” To this Schindler remarks: “Even the composer agreed with this to this extent—that in later years he unhesitatingly declared that it had been a mistake to treat the part of Christ in the modern vocal style. The abandonment of the work after the first performance, as well as its tardy appearance in print (about 1810), permit us to conclude that the author was not particularly satisfied with the manner in which he had solved the problem, and that he probably made material changes in the music.” The “Wiener Zeitung” of July 30, 1803, gives all the comment necessary on the “abandonment” and probable changes in the work, by announcing that “the favorable reception” of the oratorio had induced the Society of Amateur Concerts to resolve to repeat it on August 4. Moreover, Sebastian Meier’s concert of March 27, 1804, opened with the second Symphony of Beethoven and closed with “Christus am Ölberg,” being its fourth performance in one year.[5]

A few days after this public appearance we have a sight of Beethoven again in private life. Dr. Joh. Th. Helm, the famous physician and professor in Prague, then a young man just of the composer’s age (he was born December 11, 1770), accompanied Count Prichnowsky on a visit to Vienna. On the morning of the 16th of April these two gentlemen met Beethoven in the street, who, knowing the Count, invited them to Schuppanzigh’s, “where some of his pianoforte sonatas which Kleinhals had transcribed as string quartets were to be rehearsed. We met,” writes Held, in his manuscript autobiography (the citations were communicated to this work by Dr. Edmund Schebek of Prague)

a number of the best musicians gathered together, such as the violinists Krumbholz, Möser (of Berlin), the mulatto Bridgethauer, who in London had been in the service of the then Prince of Wales, also a Herr Schreiber and the 12 years’ old[6] Kraft who played second. Even then Beethoven’s muse transported me to higher regions, and the desire of all of these artists to have our musical director Wenzel[9] Praupner in Vienna confirmed me in my opinion of the excellence of his conducting. Since then I have often met Beethoven at concerts. His piquant conceits modified the gloominess, I might say the lugubriousness, of his countenance. His criticisms were very keen, as I learned most clearly at concerts of the harpist Nadermann of Saxony and Mara, who was already getting along in years.

Bridgetower and the “Kreutzer Sonata”

The “Bridgethauer,” mentioned by Held—whose incorrect writing of the name conveys to the German its correct pronunciation—was the “American ship captain who associated much with Beethoven” mentioned by Schindler and his copyists.

George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower—a bright mulatto then 24 years old, son of an African father and German or Polish mother, an applauded public violinist in London at the age of ten years, and long in the service, as musician, of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV—was never in America and knew as much probably of a ship and the science of navigation as ordinary shipmasters do of the violin and the mysteries of musical counterpoint. In 1802 he obtained leave of absence to visit his mother in Dresden and to use the waters of Teplitz and Carlsbad, which leave was prolonged that he might spend a few months in Vienna. His playing in public and private at Dresden had secured him such favorable letters of introduction as gained him a most brilliant reception in the highest musical circles of the Austrian capital, where he arrived a few days before Held met him at Schuppanzigh’s. Beethoven, to whom he was introduced by Prince Lichnowsky, readily gave him aid in a public concert. The date of the concert has not been determined precisely; it was probably on May 24th. It has an interest on account of Beethoven’s connection with it; for the day of the concert was the date of the completion and performance of the “Kreutzer” Sonata.

The famous Sonata in A minor, Op. 47, with concertante violin, dedicated to Rudolph Kreutzer in Paris [says Ries on page 82 of the “Notizen”], was originally composed by Beethoven for Bridgetower, an English artist. Here things did not go much better (Ries is referring to the tardiness of the composition of the horn sonata which Beethoven wrote for Punto), although a large part of the first Allegro was ready at an early date. Bridgetower pressed him greatly because the date of his concert had been set and he wanted to study his part. One morning Beethoven summoned me at half after 4 o’clock and said: “Copy the violin part of the first Allegro quickly.” (His ordinary copyist was otherwise engaged.) The pianoforte part was noted down only here and there in parts. Bridgetower had to play the marvellously beautiful theme and variations in F from Beethoven’s manuscript at the concert in the Augarten at 8 o’clock in the morning because there was no time to copy it. The final Allegro, however, was beau[10]tifully written, since it originally belonged to the Sonata in A major (Op. 30), which is dedicated to Czar Alexander. In its place Beethoven, thinking it too brilliant for the A major Sonata, put the variations which now form the finale.[7]

Bridgetower was thoughtful enough to leave in his copy of the Sonata a note upon that first performance of it, as follows:

Relative to Beethoven’s Op. 47.

When I accompanied him in this Sonata-Concertante at Wien, at the repetition of the first part of the Presto, I imitated the flight, at the 18th bar, of the pianoforte of this movement thus:

1ma volta
2da volta

He jumped up, embraced me, saying: “Noch einmal, mein lieber Bursch!” (“Once again, my dear boy!”) Then he held the open pedal during this flight, the chord of C as at the ninth bar.

Beethoven’s expression in the Andante was so chaste, which always characterized the performance of all his slow movements, that it was unanimously hailed to be repeated twice.

George Polgreen Bridgetower.

The Career of Bridgetower

Bridgetower was mentioned in a letter from Beethoven to Baron von Wetzlar, in this language, under date May 18:

Although we have never addressed each other I do not hesitate to recommend to you the bearer, Mr. Brishdower, a very capable virtuoso who has a complete command of his instrument.

Besides his concertos he plays quartets admirably. I greatly wish that you make him known to others. He has commended himself favorably to Lobkowitz and Fries and all other eminent lovers (of music).

I think it would be not at all a bad idea if you were to take him for an evening to Therese Schönfeld, where I know many friends assemble and at your house. I know that you will thank me for having made you acquainted with him.

[11]

Bridgetower, when advanced in years, talking with Mr. Thirlwall about Beethoven, told him that at the time the Sonata, Op. 47, was composed, he and the composer were constant companions, and that the first copy bore a dedication to him; but before he departed from Vienna they had a quarrel about a girl, and Beethoven then dedicated the work to Rudolph Kreutzer.[8]

[12]

Summer Lodgings at Döbling

When Beethoven removed from the house “am Peter” to the theatre building, he took his brother Karl (Kaspar) to live[13] with him,[9] as twenty years later he gave a room to his factotum Schindler. This change of lodgings took place, according to Seyfried, before the concert of April 5—which is confirmed by the brother’s new address being contained in the “Staats-Schematismus” for 1803—that annual publication being usually ready for distribution in April.[10] At the beginning of the warm season Beethoven, as was his annual custom, appears to have passed some weeks in Baden to refresh himself and revive his energies after the irregular, exciting and fatiguing city life of the winter, before retiring to the summer lodgings, whose position he describes in a note to Ries (“Notizen,” p. 128) as “in Oberdöbling No. 4, the street to the left where you go down the mountain to Heiligenstadt.”

The Herrengasse is still “die Strasse links” at the extremity of the village, as it was then; but the multiplication of houses and the change in their numbers render it uncertain which in those days bore the number 4. At all events it had, in 1803, gardens, vineyards or green fields both in front and rear. True, it was half an hour’s walk farther than from Heiligenstadt to the scenes in which he had composed the second Symphony, the preceding summer; but, to compensate for this, it was so much nearer the city—was in the more immediate vicinity of that arm of the Danube called the “Canal”—and almost under its windows was the gorge of the Krottenbach, which separates Döbling from Heiligenstadt, and which, as it extends inland from the river, spreads into a fine vale, then very solitary and still very beautiful. This was the house, this the summer, and these the scenes, in which the composer wrought out the[14] conceptions that during the past five years had been assuming form and consistency in his mind, to which Bernadotte may have given the original impulse, and which we know as the “Heroic Symphony.”[11]

Let us turn to Stephan von Breuning and a new friend or two. Archduke Karl, by a commission dated January 9, 1801, had been made Chief of the “Staats- und Konferenzial-Departement für das Kriegs- und Marine-Wesen,” and retained the position still, notwithstanding his assumption of the functions of Hoch- und Deutsch-Meister. He undertook to introduce a wide-reaching reform at the War Department, which demanded an increase in the number of Secretaries and scriveners. Stephan von Breuning is the second in the list of five appointed in 1804, Ignatz von Gleichenstein the fifth. It is believed, that the Archduke had discovered the fine business talents, the zeal in the discharge of duty and the perfect trustworthiness of Breuning at the Teutonic House, and that at his special invitation the young man this year exchanged the service of the Order for that of the State. There is abundant evidence, that the young Rhinelanders then in Vienna were bound to each other by more than the usual ties: most of them were fugitives from French tyranny, and liable to conscription if found in the places of their birth, though this was not the case with Breuning. There was, in addition to the ordinary feeling of nationality, a common sense of exile to unite them. Between Breuning and Gleichenstein therefore—two amiable and talented young men thus thrown into daily intercourse—an immediate and warm friendship would naturally spring up; and an introduction of the latter to Breuning’s friend Beethoven would inevitably follow, in case they had not known each other in the old Bonn days.

Association with W. J. Mähler

Another young Rhinelander, to whom Beethoven became much attached, and who returned the kindness with warm affection for him personally and a boundless admiration for his genius, became known to the composer also just at this time. Willibrord Joseph Mähler, a native of Coblentz—who died in 1860, at the age of 82 years, as pensioned Court Secretary—was a man of remarkably varied artistic talents, by which, however, since he cultivated them only as a dilettante and without[15] confining himself to any one art, he achieved no great distinction. He wrote respectable poetry and set it to correct and not unpleasing music; sang well enough to be recorded in Boeckh’s “Merkwürdigkeiten der Haupt- und Residenz-Stadt Wien” (1823) as “amateur singer,” and painted sufficiently well to be named, on another page of Boeckh, “amateur portrait painter.” He painted that portrait of the composer, about 1804-5, which is still in possession of the Beethoven family, and a second 1814-15—(Mr. Mähler could not recall the precise date)—once owned by Prof. Karajan. Several of the portraits now in possession of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna are from his pencil; but two or three of the very best specimens of his skill have been sold to a gentleman in Boston, U.S.A.[12]

Soon after Beethoven returned from his summer lodgings to his apartment in the theatre building, Mähler, who had then recently arrived in Vienna, was taken by Breuning thither to be introduced. They found him busily at work finishing the “Heroic Symphony.” After some conversation, at the desire of Mähler to hear him play, Beethoven, instead of beginning an extempore performance, gave his visitors the finale of the new Symphony; but at its close, without a pause, he continued in free fantasia for two hours, “during all which time,” said Mr. Mähler to the present writer, “there was not a measure which was faulty, or which did not sound original.” He added, that one circumstance attracted his particular notice; viz.: “that Beethoven played with his hands so very still; wonderful as his execution was, there was no tossing of them to and fro, up and down; they seemed to glide right and left over the keys, the fingers alone doing the work.” To Mr. Mähler, as to most others who have recorded their impressions of Beethoven’s improvisations, they were the non plus ultra of the art.

There was, however, be it noted in passing, a class of good musicians, small in number and exceptional in taste, who, precisely at this time, had discovered a rival to Beethoven, in this his own special field. Thus Gänsbacher writes, as cited by Frölich in his “Biographie Voglers”:

Sonnleithner gave a musical soirée in honor of Vogler and invited Beethoven among others. Vogler improvised at the pianoforte on a theme given to him by Beethoven, 4½ measures long, first an Adagio and then fugued. Vogler then gave Beethoven a theme of three measures (the scale of C major, alla breve). Beethoven’s excellent pianoforte playing, combined with an abundance of the most beautiful[16] thoughts, surprised me beyond measure, but could not stir up the enthusiasm in me which had been inspired by Vogler’s learned playing, which was beyond parallel in respect of its harmonic and contrapuntal treatment.

An undated note of Beethoven, to Mähler, which belongs to a somewhat later period—since its date is not ascertainable nor of much importance—may be inserted here, as an introduction to Mr. Mähler’s remarks upon the portrait to which it refers:

I beg of you to return my portrait to me as soon as you have made sufficient use of it—if you need it longer I beg of you at least to make haste—I have promised the portrait to a lady, a stranger who saw it here, that she may hang it in her room during her stay of several weeks. Who can withstand such charming importunities, as a matter of course a portion of the lovely favors which I shall thus garner will also fall to you.

To the question what picture is here referred to, Mr. Mähler replied in substance: “It was a portrait, which I painted soon after coming to Vienna, in which Beethoven is represented, at nearly full length, sitting; the left hand rests upon a lyre, the right is extended, as if, in a moment of musical enthusiasm, he was beating time; in the background is a temple of Apollo. Oh! If I could but know what became of the picture!”

“What!” was the answer, to the great satisfaction of the old gentleman, “the picture is hanging at this moment in the home of Madame van Beethoven, widow, in the Josephstadt, and I have a copy of it.”[13]

The extended right hand—though, like the rest of the picture, not very artistically executed—was evidently painted with care. It is rather broad for the length, is muscular and nervous, as the hand of a great pianist necessarily grows through much practice; but, on the whole, is neatly formed and well proportioned. Anatomically, it corresponds so perfectly with all the authentic descriptions of Beethoven’s person, that this alone proves it to have been copied from nature and not drawn after the painter’s fancy. Whoever saw a long, delicate hand with fingers exquisitely tapering, like Mendelssohn’s, joined to the short stout muscular figure of a Beethoven or a Schubert?

A few of Beethoven’s letters belonging to this period must be introduced here. The first, dated September 22, 1803, addressed to Hoffmeister, is as follows:

[17]

Herewith I declare all the works concerning which you have written to me to be your property; the list of them will be copied again and sent to you signed by me as your confessed property. I also agree to the price, 50 ducats. Does this satisfy you?

Perhaps I may be able to send you instead of the variations for violin and violoncello a set of variations for four hands on a song of mine with which you will also have to print the poem by Goethe, as I wrote these variations in an album as a souvenir and consider them better than the others; are you content?

The transcriptions are not by me, but I revised them and improved them in part, therefore do not come along with an announcement that I had arranged them, because if you do you will lie, and, I haven’t either time or patience for such work. Are you agreed?

Now farewell, I can wish you only large success, and I would willingly give you everything as a gift if it were possible for me thus to get through the world, but—consider, everything about me has an official appointment and knows what he has to live on, but, good God, where at the Imperial Court is there a place for a parvum talentum com ego?

Correspondence with George Thomson

In this year began the correspondence with Thomson. George Thomson, a Scotch gentleman (born March 4, 1757, at Limekilns, Dunfermline, died at Leith, February 18, 1851), distinguished himself by tastes and acquirements which led to his appointment, when still a young man, as “Secretary to the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures in Scotland”—a Board established at the time of the Union of the Kingdoms, 1707 (not the Crowns, 1603), of England and Scotland—an office from which he retired upon a full pension after a service of fifty years. He was, especially, a promoter of all good music and an earnest reviver of ancient Scotch melody. As one means of improving the public taste and at the same time of giving currency to Scotch national airs, he had published sonatas with such melodies for themes, composed for him by Pleyel in Paris, and Koželuch in Vienna—-two instrumental composers enjoying then a European reputation now difficult to appreciate. The fame of the new composer at Vienna having now reached Edinburgh, Thomson applied to him for works of a like character. Only the signature of the reply seems to be in Beethoven’s hand:

A Monsieur
George Thomson, Nr. 28 York Place
Edinburgh. North Britain
Vienna le 5. 8bre 1803.

Monsieur!

J’ai reçu avec bien de plaisir votre lettre du 20 Juillet. Entrant volontiers dans vos propositions je dois vous declarer que je suis prêt de composer pour vous six sonates telles que vous les desirez y intro[18]duisant même les airs ecossais d’une manière laquelle la nation Ecossaise trouvera la plus favorable et le plus d’accord avec le genie de ses chansons. Quant au honoraire je crois que trois cent ducats pour six sonates ne sera pas trop, vu qu’en Allemagne on me donne autant pour pareil nombre de sonates même sans accompagnement.

Je vous previens en même tems que vous devez accelerer votre declaration, par ce qu’on me propose tant d’engagements qu’après quelque tems je ne saurois peutêtre aussitôt satisfaire à vos demandes.—Je vous prie de me pardonner, que cette reponse est si retardée ce qui n’a été causée que par mon sejour à la campagne et plusieurs occupations tres pressantes.—Aimant de preference les airs eccossais je me plairai particulierement dans la composition de vos sonates, et j’ose avancer que si nos interêts s’accorderront sur le honoraire, vous serez parfaitement contenté.

Agréez les assurances de mon estime distingué.

Louis van Beethoven.

Mr. Thomson’s endorsement of this letter is this:

50 D. 1803. Louis van Beethoven, Vienna, demands 300 ducats for composing six Sonatas for me. Replied 8th Nov. that I would give no more than 150, taking 3 of the Sonatas when ready and the other 3 in six months after; giving him leave to publish in Germany on his own account, the day after publication in London.

The sonatas were never composed. Not long afterwards, on October 22, Beethoven, enraged at efforts to reprint his works, issued the following characteristic fulmination in large type, filling an entire page of the journal:

Warning.

Herr Carl Zulehner, a reprinter at Mayence, has announced an edition of all my works for pianoforte and string instruments. I hold it to be my duty hereby publicly to inform all friends of music that I have not the slightest part in this edition. I should not have offered to make a collection of my works, a proceeding which I hold to be premature at the best, without first consulting with the publishers and caring for the correctness which is wanting in some of the individual publications. Moreover, I wish to call attention to the fact that the illicit edition in question can never be complete, inasmuch as some new works will soon appear in Paris, which Herr Zulehner, as a French subject, will not be permitted to reprint. I shall soon make full announcement of a collection of my works to be made under my supervision and after a severe revision.[14]

[19]

Meissner’s Oratorio Text Rejected

Alexander Macco, the painter, after executing a portrait of the Queen of Prussia, in 1801, which caused much discussion in the public press but secured to him a pension of 100 thalers, went from Berlin to Dresden, Prague, and, in the summer of 1802, to Vienna. Here he became a great admirer of Beethoven, both as man and artist, and claimed and enjoyed so much of his society as the state of his mind and body would allow him to grant to any stranger. Macco remained but a few months here and then returned to Prague, whence he wrote the next year offering to Beethoven for composition an oratorio text by Prof. A. G. Meissner—a name just then well known in musical circles because of the publication of the first volume of the biography of Kapellmeister Naumann. If Meissner had not removed from Prague to Fulda in 1805, and if Europe had remained at peace, perhaps Beethoven might, two or three years later, have availed himself of the offer; just now he felt bound to decline it, which he did in a letter dated November 2, 1803. In it he said:

I am sorry, too, that I could not be oftener with you in Vienna, but there are periods in human life which have to be overcome and often they are not looked upon from the right point of view, it appears that as a great artist you are not wholly unfamiliar with such, and so—I have not, as I observe, lost your good will, of which fact I am glad because I esteem you highly and wish that I might have such an artist in my profession to associate with. Meissner’s proposal is very welcome, nothing could be more desirable than to receive such a poem from him, who is so highly honored as a writer and who understands musical poetry better than any other German author, but at present it is impossible for me to write this oratorio because I am just beginning my opera which, together with the performance, may occupy me till Easter—if Meissner is not in a hurry to publish his poem I should be glad if he were to leave the composition of it to me, and if the poem is not completed I wish he would not hurry it, since before or after Easter I would come to Prague and let him hear some of my compositions, which would make him more familiar with my manner of writing, and either—inspire him further—or perhaps, make him stop altogether, etc.

Was, then, the correspondent of the “Zeitung für die Elegante Welt” right? Had Beethoven really received one of Schikaneder’s heroic texts? This much is certain: that in the words “because I am just beginning my opera,” no reference is made to the “Leonore” (“Fidelio”). They may only express his expectation of beginning such a work immediately; or they may refer to one already begun, of which a fragment has been preserved. In Rubric II of the sale catalogue of Beethoven’s manuscripts and music, No. 67, is a “vocal piece with orchestra,[20] complete, but not entirely orchestrated.” It is an operatic trio[15]; the dramatis personæ are Porus, Volivia, Sartagones; the handwriting is that of this part of the composer’s life; and the music is the basis of the subsequent grand duet in “Fidelio,” “O namenlose Freude.” The temptation is strong to believe that Schikaneder had given Beethoven another “Alexander,” the scenes laid in India—a supplement to that with which his new theatre had been opened two years before. However this was, circumstances occurred, which prevented its completion, or indeed the composition by Beethoven of any text prepared by Schikaneder.

The compositions which may safely be dated 1803, are few in comparison with those of 1802. The works published in the course of the year were the two Pianoforte Sonatas, Op. 31, Nos. 1 and 2 (in Nägeli’s “Répertoire des Clavecinistes”); the three Violin Sonatas, Op. 30 (Industrie-Comptoir); the two sets of Variations, Op. 34 and 35 (Breitkopf and Härtel); the seven Bagatelles, Op. 33 (Industrie-Comptoir); the Romanza in G for Violin, Op. 40 (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); the arrangement for Pianoforte and Flute (or Violin) Op. 41 of the Serenade (Op. 25), which was not made by Beethoven but examined by him and “corrected in parts” (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); the two Preludes for Pianoforte, Op. 39 (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); two songs, “La Partenza” and “Ich liebe dich” (Traeg); a song, “Das Glück der Freundschaft,” Op. 88 (Löschenkerl in Vienna and Simrock in Bonn), of which Nottebohm found a sketch amongst the sketches for the “Eroica” Symphony in the book used in 1803 and which, therefore, though it may have been an early work, was probably rewritten in 1803; and the six Sacred Songs by Gellert, dedicated to Count Browne (Artaria). The two great works of the year were the “Kreutzer” Sonata for Violin and the “Sinfonia Eroica.” The title of the former, “Sonata per il Pianoforte ed un Violino obligato in uno stilo (stile) molto concertante quasi come d’un Concerto,” is found on the inner side of the last sheet of the sketchbook of 1803 described by Nottebohm. Beethoven wrote the word “brillante” after “stilo” but scratched it out. It is obvious that he wished to emphasize the difference between this Sonata and its predecessors. Simrock’s tardiness in publishing the Sonata annoyed Beethoven. He became impatient and wrote to the publisher as follows, under date of October 4, 1804:

[21]

Kreutzer and His Sonata

Dear, best Herr Simrock, I have been waiting with longing for the Sonata which I gave you—but in vain—please write me what the condition of affairs is concerning it—whether or not you accepted it from me merely as food for moths—or do you wish to obtain a special Imperial privilegium in connection with it?—well it seems to me that might have been accomplished long ago.—Where in hiding is this slow devil—who is to drive out the sonata—you are generally the quick devil, are known as Faust once was as being in league with the imp of darkness and for this reason you are loved by your comrades; but again—where in hiding is your devil—or what kind of a devil is it that sits on my sonata and with whom you have a misunderstanding?—Hurry, then, and tell me when I shall see the sonata given to the light of day—when you have told me the date I will at once send a little note to Kreutzer, which you will please be kind enough to enclose when you send a copy (as you in any event will send your copies to Paris or even, perhaps, have them printed there)—this Kreutzer is a dear, good fellow who during his stay here[16] gave me much pleasure. I prefer his unassuming manner and unaffectedness to all the Extérieur or intérieur of all the virtuosi—as the sonata is written for a thoroughly capable violinist, the dedication to him is all the more appropriate—although we correspond with each other (i. e., a letter from me once a year)—I hope he will not have learned anything about it....

As a proof of the growing appreciation of Beethoven in foreign lands it may be remarked here that in the summer of 1803 he received an Erard pianoforte as a gift from the celebrated Parisian maker. The instrument belongs to the museum at Linz and used to bear an inscription, on the authority of Beethoven’s brother Johann, that it was given to the composer by the city of Paris in 1804. The archives of the Erard firm show, however, that on the 18th of Thermidor, in the XIth year of the Republic (1803), Sébastien Erard made a present of “un piano forme clavecin” to Ludwig van Beethoven in Vienna.

[22]

Chapter II

The Year 1804—The “Sinfonia Eroica”—Beethoven and Breuning—The “Waldstein” Sonata—Sonnleithner, Treitschke and Gaveaux—“Fidelio” Begun—Beethoven’s Popularity.

During the winter 1803-04 negotiations were in progress the result of which put an end for the present to Beethoven’s operatic aspirations. Let Treitschke, a personal actor in the scenes, explain:[17]

On February 24, 1801, the first performance of “Die Zauberflöte” took place in the Royal Imperial Court Theatre beside the Kärnthnerthor. Orchestra and chorus as well as the representatives of Sarastro (Weinmüller), the Queen of Night (Mme. Rosenbaum), Pamina (Demoiselle Saal) and the Moor (Lippert) were much better than before. It remained throughout the year the only admired German opera. The loss of large receipts and the circumstance that many readings were changed, the dialogue shortened and the name of the author omitted from all mention, angered S. (Schikaneder) greatly. He did not hesitate to give free vent to his gall, and to parody some of the vulnerable passages in the performance. Thus the change of costume accompanying the metamorphosis of the old woman into Papagena seldom succeeded. Schikaneder, when he repeated the opera at his theatre, sent a couple of tailors on to the stage who slowly accomplished the disrobing, etc. These incidents would be trifles had they not been followed by such significant consequences; for from that time dated the hatred and jealousy which existed between the German operas of the two theatres, which alternately persecuted every novelty and ended in Baron von Braun, then manager of the Court Theatre, purchasing the Theater-an-der-Wien in 1804, by which act everything came under the staff of a single shepherd but never became a single flock.

Zitterbarth had, some months before, purchased of Schikaneder all his rights in the property, paying him 100,000 florins for the privilegium alone; and, therefore, being absolute master, “had permitted a dicker down to the sum of 1,060,000 florins Vienna standard.... The contract was signed on February[23] 11th and on the 16th the Theater-an-der-Wien under the new arrangement was opened with Méhul’s opera ‘Ariodante.’”[18]

Zitterbarth had retained Schikaneder as director; but now Baron Braun dismissed him, and the Secretary of the Court Theatres, Joseph von Sonnleithner, for the present acted in that capacity.

The sale of the theatre made void the contracts with Vogler and Beethoven, except as to the first of Vogler’s three operas, “Samori” (text by Huber), which being ready was put in rehearsal and produced May 7th.

It was no time for Baron Braun, with three theatres on his hands, to make new contracts with composers, until the reins were fairly in his grasp, and the affairs of the new purchase brought into order and in condition to work smoothly; nor was there any necessity of haste; the repertory was so well supplied, that the list of new pieces for the year reached the number of forty-three, of which eighteen were operas or Singspiele. So Beethoven, who had already occupied the free lodgings in the theatre building for the year which his contract with Zitterbarth and Schikaneder granted him, was compelled to move. Stephan von Breuning even then lived in the house in which in 1827 he died. It was the large pile of building belonging to the Esterhazy estates, known as “das rothe Haus,” which stood at a right angle to the Schwarzspanier house and church, and fronted upon the open space where now stands the new Votiv-Kirche. Here also Beethoven now took apartments.[19]

It is worth noting, that this was the year—October, 1803 to October, 1804—of C. M. von Weber’s first visit to Vienna, and of his studies under Vogler. He was then but eighteen years old and “the delicate little man” made no very favorable impression upon Beethoven. But at a later period, when Weber’s noble dramatic talent became developed and known, no former prejudice prevented the great symphonist’s due appreciation and hearty acknowledgment of it.

Clementi Comes to Vienna

Among the noted strangers who came to Vienna this spring was Clementi.

“He sent word to Beethoven that he would like to see him.” “Clementi will wait a long time before Beethoven goes to him,” was the reply. Thus Czerny.

When he came (says Ries) Beethoven wanted to go to him at once, but his brother put it into his head that Clementi ought to[24] make the first visit. Though much older Clementi would probably have done so had not gossip begun to concern itself with the matter. Thus it came about that Clementi was in Vienna a long time without knowing Beethoven except by sight. Often we dined at the same table in the Swan, Clementi with his pupil Klengel and Beethoven with me; all knew each other but no one spoke to the other, or confined himself to a greeting. The two pupils had to imitate their masters, because they feared they would otherwise lose their lessons. This would surely have been the case with me because there was no possibility of a middle-way with Beethoven. (“Notizen,” p. 101.)

The “Eroica” and Napoleon

Early in the Spring a fair copy of the “Sinfonia Eroica” had been made to be forwarded to Paris through the French embassy, as Moritz Lichnowsky informed Schindler.

In this symphony (says Ries) Beethoven had Buonaparte in his mind, but as he was when he was First Consul. Beethoven esteemed him greatly at the time and likened him to the greatest Roman consuls. I as well as several of his more intimate friends saw a copy of the score lying upon his table, with the word “Buonaparte” at the extreme top of the title-page and at the extreme bottom “Luigi van Beethoven,” but not another word. Whether, and with what the space between was to be filled out, I do not know. I was the first to bring him the intelligence that Buonaparte had proclaimed himself emperor, whereupon he flew into a rage and cried out: “Is then he, too, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he, too, will trample on all the rights of man and indulge only his ambition. He will exalt himself above all others, become a tyrant!” Beethoven went to the table, took hold of the title-page by the top, tore it in two and threw it on the floor. The first page was rewritten and only then did the symphony receive the title: “Sinfonia eroica.”

There can be no mistake in this; for Count Moritz Lichnowsky, who happened to be with Beethoven when Ries brought the offensive news, described the scene to Schindler years before the publication of the “Notizen,”

The Acts of the French Tribunate and Senate, which elevated the First Consul to the dignity of Emperor, are dated May 3, 4, and 17. Napoleon’s assumption of the crown occurred on the 18th and the solemn proclamation was issued on the 20th. Even in those days, news of so important an event would not have required ten days to reach Vienna. At the very latest, then, a fair copy of the “Sinfonia Eroica,” was complete early in May, 1804. That it was a copy, the two credible witnesses, Ries and Lichnowsky, attest. Beethoven’s own score—purchased at the sale in 1827, for 3 fl. 10 kr., Vienna standard (less than 3½ francs), by the Vienna composer Hr. Joseph Dessauer—could not have been the one referred to above. It is,[25] from beginning to end, disfigured by erasures and corrections, and the title-page could never have answered to Ries’ description. It is this:

(At the top:) N. B. 1. Cues for the other instruments are to be written into the first violin part.

Sinfonia Grande
[Here two words are erased]
804 im August
del Sigr
Louis van Beethoven
Sinfonie 3      Op. 55

(At the bottom:) N. B. 2. The third horn is so written that it can be played by    by [sic] a primario as well as a secundario.

A note to the funeral march, is evidently a direction to the copyist, as are the remarks on the title-page:

N. B. The notes in the bass which have stems upwards are for the violoncellos, those downward for the bass-viol.

One of the two words erased from the title was “Bonaparte”; and just under his own name Beethoven wrote with a lead pencil in large letters, nearly obliterated but still legible, “Composed on Bonaparte.”

It is confidently submitted, therefore, that all the traditions derived from Czerny, Dr. Bertolini and whomsoever, that the opening Allegro is a description of a naval battle, and that the Marcia funebre was written in commemoration of Nelson or Gen. Abercrombie,[20] are mistakes, and that Schindler is correct; and again, that the date “804 im August,” is not that of the composition of the Symphony. It is written with a different ink, darker than the rest of the title, and may have been inserted long afterwards, Beethoven’s memory playing him false. The two “violin adagios with orchestral accompaniment” offered by Kaspar van Beethoven to André in November, 1802,[26] cannot well be anything but the two Romances, yet that in G, Op. 40, bears the date 1803. Perhaps Kaspar wrote before it was complete. But what can be said to this? It is perfectly well known that Op. 124 was performed on October 3, 1822; yet the copy sent to Stumpff in London bore this title: “Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven, composed for the opening of the Josephstadt Theatre, towards the end of September, 1823, and performed for the first time on October 3, 1824, Op. 124.” That the “804 im August” may be an error, is at all events possible, if not established as such. “Afterwards,” continues Ries, “Prince Lobkowitz bought this composition for several years’ [?] use, and it was performed several times in his palace.”

There is “an anecdote told by a person who enjoyed Beethoven’s society,”[21] in Schmidt’s “Wiener Musik-Zeitung” (1843, p. 28), according to which, as may readily be believed, this work, then so difficult, new, original, strange in its effects and of such unusual length, did not please. Some time after this humiliating failure Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia paid a visit to the same cavalier (Lobkowitz) in his countryseat.... To give him a surprise, the new and, of course, to him utterly unknown symphony, was played to the Prince, who “listened to it with tense attention which grew with every movement.” At the close he proved his admiration by requesting the favor of an immediate repetition; and, after an hour’s pause, as his stay was too limited to admit of another concert, a second. “The impression made by the music was general and its lofty contents were now recognized.”

To those who have had occasion to study the character of Louis Ferdinand as a man and a musician, and who know that at the precise time here indicated he was really upon a journey that took him near certain estates of Prince Lobkowitz, there is nothing improbable in the anecdote. If it be true, and the occurrence really took place at Raudnitz or some other “countryseat” of the Prince’s, the rehearsals and first performances of the Symphony at Vienna had occurred, weeks, perhaps months, before “804 im August.” However this be, Ries was present at the first rehearsal and incurred the danger of receiving a box on the ear from his master.

In the first Allegro occurs a wicked whim (böse Laune) of Beethoven’s for the horn; in the second part, several measures before the[27] theme recurs in its entirety, Beethoven has the horn suggest it at a place where the two violins are still holding a second chord. To one unfamiliar with the score this must always sound as if the horn player had made a miscount and entered at the wrong place. At the first rehearsal of the symphony, which was horrible, but at which the horn player made his entry correctly, I stood beside Beethoven, and, thinking that a blunder had been made I said: “Can’t the damned hornist count?—it sounds infamously false!” I think I came pretty close to receiving a box on the ear. Beethoven did not forgive the slip for a long time. (P. 79, “Notizen.”)

It was bad economy for two young, single men, each to have and pay for a complete suite of apartments in the same house, especially for two who were connected by so many ties of friendship as Breuning and Beethoven. Either lodging contained ample room for both; and Beethoven therefore very soon gave up his and moved into the other. Breuning had his own housekeeper and cook and they also usually dined together at home. This arrangement had hardly been effected when Beethoven was seized with a severe sickness, which when conquered still left him the victim of an obstinate intermittent fever.

A Quarrel with von Breuning

Every language has its proverbs to the effect that he who serves not himself is ill served. So Beethoven discovered, when it was too late, that due notice had not been given to the agent of Esterhazy, and that he was bound for the rent of the apartments previously occupied. The question, who was in fault, came up one day at dinner in the beginning of July, and ended in a sudden quarrel in which Beethoven became so angry as to leave the table and the house and retire to Baden with the determination to sacrifice the rent here and pay for another lodging, rather than remain under the same roof with Breuning. “Breuning,” says Ries, “a hot-head like Beethoven, grew so enraged at Beethoven’s conduct because the incident occurred in the presence of his brother.” It is clear, however, that he soon became cool and instantly did his best to prevent the momentary breach from becoming permanent, by writing—as may be gathered from Beethoven’s allusions to it—a manly, sensible and friendly invitation to forgive and forget. But Beethoven, worn with illness, his nerves unstrung, made restless, unhappy, petulant by his increasing deafness, was for a time obstinate. His wrath must run its course. It found vent in the following letters to Ries, and then the paroxysm soon passed.

The first of the letters was written in the beginning of 1804,

Dear Ries: Since Breuning did not scruple by his conduct to present my character to you and the landlord as that of a miserable,[28] beggarly, contemptible fellow I single you out first to give my answer to Breuning by word of mouth. Only to the one and first point of his letter which I answer only in order to vindicate my character in your eyes. Say to him, then, that it never occurred to me to reproach him because of the tardiness of the notice, and that, if Breuning was really to blame for it, my desire to live amicably with all the world is much too precious and dear to me that I should give pain to one of my friends for a few hundreds and more. You know yourself that altogether jocularly I accused you of being to blame that the notice did not arrive on time. I am sure that you will remember this; I had forgotten all about the matter. Now my brother began at the table and said that he believed it was Breuning’s fault; I denied it at once and said that you were to blame. It appears to me that was plain enough to show that I did not hold him to blame. Thereupon Breuning jumped up like a madman and said he would call up the landlord. This conduct in the presence of all the persons with whom I associate made me lose my self-control; I also jumped up, upset my chair, went away and did not return. This behavior induced Breuning to put me in such a light before you and the house-steward, and to write me a letter also which I have answered only with silence. I have nothing more to say to Breuning. His mode of thought and action in regard to me proves that there never ought to have been a friendly relationship between him and me and such certainly will not exist in the future. I have told you all this because your statements degraded all my habits of thinking and acting. I know that if you had known the facts you would certainly not have made them, and this satisfies me.

Now I beg of you, dear Ries! immediately on receipt of this letter go to my brother, the apothecary, and tell him that I shall leave Baden in a few days and that he must engage the lodgings in Döbling immediately you have informed him. I was near to coming to-day; I am tired of being here, it revolts me. Urge him for heaven’s sake to rent the lodgings at once because I want to get into them immediately. Tell it to him and do not show him any part of what is written on the other page; I want to show him from all possible points of view that I am not so small-minded as he and wrote to him only after this (Breuning’s) letter, although my resolution to end our friendship is and will remain firm.

Your friend
Beethoven.

Not long thereafter there followed a second letter, which Ries gives as follows:

Baden, July 14, 1804.

If you, dear Ries, are able to find better quarters I shall be glad. I want them on a large quiet square or on the ramparts.... I will take care to be at the rehearsal on Wednesday. It is not pleasant to me that it is at Schuppanzigh’s. He ought to be grateful if my humiliations make him thinner. Farewell, dear Ries! We are having bad weather here and I am not safe from people; I must flee in order to be alone.

[29]

End of a Friendship Threatened

From a third letter, dated “Baden, July 24, 1804,” Ries prints the following excerpt:

... No doubt you were surprised at the Breuning affair; believe me, dear (friend), my eruption was only the outburst consequent on many unpleasant encounters between us before. I have the talent in many cases to conceal my sensitiveness and repress it; but if I am irritated at a time when I am more susceptible than usual to anger, I burst out more violently than anybody else. Breuning certainly has excellent qualities, but he thinks he is free from all faults and his greatest ones are those which he thinks he sees in others. He has a spirit of pettiness which I have despised since childhood. My judgment almost predicted the course which affairs would take with Breuning, since our modes of thinking, acting and feeling are so different, but I thought these difficulties might also be overcome;—experience has refuted me. And now, no more friendship! I have found only two friends in the world with whom I have never had a misunderstanding, but what men! One is dead, the other still lives. Although we have not heard from each other in nearly six years I know that I occupy the first place in his heart as he does in mine. The foundation of friendship demands the greatest similarity between the hearts and souls of men. I ask no more than that you read the letter which I wrote to Breuning and his letter to me. No, he shall never again hold the place in my heart which once he occupied. He who can think a friend capable of such base thoughts and be guilty of such base conduct towards him is not worth my friendship.

The reader knows too well the character of Breuning to be prejudiced against him by all these harsh expressions written by Beethoven in a fit of choler of which he heartily repented and “brought forth fruits meet for repentance.” But, as Ries says, “these letters together with their consequences are too beautiful a testimony to Beethoven’s character to be omitted here,” the more so as they introduce, by the allusions in them, certain matters of more or less interest from the “Notizen” of Ries. Thus Ries writes:

One evening I came to Baden to continue my lessons. There I found a handsome young woman sitting on the sofa with him. Thinking that I might be intruding I wanted to go at once, but Beethoven detained me and said: “Play for the time being.” He and the lady remained seated behind me. I had already played for a long time when Beethoven suddenly called out: “Ries, play some love music”; a little later, “Something melancholy!” then, “Something passionate!” etc.

From what I heard I could come to the conclusion that in some manner he must have offended the lady and was trying to make amends by an exhibition of good humor. At last he jumped up and shouted: “Why, all those things are by me!” I had played nothing but movements from his works, connecting them with short transition-phrases, which seemed to please him. The lady soon went away and to my great amazement Beethoven did not know who she was. I learned[30] that she had come in shortly before me in order to make Beethoven’s acquaintance. We followed her in order to discover her lodgings and later her station. We saw her from a distance (it was moonlight),[22] but suddenly she disappeared. Chatting on all manner of topics we walked for an hour and a half in the beautiful valley adjoining. On going, however, Beethoven said: “I must find out who she is and you must help me.” A long time afterward I met her in Vienna and discovered that she was the mistress of a foreign prince. I reported the intelligence to Beethoven, but never heard anything more about her either from him or anybody else.

The rehearsal at Schuppanzigh’s on “Wednesday” (18th) mentioned in the letter of July 14th, was for the benefit of Ries, who was to play in the first of the second series of the regular Augarten Thursday concerts which took place the next day (19th) or, perhaps, the 26th. Ries says on page 113 of the “Notizen”:

Beethoven had given me his beautiful Concerto in C minor (Op. 37) in manuscript so that I might make my first public appearance as his pupil with it; and I am the only one who ever appeared as such while Beethoven was alive.... Beethoven himself conducted, but he only turned the pages and never, perhaps, was a concerto more beautifully accompanied. We had two large rehearsals. I had asked Beethoven to write a cadenza for me, but he refused and told me to write one myself and he would correct it. Beethoven was satisfied with my composition and made few changes; but there was an extremely brilliant and very difficult passage in it, which, though he liked it, seemed to him too venturesome, wherefore he told me to write another in its place. A week before the concert he wanted to hear the cadenza again. I played it and floundered in the passage; he again, this time a little ill-naturedly, told me to change it. I did so, but the new passage did not satisfy me; I therefore studied the other, and zealously, but was not quite sure of it. When the cadenza was reached in the public concert Beethoven quietly sat down. I could not persuade myself to choose the easier one. When I boldly began the more difficult one, Beethoven violently jerked his chair; but the cadenza went through all right and Beethoven was so delighted that he shouted “Bravo!” loudly. This electrified the entire audience and at once gave me a standing among the artists. Afterward, while expressing his satisfaction he added: “But all the same you are willful! If you had made a slip in the passage I would never have given you another lesson.”

A little farther on in his book Ries writes (p. 115):

The pianoforte part of the C minor Concerto was never completely written out in the score; Beethoven wrote it down on separate sheets of paper expressly for me.

This confirms Seyfried, as quoted on a preceding page.

“Not on my life would I have believed that I could be so lazy as I am here. If it is followed by an outburst of industry,[31] something worth while may be accomplished,” Beethoven wrote at the end of his letter of July 24. He was right. His brother Johann secured for him the lodging at Döbling where he passed the rest of the summer, and where the two Sonatas Op. 53 and 54, certainly “something worth while,” were composed. In one of the long walks, previously described by Ries,

in which we went so far astray that we did not get back to Döbling, where Beethoven lived, until nearly 8 o’clock, he had been all the time humming and sometimes howling, always up and down, without singing any definite notes. In answer to my question what it was he said: “A theme for the last movement of the sonata has occurred to me.” When we entered the room he ran to the pianoforte without taking off his hat. I took a seat in a corner and he soon forgot all about me. Now he stormed for at least an hour with the beautiful finale of the sonata. Finally he got up, was surprised still to see me and said: “I cannot give you a lesson to-day, I must do some more work.”

The F Minor Sonata, Op. 57

The Sonata in question was that in F minor, Op. 57. Ries had in the meantime fulfilled Beethoven’s wish for a new lodging on the ramparts, by engaging for him one on the Mölkerbastei three or four houses only from Prince Lichnowsky in the Pasqualati house—“from the fourth storey of which there was a beautiful view,” namely, over the broad Glacis, the northwestern suburb of the city and the mountains in the distance. “He moved out of this several times,” says Ries, “but always returned to it, so that, as I afterwards heard, Baron Pasqualati was good-natured enough to say: ‘The lodging will not be rented; Beethoven will come back.’” To what extent Ries was correctly informed in this we will not now conjecture. The lessons of Förster’s little boy had been interrupted so long as his teacher dwelt in the distant theatre buildings; they were now renewed, the first being particularly impressed upon his memory by a severe reproof from Beethoven for ascending the four lofty flights of stairs too rapidly, and entering out of breath: “Youngster, you will ruin your lungs if you are not more careful,” said he in substance.

The two new Sonatas were finished and were now made known to Beethoven’s intimates. In the one in C major, Op. 53, there was a long Andante. A friend of Beethoven’s said to him that the Sonata was too long, for which he was terribly taken to task by the composer. But after quiet reflection Beethoven was convinced of the correctness of the criticism. The Andante was therefore excluded and its place supplied by the interesting Introduction to the Rondo which it now has. A year after the publication of the Sonata it also appeared separately. In these particulars Ries is confirmed by Czerny, who[32] adds: “Because of its popularity (for Beethoven played it frequently in society) he gave it the title ‘Andante favori.’ I am the more sure of this since Beethoven sent me the proof together with the manuscript for revision.” The arrangement for string quartet may have been made much later, probably by Ries (?).

This Andante (Ries continues) has left a painful memory in me. When Beethoven played it for the first time to our friend Krumpholtz and me, it delighted us greatly and we teased him until he repeated it. Passing the door of Prince Lichnowsky’s house (by the Schottenthor) on my way home I went in to tell the Prince of the new and glorious composition of Beethoven’s, and was persuaded to play it as well as I could remember it. Recalling more and more of it the Prince urged me to repeat it. In this way it happened that the Prince also learned a portion of the piece. To give Beethoven a surprise the Prince went to him the next day and said that he too had composed something which was not at all bad. In spite of Beethoven’s remark that he did not want to hear it the Prince sat down and to the amazement of the composer played a goodly portion of the Andante. Beethoven was greatly angered, and this was the reason why I never again heard Beethoven play.

Prince Louis Ferdinand, now on his way into Italy, made a short stay at Vienna, renewing his acquaintance with Beethoven; but of their intercourse few particulars are known. Ries relates (“Notizen,” p. 111), that an old countess gave a little musical entertainment “to which, naturally, Beethoven was invited. When the company sat down to supper, plates for the high nobility only were placed at the Prince’s table—none for Beethoven. He flew into a rage, made a few ugly remarks, took his hat and went away. A few days later Prince Louis gave a dinner to which some members of the first company, including the old countess, were invited. When they sat down to table the old countess was placed on one side of the Prince, Beethoven on the other, a mark of distinction which Beethoven always referred to with pleasure.”

Beethoven and Breuning Reconciled

The Pianoforte Concerto in C minor was then in the hands of the engraver; upon its publication in November, Prince Louis Ferdinand’s name appeared upon the title. Concerning the compositions of the Prince, Beethoven remarked: “Now and then there are pretty bits in them”—so said Czerny. Before this time Beethoven and Breuning “met each other by accident and a complete reconciliation took place and every inimical resolve of Beethoven’s, despite their vigorous expression in the two letters, was wholly forgotten.”—(Ries.) And not this alone; he “laid his peace offering on the altar of reconciliation.” It was the best picture of himself which exists from those years,[33] a beautiful miniature painted upon ivory by Hornemann, still in the possession of Breuning’s heirs. With it he sent the following letter:

Let us bury behind this picture forever, my dear Steffen, all that for a time has passed between us. I know that I broke your heart. The feelings within me which you must have noticed have sufficiently punished me for that. It was not wickedness that I felt towards you; no, if that were so I should never again be worthy of your friendship; passion on your part and on mine; but mistrust of you arose in me; men came between us who are not worthy of you and me. My portrait was long ago intended for you; you know that I always intended it for somebody. To whom could I give it with so warm a heart as to you, faithful, good, noble Steffen! Forgive me if I have pained you; I suffered no less. When I no longer saw you near me I felt for the first time how dear to my heart you are and always will be.

Surely you will come to my arms again as in past days.

Nor was the reconciliation on Breuning’s part less perfect. On the 13th of November he writes to Wegeler and, to excuse his long silence, says:

He who has been my friend from youth is often largely to blame that I am compelled to neglect the absent ones. You cannot conceive, my dear Wegeler, what an indescribable, I might say, fearful effect the gradual loss of hearing has had upon him. Think of the feeling of being unhappy in one of such violent temperament; in addition reservedness, mistrust, often towards his best friends, in many things want of decision! For the greater part, with only an occasional exception when he gives free vent to his feelings on the spur of the moment, intercourse with him is a real exertion, at which one can scarcely trust to oneself. From May until the beginning of this month we lived in the same house, and at the outset I took him into my rooms. He had scarcely come before he became severely, almost dangerously ill, and this was followed by an intermittent fever. Worry and the care of him used me rather severely. Now he is completely well again. He lives on the Ramparts, I in one of the newly-built houses of Prince Esterhazy in front of the Alstercaserne, and as I am keeping house he eats with me every day.

Not a word about the quarrel! Not a word to intimate that Beethoven had not occupied his rooms with him until at the usual time for changing lodgings he had crossed the Glacis to Pasqualati’s house; not a word of complaint—nothing but deepest pity and heartiest sympathy.

In December the famous Munich oboist Ramm was in Vienna and took part with Beethoven in one of Prince Lobkowitz’s private concerts. Beethoven directed the performance of the “Sinfonia Eroica” and in the second part of the first Allegro, “where the music is pursued for so many measures in half-notes[34] against the beat,” he, as Ries says, threw the orchestra into such confusion that a new beginning had to be made.

On the same evening he played his Quintet for Pianoforte and Wind-instruments with Ramm as oboist. In the last Allegro there are several holds before the theme is resumed. At one of these Beethoven suddenly began to improvise, took the Rondo for a theme and entertained himself and the others for a considerable time, but not the other players. They were displeased and Ramm even very angry. It was really very comical to see them, momentarily expecting the performance to be resumed, put their instruments to their mouths only to put them down again. At length Beethoven was satisfied and dropped into the Rondo. The whole company was transported with delight.

Turn we again to the Theater-an-der-Wien, for a new contract has been made with Beethoven, by which his operatic aspirations and hopes are again awakened, with a better prospect of their gratification. At the end of August Sonnleithner retired from the direction and Baron Braun took the extraordinary step of reinstating his former rival and enemy, Schikaneder—a remarkable proof of the Baron’s high opinion of his tact and skill in the difficult business of management.

When one calls to mind the extraordinary praises which have been bestowed upon Baron Braun for his supposed patronage of Beethoven, it is worth noting, as a coincidence if nothing more, that now when Schikaneder finds himself in a strait for novelty and new attractions for his stage, the project of appealing to Beethoven’s genius is revived.

Before proceeding, a word upon Sonnleithner and Treitschke may be permitted.

Sonnleithner and Treitschke

The eldest son, born 1765, of Christoph Sonnleithner, Doctor of Laws and Dean of the Juridical Faculty at Vienna, Joseph Ferdinand by name, was educated to his father’s profession, and early rose to the positions of Circuit Commissioner and Royal Imperial Court Scrivener (Kreis-Kommissär und K. K. Hof-Concipist). All the Sonnleithners, from Dr. Christoph down to the excellent and beloved representative of the family, Leopold, his grandson who died in 1878, have stood in the front ranks of musical dilettanti, as composers, singers, instrumental performers and writers on topics pertaining to the art. Joseph Ferdinand was no exception. He gave his attention particularly to musical and theatrical literature, edited the Court Theatre Calendars, 1794-5, so highly lauded by Gerber, and prepared himself by appropriate studies to carry out Forkel’s plan of a “History of Music in Examples,” which was to reach the great extent of 50 volumes, folio. To this end he spent[35] nearly three years, 1798-1802, in an extensive tour through northern Europe making collections of rare, old music. Upon his return to Vienna, resigning this project again into the hands of Forkel, he became one of the earliest partners, if not one of the founders, of the publishing house known as the “Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir” (Bureau d’Arts et d’Industrie), of which Schreyvogel was the recognized head. The latter had been appointed Secretary of the Court Theatre in 1802, but resigned, and, on February 14, 1804, Sonnleithner “was appointed, and on this account was most honorably retired from his former post as Court Scrivener.” On what grounds he has been called an “actor” (Schauspieler) is unknown.

One of his colleagues in the various offices of the Court Theatres was Georg Friedrich Treitschke, born in 1776, a native of Leipsic, who came to the Court Theatre in 1800 as an actor, but whose talents and fine character raised him in the course of the next two years to the position of poet and stage-manager of the German Court Opera, a post which he still and for many years continued to hold. He was therefore now (1804) in close business relations with Baron Braun and Sonnleithner; and, until some proof be adduced of lapse of memory—for his known probity forbids all suspicion of intentional or careless misrepresentation—his statements in regard to them may be accepted with perfect confidence.

Treitschke wrote thus in the “Orpheus” of 1841 (p. 258):

At the end of 1804 Baron von Braun, the new owner of the Royal Imperial priv. Theater-an-der-Wien, commissioned Ludwig van Beethoven, then in the full strength of youth, to write an opera for that playhouse. Because of his oratorio, “Christus am Ölberg,” it was believed that the master might do as much for dramatic music as he had done for instrumental. Besides his honorarium[23] he was offered free lodgings in the theatre buildings. Joseph Sonnleithner undertook to provide the text, and chose the French book, “L’Amour conjugal,” although it had already been set by Gaveaux and to Italian words as “Leonora” by Paër, but had been translated from both dramatizations into German. Beethoven had no fear of his predecessors and went to work with eager delight, so that the opera was nearly finished by the middle of 1805.[24]

[36]

Such is Treitschke’s simple and compendious statement of the facts; a statement which has been affirmed to contain “manifold errors,” yet, in truth, not a single point in it can be controverted.

In Paris, at the close of the 18th century, Shakespeare’s “being taken by the insolent foe and redemption thence” was by far the most popular subject for the stage. Doubtless so many facts stranger than fiction in recent narratives of escape from dungeon and guillotine, rendered doubly fascinating by beautiful exhibitions of disinterested affection, exalted generosity and heroic self-sacrifice, were not without their effect upon public taste. Certain it is that no other class of subjects is so numerously represented in the French drama of that precise period as this. “Les deux Journées” by J. N. Bouilly stands confessedly at its head. In Beethoven’s opinion in 1823, this and “La Vestale” were the two best texts then ever written. Two years before the “Deux Journées”—that is, on February 19th, 1798—the same poet had produced another of that class of texts, which, if less abounding in pleasing and exciting scenes, still contained one supreme moment that cannot readily find its like. This was “Léonore, ou l’Amour conjugal”; the seventeenth and last in Fétis’ list of Pierre Gaveaux’s thirty-five operas and operettas.

The French Original of “Fidelio”

Gaveaux was a singer at the Théâtre Feydeau in Paris—a man of no great musical science, but gifted with a natural talent for melody and for pleasing though not always correct instrumentation, which secured the suffrages of the Feydeau audience for nearly all the long list of his productions. These were mostly short pieces in one act, in which he wrote the principal tenor part for himself. His “Le petit Matelot” (1794), as “Der kleine Matrose,” became immediately popular throughout Germany; Rellstab at Berlin published a pianoforte arrangement of it in 1798; and it so endured the fluctuations in public[37] taste as still to be performed at Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1846. This was followed by his “L’Amour filial,” and others, so that, in short, whatever faults the critics found in his music, he was one of those French composers, to whose productions the managers of German opera houses ever had an eye. As the “Léonore” was published in score soon after its production, the names of its authors, Bouilly and Gaveaux, as well as its success at the Théâtre Feydeau, ensured its becoming known in Germany, and, but for the use of its subject by Paër, it might perhaps have been simply translated and performed with the original music. Rewritten in Italian, it was one of the first texts put into Paër’s hands after his removal to Dresden, and was produced on the 3d of October, as the opening piece of the winter season 1804-5.

The first performance was another triumph for Paër, who, satisfied with it, departed for Vienna next day on his way to Italy. It requires no great sagacity to perceive, on the one hand, that the Directors of the Imperial Italian Opera—on whose stage at the least eleven of Paër’s works had been given, several of them originally written for it—would not fail to secure a copy of the new composition; and, on the other, that the composer would seek the fame and profit of its reproduction there.[25] Jahn in his preface to Beethoven’s “Leonore” has discussed the great inferiority of the Dresden Italian text to the original; its defects would be equally apparent to Sonnleithner; and this consideration, with perhaps later news from Dresden, would convince him that the performance of Paër’s composition at Vienna would be at best a doubtful venture.[26]

Popularity of Beethoven’s Music

At this point, when the first of the solo sonatas written for the enlarged pianoforte (Op. 53) is ready for the press; when the Pianoforte Concerto in C minor has just been published; the “Sinfonia Eroica,” with its daring novelties of ideas and construction is awaiting public performance, and the composer has entered the lists to compete with Cherubini in another form of the art—here seems to be the fitting place for a few notes upon the degree of popularity, and the extent of circulation, to which his previous compositions had already attained.

[38]

We have not written very lucidly, if it be not sufficiently clear that, at Vienna, the works of no other of the younger generation of composers had so ready and extensive a sale as Beethoven’s, notwithstanding their most attractive qualities to many, were repellent to others. That was a question of taste. But in these last weeks of 1804, a proof of their general popularity was in preparation by Schreyvogel and Rizzi, which, so far as the present writer has examined the German periodical press from 1790 to 1830, is without a parallel. It was a complete classified catalogue of the “Works of Herrn Ludwig van Beethoven,” published as an advertisement, January 30, 1805, in the “Wiener Zeitung,” announcing them as “to be had at the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir at Vienna in the Kohlmarkt, No. 269.”

At the end of 1796—a few sets of Variations excepted—only the first three of Beethoven’s opera had appeared. Four years afterwards the first publishing houses of Leipsic contend with those of Vienna for his manuscripts, notwithstanding the worse than contemptuous treatment of his works by the newly founded musical journal.

In January, 1801, at Breslau “the pianoforte players gladly venture upon Beethoven and spare neither time nor pains to conquer his difficulties.” In June, Beethoven has “more commissions, almost, than it was possible to fill” from the publishers—he “demands and they pay.” In 1802, Nägeli of Zürich, passing all the older composers by, applies to him for sonatas with which to introduce to the public his costly enterprise of the “Répertoire des Clavecinistes.” In 1803, although Simrock, of Bonn, had a branch house at Paris, and printed editions of his townsman’s more important works for circulation in France, Zulehner of Mayence finds the demand for them sufficient to warrant the announcement of a complete and uniform edition of the “Works for Pianoforte and String Instruments.” In May of the same year the “Correspondence des Amateurs-Musiciens” informs us that at Paris a part of the pianoforte virtuosos play only Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and spite of the difficulties offered by their works there are “quelquefois des Amateurs qui croient les jouer”; and, soon after this, an application comes to Beethoven from distant Scotland for half a dozen sonatas, on Scotch themes.[27]

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The first two Concertos for Pianoforte and Orchestra, published in 1801, are reported to have been played in public within two years at Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Main; the third, advertised in November, 1804, was produced the next month at Berlin. The first Symphony had hardly left Hoffmeister’s press, when it was added to the repertory of the Gewandhaus Concert, at Leipsic, and during the three following years was repeatedly performed at Berlin, Breslau, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Dresden, Brunswick and Munich; the second, advertised in March, 1804, was the opening symphony of Schick and Bohrer’s (Berlin) concerts in the Autumn. The “Prometheus” overture was played in the same concerts, December 2, 1803—ten days earlier than the oldest discovered advertisement of its publication. The instant popularity of the Septet in all its forms is well known.

A public performance of the Horn Sonata, March 20, 1803, at the concert of Dulon, the blind flute player, is worth noting, because the pianist was “young Bär”—Meyerbeer.

In our day and generation, to offer so meagre a list of public productions as a proof of popularity in the case of a new author of orchestral works, would be ridiculous. In the multiplication of musical journals and the greatly extended interest taken in musical news wherever an orchestra exists equal to the performance of a symphony, there is also someone to report its doings. This is as it should be. Then, except in the larger capitals, this was rarely so. Hence the few notes above, compiled from the correspondence of the single musical journal of the time, are more than suggestive—they are proof—of many an unrecorded production of the works they name. But more noteworthy than the statistics given by the various correspondents, is this: that, whatever praises they bestow upon the concertos and symphonies of others, they rank Beethoven alone with Haydn and Mozart; and this they do, even before the publication of the third Concerto and the Second Symphony.

Beethoven, then, though almost unknown personally beyond the limits of a few Austrian cities—unaided by apostles to preach his gospel, owing nothing to journalist or pamphleteer, disdaining, in fact, all the arts by which dazzling but mediocre talent pushes itself into notoriety—had, in the short space of eight years, by simple force of his genius as manifested in his published works, placed himself at the head of all writers for the pianoforte, and in public estimation risen to the level of the two greatest of orchestral composers. The unknown student that entered Vienna in 1792, is now in 1804 a recognized member[40] of the great triumvirate, to whose names in 1870, in spite of all the polemics of preachers of a new gospel, the world still persists in giving the place of highest honor in the roll of instrumental composers. Then, as now—now, as then—they are Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

The lists of the ascertained compositions and publications for the year 1804 are surprisingly short; but as no really sufficient reason for the fact can be given, none shall be attempted.[28] The former are only the two Sonatas, Op. 53 and Op. 54, and the “Andante favori”; but the final revision of the “Sinfonia Eroica” probably was made at the beginning of the year.

The publications were these:

1—Second Symphony, D major, Op. 36, dedicated to Prince Carl Lichnowsky, advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir, Vienna, March 10.

The arrangement of this Symphony for pianoforte, violin and violoncello, which was published by the same firm in 1806, is indirectly claimed by Ries as his work, notwithstanding the title bears the words “par l’auteur même.” Czerny confirms Ries in these terms: “The arrangement of the second Symphony as a Pianoforte Trio was made by Ries; Beethoven gave it to me for correction of certain things with which he was dissatisfied.”

2—Song with pianoforte accompaniment: “i. e.,” advertised with the preceding.

3—VII Variations on “God save the King,” for Pf., advertised with the preceding.

4—III Marches for Pf., four hands. Op. 45, dedicated to Princess Esterhazy, advertised with the preceding.

5—V Variations for Pf., on “Rule Britannia,” advertised by the same, June 20th.

6—Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 31, No. 3, published by Nägeli in his “Répertoire des Clavecinistes,” Cat. II.

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Chapter III

The Year 1805—First Public Performance of the “Heroic Symphony”—The Opera “Leonore,” or “Fidelio”—A Study of the Sketchbook—The Singers and the Production.

The life of an author or composer, when absorbed in the study of a great work, falls into a routine of daily labor that presents few salient points to the biographer. Thus it was with Beethoven during the first two-thirds of the year 1805. What has been preserved of his correspondence is very little in quantity and of slight value. Ries was away with Lichnowsky in Silesia during all the warm season, and, very soon after his return, was forced to depart again from Vienna for Bonn; hence the “Notizen” fail us in perhaps the most interesting period of the young man’s four years of pupilage under Beethoven—that of the composition of “Leonore,” or “Fidelio.” The history of the year is, in the main, the history of that work; and unfortunately a very unsatisfactory one. Not to break the thread of the story hereafter, the few events of the first half of the year unconnected with it, shall first be disposed of.

Schuppanzigh had discovered and taught a boy of great genius for the violin, Joseph Mayseder by name (born October 16, 1789), who was already, in his sixteenth year, the subject of eulogistic notices in the public press. With this youth as second, Schreiber, “in the service of Prince Lobkowitz,” for the viola, and the elder Kraft, violoncellist, Schuppanzigh during the winter 1804-5 gave quartets “in a private house in the Heiligenkreuzerhof, the listeners paying five florins in advance for four performances.” Up to the end of April the quartets given were by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Eberl, Romberg, with “occasionally larger pieces. Of the latter great pleasure was given by the beautiful Beethoven Sextet in E-flat, a composition which shines resplendent by reason of its lively melodies, unconstrained harmonies, and a wealth of new and surprising ideas.” So it[42] is reported in the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.,” VII, 535, of the Sextet for wind-instruments, which afterwards received the opus number 71, but was composed “in 1796 at the latest,” says Nottebohm, and, not improbably in its original form, in Bonn.

It was to the discredit of Vienna, where instrumental performers of rare ability so abounded, that for several years regular public orchestral concerts, save those at the Augarten in summer, had been abandoned. Sensible of this, the bankers Würth and Fellner during the winter of 1803-4 “had gathered together on all Sunday mornings a select company (nearly all dilettanti) for concerts restricted for the greater part to pieces for full orchestra, such as symphonies (among them Beethoven’s First and Second), overtures, concertos, which they played in really admirable style.” There were also “some overtures by a certain Count Gallenberg” who “imitated, or rather copied, Mozart and Cherubini so slavishly, following them even in the details of keys and modulations so faithfully, that it was easy to tell the titles of the overtures over whose lasts his had been made with the greatest certainty.” Thus the correspondent of the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” (VI, 467). In these concerts Clement of the Theater-an-der-Wien was director.

They were renewed the present winter, and new performances of Beethoven’s first two Symphonies, and the Concerto in C minor (Op. 37)—pianoforte part by Ries[29]—prepare the way for the production of “an entirely new symphony”—“a long composition extremely difficult of performance, in reality, a tremendously expanded, daring and wild fantasia”; wanting “nothing in the way of startling and beautiful passages, in which the energetic and talented composer must be recognized; but often it loses itself in lawlessness”; the writer “belongs to Herr van Beethoven’s sincerest admirers, but in this composition he must confess that he finds too much that is glaring and bizarre, which makes a survey too difficult; and the principle of unity is almost wholly lost sight of.” It was the “Sinfonia Eroica”—its first semi-public production. Its first really public performance was in the Theater-an-der-Wien, on Sunday evening, April 7th, where it began the second part of a concert given for his own benefit by Clement. The programme announces it thus: “A new grand symphony in D-sharp by Herrn Ludwig van Beethoven, dedicated to his Serene Highness Prince Lobkowitz. The composer has kindly consented to conduct the work.”

[43]

Public Performance of the “Eroica”

Czerny remembered, and told Jahn, that on this occasion “somebody in the gallery cried out: ‘I’ll give another kreutzer if the thing will but stop!’” This is the key-note to the strain in which the Symphony was criticized in communications to the press, that are now among the curiosities of musical literature. The correspondent of the “Freymüthige” divided the audience into three parties.

Some, says he, Beethoven’s particular friends, assert that it is just this symphony which is his masterpiece, that this is the true style for high-class music, and that if it does not please now, it is because the public is not cultured enough, artistically, to grasp all these lofty beauties; after a few thousand years have passed it will not fail of its effect. Another faction denies that the work has any artistic value and professes to see in it an untamed striving for singularity which had failed, however, to achieve in any of its parts beauty or true sublimity and power. By means of strange modulations and violent transitions, by combining the most heterogeneous elements, as for instance when a pastoral in the largest style is ripped up by the basses, by three horns, etc., a certain undesirable originality may be achieved without much trouble; but genius proclaims itself not in the unusual and the fantastic, but in the beautiful and the sublime. Beethoven himself proved the correctness of this axiom in his earlier works. The third party, a very small one, stands midway between the others—it admits that the symphony contains many beauties, but concedes that the connection is often disrupted entirely, and that the inordinate length of this longest, and perhaps most difficult of all symphonies, wearies even the cognoscenti, and is unendurable to the mere music-lover; it wishes that H. v. B. would employ his acknowledgedly great talents in giving us works like his symphonies in C and D, his ingratiating Septet in E-flat, the intellectual Quintet in D (C major?) and others of his early compositions which have placed B. forever in the ranks of the foremost instrumental composers. It fears, however, that if Beethoven continues on his present path both he and the public will be the sufferers.... The public and Herr van Beethoven, who conducted, were not satisfied with each other on this evening; the public thought the symphony too heavy, too long, and Beethoven himself too discourteous, because he did not nod his head in recognition of the applause which came from a portion of the audience.

This clear, compendious and valuable statement of the conflicting opinions of the first auditors of the “Eroica” renders farther citations superfluous; but a story—characteristic enough to be true—may be added: that Beethoven, in reply to the complaints of too great length, said, in substance: “If I write a symphony an hour long it will be found short enough!” He refused positively to make any change in the work, but deferred to public opinion so far, as, upon its publication, to affix to the title of the Symphony a note to the effect, that on account of its great[44] length it should be played near the beginning of a concert, before the audience was become weary.

Beethoven, though choleric and violent in his anger, was placable. The theft of the Quintet in C dedicated to Count Fries, as related by Ries, and Beethoven’s warning against the pirated edition, will be remembered. Nottebohm has sufficiently established the fact that the engraved plates were not destroyed, as supposed by Ries, but afterwards again used with the composer’s consent and even his corrections. A short letter to the offending publisher (June 1) shows that his wrath was already appeased, and seems to indicate a purpose to grant him the copyright of a new quintet—a purpose which, under the pressure of his opera, and the subsequent invasion of the French, remained unexecuted.

Ignatz Pleyel, born in 1757, the twenty-fourth child of a schoolmaster at Ruppersthal, a village a few miles from Vienna, a favorite pupil of Haydn and just now the most widely known and popular living instrumental composer except his master, came from Paris this season to revisit, after many years’ absence, the scenes of his youth. He brought with him his last new quartets, “which,” writes Czerny,

were performed before a large and aristocratic society at the house of Prince Lobkowitz. At the close, Beethoven, who was also present, was requested to play something. As usual he let himself be begged for an infinitely long time and at last almost dragged by two ladies to the pianoforte. In an ill humor he grabs a second violin part of the Pleyel quartet from a music desk, throws it on the rack of the pianoforte and begins to improvise. He had never been heard to improvise more brilliantly, with more originality and splendor than on this evening! but through the entire improvisation there ran through the middle voices like a thread or cantus firmus the notes, in themselves utterly insignificant, which he found on the accidentally opened page of the quartet, upon which he built up the most daring melodies and harmonies in the most brilliant concerto style. Old Pleyel could show his amazement only by kissing his hands. After such improvisations Beethoven was wont to break out into a ringing peal of amused laughter.

Beethoven’s abandonment (if there really was one) of the rooms in the theatre in the spring of 1804, and his subsequent relinquishment of the apartments in “das Rothe Haus” to share those of Breuning, compelled his brother Kaspar to seek a lodging of his own, which he found for the present on the Hohen Markt. But the new contract, with Baron Braun, gave the composer again a right to the apartments in the theatre building, which he improved, at the same time retaining the dwelling in the Pasqualati house. The city directory for 1805 gives his[45] address at the theatre, and there he received visitors; at the Pasqualati house he was accustomed to seclude himself for work, forbidding his servant to admit any person whatever. In the summer he retired to Hetzendorf, and wrought out his opera, sitting in the same crotched oak in the Schönbrunn Garden where, four years before, he had composed the “Christus am Ölberg.” Thus again he had three lodgings at the same time, as in the preceding summer; with this difference, that now one was no expense to him. The thousand times repeated story of Ries, that in 1804 he had four dwellings at once, is a mistake.

The Sketches for “Fidelio”

Before his migration to Hetzendorf—say about the middle of June—Beethoven had completely sketched the music of his opera. This is made sufficiently certain by one of those whimsical remarks that he was in the habit of making on the blank spaces of whatever manuscript he happened to have before him. In this case he writes: “June 2d Finale always simpler. All pianoforte music also. God knows why my pianoforte music always makes the worst impression, especially when it is badly played.” This is in the midst of sketches to the final chorus of the opera, and is written upon the upper outer corner of page 291 of the “Leonore” sketchbook which became the property of Mr. Paul Mendelssohn, of Berlin. The principal value of this manuscript lies of course in the insight which it gives the musician into the master’s methods of composition;[30] but for the biographer the volume is by no means without its value. Its striking confirmation of the previously formed opinion, that two current notions in relation to the composition of the opera are erroneous, well repays the toil of studying it through. First: A misinterpreted sentence in Jahn’s article on “Leonore, oder Fidelio,” has originated and given currency to the idea that Beethoven’s “daring enthusiasm for the welfare of men and their rights” led him to begin his sketches for the opera with the “second finale, with its hymn-like character.” But the sketchbook, if it proves anything, proves this: that Beethoven began at the beginning and took up all the principal numbers in order, as they stood in Sonnleithner’s text; that the final choruses were the last to be sketched; and that this sketchbook happens to begin in the midst of the chorus of prisoners (originally the second finale) because the previous studies are wanting.

[46]

This volume contains the first sketches of Nos. 11, 18, 15a, 17a and 18a (appendix) of Jahn’s edition; Nos. 1 and 5 occur, but not in the original studies; Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are either entirely wanting or only come up in mere fragmentary afterthoughts, as No. 9, on page 51, where Beethoven has written at the top of the page: “in the duet between P. and R.” and just below: “dann schleich ich,” with a hint (4 bars of music unisono) for the accompaniment. Afterthoughts for the duet “Um in die Ehe”—Fidelio and Marcelline—occur also on pages 23, 344, and possibly one or two others, but not more. The studies for Fidelio’s recitative “Ach brich noch nicht” and aria “Komm Hoffnung” (No. 11), which are found near the end of the volume, seem to form a marked exception to the rule; but if these are really the first sketches, their appearance after the final scenes is explained by two remarks in Beethoven’s hand on page 344: “Duetto with Müller (Marcelline) and Fidelio aside,” and “Aria for Fidelio, another text which agrees with her.” These notes clearly indicate a change of plan in connection with the duet, and that the beautiful air, “Komm Hoffnung,” did not stand in Sonnleithner’s original text.

Patient Labor on the Opera

The other current error thoroughly exploded by the sketchbook is this, namely, that the noblest passages in the opera are a sort of spontaneous outpouring in music of feelings and sentiments awakened, or rendered intense and vivid, by the unfortunate love-affairs of the composer. Now, there is nothing from the first page to the last of this manuscript that conveys the impression of any such spontaneity. Every number, as it now stands complete in the score, was the tardy result of persevering labor—of the most painstaking study.

Where Jahn says: “I have not had an opportunity to study many of Beethoven’s sketchbooks, but I have found no instance in which one was not compelled to recognize that the material chosen was not the best, or to deplore that the material which he rejected had not been used,” he might have added, with truth, that some of the first ideas noted to passages, now among the gems of the opera, are commonplace and trivial to such a degree, that one can hardly attribute them to Beethoven. Yet, there they are in his own hand. Jahn’s compendious general description of the contents of this manuscript cannot be improved, except in a single passage, in which, probably trusting his memory a little too much, he conveys the mistaken (as we think) impression, that the aria of Marcelline is here first sketched.

[47]

The sketches [says he] are, naturally enough, of very different kinds; in part they are widely varying efforts to give musical expression to the same text, and many numbers, like the airs of Marcelline and Pizarro, the grave duet, a few striking passages, appear for the first time with motivi wholly different from those now to be found in the opera.... At other times, whole pieces are written down in a breath essentially as they have remained.

This is rather too strongly expressed, unless Jahn had in mind the arias of Rocco and Marcelline.

By the side of such passages are examples of indefatigable detail work, which cannot find a conclusion, of turning not only single motivi and melodies but the tiniest elements of them this way and that, and out of all conceivable variations to draw out the form that is best. One is amazed at this everlasting experimentation and cannot conceive how it will be possible to create an organic whole out of such musical scraps. But if one compares the completed art-work with the chaos of sketches one is overwhelmed with wonder at the creative mind which surveyed its task so clearly, grasped the foundation and the outlines of the execution so firmly and surely that with all the sketches and attempts in details the whole grows naturally from its roots and develops. And though the sketches frequently create the impression of uncertainty and groping, admiration comes again for the marvelously keen self-criticism, which, after everything has been tested with sovereign certainty, retains the best.[31]

In the notices of the “Leonore” sketchbook, made for use in this work, are copied eighteen different beginnings to Florestan’s air, “In des Lebens Frühlingstagen,” and ten to the chorus, “Wer ein holdes Weib”; others being omitted, because illegible or little more than repetitions. The studies for that wondrous outburst of joy, “O namenlose Freude,” are numerous; but the first bars of the duet are the same in all of them, having been taken by Beethoven from an “old opera.”

It certainly seems a little like cold-blooded cruelty thus ruthlessly to demolish the structure of romance which has been rising for thirty years on the sandy foundation laid by Schindler in his story of the Countess Guicciardi, and of which, through some fancied connection, the opera “Leonore” has become an imposing part. But facts are stubborn things, and here they are irreconcilable with the romance.

Inborn genius for musical composition, untiring industry, and the ambition to rival Cherubini in his own field, sufficiently explain the extraordinary merits of this work of Beethoven; want of practice and experience in operatic writing, its defects.

Beethoven’s seclusion at Hetzendorf from June to September (probably) and his labor of reducing the chaos of the sketch[48]book into the order and beauty of the score of “Leonore”—on which, as he told Schindler, he wrought in the bright summer days, sitting in the shades of Schönbrunn—are unbroken for us except by his first meeting with Cherubini. Some time in July—for that master arrived in Vienna after the 5th of that month, and Vogler was in Salzburg before the 28th—“Cherubini, Beethoven and Vogler were gathered together at Sonnleithner’s; everybody played, Vogler first, and without ceasing, so that the company meanwhile sat down to table. Beethoven was full of attention and respect toward Cherubini.” Such is Jahn’s note of a communication to him by Grillparzer; and Czerny told him: “B. did not give Cherubini a friendly reception in 1805, as the latter complained to Czerny later.”

At the end of the summer season Beethoven returned to town with his opera ready to be put in rehearsal. Here Ries found him. “He was really fond of me,” says he, “and gave me a comical proof of the fact in one of his fits of absentmindedness”; and Ries goes on to relate in the “Notizen”:

When I came back from Silesia, where, on Beethoven’s recommendation, I had spent a considerable time as pianoforte player for Prince Lichnowsky on his estate, I went into his room; he was about to shave and had lathered himself up to the eyes (for his fearful beard extended so far). He jumped up, embraced me cordially and, behold! he had transferred the soap from his left cheek to my right so completely that there was nothing left of it on him. Didn’t we laugh!

With all his kindness to Ries, Beethoven had neither forgotten nor forgiven the affair of the “Andante favori”:

One day when a small company including Beethoven and me breakfasted with Prince (Lichnowsky) after the concert in the Augarten (8 o’clock in the forenoon), it was proposed that we drive to Beethoven’s house and hear his opera “Leonore,” which had not yet been performed. Arrived there Beethoven demanded that I go away, and inasmuch as the most urgent appeals of all present were fruitless, I did so with tears in my eyes. The entire company noticed it and Prince Lichnowsky, following me, asked me to wait in an anteroom, because, having been the cause of the trouble, he wanted to have it settled. But the feeling of hurt to my honor would not admit of this. I heard afterward that Prince Lichnowsky had sharply rebuked Beethoven for his conduct, since only love for his works had been to blame for the incident and consequently for his anger. But the only result of these representations was that Beethoven refused to play any more for the company.

It so happened, that Ries thus lost his only opportunity ever to hear the “Leonore-Fidelio” music in its original form; but this Beethoven could not anticipate, as he could have no suspicion that they were so soon to be parted. Bonn, being now[49] under French rule, Ries was liable to conscription, and notice came that he was among the first drawn. “He was therefore,” says the ‘Harmonicon,’ “obliged to return home immediately, for his disobedience would have exposed his father and family to the risk of ruin.” Before Ries’ departure from Vienna, Beethoven, himself unable to afford him pecuniary assistance, again proved his kindly feelings towards his pupil by giving him a letter commending him to the benevolence of Princess Liechtenstein.

“To Beethoven’s rage,” says Ries, “the letter was not delivered, but I kept the original, written on an unevenly cut quarto sheet, as a proof of Beethoven’s friendship and love for me.” Three years will elapse before we meet Ries again in Vienna—the greater part of which period he passed at Paris in such discouraging circumstances, that he thought seriously of abandoning his profession.

First Performance of “Fidelio”

At the Theater-an-der-Wien none of the new operas produced this season had long kept the stage; although two of them—Schikaneder’s “Swetard’s Zaubergürtel,” music by Fischer, and his “Vesta’s Feuer,” music by J. Weigl—were brought out “with very extraordinary splendor of decorations and costumes.” It was now Autumn and the receipts did not cover the expenses of the theatre. “From the distance,” says Treitschke,

the storm of war rolled towards Vienna and robbed the spectators of the calm essential to the enjoyment of an art-work. But just for this reason all possible efforts were made to enliven the sparsely attended spaces of the house. “Fidelio” was relied upon to do its best, and so, under far from happy auspices, the opera was produced on November 20 (1805). It was possible efficiently to cast only the female parts with Mlles. Milder and Müller; the men left all the more to be desired.

Anna Milder (born December 13, 1785), now just completing her twentieth year, was that pupil of Neukomm to whom Haydn had said half a dozen years before: “My dear child! You have a voice like a house!” Schikaneder gave her her first engagement and she began her theatrical career April 9, 1803, in the part of Juno in Süssmayr’s “Spiegel von Arkadien,” with a new grand aria composed for her by him. Beethoven had now written the part of Fidelio for her. In later years it was one of her grand performances; though, judging from the contemporary criticisms, it was now somewhat defective, simply from lack of stage experience. Louise Müller, the Marcelline, “had already (in April, 1805) developed in a few years into a tasteful and honest singer, although she did not have the help of a voice of especial volume.” She became, in the opinion of Castelli, “a most amiable actress and good singer, particularly in the comic genre.”

[50]

Demmer, “trained in Cologne,” is reported in 1799, when singing at Frankfort-on-the-Main, as having “a firm, enduring voice with a high range; he played semi-comic rôles admirably. He was best in airs in which there was little agility and more sustained declamation.” Castelli praises him; but all contemporary accounts agree that he was not equal to the part of Florestan, for which he was now selected.

Sebastian Meier, brother-in-law to Mozart (the musical reformer of this theatre), “was insignificant as a singer, but a valiant actor,” says Castelli, who knew him most intimately. Schindler has an anecdote of him as Pizarro, apparently derived from Beethoven, to the effect that he had a high opinion of his own powers; that he used to swear by Mozart and confidently undertake everything. In view of this Beethoven resolved to cure him of his weakness, and to this end wrote the passage in Pizarro’s air:

Pizarro
Bass
Bald wird sein Blut verrinnen
Bald krümmet sich der Wurm

the voice moves over a series of scales, played by all the strings, so that the singer at each note which he has to utter, hears an appogiatura of a minor second from the orchestra. The Pizarro of 1805 was unable with all his gesticulation and writhing to avoid the difficulty, the more since the mischievous players in the orchestra below maliciously emphasized the minor second by accentuation. Don Pizarro, snorting with rage, was thus at the mercy of the bows of the fiddlers. This aroused laughter. The singer, whose conceit was thus wounded, thereupon flew into a rage and hurled at the composer among other remarks the words: “My brother-in-law would never have written such damned nonsense.”

Weinkopf (Don Fernando) had “a pure and expressive bass voice,” but his part was too meagre and unimportant to affect the success or failure of the opera.

[51]

Caché (Jaquino), according to Castelli, was a good actor,

who was also made serviceable in the opera because Meyer, the stage-manager, knew that good acting, in comic operas, was frequently more effective than a good voice. It was necessary to fiddle his song-parts into his head before he came to rehearsals.

Rothe (Rocco) was so inferior both as actor and singer, that his name is not to be found in any of the ordinary sources of Vienna theatrical history.

One can well believe that very considerable difficulties attended the performance, as Treitschke states. His words, in a passage above cited, as well as certain expressions of Beethoven’s a few months later, indicate that the opera was hurriedly put upon the stage, and the inadequacy of the singers thus increased by the lack of sufficient rehearsals. Seyfried says, “I directed the study of the parts with all the singers according to his suggestions, also all the orchestral rehearsals, and personally conducted the performance.” In 1805 Seyfried was young, talented, ambitious, zealous, and nothing was wanting on his part to insure success.

Incidents at the Rehearsals

Speaking of the rehearsals recalls to mind one of those bursts of puerile wrath, which were passed over with a smile by some of Beethoven’s friends, but gave serious offense to others. Mähler remembered that at one of the general rehearsals the third bassoon was absent; at which Beethoven fretted and fumed. Lobkowitz, who was present, made light of the matter: two of the bassoons were present, said he, and the absence of the third could make no great difference. This so enraged the composer, that, as he passed the Lobkowitz Place, on his way home, he could not restrain the impulse to turn aside and shout in at the great door of the palace: “Lobkowitzian ass!”

There were various stumbling-blocks in the vocal score of “Leonore.” Schindler on this point has some judicious remarks (in his third edition), and they are borne out by his record of conversations with Cherubini and Anna Milder. During his years of frequent intercourse with Beethoven and subsequently, “Leonore” was a work upon whose origin and failure he took much pains to inform himself, and its history as finally drawn up by him is much more satisfactory and correct than others of greater pretensions.

Outside the narrow circle of the playhouse, weightier matters than a new opera now occupied and agitated the minds of the Viennese. On the 20th October, Ulm fell. On the 30th Bernadotte entered Salzburg, on his way to and down the Danube. Vienna was defenceless. The nobility, the great bankers and[52] merchants—all whose wealth enabled and whose vocations permitted it—precisely those classes of society in which Beethoven moved, which knew how to appreciate his music, and of whose suffrages his opera was assured, fled from the capital. On November 9th the Empress departed. On the 10th the French armies had reached and occupied the villages a few miles west of the city. On November 13th, about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, the vanguard of the enemy, Murat and Lannes at the head, 15,000 strong, representing all branches of the service, entered Vienna in order of battle, flags flying and music sounding.

On the 15th, Bonaparte issued his proclamation from Schönbrunn, which he made his headquarters. Murat quartered himself in the palace of Archduke Albert; General Hulin, in that of Prince Lobkowitz. It was just at this most unlucky of all possible periods that Beethoven’s opera was produced; on November 20, 21 and 22.

Beethoven’s friend, Stephan von Breuning, prepared a pretty surprise for him by printing a short complimentary poem and having it distributed in the theatre at the second performance. It is preserved in the “Notizen” (p. 34).[32] Beethoven[53] desired to retain the original title of the opera, “Leonore,” and the directors of the theatre have been severely censured from that day to this for persisting in giving and retaining the title “Fidelio”; but unjustly; for, considering the relations in which Paër stood to Baron Braun, it was surely enough to have taken his subject, without stealing his title.

Recollections of a Singer

A young man, educated at the University of Munich, had for some time past been private secretary to the Bavarian Chargé des Affaires at Salzburg. The approach of the French armies after the fall of Ulm made his position and prospects very uncertain. It was just then that an agent of Baron Braun came thither in search of a young, fresh tenor to succeed Demmer, whose powers were fast yielding to time. The engagement was offered him and thus it came about, that J. A. Röckel, in the Autumn of 1805, became first tenor in the Theater-an-der-Wien. After appearing in divers characters with much success, considering his inexperience, he was offered the part of Florestan in the contemplated revival of “Fidelio.” A conversation with the singer at Bath in April, 1861, is authority for these particulars, and a letter from him dated February 26 of the same year adds more. Röckel wrote:

It was in December, 1805—the opera house An-der-Wien and both the Court theatres of Vienna having been at that time under the intendance of Baron Braun, the Court Banker—when Mr. Meyer, brother-in-law to Mozart and Regisseur of the opera An-der-Wien, came to fetch me to an evening meeting in the palace of Prince Charles Lichnowsky, the great patron of Beethoven. “Fidelio” was already a month previously performed An-der-Wien—unhappily just after the entrance of the French, when the city was shut against the suburbs. The whole theatre was taken up by the French, and only a few friends of Beethoven ventured to hear the opera. These friends were now at that soirée, to bring Beethoven about, to consent to the changes they wanted to introduce in the opera in order to remove the heaviness of the first act. The necessity of these improvements was already acknowledged and settled among themselves. Meyer had prepared me for the coming storm, when Beethoven should hear of leaving out three whole numbers of the first act.

At the soirée were present Prince Lichnowsky and the Princess, his lady, Beethoven and his brother Kaspar, [Stephan] von Breuning, [Heinrich] von Collin, the poet, the tragedian Lange (another brother-in-law to Mozart), Treitschke, Clement, leader of the orchestra, Meyer and myself; whether Kapellmeister von Seyfried was there I am not certain any more, though I should think so.

I had arrived in Vienna only a short time before, and met Beethoven there for the first time.

As the whole opera was to be gone through, we went directly to work. Princess L. played on the grand piano the great score of the[54] opera and Clement, sitting in a corner of the room, accompanied with his violin the whole opera by heart, playing all the solos of the different instruments. The extraordinary memory of Clement having been universally known, nobody was astonished by it, except myself. Meyer and I made ourselves useful, by singing as well as we could, he (basso) the lower, I the higher parts of the opera. Though the friends of Beethoven were fully prepared for the impending battle, they had never seen him in that excitement before, and without the prayers and entreaties of the very delicate and invalid princess, who was a second mother to Beethoven and acknowledged by himself as such, his united friends were not likely to have succeeded in this, even to themselves, very doubtful enterprise. But when after their united endeavors from seven till after one o’clock, the sacrifice of the three numbers was accomplished, and when we, exhausted, hungry and thirsty, went to restore ourselves by a splendid supper—then, none was happier and gayer than Beethoven. Had I seen him before in his fury, I saw him now in his frolics. When he saw me, opposite to him, so intently occupied with a French dish, and asked me what I was eating, and I answered: “I don’t know!” with his lion-voice he roared out: “He eats like a wolf—without knowing what! Ha, ha, ha!”

The condemned three numbers were:

1. A great aria with chorus of Pizarro;

2. A comic duo between Leonore (Fidelio) and Marcelline, with violin and violoncello solo;

3. A comic terzetto between Marcelline, Jacquino and Rocco.

Many years after, Mr. Schindler found the scores of these three pieces amongst the rubbish of Beethoven’s music, and got them as a present from him.

A question has been raised as to the accuracy of Röckel’s memory in his statement of the numbers cancelled on this occasion; to which it may be remarked, that the particulars of this first and extraordinary meeting with Beethoven would naturally impress themselves very deeply upon the memory of the young singer; that the numbers to be condemned had been previously agreed upon by the parties opposed to the composer in the transaction, and doubtless made known to Röckel; that Röckel’s relations to Meyer were such as to render it in the highest degree improbable, that he should confound Rocco’s gold aria with either of the Pizarro airs with chorus belonging to Meyer’s part; that both of these belong to the first and second original acts—i. e., to the first act of the opera as Röckel knew it; that he (Röckel) in his letter to the writer is not reporting upon the pieces actually omitted in the subsequent performance three or four months later, but upon those which, at this meeting, Beethoven was with great difficulty persuaded to omit: that the objections made to them were not to the music, but because they retarded the action; and, therefore, that the decision now[55] reached was by no means final, provided the end desired could be attained in some other way. Perhaps it may yet appear that Beethoven, now cunningly giving way, succeeded in winning the game, and retaining all three of the pieces condemned.

Outside theatrical circles we catch also a glimpse or two of Beethoven in these months. Pierre Baillot, the violinist, was in Vienna just before the French invasion on his way to Moscow, and was taken by Anton Reicha to see Beethoven.

They did not find him in his lodgings but in a by no means elegant inn in the Vorstadt. What first attracted the attention of the Frenchman was that Beethoven did not have the bulldog, gloomy expression which he had expected from the majority of his portraits; he even thought he recognized an expression of good-nature in the face of the composer. The conversation had just got well under way when it was interrupted by a terrific snore. It came from a stableman or coachman who was taking his little nap in a corner of the room. Beethoven gazed at the snorer a few moments attentively and then broke out with the words: “I wish I were as stupid as that fellow.”[33]

Schindler closes his account of these last five years in Beethoven’s life with great propriety and elegance by quoting a passage copied by the master from Christian Sturm’s “Betrachtungen.” It is made up of scattered sentences which may be found on page 197 of the ninth edition (Reutlingen, 1827):

To the praise of Thy goodness I must confess that Thou hast tried all means to draw me to Thee. Now it hath pleased Thee to let me feel the heavy hand of Thy wrath, and to humiliate my proud heart by manifold chastisements. Sickness and misfortune hast Thou sent to bring me to a contemplation of my digressions. But one thing only do I ask, O God, cease not to labor for my improvement. Only let me, in whatsoever manner pleases Thee, turn to Thee and be fruitful of good works.

Works Published in 1805

The publications for the year 1805 were the Two Easy Sonatas, G minor and G major, Op. 49, advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir, on January 23; Trio (arranged from the Septet) for Pf., Violin (or Clarinet) and Violoncello, E-flat, Op. 38, advertised by the same institution on the same date; Prelude for the Pf., F minor, advertised by the same on January 30; Romance for Violin and Orchestra, F major, Op. 50, advertised by the same on May 15; Sonata in C major for Pf., Op. 53, dedicated to Count Waldstein, advertised with the Romance; song, “An die Hoffnung,” Op. 32, advertised by the same on September 18; Six Variations for Pf. four hands, on “Ich denke[56] Dein,” advertised by the same on January 23; Minuet in E-flat for Pf., advertised by same on January 30; Scene and Air, “Ah, perfido! spergiuro,” in pianoforte score, published by Hoffmann and Kühnel.

The compositions which were completed were the opera “Leonore” (“Fidelio”) in its first form; the Concerto for Pf. and Orchestra, G major, Op. 58 (this on the authority of Nottebohm); the Pf. Sonata in F major. Op. 54; perhaps also may be added the Concerto for Pf., Violin and Violoncello, C major. Op. 56. It was sketched at the beginning of the year and was written, as Schindler states, for Archduke Rudolph, Seidler, violin, and Kraft, violoncello; it may well have been completed so as to be played by the winter of 1805-1806.

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Chapter IV

The Year 1806—Repetition of “Fidelio”—Changes in the Opera—Its Withdrawal—Journey to Silesia—Correspondence with Thomson—The Scottish Songs.

Excerpts from a letter written on June 2, 1806, by Stephan von Breuning to his sister and brother-in-law, make a fair opening for the story of the year 1806. In it he reports on “Fidelio.” The letter, though written in the middle of the year, has reference to the period between the original performance late in 1805 and the repetition in the spring of 1806, a period in which it would seem, from the absence of all epistolary writings, Beethoven was in no mood, or too much occupied otherwise, for correspondence. Von Breuning writes:

Nothing, perhaps, has caused Beethoven so much vexation as this work, the value of which will be appreciated only in the future.... Beethoven, who had also observed a few imperfections in the treatment of the text in the opera, withdrew it after three representations. After order had been restored he and I took it up again. I remodelled the whole book for him, quickening and enlivening the action; he curtailed many pieces, and then it was performed three[34] times with great success. Now, however, his enemies in the theatre arose, and as he had offended several persons, especially at the second representation, they succeeded in preventing further performances. Before this, many obstacles had been placed in his way; to let one instance stand as proof for the others, he could not even get permission to secure an announcement of the opera under the changed title “Fidelio,” as it is called in the French original, and as it was put into print after the changes were made. Contrary to promise the first title “Leonore” appeared on the poster. This is all the more unpleasant for Beethoven since the cessation of the performances on which he was depending for his honorarium, which consists in a percentage of the receipts, has embarrassed him in a financial way. He will recover from the set-back all the more slowly since the treatment which he has received has robbed him of a great deal of his pleasure in and love for work....

The words “Fidelio” and “Leonore” are here misplaced, interchanged, whether by Breuning or his copyist is not known.[58] The letter is a reflection of Beethoven’s disappointment and indignation at fancied injuries; it was written in ignorance of divers material facts, and contains inaccuracies, which—since its publication by Wegeler in 1838—have colored many attempts to write the early history of the opera.

It is a circumstance, noteworthy and not easily to be explained, that Breuning, instead of Sonnleithner, revised the text and made the new disposition of the scenes. For the alterations and suppressions, both in the text and the music, made at this time, the reader is referred to the edition of “Leonore” prepared by Otto Jahn, and published by Breitkopf and Härtel in 1852, and the preface to the edition of the “Fidelio” of 1805 published by Erich Prieger.

At the performances in November, the effect of the overture had been ruined by a passage in the Allegro, which was too difficult for the wood-wind instruments. “Instead of simply removing this obstacle (31 measures),” says Schindler, “Beethoven thought it advisable to rewrite the whole, inasmuch as he was already engaged upon a revision of other parts of the work. He retains the motivi of the Introduction as well as the Allegro, has the motivo of the latter played by violoncellos and violins simultaneously for the sake of greater sonority, and on the existing foundation rears a new structure, including several new thoughts.”[35]

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The Overtures to “Fidelio”

And thus for Beethoven the winter passed. To compete with successful new works which Schikaneder offered the Vienna audiences of 1806, was no light matter; and it is easy to imagine,[60] that Beethoven felt this, and determined, at all events in his own field of instrumental composition, to leave no doubt who was master. Hence, that monumental work, the great overture to “Leonore” in its second form. He was, as usual, dilatory in meeting his engagements. January and February passed and March drew to its close, and the overture was not ready. This was too much for Baron Braun’s patience. He, therefore, selected the best night of the season—Saturday, March 29, the last before the closing of the theatre for Holy Week and Easter—and gave Beethoven distinctly to understand, that if the opera was not performed on that evening, it should not be given at all. This was effectual and the new score was sent in; but so late, as Röckel well remembered, as to allow but two or three rehearsals with pianoforte and one only with orchestra; and these were directed by Seyfried—the composer appearing at neither.

Beethoven and Breuning supposed that a change of title from “Fidelio” to “Leonore” had been agreed to by the directors, and indeed the new text-book and Breuning’s poem on the occasion were so printed; but it was determined otherwise. By the new arrangement of the scenes, the number of acts was reduced to two. The new playbill therefore substitutes “Opera in two Acts” for “three”; excepting this, the change of date, and of Röckel’s[61] for Demmer’s name as Florestan, it is a facsimile of the previous ones, and announces: “Fidelio oder die Eheliche Liebe.” For this determination the directors may well have urged, not only a proper regard for the composer of “Sargino” and the (Italian) “Leonore,” but the manifest impropriety of misleading the public by giving a new title to a work which remained essentially unchanged. As on the original production, Breuning wrote a poem: “To Herr Ludwig van Beethoven, on the occasion of the reproduction of the opera composed by him and first performed on November 20, 1805, now given under the new title ‘Leonore.’”

Unsuccessful Performances

The correspondent of the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.,” under date of April 2, writes: “Beethoven has again produced his opera ‘Fidelio’ on the stage with many alterations and abbreviations. An entire act has been omitted, but the piece has benefited and pleased better.” On Thursday, the 10th, it was given again. The following letters from Beethoven to Sebastian Meier, referring to this performance, complain of “many blunders” in the choruses, ask for new rehearsals, and say:

Please ask Mr. Seyfried to conduct my opera to-day, I want to look at and hear it from a distance, thus at least my patience will not be so greatly tried as if I were to hear my music bungled close at hand! I cannot think otherwise than that it is done purposely. I will say nothing about the wind-instruments, but that all pp, crescendo, all decres. and all forte, ff, have been elided from my opera; at any rate they are not played. All delight in composing departs when one hears it (one’s music) played thus!

Seyfried’s autograph record of all performances in the Theater-an-der-Wien, through a long series of years, gives “Sargino” instead of “Fidelio,” for Saturday the 12th—and “Agnes Bernauer” for the Sunday and Monday following. That this old, well-known drama was so repeated affords a strong presumption that an opera—we think “Fidelio”—was withdrawn “because obstacles had suddenly appeared” after it was too late to supply its place with another. At all events, the production of “Fidelio” on Thursday, April 10th, was the last; for which fact, two explanations are given—that in Breuning’s letter, and one by Röckel in his letter to the author. Breuning attributes it to the composer’s enemies—to a cabal, to “several persons whom Beethoven had offended, especially at the second representation”; Röckel, to Beethoven’s own imprudence and folly.

Breuning, a Secretary in the War Office, could have had little leisure for theatrical matters in those melancholy days during the French occupation and immediately after; it is a cause of[62] surprise, that he found time for the revision of the “Fidelio” text; his record, therefore, could hardly have been made except upon the representations of his friend—the last man to admit that he was in fault. But Röckel was behind the scenes in a double sense: he sang the part of Florestan and while Beethoven’s “friends were, most of them, married men, not able to walk and dine out with him (as he writes) like myself, another bachelor, to whom he took a fancy—I could call upon him in the morning and in fine weather stroll and dine with him in the country.” Breuning and Röckel are alike men of unimpeachable veracity; but the latter speaks from personal knowledge and observation.

Breuning’s statement is improbable. Who were Beethoven’s enemies? Who formed the cabal? Baron Braun, Schikaneder, Seyfried, the Stage-manager Meier, Director Clement, the solo singers (Mlle. Milder, Weinkopf, Röckel), were all his friends; and, for anything now known, so were Mlle. Müller, Rothe and Caché. As to orchestra and chorus, they might refuse to play under Beethoven as conductor—nothing more; and, as he had already conducted four if not five times, this would create no great difficulty, as the baton would necessarily pass into the hands of Seyfried at the first or second subsequent performance. Moreover, now that the opera was fairly upon the stage and making its way, it was for the interest of all parties, from Baron Braun down to the scene-shifters, to continue it so long as it would draw an audience. That it was making its way is proved not only by all the contemporary accounts, but by this: that notwithstanding the necessarily empty houses in November, Beethoven’s percentage of the receipts finally amounted to nearly 200 florins.

The Composer in a Rage

In the second of the notes to Meier, Beethoven is guilty of monstrous injustice. A moment’s reflection shows this. The orchestra and chorus had duly rehearsed and three times publicly performed “Fidelio” as first written. Since then (see Jahn’s edition) most of the numbers, perhaps every one, had been more or less changed. Now every musician knows that it is easier to play a piece of new music correctly at sight, than a well-known composition in which material alterations have been made. And yet, because some forty men—playing on a dozen different instruments, and after a single rehearsal at which the composer was not present to explain his intentions—did not effect the impossibility of reading the music correctly and at the same time note all the marks of expression, Beethoven writes: “I cannot think otherwise than that is done purposely!”

[63]

All things considered, there can be no hesitation in preferring the testimony of the singer of Florestan, to that of the Court War Councillor.

When the opera was produced in the beginning of the following year (writes Röckel) it was exceedingly well received by a select public, which became more numerous and enthusiastic with each new representation; and no doubt the opera would have become a favorite if the evil genius of the composer had not prevented it, and as he, Beethoven, was paid for his work by a percentage, instead of a mere honorarium, an advantage which none enjoyed before him, it would have considerably advanced his pecuniary arrangements. Having had no theatrical experience, he was estimating the receipts of the house much higher than they really were; he believed himself cheated in his percentage, and without consulting his real friends on such a delicate point, he hastened to Baron Braun—that high-minded and honorable nobleman—and submitted his complaint. The Baron, seeing Beethoven excited and conscious of his one susceptibility (i. e., suspicious temper), did what he could to cure him of his suspicions against his employees, of whose honesty he was sure. Were there any fraud, the Baron said, his own loss would be beyond comparison more considerable than Beethoven’s. He hoped that the receipts would increase with each representation; until now, only the first ranks, stalls and pit were occupied; by and by the upper ranks would likewise contribute their shares.

“I don’t write for the galleries!” exclaimed Beethoven.

“No?” replied the Baron, “My dear Sir, even Mozart did not disdain to write for the galleries.”

Now it was at an end. “I will not give the opera any more,” said Beethoven, “I want my score back.” Here Baron Braun rang the bell, gave orders for the delivery of the score to the composer, and the opera was buried for a long time. From this encounter between Beethoven and Baron Braun one might conclude that the former’s feelings had been injured by the comparison with Mozart; but since he revered Mozart highly, it is probable that he took offence more at the manner in which they were uttered than at the words themselves.—He now realized plainly that he had acted against his own interests, and in all probability the parties would have come to an amicable understanding through the mediation of friends if Baron Braun had not very soon after retired from the management of the united theatres, a circumstance that led to a radical change of conditions.

In truth, Beethoven had overshot the mark. The overture was too novel in form and grand in substance to be immediately understood; and, in 1806, there was not an audience in Europe able to find, in the fire and expression of the principal vocal numbers, an adequate compensation for the superficial graces and melodic beauties of the favorite operas of the time, and which seemed to them to be wanting in “Fidelio.” Even Cherubini, who was all this time in Vienna, failed to comprehend fully a work which, though a first and only experiment, was destined to[64] an ever-increasing popularity, when nearly all his own then universally admired operas had disappeared from the stage. Schindler records that he “told the musicians of Paris concerning the overture that because of its confusion of modulations he was unable to recognize the principal key.” And farther, that he (Cherubini), in listening to “Fidelio,” had come to the conclusion that till then Beethoven had paid too little heed to the art of singing, for which Salieri was not to blame.

In 1836, Schindler conversed with the Fidelio of 1805-06, Madame Milder-Hauptmann, on the subject: “She said, among other things, that she, too, had had severe struggles with the master chiefly about the unbeautiful, unsingable passages, unsuited to her voice, in the Adagio of the air in E major—but all in vain, until, in 1814, she declared that she would never sing the air again in its then shape. That worked.”

Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who became a pupil of Salieri a dozen years later, wrote in a letter to Ferdinand Luib, under date February 21, 1858: “Speaking of Beethoven Salieri told me the composer had submitted ‘Fidelio’ to him for an opinion: he had taken exception to many things and advised Beethoven to make certain changes; but Beethoven had ‘Fidelio’ performed just as he had written it—and never visited Salieri again.” These last words are too strong; Beethoven’s pique against his old master was in time forgotten; for Moscheles (also in a letter to Luib) writes on February 28, 1858: “I cannot recall seeing Schubert at Salieri’s, but I do remember the interesting circumstance that once I saw a sheet of paper lying at Salieri’s on which in great letters written by Beethoven were the words: ‘The pupil Beethoven was here!’”

A letter by Beethoven to Baron von Braun refers to the incidents just described and asks permission to get from the theatre orchestral parts, as follows:

Flauto primo, the three trombones and the four horn parts of my opera. I need these parts, but only for a day, in order to have a few trifles copied for myself which could not be written into the score for want of room, also because Prince Lobkowitz thinks of giving the opera at his house and has asked it of me.

There were other reasons why Beethoven desired to render his score perfect. Whether the opera was performed in the Lobkowitz palace is not recorded; but Breuning ends his letter of June 2nd thus: “I will not write you the news that Prince Lichnowsky has now sent the opera to the Queen of Prussia, and that I hope[65] the performances in Berlin will show the Viennese what they have at home.”

Breuning’s hope was vain; the opera was not given in Berlin.

Marriage of Karl Kaspar van Beethoven

The order of time requires a passing notice of a family event which proved in the end a cause of infinite trouble and vexation to Beethoven and all connected with him by the ties of kindred or friendship. Whether his brother Kaspar’s salary was increased above 250 florins, before his appointment in 1809 as Liquidators’-Adjunct with 1000 florins and 160 fl. for lodgings, does not appear; beyond a doubt it had been. But, be this as it may, he now found himself in a position to marry, and on the 25th of May “a marriage contract was closed between Carl Caspar v. Beethoven, R. I. Officer of the Revenue, and of this city (Vienna) and Theresia Reiss, daughter of Anton Reiss, civilian, upholsterer.” Their only child, a son, was born—according to the baptismal certificate—on September 4th, 1806.

Reiss was a man of considerable wealth, for one in his sphere of life, and able, it is said, to give his daughter a marriage portion of 2000 florins; it appears, too, that the valuable house in the Alservorstadt, owned by Karl at the time of his death, was an inheritance of his wife from her father’s estate; indeed, half the right to the property was legally secured to her. So much has been wantonly and falsely written upon this marriage and its consequences, as to render it proper to add here: Karl van Beethoven’s character and temperament were not fitted to render a wife permanently happy; on the other hand his wife, before her husband’s death, dishonored him by an intrigue with a medical student; but there is no reason whatever to believe that the marriage, at the time it took place, was not considered a good one for, and by, all parties concerned.

The notices of Beethoven’s own movements during this year are scanty. “Fidelio” and studies to instrumental works employed him during the winter (1805-6), but not to the exclusion of the claims of social intercourse, as one of his characteristic memoranda indicates. It is written with lead pencil on a page of the new quartet sketches: “Just as you are now plunging into the whirlpool of society—just so possible is it to compose operas in spite of social obstacles. Let your deafness no longer be a secret—even in art.”

Breuning’s report (June 2), that Beethoven “had lost a great deal of his pleasure in and love for work,” had even then ceased to be true. On the 26th of May, the first of the Rasoumowski Quartets had been begun—and with it began a series of works[66] which distinguished the year 1806 as one of astonishing productiveness—but more on this point in due time. It is quite certain that he took no summer lodgings: this and other considerations confirm Schindler’s statement, that, when the revision of a copy of his opera for Berlin had been finished, he went into Hungary to enjoy “a short rest with his friend Count Brunswick.” Thence he journeyed into Silesia to the seat of Prince Lichnowsky near Troppau.

Negotiations with Breitkopf and Härtel

Two documents now come up for consideration which fill a hiatus left by the author in the original edition of this work. They are the letters to which reference was made by the English editor in his comments on Beethoven’s love-affairs (Vol. I, p. 344). Both are addressed to Breitkopf and Härtel, the first dated “Vienna, July 5, 1806,” the second “Grätz, den 3ten Heumonath, 1806”—“Heumonath” meaning July. The inaccuracy of the latter date is too obvious to call for extended comment; Beethoven could not apologize on the third day of the month for tardiness in replying to a letter in answer to one which he had dispatched on the fifth. It is not permissible to play fast and loose with Beethoven’s dates, despite their frequent faultiness; we must accept them when they are upheld by corroborative evidence, but reject them when it is plainly impossible to conceive them as correct. In explanation of the obvious incorrectness of the second date it is suggested that when Beethoven wrote “Heumonath,” i. e., July, he meant to write “Herbstmonath,” i. e., September. Irrespective of their dates, however, the letters furnish evidence of Beethoven’s creative activity during the summer of 1806. The first letter is as follows:

Vienna, July 5, 1806.

I inform you that my brother is going to Leipsic on business of his chancellary and I have given him to carry the overture to my opera in pianoforte arrangement, my oratorio and a new pianoforte concerto—you may also negotiate with him touching some new violin quartets of which I have already completed one and am purposing to devote myself almost wholly to this work. As soon as you have come to an understanding with my brother I will send you the pianoforte arrangement of my opera—you may also have the score.

I hear that the symphony which I sent you last year and which you returned to me has been roundly abused in the Musikal. Zeitung, I have not read it, if you think that you do me harm by this you are mistaken, on the contrary you bring your newspaper into discredit by such things—all the more since I have not made any secret of the fact that you sent back this symphony and other compositions—Please present my compliments to Herr V. Rochlitz, I hope his bad blood toward me has become a little diluted, say to him that I AM BY NO MEANS SO IGNORANT of foreign[67] literature not to know that Herr v. Rochlitz has written some very pretty things, and if I should ever come to Leipsic I am convinced that we shall become right good friends without causing injury or loss to his criticisms....

The pianoforte concerto referred to is that in G major, Op. 58; the Quartets, the set Op. 59; the symphony, the “Eroica.” The second letter was written from Prince Lichnowsky’s castle, Grätz, near Troppau in Silesia. Breitkopf and Härtel’s endorsement shows that it was received and answered in September:

Grätz, Heu-Monath 3rd, 1806.

Rather too much to do and the little journey here I could not answer your letter at once—although I at once decided to accept your offer, since my comfort, too, will be promoted by such an arrangement and many unavoidable disorders obviated—I willingly obligate myself not to sell any more of my works to any one except you nor abroad except in the cases now specified, viz: whenever advantageous offers are made to me by foreign publishers I will inform you of the fact; and if you are otherwise inclined I will at once arrange that you shall have the same work for Germany for a smaller honorarium.—The second case is this: if I should leave Germany, which is easily possible, that you may still participate as above, if you so desire—If these conditions are agreeable to you write me—I believe the plan mutually helpful—as soon as I learn your opinion of the matter—you may have at once 3 violin quartets, a new pianoforte concerto, a new symphony, the score of my opera and my oratorio.

My present place of sojourn is here in Silesia so long as autumn lasts—with Prince Lichnowsky—who sends greetings to you—My address is L. v. Beethoven in Troppau.

Breitkopf and Härtel’s endorsement is as follows: “Resp. (i. e., responsum). Let him propose the honorarium; if acceptable we will send him a contract for three years.” In reply to this Beethoven wrote a letter dated Vienna, Nov. 18, 1806, in which he said:

Partly my distractions in Silesia, partly the events which have taken place in your country, were to blame that I did not answer your letter before now—should the present condition of affairs prevent your entering into an engagement with me, you are not bound to anything—only I beg you to answer at once by post, so that in case you do not care to make a contract with me—I need not let my works lie idle. With regard to a contract for three years I am disposed to enter into it with you at once if you will agree that I sell several works to England or Scotland. It is understood of course that the works which you have received from me or which I sold you belong only to you, namely are your sole property and have nothing to do with those of France, England or Scotland—but I must have the privilege to dispose of other works in those countries—But in Germany, you and no other publisher would be the owner of my works. I would willingly renounce the sale of my works in those countries, but I have received[68] from Scotland such weighty offers and such an honorarium as I could not ask of you, besides a connection with foreign countries is always important for the fame of an artist and in the event of his travelling—As, for instance, in the case of Scotland, I have the right to sell the same works in Germany and France, I would gladly let you have them for Germany and France—so that only London and Edinburgh (in Scotland) would be lost to your sales.... For the present I offer you three quartets and a pianoforte concerto—I cannot give you the promised symphony yet—because a gentleman of quality has taken it from me, but I have the privilege of publishing it in half a year. I ask of you 600 florins for the three quartets and 300 fl. for the concerto, both amounts in Convention Florins according to the 20 florin scale.

The negotiations were without result and the compositions mentioned were published by the Industrie-Comptoir. The symphony referred to was doubtless the fourth, in B-flat, and the “gentleman of quality” in all likelihood Count von Oppersdorff, to whom it was dedicated.

In October Breuning wrote to Wegeler: “Beethoven is at present in Silesia with Prince Lichnowsky and will not return till near the end of this month. His circumstances are none of the best at present, since his opera, owing to the cabals of his opponents, was performed but seldom, and therefore yielded him nothing. His spirits are generally low and, to judge by his letters, the sojourn in the country has not cheered him.” This visit to the Prince came to an abrupt termination in a scene which has been a fruitful theme for the silly race of musical novelette writers. The simple truth is related by Seyfried in the appendix to his “Studien” (page 23) and is here copied literally except for a few additional words interspersed, derived by the present writer from a conversation with the daughter of Moritz Lichnowsky:

When he (Beethoven) did not feel in the mood it required repeated and varied urgings to get him to sit down to the pianoforte. Before he began playing he was in the habit of hitting the keys with the flat of his hand, or running a single finger up and down the keyboard, in short, doing all manner of things to kill time and laughing heartily, as was his wont, at the folly. Once while spending a summer with a Mæcenas at his countryseat, he was so pestered by the guests (French officers), who wished to hear him play, that he grew angry and refused to do what he denounced as menial labor. A threat of arrest, made surely in jest, was taken seriously by him and resulted in Beethoven’s walking by night to the nearest city, Troppau, whence he hurried as on the wings of the wind by extra post to Vienna.[36]

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In the “Grenzboten,” Vol. XVI, No. 14, April 3, 1857, Fräulein Giannatasio del Rio relates that, in 1816, Beethoven told how once during the invasion when the Prince had a number of Frenchmen as his guests, he (the Prince) repeatedly tried to coerce him to play for them on the pianoforte and that he had stoutly refused; which led to a scene between him and the Prince, whereupon B. indiscreetly and suddenly left the house.—He once said that it is easy to get along with nobility, but it was necessary to have something to impress them with.

To propitiate him for the humiliation which he had suffered, the bust of his patron had to become a sacrifice; he dashed it into pieces from its place on a cabinet to the floor. Alois Fuchs recorded an anecdote which illustrates the feeling which made Beethoven so unwilling to play before the French officers. After the battle at Jena (October 14, 1806) Beethoven met his friend Krumpholz, to whom he was warmly attached, and, as usual, asked him, “What’s the news?” Krumpholz answered that the latest news was the report just received that the great hero Napoleon had won another decisive victory over the Prussians. Greatly angered, Beethoven replied to this: “It’s a pity that I do not understand the art of war as well as I do the art of music, I would conquer him!”

A very natural query arises here: how did Beethoven meet the expenses of these costly journeys? In answer it may be said that there is good reason to believe that he borrowed and used his brother Johann’s scanty savings.

Thomson and Scottish Songs

A letter by Beethoven, dated November 1, introduces a new topic. At the time of the Union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, 1707, a “Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures in Scotland” was established. About 1785 George Thomson became its Secretary. He had some knowledge of musical science, and was an enthusiastic lover of Scottish airs and melodies. His official position brought him into correspondence with educated and influential people in all parts of the kingdom, and afforded him singular facilities for the execution of an early formed project—that of making the most extensive collection possible of the music of Scotland. Many compilations, various in extent and merit, had been published, but all of them, as Thomson justly remarks, “more or less defective and exceptionable.” In one of his prefaces he says:

To furnish a collection of all the fine airs, both of the plaintive and the lively kind, unmixed with trifling and inferior ones—to obtain[70] the most suitable and finished accompaniments, with the addition of characteristic symphonies to introduce and conclude each air—and to substitute congenial and interesting songs, every way worthy of the music, in the room of insipid or exceptionable verses, were the great objects of the present publication....

For the composition of the symphonies and accompaniments, he entered into terms with Mr. Pleyel, who fulfilled part of his engagement satisfactorily; but having then stopped short, the editor found it necessary to turn his eyes elsewhere. He was so fortunate, however, as to engage Mr. Koželuch, and afterwards, Dr. Haydn, to proceed with the work, which they have finished in such a manner as to leave him nothing to regret on Mr. Pleyel’s breach of engagement, etc., etc.

Doubtless Thomson would have applied sooner to Haydn, had he known that the great master would condescend to such a labor. The appearance of William Napier’s two volumes of “Original Scots Songs, in three parts, the Harmony by Haydn,” removed any doubt on this point. For Napier, Haydn simply added a violin part and a figured bass; for Thomson, a full pianoforte score, parts for violin and violoncello, and an instrumental introduction and coda. A very remarkable feature of the enterprise was, that the composers of the accompaniments had no knowledge of the texts, and the writers of the poetry no knowledge of the accompaniments. The poets, in many cases, had a stanza of the original song as a model for the metre and rhythm; in all others, they and the composers alike received the bare melody, with nothing else to guide them in their work but Italian musical terms: allegro, moderato, andante, etc., etc., affettuoso, espressivo, scherzando, and the like. This is also true of the Welsh and Irish melodies. Beethoven began his labors for Thomson with the last named. In the preface to the first volume, dated “Edinburgh, anno 1814,” after describing his work in collecting Irish airs, Thomson says:

They were sent to Haydn to be harmonized along with the Scottish and Welsh airs; but after that celebrated composer had finished the greater part of those two works, his declining health only enabled him to harmonize a few of the Irish Melodies; and upon his death, it became necessary to find another composer to whom the task of harmonizing them should be committed.[37] Of all composers that are now living, it is acknowledged by every intelligent and unprejudiced musician, that the only one, who occupies the same distinguished rank with the late Haydn is Beethoven. Possessing the most original genius and inventive fancy, united to profound science, refined taste and an enthusiastic love of his art—his compositions, like those of his illustrious predecessor, will bear endless repetition and afford ever new delight. To this composer, there[71]fore, the Editor eagerly applied for symphonies and accompaniments to the Irish Melodies; and to his inexpressible satisfaction, Beethoven undertook the composition. After years of anxious suspense and teazing disappointment, by the miscarriage of letters and manuscripts, owing to the unprecedented difficulty of communication between England and Vienna, the long expected symphonies and accompaniments at last reached the Editor, three other copies having previously been lost upon the road.

Near the close of his preface, Thomson says: “After the volume was printed and some copies of it had been circulated, an opportunity occurred of sending it to Beethoven, who corrected the few inaccuracies that had escaped the notice of the Editor and his friends; and he trusts it will be found without a single error.”

Beethoven’s Suggested Arrangements

Following is a translation of the letter to Thomson referred to:

Vienna, November 1, 1806.

Dear Sir:

A little excursion to Silesia which I have made is the reason why I have postponed till now answering your letter of July 1. On my return to Vienna I hasten to communicate to you what I have to say and what I have decided as to the proposals you were so kind as to make me. I will speak with all candor and exactitude, which I like in business affairs, and which alone can forestall any complaint on either side. Here, then, my dear Sir, are my statements:

1mo. I am not indisposed, on the whole, to accept your propositions.

2do. I will take care to make the compositions easy and pleasing, as far as I can and as far as is consistent with that elevation and originality of style which, as you yourself say, favorably characterize my works and from which I shall never derogate.

3tio. I cannot bring myself to write for the flute, as this instrument is too limited and imperfect.

4to. In order to give the compositions which you will publish greater variety and to leave myself a freer field in them, though the task of making them easy would always be an embarrassment to me, I shall promise you only three trios for violin, viola and violoncello, and three quintets for two violins, two violas and one violoncello. Instead of the remaining three trios, I will send you three quartets and, finally, two sonatas for pianoforte with an accompanying instrument, and a quintet for two violins and flute. In a word, I would ask you with regard to the second series of the compositions you ask for, to rely upon my taste and good faith and I assure you that you shall be entirely satisfied.

If you cannot agree to any of these changes, I shall not insist upon them obstinately.

5to. I should be glad if the second series of compositions were published six months after the first.

VIto. I desire a clearer explanation of the expression which I find in your letter that no copy printed under my name shall be introduced into Great Britain; for if you agree that these compositions are to be published[72] also in Germany and even in France, I do not understand how I shall be able to prevent copies from being taken to your country.

7mo. Finally as to the honorarium, I shall expect you to send me 100 pounds sterling, or 200 Vienna ducats in gold, and not in Vienna bank-notes, which under the present circumstances are at too great a discount; for if paid in these notes the sum would be as little in proportion to the works which I should deliver to you as to the fees which I receive for all my other compositions. Even a fee of 200 ducats in gold is by no means excessive payment for all that is demanded to meet your wishes.

The best way of making the payment will be for you, on the dates when I forward you the first and second series of compositions, to send me each time by post a bill of exchange for 100 ducats in gold drawn upon a house in Hamburg; or for you to commission somebody in Vienna to hand me such a bill of exchange each time, as he receives from me the first and second series.

At the same time please let me know the date on which each series will be published by you in order that I may engage the publishers who issue these compositions in Germany and France, to abide by the same.

I hope that you will find my explanations reasonable and of such a sort that we can reach some definite agreement. In this case it will be best to draw up a formal contract which please have the kindness to prepare in duplicate; and I will return you one copy signed by me.

I await your answer, that I may begin on the work; and I remain with distinguished consideration, my dear Sir,

Your obedient servant,
Louis van Beethoven.

P.S.

I shall be glad to meet your wish that I provide little Scottish songs with harmonized accompaniments; and in this matter I await a more definite proposal; since it is well known to me that Herr Haydn was paid one pound sterling for each song.

The original of this letter—in possession of the heirs of Mr. Thomson—is in French, the signature only being in Beethoven’s hand. Of its various propositions, that in the postscript alone led to any results.

Compositions of 1806

And now to the compositions of the year. A song translated by Breuning from a French opera, “Le Secret,” was probably the first fruits of the newly awakened “desire and love for work,” which proved so nobly productive during his summer absence from Vienna; it is the one published at different times under the titles “Empfindungen bei Lydiens Untreue,” and “Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte.” A slight token of gratitude for the recent zealous kindness of Breuning in the matter of the opera, such as this song, would not long be delayed even by Beethoven. But, whether or not this was the first composition after the withdrawal of “Fidelio,” it is certain that, just one week before the date of Breuning’s letter, Beethoven had set himself resolutely to work upon grander themes than Empfindungen bei Lydiens or[73] any other Mädchens Untreue. These are now to be considered. He began the quartets, Op. 59, on May 26. Certain studies to “Fidelio,” not previously mentioned, are contained in a sketchbook of the Landsberger Collection of Autographs, the principal contents of which are sketches for the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth Symphonies, and for “Fidelio.” This, at first view, seems to confirm an assertion of Czerny’s—not accepted by Schindler, who in this case is the better authority—namely, that the Ninth Symphony, except its choral Finale, was projected many years before its composition; but the book itself affords a strong argument against it; it being, as the present writer is convinced, not a manuscript in its original form, but one made up of parts of several different books, stitched together subsequently for the better preservation of these various symphonic studies. In it, however, the sketches for the Fourth Symphony are in immediate connection with those for “Fidelio.” The list, then, of important works sketched during the progress of the opera, is this: Triple Concerto, Op. 56; Sonata in F minor, Op. 57; Pf. Concerto in G, Op. 58; Rasoumowsky Quartets, Op. 59; Fourth Symphony, B-flat, Op. 60; Fifth Symphony, C minor, Op. 67; Sixth Symphony, “Pastorale,” Op. 68. Omitting the first as belonging to 1805, and the last two as belonging to 1807-1808, the other four, we conceive, may be dated 1806. They afford a striking example of Beethoven’s habit of working on several compositions at the same time, and, moreover, as we believe, of his practice in such cases of giving the works opus numbers in the order of their completion. In this order we will take them up. “The first work which followed the exertions caused by the opera,” writes Schindler, “was the Sonata in F minor, Op. 57.... The master composed it straightway from beginning to end, during a short period of rest at the house of his friend Count Brunswick, to whom, as is known, the sonata is dedicated.”

Beethoven, journeying into Silesia after his visit to Brunswick, took the manuscript and had it also with him on his return to Vienna per extra post from Troppau after the explosion at Lichnowsky’s. “During his journey,” wrote M. Bigot half a century afterwards on a printed copy belonging to the pianist Mortier de Fontaine,

he encountered a storm and pouring rain which penetrated the trunk into which he had put the Sonata in F minor which he had just composed. After reaching Vienna he came to see us and laughingly showed the work, which was still wet, to my wife, who at once began to look carefully at it. Impelled by the striking beginning she sat down at the[74] pianoforte and began playing it. Beethoven had not expected this and was surprised to note that Madame Bigot did not hesitate at all because of the many erasures and alterations which he had made. It was the original manuscript which he was carrying to his publisher for printing. When Mme. Bigot had finished playing she begged him to give it to her; he consented, and faithfully brought it to her after it had been printed.

Czerny says, very justly, of the unauthorized change afterwards made in the title: “In a new edition of the Sonata in F minor, Op. 57, which Beethoven himself considered his greatest, the title ‘Appassionata,’ for which it is too great, was added to it. This title would be more fitly applied to the E-flat Sonata, Op. 7, which he composed in a very impassioned mood.”

The Pf. Concerto in G, Op. 58, is dated by Schindler 1804, “according to information given by F. Ries”; the new edition of Breitkopf and Härtel’s thematic catalogue says (p. 197): “The Concerto was finished in the year 1805,” without mentioning its authority. If it had nothing better than Ries’s anecdote to offer in proof, the opinion may still be entertained confidently, that this work remained still unfinished until the approach of the concert season, towards the end of the year 1806.[38]

The Rasoumowsky Quartets

The Quartets, Op. 59, certainly belong to this year. “Quartetto 1mo.... Begun on May 26, 1806,” are Beethoven’s own words; and the opus number, the reports of their production during the next winter, and, especially, the date of their publication, making allowance for Rasoumowsky’s right to them for a year, all point to November or December as the latest possible date for their completion. The idea of employing popular airs as themes was by no means new to Beethoven. Without referring to the example set by Haydn, Pleyel, Koželuch, it had been proposed to him by Thomson; and as to Russian melodies, he must have read the “Allg. Musik-Zeitung” very carelessly not to have had his curiosity aroused by the articles on Russian music published in that journal in 1802—a curiosity which, in the constant intercourse between Vienna, Moscow and St. Petersburg, there would be no difficulty in gratifying. Czerny writes, however, “He had pledged himself to weave a Russian melody into every quartet.” But Lenz, himself a Russian and a musician, says: “The Russian themes are confined to the Finale of No. 1 and the third movement of the second Quartet.” This is a case in which Czerny’s authority can scarcely be gainsaid; otherwise, it might be supposed that the composer of his own motion introduced these two[75] themes in compliment to Rasoumowsky. “The Adagio, E major, in the second Rasoumowsky Quartet, occurred to him when contemplating the starry sky and thinking of the music of the spheres,” writes Czerny in Jahn’s notes.

Perhaps no work of Beethoven’s met a more discouraging reception from musicians, than these now famous Quartets. One friendly contemporary voice alone is heard—that of the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” Czerny told Jahn, that “when Schuppanzigh first played the Rasoumowsky Quartet in F, they laughed and were convinced that Beethoven was playing a joke and that it was not the quartet which had been promised.” And when Gyrowetz bought these Quartets he said: “Pity to waste the money!” The Allegretto vivace of the first of these quartets was long a rock of offence. “When at the beginning of the year 1812,” says Lenz, “the movement was to be played for the first time in the musical circle of Field Marshal Count Soltikoff in Moscow, Bernhard Romberg trampled under foot as a contemptible mystification the bass part which he was to play. The Quartet was laid aside. When, a few years later, it was played at the house of Privy Councillor Lwoff, father of the famous violinist, in St. Petersburg, the company broke out in laughter when the bass played his solo on one note.—The Quartet was again laid aside.”

Thomas Appleby, father of Samuel Appleby, collector of valuable papers referring to the violinist Bridgetower, was a leader in the musical world of Manchester, England, and a principal director of concerts there. When these quartets came out in London, Clementi sent a copy of them to him. They were opened and thrown upon the pianoforte. Next day Felix Radicati and his wife, Mme. Bertinotti, called and presented letters, they being upon a concert tour. During the conversation the Italian went to the pianoforte, took up the quartets and seeing what they were, exclaimed (in substance): “Have you got these here! Ha! Beethoven, as the world says, and as I believe, is music-mad;—for these are not music. He submitted them to me in manuscript and, at his request, I fingered them for him. I said to him, that he surely did not consider these works to be music?—to which he replied, ‘Oh, they are not for you, but for a later age!’”

Young Appleby believed in them, in spite of Radicati, and after he had studied his part thoroughly, his father invited players of the other instruments to his house and the first in F was tried. The first movement was declared by all except Appleby to be “crazy music.” At the end of the violoncello solo on one note, they all burst out laughing; the next four bars all agreed were[76] beautiful. Ludlow, an organist, who played the bass, found so much to admire and so much to condemn in the half of this second movement, which they succeeded in playing, as to call it “patchwork by a madman.” They gave up the attempt to play it, and not until 1813, in London, did the young man succeed in hearing the three Quartets entire, and finding them, as he had believed, worthy of their author.

The Year’s Publications

The Symphony in B-flat, Op. 60, was the great work of this summer season. Sketches prove that its successor, the fifth in C minor, had been commenced, and was laid aside to give place to this. Nothing more is known of the history of its composition except what is imparted by the author’s inscription on the manuscript: “Sinfonia 4ta 1806. L. v. Bthvn.”

In singular contrast to these grand works and contemporary with their completion, as if written for amusement and recreation after the fatigue of severer studies, are the thirty-two Variations for Pianoforte in C minor. They belong to this Autumn, and are among the compositions which their author would gladly have seen pass into oblivion. Jahn’s notes contain an anecdote in point. “Beethoven once found Streicher’s daughter practising these Variations. After he had listened for a while he asked her: “By whom is that?” “By you.” “Such nonsense by me? O Beethoven, what an ass you were!””

Although the composer did not succeed in bringing his new Symphony and Concerto to public performance this year, an opportunity offered itself for him to give the general public as fine a taste of his quality as composer for the violin, as he had just given to the frequenters of Rasoumowsky’s quartet parties in the Op. 59, namely, Op. 61, the work superscribed by its author: Concerto par Clemenza pour Clement, primo Violino e Direttore al Theatro a Vienne, dal L. v. Bthvn., 1806;—or, as it stands on Franz Clement’s concert programme of December 23 in the Theater-an-der-Wien: “2. A new Violin Concerto by Hrn. Ludwig van Beethoven, played by Hrn. Clement.” It was preceded by an overture by Méhul, and followed by selections from Mozart, Cherubini and Handel, closing with a fantasia by the concert-giver. When Dr. Bertolini told Jahn that “Beethoven as a rule never finished commissioned works until the last minute,” he named this Concerto as an instance in point; and another contemporary notes that Clement played the solo a vista, without previous rehearsal. The list of publications this year is short:

LIme Sonata pour le Pianoforte, F major, advertised April 9 in the “Wiener Zeitung” by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir.[77] There is no tradition that Beethoven ever explained why he called this his fifty-first, or the F minor his fifty-fourth Sonata. The best that Czerny could suggest is that “perhaps he sketched that number in manuscript and then destroyed them or used them in another form.” Others have made lists of all the works in sonata-form, including the symphonies; but none has been so probably right as to produce conviction.

Grand Trio pour deux Hautbois et un Cor Anglais, C major, advertised by Artaria and Co., April 12, without opus number. At a later date it was called Op. 87. The same work for two violins and viola, and as a sonata for pianoforte and violin, was advertised at the same time. “Andante” (Favori) in F major, for Pianoforte. This was originally the second movement of the Sonata, Op. 53—according to the anecdote before given from Ries’s “Notizen.”

“Sinfonia eroica,” Op. 55, dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir on October 29.

Besides these works, Johann Traeg advertised on June 18 “6 Grands Trios pour le Pianoforte, violon obligé et violoncello ad lib.,” Op. 60, Nos. 1 and 2. These are arrangements of the Quartets, Op. 18. Also “3 Grands Trios pour le Pianoforte, Violon et Violoncello,” Op. 61, No. 1; arrangements of the Trios, Op. 9. Before February, 1807, the other numbers of the two works had been completed and had left the press. The opus numbers were not recognized by Beethoven, for, as is seen above, 60 and 61 belong to original works of a very different order.

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Chapter V

Beethoven’s Friends and Patrons in the First Lustrum of the Nineteenth Century—An Imperial Pupil, Archduke Rudolph—Count Rasoumowsky—Countess Erdödy—Baroness Ertmann—Marie Bigot—Therese Malfatti—Nanette Streicher—Zizius—Anecdotes.

He who dwells with wife and children in a fixed abode, usually finds himself, as age draws on, one of a small circle of old friends; and hoary heads, surrounded by their descendants, the inheritors of parental friendships, sit at the same tables and make merry where they had gathered in the prime of life. The unmarried man, who can call no spot on earth’s surface his own, who spends his life in hired lodgings, here to-day and there to-morrow, has, as a rule, few friendships of long standing. By divergency in tastes, opinions, habits, increasing with the years, often by the mere interruption of social intercourse, or by a thousand equally insignificant causes, the old ties are sundered. In the memoranda and correspondence of such a man familiar names disappear, even when not removed by death, and strange ones take their places. The mere passing acquaintance of one period becomes the chosen friend of another; while the former friend sinks into the mere acquaintance, or is forgotten. Frequently no cause for the change can be assigned. One can only say—it happened so.

Thus it was with Beethoven, even to a remarkable degree; in part because of his increasing infirmity, in part owing to peculiarities of his character. It was his misfortune, also, that—having no pecuniary resource but the exercise of his talents for musical composition, and being at the same time too proud and too loyal to his ideas of art to write for popular applause—he was all his life long thrown more or less upon the generosity of patrons. But death, misfortune or other causes deprived him of old patrons, as of old friends, and compelled him to seek, or at least accept, the kindness of new ones. A part of this chapter must be devoted to[79] certain new names in both categories, which become prominent in his history in the years immediately before us.

A Talented Archduke

Archduke Rudolph Johann Joseph Rainer, youngest son of Emperor Leopold II, and half-brother of Emperor Franz, was born January 8, 1788, and therefore was, at the end of 1805, just closing his seventeenth year. Like his unfortunate uncle, Elector Maximilian, he was destined to the church, and like him, too, he had much musical taste and capacity. His private tutors were all men of fine culture, and one of them, Joseph Edler von Baumeister, Doctor of Laws, remained in later years in his service and will be met with hereafter. In music he, with the children of the imperial family, was instructed by the R. I. Court Composer, Anton Tayber, and made such good progress that, if tradition may be trusted, he, while still but a boy, played to general satisfaction in the salons of Lobkowitz and others. But an archduke has not much to fear from hostile criticism; a better proof that he really possessed musical talent and taste is afforded by the fact that, so soon as he could emancipate himself from Tayber, and have a voice in the selection of a teacher, he became a pupil of Beethoven. It is largely possible that the old relation of the composer to Maximilian may have had some influence upon the determination of his nephew; and it is very probable that Rudolph’s decision was based upon the great reputation of Beethoven and the respect in which, as he saw, the artist was held by the Schwarzenbergs, Liechtensteins, Kinskys, and their compeers. But whatever weight be allowed to these and like considerations, it must have been something more than a capricious desire to call the great pianist “master,” which made him his pupil, friend and patron until death parted them. One necessarily thinks better of his musical talents for this, just as Maximilian’s musical taste and insight stand higher in our estimation because of his early appreciation of Mozart’s genius.

The precise date of Beethoven’s engagement has eluded the research of even the accurate and indefatigable Köchel. There is so little doubt, however, that he was the immediate successor of Tayber, as to render reasonably certain that it occurred at the end of the young Archduke’s fifteenth year—that is, in the winter of 1803-4. It is perhaps worth remarking, that the “Staats-Schematismus” for 1803 first gives, in the R. I. Household, a separate chamber to the boys, Rainer and Rudolph; three years later “Archduke Rudolph, coadjutor of the Archbishopric of Olmütz,” is given one alone; but before 1806 he certainly was the pupil of Beethoven.

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In Fräulein Giannatasio’s notices from the years 1816-18,[39] she relates:

At that time Beethoven gave lessons to Archduke Rudolph, a brother of Emperor Franz. I once asked him if the Archduke played well. “When he is feeling just right,” was the answer, accompanied by a smile. He also laughingly referred to the fact that he would sometimes hit him on the fingers, and that when the august gentleman once tried to refer him to his place, he pointed for justification to a passage from a poet, Goethe, I think.

It must have been a mistake of the young lady’s to make Beethoven speak here in the present tense; for it is incredible that he should have taken such a liberty in 1816-17, when Rudolph was a man of some thirty years; or indeed at any time after the first lessons in his boyhood. The anecdote therefore in some degree supports the conjecture above offered. So also does Schindler’s statement—a point on which he was likely to be well informed by the master himself—that the pianoforte part of the Triple Concerto, Op. 56, was written for the Archduke; for this work was sketched, at the latest, in the spring of 1805, and surely would not have been undertaken until the composer thoroughly knew his pupil’s powers, and that his performance would do the master no discredit. And finally, what Ries relates is in the tone of one who had personal knowledge of the circumstances detailed; and thus determines the date as not later than 1804:

Etiquette and all that is connected with it was never known to Beethoven [?] nor was he ever willing to learn it. For this reason he often caused great embarrassment in the household of Archduke Rudolph when he first went to him. An attempt was made by force to teach him to have regard for certain things. But this was intolerable to him; he would promise, indeed, to mend his ways but—that was the end of it. Finally one day when, as he expressed it, he was being tutored [als man ihn, wie er es nannte, hofmeisterte] he angrily forced his way to the Archduke and flatly declared that while he had the greatest reverence for his person, he could not trouble himself to observe all the regulations which were daily forced upon him. The Archduke laughed good-naturedly and commanded that Beethoven be permitted to go his own gait undisturbed—it was his nature and could not be altered.

At all events it may be accepted as certain that Beethoven had now, 1805-6, formed those relations with the Archduke, which were strengthened and more advantageous to him with each successive year, until death put an end to them.

Two brothers, differing in age by nineteen years, owed their rise from the condition of singers at the Russian Court into posi[81]tions of great wealth and political importance to their gratification of the lascivious lusts of two imperial princesses, afterwards known in history as the Empresses Elizabeth Petrowna and Catherine II. Thus the two Rasums, born in 1709 and 1728, of half-Cossack parentage, in the obscure Ukraine village of Lemeschi, became the Counts Rasoumowsky, nobles of the Russian Empire. They were men of rare ability, and, like Shakespeare’s Duncan, “bore their faculties so meek,” that none of the monarchs under whom they served, not even those who personally disliked either of them, made him the victim of imperial caprice or ill will. A whimsical proof of the rapidity with which the new name became known throughout Europe is its introduction in 1762 into a farce of the English wit, Samuel Foote.[40] The Empresses provided their paramours with wives from noble families and continued their kindness to the children born of these unions—one of whom came in time to occupy a rather prominent place among the patrons of Beethoven.

Count Andreas Rasoumowsky

Andreas Kyrillovitch (born October 22, 1752), fourth son of the younger Rasoumowsky, was destined for the navy and received the best education possible in those days for his profession, even to serving in what was then the best of all schools, an English man-of-war. He had been elevated to the rank of captain when, at the age of 25, he was transferred to the diplomatic service. He was Ambassador successively at Venice, Naples, Copenhagen and Stockholm; less famous, perhaps, for his diplomacy than notorious for the profuseness of his expenditures, and for his amours with women of the highest rank, the Queen of Naples not excepted.

Rasoumowsky was personally widely known at Vienna, where he had married (November 4, 1788) Elizabeth, Countess Thun, elder sister of the Princess Charles Lichnowsky, and whither he was transferred as Ambassador early in 1792, being officially presented to the Emperor on Friday, May 25, as the “Wiener Zeitung” records. Near the end of Czar Paul’s reign (in March, 1799) he was superseded by Count Kalichev; but on the accession of Alexander was restored, his “presentation audience” taking place October 14, 1801. His dwelling and office had formerly been in the Johannes-Gasse, but now (1805-6) he was in the Wallzeil, but on the point of removing to a new palace built by himself. Schnitzer says: “Rasoumowsky lived in Vienna like a prince, encouraging art and science, surrounded by a luxurious[82] library and other collections and admired and envied by all; what advantages accrued from all this to Russian affairs is another question.” This palace, afterwards nearly destroyed by fire and rebuilt, is now, after various vicissitudes, the seat of the Imperial Geological Institute, Landstrasse, Rasoumowsky-Gasse No. 3.

True to the traditions of his family, the Count was a musician and one of the best connoisseurs and players of Haydn’s quartets, in which he was accustomed to play the second violin. It is affirmed, evidently on good authority, that he had studied these works under that master himself. It would seem a matter of course, that this man, so nearly connected, too, with Lichnowsky, was one of the first to appreciate and encourage the genius of the young Beethoven upon his removal from Rome to Vienna. In fact, this has been affirmed most positively and discoursed upon at great length; and yet the few known data on this point—all of a negative character—are in conflict with that opinion. Neither Wegeler nor Ries mentions Rasoumowsky. Whatever Seyfried and Schindler may conjecture, all the facts given by them belong to the period on which we are now entering. Up to Op. 58, inclusive, not a composition of Beethoven’s is dedicated to Rasoumowsky. Just now (end of 1805), the Count has given the composer an order for quartets with Russian themes, original or imitated; but only once, in all the contemporary printed or manuscript authorities yet discovered, have the two names been brought into connection; namely, in the subscription to the Trios in 1795, where we find the Countess of Thun, her daughters and the Lichnowskys down (in the aggregate) for 32 copies, and “S. E. le Comte Rasoumoffsky, Embassadeur de Russie”—for one.

Countess Erdödy and Baroness Ertmann

The Hungarian Count Peter Erdödy married, June 6, 1796, the Countess Anna Marie Niczky (born 1779), then just seventeen years of age. Reichardt describes her, in December, 1808, as a “very beautiful, fine little woman who from her first confinement (1799) was afflicted with an incurable disease which for ten years has kept her in bed for all but two to three months”—in which he greatly exaggerates the evil of her condition—“but nevertheless gave birth to three healthy and dear children who cling to her like burs; whose sole entertainment was found in music; who plays even Beethoven’s pieces right well and limps with still swollen feet from one pianoforte to another, yet is so merry and friendly and good—all this often saddens me during an otherwise joyous meal participated in by six or eight good musical souls.” There is nothing to show how or when the very great intimacy between the Countess and Beethoven began; but for many years she is prom[83]inent among the most useful and valued of his many female friends, and it is not at all improbable that the vicinity of the Erdödy estate at Jedlersee am Marchfelde was one reason for his frequent choice of summer lodgings in the villages on the Danube, north of the city. Their intercourse was at length (about 1820) abruptly terminated by the banishment for life of the Countess beyond the limits of the Austrian Empire—unhappily, for reasons that cannot be impugned. It is a sad and revolting story, over which a veil may be drawn. There is no necessity, arising from Beethoven’s relations to her, to give it now the publicity which was then so carefully and effectually avoided. It is even possible that Beethoven’s heart was never wrung by a knowledge of the particulars.

The Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann, wife of an Austrian officer who was stationed in those years at or near Vienna, studied Beethoven’s compositions with the composer, and became, as all contemporary authorities agree, if not the greatest player of these works at least the greatest of her sex. Reichardt, a most competent judge, heard her repeatedly in the winter of 1808-09 and recorded a highly favorable impression of her.

Well might the master call her his “Dorothea-Cäcilia!” In that delightful letter, in which the young Felix Mendelssohn describes his visit at Milan (1831) to the Ertmanns, “the most agreeable, cultured people conceivable, both in love as if they were a bridal couple, and yet married 34 years,” where he and the lady delighted each other by turns in the performance of Beethoven’s compositions and “the old General, who now appeared in his stately gray commander’s uniform, wearing many orders, was very happy and wept with joy”; and in the intervals he told “the loveliest anecdotes about Beethoven, how, in the evening when she played for him, he used the candle snuffers as a toothpick, etc.” In this letter there is one touching and beautiful reminiscence of the Baroness. “She related,” says Mendelssohn, “that when she lost her last child, Beethoven at first did not want to come into the house; at length he invited her to visit him, and when she came he sat himself down at the pianoforte and said simply: ‘We will now talk to each other in tones,’ and for over an hour played without stopping, and as she remarked: ‘he told me everything, and at last brought me comfort.’”

It was noted in a former chapter, that the leading female pianists also of Vienna were divided into pro and anti Beethovenists. The former party just at this time gained a valuable accession in a young lady who, during her five years’ residence[84] there, became one of the most devoted as well as most highly accomplished players of Beethoven’s compositions—Marie Bigot. From 1809 to her death in 1820 she lived in Paris, where her superiority, first as dilettante, then as professional player and teacher, made her the subject of one of the most pleasing sketches in Fétis’s “Biographie Universelle des Musiciens.” From this we learn that she was born of a family named Kiene on March 3, 1786, at Colmar in Alsatia and married M. Bigot, who took her to Vienna in 1804. In the Austrian capital she became acquainted with Haydn, and formed a friendship also with Beethoven and Salieri. Such associations naturally fired her ardently musical nature, and at 20 years of age she had already developed great skill and originality. The first time that she played in the presence of Haydn, the old gentleman was so moved that he clasped her in his arms and cried: “O, my dear child, I did not write this music—it is you who have composed it!” And upon the printed sheet from which she had played he wrote: “On February 20, 1805, Joseph Haydn was happy.” The melancholy genius of Beethoven found an interpreter in Madame Bigot, whose enthusiasm and depth of feeling added new beauties to those which he had conceived. One day she played a sonata which he had just composed, in such a manner as to draw from him the remark: “That is not exactly the character which I wanted to give this piece; but go right on. If it is not wholly mine it is something better.” (Si ce n’est pas tout à fait moi, c’est mieux que moi.)

Beethoven and Madame Bigot

Bigot, according to Reichardt, was “an honest, cultivated Berliner, Librarian of Count Rasoumowsky.” As this was precisely in those years when Beethoven was most patronized by that nobleman, the composer and the lady were thus brought often together and very warm, friendly relations resulted. Jahn possessed for many years the copy of a very characteristic letter of Beethoven to the Bigots, which leads one to suspect that his attentions to the young wife had at one time the appearance of being a little too pointed. The letter is undated; but as the precise date happens to be of no importance, and was of course before 1809, it may be inserted here in order to explode at the outset the nonsense which has been published concerning a fancied inordinate passion of the master for the young lady. Perhaps for this very reason Jahn finally sent it to the “Grenzboten” (II, 1867):

Dear Marie, dear Bigot!

It is only with the deepest regret that I am compelled to recognize that the purest and most harmless feelings can often be misunderstood—as affectionately as you have met me I have never thought of interpret[85]ing it otherwise than that you were giving me your friendship. You must deem me very vain and contemptible if you assume that the advances of such excellent persons as yourselves could make me believe that I had at once won your love—moreover, it is one of my first principles never to stand in other than friendly relations with the wife of another man, I do not wish by such relations to fill my soul with distrust against her who may some day share my fate with me—and thus ruin for myself the loveliest and purest life. It is possible that I have jested with Bigot a few times in a way that was not too refined, I told you myself that I am occasionally ill behaved. I am natural in my intercourse with all my friends and hate all restraint. I count Bigot amongst them, if something that I do displeases him, friendship demands that he tell me so—and I will certainly have a care never to offend again—but how can good Marie put so bad a construction on my actions....

With regard to my invitation to go driving with you and Caroline it was but natural that I should believe, Bigot having opposed your going with me alone, that both of you deemed it unbecoming or objectionable—and when I wrote I had no other purpose than to make you understand that I saw no harm in it, and when I declared that it was a matter of great importance to me that you should not refuse it was only to persuade you to enjoy the gloriously beautiful day, I had your and Caroline’s pleasure in mind more than my own and I thought to compel you to accede to my wishes when I said that mistrust on your part or a refusal would really offend me—you ought really to ponder how you will make amends for having spoilt for me a day that was so bright because of my cheerful mood and the cheerful weather—if I said that you misunderstood me, your present judgment of me shows that I may have been right, not to think about that which you thought about in connection with the matter—when I said that something evil might come of it if I came to you, that was more than anything else a joke which had only the one purpose of showing how everything about you attracts me, that I have no greater wish than always to live with you, is also the truth—even in case there was a hidden meaning in it even the most sacred friendship can yet have secrets, but to misinterpret the secret of a friend—because one cannot at once guess it, that you ought not to do—dear Bigot, dear Marie, never, never will you find me ignoble, from childhood I learned to love virtue—and all that is beautiful and good—you have hurt me to the heart. It shall only serve to make our friendship the firmer. I am really not at all well to-day and I shall scarcely be able to see you, yesterday after the quartets my feelings and imagination continually called up before me the fact that I had made you suffer, I went to the Ridotto (ball) last night to seek distraction, but in vain, everywhere I was haunted by the vision of all of you, ceaselessly it said to me they are so good and probably are suffering because of you. Dejected in spirits I hurried away.[41] Write me a few lines.

Your true
Friend Beethoven
embraces you all.

[86]

Malfatti, Bertolini and Mme. Streicher

Gleichenstein introduced Beethoven to a family named Malfatti. The culture, refinement, musical taste and high character of the parents, and the uncommon grace and beauty of their two charming children, young girls now of twelve to fourteen years, rendered the house very attractive to the composer. There was less than a year’s difference in the ages of the children; Therese was born January 1st and Anna December 7th of the same year; whether 1792 or 1793, our friendly authority was not certain. Anna became, in due time (1811), the wife of Gleichenstein; and Therese was at one time the object of one of Beethoven’s short-lived, unrequited passions. Her niece writes: “That Beethoven loved my aunt, and wished to marry her, and also that her parents would never have given their consent, is true.”[42] There is nothing to determine conclusively when the master’s fondness assumed this intenser form; but there are good reasons (which may perhaps appear hereafter) for believing, that it was at least five years later than our present date. His attentions to the young lady, at all events, attracted no notice outside the family circle, nor did her rejection of them prevent the continuance of warm, friendly relations between the parties, up to and after her marriage in 1817. Dr. Sonnleithner establishes both these facts:

Frau Therese Baroness von Drosdick, née Malfatti (died in Vienna, 60 years old, on April 27, 1851), was the wife of Court Councillor Wilhelm Baron von Drosdick. She was a beautiful, lively and intellectual woman, a very good pianoforte player and, besides, the cousin of the famous physician and friend of Beethoven’s, Dr. von Malfatti. Herein lies the explanation of an unusually kind relationship with Beethoven which resulted in a less severe regard for conventional forms. Nothing is known of a particular intimacy between her and Beethoven. A relative of the Baroness, who knew her intimately, knows also that she and Beethoven formed a lasting friendship, but as to any warmer feeling on either side he knew nothing, nor anything to the contrary; but he says: “When conversation turned on Beethoven, she spoke of him reverentially, but with a certain reserve.”

Through these Malfattis, Beethoven became also known personally to the physician of the same name and “they were great[87] friends for a long time. Towards each other they were like two hard millstones, and they separated. Malfatti used to say of Beethoven: ‘He is a disorderly (konfuser) fellow—but all the same he may be the greatest genius.’” The assistant of Malfatti, Dr. Bertolini, was long the confidential physician of Beethoven; and through him he became personally known to the present head of the great firm of “Miller & Co.,” wholesale merchants in Vienna, who for many years was fond of describing his interviews, in youth, with the “great Beethoven.” Though nothing specially worthy of record took place, Mr. Miller’s recollections are interesting as additional testimony to the activity of the master’s mind and his enjoyment of jocose, witty and improving conversation. Through a caprice of Beethoven, his cordial relations to Dr. Bertolini came to an abrupt end about 1815; but the doctor, though pained and mortified, retained his respect and veneration for his former friend to the last. In 1831, he gave a singular proof of his delicate regard for Beethoven’s reputation; supposing himself to be at the point of death from cholera, and being too feeble to examine his large collection of the composer’s letters and notes to him, he ordered them all to be burned, because a few were not of a nature to be risked in careless hands.

The reader will not have forgotten Marie Anna Stein of Augsburg—pianoforte-maker Stein’s “Mädl,” as Mozart called her. After the death of her father (February 29, 1792), she, being then just 23 years of age, assisted by her brother, Matthäus Andreas, a youth of sixteen years, took charge of and continued his business. The great reputation of the Stein instruments led to the removal of the Steins to Vienna. An imperial patent, issued January 17, 1794, empowered Nanette and Andreas Stein to establish their business “in the Landstrasse 301, zur Rothen Rose,” and in the following July they arrived, accompanied by Johann Andreas Streicher, an “admirable pianist and teacher” of Munich, to whom Nanette was engaged. The business flourished nobly under the firm-name “Geschwister Stein” until 1802, “when they separated and each carried on an independent business.” It is known that Beethoven, immediately upon the arrival of the Steins, renewed his intercourse with them, of which, however, there is but a single record worth quoting, until a period several years later than that before us. Reichardt writes in his letter of February 7, 1809:

Streicher has abandoned the soft, yielding, repercussive tone of the other Vienna instruments, and at Beethoven’s wish and advice given his instruments greater resonance and elasticity, so that the virtuoso who plays with strength and significance may have the instrument in better[88] command for sustained and expressive tones. He has thereby given his instruments a larger and more varied character, so that they must give greater satisfaction than the others to all virtuosi who seek something more than mere easy brilliancy in their style of playing.

This shows us Beethoven in a new character—that of an improver of the pianoforte. The “young Stein” mentioned by Ries, was Nanette’s brother Carl Friedrich, who followed his sister to Vienna in 1804.

One of Beethoven’s characteristic notes to Zmeskall, not dated, but belonging in these years, adds another name to the long list which proves that, however unpopular the composer may have been with his brother musicians, he possessed qualities and tastes that endeared him to the best class of rising young men in the learned professions:

The Jahn brothers are as little attractive to me as to you. But they have so pestered me, and finally referred me to you as one of their visitors, that at the last I consented. Come then in God’s name, it may be I will call for you at Zizius’s, if not, come there direct, so that I may not be left there without the company of human beings. We will let our commissions wait until you are better able to look after them. If you cannot, come to the Swan to-day where I shall surely go.

Dr. Johann Zizius, of Bohemia (born January 7, 1772), appears at the early age of 28, in the Staats-Schematismus for 1800, as professor of political science to the R. I. Staff of Guards; three years later he has the same professorship in the Theresianum, which he retained to his death in 1824, filling also in his later years the chair of constitutional law in the University. Dr. Sonnleithner made his acquaintance about 1820. In his very valuable and interesting “Musikalische Skizzen aus Alt-Wien” (“Recensionen,” 1863), he describes Zizius in a way which shows him to have been a man after Beethoven’s own heart until his increasing infirmity excluded him in great measure from mixed society.

The attraction of Beethoven’s personal character for young persons of more than ordinary genius and culture has been already noted. Another illustration of this was Julius Franz Borgias Schneller, born (1777) at Strasburg, educated at Freiberg in the Breisgau, and just now (1805) professor of history in the Lyceum at Linz on the Danube. Driven into exile because of his active resistance to the French, he had made his way to Vienna, where his fine qualities of head and heart made him a welcome guest in literary circles and gained him the affection of the young writers of the capital. In 1803, he received his appointment at Linz,[89] whence, three years later, he was advanced to the same position in the new university at Gratz. Perhaps the most beloved of his friends was Gleichenstein.

Beethoven and his Predecessors

We pass to the notices of Ries, Czerny and others, which record divers characteristic anecdotes and personal traits of the master, not susceptible of exact chronological arrangement but which belong to this period. “Of all composers,” says Ries (“Notizen,” p. 84), “Beethoven valued most highly Mozart and Handel, then S. Bach. Whenever I found him with music in his hand or lying on his desk it was surely compositions of these heroes. Haydn seldom escaped without a few sly thrusts.” Compare this with what Jahn heard from Czerny: “Once Beethoven saw at my house the scores of six quartets by Mozart. He opened the fifth, in A, and said: ‘That’s a work! that’s where Mozart said to the world: Behold what I might have done for you if the time were here!‘” And, touching Handel: “Graun’s ‘Tod Jesu’ was unknown to Beethoven. My father brought the score to him, which he played through a vista in a masterly manner. When he came to a place where Graun had written a twofold ending to be left to the choice of the performer, he said: ‘The man must have had the gripes not to be able to say which ending is the better!’ At the end he said that the fugues were passable, the rest ordinary. Then he picked up Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with the words: ‘Here is a different fellow!’ and played the most interesting numbers and called our attention to several resemblances to Haydn’s ‘Creation,’ etc.” “Once,” says Ries (p. 100), “when after a lesson we were talking about fugue themes, I sitting at the pianoforte and he beside me, I played the first fugue theme from Graun’s ‘Tod Jesu’; he began to play it after me with his left hand, then brought in the right and developed it for perhaps half an hour. I am still unable to understand how he could have endured the uncomfortable position so long. His enthusiasm made him insensible to external impressions.” In another place (p. 87) he relates: “During a walk I mentioned to Beethoven two pure fifth progressions which sound striking and beautiful in his C minor Quartet (Op. 18). He did not know them and denied that they were fifths. It being his habit always to carry ruled paper with him, I asked him for a sheet and wrote down the passage in all four voices; seeing that I was right he said: ‘Well, and who has forbidden them?’ Not knowing how to take the question, I had him repeat it several times until I finally answered in amazement: ‘But they are first principles!’ The question was repeated again, whereupon I answered: ‘Marpurg, Kirnberger,[90] Fux, etc., etc., all theoreticians!’—‘And I allow them thus!’ was his answer.”[43]

We quote again from Ries (p. 106):

I recall only two instances in which Beethoven told me to add a few notes to his composition: once in the theme of the rondo of the ‘Sonate Pathétique’ (Op. 13), and again in the theme of the rondo of his first Concerto in C major, where he gave me some passages in double notes to make it more brilliant. He played this last rondo, in fact, with an expression peculiar to himself. In general he played his own compositions very freakishly, holding firmly to the measure, however, as a rule and occasionally, but not often, hurrying the tempo. At times he would hold the tempo back in his crescendo with ritardando, which made a very beautiful and highly striking effect. In playing he would give a passage now in the right hand, now in the left, a lovely and absolutely inimitable expression; but he very seldom added notes or ornaments.... (p. 100). He played his own compositions very unwillingly. Once he was making serious preparations for a long trip which we were to make together, on which I was to arrange the concerts and play his concertos as well as other compositions. He was to conduct and improvise.

Beethoven’s Improvisations

And now something more on the subject of Beethoven’s improvisations. Says Ries: “This last was certainly the most extraordinary (performance) any one was ever privileged to listen to, especially when he was in good humor or excited. Not a single artist of all that I have heard ever reached the plane in this respect which Beethoven occupied. The wealth of ideas which crowded in upon him, the moods to which he surrendered himself, the variety of treatment, the difficulties which offered themselves or were introduced by him, were inexhaustible.” And Czerny:

Beethoven’s improvisation (with which he created the greatest sensation in the first years of his sojourn in Vienna and even caused Mozart to wonder) was of the most varied kind, whether he was treating themes chosen by himself or set for him by others.

1. In the first-movement form or the final rondo of a sonata, when he regularly closed the first section and introduced a second melody in a related key, etc., but in the second section gave himself freely to all manner of treatment of the motivi. In Allegros the work was enlivened by bravura passages which were mostly more difficult than those to be found in his compositions.

2. In the free-variation form, about like his Choral Fantasia, Op. 80, or the choral finale of his Ninth Symphony, both of which give a faithful illustration of his improvisations in this form.

[91]

3. In the mixed genre, where, in the potpourri style, one thought follows upon another, as in his solo Fantasia, Op. 77. Often a few tones would suffice to enable him to improvise an entire piece (as, for instance, the Finale of the third Sonata, D major, of Op. 10).

Nobody equalled him in the rapidity of his scales, double trills, skips, etc.—not even Hummel. His bearing while playing was masterfully quiet, noble and beautiful, without the slightest grimace (only bent forward low, as his deafness grew upon him); his fingers were very powerful, not long, and broadened at the tips by much playing, for he told me very often indeed that he generally had to practise until after midnight in his youth.

In teaching he laid great stress on a correct position of the fingers (after the school of Emanuel Bach, which he used in teaching me); he could scarcely span a tenth. He made frequent use of the pedals, much more frequent than is indicated in his works. His playing of the scores of Handel and Gluck and the fugues of Seb. Bach was unique, in that in the former he introduced a full-voicedness and a spirit which gave these works a new shape.

He was also the greatest a vista player of his time (even in score-reading); he scanned every new and unfamiliar composition like a divination and his judgment was always correct, but, especially in his younger years, very keen, biting, unsparing. Much that the world admired then and still admires he saw in an entirely different light from the lofty point of view of his genius.

Extraordinary as his playing was when he improvised, it was frequently less successful when he played his printed compositions, for, as he never had patience or time to practise, the result would generally depend on accident or his mood; and as his playing, like his compositions, was far ahead of his time, the pianofortes of the period (until 1810), still extremely weak and imperfect, could not endure his gigantic style of performance. Hence it was that Hummel’s purling, brilliant style, well calculated to suit the manner of the time, was much more comprehensible and pleasing to the public. But Beethoven’s performance of slow and sustained passages produced an almost magical effect upon every listener and, so far as I know, was never surpassed.

Characteristics of the Composer

Pass we to certain minor characteristic traits which Ries has recorded of his master:

Beethoven recalled his youth, and his Bonn friends, with great pleasure, although his memory told of hard times, on the whole. Of his mother, in particular, he spoke with love and feeling, calling her often an honest, good-hearted woman. He spoke but little and unwillingly of his father, who was most to blame for the family misery, but a single hard word against him uttered by another would anger him. On the whole he was a thoroughly good and kind man, on whom his moods and impetuousness played shabby tricks. He would have forgiven anybody, no matter how grievously he had injured him or whatever wrong he had done him, if he had found him in an unfortunate position. (“Notizen,” p. 122.)

Beethoven was often extremely violent. One day we were eating our noonday meal at the Swan inn; the waiter brought him the wrong dish. Scarcely had Beethoven spoken a few words about the matter,[92] which the waiter answered in a manner not altogether modest, when Beethoven seized the dish (it was a mess of lungs with plenty of gravy) and threw it at the waiter’s head. The poor fellow had an armful of other dishes (an adeptness which Viennese waiters possess in a high degree) and could not help himself; the gravy ran down his face. He and Beethoven screamed and vituperated while all the other guests roared with laughter. Finally, Beethoven himself was overcome with the comicalness of the situation, as the waiter who wanted to scold could not, because he was kept busy licking from his chops the gravy that ran down his face, making the most ridiculous grimaces the while. It was a picture worthy of Hogarth. (“Notizen,” p. 121.)

Beethoven knew scarcely anything about money, because of which he had frequent quarrels; since he was always mistrustful, and frequently thought himself cheated when it was not the case. Easily excited, he called people cheats, for which in the case of waiters he had to make good with tips. At length his peculiarities and absentmindedness became known in the inns which he frequented most often and he was permitted to go his way, even when he went without paying his bill. (“Notizen,” p. 122.)

Beethoven had taken lessons on the violin even after he reached Vienna from Krumpholz and frequently when I was there we played his Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin together. But it was really a horrible music; for in his enthusiastic zeal he never heard when he began a passage with bad fingering.

In his behavior Beethoven was awkward and helpless; his uncouth movements were often destitute of all grace. He seldom took anything into his hands without dropping and breaking it. Thus he frequently knocked his ink-well into the pianoforte which stood near by the side of his writing-table. No piece of furniture was safe from him, least of all a costly piece. Everything was overturned, soiled and destroyed. It is hard to comprehend how he accomplished so much as to be able to shave himself, even leaving out of consideration the number of cuts on his cheeks. He could never learn to dance in time. (“Notizen,” p. 119.)

Beethoven attached no value to his manuscripts; after they were printed they lay for the greater part in an anteroom or on the floor among other pieces of music. I often put his music to rights; but whenever he hunted something, everything was thrown into confusion again. I might at that time have carried away the original manuscripts of all his printed pieces; and if I had asked him for them he would unquestionably have given them to me without a thought. (“Notizen,” p. 113.)

Beethoven felt the loss of Ries very sensibly; but it was in part supplied by young Röckel, to whom he took a great liking. Inviting him to call, he told him he would give special orders to his servant to admit him at all times, even in the morning when busy. It was agreed that, when Röckel was admitted, if he found Beethoven very much occupied he should pass through the room into the bed-chamber beyond—both rooms overlooked the Glacis from the fourth story of the Pasqualati house on the Mölker Bastei—and there await him a reasonable time; if the composer came not,[93] Röckel should quietly pass out again. It happened one morning upon his first visit, that Röckel found at the street door a carriage with a lady in it; and, on reaching the fourth storey, there, at Beethoven’s door, was Prince Lichnowsky in a dispute with the servant about being admitted. The man declared he dared not admit anybody, as his master was busy and had given express orders not to admit any person whatever. Röckel, however, having the entrée, informed Beethoven that Lichnowsky was outside. Though in ill humor, he could no longer refuse to see him. The Prince and his wife had come to take Beethoven out for an airing; and he finally consented, but, as he entered the carriage, Röckel noticed that his face was still cloudy.

That Beethoven and Ignatz von Seyfried were brought much together in these years, the reader already knows. Their acquaintance during thirty years—which, for at least half of the time, was really the “friendly relationship” which Seyfried names it—was, he says, “never weakened, never disturbed by even the smallest quarrel—not that we were both always of a mind, or could be, but we always spoke freely and frankly to each other, without reserve, according to our convictions, without conceitedly trying to force upon one another our opinions as infallible.”

Besides, Beethoven was much too straightforward, open and tolerant to give offence to another by disapprobation, or contradiction; he was wont to laugh heartily at what did not please him and I confidently believe that I may safely say that in all his life he never, at least not consciously, made an enemy; only those to whom his peculiarities were unknown were unable quite to understand how to get along with him; I am speaking here of an earlier time, before the misfortune of deafness had come upon him; if, on the contrary, Beethoven sometimes carried things to an extreme in his rude honesty in the case of many, mostly those who had imposed themselves upon him as protectors, the fault lay only in this, that the honest German always carried his heart on his tongue and understood everything better than how to flatter; also because, conscious of his own merit, he would never permit himself to be made the plaything of the vain whims of the Mæcenases who were eager to boast of their association with the name and fame of the celebrated master. And so he was misunderstood only by those who had not the patience to get acquainted with the apparent eccentric. When he composed “Fidelio,” the oratorio “Christus am Ölberg,” the symphonies in E-flat, C minor and F, the Pianoforte Concertos in C minor and G major, and the Violin Concerto in D, we were living in the same house[44] and (since we were each carrying on a bachelor’s apartment) we dined at the same restaurant and chatted away many an unforgettable hour in the confidential intimacy of colleagues, for Beethoven was then merry, ready for any jest, happy, full of life, witty and not seldom satirical. No physical[94] ill had then afflicted him [?]; no loss of the sense which is peculiarly indispensable to the musician had darkened his life; only weak eyes had remained with him as the results of the smallpox with which he had been afflicted in his childhood, and these compelled him even in his early youth to resort to concave, very strong (highly magnifying) spectacles.[45]

He had me play the pieces mentioned, recognized throughout the musical world as masterpieces, and, without giving me time to think, demanded to know my opinion of them; I was permitted to give it without restraint, without fearing that I should offend any artistic conceit—a fault which was utterly foreign to his nature.

The above is from “Cäcilia,” Vol. IX, 218, 219. In the so-called “Studien” (appendix) are other reminiscences, which form an admirable supplement to it. Those which belong to the years 1800-1805 follow:

Our master could not be presented as a model in respect of conducting, and the orchestra always had to have a care in order not to be led astray by its mentor; for he had ears only for his composition and was ceaselessly occupied by manifold gesticulations to indicate the desired expression. He used to suggest a diminuendo by crouching down more and more, and at a pianissimo he would almost creep under the desk. When the volume of sound grew he rose up also as if out of a stage-trap, and with the entrance of the power of the band he would stand upon the tips of his toes almost as big as a giant, and waving his arms, seemed about to soar upwards to the skies. Everything about him was active, not a bit of his organism idle, and the man was comparable to a perpetuum mobile. He did not belong to those capricious composers whom no orchestra in the world can satisfy. At times, indeed, he was altogether too considerate and did not even repeat passages which went badly at the rehearsal: “It will go better next time,” he would say. He was very particular about expression, the delicate nuances, the equable distribution of light and shade as well as an effective tempo rubato, and without betraying vexation, would discuss them with the individual players. When he then observed that the players would enter into his intentions and play together with increasing ardor, inspired by the magical power of his creations, his face would be transfigured with joy, all his features beamed pleasure and satisfaction, a pleased smile would play around his lips and a thundering “Bravi tutti!” reward the successful achievement. It was the first and loftiest triumphal moment for the genius, compared with which, as he confessed, the tempestuous applause of a receptive audience was as nothing. When playing at first sight, there were frequent pauses for the purpose of correcting the parts and then the thread would be broken; but he was patient even then; but when things went to pieces, particularly in the scherzos of his symphonies at a sudden and unexpected change of rhythm, he would shout with laughter and say he had expected nothing else, but was reckoning on it from the beginning; he was almost childishly glad that he had been successful in “unhorsing such excellent riders.”

[95]
Deafness and Disorderliness

Before Beethoven was afflicted with his organic ailment, he attended the opera frequently and with enjoyment, especially the admirable and flourishing Theater-an-der-Wien, perhaps, also, for convenience’ sake, since he had scarcely to do more than to step from his room into the parterre. There he was fascinated more especially by the creations of Cherubini and Méhul, which at that time were just beginning to stir up the enthusiasm of all Vienna. There he would plant himself hard against the orchestra rail and, dumb as a dunce, remain till the last stroke of the bows. This was the only sign, however, that the art work had interested him; if, on the contrary, the piece did not please him he would turn on his heel at the first fall of the curtain and take himself away. It was, in fact, difficult, yes, utterly impossible to tell from his features whether or not he was pleased or displeased; he was always the same, apparently cold, and just as reserved in his judgments concerning his companions in art; his mind was at work ceaselessly, but the physical shell was like soulless marble. Strangely enough, on the other hand, hearing wretched music was a treat to him which he proclaimed by a peal of laughter. Everybody who knew him intimately knew that in this art he was a virtuoso, but it was a pity that those who were near him were seldom able to fathom the cause of such explosions, since he often laughed at his most secret thoughts and conceits without giving an accounting of them.

He was never found on the street without a small note-book in which he was wont to record his passing ideas. Whenever conversation turned on the subject he would parody Joan of Arc’s words: “I dare not come without my banner!”—and he adhered to his self-given rule with unparalleled tenacity; although otherwise a truly admirable disorder prevailed in his household. Books and music were scattered in every corner; here the remnants of a cold luncheon; here sealed or half-emptied bottles; here upon a stand the hurried sketches of a quartet; here the remains of a déjeuner; there on the pianoforte, on scribbled paper the material for a glorious symphony still slumbering in embryo; here a proof-sheet awaiting salvation; friendly and business letters covering the floor; between the windows a respectable loaf of strachino, ad latus a considerable ruin of a genuine Veronese salami—yet despite this varied mess our master had a habit, quite contrary to the reality, of proclaiming his accuracy and love of order on all occasions with Ciceronian eloquence. Only when it became necessary to spend days, hours, sometimes weeks, in finding something necessary and all efforts remained fruitless, did he adopt a different tone, and the innocent were made to bear the blame. “Yes, yes,” was the complaint, “that’s a misfortune! Nothing is permitted to remain where I put it; everything is moved about; everything is done to vex me; O men, men!” But his servants knew the good-natured grumbler; let him growl to his heart’s content, and—in a few minutes all would be forgotten, until another occasion brought with it a renewal of the scene.

He often made merry over his illegible handwriting and excused himself by saying: “Life is too short to paint letters or notes; and prettier notes would scarcely help me out of needs.”[46]

[96]

The whole forenoon, from the first ray of light till the meal hour, was devoted to mechanical labor, i. e., to transcribing; the rest of the day was given to thought and the ordering of ideas. Hardly had he put the last bit in his mouth before he began his customary promenade, unless he had some other excursion in petto; that is to say, he hurried in double-quick time several times around the city, as if urged on by a goad; and this, let the weather be what it might.

And his hearing—how was it with that?

A question not to be answered to full satisfaction. It is clear that the “Notizen” of Wegeler and Ries, the Biography (first editions) of Schindler, and especially the papers from Beethoven’s own hand printed in those volumes, have given currency to a very exaggerated idea of the progress of his infirmity. On the other hand, Seyfried as evidently errs in the other direction; and yet Carl Czerny, both in his published and manuscripts notices, goes even farther. For instance, he writes to Jahn: “Although he had suffered from pains in his ears and the like ever since 1800, he still heard speech and music perfectly well until nearly 1812,” and adds in confirmation: “As late as the years 1811-1812 I studied things with him and he corrected with great care, as well as ten years before.” This, however, proves nothing, as Beethoven performed feats of this kind still more remarkable down to the last year of his life. Beethoven’s Lamentation, the testament of 1802, is one extreme, the statements of Seyfried and Czerny the other; the truth lies somewhere between.

Neglect of Medical Treatment

In June, 1801, Beethoven is “obliged to lean down to the orchestral rail to hear a drama.” The next summer he cannot hear a flute or pipe to which Ries calls his attention. In 1804, as Doležalek tells Jahn, “in the rehearsals to the ‘Eroica’ he did not always hear the wind-instruments distinctly and missed them when they were playing.” The evil was then making, if slow, still sure progress. “In those years,” says Schindler, “there was a priest named Pater Weiss in the Metropolitan Church of St. Stephen who occupied himself with healing the deaf and had accomplished many fortunate cures. He was not a mere empiricist, but was familiar with the physiology of the ear; he effected his cures with simple remedies, and enjoyed a wide fame among the people, and also the respect of medical practitioners. With the consent of his physician our terrified tone-poet had also entrusted his case to the priest.” Precisely when this was, is unknown; it could not, however, have been until after Dr. Schmidt’s treatment had proved hopeless. The so-called Fischoff Manuscript, evidently on the authority of Zmeskall himself, gives a more particular account than Schindler of Pater Weiss’s ex[97]perience with his new patient. “Herr v. Zmeskall with great difficulty persuaded Beethoven to go there with him. At first he followed the advice of the physician; but as he had to go to him every day in order to have a fluid dropped into his ear, this grew unpleasant, the more since, in his impatience, he felt little or no improvement; and he remained away. The physician, questioned by Zmeskall, told him the facts, and Zmeskall begged him to accommodate himself to the self-willed invalid, and consult his convenience. The priest, honestly desirous to help Beethoven, went to his lodgings, but his efforts were in vain, inasmuch as Beethoven in a few days refused him entrance, and thus neglected possible help or at least an amelioration of his condition.”

Probably the evil was of such a nature that, with all the resources of our present medical science, it could hardly have been impeded, much less arrested. This is poor consolation, but the best we have. The sufferer now resigned himself to his fate. On a page of twenty-one leaves of sketches to the Rasoumowsky Quartets, Op. 59, stands written in pencil—if correctly deciphered—these words from his hand:

Even as you have plunged into the whirlpool of society, you will find it possible to compose operas in spite of social obstacles.

Let your deafness no longer remain a secret—not even in art!

[98]

Chapter VI

Princes as Theatrical Directors—Disappointed Expectations—Subscription Concerts at Prince Lobkowitz’s—The Symphony in B-flat—The “Coriolan” Overture—Contract with Clementi—The Mass in C—The Year 1807.

A controversy for the possession of the two Court Theatres and that An-der-Wien involved certain legal questions which, in September, 1806, were decided by the proper tribunal against the old directors, who were thus at the end of the year compelled to retire. Peter, Baron von Braun, closed his twelve years’ administration with a circular letter addressed to his recent subordinates, dated December 28, in which, after bidding them an affectionate adieu, he said: “With imperial consent I have turned over the vice-direction of the Royal Imperial Court Theatre to a company composed of the following cavaliers: the Princes Lobkowitz, Schwarzenberg and Esterhazy and the Counts Esterhazy, Lodron, Ferdinand Palffy, Stephen Zichy and Niklas Esterhazy.”

Plans to Keep Beethoven in Vienna

Beethoven naturally saw in this change a most hopeful prospect of an improvement in his own theatrical fortunes, and immediately, acting on a hint from Lobkowitz, addressed to the new directors a petition and proposals for a permanent engagement, with a fixed salary, in their service. The document was as follows:

To the Worshipful R. I. Theatre Direction:

The undersigned flatters himself that during his past sojourn in Vienna he has won some favor with not only the high nobility but also the general public, and has secured an honorable acceptance of his works at home and abroad.

Nevertheless, he has been obliged to struggle with difficulties of all kinds and has not yet been able to establish himself here in a position which would enable him to fulfil his desire to live wholly for art, to develop his talents to a still higher degree of perfection, which must be the goal of every true artist, and to make certain for the future the fortuitous advantages of the present.

Inasmuch as the undersigned has always striven less for a livelihood than for the interests of art, the ennoblement of taste and the[99] uplifting of his genius toward higher ideals and perfection, it necessarily happens that he often was compelled to sacrifice profit and advantage to the Muse. Yet works of this kind won for him a reputation in foreign lands which assures him of a favorable reception in a number of considerable cities and a lot commensurate with his talents and opportunities.

But in spite of this the undersigned cannot deny that the many years during which he has lived here and the favor and approval which he has enjoyed from high and low have aroused in him a wish wholly to fulfil the expectations which he has been fortunate enough to awaken; and let him say also, the patriotism of a German has made this place more estimable and desirable than any other.

He can, therefore, not forbear before deciding to leave the city so dear to him, to follow the suggestion kindly made to him by His Serene Highness the ruling Prince Lobkowitz, who intimated that a Worshipful Direction was not disinclined under proper conditions to engage the undersigned for the service of the theatre under their management and to ensure his further sojourn here by offering him the means of a permanent livelihood favorable to the exercise of his talent.

Inasmuch as this intimation is in perfect accord with the desires of the undersigned, he takes the liberty to submit an expression of his willingness as well as the following stipulations for the favorable consideration of the Worshipful Direction:

1. He promises and contracts to compose every year at least one grand opera, to be selected jointly by the Worshipful Direction and the undersigned; in return he asks a fixed remuneration of 2400 florins per annum and the gross receipts of the third performance of each of such operas.

2. He agrees to deliver gratis each year a small operetta, divertissement, choruses or occasional pieces according to the wishes or needs of the Worshipful Direction, but hopes that the Worshipful Direction will not hesitate in return for such works to give him one day in each year for a benefit concert in the theatre building.

If one reflects what an expenditure of capacity and time is required for the making of an opera to the absolute exclusion of every other intellectual occupation, and further, that in cities where the author and his family have a share in the receipts at every performance, a single successful work may make the fortune of an author; and still further how small a compensation, owing to the monetary condition and high prices for necessaries which prevail here, is at the command of a local artist to whom foreign lands are open, the above conditions can certainly not be thought to be excessive or unreasonable.

But whether or not the Worshipful Direction confirms and accepts this offer, the undersigned appends the request that he be given a day for a musical concert in one of the theatre buildings; for, in case the proposition is accepted, the undersigned will at once require his time and powers for the composition of the opera and therefore be unable to use them for his profit in another direction. In the event of a declination of the present offer, moreover, since the permission for a concert granted last year could not be utilized because of various obstacles which intervened, the undersigned would look upon the fulfilment of last year’s promise as a highest sign of the great favor heretofore enjoyed by him,[100] and he requests that in the first case the day be set on the Feast of the Annunciation, in the second on one of the approaching Christmas holidays.

Ludwig van Beethoven, m. p.

Vienna, 1807.

Neither of these requests was granted directly; one of them only indirectly. Nor is it known that any formal written reply was conveyed to the petitioner. The cause of this has been strangely suggested to lie in an old grudge—the very existence of which is a mere conjecture—cherished against Beethoven by Count Palffy, director of the German Drama. But it is quite needless to go so far for a reason. The composer’s well-known increasing infirmity of hearing, his habits of procrastination, and above all his inability, so often proved, to keep the peace with orchestra and singers—all this was too well known to the new directors, whatever may have been their own personal wishes, to justify the risk of attaching him permanently to an institution for the success of which they were responsible to the Emperor. It is very evident, that they temporized with him. His petition must have been presented at the very beginning of the year; otherwise the grant of a theatre for a concert at the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) would have been useless, for want of time to make the necessary preparations; and an allusion to the “princely rabble” in a letter written in May, proves that no answer had then been given him; and a reference to the matter by the correspondent of the “Allg. Mus. Zeitung” near the end of the year shows that at least none had then been made public. So far as is known, the Directors chose to let the matter drop quietly and gave him none; nor did they revive “Fidelio”—for which abundant reasons suggest themselves. But they gave Beethoven ample proof that no motives of personal animosity, no lack of admiration for his talents or appreciation of his genius, governed their decision. Prince Esterhazy ordered the composition of a mass, and immediate preparations were made for the performance of his orchestral works “in a very select circle that contributed a very considerable sum for the benefit of the composer,” as a writer in the “Allg. Mus. Zeitung” remarks. These performances took place in March “at the house of Prince L.” according to the “Journal des Luxus.”

The Symphony in B-flat

Was “Prince L.” Lobkowitz or Lichnowsky? The details above given point decisively to the former. It is true that the paroxysm of wrath, in which Beethoven had so unceremoniously parted from Lichnowsky in the Autumn, had so far subsided[101] that he now granted the Prince the use of his new manuscript overture; but the contemporary notice, from which this fact is derived, is in such terms as of itself to preclude the idea that this performance of it was in one of the two subscription concerts. In these subscription concerts three new works were performed: the Fourth Symphony,[47] in B-flat major, the Fourth Pf. Concerto, in G major, and the “Coriolan” Overture. About the latter something is to be said. The manuscript bears the composer’s own date, 1807. Collin’s tragedy was originally performed November 24, 1802, with “between-acts music” arranged by Abbé Stadler from Mozart’s “Idomeneus.” The next year Lange assumed the leading part with a success of which he justly boasts in his autobiography, and played it so often down to March 5, 1805, as to make the work thoroughly familiar to the theatre-going public. From that date to the end of October, 1809 (how much longer we have no means at hand of knowing), it was played but once—namely, on April 24, 1807. The overture was assuredly not written for that one exceptional performance; for, if so, it would not have been played in March in two different concerts. Nor was it played, April 24th, in the theatre; if it had been, the correspondent of the “Allg. Mus. Zeitung,” writing after its public performance in the Liebhaber Concerts near the end of the year, could not have spoken of it as “a new overture.” It is, therefore, obvious that this work was composed for these subscription concerts. Beethoven had at this time written but[102] three overtures—two to “Fidelio” (one of which was laid aside), and that to “Prometheus,” which had long ceased to be a novelty. He needed a new one. Collin’s tragedy was thoroughly well known and offered a subject splendidly suited to his genius. An overture to it was a compliment to his influential friend, the author, and, if successful, would be a new proof of his talent for dramatic composition—certainly, an important consideration just then, pending his application for a permanent engagement at the theatre. How nobly the character of Coriolanus is mirrored in Beethoven’s music is well enough known; but the admirable adaptation of the overture to the play is duly appreciated by those only, who have read Collin’s almost forgotten work.

The year 1807 was one of the years of Beethoven’s life distinguished by the grandeur and extent of his compositions; and it was probably more to avoid interruption in his labor than on account of ill health, that early in April he removed to Baden. A letter (to Herr von Troxler) in which occur these words: “I am coming to Vienna. I wish very much that you would go with me on Tuesday to Clementi, as I can make myself better understood to foreigners with my notes than by my speech,” seems to introduce a matter of business which called him to the city for a few days.

Clementi Secures a Contract

Clementi, called to Rome by the death of his brother, had arrived in Vienna on his way thither, and embraced the opportunity to acquire the exclusive right of publication in England of various works of Beethoven, whose great reputation, the rapidly growing taste for his music, and the great difficulty of obtaining continental publications in those days of “Napoleonic ideas,” combined to render such a right in that country one of considerable value. Clementi reported the results of the negotiations with Beethoven in a letter to his partner, F. W. Collard, with whom he had been associated in business for five years, which J. S. Shedlock made public in the “Athenæum” of London on August 1, 1902. It runs as follows:

Messrs. Clementi and Co., No. 26 Cheapside, London.

Vienna, April 22d, 1807.

Dear Collard:

By a little management and without committing myself, I have at last made a complete conquest of the haughty beauty, Beethoven, who first began at public places to grin and coquet with me, which of course I took care not to discourage; then slid into familiar chat, till meeting him by chance one day in the street—“Where do you lodge?” says he; “I have not seen you this long while!”—upon which I gave him my address. Two days after I found on my table his card brought by him[103]self, from the maid’s description of his lovely form. This will do, thought I. Three days after that he calls again, and finds me at home. Conceive then the mutual ecstasy of such a meeting! I took pretty good care to improve it to our house’s advantage, therefore, as soon as decency would allow, after praising very handsomely some of his compositions: “Are you engaged with any publisher in London?”—“No” says he. “Suppose, then, that you prefer me?”—“With all my heart.” “Done. What have you ready?”—“I’ll bring you a list.” In short I agree with him to take in MSS. three quartets, a symphony, an overture and a concerto for the violin, which is beautiful, and which, at my request he will adapt for the pianoforte with and without additional keys; and a concerto for the pianoforte, for all which we are to pay him two hundred pounds sterling. The property, however, is only for the British Dominions. To-day sets off a courier for London through Russia, and he will bring over to you two or three of the mentioned articles.

Remember that the violin concerto he will adapt himself and send it as soon as he can.

The quartets, etc., you may get Cramer or some other very clever fellow to adapt for the Piano-forte. The symphony and the overture are wonderfully fine so that I think I have made a very good bargain. What do you think? I have likewise engaged him to compose two sonatas and a fantasia for the Piano-forte which he is to deliver to our house for sixty pounds sterling (mind I have treated for Pounds, not Guineas). In short he has promised to treat with no one but me for the British Dominions.

In proportion as you receive his compositions you are to remit him the money; that is, he considers the whole as consisting of six articles, viz: three quartets, symphony, overture, Piano-forte concerto, violin concerto, and the adaptation of the said concerto, for which he is to receive £200.

For three articles you’ll remit £100 and so on in proportion. The agreement says also that as soon as you receive the compositions, you are to pay into the hands of Messrs. E. W. and E. Lee, the stated sum, who are to authorize Messrs. J. G. Schuller and Comp. in Vienna to pay to Mr. van Beethoven, the value of the said sum, according to the course of exchange, and the said Messrs. Schuller and Co. are to reimburse themselves on Messrs. R. W. and E. Lee. On account of the impediments by war, etc., I begged Beethoven to allow us 4 months (after the setting of his MSS.) to publish in. He said he would write to your house in French stating the time, for of course he sends them likewise to Paris, etc., etc., and they must appear on the same day. You are also by agreement to send Beethoven by a convenient opportunity, two sets of each of the new compositions you print of his.... Mr. van Beethoven says, you may publish the 3 articles he sends by this courier on the 1st of September, next.[48]

The closing of the contract with Clementi had been preceded by negotiations with Breitkopf and Härtel for the same compositions. On the same day that Clementi wrote to Collard he also wrote a letter to the Leipsic publishers in which he said that he had[104] purchased the right of publication for the British Dominions in consequence of their letter of January 20th, in which they had said that because of the war they had declined Beethoven’s proposition. He also promised to ask Beethoven to treat with them for the German rights. (This fact is already known to the readers from the letters written by Beethoven to Breitkopf and Härtel dated September 3 and November 18, 1806.) Count Gleichenstein witnessed the signing of the contract (which is in French), the substance of which is as follows:

Beethoven grants Clementi the manuscripts of the works afterwards enumerated, with the right to publish them in Great Britain, but reserving the rights for other countries. The works are: three Quartets, one Symphony (“the fourth that he has composed”), the Overture to “Coriolan,” a Concerto for Violin and the arrangement of the same for Pianoforte “with additional notes.”

Clementi is to pay for these works the equivalent of £200 in Viennese funds at Schuller and Co.’s as soon as the arrival of the manuscripts is reported from London. If Beethoven cannot deliver all the compositions at once he is to be paid only in proportion. Beethoven engages to sell these works in Germany, France or elsewhere only on condition that they shall not be published until four months after they have been despatched to England. In the case of the Violin Concerto, the Symphony and the Overture, which have just been sent off, not until September 1, 1807. Beethoven also agrees to compose on the same terms, within a time not fixed, and at his own convenience, three Sonatas or two Sonatas and a Fantasia for Pianoforte with or without accompaniment, as he chooses, for which he is to be paid £60. Clementi engages to send Beethoven two copies of each work. The contract is executed in duplicate and signed at Vienna, April 20, 1807, by Clementi and Beethoven.[49]

The quartets, in parts, had been lent to Count Franz Brunswick and were still in Hungary, which gave occasion to one of Beethoven’s peculiarly whimsical and humorous epistles:

[105]

The Famous Love-Letter Again

To Count Franz von Brunswick:

Dear, dear B! I have only to say to you that I came to a right satisfactory arrangement with Clementi. I shall receive 200 pounds Sterling—and besides I am privileged to sell the same works in Germany and France. He has also offered me other commissions—so that I am enabled to hope through them to achieve the dignity of a true artist while still young. I need, dear B, the Quartets. I have already asked your sister to write to you about them, it takes too long to copy them from my score—therefore make haste and send them direct to me by Letter Post. You shall have them back in 4 or 5 days at the latest. I beg you urgently for them, since otherwise I might lose a great deal.

If you can arrange it that the Hungarians want me to come for a few concerts, do it—you may have me for 200 florins in gold—then I will bring my opera along. I will not get along with the princely rabble.

Whenever WE (several) (amici) drink your wine, we drink you, i. e., we drink your health. Farewell—hurry—hurry—hurry and send me the quartets—otherwise you may embarrass me greatly.

Schuppanzigh has married—it is said with One very like him. What a family????

Kiss your sister Therese, tell her I fear I shall become great without the help of a monument reared by her. Send me to-morrow the quartets—quar-tets—t-e-t-s.

Your friend Beethoven.[50]

If an English publisher could afford to pay so high a price for the manuscripts of a German composer, why not a French one? So Beethoven reasoned, and, Bonn being then French, he wrote to Simrock proposing a contract like that made with Clementi. The letter, which was dictated and signed by Beethoven but written by another, expresses a desire to sell six new works to a publishing house in France, one in England and one in Vienna simultaneously, with the understanding that they are to appear only after a certain date. They are a symphony, an overture for Collin’s “Coriolan,” a violin concerto, 3 quartets, 1 concerto for the pianoforte, the violin concerto arranged for pianoforte “avec des notes additionelles.” The price, “very cheap,” is to be 1200[106] florins, Augsburg current. As regards the day of publication, he thinks he can fix the first of September of that year for the first three, and the first of October for the second three.

Simrock answered that owing to unfavorable circumstances due to the war, all he could offer, in his “lean condition,” was 1600 livres. He also proposed that in case Beethoven found his offer fair, he should send the works without delay to Breuning. Simrock would at once pay Breuning 300 livres in cash and give him a bill of exchange for 1300 livres, payable in two years, provided nobody reprinted any of his works in France, he taking all measures to protect his property under the laws.

A series of letters written from Baden and bearing dates in June and July, addressed to Gleichenstein, are of no special interest or importance except as they, when read together, establish beyond cavil that Beethoven made no journey to any distant watering-place during the time which they cover. By proving this they have a powerful bearing on the vexed question touching the true date of Beethoven’s famous love-letter supposed by Schindler to have been addressed to the young Countess Guicciardi. That it was written in 1806 or 1807 was long since made certain; and it was only in a mistaken deference to Beethoven’s “Evening, Monday, July 6”—which, if correct, would be decisive in favor of the latter year—that the letter was not inserted in its proper place as belonging to the year 1806. That this deference was a mistake, and that Beethoven should have written “July 7,” is made certain by Simrock’s letter, which, by determining the dates of the notes to Gleichenstein, affords positive evidence that the composer passed the months of June and July, 1807, in Baden. A cursory examination of the composer’s correspondence brings to light other similar mistakes. There is a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel with this date, “Wednesday, November 2, 1809”—Wednesday was the 1st; a letter to Countess Erdödy has “29 February, 1815”—in that year February had but 28 days; and a letter to Zmeskall is dated “Wednesday, July 3rd, 1817”—July 3rd that year falling on a Thursday. Referring the reader to what has appeared in a previous chapter, for the letter and a complete discussion of the question of its date, it need only be added here, that it was, beyond a doubt, written from some Hungarian watering-place (as Schindler says), where Beethoven tarried for a time after his visit to Brunswick and before that to Prince Lichnowsky. This fact being established, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that it was not written to Julia Guicciardi—already nearly three years the wife of Gallenberg—nor to Therese Malfatti—then a[107] girl but thirteen or at most fourteen years—nor, in short, to any person whose name has ever been given by biographer or novelist as among the objects of Beethoven’s fleeting passions. Thus we are led to the obvious and rational conclusion, that a mutual appreciation had grown up between the composer and some lady not yet known; that there were obstacles to marriage just now insuperable, but not of such a nature as to forbid the expectation of conquering them in the future; and that—in 1807 as in 1806—they were happy in their love and looking forward with hope.[51]

The following letter to Prince Esterhazy, dated July 26, belongs to the same period and refers to the composition of the Mass in C:

Most Serene, most Gracious Prince!

Having been told that you, my Prince, have asked concerning the mass which you commissioned me to write for you, I take the liberty, my Serene Prince, to inform you that you shall receive the same at the latest by the 20th of the month of August—which will leave plenty of time to have it performed on the name-day of her Serene Highness, the Princess—an extraordinarily favorable offer which I received from London when I had the misfortune to make a failure of my benefit at the theatre, which made me grasp the need with joy, retarded the completion of the mass, much as I wished, Serene Prince, to appear with it before you, and to this was added an illness of the head, which at first permitted me to work not at all and now but little; since everything is so eagerly interpreted against me, I inclose a letter from my physician—may I add that I shall give the mass into your hands with great fear since you, Serene Highness, are accustomed to have the inimitable masterpieces of the great Haydn performed for you.

Composition of the Mass in C

At the end of July, Beethoven removed from Baden to Heiligenstadt, devoting his time there to the C minor Symphony and the Mass in C. One of Czerny’s notes relates to the mass:

Once when he (Beethoven) was walking in the country with the Countess Erdödy and other ladies, they heard some village musicians and laughed at some false notes which they played, especially the violoncellist, who, fumbling for the C major chord, produced something like the following:

Bass clef with notes G A C G E C

Beethoven used this figure for the “Credo” of his first mass, which he chanced to be composing at the time.

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The name-day of Princess Esterhazy, née Princess Marie von Liechtenstein, for which Beethoven promises in the letter above given to have the Mass ready, was the 8th of September. In the years when this date did not fall upon a Sunday it was the custom at Eisenstadt to celebrate it on the first Sunday following. In 1807 the 8th fell on a Tuesday and the first performance of Beethoven’s Mass, therefore, took place on the 13th. Haydn, as Pohl informs us, had written his masses for this day and had gone to Eisenstadt from Vienna to conduct their performance. So Beethoven now; who seems to have had his troubles with the singers here as in Vienna, if one may found such an opinion upon an energetic note of Prince Esterhazy copied and printed by Pohl. In this note, which is dated September 12, 1807, the Prince calls upon his vice-chapelmaster, Johann Fuchs, to explain why the singers in his employ were not always on hand at his musical affairs. He had heard on that day with displeasure that at the rehearsal of Beethoven’s Mass only one of the five contraltos was present, and he stringently commanded all the singers and instrumentalists in his service to be on hand at the performance of the mass on the following day.

Ill Feeling between Beethoven and Hummel

The Mass was produced on the next day—the 13th. “It was the custom at this court,” says Schindler,

that after the religious service the local as well as foreign musical notabilities met in the chambers of the Prince for the purpose of conversing with him about the works which had been performed. When Beethoven entered the room, the Prince turned to him with the question: “But, my dear Beethoven, what is this that you have done again?” The impression made by this singular question, which was probably followed by other critical remarks, was the more painful on our artist because he saw the chapelmaster standing near the Prince laugh. Thinking that he was being ridiculed, nothing could keep him at the place where his work had been so misunderstood and besides, as he thought, where a brother in art had rejoiced over his discomfiture. He left Eisenstadt the same day.

The laughing chapelmaster was J. N. Hummel, who had been called to the post in 1804 in place of Haydn, recently pensioned because of his infirmities, due to old age. Schindler continues:

Thence dates the falling-out with Hummel, between whom and Beethoven there never existed a real intimate friendship. Unfortunately they never came to an explanation which might have disclosed that the unlucky laugh was not directed at Beethoven, but at the singular manner in which the Prince had criticized the mass (in which there is still much that might be complained of). But there were other things which fed the hate of Beethoven. One of these was that the two had an inclination for the same girl; the other, the tendency which Hummel had first[109] introduced not only in pianoforte playing but also composition.... Not until the last days of Beethoven, post tot discrimina rerum, was the cloud which had settled between the two artists dispelled.

In the earlier editions of his book, Schindler gives a still gloomier tinge to the story:

His hatred of Hummel because of this (the laugh after the mass) was so deeply rooted that I know of no second one like it in his entire history. After the lapse of 14 years he told me the story with a bitterness as if it had happened the day before. But this dark cloud was dissipated by the strength of his spirit, and this would have happened much earlier had Hummel approached him in a friendly manner instead of always holding himself aloof.

That Schindler heard Beethoven speak of the occurrence in Eisenstadt, fourteen years thereafter, with “great bitterness” is not to be doubted; but this does not prove the existence of so lasting and deep a hatred towards Hummel as is asserted. That he was dissatisfied with Hummel’s later course as pianist and composer is most probable, and hardly needs Schindler’s testimony; but it is not so with other statements of his; and facts have come to light since his book appeared (1840) which he could not well have known, but which leave little doubt that he was greatly mistaken in his view of the relations between the two men. That something very like an “intimate friendship” had characterized their intercourse, the reader already knows; and that, three or four years later, they were again friendly, if not intimate, will in due time appear. As to the girl whom both loved, but who favored Hummel, if Schindler refers to the sister of Röckel—afterwards the wife of Hummel—it is known from Röckel himself that there is nothing in the story. If, on the other hand, he had in mind a ludicrous anecdote—not quite fit to be printed—the “wife of a citizen,” who plays the third rôle in the comedy, was not of such a character as to cause any lasting ill blood between the rivals for her passing favor.

In short, while we accept the Eisenstadt anecdote, as being originally derived from Beethoven himself, we must view all that Schindler adds in connection with it with a certain amount of distrust and doubt—if not reject it altogether—as a new illustration of his proneness to accept without examination old impressions for established facts.

This year is remarkable not only in Beethoven’s life, but in the history of music, as that in which was completed the C minor Symphony. This wondrous work was no sudden inspiration. Themes for the Allegro, Andante and Scherzo are found in sketchbooks belonging, at the very latest, to the years 1800 and 1801.[110] There are studies also preserved, which show that Beethoven wrought upon it while engaged on “Fidelio” and the Pianoforte Concerto in G—that is, in 1804-6, when, as before noted, he laid it aside for the composition of the fourth, in B-flat major. That is all that is known of the rise and progress of this famous symphony, except that it was completed this year in the composer’s favorite haunts about Heiligenstadt.[52]

In the “Journal des Luxus” of January, 1808, there appeared a letter in which it was stated that “Beethoven’s opera ‘Fidelio,’ which despite all contradictory reports has extraordinary beauties, is to be performed in Prague in the near future with a new overture.” The composer was also said to have “already begun a second mass.” Of this mass we hear nothing more, but there was a foundation of fact in the other item of news. Guardasoni had for some time kept alive the Italian opera in Prague, only because his contract required it. It had sunk so low in the esteem of the public, that performances were actually given to audiences of less than twenty persons in the parterre—the boxes and galleries being empty in proportion. That manager died early in 1806, and the Bohemian States immediately raised Carl Liebich from his position of stage-manager of the German drama to that of General Director, with instructions to dismiss the Italian and engage a German operatic company. Such a change required time; and not until April 24th, 1807, did the Italians make their last appearance, selecting for the occasion Mozart’s “Clemenza di Tito”—originally composed for that stage. On the 2d of May the new German opera opened with Cherubini’s “Faniska.”

Beethoven, in view of his relations to the Bohemian nobles, naturally expected, and seems to have had the promise, that his “Fidelio” should be brought out there as well as its rival, and, as Seyfried expresses it, “planned a new and less difficult overture for the Prague theatre.” This was the composition published in 1832 with the title: “Overture in C, composed in the year 1805, for the opera ‘Leonore’ by Ludwig van Beethoven”—an erroneous[111] date, which continued current and unchallenged for nearly forty years. Schindler’s story—that it was tried at Prince Lichnowsky’s and laid aside as inadequate to the subject—was therefore based on misinformation; but that it was played either at Lichnowsky’s or Lobkowitz’s is very probable, and, if so, it may well have made but a tame and feeble impression on auditors who had heard the glorious “Leonore” Overture the year before. A tragical and lamentable consequence of establishing the true date of Op. 138—of the discovery that the supposed No. I is really No. III of the “Leonore-Fidelio” overtures—is this; that so much eloquent dissertation on the astonishing development of Beethoven’s powers as exhibited in his progress from No. I to No. III, has lost its basis, and all the fine writing on this topic is, at a blow, made ridiculous and absurd! As to the performance of “Fidelio” at Prague, Beethoven was disappointed. It was not given. Another paragraph from the “Journal des Luxus, etc.” (November, 1806) gives the only satisfactory notice, known to us, of the origin of one of Beethoven’s minor but well-known compositions.

In Questa Tomba Oscura

A bit of musical pleasantry (says the journal last mentioned) recently gave rise to a competition amongst a number of famous composers. Countess Rzewuska[53] improvised an aria at the pianoforte; the poet Carpani at once improvised a text for it. He imagined a lover who had died of grief because of the indifference of his ladylove; she, repenting of her hard-heartedness, bedews the grave; and now the shade calls to her:

In questa tomba oscura
Lasciami riposar;
Quando viveva, ingrata,
Dovevi a me pensar.
Lascia che l’ombra ignude
Godansi pace almen,
E non bagnar mie ceneri
D’inutile velen.

These words have been set by Paër, Salieri, Weigl, Zingarelli, Cherubini, Asioli and other great masters and amateurs. Zingarelli alone provided ten compositions of them; in all about fifty have been collected and the poet purposes to give them to the public in a volume.

The number of the compositions was increased to sixty-three, and they were published in 1808, the last (No. 63) being by Beethoven. This was by no means considered the best at the time, although it alone now survives.

The Publications of the Year 1807

Though disappointed in December, as he had been in March, in the hope of obtaining the use of a theatre for a concert,[112] Beethoven was not thereby prevented from coming prominently before the public as composer and director. It was on this wise: The want of better opportunities to hear good symphony music well performed, than Schuppanzigh’s Concerts—which were also confined to the summer months—and the occasional hastily arranged “Academies” of composers and virtuosos, afforded, induced a number of music-lovers early in the winter to form an institute under the modest title: “Concert of Music-Lovers” (Liebhaber-Concert). Says the “Wiener Vaterländische Blätter” of May 27, 1808: “An orchestra was organized, whose members were chosen from the best of the local music-lovers (dilettanti). A few wind-instruments only—French horns, trumpets, etc., were drafted from the Vienna theatres.... The audiences were composed exclusively of the nobility of the town and foreigners of note, and among these classes the preference was given to the cognoscenti and amateurs.” The hall “zur Mehlgrube,” which was first engaged, proved to be too small, and the concerts were transferred to the hall of the University, where “in twenty meetings symphonies, overtures, concertos and vocal pieces were performed zealously and affectionately and received with general approval.” “Banker Häring was a director in the earlier concerts but gave way to Clement ‘because of disagreements.’” The works of Beethoven reported as having been performed in these concerts, are the Symphony in D (in the first concert), the overture to “Prometheus” in November, the “Eroica” Symphony and “Coriolan” Overture in December, and about New Year the Fourth Symphony in B-flat, which also on the 15th of November had been played in the Burgtheater at a concert for the public charities. Most, if not all of these works were directed by their composer. The works ascertained as belonging to this year are: (1) The transcription of the Violin Concerto for Pianoforte, made (as Clementi’s letter to Collard says) at Clementi’s request; (2) the overture to “Coriolan”; (3) the Mass in C;[54] (4) the so-called “Leonore” Overture, No. 1, published[113] as Op. 138; (5) the Symphony in C minor; (6) the Arietta, “In questa tomba.” The original publications of the year were few, viz., (1) “LIVe Sonata” for Pianoforte, Op. 57, dedicated to Count Brunswick, advertised in the “Wiener Zeitung” of February 18, by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir; (2) Thirty-two Variations in C minor, advertised by the same firm on April 29; (3) Concerto concertant for Pianoforte, Violin and Violoncello, Op. 56, dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, advertised in the “Wiener Zeitung” on July 1.

The following advertisements are evidence of the great and increasing popularity of Beethoven’s name: On March 21, Traeg announces 12 Écossaises and 12 Waltzes for two violins and bass (2 flutes, 2 horns ad lib.); also for pianoforte; other works are being arranged; on April 20, the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir announces an arrangement of the “Eroica” Symphony for pianoforte, violin, viola and violoncello; on May 27 (Artaria), a Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 64, transcribed from Op. 3; on June 13 (Traeg), the Symphony in D major arranged by Ries as a Quintet with double-bass, flute, 2 horns ad lib.; on September 12 (the Chemical Printing Works), a Polonaise, Op. 8, for two violins and for violin and guitar.

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Chapter VII

The Year 1808—Beethoven’s Brother Johann—Plans for New Operas—The “Pastoral Symphony” and “Choral Fantasia”—A Call to Cassel—Appreciation in Vienna.

Slanders against Johann van Beethoven

The history of the year 1808 must be preceded by the following letter to Gleichenstein:

Dear good Gleichenstein:

Please be so kind as to give this to the copyist to-morrow—it concerns the symphony as you see—in case he is not through with the quartet to-morrow, take it away and deliver it at the Industriecomptoir.... You may say to my brother that I shall certainly not write to him again. I know the cause, it is this, because he has lent me money and spent some on my account he is already concerned, I know my brothers, since I cannot yet pay it back to him, and the other probably who is filled with the spirit of revenge against me and him too—it were best if I were to collect the whole 1500 florins (from the Industriecomptoir) and pay him with it, then the matter will be at an end—heaven forefend that I should be obliged to receive benefactions from my brothers.[55]

Beethoven.

Of all the known letters of Beethoven, perhaps no one is so much to be regretted as this, written near the end of 1807, just when the contracts with the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir, and Simrock—he had received nothing as yet on the Clementi contract—made his pecuniary resources abundant, doubtless increased by a handsome honorarium out of the receipts of the Liebhaber Concerts. True, the letter was intended for Gleichenstein’s eye alone; still it is sad to know that even in a moment of spleen or anger and in the privacy of intimate friendship, the great master could[115] so far forget his own dignity, and write thus abusively of his brother Johann, whose claim was just and whose future career was dependent upon its payment at this time.

The case, in few words, was this:—Eleonore Ordley, sole heir of her sister, Theresia Tiller, was, in the autumn of 1807, seeking a purchaser for the house and “registered apothecary shop” which, until 1872, still existed directly between the market-place and the bridge at Linz on the Danube, and was willing to dispose of them on such terms of payment, as to render it possible even for Johann van Beethoven with his slender means to become their owner. “I know my brothers,” writes Beethoven. His brothers also knew him; and Johann had every reason to fear that if he did not secure his debt now when his brother’s means were abundant, he might at the crisis of his negotiation find himself penniless. His demand was too just to be resisted and Gleichenstein evidently drew the money from the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir and paid it; for on the 13th of March, 1808, the contract of sale was signed at Vienna. By the terms of the contract which fixed the price at 25,000 florins, the vendee agreed to assume incumbrances on the property amounting to 12,600 florins, pay 10,400 florins in cash and 5% interest on 2,000 florins to the vendor during her life, and to be in Linz and take possession of the property on or before March 20, i. e., within a week after the signing of the contract.

The expenses incurred in the negotiations, in his journey to Linz, and in taking possession, left the indigent purchaser barely funds sufficient to make his first payment and ratify the contract; in fact, he had only 300 florins left. The profits of his shop and the rents of his house were so small, that Johann was almost at his wit’s end how to meet his next engagements. He sold the iron gratings of the windows—but they produced too little to carry him through. It was a comical piece of good luck for him that the jars and pots upon his shelves were of pure, solid English tin—a metal which Napoleon’s non-intercourse decrees fulminated against England had just then raised enormously in price. The cunning apothecary sold his tin, furnished his shop with earthenware, and met his payments with the profits of the transaction. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; the reverses of the Austrian arms in April, 1809, opened the road for the French armies to Linz, and gave Apothecary Beethoven an opportunity to make large contracts for the supply of medicines to the enemy’s commissariat, which not only relieved him in his present necessities but laid the foundation for his subsequent moderate fortune.

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This concise record of facts effectually disposes of the current errors, which are, first: that about 1802-3 Beethoven established his brother in Linz as apothecary, advancing to him the necessary capital; second: that, through his personal influence, he obtained for Johann profitable contracts with the Austrian Commissariat for medicines—which contracts were the basis of his subsequent prosperity; third: that consequently, in obtaining monies from his brother, Beethoven was only sharing in the profits on capital furnished by himself; and, fourth: that hence, Johann’s urgent request for payment in 1807 was an exhibition of vile selfishness and base ingratitude! All this is the exact reverse of the truth.

No other performances of Beethoven’s works at the Liebhaber Concerts, than those before enumerated, are reported; perhaps none were given, for reasons indicated in a letter from Stephan von Breuning to Wegeler, written in March, 1808: “Beethoven came near losing a finger by a Panaritium [felon], but he is again in good health. He escaped a great misfortune, which, added to his deafness, would have completely ruined his good humor, which, as it is, is of rare occurrence.”

The series of concerts closed with the famous one of March 27th, at which in honor of Haydn, whose 76th birthday fell on the 31st, his “Creation” with Carpani’s Italian text was given. It is pleasant to know that Beethoven was one of those who, “with members of the high nobility,” stood at the door of the hall of the university to receive the venerable guest on his arrival there in Prince Esterhazy’s coach, and who accompanied him as “sitting in an armchair he was carried, lifted high, and on his entrance into the hall was received with the sound of trumpets and drums by the numerous gathering and greeted with joyous shouts of ‘Long live Haydn!’”

Some pains have been taken in other chapters to show that the want of taste and appreciation so often alleged for the works of Beethoven at Vienna is a mistake. On the contrary, generally in the concerts of those years, whenever an orchestra equal to the task was engaged, few as his published orchestral compositions then were, they are as often to be found on the programmes as those of Mozart or even Haydn; none were more likely to fill the house. Thus, immediately after the close of the Liebhaber Concerts, Sebastian Meier’s annual benefit in the Theater-an-der-Wien opened with the “Sinfonia Eroica.” This was on Monday evening, April 11. Two days after (13th) the Charity Institute’s Concert in the Burg Theatre offered a programme of six numbers; No. 1 was Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony in B-flat; No. 5, one of[117] his Pianoforte Concertos, played by Friedrich Stein; and No. 6, the “Coriolan” Overture—all directed by the composer; and, at a benefit concert in May, in the Augartensaal, occurred the first known public performance of the Triple Concerto, Op. 56.

Rust’s Meetings with the Composer

The once famous musical wonder-child, Wilhelm Rust, of Dessau, at the time a young man of some twenty-two years, had come to Vienna in 1807, and was now supporting himself by giving “children instructions in reading and elementary natural science.” In a letter to his “best sister, Jette,” dated Haking (a village near Vienna), July 9, 1808, he wrote of Beethoven.

You want much to hear something about Beethoven; unfortunately I must say first of all that it has not been possible for me to get intimately acquainted with him. What else I know I will tell you now: He is as original and singular as a man as are his compositions. On the other hand he is also very childlike and certainly very sincere. He is a great lover of truth and in this goes too far very often; for he never flatters and therefore makes many enemies. A good fellow played for him, and when he was finished Beethoven said to him: “You will have to play a long time before you will realize that you can do nothing.” I do not know whether you heard that I also played for him. He praised my playing, particularly in the Bach fugue, and said: “You play that well,” which is much for him. Still he could not omit calling my attention to two mistakes. In a Scherzo I had not played the notes crisply enough and at another time I had struck one note twice instead of binding it. He must be unable to endure the French; for once when Prince Lichnowsky had some French guests, he asked Beethoven, who was also with him, to play for them as they had requested; but he refused and said he would not play for Frenchmen. In consequence he and Lichnowsky had a falling out.[56]

Once I met him at a restaurant where he sat with a few acquaintances. He berated Vienna soundly and the decay of its music. In this he is certainly right, and I was glad to hear his judgment, which confirmed mine. Last winter I frequently attended the Liebhaber Concerts, the first of which under Beethoven’s direction were very beautiful; but after he retired they became so poor that there was not one in which something was not bungled....

It is very possible that Beethoven will leave Vienna; at any rate he has frequently spoken of doing so and said: “They are forcing me to it.” He also asked me once how the orchestras were in the North. You wanted to know if any new sonatas by him have been published. His last works were symphonies and he is now writing an opera, which is the reason why I cannot go to him any more. Last year he composed a piece which I have not heard and an overture “Coriolan” which is extraordinarily beautiful. Perhaps you have had an opportunity to hear it in Berlin. The theme and variations in C minor which you refer to I also have; it is very beautiful, etc.

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In December Rust, writing to his brother Carl, was obliged to correct what he had said about Beethoven’s new opera; “All new products which have appeared here are more or less mediocre except those of Beethoven. I think I have written you that he has not yet begun his new opera. I have not yet heard his first opera; it has not been performed since I have been here.” These last sentences of Rust remind us of the once current notion that disgust and disappointment at the (assumed) failure of “Fidelio” prevented Beethoven from ever undertaking the composition of another opera. The error was long since exploded, and, indeed, amply refuted by his proposition to the “princely theatre rabble” for a permanent engagement. It is now universally known how earnestly Beethoven all his life long sought a satisfactory text for an opera or an oratorio; his friends always knew it; and his essays in vocal composition had, in spite of the critics, so favorably impressed them and the dramatic writers of the day, that all were eager to serve him.

Thus Schindler writes to Gleichenstein from Gratz, on March 19, 1807: “Speak at once to our friend Beethoven and particularly with the worthy Breuning, and learn if Beethoven has a mind to set a comic opera to music. I have read it, and found it varied in situation, beautiful in diction.” Nothing came of this.

A somewhat more promising offer came from another quarter, but also without result. The celebrated Orientalist, Hammer-Purgstall, had just returned from the East to Vienna. Although but thirty-three years of age, he was already famous, and his translations and other writings were the talk of the day. An autograph note by Beethoven without address or date, preserved in the Petter Collection, was evidently written to him:

Almost put to shame by your courtesy and kindness in communicating your still unknown literary treasures in manuscript, I thank you heartily while returning the opera texts; overwhelmed in my artistic calling it is impossible for me just now to go into details about the Indian opera particularly, as soon as time permits I shall visit you in order to discuss this subject as well as the oratorio, “The Deluge,” with you.

No oratorio on the subject of the deluge appears in the catalogue of Hammer-Purgstall’s works.[57]

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An Operatic “Macbeth” in Contemplation

The new directors of the theatres began their operatic performances at the Kärnthnerthor January 1 and 2, and at the Burg January 4, 1807, with Gluck’s “Iphigenia in Tauris.” It was new to Collin and awakened in his mind new ideas of the ancient tragedy, which he determined to embody in a text for a musical drama in oratorio form. According to his biographer, Laban, he projected one on the Liberation of Jerusalem, to offer to Beethoven for setting; but it was never finished. Another essay in the field of musical drama was a “Macbeth,” after Shakespeare, also left unfinished in the middle of the second act, “because it threatened to become too gloomy.” He carried to completion a grand opera libretto, “Bradamante,” for which he had an unusual predilection. It also was offered to Beethoven, but “seemed too venturesome” to him in respect of its use of the supernatural; there were probably other reasons why it did not appeal to him. “And so it happened that although at a later period Beethoven wanted to undertake its composition, Collin gave the book to Reichardt, who set it to music during his sojourn in Vienna in 1808.”

A writer in Cotta’s “Morgenblatt” remarks: “The clever Beethoven has a notion to compose Goethe’s ‘Faust’ as soon as he has found somebody who will adapt it for the stage for him.” Nottebohm (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 225 et seq.) says that the first act of Collin’s “Macbeth” was printed in 1809 and must have been written in 1808 at the latest. He also prints a sketch showing that Beethoven had begun its composition. The “Macbeth” project therefore preceded the negotiations about “Bradamante.” Collin’s opera begins, like Shakespeare’s, with the witches’ scene, and the sketch referred to is preceded by the directions: “Overture Macbeth falls immediately into the chorus of witches.”[58]

The consequence of Beethoven’s fastidiousness and indecision was that on removing again to Heiligenstadt for the summer, he had no text for a vocal composition and devoted his time and energies to an instrumental composition—the “Sinfonia Pastorale.”

Those who think programme music for the orchestra is a recent invention, and they who suppose the “Pastoral” Symphony to be an original attempt to portray nature in music, are alike mistaken. It was never so much the ambition of Beethoven to invent new forms of musical works, as to surpass his contemporaries in the use of those already existing. There were few great[120] battles in those stormy years, that were not fought over again by orchestras, military bands, organs and pianofortes; and pages might be filled with a catalogue of programme music, long since dead, buried and forgotten.

A remark of Ries, confirmed by other testimony, as well as by the form and substance of many of his master’s works, if already quoted, will bear repetition: “Beethoven in composing his pieces often thought of a particular thing, although he frequently laughed at musical paintings and scolded particularly about trivialities of this sort. Haydn’s ‘Creation’ and ‘The Seasons’ were frequently ridiculed, though Beethoven never failed to recognize Haydn’s high deserts,” etc. But Beethoven himself did not disdain occasionally to introduce imitations into his works. The difference between him and others in this regard was this: they undertook to give musical imitations of things essentially unmusical—he never.

On a bright, sunny day in April, 1823, Beethoven took Schindler for a long ramble through the scenes in which he had composed his Fifth and Sixth symphonies. Schindler writes:

After we had looked at the bath-house and its adjacent garden at Heiligenstadt and he had given expression to many agreeable recollections touching his creations, we continued our walk towards the Kahlenberg in the direction past Grinzing [?]. Passing through the pleasant meadow-valley between Heiligenstadt and the latter village,[59] which is traversed by a gently murmuring brook which hurries down from a near-by mountain and is bordered with high elms, Beethoven repeatedly stopped and let his glances roam, full of happiness, over the glorious landscape. Then seating himself on the turf and leaning against an elm, Beethoven asked me if there were any yellowhammers to be heard in the trees around us. But all was still. He then said: “Here I composed the ‘Scene by the Brook’ and the yellowhammers up there, the quails, nightingales and cuckoos round about, composed with me.” To my question why he had not also put the yellowhammers into the scene, he drew out his sketchbook and wrote:

Treble clef with ascending pattern

“That’s the composer up there,” he remarked, “hasn’t she a more important rôle to play than the others? They are meant only for a joke.”[121] And really the entrance of this figure in G major gives the tone-picture a new charm. Speaking now of the whole work and its parts, Beethoven said that the melody of this variation from the species of the yellowhammers was pretty plainly imitated in the scale written down in Andante rhythm and the same pitch.[60] As a reason for not having mentioned this fellow-composer he said that had he printed the name it would only have served to increase the number of ill-natured interpretations of the movement which has made the introduction of the work difficult not only in Vienna but also in other places. Not infrequently the symphony, because of its second movement, had been declared to be child’s play. In some places it shared the fate of the “Eroica.”

Jokes in the “Pastoral Symphony”

Equally interesting, valuable and grateful is Schindler’s account of the origin of Beethoven’s “Merrymaking of the Countryfolk” in this symphony. Somewhat curtailed it is this:

There are facts to tell us of how particular was the interest which Beethoven took in Austrian dance-music. Until his arrival in Vienna (1792), according to his own statement, he had not become acquainted with any folkmusic except that of the mountains, with its strange and peculiar rhythms. How much attention he afterwards bestowed on dance-music is proved by the catalogue of his works. He even made essays in Austrian dance-music, but the players refused to grant Austrian citizenship to these efforts. The last effort dates from 1819 and, strangely enough, falls in the middle of his work on the “Missa Solemnis.” In the tavern “To the Three Ravens” in the vordern Brühl near Mödling there had played a band of seven men. This band was one of the first that gave the young musician from the Rhine an opportunity to hear the national tunes of his new home in an unadulterated form. Beethoven made the acquaintance of the musicians and composed several sets of Ländler and other dances for them. In the year mentioned (1819), he had again complied with the wishes of the band. I was present when the new opus was handed to the leader of the company. The master in high good humor remarked that he had so arranged the dances that one musician after the other might put down his instrument at intervals and take a rest, or even a nap. After the leader had gone away full of joy because of the present of the famous composer, Beethoven asked me if I had not observed how village musicians often played in their sleep, occasionally letting their instruments fall and remaining entirely quiet, then awaking with a start, throwing in a few vigorous blows or strokes at a venture, but generally in the right key, and then falling asleep again; he had tried to copy these poor people in his “Pastoral” symphony. Now, reader, take up the score and see the arrangement on pages 106, 107, 108 and 109. Note the stereotyped accompaniment figure of the two violins on page 105 and the following; note the sleep-drunken second[122] bassoon[61] with his repetition of a few tones, while contra-bass, violoncello and viola keep quiet; on page 108 we see the viola wake up and apparently awaken the violoncello—and the second horn also sounds three notes, but at once sinks into silence again. At length contra-bass and the two bassoons gather themselves together for a new effort and the clarinet has time to take a rest. Moreover, the Allegro in 2-4 time on page 110 is based in form and character on the old-time Austrian dances. There were dances in which 3-4 time gave way suddenly to 2-4. As late as the third decade of the nineteenth century I myself saw such dances executed in forest villages only a few hours distant from the metropolis—Laab, Kaltenleutgeben and Gaden.

The subject of Beethoven’s imitations, even in play, are therefore musical, not incongruous; and in hisPortrait musical de la Nature” are so suggestive as to aid and intensify the “expression of feelings,” which was his professed aim.

Count Oppersdorff and the Fourth Symphony

Beethoven wrote to Count Oppersdorff on November 1:

You will view me in a false light, but necessity compelled me to sell the symphony which was written for you and also another to someone else—but be assured that you shall soon receive the one intended for you soon.... I live right under Prince Lichnowsky, in case you ever make me a visit in Vienna, at Countess Erdödy’s. My circumstances are improving—without the help of persons who wish to treat their friends with a threshing. I have also been called to be Chapelmaster to the King of Westphalia, and it is easily possible that I shall accept the call.

Such an apology for not having dedicated the promised Symphony to Oppersdorff, and the promise soon to supply its place with another, are ample testimony that the relations between the composer and that nobleman were of a character well worth the trouble of investigation by any one who has the opportunity to make it. Whatever information can be obtained upon this matter will be new.[62]

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The allusion in the above letter to Lichnowsky’s lodging renders it certain that the Prince had made no recent change. Now Carl Czerny writes to Ferdinand Luib (May 28, 1852): “About 1804, he (Beethoven) already lived on the Mölkerbastei in the vicinity of Prince Lichnowsky, who lived in the house (now demolished) over the Schottenthor. In the years 1806-7-8-9, he certainly lived on the Mölkerbastei with Pasqualati, and, as I believe, for a time hard by. It is thus ascertained, that, on returning from Heiligenstadt at the close of the summer, 1808, Beethoven left the rooms which he had now occupied for four years, for others in the house (now demolished) over the Schottenthor.” In his words: “persons who wish to treat their friends with a[124] threshing,” he doubtless refers to Lichnowsky. Now, it is hardly conceivable that he should have taken up his abode in the very house in part occupied by the Prince, unless at the time they had been, ostensibly at least, on amicable terms. It has been seen that the old quarrel of 1806 was so far made up, as to admit of the loan by the composer to Lichnowsky of the “Coriolan” overture in manuscript. There must have been, therefore, some new and very recent outbreak between them. But here again, doubtless through the good offices of the motherly Princess Christine, all difficulties between them were soon adjusted.

The circumstance that the composer’s new apartments were in the lodging of Count Peter Erdödy strongly suggests the probability that his great intimacy with the Countess dates from the time when he became her near neighbor upon his moving into the Pasqualati house four years before.

The close of the letter to Oppersdorff contains the earliest discovered allusion to one of the most singular events in Beethoven’s life. In the autumn of 1807, Jerome Bonaparte, the Corsican lawyer’s youngest son, who had spent his boyhood and youth mostly at sea, and had not yet completed his 23d year, found himself at Cassel, bearing the pompous title of “King of Westphalia.” What could have induced this half-educated, frivolous, prodigal and effeminate young satrap and sybarite to sanction an invitation to his court of the composer most distinguished since Handel for his masculine vigor and manly independence in his art, is one of those small mysteries which seem impenetrable. The precise time when, and by what agency this call was communicated to Beethoven are alike unknown; we only know that before the first of November, 1808, “Beethoven received the same through the High Chamberlain of the King of Westphalia, Count Truchsess-Waldburg, that it was to the office of first Chapelmaster”; and that it led to events, which will be noticed hereafter. The lists of “Arrivals in Vienna” during this season contain the names of several old and new friends of Beethoven, the dates of whose arrival avail in some instances to correct certain current errors. The following seem worth copying:

June 1, Joseph Linke, musician, from Breslau; June 23, Count von Brunswick, comes from Pressburg; July 2, Dominik Dragonetti, musician, from Venice [London], comes from Trieste; July 10, Alexander Macco, painter of Anspach, comes from Munich; July 11, Count Rasoumowsky, comes from Carlsbad; August 27, Herr Ferdinand Ries, musical composer of Bonn; Nov. 24, Joh. Fried. Reichardt, Chapelmaster of Hesse-Cassel.

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Founding of the Rasoumowsky Quartet

In the carefully considered “Übersicht des gegenwärtigen Zustandes der Tonkunst in Wien” of the “Vaterländische Blätter” for May 27 and 31, 1808, it is noted that the violinists Anton Wranitzky and Herr Volta are “in the service of Prince Lobkowitz; Herr Schlesinger in that of the Graf Erdödy; Herr Schmidgen of Count Armadé; Breimann of Esterhazy”; and the like of various performers on other instruments. But no such note follows the name of Schuppanzigh, “who is particularly distinguished among quartet players and probably stands alone as a performer of Beethoven’s compositions.” Nor do the names of Weiss and Linke appear in the article. This of itself is perhaps enough to expose the mistake as to the time when the famous Rasoumowsky Quartet was founded, and to correct the erroneous conclusions drawn from it. But the date of Linke’s arrival in Vienna is proof positive.

Rasoumowsky lived in his new palace on the Donau Canal, into which he had very recently removed from the Wallzeil and in which he had put his domestic establishment on a footing of great splendor. It suited his taste to have the first string quartet of Europe in his service. His own skill rendered him amply competent to play the second violin, which he usually did; but the young Mayseder, or some other of the first violinists of the city, was ever ready to take his part when required. Three permanent engagements only were, therefore, necessary, and these now, in late summer or early autumn, 1808, were made. To Schuppanzigh—then the first of quartet players, but still without any permanent engagement—was given the appointment for life of violino primo, and to him was entrusted the selection of the others. He recommended Weiss for the viola, whom Rasoumowsky accepted and to whom, for himself and family, he granted a suitable lodging in one of the houses connected with the palace.

Schuppanzigh had been so favorably impressed with the talents and skill of Linke as to secure him the place of violoncellist. He was a young man of 25 years—slightly deformed in person—an orphan from his childhood.

As before stated, Förster was the Count’s instructor in musical theory, the accomplished Bigot was librarian and his talented wife pianist. These were the years (1808-1815) when, says Seyfried, “as is known Beethoven was, as it were, cock of the walk in the princely establishment; everything that he composed was rehearsed hot from the griddle and performed to the nicety of a hair, according to his ideas, just as he wanted it and not otherwise, with affectionate interest, obedience and devotion such as[126] could spring only from such ardent admirers of his lofty genius, and with a penetration into the most secret intentions of the composer and the most perfect comprehension of his intellectual tendencies; so that these quartet players achieved that universal celebrity concerning which there was but one voice in the art-world.”

The date of Dragonetti’s arrival in Vienna, on this, his second visit, disposes of an English tradition, that Beethoven wrote the famous contrabass passage in the Scherzo of the C minor Symphony expressly for him. The story contains doubtless so much of truth as this: that it was the display of the possibilities of that instrument, made by its greatest master, which induced Beethoven to venture the introduction into that symphony of what has so often proved a stumbling-block and rock of offence to contrabassists of no common and ordinary skill.

But a new topic demands our attention. Beethoven in his later years, in moments of spleen and ill humor, gave utterance both in conversation and in writing to expressions, which have since served as the basis of bitter diatribes against the Vienna public. Czerny—than whom no man could be better informed on the subject of the master’s actual position—takes occasion in his notes for Jahn to remark:

It has repeatedly been said in foreign lands that Beethoven was not respected in Vienna and was suppressed. The truth is that already as a youth he received all manner of support from our high aristocracy and enjoyed as much care and respect as ever fell to the lot of a young artist.... Later, too, when he estranged many by his hypochondria, nothing was charged against his often very striking peculiarities; hence his predilection for Vienna, and it is doubtful if he would have been left so undisturbed in any other country. It is true that as an artist he had to fight cabals, but the public was innocent in this. He was always marvelled at and respected as an extraordinary being and his greatness was suspected even by those who did not understand him. Whether or not to be rich rested with him, but he was not made for domestic order.

The Court Theatres Change Managers

Upon the correctness of these statements, in so far as they relate to Beethoven’s last years, the reader will have ample means of judging hereafter; he knows, that Czerny is right, up to the present date. Indeed, this month of November, to which the letter to Oppersdorff has brought us, affords him excellent confirmation. For, as in the spring so now in autumn, it is Beethoven’s popularity that must insure success to the Grand Concert for the public charities; it is his name that is known to be more attractive to the Vienna public than any other, save that of the venerable Haydn; and as Haydn’s oratorios are the staple[127] productions at the great charity concerts of vocal music in the Burg theatre, so the younger master’s symphonies, concertos and overtures form the most alluring programmes for the instrumental “Academies” in the other theatres—at all events, in 1808, this was the opinion of Joseph Hartl. Beethoven’s “princely rabble” had, after a year’s experience and pecuniary losses, turned over the direction of the theatre to Government Councillor, now Court Councillor, Joseph Hartl. It was not so much for his love of art, as for the great reputation which his administrative talents had gained him, that Hartl was called to assume the labors of directing the three theatres, then sunk “into the most embarrassing conditions”—a call which he accepted. For three years he administered them wisely, and with all the success possible in the troubled state of the public business and finances.

A supervisor of the public charities, who at the same time controlled the theatres, he was of course able to secure the highest talent for benevolent concerts on terms advantageous to all parties concerned; and thus it came about, that at the concert for public charities in the Theater-an-der-Wien on the evening of Leopold’s day, Tuesday, November 15th, Beethoven conducted one of his symphonies, the “Coriolan” Overture, and a pianoforte concerto—perhaps he played the solo of the last; but the want of any detailed report of the concert leaves the point in doubt. Which of the symphonies and concertos were performed on this occasion is not recorded; it is only known that they were not new. In return for Beethoven’s noble contribution of his works and personal services to the charity concerts of April 17 and November 15, Hartl gave him the free use of the Theater-an-der-Wien for an Akademie, thus advertised in the “Wiener Zeitung” of December 17.

Musical Academy.

On Thursday, December 22, Ludwig van Beethoven will have the honor to give a musical academy in the R. I. Priv. Theater-an-der-Wien. All the pieces are of his composition, entirely new, and not yet heard in public.... First Part: 1, A Symphony, entitled: “A Recollection of Country Life,” in F major (No. 5). 2, Aria. 3, 3 Hymns with Latin text, composed in the church style with chorus and solos. 4, Pianoforte Concerto played by himself.

Second Part. 1, Grand Symphony in C minor (No. 6). 2, Holy, with Latin text composed in the church style with chorus and solos. 3, Fantasia for Pianoforte alone. 4, Fantasia for the Pianoforte which ends with the gradual entrance of the entire orchestra and the introduction of choruses as a finale.

Boxes and reserved seats are to be had in the Krugerstrasse No. 1074, first storey. Beginning at half past six o’clock.

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The importance of the works produced on this occasion, the whimsical occurrences that are related as having taken place, and the somewhat conflicting statements of persons present, justify an effort to sift the evidence and get at the truth, even at the risk of being tedious. It is unfortunate that the concert of November 15 was so completely forgotten by all whose contemporary notices or later reminiscences are now the only sources of information; for it is certain that, either in the rehearsals or at the public performance, something happened which caused a very serious misunderstanding and breach between Beethoven and the orchestra; but even this is sufficient to remove some difficulties otherwise insuperable. Ries records in the “Notizen” (p. 84) that a scene is said once to have happened in which the orchestra compelled the composer to realize his injustice “and in all seriousness insisted that he should not conduct. In consequence, at the rehearsal, Beethoven had to remain in an anteroom, and it was a long time before the quarrel was settled.” Such a quarrel did arise at the time of the November concert. In Spohr’s Autobiography is a story of Beethoven’s first sweeping off the candles at the piano and then knocking down a choir boy deputed to hold one of them, by his too energetic motions at this concert, the two incidents setting the audience into a “bacchanalian jubilation” of laughter. It is absolutely certain, however, that nothing of the kind occurred at the concert itself, and that the story has its only foundation in Spohr’s fancy.

Compare now these statements by Ries and Spohr with citations from notes of a conversation with Röckel: “Beethoven had made the orchestra of the Theater-an-der-Wien so angry with him that only the leaders, Seyfried, Clement, etc., would have anything to do with him, and it was only after much persuasion and upon condition that Beethoven should not be in the room during the rehearsals, that the rank and file consented to play. During the rehearsals, in the large room back of the theatre, Beethoven walked up and down in an anteroom, and often Röckel with him. After a movement Seyfried would come to him for criticisms.” Röckel believed the story (i. e., if told of a rehearsal) of Beethoven in his zeal having knocked the candles off the pianoforte, and he himself saw the boys, one on each side, holding candles for him.

But the concert-giver’s troubles were not ended even by his yielding to the demands of the orchestra. A solo singer was to be found and vocal pieces to be selected. In a note to Röckel Beethoven wrote: “... in the matter of the vocal pieces I think[129] that we ought to have one of the women singers who will sing for us, sing an aria first—then we will make two numbers out of the Mass, but with German text, find out who can do this for us. It need not be a masterpiece, provided it suits the Mass well.” And again: “Be clever in regard to Milder—say to her only that to-day you are begging her in my name not to sing anywhere else, to-morrow I will come in person to kiss the hem of her garment—but do not forget Marconi....”

Milder was to sing the aria “Ah, perfido! spergiuro,” said Röckel, and accepted the invitation at once. But an unlucky quarrel provoked by Beethoven resulted in her refusal. After other attempts, Röckel engaged Fräulein Kilitzky, Schuppanzigh’s sister-in-law. Being a young and inexperienced singer, her friends wrought her up to such a point that when Beethoven led her upon the stage and left her, stage fright overcame her and she made wretched work of the aria. Reichardt in a letter describes the Akademie:

I accepted the kind offer of Prince Lobkowitz to let me sit in his box with hearty thanks. There we endured, in the bitterest cold, too, from half past six, to half past ten, and made the experience that it is easy to get too much of a good thing and still more of a loud. Nevertheless, I could no more leave the box before the end than could the exceedingly good-natured and delicate Prince, for the box was in the first balcony near the stage, so that the orchestra and Beethoven conducting it in the middle below us, were near at hand; thus many a failure in the performance vexed our patience in the highest degree.... Singers and orchestra were composed of heterogeneous elements, and it had been found impossible to get a single full rehearsal for all the pieces to be performed, all filled with the greatest difficulties.

Production of the Choral Fantasia

Such a programme, exclusive of the Choral Fantasia, was certainly an ample provision for an evening’s entertainment of the most insatiably musical enthusiast; nor could a grander termination of the concert be desired than the Finale of the C minor Symphony; but to defer that work until the close was to incur the risk of endangering its effect by presenting it to an audience too weary for the close attention needful on first hearing to its fair comprehension and appreciation. This Beethoven felt, and so, says Czerny,

there came to him shortly before the idea of writing a brilliant piece for this concert. He chose a song which he had composed many years before,[63] planned the variations, the chorus, etc., and the poet Kuffner was called upon to write the words in a hurry according to Beethoven’s[130] hints. Thus originated the Choral Fantasia, Op. 80. It was finished so late that it could scarcely be sufficiently rehearsed. Beethoven related this in my presence in order to explain why, at the concert, he had had it repeated. “Some of the instruments had counted wrong in the rests,” he said; “if I had let them play a few measures more the most horrible dissonances would have resulted. I had to make an interruption.”

The particulars of this scene, in which Reichardt suffered so, are more or less circumstantially related by Ries, Seyfried, Czerny, Moscheles and Doležalek. Their statements when compared are not inconsistent and supplement each other, except as to Ries, whose memory evidently exaggerated what really occurred. Substantially they are as follows:

Seyfried (Appendix to “Beethoven’s Studien,” p. 15): When the master brought out his orchestral Fantasia with choruses, he arranged with me at the somewhat hurried rehearsal, with wet voice-parts as usual, that the second variation should be played without the repeat. In the evening, however, absorbed in his creation, he forgot all about the instructions which he had given, repeated the first part while the orchestra accompanied the second, which sounded not altogether edifying. A trifle too late, the Concertmaster, Unrath, noticed the mistake, looked in surprise at his lost companions, stopped playing and called out drily: “Again!” A little displeased, the violinist Anton Wranitsky asked “With repeats?” “Yes,” came the answer, and now the thing went straight as a string.

The “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” reported: The wind-instruments varied the theme which Beethoven had previously played on the pianoforte. The turn came to the oboes. The clarinets, if I am not mistaken, make a mistake in the count and enter at once. A curious mixture of tones results. Beethoven jumps up, tries to silence the clarinets, but does not succeed until he has called out quite loudly and rather ill-temperedly: “Stop, stop! That will not do! Again—again!”

Czerny: In the Pianoforte with chorus he called out at the mistake: “Wrong, badly played, wrong, again!” Several musicians wanted to go away.

Doležalek: He jumped up, ran to the desks and pointed out the place.

Moscheles: I remember having been present at the performance in question, seated in a corner of the gallery, in the Theater-an-der-Wien. During the last movement of the Fantasia I perceived that, like a run-away carriage going down-hill, an overturn was inevitable. Almost immediately after it was, that I saw Beethoven give the signal for stopping. His voice was not heard; but he had probably given directions where to begin again, and after a moment’s respectful silence on the part of the audience, the orchestra recommenced and the performance proceeded without further mistakes or stoppage. To those who are acquainted with the work, it may be interesting to know the precise point at which the mistake occurred. It was in the passage where for several pages every three bars make up a triple rhythm.

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Seyfried says further: At first he could not understand that he had in a manner humiliated the musicians. He thought it was a duty to correct an error that had been made and that the audience was entitled to hear everything properly played, for its money. But he readily and heartily begged the pardon of the orchestra for the humiliation to which he had subjected it, and was honest enough to spread the story himself and assume all responsibility for his own absence of mind.

The pecuniary results of this concert to Beethoven are not known.

The Fourth Pianoforte Concerto

One of the two December concerts for the Widows and Orphans Fund was on the 22d, the same evening as Beethoven’s; the other on the next. The vocal work selected was, in compliment to the venerable Haydn, his “Ritorno di Tobia,” first performed in these concerts thirty-three years before. Being too short to fill out the evening, it was preceded, on the 22d, by an orchestral fantasia of Neukomm—on the 23d by a pianoforte concerto of Beethoven. Ries says

that Beethoven asked him to play his fourth Concerto in G, giving him only five days in which to learn it. Thinking the time too short, Ries asked permission to play the C minor Concerto instead. Beethoven in a rage went to young Stein, who was wise enough to accept the offer; but as he could not prepare the Concerto in time, he begged Beethoven, on the day before the concert, as Ries had done, for permission to play the C minor Concerto. Beethoven had to acquiesce. Whether the fault was the theatre’s, the orchestra’s, or the player’s, says Ries, the Concerto made no effect. Beethoven was very angry.

For this concert Beethoven received 100 florins from Esterhazy, who apparently ranked the composer with the leading actors of the theatre. Towards the close of 1808, Clementi again arrived in Vienna and was not a little surprised to learn from Beethoven that he had not yet received from London payment for the compositions which he had sold to Clementi in April, 1807. He wrote on December 28, 1808, to his partner asking that the money, £200, due Beethoven, as he had delivered the six compositions contracted for, be sent at once. But in September, 1809, the account had not yet been liquidated, as we shall see. There is reason to believe that a large number of compositions of greater or less extent was projected and in part sketched during this year; but the number known to have been completed, and therefore properly bearing the date 1808, is small. These compositions are: The “Pastoral” Symphony, Op. 69; the Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 69; the Trios for Pianoforte, Violin and Violoncello, in D and E-flat, Op. 70; the Fantasia for Pianoforte,[132] Orchestra and Chorus, Op. 80; the Song (with four melodies) “Die Sehnsucht.”


The Sonata for Pianoforte and ’cello was sketched in 1807, and practically completed in that year, the only sketches appearing among those of 1808 being a couple evidently made while the work was being written out. The earlier sketches appear among those of the C minor Symphony. It is dedicated to Gleichenstein. On June 8 Beethoven offered it, as has been seen, to Breitkopf and Härtel, and it was included in the works for which Härtel signed a contract in person on September 14. On January 7, 1809, Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel asking that Gleichenstein’s title “K. K. Hofconcipist” be elided from the dedication, because it was distasteful to him. It was published in 1809, but with a large number of errors which gave occasion to three letters from the composer to the publishers. (La Mara, “Musikerbriefe aus fünf Jahrhunderten,” 1886; Frimmel, “II. Beethoven Jahrbuch”; Kalischer, “Beethoven’s Sämtliche Briefe,” II, 262—where the date is incorrectly given as 1815.)

The two Trios are dedicated to Countess Erdödy, in whose house Beethoven lived when they were written. The first sketches for them found by Nottebohm belong to the second in E-flat and occur amongst the sketches for the Finale of the “Pastoral” symphony. The Trios are not mentioned in the first letter, in which Beethoven offers the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies besides other works to Breitkopf and Härtel. In the second letter, of July, Beethoven speaks of two pianoforte sonatas, and in a later letter of two trios. This has led to the conclusion that Beethoven first conceived them as solo sonatas and later developed them as trios. Beethoven played them at Countess Erdödy’s in the Christmastide of 1808, when Reichardt was present; he wrote an enthusiastic account of them under date December 31. On May 26, Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel suggesting changes in the text and also asking that the name of Archduke Rudolph be substituted for that of Countess Erdödy in the dedication. The reason given was that the Archduke had become fond of the works and Beethoven had observed that in such cases his patron felt a gentle regret when the music was dedicated to somebody else. Beethoven, of course, says nothing of his quarrel with the Countess (of which something will be said in the next chapter). There was a reconciliation, and Beethoven’s solicitude for the[133] feelings of the Archduke seems to have evaporated; at any rate, the original dedication remained.

The Choral Fantasia was obviously finished only a short time before its performance and is plainly one of the few compositions on which Beethoven worked continuously after once beginning it, though the plan of the work had occurred to him long before. The early sketch, to which allusion has been made, shows that the use of the melody of the song “Gegenliebe” was part of the original scheme. A sketchbook of 1808, whose contents were analyzed by Nottebohm (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 495), is devoted entirely to the Fantasia and the Pianoforte Concerto in E-flat, which was not worked out till later. The most interesting disclosures of Nottebohm’s study are that there is no hint of a pianoforte introduction such as Beethoven improvised at the performance; that Beethoven first thought of beginning with the string quartet of the orchestra; that work was begun before a text had been found; and that, as in the case of the Choral Symphony, of which the Fantasia is so interesting a prototype in miniature, Beethoven thought of paving the way for the introduction of the voices by words calling attention to the newcomers among the harmonious company (Hört ihr wohl?). Czerny’s statement that the text was written by Kuffner is questioned by Nottebohm, who points out that the poem is not included in the collected writings of that author, though all manner of fragments and trifles are. Because of the ingenuity and effectiveness with which the words were adapted to the music, Nottebohm suspects Treitschke of having written them in accordance with Beethoven’s suggestions as to form and contents. The introductory pianoforte fantasia which was published to take the place of Beethoven’s improvisation at the first performance, was composed in 1809.


Summary of a Year’s Work

The publications of the year 1808 were:

1. Trois Quatuors pour deux Violons, Alto et Violoncello, composés par Louis van Beethoven. Œuvre 59me. Dedicated to His Excellency Count von Rasoumowsky. Advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir in the “Wiener Zeitung” of January 9.

2. Ouverture de Coriolan, Tragédie de M. de Collin, etc., composée et dediée à Monsieur de Collin, etc.. Op. 62. Advertised in the same place on the same date.

3. “Sehnsucht,” by Goethe, No. 1 of the four melodies published as a supplement to the periodical “Prometheus” in April.

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4. Fourth Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra. Dedicated to His Highness, Archduke Rudolph of Austria, Op. 58. Advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir in the “Wiener Zeitung” on August 10.

5. Concerto pour le Pianoforte avec accompagnement de grand Orchestre, arrangé d’après son 1er Concerto de Violon et dédié à Madame de Breuning. Œuvre 61. Advertised in the same journal on August 10.

6. “In questa tomba oscura,” the last of 63 settings of the same text by various composers, published by T. Mollo, and advertised in the “Wiener Zeitung” of September 3.

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Chapter VIII

Jerome Bonaparte’s Invitation—The Annuity Contract—Operatic Projects—Seyfried’s “Studies”—The Siege of Vienna—Increased Cost of Living—Dilatory Debtors—The Year 1809.

The offer of an honorable position in Cassel—permanent, so long as Napoleon’s star might remain in the ascendant and his satellite retain his nominal kingship of Westphalia—was one no less gratifying to Beethoven, than surprising and perplexing to his friends. Knowing both the strong and the weak points of his character, they saw the extreme improbability that, with his increasing deafness, his removal thither could in the end redound to his profit, honor, or happiness. On the other hand, they saw him—at the very moment when he was giving new proofs of those stupendous powers which elevate him far above all other instrumental composers—forced to consider the question of seeking in a small provincial capital that permanent provision for his future necessities which, in the home of his choice at the end of sixteen years’ residence, he saw no hope of obtaining. What an inexcusable, unpardonable disgrace to Vienna would be the departure of Beethoven under such circumstances! It was the first time the question had been presented; but being presented it was promptly met by a request from persons of “high and the highest rank that he state the conditions under which” he would decline the call to Cassel and remain in Vienna.

Here was one of those happy opportunities for conferences, notes, letters and despatches innumerable, which Beethoven all his life seems to have so eagerly embraced and enjoyed. Several of his notes to Gleichenstein on the topic have been preserved, but are not worth transcribing, except those containing instructions for the drafting of the conditions of his remaining in Vienna. A letter dated January 7, 1809, by Beethoven to Breitkopf and Härtel, indicates that at the opening of the year 1809, Beethoven was still firmly resolved to go to Cassel. In it occurs this passage:

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At last I am forced by the intrigues and cabals and contemptible actions of all kinds to leave the only surviving German fatherland on the invitation of his Royal Majesty of Westphalia, I am going thither as chapelmaster with an annual salary of 600 ducats in gold—I have only to-day sent my assurance that I will come by post and am only waiting my decree before making preparations for my journey which will be by way of Leipsic—therefore in order that my journey shall be the more brilliant for me I beg of you if not too prejudicial to your interests not to make anything known of my works till Easter—in the case of the sonata which is dedicated to Baron Gleichenstein, please omit the “K. K. Concipist,” as it is distasteful to him. In all probability abusive letters will again be written from here about my last musical academy to the “Musikalische Zeitung”; I do not ask that what is against me be suppressed; yet somebody ought to be convinced that nobody has more personal enemies here than I; this is the more easily to be understood, since the state of music here is steadily growing worse—we have chapelmasters who know so little about conducting that they can scarcely read a score themselves—it is worst of all, of course, auf der Wieden—there I had to give my academy and all kinds of obstacles were put in my way. The Widows’ Concert, and Herr Salieri is among the first, was guilty of the hideous act of threatening to expel every musician who played for me—notwithstanding that several mistakes which I could not help were made, the public accepted everything enthusiastically—nevertheless, scribblers from here will certainly not fail again to send miserable stuff against me to the “Musikalische Zeitung”—the musicians were particularly angry because when a blunder was made through carelessness in the simplest, plainest place in the world, I suddenly commanded silence and loudly called Again—such a thing had never happened to them before; the public at this showed its enjoyment—but it is daily growing worse. The day before my concert, in the easy little opera Milton, at the theatre in the city, the orchestra fell into such disorder that chapelmaster and director and orchestra veritably suffered shipwreck—for the chapelmaster instead of being ahead was behind in his beat and then came the director.

(On the back of the cover):

I beg of you to say nothing with certainty about my appointment in Westphalia until I write to you that I have received my decree.—Farewell, etc.

Plan to Keep Beethoven in Vienna

It seems likely that the suggestion that formal stipulations for a contract under which Beethoven would decline the offer from Cassel and remain in Vienna be drawn up came from Countess Erdödy. At any rate Beethoven writes to Gleichenstein: “Countess Erdödy is of the opinion that you ought to outline a plan with her according to which you might negotiate in case they approach you as she is convinced they will. If you have time this afternoon, the Countess will be glad to see you.”

The outline of the proposition which was to be submitted to certain noble gentlemen was drawn up by Beethoven for Gleichenstein as follows:

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(On the outside: “Outline for a Musical Constitution.”)

First the offer of the King of Westphalia is to be set forth. B. cannot be held down to any obligation on account of this salary since the chief object, viz., the invention of new works would suffer thereby—this remuneration must be assured to Beethoven until he voluntarily renounces it—the Imperial title also if possible—to alternate with Salieri and Eibeler—the promise of active court service as soon as possible—or adjunction if it be worth while. Contract with the theatres likewise with the title of Member of one of the Committees of Theatrical Direction—a fixed day forever for a concert, even if there be a change in the directorate in the theatre, in return for which Beethoven binds himself to compose a new work every year for one of the charity concerts as may be thought most useful—or to conduct two—a place at a money changer’s or such kind where Beethoven would receive the stipulated salary—the salary must be paid also by the heirs.

On some of these points Beethoven changed his mind and wrote again thus:

It is probably too late to-day—I could not get your writing back from E.—until now, inasmuch as A. wanted to add a few items, buts, and inasmuches—I beg of you to have everything turn on the true and proper practice of my art, thus you will write what is in my heart and head—the introduction is what I am to get in Westphalia, 600 ducats in gold, 150 ducats travelling expenses, for which I have to do nothing except conduct the King’s concerts which are short and not numerous—I am not even bound to conduct any opera that I may write—from all which it is clear that I can devote myself wholly to the most important purpose of my art to compose works of magnitude—also an orchestra at my disposal.

N. B. The title of Member of one of the Theatrical Committees is dropped—It could bring nothing but vexation—in respect of the Imperial duties I think the point must be handled delicately—not less than the demand for the title of Imperial Chapelmaster, than a regard to my being placed in a position through a court salary to give up the sum which the gentlemen are now paying me. I think that this might best be expressed as a hope or a highest wish sometime to enter the Imperial service, when I could at once accept as much less as the sum received from his Imperial Majesty amounts to.

(On the top of the last page):

N. B. We shall need it to-morrow at 12 o’clock, because we must then go to Kinsky. I hope to see you to-day.

Under these instructions the “Conditions” were drawn up by some person unknown, in manner and form following:

It must be the striving and aim of every true artist to achieve a position in which he can devote himself wholly to the elaboration of larger works and not be hindered by other matters or economical considerations. A musical composer can, therefore, have no livelier desire than to be left undisturbedly to the invention of works of magnitude and then to produce them in public. In doing this he must also keep his old[138] age in view and seek to make ample provision for himself against that time.

The King of Westphalia has offered Beethoven a salary of 600 ducats in gold for life and 150 ducats travelling expenses, on the single condition that he occasionally play for him and conduct his chamber concerts, which are to be not numerous and short.

This offer is certainly entirely in the interest of art and the artist.

Beethoven, however, has so great a predilection for life in this city, so much gratitude for the many proofs of good will which he has received here, and so much patriotism for his second fatherland, that he will never cease to count himself among Austrian artists and will never make his domicile elsewhere if the opportunities mentioned above are measurably offered him here.

Persons of high and the highest ranks, having asked him to state under what conditions he would be willing to remain here, he has complied with the request as follows:

1. Beethoven should receive from a great personage assurance of a salary for life even if a number of persons of rank contribute to the sum. This salary under the existing conditions of high cost of living, could not be less than 4000 florins a year. Beethoven desires that the donors of this salary consider themselves co-authors of his new works in the large forms, because they place him in a position to devote himself to their production and relieve him of the need of attending to other affairs.

2. Beethoven should always have freedom to make artistic tours, because only by such can he make himself very well known and acquire some property.

3. It would be his greatest desire and most ardent wish sometime to enter into the actual Imperial service and by reason of the salary expected from such a source to be able to waive in whole or in part the compensation set forth above; meanwhile the title merely of an Imperial Chapelmaster would make him very happy; if it could be obtained for him his stay here would be still dearer to him.

Should this desire some day be fulfilled and he receive a salary from His Majesty, Beethoven will forgo his claim on as much of the 4000 florins as the Imperial salary amounts to, and if this is 4000 florins, then he would forgo the entire 4000 florins above specified.

4. As Beethoven desires to perform his new works in public, he desires an assurance from the Court Theatrical Directors, for themselves and their successors, that on Palm Sunday of each year he shall have the use of the Theater-an-der-Wien for a concert for his own benefit.

In return for this assurance, Beethoven would bind himself to arrange and conduct a charity concert every year or, in case of inability to do this, to contribute a new work for such a concert.[64]

Beethoven Guaranteed an Annuity

The conditions proving acceptable, the business was concluded and Beethoven retained in Vienna by this

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Agreement:

The daily proofs which Herr Ludwig van Beethoven is giving of his extraordinary talents and genius as musician and composer, awaken the desire that he surpass the great expectations which are justified by his past achievements.

But as it has been demonstrated that only one who is as free from care as possible can devote himself to a single department of activity and create works of magnitude which are exalted and which ennoble art, the undersigned have decided to place Herr Ludwig van Beethoven in a position where the necessaries of life shall not cause him embarrassment or clog his powerful genius.

To this end they bind themselves to pay him the fixed sum of 4000 (four thousand) florins a year, as follows:

His Imperial Highness, Archduke RudolphFl. 1500
The Highborn Prince Lobkowitz„   700
The Highborn Prince Ferdinand Kinsky„ 1800
TotalFl. 4000

which Herr van Beethoven is to collect in semi-annual installments, pro rata, against voucher, from each of these contributors.

The undersigned are pledged to pay this annual salary until Herr van Beethoven receives an appointment which shall yield him the equivalent of the above sum.

Should such an appointment not be received and Herr Ludwig van Beethoven be prevented from practising his art by an unfortunate accident or old age, the participants herein grant him the salary for life.

In consideration of this Herr Ludwig van Beethoven pledges himself to make his domicile in Vienna, where the makers of this document live, or in a city in one of the other hereditary countries of His Austrian Imperial Majesty, and to depart from this domicile only for such set times as may be called for by his business or the interests of art, touching which, however, the high contributors must be consulted and to which they must give their consent.

Given in Vienna, March 1, 1809.

(L. S.) Rudolph,
Archduke.
(L. S.) Prince von Lobkowitz,
Duke of Raudnitz.
(L. S.) Ferdinand Prince Kinsky.

This document bears in Beethoven’s hand these words:

Received
On February 26, 1809
from the hands
of Archduke
Rudolph, R. H.

The remarks in a former chapter upon the singular attraction for the young of Beethoven and his works are supported by this contract. Lobkowitz, it is true, was near the master’s age, being[140] then 35; but Rudolph and Kinsky were respectively but 21 and 27. Ries, who was then much with Beethoven, asserts that the contract with the King of Westphalia “was all ready; it lacked only the signature” before his Vienna friends moved in the matter and “settled a salary on him for life.” He continues:

The first fact I knew; of the second I was in ignorance until suddenly Chapelmaster Reichardt came to me and said: “Beethoven positively would not accept the post in Cassel; would I as Beethoven’s only pupil go there on a smaller salary?” I did not believe the first, went at once to Beethoven to learn the truth about it and to ask his advice. I was turned away for three weeks—even my letters on the subject were unanswered. Finally I found Beethoven at the Ridotto. I went to him and told him the reason of my inquiries, whereupon he said in a cutting tone: “So—do you think that you can fill a position which was offered to me?” He remained cold and repellant. The next morning I went to him to get an understanding. His servant said to me gruffly: “My master is not at home,” although I heard him singing and playing in the next room. Since the servant positively refused to announce me I resolved to go right in; but he sprang to the door and pushed me back. Enraged by this I grabbed him by the throat and hurled him down. Beethoven, hearing the racket, dashed out and found his servant still lying on the floor and me pale as death. Angrily excited, I so deluged him with reproaches that he stood motionless and speechless with surprise. When the matter was finally explained to him he said, “I did not understand it so; I was told that you were trying to get the appointment behind my back.” On my assuring him that I had not yet even given an answer, he at once went out with me to make the mistake good. But it was too late; I did not get the appointment, though it would have been a piece of great good fortune for me at that time.

It requires no great sagacity to perceive from the text of the “Agreement,” that neither of its signers had any expectation that Beethoven could ever perform the duties of an Imperial Conductor acceptably; and his hope of obtaining the title must have rested upon the influence, which he supposed Archduke Rudolph might exert upon Emperor Franz. Be this as it may, the composer was justly elated by the favorable change in his pecuniary condition; and his very natural exultation peeps out in the correspondence of the time. While the business was still undecided, Gleichenstein had departed on a visit to his native Freiburg, via Munich, taking with him a letter of introduction, the contents of which Beethoven himself thus epitomises:

Here, my dear fellow, is the letter to Winter. First it says that you are my friend—secondly, what you are, namely K. K. Hofconcipist—thirdly, that you are not a connoisseur of music but nevertheless a friend of all that is beautiful and good—in view of which I have asked the chapelmaster in case anything of his is performed to let you participate in it....

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On March 18, Gleichenstein received a copy or abstract of the contract enclosed in this:

You see my dear, good Gleichenstein how honorable my remaining here has turned out for me—the title of Imperial Chapelmaster will also come later, etc. Write to me as soon as possible if you think that I ought to make the journey in the present warlike state of affairs—and if you are still firmly resolved to travel with me; several have advised me against it, but in this matter I shall follow you implicitly; since you already have a carriage it would have to be arranged that for a stretch you travel towards me and I towards you. Write quickly. Now you can help me hunt a wife, if you find a beautiful one in F. who yields a sigh to my harmonies, but it must be no Elise Bürger, tackle her at once. But she must be beautiful, for I cannot love what is not beautiful—else I should love myself.

The jesting on matrimony in this letter and the allusion to Bürger’s unlucky marriage with Christine Elizabeth Hahn, attest the writer’s lightness of spirit, but are not to be taken seriously; for we shall soon find reason to believe that at this moment he had a very different project in view than to make a wife of the greatest beauty in Freiburg.[65]

The Invitation to Cassel Declined

Under date “Vienna, March 4, 1809,” Beethoven wrote a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel in which he informed them, by means of an inclosure to which he called their attention, of his change of plans touching the appointment at Cassel and told them that he was contemplating a “little journey,” provided the “threatening storm-clouds did not become more dense.” The letter accompanied the Violoncello Sonata dedicated to Baron Gleichenstein and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, together with a memorandum of slight improvements which had suggested themselves to him at the performance; also a formula for the dedication of the Trios (then numbered 62) to Countess Erdödy. About this time came out new compositions and new editions or arrangements of old ones which occupied the opus numbers from 59 to 66 and compelled Beethoven to change these proposed numbers, 59-62 to 67-70. The “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” had printed a notice about the offer from Cassel in which Reichardt was represented as having been the intermediary in the[142] negotiations. This brought out from Beethoven a correction dated April 5, addressed to Breitkopf and Härtel:

Your letter was received by me with pleasure. I thank you for the article in the A. M. Z., only I wish that when occasion offers, you would make a correction in respect of Reichardt, I was not at all engaged by R., on the contrary, the Chief Chamberlain of his Majesty, the King of Westphalia, Count Truchsess-Waldburg, conveyed to me the offer of First Chapelmaster of H. R. H., the King of Westphalia. This offer was made before Reichardt came to Vienna and he was surprised, as he himself said, that nothing of it had reached his ears. R. took all manner of pains to dissuade me from going there. As I have besides very many reasons for questioning the character of Mr. R.—and he may, for political reasons, perhaps have communicated this to you—I think that I am entitled to the greater credence and that on an occasion which might easily be created, you will print the truth about the affair—since it is important as touching my honor. Also by next post I shall send you all three works, the oratorio, opera, mass—and ask no more for them than 250 florins in convention money—I do not believe that you will complain at this—I cannot find the letter just now in which Simrock offered 100 florins, convention money, for the mass, here too I could get this sum and even something more from the Chemical Printing Co., for them; I am not hoaxing you, that you know—I nevertheless send you all three works because I know that you will not take advantage of the fact. Make the inscriptions in French as you please. Next time you shall receive a few lines about the other matter—it is impossible to-day.

Your most obedient
Friend and Servant
Beethoven.

It need not be a pompous retraction, but the truth ought to be made plain.

Do not forget the First Chapelmaster, I laugh at such things, but there are Miserables who know how to dish up such things in the manner, of the cook.

The allusions to a tour in the letters to Gleichenstein and Breitkopf and Härtel, and the provision made in the Agreement for the composer’s temporary absence from Austria, acquire a particular significance from one of the notes of Röckel’s conversation, namely: “Beethoven in those days was full of the project of traveling, and a plan was marked out of visiting the German cities, then England and finally Spain; upon which last Röckel laid great stress. He was to have accompanied Beethoven; but he could not leave Vienna, on account of having so many of his brothers and sisters[66] sent to him to care for.”

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Relations with Franz Oliva

In March, 1809, Beethoven, forwarding a letter to his brother, “to be delivered at the apothecary shop ‘To the Golden Crown’” in Linz, enclosed in it an envelope, inside of which he wrote the words quoted in a previous chapter, in which he prayed God to put feeling in place of insensibility into his brothers, and bemoaned the fact that, needing some one to help him, he knew not whither to turn. The breach between Beethoven and his brother Karl was now, in business matters, complete; and he needed some one to perform for him many little offices which he could not with propriety demand of Zmeskall, Gleichenstein or Röckel, even had they had the leisure and the will. Hence, about this time, was formed his connection with a certain Franz Oliva, clerk in the employ of Offenheimer and Herz. A singular obscurity rests upon this man’s personal history and the exact nature of his relations to Beethoven—an obscurity which even the indefatigable investigator Ferdinand Luib did not succeed in removing. What is certain is this: the relations between them were exceedingly close up to the spring of 1812; afterwards less so; but never broken off entirely until the departure of Oliva in 1820 to St. Petersburg, where he found it for his interest to establish himself as a teacher of languages. In due time the “Wiener Zeitung” published an official notice from the Austrian Government calling upon him immediately to return and justify himself for overstaying his leave of absence under pain otherwise of being proceeded against under the emigration laws of the country. Oliva’s reply to this was a very practical one; he took a wife, fixed his Lares and Penates in St. Petersburg and begat a daughter, who, under date of August 26, answered a letter of Otto Jahn’s inquiring about her father’s relations and correspondence with Beethoven by saying that a fire and the death of Oliva from cholera in 1848, had caused the loss and dissipation of Beethoven’s letters and that she was unable to write the details of the intercourse between her father and Beethoven. Inasmuch as she fixed the beginning of this intercourse in 1814, it is not likely that her contribution to this history would have been valuable.

But the threatening war-clouds became more dense. The same French armies which laid the foundations for Johann van Beethoven’s prosperity not only prevented Ludwig’s contemplated journey but affected him disastrously both pecuniarily and professionally. On May 4th, the Empress left Vienna with the Imperial family. Archduke Rudolph accompanied her, and Beethoven mourned his departure in the well-known first movement of the Sonata, Op. 81a. This work has been described by Marx as a[144] “Soul picture, which brings before the mind the Parting—let us assume of two lovers; the deserted—let us assume again sweet-heart or wife—and Reunion of the Parted Ones.” But unfortunately for that writer Beethoven’s manuscript bears these inscriptions in his own hand: “The Farewell, Vienna, May 4, 1809, on the departure of His Imperial Highness the revered Archduke Rudolph”; on the Finale: “The Arrival of His Imperial Highness the revered Archduke Rudolph, January 30, 1810.”

With a garrison of 16,000 troops, 1000 students and artists, the civil militia and a small number of summoned men, Archduke Maximilian was ordered to defend Vienna. Thus it came about that Beethoven, on the 10th of May, found himself shut up in a beleaguered city.

Beethoven’s experiment of lodging with Countess Erdödy, as might have been predicted, was not a successful one; he was too irritable, whimsical, obstinate; too ready to take offense, too lax in asking or giving explanations. We have seen in divers cases, how, when he discovered himself to be in the wrong, he gladly made every due acknowledgment; but, as in the case of Ries, this was often too late to remedy the mischief already caused. Before the close of the winter, he was evidently becoming discontented; so much so as to take ill even the singular proof of the Countess’ good will spoken of in the following note:

I think, my dear Zmeskall, that even after the war is over, if ever it begins, you will be ready to carry on negotiations for peace. What a glorious office!! I leave it wholly in your hands to settle the affair about my servant, but the Countess must not have the slightest influence over him. She has, as she says, given him 25 fl. and 5 fl. a month only to make him remain with me. Now I must necessarily believe in this magnanimity—but do not wish it to be continued....

Another note bears Zmeskall’s date: “March 7, 1809”:

I might easily have thought it. About the blows, this is dragged in by the hair of the head; this story is at least 3 months old—and is by no means—what he now makes out of it—the whole miserable affair was brought about by a huckster woman and other wretches—but I shall not lose much, because he was really spoiled in the house where I am.

What cause of dissension, beyond the ill-advised gratifications to the servant, had arisen between Beethoven and the Countess is not known; but something had occurred, the blame of which he soon saw was all his own, and for which he thus humbly expresses his contrition and beseeches forgiveness:

My dear Countess, I have erred, that is true—forgive me, it was assuredly not intentional malice on my part, if I have pained you—only[145] since last night do I know the truth about the matter, and I am very sorry that I acted as I did—read your billet coolly and judge for yourself if I deserve all and if you did not pay me back six-fold since I offended you unintentionally; send my note back to me to-day, and write me only one word that you are no longer angry, I shall suffer infinitely if you do not do this, I can do nothing if things are to continue thus—I await your forgiveness.

There are sufficient grounds for belief that an immediate reconciliation took place; nevertheless, Beethoven decided to go into another lodging, and one was found for him in the “Klepperstall in der Teinfaltstrasse im 3ten Stock beym Advokaten Gotischa,” as he describes it in a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel dated August 3, 1809. He does not seem to have occupied the lodging, however, for as a letter written to Zmeskall in the same month[67] shows he was still in Baden, much interested in the exhibitions of an aeronaut named Degen. If he took possession at all he soon gave it up and removed to one in the Walfischgasse looking out over the city wall and glacis directly upon the place where the Polytechnic Institute now stands.

The French commanders demanded the capitulation of Vienna, but Archduke Maximilian rejected the demands, and the French erected a battery on the Spittelberg to shell the city. Every shot directed by this battery against the Kärnthnerthor and the Wasserkunst Bastei was liable to plunge into Beethoven’s windows.

At 9 o’clock at night (on the 11th) the battery of 20 howitzers opened fire. Rich and poor, high and low, young and old at once found themselves crowded indiscriminately in cellars and fireproof vaults.

Beethoven took refuge in the Rauhensteingasse and “spent the greater part of the time in a cellar in the house of his brother Kaspar (Karl), where he covered his head with pillows so as not to hear the cannons,” so says Ries. More probably Beethoven took this wise precaution to save his feeble organs of hearing from the effect of the sharp reports of bursting shells, for it does not appear that either the cannons on the bastions or those mounted in the streets were fired. “At half-past 2 (the afternoon of the 12th) the white flag was sent up as notice of capitulation to the outposts of the enemy.”

French Occupation of Vienna

The occupation of the capital by the French and the gathering together of opposing armies for the terrible battles of Aspern, Esslingen, Wagram and Znaim produced the inevitable[146] effects of increased consumption and deficient supply of the necessaries of life. Even before the capitulation “the rate of interest went up fearfully, especially in the sale of food, particularly bread, and because of the disappearance of copper coins.” From the capitulation to the armistice of July 12th, two months, “the enemy had drawn from the city nearly 10,000,000 florins and demanded enormous requisitions of supplies.” There was one requisition, perhaps more than one, which touched Beethoven directly: “A forced loan on the houses of the city and the suburbs amounting to one-quarter of the rentals from owners or the parties to a contract for rent on from 101 to 1000 florins and one-third on from 1001 to 2000 florins, etc.” Perhaps at no other time was Beethoven so well able to meet the extraordinary demands upon his purse as now. He had received from Archduke Rudolph 750 florins and from Prince Lobkowitz 350 florins, his first payment of the annuity; and doubtless Breitkopf and Härtel and his other publishers had remitted money or bills. Still he must have felt the pressure of the time severely before Vienna again became free. To whom could he go for aid? Kinsky departed to Prague on February 26; his wife and Prince Lobkowitz on March 14. The Lichnowskys, Palfys, Waldstein, etc., were all away; some in the war; some in the civil service; some on their estates—the Erdödys, for instance, took refuge in Hungary or Croatia. Of personal friends, Breuning seems to have remained—no other is known to have done so. Bigot and his wife went off to Paris, never to return; Zmeskall and the public officials in general had followed the Court and the Ministers to places of safety. The posts were interrupted and for many weeks communication with the country prohibited. It was not until near the end of July that the Prater, the Augarten, Schwarzenberg Garten, and the Schönbrunner Garten were opened to the public. For Beethoven, this confinement during this season of the year when he was accustomed to breathe inspiration in vale and forest, was almost intolerable, and increased if possible his old hatred of Napoleon and the French. Young Rust met him one day in a coffee-house and saw him shake his fist at a passing French officer, with the exclamation: “If I, as general, knew as much about strategy as I the composer know of counterpoint, I’d give you something to do!”

Under such circumstances, and with no immediately pressing necessity for composition, even the genius of a Beethoven must sleep. We may suppose, that under the impulse of the departure of the Archduke, Beethoven completed the “Farewell” and “Absence” of the Sonata, Op. 81a; and that he gave the final touches to[147] the Pianoforte Concerto in E-flat, Op. 73, and made some studies for new symphonies, and sonatas; but the fountain soon ran dry, and the tedious weeks of this miserable summer were mainly devoted to the laborious task of selecting and copying in order extracts from the theoretical works of C. P. E. Bach, Türk, Kirnberger, Fux and Albrechtsberger, for subsequent use in the instruction of Archduke Rudolph—a task which, in our opinion, he had for some time had in mind, and had begun, at the very latest, early in the year. The “Materials for Thoroughbass” and “Materials for Counterpoint”—as two of his books are respectively headed by him—are largely the basis of that extraordinary imposition upon the musical public, prepared by Seyfried and published by Haslinger as Beethoven’s Studies under Haydn and Albrechtsberger—an imposition which was successful for 30 years! Schindler early warned the public against the fraud. His charges were never answered; nor was his challenge to prove the genuineness of the work taken up.

A Member of the Dutch Institute

Some time in August a letter from Amsterdam, which was preserved by the widow of Beethoven’s nephew Karl, was received by the composer, notifying to him his appointment as a Correspondent of the Fourth Class of the Royal Institute of Science, Literature and the Fine Arts. It gave occasion shortly after its receipt for a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel in which Beethoven says: “Do you know that I have become a member of the Society of Fine Arts and Sciences?—after all a title—ha-ha, it makes me laugh!” In another letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, dated August 8, he says he has sent them the Sextet for Wind-instruments, Op. 71, and two German songs as a “return gift for all the things which I have asked as gifts from you.” “The Sextet is one of my early things and, besides, was written in one night; nothing more can be said of it except that it was written by an author who at least has done better things—but to many people such things are the best.” He also asks for the complete works of Goethe and Schiller, his “favorite poets, with Ossian and Homer.” One of the two songs referred to was undoubtedly “Ich denke dein.” The second song was probably the “Lied aus der Ferne,” the first of five settings which Beethoven made of poems by C. L. Reissig and which gave rise to much annoyance. In a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, dated February 4, 1810, he wrote:

The “Gesang in der Ferne” which my brother sent you recently[68] was written by a dilettante, as you no doubt observed for yourselves, who[148] pressed me urgently to set it to music, but has also taken the liberty to have the a(ria) printed, I therefore have thought it well to give you a proof of my friendly feeling by informing you of the fact, I hope you will print it at once on receipt, you can send it here and elsewhere as you please, if you make haste you may have it here before it can be printed here, I know for a certainty that it will be published by Artaria—I wrote the A. only as a favor, and as a favor I give it to you—but I beg you to send me the following book, namely “Bechstein’s Natural History of Birds in two large volumes with copper-plates,” with which I wish to give great pleasure to a good friend of mine.... I am not yet sound in health—we are given poor food and have to pay incredibly—things are not quite in order with my appointment, I have not yet received a heller from Kinsky—I fear or rather almost hope that I shall be compelled to go away perhaps even for the sake of my health, it may be a long time before conditions grow better than they are now—there can be no thought of what they were.

In this letter Beethoven offers Breitkopf and Härtel the Fantasia (Op. 77), the Choral Fantasia (Op. 80), three Pianoforte Sonatas (Op. 78, 79 and 81a), the Variations (Op. 76, in D major), the Quartet (Op. 74), the Pf. Concerto in E-flat, and “12 songs with pianoforte accompaniment, texts partly in German, partly in Italian, nearly all composed throughout.” That among these songs were four others to Reissig’s words (“An den fernen Geliebten,” “Der Zufriedene,” “Der Jüngling in der Fremde” and “Der Liebende”), which were not published till some years later, is a natural conclusion from a passage in a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, dated September 11, 1810:

That Cavalry Captain Reissig ever paid me anything for my compositions is an abominable lie, I composed them for him as a friendly favor because he was a cripple at the time and excited my compassion. In writing this I declare that Breitkopf and Härtel are the sole owners of the songs which I have sent you, of which the words are by Cavalry Captain Reissig.

In a still angrier mood he recurs to the songs again in a letter of October 15:

You ought to add “ich denke dein” to this collection, I have seen it printed separately and somewhere in it I do not remember where, not having it, a wrong mordent. Another thing: you ought to publish the “Gesang aus der Ferne” at once if you have not already done so, the poetry is by that rascal Reissig, it was not published at the time and it took nearly half a year before this rascal told me that, as he said, he had had it “printed by Artaria only for his friends.” I sent it to you by letter-post and received for it instead of thanks, stench (statt Dank Stank).

A Concert for the French Invaders

Beethoven’s longing desire for the country was not to be gratified immediately. Manager Hartl had projected a new charity,[149] a theatrical poor fund, and as usual called upon him to give attraction to the first public concert for its benefit, by directing one or more of his works. During the French occupation the ordinary performances of both Court Theatres were given in the Kärnthnerthor. At the Burg—the real Court Theatre, forming, indeed, a part of the Imperial residence—after being closed some weeks, a French company opened on the 18th of July, played for a time alternately with a German one, and then held—as if in bitter irony—exclusive possession of the stage. Was not Vienna a French city? the Burg a French palace? Did not Napoleon’s eagle head the “Wiener Zeitung”? At Schönbrunn the theatre was devoted almost exclusively to Italian opera and ballet, for the amusement of the French Court. Under these circumstances Hartl might reasonably expect munificent support from the conquerors for at least one charity concert for the benefit of the actors and their families. Hence, as on the 8th of September (the Nativity of the Virgin Mary) the Court Theatres would be closed, he selected that day. The programme has eluded search; but one number was the “Sinfonia Eroica,” conducted by its author. Was this selected, in the expectation that Napoleon would be present, to do him homage? If so, it failed of its aim. The day before, Napoleon journeyed from Schönbrunn to Krems and Mölk. Or was it in bitter sarcasm that Beethoven chose it?

An undated letter to von Collin refers to this concert. In it he asked the Court Secretary to rewrite a note which he had addressed to Beethoven when Hartl gave him the commission for the concert, and which he had lost. He goes on:

I beg of you, dear Friend, to recall to mind the contents as near as I can recollect: “that you wrote to me that you had spoken to H. v. Hartl concerning a day for a concert and that then he gave you instructions to write to me that if at this year’s concert for the theatrical poor, I gave important works for performance, and would myself conduct, I might at once pick out a day for a concert at the Theater-an-der-Wien, and that under these conditions I might have a day every year. Vive vale.

Give to this note the earliest date possible, still there remain to Beethoven less than four months to the Christmas holidays, in which to complete, copy and rehearse whatever new works he intended to produce in the concert. The Pianoforte Concerto in E-flat major is the only work known to have been ready; what others may he have had in contemplation? The question is, in itself, rather interesting than important; its bearing, however, upon other matters hereafter warrants its discussion at some length.

[150]

Study-Material for a Royal Pupil

Let us turn again for a moment to the so-called “Studien.” On the margin of the “Materialien zum Generalbass,” Beethoven wrote: “from 101 to 1000 florins a quarter—all residents or parties to rent-contracts without distinction.” This was, of course, written at the time of the forced contribution of June 28th, but is no proof that the book was then just begun. It shows merely that it was lying before him, offered him a convenient vacant space for the memorandum.[69] Again on page 17, on the upper margin, stands: “Printer’s errors in the sonata for pianoforte with obbligato violoncello.” This sonata, beyond all question, was the one dedicated to Gleichenstein, published early in April by Breitkopf and Härtel, and sent to the composer before the breaking of post communications by the advance of Napoleon’s armies. Now, whether Beethoven’s words were merely a memorandum, or—as Nottebohm is of opinion—were the heading of a sheet intended to receive a list of the printer’s errors—in either case we must suppose them to have been written immediately upon the composer’s first examination of the printed work—at the latest in April.[70]

Now, it cannot be reasonably supposed that the idea of selecting and arranging such a series of “Studien” for the Archduke’s instruction as these bound sheets contain was suddenly conceived and executed with no previous study nor protracted examination of the then existing authorities, and all during the few weeks when Beethoven was confined to the city. It is equally improbable that the Archduke’s studies in the theory of music did not begin until after his return to Vienna (January, 1810), when he was 22 years of age. We can discover no objection to the following hypothesis as to the origin of the bound sheets in question; namely, that Beethoven began by making his extracts from Bach, Türk, etc., as they were needed in the progress of his lessons; and that the execution of the task complete was an afterthought, arising from want of occupation at a time when he felt himself unfitted for original composition. The inference is, that, for several months, his thoughts had been more than ordinarily turned toward theoretical studies.

[151]

Now, to the question just proposed.

Study-Material for a Royal Pupil

In the late Gustav Petter’s Collection of Autography (in Vienna) is a sketchbook of Beethoven’s—148 pages in extent—largely devoted to studies for two works, but containing themes and hints for many others, with an occasional characteristic note or name: random, not always strictly musical. Those who have had occasion to study this book—the present writer included—have heretofore assumed, that it belongs to the year 1812. The correctness of this assumption must be tested.[71]

On the first page are two measures of music—merely a succession of chords—with this remark: “Such (passages) should produce another effect than the miserable enharmonic evasions which every school Miserabili can write, they ought to disclose the change to every hearer.” This, though not fixing the date, does at least suggest the time when its writer’s mind was unusually occupied with theoretical studies. On the same page is this: “Cotton in my ears at the pianoforte frees my hearing from the unpleasant buzzing (das unangenehme rauschende)”—which suggests a time when his organs of hearing were still very sensitive, and he had not yet abandoned his pianoforte playing. Suggestions so vague cannot be offered as argument; but if any weight be granted to them, it is in favor of the winter 1808-9. Something more than a mere suggestion is offered on page 18. Here Beethoven has written: “Overture Macbeth, the chorus of witches comes in at once.” Whether the succeeding sketches belong to this overture is a question for a musician. Now that first act of “Macbeth,” read by Röckel in 1808, together with the first act of the Oratorio, “Die Befreiung Jerusalems”—both written for Beethoven—lay before the composer in print early in the year 1809. Collin had inserted them in the “Hoftheater-Taschenbuch” of that year. The poet died in 1811, leaving both unfinished. To suppose that Beethoven, in 1812, gave thought to an incomplete text by a deceased poet, is absurd. His memorandum is evidently the record of an idea which occurred to his mind on perusing the fragment, and determines the date of the first part of the sketchbook to be the beginning of 1809. Passing to the middle of page 22, one comes upon this:

Viole

[152]

With few interruptions, such as a theme for a “symphony without drums,” “good triplets of another sort,” the Allegretto and Finale of the Seventh Symphony are the subjects of the studies for more than forty pages. That modest gem—the theme of the Allegretto—is still the same throughout; but how astonishing the number and variety of forms for its setting, that were tested, before the majestic, the sublime simplicity was attained, which satisfied the exquisite taste of its creator!

On page 71 begin the sketches for the first, on page 83, for the last movement of the Eighth Symphony. These two Symphonies, then, were the grand orchestral works in preparation for the proposed concert. Scattered along this part of the sketchbook are divers subjects for pianoforte works; as if Beethoven had in mind a companion piece to the E-flat Concerto for the farther display of his powers. In our notes we find, “Overture-Concerto,” p. 73; p. 83 “Concerto in G”—“Concerto in G or E minor”—“Adagio in E-flat”—“Finale Tutti”; and near the bottom of the same page—“Polonaise for Pianoforte alone.” But the master had no new vocal work for the occasion. Do not the following memoranda—accompanied in the sketchbook by numerous studies—show how the deficiency was to be supplied? Immediately following the “Polonaise” we read:

Freude schöner Götter Funken Tochter. Work out the overture.

Again on leaf 43:

Freude schöner Götter Funken Tochter aus Elysium. Detached fragments, like princes are beggars, etc., not the whole.

On the same page again:

Detached fragments from Schiller’s Freude brought together in a whole.

One of the sketches (according to our copy) begins thus:

Overture Schiller
Freude, schöner Götter funken, Tochter

At or near this point the book was for the present laid aside; for the intended concert was abandoned, and Beethoven’s studies were abruptly turned in other directions.

[153]

The explanation of this is easy.

In the lists of “newly performed plays” in the two Vienna Court Theatres from August 1, 1803 to July 31, 1805, and from August 1, 1806 to December 31, 1807, Schiller’s name does not once occur; not so in the lists after Hartl’s undertaking the direction, January 1, 1808. Here we find:

1808: February 13, “Macbeth,” after Shakespeare; July 23, “Kabale und Liebe”; December 17, “Phædra,” after Racine; 1809: August 23, “Don Carlos”—all by Schiller.

Thus had Schiller suddenly become a leading topic in the conversation of theatrical circles. One sees now how Collin and Beethoven hit upon the “Macbeth” as a subject for opera; and how the composer’s youthful idea [see Vol. I, p. 132] of making the “Ode to Joy” the subject of a composition was recalled to mind.

Music to “Egmont” Projected

It does not appear from any records at hand, that either of the above-named dramas was produced with music composed for it; but Hartl now determined, with his next Schiller drama, to put one by Goethe in rehearsal and to provide both with original music. “When it was decided,” writes Czerny,

to perform Schiller’s “Tell” and Goethe’s “Egmont” in the city theatres the question arose who should compose the music. Beethoven and Gyrowetz were chosen. Beethoven wanted very much to have “Tell.” But a lot of intrigues were at once set on foot to have “Egmont,” supposed to be less adaptable for music, assigned to him. It turned out, however, that he could make masterly music for this drama also and he applied the full power of his genius to it.[72]

Perhaps Beethoven’s experience with the “Ode to Joy” and the “Egmont” just at this time was the origin of a fine remark to Czerny. “Once, when the talk was about Schiller, he said to me: ‘Schiller’s poems are very difficult to set to music. The composer must be able to lift himself far above the poet; who can do that in the case of Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier.’”

The order for the immortal “Egmont” music, by presenting the completion of new compositions, necessarily caused the concert to be abandoned, and Beethoven was at last able to seek the much needed rest and recreation, both physical and mental, away from the city, its cares and duties. It needs scarcely to be said that the condition of affairs prevented Beethoven from going into the country until late in the summer of 1809.

To what “happy corner in the country,” if indeed to any, he now retired, is not positively known. “He was often in Hungary,”[154] says Czerny, and there is no good reason to doubt that he went thither now to pass several weeks with the Brunswicks. It was already his practice to grant manuscript copies of his new works for the collection of Archduke Rudolph, whose catalogue, therefore, is of the highest authority in determining their dates. From this source it is known that the Pianoforte Fantasia, Op. 77, previously sketched, and the great F-sharp Pianoforte Sonata, Op. 78, were completed in October. The dedication of these two works to Count Franz and his sister Therese leads to the inference, that they are memorials of happy hours spent in their domestic circle.[73]

Beethoven himself speaks in very strong terms of his extraordinary industry during these weeks, the only probable explanation of which, we think, is, that he now composed or completed and prepared for publication several songs and minor pianoforte works—in part previously sketched, in part quite new. There are several such compositions, known to belong to this period of his life, although their exact date has not been ascertained.

It is conjectured, also, that, at this time and through the influence of Count Brunswick, Beethoven received the order for his other principal contributions to dramatic music. In 1808 Emperor Franz had sanctioned the building at Pesth of “an entirely new grand theatre with Ridotto room, casino, restaurant and coffee-house,” an enterprise which, notwithstanding the catastrophe of 1809, it was now thought would be completed in 1810.[74] It was time therefore to consider the programme for its opening performances, and as no living musician could give the occasion so much splendor as Beethoven, it was of high importance that his consent to compose the music should be secured as early as possible. This, through Brunswick and other Hungarian friends, was no difficult task; more especially as the master had a work of the character required in hand—the “Egmont” music. Another reason for hastening the business with the composer may have been, that his consent or refusal must have some influence upon the form and character of the drama or dramas, which were still to be written. After Beethoven’s return to the Walfischgasse, his time appears still to have been exceedingly occupied in composition; so much so as to yield nothing eventful for a biographer to record. There is, however, one deeply touching[155] and interesting letter to Gleichenstein which must be copied complete. Its date is determined by these circumstances, namely: Poor Breuning had, in April, 1808, married Julie, the beautiful and highly accomplished daughter of Staff Physician von Vering. Less than one year thereafter the young wife, by an imprudent use of cold foot-baths, brought upon herself a hemorrhage of the lungs and died suddenly, only 19 years of age, March 21, 1809. The letter dates from this period:

Concerned about Von Breuning

Dear good Gleichenstein! It is impossible for me to refrain from letting you know of my anxiety for Breuning’s convulsive and feverish condition, and to beg of you that you strive to form a closer attachment to him or rather to bind him closer to you; the condition of my affairs allows me much too little opportunity to perform the high duties of friendship, I beg of you, I adjure you in the name of the good and noble sentiments which you surely feel to take from me upon yourself this truly tormenting care, it will be particularly beneficial if you can ask him to go here and there with you, and (no matter how much he may seek to goad you to diligence) restrain him from his immoderate, and what seems to me unnecessary, labors. You would not believe in what an overwrought state I have occasionally found him—you probably know of his worry of yesterday. All results of the fearful irritability, which, if he does not overcome it, will certainly be his ruin.

I therefore place upon you, my dear Gleichenstein, the care of one of my best and most proved friends, the more since your occupation already creates a sort of bond between you, and this you will strengthen by frequently showing concern for his welfare, which you can easily do inasmuch as he is well disposed towards you—but your noble heart, which I know right well, surely needs no injunctions in respect of this; act for me and for your good Breuning. I embrace you with all my heart.

It was upon finding himself in the Walfischgasse without a servant that Beethoven seems first to have thought of trying the experiment of living independently of hotels and eating-houses, and dining at home. It was therefore of importance to him, if possible, to obtain the joint service of some man and wife, and such a couple now offered themselves as servant and housekeeper. This, with the remark that the rehearsal mentioned was of the Lobkowitz Quartet, Op. 74, is sufficient introduction to the following excerpts from the Zmeskall correspondence:

To-day comes Herzog, who wishes to become my servant for 30 fl., you may negotiate with him with his wife obligato—wood, candles, no livery—I must have somebody to cook, as long as the present wretched food continues I shall remain ill—to-day I eat at home, because of the better wine, if you will order what you want, I should be glad to have you come to me also, you will get the wine gratis and better than that at the beastly Swan.

Here comes Herzog with his wife—listen to their condescension—she will cook when I want her to—also mend, etc., for this is a highly[156] important matter—I will come to you afterward in order to hear the result—perhaps it would be best to ask what service they are going to perform for me?

Shakespeare’s clowns in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” have enriched theatrical speech with “lamentable comedy” and “very tragical mirth”; phrases not inappropriate to the domestic dramas in which Beethoven and his servants were the actors, and which he made the subjects of numberless Jeremiads both in conversation and in letters to his friends—especially to Zmeskall and Mme. Streicher. As one example—and surely one is enough—take the case of the Herzogs. They were engaged and were still in Beethoven’s employ when the departure of Napoleon and his armies enabled those belonging to the public service to return and resume their duties in the Capital—Zmeskall among them. As in the spring he had to accommodate himself to “peace negotiations” between Beethoven and his servant, so now he must again officiate in this “glorious office” between him and the Herzogs. The imagination can readily form a lively and correct picture of Beethoven’s troubles, partly serious, partly tragi-comic, with these people, during that wretched summer, shut up in the city, all the necessaries of life at famine prices, and they on his hands to be provided for. The situation certainly was not one fitted to sweeten the temper of either party; no doubt both had good cause of complaint. We have, however, only the master’s side of the question and not the whole of that. One who invariably has trouble with his servants must sometimes himself be in fault; so, perhaps, the Herzogs were not such “very bad people” after all.


His friend Clement of the Theater-an-der-Wien gave Beethoven a pleasing compliment by reproducing in his annual concert (December 24) the “Christus am Ölberg.” On the same evening, by the way, Dobenz’s oratorio, “Die Sündfluth,” with music by Kauer, was sung at the Leopoldstadt Theatre, as it would seem, from the sarcastic notice in the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.,” with appropriate scenery! If Beethoven heard it, which is doubtful unless at rehearsal, he found he had little reason to mourn his non-acceptance of that text.

Arrangements of Welsh and Irish Songs

Negotiations had been resumed about this time between George Thomson of Edinburgh and Beethoven, touching the arrangement of national melodies. In a letter dated September 25,[157] 1809, Thomson sent Beethoven 43 Welsh and Irish melodies with the request to provide them as soon as possible with ritornellos and accompaniments for pianoforte or pedal harp, and violin or violoncello, and held out the promise of 100 ducats, Vienna standard, or even more as payment. Besides this, Thomson had requested him to write three quintets, two for two violins, viola, flute and violoncello, one without flute but two violas instead (with bassoon or double-bass ad lib.), and also three sonatas for pianoforte and violin. For these works he offered him 120 ducats Vienna standard. “I make you this offer,” said Thomson, “more to show you my taste and predilection for your music than in the hope to profit by the publication.”[75] To this proposition Beethoven replied as follows—in French and his own wretched hand, under date of November 23, 1809:

I will compose the ritornellos to the 43 little songs, but I ask 10 pounds or 20 ducats de Vienne more than you offer, that is instead of 50 pounds Sterling, or 100 ducats V. S. I ask 60 pounds Sterling or 120 ducats V. S. This work, moreover, is of a kind that gives a composer but little pleasure, but I shall nevertheless always be ready to oblige you since I know that you can do a good business with it. As regards the quintets and the three sonatas, I find the honorarium too little for me—I ask of you for them the sum of 120, i. e., one hundred and twenty pounds Sterling or two hundred and forty ducats V. S., you offered me 60 pounds Sterling and it is impossible for me to gratify you for such an honorarium—we are living here in a time when a frightful price is asked for everything, we are paying almost three times as much as formerly—but if you are agreed with the sums that I ask I will serve you with pleasure. So far as the publication of the works here in Germany is concerned, I think that I would bind myself not to publish them sooner than after seven or eight months if you think this time long enough for your purposes. As regards the double-bass or bassoon I wish that you would give me a free hand, I may, perhaps find something that will be even more agreeable to you—also we might use a bassoon or other wind-instrument with the flute and write only the third quintet for two violins, two violas and violoncello, since in this way the style would be purer. In short, rest assured that you are dealing with a true artist who, indeed, likes to be decently paid, but who loves fame and also the fame of art more—and who is never satisfied with himself and is always striving to make greater progress in his art.

As regards the songs I have already begun them and will deliver them in about a week to Fries—therefore please send me an answer soon, my dear sir.

Next time please send me the words of the songs along with them as it is very necessary for me to have them in order to get the correct expression—they will be translated for me.

[158]

September came and still no payment from Clementi and Co. for the works bought by them in April, 1807. Clementi was in Rome and thither, it would seem, Beethoven sent several letters asking for payment. Clementi now came to Vienna and sent a letter to his London partner, Collard, which, though dateless as to year and day, was, no doubt, the result of Beethoven’s importunities. In it he complains of having written five or six letters to them for money with which to meet Beethoven’s demands, the composer having “plagued” him with several letters—but in vain. At last a firm of Viennese bankers informs him that a credit for £400 has been sent him, but no letter. He concludes that of this sum £100 are meant for Beethoven and £300 for himself, and that they had received but half of Beethoven’s manuscripts. “A most shabby figure you have made me cut in this affair!—and that with one of the first composers of the day! You certainly might have found means in the course of two years and a half to have satisfied his demands. Don’t lose a moment and send me word what you have received from him, that I may settle with him.”

Towards the end of the year Beethoven took ill, as he informs Breitkopf and Härtel in a letter which was dated December 4 (but from which the figure was stricken; the letter may have been delayed or Beethoven become doubtful, as usual, about the day of the month). In this he writes: “A fever which shook me up thoroughly, prevented me from sending these tardily found errata [in the two Trios] at once.” On January 2, 1810, he writes another letter which begins: “Scarcely recovered—my illness threw me back again for two weeks—is it a wonder—we have not even eatable bread,” concluding with: “I am too weak to-day to answer your kind letter more fully, but in a few days touching everything else in your letter.”

Beethoven had now entered his fortieth year, a year which forms a marked and striking era in his life, but of which the most important event is veiled in all the obscurity with which the care and efforts of the parties concerned could envelop it. In the hope of a solution, at least probable, of the mystery which it presents, many minutiæ of the years 1807-09 have been reserved to be presented consecutively, since only thus can their relations to and their bearings upon the problem before us be well understood. The next chapter must, therefore, be but an introduction to the history of the year 1810.

Beethoven in Financial Straits

The compositions and publications of this year remain to be enumerated—a task of some difficulty, requiring a preliminary remark or two. The great cost of living and the various[159] extraordinary demands upon his purse this year, deranged Beethoven’s pecuniary affairs seriously; from the same cause the Vienna publishers were not in a condition to pay him adequately and in advance for his manuscripts. The dilatoriness of the London publishers has just been mentioned. Happily his relations with Breitkopf and Härtel were such, that they were ready to remunerate him handsomely for whatever new compositions he might send them; and there seems to have been an arrangement made, under which divers new works of this period were published simultaneously by them in Leipsic and by Artaria in Vienna. Nevertheless, Beethoven was pressed for money, not only from the causes above stated, but from the need of an extra supply, in case the project of marriage, now in his mind, should be effected. Of course he counted with certainty upon the regular payment of his annuity, now that the war was over, and a lasting peace apparently secured by the rumored union between Napoleon and Archduchess Marie Louise. But a semi-annual payment of this annuity was far from sufficient to meet the expenses of establishing himself as a married man. Now that his concert was abandoned, no immediate profit could arise from the completion of the new symphonies; nor was there any immediate need of his beginning the “Egmont” music. It is obvious, therefore, that his labors, during the “several weeks in succession” when he worked “so that it seemed rather for death than immortality,” were, as before said, the completion and correction for the press of various more or less important works existing in the sketchbooks, and the composition of divers smaller pieces, such as would meet with a ready sale, and hence be promptly and liberally paid for by publishers. It is not at all surprising to find among them a number of songs the texts of which were apt expressions of his feelings at this juncture. Such considerations render it extremely probable, perhaps certain, that a larger number of minor productions belong by date of completion to this year, than they, who have endeavored to ascertain the chronology of Beethoven’s works, have heretofore suspected. But the following list contains only works of which the date is certain—or probable almost to certainty.

The Composer’s Work in 1809

Compositions of 1809:

1. Concerto for Pianoforte, E-flat major, Op. 73.

2. “Quartetto per due Violini, Viola e Violoncello, da Luigi van Beethoven, 1809,” Op. 74, E-flat major.

3. Sonata for Pianoforte: “Das Lebewohl, Wien am 4ten Mai 1809,” etc.; “Die Abwesenheit. Die Ankunft des ... Erzh. Rudolph, den 30. Jänner 1810,” Op. 81a, E-flat. We suppose the sonata to have been completed in 1809, and ready for presentation to the Archduke[160] upon his return; but as this was delayed until January 30th, “Die Ankunft,” of course, took this date.

4. March in F major for Military Band. “For the Bohemian Landwehr, 1809”; also inscribed by Beethoven: “For His Royal Highness, the Archduke Anton, 1809.”

5. Variations for the Pianoforte, D major, Op. 76.

6. Fantasia for Pianoforte, G major, Op. 77.

7. Sonata for Pianoforte, F-sharp major. Op. 78.

8. Sonatina for Pianoforte, G major, Op. 79.

9. Songs from “Blümchen der Einsamkeit” by C. L. Reissig:

(a) “An den fernen Geliebten.” A copy bears the words in Beethoven’s hand: “Fifth song,” “1809,” and corrections in the song itself, Op. 75, No. 5.

(b) “Der Zufriedene,” Op. 75, No. 6.

(c) “Lied aus der Ferne,” “1809.”

(d) “Der Liebende.”

(e) “Der Jüngling in der Fremde.”

10. Other Songs:

(a) “Gretel’s Warnung.” A copy bears the words in Beethoven’s hand: “Fourth song,” “1809,” and corrections in the song itself.

(b) “Andenken,” by Matthison.

(c) “Die laute Klage,” by Herder.

(d) “L’amante impaziente,” “1809”; and probably all the numbers of

(e) “Four Ariettas and a Duet,” Op. 82.


The first sketches for the Fifth Pianoforte Concerto, E-flat, Op. 73, dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, are found in the so-called Grasnick sketchbook after the sketches for the Choral Fantasia as it was performed for the first time on December 22, 1808, and the pianoforte introduction to the same which, as we have seen, is of a later date (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 495 et seq.). It is mentioned by Beethoven in the correspondence with his publishers for the first time on February 4, 1810. It was in their hands on August 21 of that year, when Beethoven prescribed the dedication to his distinguished pupil, and was published in February, 1811. The Concerto had then already been played in public by Johann Schneider with brilliant success toward the close of 1810, and, as the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” reported, put a numerous audience into such “a state of enthusiasm that it could hardly content itself with the ordinary expressions of recognition and enjoyment.”

The E-flat Quartet, Op. 74 (the so-called “Harp Quartet”), dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, was written simultaneously with the Concerto and Pianoforte Sonata in the same key. Beethoven[161] was evidently hard at work on them when he wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel on “Weinmonath [October] 1908”: “Next time about the quartet which I am writing—I do not like to occupy myself with solo sonatas for the pianoforte, but I promise you a few.” Nottebohm says (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 91), that the four movements of the Quartet were begun and finished in the order in which they appeared in print. According to a note by Archduke Rudolph, the Fantasia, Op. 77, was composed in October. The three Pianoforte Sonatas, Op. 78, 79 and 81a, are closely connected in time, notwithstanding their diversity of sentiment. Sketches for Op. 78 have not been found, but those for the other two are in the sketchbook of Carl Meinert (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 255), which ends with the sketches for the Fantasia, Op. 77, composed for Count Franz von Brunswick; and it is likely that the Sonata, Op. 78, dedicated to Countess Therese von Brunswick, was conceived and written immediately after the Fantasia (in October). The three sonatas were doubtless in the mind of Beethoven when he promised Breitkopf and Härtel “a few” on October 19. On February 4, 1810, he offers to the publishers “three pianoforte solo sonatas—N.B., of which the third is composed of three movements, Parting, Absence and Return, and would have to be published alone.” On August 21, 1810, Beethoven wrote about the dedication: “The sonata in F-sharp major—À Madame la Comtesse Therese de Brunswick; the fantasia for pianoforte solo—À mon ami Monsieur le comte François de Brunswick—as regards the two sonatas publish them separately, or, if you want to publish them together, inscribe the one in G major Sonata facile or sonatina, which you might also do in case you [do not] publish them together.” Breitkopf and Härtel published the sonatas separately and Op. 79 therefore received no dedication. The notion, once current, that Op. 79 (sometimes called the “Cuckoo Sonata”) was an older work, is disproved by the sketches of 1809 (Nottebohm, “Zweit. Beeth.,” p. 269). The E-flat Sonata, Op. 81a, seems to have been completely sketched before October and held in readiness against the return of the Archduke, as has been said. Breitkopf and Härtel published it in the fall of 1811, without either dates or dedication and with the French title: “Les Adieux, l’Absence et le Retour,” much to Beethoven’s dissatisfaction. The Variations in D, dedicated “to his friend” Oliva, anticipate by two years the use of the same theme as a Turkish march in the incidental music which Beethoven wrote for Kotzebue’s “Ruins of Athens.” Nottebohm (“Zweit. Beeth.” p. 272, foot-note) says of it: “Tradition has it that the theme is a[162] Russian melody. This is improbable and incapable of proof. The theme is not to be found in any collection of Russian melodies known to us. Had Beethoven borrowed the theme he would, as he always did, have mentioned the fact in connection with the Variations and the ‘Ruins of Athens’ (a singular idea to use a Russian melody for a Turkish march!). It may be that a Russian folktune which was popular in Vienna between 1810 and 1820, which bears some resemblance to this melody and on which, besides Gelinek and others, Beethoven too made Variations (Op. 107, No. 3), gave rise to the confounding of the two.” The Military March in F was designed for Archduke Anton and was chosen for a “carrousel” at the court at Laxenburg. It is the “horse music” of Beethoven’s correspondence with Archduke Rudolph. The year also saw the beginning of the arrangements of the Irish melodies for Thomson.

The publications of the year 1809 were:

1. The Fourth Symphony, in B-flat, Op. 60. “Dediée à Monsieur le Comte Oppersdorff”; published in March by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir.

2. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, D major, Op. 61. Dediée à son ami Monsieur de Breuning, Sécrétaire aulique, etc. Vienna, Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir, in March.

3. Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello. A major, Op. 69. Dediée à Monsieur de Gleichenstein. Leipsic, Breitkopf and Härtel, in April.

4. Two Trios for Pianoforte, Violin and Violoncello, D major, E-flat, Op. 70. Dediés à Madame la Comtesse Marie d’Erdödy née Comtesse Niszky. Breitkopf and Härtel, No. 1 in April, No. 2 in August.

5. Fifth Symphony, in C minor, Op. 67. Dediée à son Altesse Sérénissime Monseigneur le Prince régnant de Lobkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, et à son Excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rasoumoffsky. Breitkopf and Härtel, in April.

6. Sixth Symphony (Sinfonia pastorale), F major, Op. 68. The same dedication as the Fifth Symphony. Breitkopf and Härtel, in May.

7. Song: “Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte.” Supplement No. II, to the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.,” November 22. Breitkopf and Härtel.

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Chapter IX

The Years 1807-09—A Retrospect—Beethoven’s Intellectual Attainments—Interest in Exotic Literatures—His Religion.

A popular conception of Beethoven’s character, namely, that a predisposition to gloom and melancholy formed its basis, appears to the present writer to be a grave mistake. The question is not what he became in later years—tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis—but what was the normal constitution of his mind in this regard. Exaggerated reports of his sadness and infelicity during the last third of his life became current even before its close, and prepared the public to give undue importance to the melancholy letters and papers of earlier years, which from time to time were exhumed and published. The reader upon examination will be surprised to find how few in number they are, at what wide intervals they were written, and how easy it is to account for their tone.

Beethoven’s childhood was excessively laborious, though not so cheerless as has been represented; and, however flattering to occupy at the age of twelve years the place of a man in theatre and chapel, his boyhood could not have been a happy one. His brightest days up to the middle of his seventeenth year were undoubtedly those spent in Vienna in 1787—the date of the earliest of those papers from his own pen, on which the popular conception of his character is founded. But the letter to Dr. Schaden, written to explain and excuse the non-payment of a debt, takes its tone, not from any predisposition to gloom and melancholy, but from the manifold troubles which just then beset him—the bitter disappointment of his sudden recall from Vienna; the death of his mother; the hopeless poverty of his family; hence, the pangs of wounded pride and self-respect; the depression of spirits caused by asthmatic maladies, and his utter hopelessness of any timely change for the better, such as, in fact, one short year was to bring.

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It is clear that Beethoven’s character could not develop itself normally, until he had become to a considerable degree independent of his father; and, consequently, that certain peculiarities related of him in his boyhood were probably less the results of his natural tendencies than the consequence of these being checked and obstructed by adverse circumstances. Soon after the letter to Dr. Schaden came the turning-point in the boy’s fortunes. Beethoven was now substantially emancipated from his father; his talents opened to him a higher and finer-toned circle of society; a love for the best literature was cherished, if not created; and no long time elapsed before his father’s increasing moral infirmities made him virtually the head of the family. The nobler qualities of his head and heart now received a culture impossible before. At last his character could and did develop itself normally. In all the following fourteen years—during which the boy organist of Bonn rises step by step to the position of first of pianists and most promising of the young composers in Vienna—one seeks in vain for any trace of the assumed constitutional tendency to melancholy. Now come the pathetic letters to Wegeler and the “Testament” of 1802—dark, gloomy, despondent. But these were all written under the first pressure of a malady which, he justly foreboded, would in time unfit him for general society and debar him from every field of the musician’s activity and ambition save that of composition. It is perhaps worthy of remark, that among the well-known phenomena of mental action are the intellectual prostration and the consequent depression of spirits which follow the completion of any great work in literature or art that has been for some time engrossing the attention, absorbing the thoughts and straining the faculties; and that the “Testament” of 1802 belongs in the precise period of reaction after completing that first of his great works, the Second Symphony. The “Testament” is indeed a cry of agony; but, in the paroxysms of intense physical suffering, cries of agony are not proofs of a naturally weak or defective constitution of the body; that sort of patient suffers less—but dies. Had Beethoven’s temperament really been of the gloomy and melancholy cast supposed, suicide, insanity or—through seeking temporary alleviation of mental suffering in sensual indulgences—moral shipwreck would soon have ended his career. “Strength is the morality of men who distinguish themselves above others, and it is also mine,” he wrote to his “Dearest Baron Muck Carter”:—“Beethoven was, in fact, the personification of strength,” said the aged poet Castelli to the present writer. The thought of suicide[165] is alluded to in both the “Testament” and the letter to Wegeler; but with him the “To be or not to be?” was only a momentary, a passing, question; not because “conscience does make cowards of us all,” but by reason of innate manliness to bear “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” with courage and fortitude, until time and patience should bring resignation. How bravely he sustained his heavy burden to the end of 1806, has been amply recorded in this work. The famous love-letter affords its own sufficient explanation of whatever degree of melancholy it exhibits in the bitterness of parting and separation—the wretched life in Vienna, the uncertainty of his pecuniary resources, the impossibility of marriage without some decided change for the better in his condition and prospects. When, a few months later, the question of the possession of the theatres was decided against Braun, Beethoven had reason to hope that this change was assured; since the position of Lobkowitz, both socially and in connection with the theatres, gave to his hint, that the composer should apply for a permanent engagement, almost the force of a promise that he should receive it. In view of Beethoven’s abhorrence of all restrictions on his personal freedom, it is by no means certain that the final non-acceptance of his proposals caused him any very severe and lasting disappointment.

A Happy Period in the Composer’s Life

Whether so or not, and notwithstanding the prolonged uncertainty of his future prospects and the occasional characteristic complaints in his letters, still these three years—1807-8-9—were unquestionably the happiest in the last half of his life. That it was a period of extraordinary activity and productiveness, of a corresponding augmentation and extension of his fame, of animated and joyous social intercourse, and was brightly tinted with so much of the romance of love as a man of middle-age is apt to indulge in—all this the reader knows.

The coming of Reichardt to Vienna and the recording of his observations on the musical life of the Austrian capital in his book entitled “Confidential Letters, etc.,” were fortunate incidents for the lovers of Beethoven. Reichardt’s was one of the great names in music. He stood in the front rank both as composer and writer on the art. His personal character was unspotted; his intellectual powers great and highly cultivated in other fields than music; nor had his dismissal from his position of Royal Chapelmaster by Frederick William II been founded upon reasons which injured his reputation abroad. He therefore found all, even the highest, musical salons of Vienna open to him, and he received attention which under the circumstances was[166] doubly grateful. A colossal self-esteem, a vanity almost boundless alone could have sent such pages as his “Letters” to the press without a more thorough expurgation. But this is nothing to the present generation, which owes him a large debt of gratitude for the most lively and complete picture existing of the musical life at Vienna at that period, and especially for his notices of Beethoven, the date of which (winter of 1808-09) adds doubly to their value. They should be read in connection with this biography.[76]

And here a word upon the compositions of these years. The notion, that the beauties of the opera “Leonore” were in great measure the offspring of an old, unfortunate affection for Fräulein von Breuning and of a still more unlucky recent passion for Julia Guicciardi, was treated in its place as unworthy of serious refutation; but nowhere in this work has anything been said affirming or implying that the moral and mental condition of the man Beethoven would not produce its natural and legitimate effect upon Beethoven the composer. Now, examine the lists of compositions which terminate the preceding chapters, and say whether any but a strong, healthy, sound, elastic mind could have produced them? To specify only the very greatest; there are in the last months of 1806, after the visit to the Brunswicks, the placid and serene Fourth Symphony—the most perfect in form of them all—and the noble Violin Concerto; in 1807, the Mass in C and the C minor Symphony; in 1808, the “Pastoral” Symphony and the Choral Fantasia; and in 1809, the conception and partial execution of the Seventh, perhaps also the Eighth, Symphony and the glorious “Egmont” music.

Are such the works of a melancholy, gloomy temperament or of a forlorn, sentimental lover, sighing like a furnace and making “a woeful ballad to his mistress’ eyebrow?”

Appreciation of Serious Literature

Beethoven, during the fifteen years since Wegeler’s vain effort to induce him to attend lectures on Kant, had become to some considerable degree a self-taught man; he had read and studied much, and had acquired a knowledge of the ordinary literary topics of the time, which justified that fine passage in the letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, touching his ability to acquire knowledge from even the most learned treatises. Strikingly in point is the interest which he exhibits during these and following years in the Oriental researches of Hammer and his associates. His notes and excerpts[167] prove a very extensive knowledge of their translations, both published and in manuscript; and, moreover, that this strange literature was perhaps even more attractive to him in its religious, than in its lyric and dramatic aspects. In these excerpts—indeed, generally in extracts from books and in his underscoring of favorite passages in them—Beethoven exhibits a keen perception and taste for the lofty and sublime, far beyond the grasp of any common or uncultivated mind. “The moral law in us and the starry heavens above us. Kant!!!” is one of the brief notes from his hand, which now and then enliven the tedious and thankless task of deciphering the Conversation Books. The following, given here from his own manuscript, is perhaps the finest of his transcriptions from Hindu literature:

God is immaterial; since he is invisible he can have no form, but from what we observe in his works we may conclude that he is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent—The mighty one is he who is free from all desire; he alone; there is no greater than he.

Brahma; his spirit is enwrapped in himself. He, the mighty one, is present in every part of space—his omniscience is in spirit by himself and the conception of him comprehends every other one; of all comprehensive attributes that of omniscience is the greatest. For it there is no threefold existence. It is independent of everything. O God, thou art the true, eternal, blessed, immutable light of all times and all spaces. Thy wisdom embraces thousands upon thousands of laws, and yet thou dost always act freely and for thy honor. Thou wert before all that we revere. To thee be praise and adoration. Thou alone art the truly blessed one (Bhagavan); thou, the essence of all laws, the image of all wisdom, present throughout the universe, thou upholdest all things.

Sun, ether, Brahma [these words are crossed out].

Beethoven’s enjoyment of Persian literature as revealed to him in the translations and essays of Herder and von Hammer will now readily be conceived by the reader; as also the delight with which he read that collection of exquisite imitations of Persian poetry with its long series of (then) fresh notices of the manners, customs, books and authors of Persia, which some years later Goethe published with the title “West-Östlicher Divan.” Even that long essay, apparently so out of place in the work—“Israel in der Wüste”—in which the character of Moses is handled so unmercifully, was upon a topic already of curious interest to Beethoven. This appears from one of his copied papers—one which, as Schindler avers, “he considered to be the sum of the loftiest and purest religion.” The history of this paper is this: The Hebrew chronicler describes the great lawgiver of his nation as being “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” This leads Schiller, in his fine essay on “Die Sendung Moses,” into a[168] discussion of the nature and character of this wisdom. The following sentences are from his account:

The epoptæ (Egyptian priests) recognized a single, highest cause of all things, a primeval force, natural force, the essence of all essences, which was the same as the demiurgos of the Greek philosophers. There is nothing more elevated than the simple grandeur with which they spoke of the creator of the universe. In order to distinguish him the more emphatically they gave him no name. A name, said they, is only a need for pointing a difference; he who is only, has no need of a name, for there is no one with whom he could be confounded. Under an ancient monument of Isis were to be read the words: “I AM THAT WHICH IS,” and upon a pyramid at Sais the strange primeval inscription: “I AM ALL, WHAT IS, WHAT WAS, WHAT WILL BE; NO MORTAL MAN HAS EVER LIFTED MY VEIL.” No one was permitted to enter the temple of Serapis who did not bear upon his breast or forehead the name Iao, or I-ha-ho—a name similar in sound to the Hebrew Jehovah and in all likelihood of the same meaning; and no name was uttered with greater reverence in Egypt than this name Iao. In the hymn which the hierophant, or guardian of the sanctuary, sang to the candidate for initiation, this was the first division in the instruction concerning the nature of the divinity: “HE IS ONLY AND SOLELY OF HIMSELF, AND TO THIS ONLY ONE ALL THINGS OWE THEIR EXISTENCE.”

The sentences here printed in capital letters “Beethoven copied with his own hand and kept (them), framed and under glass, always before him on his writing-table.”

The Composer’s Attitude towards the Church

Beethoven was now at an age when men of thoughtful and independent minds have settled opinions on such important subjects as have received their attention, among which, to all men, religion stands preëminent. Few change their faith after forty; there is no reason to suppose that Beethoven did; no place, therefore, more fit than this will be found to remark upon a topic to which the preceding pages directly lead—his religious views. Schindler writes in the appendix to his biography of Beethoven:

Beethoven was brought up in the Catholic religion. That he was truly religious is proved by his whole life, and many evidences were brought forward in the biographical part (of this work). It was one of his peculiarities that he never spoke on religious topics or concerning the dogmas of the various Christian churches in order to give his opinion about them. It may be said with considerable certainty, however, that his religious views rested less upon the creed of the church, than that they had their origin in deism. Without having a manufactured theory before him he plainly recognized the existence of God in the world as well as the world in God. This theory he found in the whole of Nature, and his guides seem to have been the oft-mentioned book, Christian Sturm’s “Betrachtungen der Werke Gottes in der Natur,” and the philosophical systems of the Greek wise men. It would be difficult for anybody to[169] assert the contrary, who had seen how he applied the contents of those writings in his own internal life.

As an argument against Schindler and to prove Beethoven’s orthodoxy in respect to the Roman Catholic tenets, the fervid sentiment and sublime devotion expressed in the music of the “Missa Solemnis” have been urged; but the words of the Mass were simply a text on which he could lavish all the resources of his art in the expression of his religious feelings. It should not be forgotten that the only Mass which can be ranked with Beethoven’s in D, was the composition of the sturdy Lutheran, J. S. Bach, and that the great epic poem of trinitarian Christianity was by the Arian, John Milton. Perhaps Schindler would have his readers understand more than is clearly expressed. If he means, that Beethoven rejected the trinitarian dogma; that the Deity of his faith is a personal God, a universal Father, to whom his human children may hopefully appeal for mercy in time of temptation, for aid in time of need, for consolation in time of sorrow—if this be Schindler’s “deism,” it may be affirmed unhesitatingly, that everything known to the present writer, which bears at all on the subject, confirms his view. Beethoven had the habit in moments of temptation and distress, of writing down short prayers for divine support and assistance, many of which are preserved; but neither in them, nor in any of his memoranda or conversations, is there the remotest indication that he believed in the necessity of any mediator between the soul of man and the Divine Father, under whatsoever name known—priest, prophet, saint, virgin or Messiah; but an even stronger religious sentiment, a more ardent spirit of devotion, a firmer reliance on the goodness and mercy of God are revealed in them, than Schindler seems to have apprehended.

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Chapter X

The Year 1810—Decrease in Productivity—Beethoven’s Project of Marriage—Therese Malfatti—Bettina von Arnim and Her Correspondence with Goethe—The Music to “Egmont”—Productions of the Year.

The topics last under notice have carried us far onward, even to the last years of Beethoven. We now return to the end of 1809—to the master in the full vigor and maturity of his powers. The last months of this year had been marked by an untiring and efficient industry; his sketchbooks abounded in the noblest themes, hints and protracted studies for orchestral, chamber and vocal compositions; and several important works—among them the Seventh Symphony—were well advanced. The princes, whose generosity had just placed him, for the present at least, beyond the reach of pecuniary anxieties, may well have expected the immediate fulfillment of “the desire that he surpass the great expectations which are justified by his past achievements.” They were bitterly disappointed. Kinsky did not live to hear any new orchestral work from that recently so prolific pen; Lobkowitz, whose dissatisfaction is upon record, heard but three; while the Archduke saw the years pass away comparatively fruitless, hardly more being accomplished in ten, than formerly in two—the marvellous year 1814 excepted. The close of 1809 terminated a decade (1800-1809) during which—if quality be considered, as well as number, variety, extent and originality—Beethoven’s works offer a more splendid exhibition of intellectual power than those of any other composer produced within a like term of years; and New Year, 1810, began another (1810-19), which, compared with the preceding, exhibits an astonishing decrease in the composer’s productiveness. The contrast is rendered more striking by the fact that many of the principal works completed in the second decade belong in plan and partly in execution to the first.

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Schindler’s division of Beethoven’s life into three distinctly marked periods appears forced—rather fanciful than real; but whoever makes himself even moderately conversant with the subject, soon perceives that a change in the man did take place too great and sudden to be attributed to the ordinary effect of advancing years; but when? The abrupt pause in his triumphant career as composer just mentioned, would seem to determine the time; and, if so, the natural inference is, that both were effects of the same cause. There was a point in the life of Handel when his indefatigable pen dropped from his hand and many weary months passed before he could resume it. The failure of his operas, his disastrous theatrical speculation, consequent bankruptcy, and the culmination of his distresses in a partial paralysis of his physical powers, were the causes. The cessation of Beethoven’s labors, though less absolute than in Handel’s case, is even more remarkable, as it continued longer and was not produced by any such natural and obvious causes. The fact is certain, and will probably find a sufficient explanation when we come to the details of the master’s private history during this period; if not, it is another question the solution of which must await the accident of time or the keener penetration and wider knowledge of some other investigator.

First Performance of the “Egmont” Music

Beethoven’s studies were now, for the third time, diverted from important works in hand to an order from the directors of the theatres—the “Egmont” music. The persevering diligence of the last months, of which he speaks in his letters, was evidently for the purpose of clearing his desk of a mass of manuscript compositions sold to Breitkopf and Härtel, before attacking Goethe’s tragedy—as decks are cleared for action before a naval battle. If so, he could hardly have seriously engaged upon the “Egmont” before the new year; but nothing is known, which fixes the exact date of either the beginning or completion of the work. Its overture bears the composer’s own date “1810”; its first performance was on the evening of Thursday, May 24. The Clärchen was played by Antonie Adamberger—a young actress alike distinguished for her beauty, her genius and her virtues—whose marriage in 1817 to the distinguished archæologist von Arneth was a distinct loss to the Vienna stage. The two songs which Clärchen has to sing, necessarily brought Fräulein Adamberger for the moment into personal relations with Beethoven, of which she wrote to the present author the following simple and pleasing account under date January 5, 1867:

... I approached him (Beethoven) without embarrassment when my aunt of blessed memory, my teacher and benefactress, called me to her[172] room and presented me to him. To his question: “Can you sing?” I replied without embarrassment with a decided “No!” Beethoven regarded me with amazement and said laughingly: “No? But I am to compose the songs in ‘Egmont’ for you.” I answered very simply that I had sung only four months and had then ceased because of hoarseness and the fear that continued exertion in the practice of declamation might injure my voice. Then he said jovially with an adoption of the Viennese dialect: “That will be a pretty how do you do!”—but on his part it turned out to be something glorious.

We went to the pianoforte and rummaging around in my music ... he found on top of the pile the well-known rondo with recitative from Zingarelli’s “Romeo and Juliet.” “Do you sing that?” he asked with a laugh which shook him as he sat down hesitatingly to play the accompaniment. Just as innocently and unsuspiciously as I had chatted with him and laughed, I now reeled off the air. Then a kind look came into his eye, he stroked my forehead with his hand and said: “Very well, now I know”—came back in three days and sang the songs for me a few times. After I had memorized them in a few days he left me with the words: “There, that’s right. So, so that’s the way, now sing thus, don’t let anybody persuade you to do differently and see that you do not put a mortant in it.” He went; I never saw him again in my room. Only at the rehearsal when conducting he frequently nodded to me pleasantly and benevolently. One of the old gentlemen expressed the opinion that the songs which the master, counting on certain effects, had set for orchestra, ought to be accompanied on a guitar. Then he turned his head most comically and, with his eyes flaming, said, “He knows!”...

Long afterwards, in a Conversation Book, an unknown hand writes: “I remember still the torment you had with the kettledrums at the rehearsal of ‘Egmont’.” Nothing more is known of the history of this work. Beethoven’s name appears on both this year’s concerts for the Theatrical Poor Fund—March 25, with the first movements of the Fourth Symphony; April 17, with the “Coriolan” Overture; but it does not appear that he conducted on either occasion; it is, however, probable that he did conduct the rehearsals and performance of a symphony in Schuppanzigh’s first Augarten concert in May.

Add to the above the subsequent notices of a few songs and the Quartet, Op. 95, and the meagre history of Beethoven as composer for 1810 is exhausted; what remains is of purely private and personal nature. Kinsky’s active service in the campaign of 1809 and his subsequent duties in Bohemia had prevented him hitherto from discharging his obligations under the annuity contract; but the Archduke, perhaps Lobkowitz also, was promptly meeting his; and these payments, together with the honorable remuneration granted by Breitkopf and Härtel for manuscripts, supplied Beethoven with ample means for comfort, even for luxury. He had at this time no grounds for complaint upon that score.

[173]

It was in 1810 that Beethoven received from Clementi and Co. the long-deferred honorarium for the British copyrights bought in April, 1807. Exactly when this money was received by Beethoven cannot be determined from the existing evidence, but it seems to have been before February 4, 1810, on which date Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel offering them the compositions from Op. 73 to 83 (exclusive of 75), and remarking that he was about to send the same works to London. He would scarcely have had such a purpose in mind unless he had had a settlement with his London publishers. Additional evidence, though of little weight, is provided by the circumstance that at the same time he was contemplating a change of lodgings, as a letter to Professor Loeb, written on February 8, shows; it was to his old home in the house of Baron Pasqualati, which he had occupied two years before and which he now took again at an annual rental of 500 florins.

Thoughts Hymeneal and Sartorial

A number of letters to Gleichenstein and Zmeskall to which attention must now be called seem to show us Beethoven in the character of a man so deeply smitten with the charms of a newly-acquired lady friend that he turns his attention seriously to his wardrobe and personal appearance and thinks unusually long and frequently of the social pleasures enjoyed at the home of his charmer. A desire to save space alone prevents the publication of the letters in full, but the reader may find them in the published Collections of the composer’s letters.[77] In the first of these he sends Gleichenstein 300 florins which the Count was to expend for him in the purchase of linen and nankeen for shirts and “at least half a dozen neckties.” On the same day, he informs his correspondent that acting on his advice he had paid Lind 300 florins.[174] Henickstein had paid him twenty-seven and a half florins for a pound sterling and invited him and Gleichenstein to dine the next day with Clementi. Very significantly the letter ends with: “Greet everything that is dear to you and me. How gladly would I like to add to whom we are dear????” Lind was a tailor and Henickstein the son of a banker. The next day he writes that on the previous evening the Archduke had requested his presence on the day set for the dinner and he had been obliged to send Henickstein a declination. The day after that he concludes a note telling about the meeting at the Archduke’s with “Farewell. This evening I will come to the dear Malfattis.” Here is the next letter in full:

As I shall have enough time this morning, I shall come to the Savage (zum wilden Mann—a restaurant) in the Prater. I fancy that I shall find no savages there but beautiful Graces, and for them I must don my armor. I know you will not think me a sponge because I come only for dinner, and so I will come straight. If I find you at home, well and good; if not, I’ll hurry to the Prater to embrace you.

On the day after that he sends Gleichenstein an S. (a sonata, doubtless) which he had “promised Therese” and adds: “Give my compliments to all of them. It seems as if the wounds with which wicked men have pierced my soul might be healed by them”; he sends 50 florins more for cravats and makes a boast of it that Gigons, Malfatti’s little dog, had supped with him and accompanied him home. This is the first of the only two allusions which Beethoven makes in all the papers, printed or written, relating to him, of a domestic pet animal. Another letter reads: “I beg of you to let me know when the M. remain at home of an evening. You surely had a pleasant sleep—I slept little, but I prefer such an awaking to all sleep.” Again he writes to say that he wished “Madame M.” would give him permission to pick out a pianoforte for her which she wished to buy “at Schanz’s.” Though it was his rule never to accept commissions on such sales, he wanted to save money for the lady on this purchase.

Now we reach the notes to Zmeskall, the first of which is endorsed by the recipient as having been received on April 18, 1810. From Beethoven’s lodgings in the Walfischgasse it was but a few steps around the corner in the Kärnthnerthorstrasse to an entrance of the Bürgerspital where Zmeskall lived, of whose readiness to oblige him he could and did avail himself to an extent which at length excited misgivings in his own mind that he was really going too far and abusing his friend’s kindness. This time Beethoven’s want was of a very peculiar nature, namely a looking-[175]glass; that it was not for shaving purposes but for a more general control of his toilet is indicated by the second note:

(April 18, 1810.)

Dear Zmeskall do send me your looking-glass which hangs beside your window for a few hours, mine is broken, if you would be so kind as to buy me one like it to-day it would be a great favor, I’ll recoup you for your expenditure at once—forgive my importunity dear Z.

Dear Z. do not get angry at my little note—think of the situation which I am in, like Hercules once at Queen Omphale’s??? I asked you to buy me a looking-glass like yours, and beg you as soon as you are not using yours which I am returning to send it back to me for mine is broken—farewell and don’t again write to me about the great man—for I never felt the strength or weakness of human nature as I feel it just now.

Remain fond of me.

(Without date—the original in Boston.)

Do not get vexed, dear Z. because of my continued demands upon you—let me know how much you paid for the looking-glass?

Farewell we shall see each other soon in the Swan as the food is daily growing worse in the (illegible)—I have had another violent attack of colic since day before yesterday, but it is better to-day.

Your friend
Beethoven.

Intercourse with the Malfatti Family

The date of the first note (April 18) is important as showing that at the time Beethoven was not in the country but still in Vienna and that, consequently, the 8th mentioned in the letter to Therese Malfatti which follows, was not the 8th of April, but of May. From this letter we deduce that Beethoven’s intercourse with the Malfatti family in Vienna had become more animated and intimate, that Beethoven improvised at the pianoforte and that at the punchbowl his spirits rose rather high (“forget the nonsense”). The conclusion points pretty plainly towards a desire to be united with the family in closer bonds. The Malfattis had probably gone to their country home towards the end of April or beginning of May. The following letter to Gleichenstein was probably written on the day after the merry evening of which the letter to Therese speaks:

Your report plunged me from the regions of happiness into the depths. Why the adjunction, You would let me know when there would be another musicale, am I nothing more than your musician or that of the others?—that at least is the interpretation, I can therefore seek support only in my own breast, there is none for me outside of it; no, nothing but wounds has friendship and kindred feelings for me. So be it then, for you, poor B. there is no happiness in the outer world, you must create it in yourself, only in the world of ideality will you find friends.

I beg of you to set my mind at rest as to whether I was guilty of any impropriety yesterday, or if you cannot do that then tell me the truth,[176] I hear it as willingly as I speak it—there is still time, the truth may yet help me. Farewell—don’t let your only friend Dorner know anything of this.

The letter to Therese reads:

With this you are receiving, honored Therese, what I promised, and if there were not the best of reasons against it, you would receive more in order to show that I always do more for my friends than I promise—I hope and have no doubt that you keep yourself as well occupied as pleasantly entertained—but not so much that you cannot also think of me. It would perhaps be presuming upon your kindness or placing too high a value upon myself if I were to write you: “people are only together when they are in each other’s company, even the distant one, the absent one lives for us,” who would dare to write such a sentiment to the volatile T. who handles everything in this world so lightly? Do not forget, in laying out your occupation, the pianoforte, or music generally; you have so beautiful a talent for it, why not cultivate it exclusively, you who have so much feeling for everything that is beautiful and good, why will you not make use of it in order to learn the more perfect things in so beautiful an art, which always reflects its light upon us—I live very solitarily and quietly, although now and then lights try to arouse me there is still for me a void which cannot be filled since you are all gone and which defies even my art which has always been so faithful to me—your pianoforte is ordered and you will have it soon—explain for yourself the difference between the treatment of a theme which I invented one evening and the manner in which I finally wrote it down, but don’t get the punch to help you—how lucky you were to be able to go to the country so soon, I shall not have this pleasure until the 8th, I rejoice in the prospect like a child, how joyous I am when I can walk amongst bushes and trees, herbs, rocks, nobody can love the country as I do—since woods, trees, rocks, return the answer which man wants to hear.

(Four lines stricken out).

You will soon receive four of my compositions whereat you should not have to complain too much about the difficulties—have you read Goethe’s “Wilhelm Meister,” Shakespeare translated by Schlegel, one has so much leisure in the country it might be agreeable if I were to send you these works. Chance has brought it about that I have an acquaintance in your neighborhood, perhaps you will see me at your home early some morning for half an hour and then away, you see I wish to be as little tedious as possible. Commend me to the good will of your father, your mother, although I have no right as yet to ask it of them, also to your aunt M. Farewell, honored T. I wish you all that is good and beautiful in life, think of me and willingly—forget the nonsense—be convinced no one can wish that your life may be more joyous and more happy than I, even if you have no sympathy for

Your devoted servant and friend
Beethoven.

N. B. It would really be very nice of you if you were to write a few lines to say what I can do for you here?

Preparations for Marriage

Under such circumstances Beethoven wrote the famous letter of May 2, 1810 to Wegeler in Coblenz, asking him to[177] procure a copy of his baptismal certificate for him. In this letter he says:

A few years ago my quiet, retired mode of life ceased, and I was forcibly drawn into activities of the world; I have not yet formed a favorable opinion of it but rather one against it—but who is there could escape the influence of the external storms? Yet I should be happy, perhaps one of the happiest of men, if the demon had not taken possession of my ears. If I had not read somewhere that a man may not voluntarily part with his life so long as a good deed remains for him to perform, I should long ago have been no more—and indeed by my own hands. O, life is so beautiful, but to me it is poisoned.

You will not decline to accede to my friendly request if I beg of you to secure my baptismal certificate for me. Whatever expense may attach to the matter, since you have an account with Steffen Breuning, you can recoup yourself at once from that source and I will make it good at once to Steffen here. If you should yourself think it worth while to investigate the matter and make the trip from Coblenz to Bonn, charge everything to me. But one thing must be borne in mind, namely, that there was a brother born before I was, who was also named Ludwig with the addition Maria, but who died. To fix my age beyond doubt, this brother must first be found, inasmuch as I already know that in this respect a mistake has been made by others, and I have been said to be older than I am. Unfortunately I myself lived for a time without knowing my age. I had a family register but it has been lost heaven knows how. Therefore do not be bored if I urge you to attend to this matter, to find Maria and the present Ludwig who was born after him. The sooner you send me the baptismal certificate the greater will be my obligation.

To the “Notizen” (1838) Wegeler published a few pages of appendix on the occasion of the Beethoven festival at Bonn (1845), giving therein a most valuable paragraph explanatory of this important letter:

It seems that Beethoven, once in his life, entertained the idea of marrying, after having been in love many times, as is related in the “Notizen” (pp. 40, 42 et seq. and 117 et seq.). Many persons as well as myself were impressed by the urgency with which in his letter of May 10 [sic] he besought me to secure his baptismal certificate for him. He wants to pay all the expenditures, even a journey from Coblenz to Bonn. And then he adds explicit instructions which I was to observe in looking up the certificate in order to get the right one. I found the solution of the riddle in a letter written to me three months later by my brother-in-law St. v. Breuning. In this he says: “Beethoven tells me at least once a week that he intends to write to you; but I believe his marriage project has fallen through, and for this reason he no longer feels the lively desire to thank you for your trouble in getting him the baptismal certificate.” In the thirty-ninth year of his life Beethoven had not given up thoughts of marriage.

We know now that the marriage project fell through early in May, soon after he had written the letter to Wegeler. Two[178] short letters to Gleichenstein instruct us slightly touching the conclusion of this psychological drama which, no doubt, tore the heart of Beethoven. It would seem as if at first Beethoven wanted to visit the Malfattis at their country home, but at the last preferred to send a formal proposal of marriage by the hands of Gleichenstein. We have no testimony concerning the refusal beyond the utterance of the niece and the cessation of all correspondence on the subject. Here are the letters:

You are living on a calm and peaceful sea or, possibly, are already in a safe harbor—you do not feel the distress of the friend who is still in the storm—or you dare not feel it—what will they think of me in the star Venus Urania, how will they judge me without seeing me—my pride is so humbled, I would go there with you uninvited—let me see you at my lodging to-morrow morning, I shall expect you at about 9 o’clock at breakfast—Dorner can come with you at another time—if you were but franker with me, you are certainly concealing something from me, you want to spare me and this uncertainty is more painful than the most fatal certainty—Farewell if you cannot come let me know in advance—think and act for me—I cannot entrust to paper more of what is going on within me.

Dear friend, so cursedly late—press them all warmly to your heart—why can I not be with you? Farewell, I will be with you on Wednesday morning—the letter is written so that the whole world may read it—if you find that the paper covering is not clean enough, put another one on, I cannot tell at night whether it is clean—farewell, dear friend, think and act also for your faithful friend.

Beethoven’s relations with another fair friend now demand attention. In the Vienna suburban road Erdbeergasse stands the lofty house then numbered 98, its rear windows overlooking Rasoumowsky’s gardens, the Donau canal and the Prater, whence on May 15, 1810, Elizabeth Brentano (Bettina) wrote to Goethe:

Here I live in the house of the deceased Birkenstock, surrounded by two thousand copperplate engravings, as many hand-drawings, as many hundred old ash urns and Etruscan lamps, marble vases, antique fragments of hands and feet, paintings, Chinese garments, coins, geological collections, sea insects, telescopes and numberless maps, plans of ancient empires and cities sunk in ruin, artistically carved walking-sticks, precious documents, and finally the sword of Emperor Carolus.

Joseph Melchior von Birkenstock (born in 1738), the honored, trusted and valued servant of Maria Theresia and Kaiser Joseph, the friend and brother-in-law of the celebrated Sonnenfels—the esteemed correspondent of so many of the noblest men of his time, including the American philosopher Franklin and the Scotch historian Robertson, the reformer of the Austrian school system, the promoter of all liberal ideas so long as in those days progress[179] was allowed—was pensioned in 1803, and thenceforth lived for science, art and literature until his death, October 30, 1809. His house, filled almost to repletion with the artistic, archæological, scientific collections of which Bettina speaks, was one of those truly noble seats of learning, high culture and refinement, where Beethoven, to his manifest intellectual gain, was a welcome guest.

Intimate Relations with the Brentanos

Sophie Brentano, older than Bettina, very beautiful notwithstanding the loss of an eye, and, like all the members of that remarkable family, very highly talented and accomplished, had made a long visit to Vienna as Count Heberstein’s bride—their marriage being prevented by her untimely death. “She brought about the marriage of her brother Franz with Antonie von Birkenstock,” says Jahn. “The young wife, who did not feel at home in Frankfort”—and also because of the precarious health of her father, we may add—“persuaded Brentano to remove to Vienna, where for several years she occupied a home in the Birkenstock house which Bettina describes so beautifully. In this house, where music was cultivated, Beethoven came and went in friendly fashion. His ‘little friend,’ for whose encouragement in pianoforte playing he wrote the little trio in a single movement in 1812, was her daughter Maximiliane Brentano, later Madame Plittersdorf, to whom ten years later he dedicated the Sonata in E major (Op. 109). After Birkenstock’s death he tried to give a practical turn to his friendship by seeking to persuade Archduke Rudolph to buy a part of his collection. More effective, evidently was the help which Brentano extended to him, who, when he came into financial straits and needed a loan, always found an open purse. Madame Antonie Brentano was frequently ill for weeks at a time during her sojourn in Vienna, so that she had to remain in her room inaccessible to all visitors. At such times Beethoven used to come regularly, seat himself at a pianoforte in her anteroom without a word and improvise; after he had finished ‘telling her everything and bringing comfort,’ in his language, he would go as he had come without taking notice of another person.”

The credibility of Madame von Arnim’s contribution to Beethoven literature has been questioned in all degrees of severity, from simple doubts as to particular passages to broad denunciation of the whole as gross distortions of fact, or even as figments of the imagination. Dogmatism is rarely in proportion to knowledge, unless, perhaps, in inverse ratio. The bitterest attacks upon the veracity of Mme. von Arnim have been made by those whose ignorance of the subject is most conspicuous; but among the doubters are people of candor, good judgment and wide knowledge[180] of Beethoven’s history; and a decent respect for the opinions of such renders it just and proper to explain why so much of these contributions has been admitted into the text as being substantially true.

At the very outset we are met by a statement in Schindler’s book (Ed. 1840) which if correct destroys at once the credibility of Mme. von Arnim’s account of her first interview with Beethoven. It is this: “Beethoven became acquainted with the Brentano family in Frankfort through her [Bettina].” A later writer, Ludwig Nohl, supports the assertion on the authority of “Frau Brentano, now 87 years old”—Birkenstock’s daughter. But Schindler, after his long residence in and near Frankfort, writes (1860): “There still lives one of the oldest friends of our master during life, with whom he became acquainted already on his arrival in Vienna (1792) in the house of her father.” This was the above-mentioned lady “now 87 years old.” The other writer also withdraws his statement in a later publication where he speaks of this aged lady’s daughter, “Maxe, who as a child in 1808 [?] in Vienna, often sat at Birkenstock’s on his (Beethoven’s) knees.”

Any possible doubt on the subject is dispelled by a communication made to this author in 1872, by the then head of the Brentano family living in Frankfort, who wrote:

The friendly relations between Beethoven and the family Brentano in Frankfort already existed when Frau von Brentano (Antonie) visited her father in Vienna, whither she went with her older children for an extended period because her father, Court Councillor Birkenstock, had been ailing for a considerable time. This friendly intercourse was continued after the death of Councillor Birkenstock on October 30, 1809, and during the three years’ sojourn of the Brentano family in Vienna. Beethoven often came to the house of Birkenstock, later of Brentano, attended the quartet concerts which were given there by the best musicians of Vienna, and often rejoiced his friends with his glorious pianoforte playing. The Brentano children occasionally carried fruit and flowers to him in his lodging; he in return gave them bonbons and always exhibited great friendship for them.

Mme. von Arnim’s Letter to Goethe

Beethoven, through his familiar intercourse with the Brentanos, must, of course, have known of the expected visit of Bettina and of her relations to Goethe. Her account of their first meeting, therefore, is in all respects credible; nor has it been, so far as is known, questioned. It is twice given by her own pen in the “Briefwechsel” with Goethe under date 1810, and in the Pückler-Muskau correspondence as belonging to 1832. At this last-named date she had not yet received from Chancellor von Müller her[181] letter to Goethe, and wrote from memory, confining her narrative to the minor incidents of the meeting. The two accounts differ, but they do not contradict, they only supplement each other.

Authenticity of the Bettina Letters

The present writer had the honor of an interview or two with Mme. von Arnim in 1849-50, and heard the story from her lips; in 1854-5, it was his good fortune to meet her often in two charming family circles—her own and that of the brothers Grimm. Thus at an interval of five years he had the opportunity of comparing her statements, of questioning her freely and of convincing himself, up to this point, of her simple honesty and truth.

But the rock of offense does not lie here; it is in the long discourse of Beethoven which will presently be given in these pages. Schindler objects to this, both in its matter and form, on the ground that he had never heard “the master” talk in this manner. But the Beethoven whom Schindler knew in his last years was not the Beethoven of 1810, and Anton Schindler certainly was not an Elizabeth Brentano. There happens to be proof that just in the former period the composer could talk freely and eloquently. Jahn says: “Beethoven’s personality and nature, moreover, were calculated to make a significant but winning impression upon women,” and cites Mme. Hummel (Elizabeth Röckel) in proof. “As a matron advanced in years,” says he, “and still winning because of her charming graciousness, she spoke with ingratiating warmth of the good fortune of having been observed by Beethoven and to have been on friendly relations with him. ‘Whoever saw him in good humor, intellectually animated, when he gave utterance to his thoughts in such a mood,’ said she with glowing eyes, ‘can never forget the impression which he made.’”

There are two hypotheses as to the genesis of this letter to Goethe. The one: that Mme. von Arnim in preparing the “Briefwechsel” for publication wrote out her own crude and nebulous thoughts and gave them to the public in the form of a fictitious report of a conversation of Beethoven. The other: that she found Beethoven fresh from the composition of the “Egmont” music, full of enthusiasm for Goethe and vehemently desirous that his, the great composer’s, views upon music should be known and comprehended by the great poet; that he, happening to get upon this topic at their first interview, imparted those views to her with that express purpose; and that she, so far as she was able to follow and understand the speaker, and so far as her memory could recall his words a few hours after, correctly records and reports them.

[182]

The first hypothesis rests now on precisely the same foundation as when Schindler wrote, namely, on the presumption that Beethoven could not have spoken thus; but a discourse uttered under such circumstances and with such a purpose, poured into the willing ear of a beautiful, highly cultivated and remarkably fascinating young woman, one who possessed the higher artistic and intellectual qualities of character in an extraordinary degree—such a discourse might well abound in thoughts and expressions which the prosaic Schindler in the most prosaic period of his master’s life never drew from him.

Two significant minor points may be noted: there was a Latin word in use by the Breuning family in the old Bonn days with a meaning not given in the dictionaries. This we learn from Wegeler’s “Notizen,” and only there. Yet Mme. v. Arnim puts this word, raptus, in precisely this local sense into Beethoven’s mouth several years before the publication of the “Notizen”! Again: when the discoveries of Galvani and Volta were still a novel topic of general interest, when, through them, physiologists, as Dubois-Raymond expressed it, “believed that at length they should realize their visions of a vital power”; and when the semi-scientific world was full of the theories of Mesmer and his disciples—at that time, the first years of the nineteenth century, custom gave the word elektrisch (electrical) a significance long since lost, which well conveyed the thought Beethoven is made to express. But in 1834-5, to introduce this word in that sense, retrospectively, into a fictitious conversation purporting to be of the year 1810, shows, no less than the raptus, an exquisite tact so rare, that it might well be termed a most felicitous stroke of genius, one of which any writer of romance might be vain.

Julius Merz, in his “Athenæum für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Leben” (Nuremberg, January, 1839), printed for the opening article “Drei Briefe von Beethoven an Bettina.” The third of these letters was copied the next July into Schilling’s ephemeral musical periodical the “Jahrbücher” (Carlsruhe), with remarks by the editor expressing doubts of its authenticity. But Schindler, whose book was just then going to press, copied a large portion of it as genuine; and in his second edition (1845) reprinted all three entire, without adding a word of doubt or misgiving. They had appeared in English in 1841, from a copy given to Mr. Henry F. Chorley by Mme. von Arnim; and since then have been reprinted in various languages probably more frequently, and become more universally known, than any other chapter in Beethoven literature. Here and there a reader shared in Schilling’s doubts;[183] but twenty years elapsed before these doubts were put into such form, and by an author of such position, that a reasonable self-respect could allow Mme. von Arnim to take notice of them; and then it was too late—she lay upon her death-bed. Her silence under the attacks made upon her veracity is therefore no evidence against her.

A. B. Marx, the author here referred to, produces but one argument which demands notice here, and this is the occurrence of certain “repetitions”: “liebe, liebste,” “liebe, gute,” “bald, bald” which he declared to be “very womanish and very un-Beethovenian.” Now, on the contrary, in the text of this volume there is abundant proof that just these expressions are very Beethovenian and characteristic of his letters to favorite women at the precise period in question.

It is true, as he says, that when Marx wrote, nothing of the kind had ever been published; a fortiori, nothing twenty years before; but this fact, on which he laid such stress, instead of supporting really demolishes his argument. It was in the autumn of 1838 that Mr. Merz received the letters. At that time specimens of Beethoven’s correspondence had been published by Seyfried in the pseudo-“Studien,” by Schumann in the “Neue Zeitschrift,” by Gottfried Weber in the “Cäcilia,” by Wegeler in the “Notizen”; and a few others were scattered in books and periodicals. Imitators, counterfeiters, fabricators of false documents, must have samples, patterns, models; but all the Beethoven letters then in print were so far from being the patterns or models of the Bettina letters that the contrast between them was the main argument against the authenticity of the latter. If, then, Mme. von Arnim introduced so many expressions which we know (but she could not) are not “very womanish and very un-Beethovenian” into a fictitious correspondence, she did so not only without a pattern or model, but against all patterns and models. Credat Judæeus Apella, non ego.

There are points of doubt and difficulty in the third letter which the warmest advocates of its authenticity have not been able fully to overcome; but as Marx had not sufficient knowledge of his subject to perceive them, and the question of the acceptance or rejection of this letter will rest upon grounds to be given in the text, these points need not be noticed here. Another one must be, namely: suppose that letter should be proved counterfeit, does it follow that the others are so? Not at all; but that they are the authentic letters whose manner and style are imitated.

[184]

In 1848, Mme. von Arnim published two volumes of characteristic correspondence with Herr Nathusius under the title: “Ilius Pamphilius und die Ambrosia.” In one of his letters Pamphilius requests autographs of Goethe’s mother and Beethoven, for a collection which he is making. This gives her occasion in various letters to express her admiration and reverence for the composer in terms which come warm from the heart. At length (Vol. II, p. 205) she writes: “Herewith I am sending you the letters of Goethe and Beethoven for your autograph collection.” She prints all three in the pages following; but a comparison of the several passages relating to them leads to the inference, that only one autograph was sent. Is all this a mystification? Was there no Pamphilius? No autograph collection? No contribution of a letter in Beethoven’s hand to it? Herr Nathusius knows.

Mme. von Arnim, then, gave the letters to the public three times; in the “Athenæum,” January, 1839; in English translation, through Chorley, 1841; in the “Pamphilius und Ambrosia,” in 1848. It is patent to the feeblest common sense, that, if not genuine, either the same copy, or copies carefully collated so as to avoid all suspicious variations, would have been sent to the printer; and that the two German publications would differ only by such small errors as compositors make and proof-readers overlook—such as are found in Schindler’s reprint from the “Athenæum,” and in Marx’s from Schindler. But the variations of the “Pamphilius” copy from that in the “Athenæum” are such as cannot be printer’s errors, but precisely such as two persons, inexperienced in the task, would make in deciphering Beethoven’s very illegible writing; one (Mr. Merz) correcting the punctuation and faults in the use of capital letters (as Wegeler has evidently done), and the other (Mme. von Arnim) retaining these striking characteristics of the composer’s letters. The change of the familiar “Bettine,” which Beethoven learned in her brother’s family, to the more formal “Freundin,” can hardly be made a point of objection. Marx’s argument had been so completely upset, that, in renewing (1863) his attack upon the then deceased Mme. von Arnim, he was compelled to base it upon other considerations. It was then that the present writer compared the letters printed in the “Athenæum” with the copies in the “Pamphilius,” which convinced him, on the grounds above noted, of their authenticity, at least in part, and led to a correspondence, of which an abstract here follows: On July 9, 1863, the present author requested Mr. Wheeler, American Consul at Nuremberg, to see Mr. Merz, learn from him the circumstances under which he obtained the[185] letters, and whether he printed from Beethoven’s autograph. Mr. Wheeler replied on August 9th: “He [Mr. Merz] states, that he enjoyed the personal acquaintance of that lady (Mme. von Arnim), and was at the time in Berlin on a visit; and being at her residence on a certain occasion, she gave him these letters, remarking: ‘There is something for the Athenæum.’ After publishing the letters, Mr. Merz feels confident, he returned the letters to Mme. v. Arnim.” The author now, on August 25th, requested Mr. Wheeler if possible to obtain from Mr. Merz his written statement that he had printed the letters from the original autographs. Mr. Wheeler, on September 24th, replied.... “Yesterday he [Merz] was good enough to write me the note you requested; I trust it may be found of the tenor wished.” The note which was enclosed in this letter is this: “I can certify that at the time in question I had in my possession the letters referred to in the January number of the ‘Athenæum,’ but gave them back again. Nuremberg, September 23, 1863. Julius Merz, book publisher.” It may be said that this note does not explicitly cover the whole ground. True, it is the testimony of a conscientious man who, after the lapse of twenty-five years, remembers deciphering certain letters of Beethoven which he printed, but does not venture to declare that all that he printed lay before him in the handwriting of the master. There is another witness who is reported to have been less distrustful of his memory. Herr Ludwig Nohl, in a note to these letters (“Briefe Beethoven’s,” p. 71), says: “Their authenticity (barring, perhaps, a few words in the middle of the third letter) was never doubtful in my mind and will not be now after Beethoven’s letters have been made public. Though superfluous, it may yet be said for the benefit of such as are not wholly willing to accept internal evidence, that Prof. Moriz Carriere, in a conversation on the subject of Beethoven’s letters in December, 1864, expressly stated that the three letters to Bettina were genuine; he saw them himself in her house in Berlin in 1839, read them through with the greatest interest and care, and because of their significant contents had urged their immediate publication. When they were printed a short time afterward, no changes in the reprint struck his attention; on the contrary, he could still remember that the much controverted terms, particularly the anecdote about Goethe in the third letter, were precisely so in the original.”

First Meeting with Bettina

And now to the matter, the discussion of which has detained us so long. One day in May, Beethoven, sitting at the pianoforte with a song just composed before him, was surprised by a pair of[186] hands being placed upon his shoulders. He looked up “gloomily” but his face brightened as he saw a beautiful young woman who, putting her mouth to his ear said: “My name is Brentano.” She needed no further introduction. He smiled, gave her his hand without rising and said: “I have just made a beautiful song for you; do you want to hear it?” Thereupon he sang—raspingly, incisively, not gently or sweetly (the voice was hard), but transcending training and agreeableness by reason of the cry of passion which reacted on the hearer—“Kennst du das Land?” He asked: “Well, how do you like it?” She nodded. “It is beautiful, isn’t it?” he said enthusiastically, “marvellously beautiful; I’ll sing it again.” He sang it again, looked at her with a triumphant expression, and seeing her cheeks and eyes glow, rejoiced over her happy approval. “Aha!” said he, “most people are touched by a good thing; but they are not artist-natures. Artists are fiery; they do not weep.” He then sang another song of Goethe’s, “Trocknet nicht Thränen der ewigen Liebe.”

There was a large dinner party that day at Franz Brentano’s in the Birkenstock house and Bettina—for it was she—told Beethoven he must change his old coat for a better, and accompany her thither. “Oh,” said he jokingly, “I have several good coats,” and took her to the wardrobe to see them. Changing his coat he went down with her to the street, but stopped there and said he must return for a moment. He came down again laughing with the old coat on. She remonstrated; he went up again, dressed himself properly and went with her.[78] But, notwithstanding his rather clumsy drollery, she soon discovered a greatness in the man for which she was wholly unprepared. His genius burst upon her with a splendor of which she had formed no previous conception, and the sudden revelation astonished, dazzled, enraptured her. It is just this, which gives the tone to her letter upon Beethoven addressed to Goethe. In fact, the Beethoven of our conceptions was not then known; the first attempt to describe or convey in words, what the finer appreciative spirits had begun to feel in his music, was E. T. A. Hoffmann’s article on the C minor Symphony, in the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” of July 21st—five weeks later.

[187]

Bettina’s Letter to Goethe

The essential parts of Bettina’s long communication are these:

(To Goethe)

Vienna, May 28.

When I saw him of whom I shall now speak to you, I forgot the whole world—as the world still vanishes when memory recalls the scene—yes, it vanishes.... It is Beethoven of whom I now wish to tell you, and who made me forget the world and you; I am still in my nonage, it is true, but I am not mistaken when I say—what no one, perhaps, now understands and believes—he stalks far ahead of the culture of mankind. Shall we ever overtake him?—I doubt it, but grant that he may live until the mighty and exalted enigma lying in his soul is fully developed, may reach its loftiest goal, then surely he will place the key to his heavenly knowledge in our hands so that we may be advanced another step towards true happiness.

To you, I am sure, I may confess I believe in a divine magic which is the essence of intellectual life. This magic Beethoven practises in his art. Everything that he can tell you about is pure magic, every posture is the organization of a higher existence, and therefore Beethoven feels himself to be the founder of a new sensuous basis in the intellectual life; you will understand what I am trying to say and how much of it is true. Who could replace this mind for us? From whom could we expect so much? All human activities toss around him like mechanism, he alone begets independently in himself the unsuspected, uncreated. What to him is intercourse with the world—to him who is at his sacred daily task before sunrise and who after sunset scarcely looks about him, who forgets sustenance for his body and who is carried in a trice, by the stream of his enthusiasm, past the shores of work-a-day things?

He himself said: “When I open my eyes I must sigh, for what I see is contrary to my religion, and I must despise the world which does not know that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am the Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken. When they are again become sober they have drawn from the sea all that they brought with them, all that they can bring with them to dry land. I have not a single friend; I must live alone. But well I know that God is nearer to me than to other artists; I associate with him without fear; I have always recognized and understood him and have no fear for my music—it can meet no evil fate. Those who understand it must be freed by it from all the miseries which the others drag about with themselves.”

All this Beethoven said to me the first time I saw him; a feeling of reverential awe came over me when he expressed himself to me with such friendly frankness, seeing that I must have appeared so utterly insignificant to him. I was surprised, too, for I had been told that he was unsociable and would converse with nobody. They were afraid to take me to him; I had to hunt him up alone. He has three lodgings in which he conceals himself alternately—one in the country, one in the city and the third on the bastion. It was in the last that I found him in the third storey, walked in unannounced. He was seated at the pianoforte.

He accompanied me home and on the way he said the many beautiful things about art, speaking so loud and stopping in the street that it took courage to listen to him. He spoke with great earnestness and much[188] too surprisingly not to make me forget the street. They were greatly surprised to see him enter a large dinner party at home with me. After dinner, without being asked, he sat down to the instrument and played long and marvellously; there was a simultaneous fermentation of his pride and his genius. When he is in such a state of exaltation his spirit begets the incomprehensible and his fingers accomplish the impossible.

In the letter to Pückler-Muskau in which Mme. von Arnim dwells more upon the incidents of this meeting, she writes thus:

There was surprise when I entered a gathering of more than 40 people who sat at table, hand in hand with Beethoven. Without ado he seated himself, said little (doubtless because he was deaf). Twice he took his writing-tablet out of his pocket and made a few marks in it. After dinner the entire company went up to the tower of the house to look at the view; when they were gone down again and he and I alone, he drew forth his tablet, looked at it, wrote and elided, then said: “My song is finished.” He leaned against the window-frame and sang it out upon the air. Then he said: “That sounds, doesn’t it? It belongs to you if you like it, I made it for you, you inspired it, I read it in your eyes just as it was written.”

In the Goethe letter she continues:

Since then he comes to me every day, or I go to him. For this I neglect social meetings, galleries, the theatre, and even the tower of St. Stephen’s. Beethoven says “Ah! What do you want to see there? I will call for you towards evening; we will walk through the alleys of Schönbrunn.” Yesterday I went with him to a glorious garden in full bloom, all the hot-beds open—the perfume was bewildering; Beethoven stopped in the oppressive sunshine and said: “Not only because of their contents, but also because of their rhythm, Goethe’s poems have great power over me, I am tuned up and stimulated to composition by this language which builds itself into higher orders as if through the work of spirits and already bears in itself the mystery of the harmonies.

“Then from the focus of enthusiasm I must discharge melody in all directions; I pursue it, capture it again passionately; I see it flying away and disappearing in the mass of varied agitations; now I seize upon it again with renewed passion; I cannot tear myself from it; I am impelled with hurried modulations to multiply it, and, at length I conquer it:—behold, a symphony! Music, verily, is the mediator between intellectual and sensuous life. I should like to talk with Goethe about this—would he understand me?”.... “Speak to Goethe about me,” he said; “tell him to hear my symphonies and he will say that I am right in saying that music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.... We do not know what knowledge brings us. The encased seed needs the moist, electrically warm soil to sprout, to think, to express itself. Music is the electrical soil in which the mind thinks, lives, feels. Philosophy is a precipitate of the mind’s electrical essence; its needs which seek a basis in a primeval principle are elevated by it, and although the mind is not supreme over what it generates through it, it is yet happy in the process. Thus every real creation of art is independent,[189] more powerful than the artist himself and returns to the divine through its manifestation. It is one with man only in this, that it bears testimony of the mediation of the divine in him.... Everything electrical stimulates the mind to musical, fluent, out-streaming generation.

“I am electrical in my nature. I must interrupt the flow of my undemonstrable wisdom or I might neglect my rehearsal. Write to Goethe if you understand what I have said, but I cannot be answerable for anything and will gladly be instructed by him.” I promised to write you everything to the best of my understanding.... Last night I wrote down all that he had said; this morning I read it over to him. He remarked: “Did I say that? Well, then I had a raptus!” He read it again attentively and struck out the above and wrote between the lines, for he is greatly desirous that you shall understand him. Rejoice me now with a speedy answer, which shall show Beethoven that you appreciate him. It has always been our purpose to discuss music; it was also my desire, but through Beethoven I feel for the first time that I am not fit for the task.

Goethe’s Reply to Bettina

To this letter Goethe answered:

Your letter, heartily beloved child, reached me at a happy time. You have been at great pains to picture for me a great and beautiful nature in its achievements and its strivings, its needs and the superabundance of its gifts. It has given me great pleasure to accept this picture of a truly great spirit. Without desiring at all to classify it, it yet requires a psychological feat to extract the sum of agreement; but I feel no desire to contradict what I can grasp of your hurried explosion; on the contrary, I should prefer for the present to admit an agreement between my nature and that which is recognizable in these manifold utterances. The ordinary human mind might, perhaps, find contradictions in it; but before that which is uttered by one possessed of such a dæmon, an ordinary layman must stand in reverence, and it is immaterial whether he speaks from feeling or knowledge, for here the gods are at work strewing seeds for future discernment and we can only wish that they may proceed undisturbedly to development. But before they can become general, the clouds which veil the human mind must be dispersed. Give Beethoven my heartiest greetings and tell him that I would willingly make sacrifices to have his acquaintance, when an exchange of thoughts and feelings would surely be beautifully profitable; mayhap you may be able to persuade him to make a journey to Karlsbad whither I go nearly every year and would have the greatest leisure to listen to him and learn from him. To think of teaching him would be an insolence even in one with greater insight than mine, since he has the guiding light of his genius which frequently illumines his mind like a stroke of lightning while we sit in darkness and scarcely suspect the direction from which daylight will break upon us.

It would give me great joy if Beethoven were to make me a present of the two songs of mine which he has composed, but neatly and plainly written. I am very eager to hear them. It is one of my greatest enjoyments, for which I am very grateful, to have the old moods of such a poem (as Beethoven very correctly says) newly aroused in me....

June 6, 1810.

[190]

(Bettina to Goethe)

Dearest friend! I communicated your beautiful letter to Beethoven so far as it concerned him. He was full of joy and cried: “If there is any one who can make him understand music, I am the man!” The idea of hunting you up at Karlsbad filled him with enthusiasm. He struck his forehead a blow and said: “Might I not have done that earlier?—but, in truth, I did think of it but omitted to do it because of timidity which often torments me as if I were not a real man: but I am no longer afraid of Goethe.” You may count, therefore, on seeing him next year....

I am enclosing both songs by Beethoven; the other two are by me. Beethoven has seen them and said many pretty things about them, such as that if I had devoted myself to this lovely art I might cherish great hopes; but I merely graze it in flight, for my art is only to laugh and sigh in a little pocket—more than that there is none for me.

Bettina.

By the middle of June she was in Bohemia.

There are a few letters from this period to which attention may be paid. On July 9, 1810, Beethoven wrote to Zmeskall telling him of his distracted state of mind: he ought to go away from Vienna for the sake of his health, but Archduke Rudolph wanted him to remain near him; so he was one day in Schönbrunn, the next in Vienna. “Every day there come new inquiries from strangers, new acquaintances, new conditions even as regards art—sometimes I feel as if I should go mad because of my undeserved fame; fortune is seeking me and on that account I almost apprehend a new misfortune.” On July 17th, he sent to Thomson the Scotch songs which he had arranged, accompanied by a letter (in French) in which he discusses business matters, gives some instructions touching the repetitions in the songs, repeats his offer to compose three quintets and three sonatas and to send him such arrangements for quartet and quintet as have been made of his symphonies. Soon thereafter he wrote to Bettina Brentano:[79]

[191]

Beethoven’s Letter to Bettina

Vienna, August 11, 1810.

Dearest Bettine:

No lovelier spring than this, that say I and feel it, too, because I have made your acquaintance. You must have seen for yourself that in society I am like a frog on the sand which flounders about and cannot get away until some benevolent Galatea puts him into the mighty sea again. I was right high and dry, dearest Bettine, I was surprised by you at a moment when ill-humor had complete control of me; but of a truth it vanished at sight of you, I knew at once that you belonged to another world than this absurd one to which with the best of wills one cannot open his ears. I am a miserable man and am complaining about the others!!—Surely you will pardon this with your good heart which looks out of your eyes and your sense which lies in your ears—at least your ears know how to flatter when they give heed. My ears, unfortunately, are a barrier through which I cannot easily have friendly intercourse with mankind—otherwise!—Perhaps!—I should have had more confidence in you. As it is I could only understand the big, wise look of your eyes, which did for me what I shall never forget. Dear Bettine, dearest girl! Art!—who understands it, with whom can one converse about this great goddess!—How dear to me are the few days in which we chatted, or rather corresponded with each other, I have preserved all the little bits of paper on which your bright, dear, dearest answers are written. And so I owe it to my bad ears that the best portion of these fleeting conversations is written down. Since you have been gone I have had vexatious hours, hours of shadow, in which nothing can be done; I walked about in the Schönbrunn Alley for fully three hours after you were gone, and on the bastion; but no angel who might fascinate me as you do, Angel. Pardon, dearest Bettine, this departure from the key. I must have such intervals in which to unburden my heart. You have written to Goethe, haven’t you?—would that I might put my head in a bag so that I could see and hear nothing of what is going on in the world. Since you, dearest angel, cannot meet me. But I shall get a letter from you, shall I not?—Hope sustains me, it sustains half of the world, and I have had her as neighbor all my life, if I had not what would have become of me?—I am sending you herewith, written with my own hand, “Kennst du das Land,” as a souvenir of the hour in which I learned to know you, I am sending also the other which I have composed since I parted with you dear, dearest heart!

Herz, mein Herz, was soll das geben,
Was bedränget dich so sehr?
Welch ein fremdes, neues Leben!
Ich erkenne dich nicht mehr.

Yes, dearest Bettine, answer this, write me what it is shall happen to me since my heart has become such a rebel. Write to your most faithful friend—

Beethoven.

[192]

The cessation in Beethoven’s productiveness in this period is partly explained by the vast amount of labor entailed by the preparation of manuscripts for publication, the correction of proofs, etc. Of this there is evidence in a number of letters to Breitkopf and Härtel. On July 2 he wrote demanding an honorarium of 250 florins for works that he had specified, and sending the first installment, two sonatas for pianoforte, five variations for pianoforte and six ariettas (probably Op. 75). The second installment, he said, should be a Concerto in E-flat, the Choral Fantasia and three Ariettas. The third, the Characteristic Sonata “Farewell, Absence and Return,” five Italian ariettas and the score of “Egmont.” On August 21, 1810, he wrote to the firm at great length. He sends a draft of a plan for a complete edition of his works, in which Breitkopf and Härtel were to figure as the principal publishers. He asks what they are willing to pay for “a concerto, quartet, etc., and then you will be able to see that 250 ducats is a small honorarium.”... “I do not aim at being a musical usurer, as you think, who composes only in order to get rich, by no means, but I love a life of independence and cannot achieve this without a little fortune, and then the honorarium must, like everything else that he undertakes, bring some honor to the artist.” He gives directions as to the dedications. Of the “Egmont” he says: “As soon as you have received the score you will best know what use to make of it and how to direct the attention of the public to it—I wrote it purely out of love for the poet, and to show this I accepted nothing from the theatre directors who accepted it, and as a reward, as ever and always, have treated my work with great indifference. There is nothing smaller than our great folk, but I make an exception in favor of the archdukes—give me your opinion as to a complete edition of my works, one of the chief obstacles seems to be in the case of new works which I shall continue to bring into the world I shall have to suffer in the matter of publication.”...

Without date, but endorsed by the firm as of August 21st, is the following little note containing an important correction in the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony:

... I have found another error in the Symphony in C minor, namely, in the third movement in ¾ time where, after the ♮ ♮ ♮ the minor returns again, it reads (I just take the bass part) thus:

Bass passage with two measures crossed out

The two measures marked by a X are redundant and must be stricken out, of course also in all the parts that are pausing.

[193]

Sorrows Borne in Silence

If the correspondence in this chapter seems in tone and character at variance with the assumption that, for some reason or other, this was a disastrous year to Beethoven, it must not be forgotten that there are troubles and sorrows which must be borne in silence—when to complain and lament is apter to excite ridicule than compassion. Though the burden be almost insupportable, the sufferer must perform his duties and pursue the business of life with a serene countenance, and permit no outward sign to reveal the secret pain. “The setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun,” says Longfellow. “The brightness of our life is gone. Shadows of evening fall around us and the world seems but a dim reflection—itself a broader shadow. We look forward into the coming lonely night. The soul withdraws into itself.” When “surprised” by Bettina, Beethoven’s great hope had set and “ill humor had complete control” of him. His “marriage project had fallen through.” Whoever the lady was, the blow had now fallen and must be borne in silence. Its disastrous effect upon Beethoven’s professional energies is therefore for us the only measure of its severity. True, he writes to Zmeskall and talks of his art as if great things were in prospect; but he had no heart for such labor, and not until October did he take up and finish the Quartetto Serioso for his friend. The long bright summer days, that in other years had awakened his powers to new and joyous activity and added annually one at least to the list of his grandest works, came and departed, leaving no memorial but a few songs and minor instrumental works—the latter apparently composed to order. He took no country lodging this summer—alternating between Baden and Vienna, and indulging in lonely rambles among the hills and forests. We think it must have been in this period of song composition and oriental studies that, on such an excursion, he had with him the undated paper containing a selection from the songs in Herder’s “Morgenländische Blumenlese” and wrote upon it in pencil:

My decree [meaning the annuity contract] says only “to remain in the country”—perhaps this would be complied with by any spot. My unhappy ears do not torment me here. It seems as if in the country every tree said to me “Holy! Holy!” Who can give complete expression to the ecstasy of the woods? If everything else fails the country remains even in winter—such as Gaden, Unterer Brühl, etc.—easy to hire a lodging from a peasant, certainly cheap at this time.

Another half-sheet in the Library of the Musikfreunde in Vienna, mostly covered with rude musical sketches, is a suitable[194] pendant to the above, as it contains these words: “Without the society of some loved person it would not be possible to live even in the country.”

It is well known that Beethoven’s duties to Archduke Rudolph soon became irksome and at last almost insupportable. It was, however, for his good that he was compelled to perform them and be master of himself to that extent; it was also fortunate that Elizabeth Brentano came just at the crisis with beauty, grace and genius to turn his thoughts into other channels. Nor was it without benefit to him that Thomson’s melodies, which required no severe study, gave some desultory but profitable employment to his mind. Just at the close of the year it was rumored that he contemplated a journey into Italy “next spring, in order to seek restoration of his health, which had suffered greatly for several years, under southern skies.” There was some foundation for this, for some years later Beethoven himself states in one of his letters: “I declined a call to Naples.”

Works Published in 1810

The compositions of the year 1810 are:

1. The incidental music to Goethe’s “Egmont.” It was composed between October, 1809 and May, 1810, and the first performance took place on the 24th day of the latter month. There are sketches for the song “Freudvoll und Leidvoll” in a sketchbook used in 1809; but Nottebohm does not recognize them as having been conceived for use in the tragedy, since there are indications that the song was to have pianoforte accompaniment and be sung in part by two voices. In a sketchbook begun early in January, 1810 (Nottebohm, “Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 276), on the first twenty-nine pages there are sketches for seven numbers in the following order, viz: 7, 1, 8, 9, 2, 3, 6. Sketches for the overture are not to be found in the book, but in other places in connection with sketches for the Pianoforte Trio in B-flat, Op. 97, which was also in hand in 1809. Beethoven’s admiration for Goethe (stimulated, it is fair to assume, by his intercourse with Elizabeth Brentano) is shown by the fact that, besides the “Egmont” lyrics, others of Goethe’s poems were sketched or completed in the year which saw the production of the tragedy. “Egmont” was first performed on May 24, 1810. Though Beethoven contemplated dedicating it to Archduke Rudolph, it eventually appeared without a dedication. Beethoven offered the music to Breitkopf and Härtel in a letter dated May 6 (1810) for 1400 florins in silver.

2. Two songs: “Kennst du das Land” and “Herz, mein Herz.”

3. Three songs: “Wonne der Wehmuth,” “Sehnsucht,” and “Mit einem gemalten Bande.” The manuscript bears the following inscription in Beethoven’s hand: “3 Gesänge—1810—Poesie von Goethe in Musik gesetzt von Ludwig van Beethoven.”

4. Forty-three Irish melodies, with ritornellos and accompaniments for pianoforte, violin and violoncello (completed).

5. Écossaise for military band.

6. Polonaise for military band.

[195]

7. March in F major for military band. “Composed in 1810, in Baden, for Archduke Anton—3rd Summer-month.”

8. String Quartet, F minor. Op. 95. The autograph manuscript preserved in the Royal Imperial Court Library at Vienna bears the inscription: “Quartetto serioso—1810—in the month of October. Dedicated to Herr von Zmeskall and written in the month of October by his friend L. v. Beethoven.”

The publications of the year were:

1. “Das Lied aus der Ferne.” Published by Breitkopf and Härtel, in February.

2. “Andenken,” song by Matthison. Breitkopf and Härtel, in March.

3. The opera “Leonore,” in two acts, etc., without overture and finales. Breitkopf and Härtel, in March.

4. Sestetto pour 2 Clarinettes, 2 Cors et 2 Bassons, par L. v. Beethoven. In parts, by Breitkopf and Härtel, in April.

5. Ouverture à grand Orchestre de l’Opéra Leonore, etc. (“Leonore, No. 3”), by Breitkopf and Härtel, in July.

6. Five Songs: Lied aus der Ferne (“Als mir noch die Thräne”—thirteen pages composed stanza by stanza, newly published); Der Liebende (“Welch’ ein wunderbares Leben”); Der Jüngling in der Fremde (“Der Frühling entblühet”); An den fernen Geliebten (“Einst wohnten süsse Ruh”); Der Zufriedene (“Zwar schuf das Glück hienieden”), published in “Achtzehn deutsche Gedichte mit Begleitung des Pianoforte von verschiedenen Meistern ... Erzherzog Rudolph ... gewidmet von C. L. Reissig,” by Artaria and Co., Vienna, in July.

7. “Die Sehnsucht von Goethe, mit vier Melodien nebst Clavierbegleitung....” No. 38, Vienna and Pesth, Kunst-und Industrie-Comptoir, in September. A later edition bears the imprint of S. A. Steiner and Co.

8. Variations pour le Pianoforte composées et dediées à son Ami Oliva par L. v. Beethoven. Œuv. 76. Breitkopf and Härtel, in October.

9. Quatuor pour deux Violons, etc., composé et dedié à son Altesse le Prince régnant de Lobkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, par, etc. Op. 74. Breitkopf and Härtel, in November.

10. Six Songs with accompaniment for the Pianoforte. Op. 75. Dedicated to Princess Kinsky. Breitkopf and Härtel, in November. Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”); Neue Liebe, neues Leben (“Herz, mein Herz”); Aus Goethe’s Faust (“Es war einmal ein König”); Gretel’s Warnung (“Mit Liebesblick und Spiel und Sang”); An den fernen Geliebten (“Einst wohnten süsse Ruh”); Der Zufriedene (“Zwar schuf das Glück hienieden”). The last two had been published in July in Reissig’s Collection (see No. 6).

11. Fantaisie pour le Pianoforte composée et dediée à son Ami Monsieur le Conte François de Brunswick par L. v. Beethoven. Op. 77. Breitkopf and Härtel, in November.

12. Sonate pour le Pianoforte composée et dediée à Madame la Comtesse Thérèse de Brunswick, etc. Op. 78. Breitkopf and Härtel, in November.

13. Sonatine pour le Pianoforte, etc. Op. 79. Breitkopf and Härtel, in November.

14. Sextuor pour 2 Violons, Alto, Violoncello et 2 Cors obligés. Op. 81 (81b), by Simrock, Bonn, in the spring.

[196]

Chapter XI

Bettina Brentano Again—Letters Between Beethoven and Goethe—The B-flat Trio—The Theatre in Pesth—Opera Projects—Therese Malfatti—Sojourn in Teplitz.

Beethoven’s intercourse with the Brentanos kept his interest in Bettina alive and to this we owe a characteristic and welcome letter which, like the first, is here taken from the Nuremberg “Athenæum”:

Vienna, February 10, 1811.

Beloved, dear Bettine!

I have already received two letters from you and observe from your letters to your brother [“to Tonie” in the “Ilius Pamphilius,” Tonie being her sister-in-law], that you still think of me and much too favorably. I carried your first letter around with me all summer and it often made me happy; even if I do not write to you often and you never see me I yet write you a thousand times a thousand letters in my thoughts. I could have imagined how you feel amidst the cosmopolitan rabble in Berlin even if you had not written about it to me; much chatter without deeds about art!!!!! The best description of it is in Schiller’s poem “Die Flüsse,” where the Spree speaks.

You are to be married, dear Bettine, or have already been, and I could not see you once more before then; may all happiness with which marriage blesses the married, flow upon you. What shall I tell you about myself? “Pity my fate,” I cry with Johanna; if I can save a few years for myself for that and all other weal and woe I shall thank Him the all-comprehending and Exalted. If you write to Goethe, hunt out all the words to express my deepest reverence and admiration for him. I am about to write to him myself concerning Egmont for which I have composed music and, indeed, purely out of love for his poems which make me happy, but who can sufficiently thank a great poet, the most precious jewel of a nation? And now no more, dear good Bettine. It was 4 o’clock before I got home this morning from a bacchanalian feast at which I had to laugh so much that I shall have to weep correspondingly to-day; boisterous joy often forces me in upon myself powerfully. As to Clemens,[80] many thanks for his kind offer. As to the cantata, the subject is not sufficiently important for us here, it is a different matter in Berlin,[197] and as concerns affection, the sister has monopolized it so much that little will be left for the brother, does that suffice him?

Now, farewell dear, dear Bettine, I kiss you upon your forehead and thus impress upon you as with a seal all my thoughts of you. Write soon, soon, often to your friend

Beethoven.
Beethoven lives on the Mölker
Bastei in the Pascolati House.

This letter invites attention to several erroneous comments which have been made on the Bettina letters and the history of the “Egmont” music. Czerny’s statement that Beethoven did not compose the music to the tragedy out of love for Goethe’s poems but would have preferred a commission for Schiller’s “Tell” is contradicted by Beethoven himself in a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel which was written six weeks before the letter to Bettina. In his book “Die Briefe Beethovens an Bettina von Arnim” (1882), Dr. Deiters expressed a doubt that Beethoven would have written in February, 1811, that he was “about to write to Goethe” about his work which was finished early in 1810; but this objection to the authenticity of the letter is removed by the fact that it was two months more before the purpose thus expressed was carried out. In the Goethe archives in Weimar there is a letter from Beethoven which was first given to the world in 1890, by Dr. Theodor Frimmel in his “Neue Beethoveniana” (p. 345). It runs as follows:

Beethoven Writes to Goethe

Vienna, April 12, 1811.

Only a moment’s time offers me the urgent opportunity inasmuch as a friend of mine who is a great admirer of yours (like myself) is hastily departing from here, to thank you for the long time that I have known you (for I know you since my childhood)—that is so little for so much—Bettine Brentano has assured me that you will graciously, even kindly receive me, but how can I think of such a reception when I can only approach you with the greatest reverence and with an unutterably deep feeling for your glorious creations—you will soon receive the music to Egmont from Leipsic through Breitkopf and Härtel, this glorious Egmont which I read so ardently, thought over and experienced again and gave out in music—I would greatly like to have your judgment on it and your blame, too ... will be beneficial to me and my art, and be accepted as gladly as the highest praise.

Your Excellency’s
Great admirer
Ludwig van Beethoven.[81]

[198]

The music to “Egmont” was not published till January, 1812, and Goethe had to wait a long time before he was able to form an opinion concerning it. This was not Beethoven’s fault, however; on October 9, 1811, we find him writing to Breitkopf and Härtel:

Do send the whole whole [sic] score copied at my expense for aught I care (the score, that is) to Goethe, how can a German publisher be so discourteous, so rude to the first of German poets? Therefore, quick with the score to Weimar.

This injunction was not obeyed, and on January 28, 1812, Beethoven makes another urgent request:

I therefore again beg of you humbly to take care of these letters—and with the letter to Goethe[82] to send the Egmont (score), but not in the customary way with here and there a piece wanting, etc., but properly, this cannot be postponed longer, I have pledged my word and am the more particular to have the pledge redeemed when I can compel somebody else, like you, to do it—ha, ha, ha! You deserve that I employ such language towards you, towards such a sinner who if I had my way would walk in a hairy shirt of penance for all the flagitiousness practised on my works.

Beethoven had had the intention of sending the score of the “Egmont” music to Goethe from the moment he began on it, as appears from a memorandum on the autograph manuscript of the Quartet in E-flat, Op. 74, written in 1809: “Score of Egmont to Goethe at once.”

On the 28th of February, Beethoven sent his friend Mähler an invitation to a concert. Mähler accepted the invitation and received a ticket “extra-ordinaire,” signed “Br. de Neuwirth,” admitting him free to three midday concerts on Thursdays, February 28, March 14 and 28. Beethoven’s elasticity of tem[199]perament therefore was doing him good service in enabling him to recover from the crushing blow of the preceding year; he was now able not only to find diversion and amusement in society, the theatre and the concertroom, but the spirit of composition was again awakened. In three weeks—March 3rd to the 26th—he produced the glorious B-flat Trio, Op. 97, which had been sketched in 1810.

There were now, or soon to be, in the hands of Breitkopf and Härtel’s engravers the Pianoforte Concerto, Op. 73, the Fantasia, Op. 80, the Sonate “Les Adieux,” Op. 81a, the Ariettes and Songs, Op. 82 and 83, and the “Christus am Ölberg.” The revision of these works for the press, with the correction of the proofs and his duties to the Archduke, are all the professional labors of Beethoven in these months of which we find any trace. Hence, that high appreciation of his greatness, which induced his admirers and friends even then to attach such value to the most trivial written communications from him as to secure their preservation, now does us excellent service; for—the dates of the Trio excepted—his correspondence furnishes the only materials for the history of the first half of this year. To this we turn.

The Pianoforte Trio in B-flat

There is a note, which may be dated about the end of March, apologizing to the Archduke for his absence, on the ground of having been for two weeks again with his “tormenting headache.” “During the festivities for the Princess of Baden (March 5-12), and because of the sore finger of Your Imp. Highness,” he adds, “I began to work somewhat industriously, of which, among other things, a new Trio for the piano is a fruit.” Soon after he sends the new Trio to the Archduke to have it copied, “but only in your palace, as otherwise one is never safe from theft.” He proceeds thus:

I am improving and in a few days I shall again have the honor to wait upon you for the purpose of making up for lost time. I am always anxiously concerned when I cannot be as zealously and as often as I should wish with Your Imperial Highness. It is surely true when I say that it causes me much suffering, but I am not likely to have so bad an attack again soon. Keep me graciously in your memory. Times will come when I shall show you two and threefold that I am worthy of it.

These professions may well excite a smile; for “it is surely true” when we say, that his duties to the Archduke had already become extremely irksome; and that the necessity of sacrificing in some small degree to them his previous independence grew daily more annoying and vexatious; so much so that, in fact, he[200] availed himself of any and every excuse to avoid them. The Archduke made a point of adding a complete collection of Beethoven’s music to his library; and the master lent his aid in this both by presenting all his new productions in manuscript and in giving titles of older printed works—gaining thereby a secure depository for his compositions, where they were ever at his service. Thus (May 18) he sends for the Sonata “Das Lebewohl, etc.,” “as I haven’t it myself and must send the corrections”; some time after for the Scottish songs, “as two numbers, one in my handwriting, have been lost and they must be copied again so that they may be sent away.”[83]

Here is the place for a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel:

Vienna, May 6th.

Errors—errors—you yourselves are one large error—here I must send my copyist, there I must go myself if I wish that my works shall not appear—as a mere error—it appears as if the musical tribunal at L. was unable to produce a single decent proof-reader, besides which you send out the works before you receive the corrections—at least in the case of larger works with various parts you might count the measures—but the Fantasia shows how this is done—look in the overture to Egmont, where a whole measure is missing.

[201]

—Here the list of errors ( ).... Make as many errors as you please, permit as many errors as you please—you are still highly esteemed by me, it is the custom of men that we esteem them because they have not made still greater errors.

About this time Gottfried Chr. Härtel’s wife died, and on May 20th Beethoven wrote to him a letter of condolence in which he said: “It appears to me that in view of such a separation which confronts nearly every husband one ought to be dissuaded from entering this state.” To a suggestion made by his publishers he replies: “What you say about an opera would surely be desirable, the directors, too, would pay well for one, the conditions are just now unfavorable, it is true, but if you will write me what the poet demands I will make inquiry concerning the matter; I have written to Paris for books, successful melodramas, comedies, etc. (for I do not dare to write an original opera with any of our local poets), which I shall then have adapted—O, poverty of intellect—and pocket!”

Music for “The Ruins of Athens”

The new theatre at Pesth was so far advanced in 1810, that the authorities began their preliminary arrangements for its formal opening on the Emperor’s name-day, October 4th, 1811, by applying to Heinrich von Collin to write an appropriate drama, on some subject drawn from Hungarian history, for the occasion. “The piece was to be associated with a lyrical prologue and a musical epilogue.” “The fear that he could not complete the work within the prescribed time and that his labors would be disturbed, compelled Collin to decline the commission with thanks.” The order was then given to Kotzebue, who accepted it and, with characteristic rapidity, responded with the prologue “Ungarn’s erster Wohltäter” (Hungary’s first Benefactor), the drama “Bela’s Flucht” (Bela’s Flight), and the epilogue “Die Ruinen von Athen” (The Ruins of Athens). As Emperor Franz had twice fled from his capital within five years, it is not surprising that “‘Bela’s Flight’ for various reasons cannot be given” and gave place to a local piece (“The Elevation of Pesth into a Royal Free City”). Kotzebue’s other two pieces were accepted and sent to Beethoven in May of this year. The composition of the music to them was the engagement above mentioned, and, of course, formed his principal employment during the summer.

Hartl had now retired from the direction of the Court Theatres, and Lobkowitz and Palffy were again at the helms respectively of the theatre next to the Kärnthnerthor and that An-der-Wien. Beethoven was busy with dramatic compositions and so, very naturally, the project of another operatic work was revived. He had also obtained a subject that pleased him—a French melodrama.[202]Les Ruines de Babylon”—probably from the Prussian Baron Friedr. Joh. Drieberg. This composer, much more favorably known for his researches into ancient Greek music than for his operas, had been five years in Paris, “where he studied composition under Spontini and probably for a short time also under Cherubini,” and now for two years in Vienna.

A series of notes from Beethoven to Drieberg, Treitschke and Count Palffy, written in June and July, 1811, show how the operatic project was shaping itself in his mind. On June 6, he is anxious to know if Treitschke has read the book, and wishes to re-read it himself before beginning work on it; to the same on July 13, he writes that he has now received the translation of the melodrama with directions from Palffy to discuss it with him. He expresses dismay to Palffy on July 11, because he has heard that a benefit performance of the melodrama “Les ruines de Babilone” is projected, sets forth how hard he had worked to find a suitable libretto, as he had in this, and how much more desirable it would be to have it given as an opera; and finally hopes that Palffy will forbid the intended performance.

“It is said,” writes the correspondent of the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” under date January 8, “that Beethoven may next Spring undertake a journey to Italy for the purpose of restoring his health, which has suffered severely during the last few years.” One effect of his maladies was to produce long-continued pains in the head, and it was finally thought best by his physician, Malfatti, to abandon the journey and try the waters of Teplitz. This Beethoven decided to do and to take with him as friend and companion young Oliva. In a letter to Count Brunswick he thanks him for agreeing to make the journey with him, and tells him that on the advice of his physician he must spend two whole months at Teplitz until the middle of August, wherefore he could not accompany the Count. He adds: “I pray you so to arrange your affairs as to be here [i. e., Vienna] at the latest by July 2 or 3, as otherwise it will be too late for me, and the doctor is already grumbling that I am waiting so long, although he himself says that the companionship of such a dear good friend would benefit me.” In another letter he says: “I cannot accept your refusal; I have permitted Oliva to go away alone, and on your account; I must have some trusted one at my side if everyday life is not to become burdensome.... As I do not know how you came to have the portrait[84] it would be best if you were to bring it with you, no[203] doubt a sympathetic artist will be found who will copy it for friendship’s sake.”

Work on Thomson’s Commission

Brunswick did not come to Vienna, where Beethoven remained till the end of July, as we see from a note to Zmeskall after the return from Teplitz and a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel after he had been at the watering-place three weeks. Meanwhile Beethoven worked on the Scottish Songs for Thomson and announced their completion on July 20, in a letter in which he complains that, because the three copies of the 53 songs which he had previously sent to Thomson had not been received, he had been obliged practically to rewrite them from his sketches—which may have been a somewhat exaggerated statement of the facts. In it, furthermore, he says: “Your offer of 100 ducats in gold for the three sonatas is accepted for your sake and I am also willing to compose three quintets for 100 gold ducats; but for the dozen English songs my price is 60 ducats in gold (for four songs the price is 25 ducats). For the cantata on the naval battle in the Baltic sea, I ask 50 ducats; but on condition that the text contains no invectives against the Danes, otherwise I cannot undertake it....[204][85] I will not fail to send you the arrangements of my symphonies in a very short time, and will gladly undertake the composition of an oratorio if the words be noble and distinguished and the honorarium of 600 ducats in gold be agreeable to you.”

Beethoven arrived in Teplitz about August 1, possibly a day or two earlier, and for three weeks was chiefly concerned with his cure and the correction of proofs, as appears from a letter, dated on August 23, to Breitkopf and Härtel. In this, speaking about the “Christus am Ölberg,” he says:

Here and there the text must remain as in the original. I know that the text is extremely bad, but after one has conceived a unit out of even a bad text, it is difficult to avoid spoiling it by individual changes, and if great stress be laid upon a single word it must be left, and he is a bad composer who does not know how or try to make the best possible thing out of a bad text, and if this is the case a few changes will certainly not improve the whole.

He has words of approval for Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and of dispraise for Italian musicians in general, as see:

The favorable reception of Mozart’s “Don Juan” rejoices me as much as if it were my own work. Although I know plenty of unprejudiced Italians who render justice to the German, the backwardness and easy-going disposition of the Italian musicians are no doubt responsible for the same deficiencies in the nation; but I have become acquainted with many Italian amateurs who prefer our music to their Paisiello, etc. (I have been more just to him than his own countrymen.)

Varnhagen von Ense, then a young man of 25 years and lieutenant in the Austrian service, came from Prague to Teplitz this summer to pass a few weeks with “The goddess of his heart’s most dear delight,” Rahel Levin. In his “Denkwürdigkeiten” we first meet Beethoven since his letter to Thomson—a solitary rambler in the Schlossgarten at Teplitz, whither, as Brunswick could not or would not accompany him, he had journeyed alone. Varnhagen was with Beethoven every day and came into more intimate relations with him through his eager desire to write texts for him for dramatic compositions or to revise such texts. With Tiedge and the Countess von der Recke, Beethoven formed a warm friendship. Varnhagen wrote to Rahel: “Only Oliva could I endure about me for any length of time; he was sympathetic, but deeply depressed because of violent altercations which he had with Beethoven.” From the source of these communications we also learn that Varnhagen was expected to adapt an opera text for Beethoven and to revise and improve another. In a letter of September 18, Varnhagen himself wrote to Rahel as follows on the[205] subject: “I may translate a French piece as an opera for Beethoven; the other text might be written later, but this contains the entire scenic arrangement. It is entitled ‘Giafar’ and might bring me from 8 to 10 ducats.” But later, “Of Beethoven and Oliva I hear and see nothing; the latter must have been unable to make anything out of the opera which I was to make from a French melodrama and which, unfortunately, another had begun.”

Beethoven as Cupid’s Messenger

Soon after Beethoven’s arrival in Teplitz there must have occurred the incident of Beethoven’s visit to the grave of Seume, which was referred to in a previous chapter in connection with the C-sharp minor Sonata. Seume had died on June 13, 1810, at Teplitz. There were other visitors, not mentioned by Varnhagen, with whom Beethoven formed relations more or less cordial and intimate. One was the Royal Imperial Gubernialrath and Steyermärkischer Kammerprokurator Ritter von Varena of Gratz; another was Ludwig Loewe, the actor, just then engaged for the theatre at Prague. “Thereby hangs a tale.”

Loewe had an honorable love-affair with Therese, the daughter of the landlord of the inn “Zum Stern” in Teplitz. For “this reason,” as Loewe told this author’s informant, “he always came to the inn after the guests had departed; Beethoven, being hard of hearing and melancholy, for this reason always came later, so that he would meet nobody. The landlord, father of the girl, discovered their relations, took Loewe to task, and the latter voluntarily agreed to remain away in order to spare the girl, whom he dearly loved. After a time he met Beethoven in the Augarten, and the latter, who was warmly attached to him, asked him why he no longer came to the Stern. Loewe told him of his misfortune and asked the composer if he would carry a letter to Therese. Beethoven not only agreed in the friendliest manner to do so, but also offered to see that he got an answer, and thereafter cared for the correspondence.” Loewe did not know when Beethoven departed from Teplitz; he himself went to fill his engagement at Prague. “The lovers pledged each other to fidelity, but a few weeks later Loewe received intelligence of the death of his Therese.”

Another visitor at Teplitz was Prince Kinsky; and this gave the composer an opportunity to obtain the arrears of his annuity. On the still existing envelope of the contract of 1809 is written: “Kinsky am letzten August behoben.” Another was Amalie Sebald, who had come with Countess von der Recke from Berlin, a member of a family who for years had furnished members to Fasch’s Singakademie, where she had appeared as a solo singer. She was said to have “a fascinatingly lovely singing voice.” Among the friends of Carl Maria von Weber when he was in Berlin in 1812, were Amalie Sebald and her sister Auguste, also “highly musical” and a singer. For Amalie, Weber conceived a[206] warm and deep affection; and now Beethoven was taken an unresisting captive by her charms. She is mentioned—the reader will note how familiarly—in this letter to Tiedge, dated Teplitz, September 6, 1811:

Every day the following letter to you, you, you, has floated in my mind; I wanted only two words at parting, but not a single word did I receive; the Countess sends (through another) a feminine handgrasp; that at least is something to talk about and for it I kiss her hands in my thoughts, but the poet is dumb. Concerning Amalie, I know at least that she is alive. Every day I give myself a drubbing for not having made your acquaintance earlier in Teplitz. It is abominable to know the good for a short time and at once to lose it again. Nothing is more insufferable than to be obliged to reproach one’s self with one’s own mistakes. I tell you that I shall probably be obliged to stay here till the end of this month; write me only how long you will still stay in Dresden; I may feel disposed to take a jump to the Saxon capital; on the day that you went away from here I received a letter from my gracious Wiesbadenian Archduke, that he will not remain long in Moravia and has left it for me to say whether or not I will come; this I interpreted to the best of my wishes and desires and so you see me still within these walls where I sinned so deeply against you and myself; but I comfort myself with the thought that if you call it a sin I am at least a downright sinner and not a poor one.... Now fare as well as poor humanity may; to the Countess a right tender yet reverential handgrasp, to Amalie an ardent kiss when no one sees us, and we two embrace each other like men who are permitted to love and honor each other; I expect at least a word without reserve, and for this I am a man.

Breitkopf and Härtel Arraigned

The desire here expressed to visit his new friends in Dresden, could not be gratified, owing to the necessity of completing and forwarding the music composed for the opening of the Pesth theatre. How long Beethoven remained in Teplitz cannot be said with exactness, though there is evidence in a couple of letters to Breitkopf and Härtel and Countess von der Recke which, taken in connection with an established incident of his journey, fixes the date approximately. The letter to Breitkopf and Härtel of October 9, 1811, has so large an interest on other accounts as to merit translation and publication:

From here a thousand excuses and a thousand thanks for your pleasant invitation to Leipsic; it pained me greatly not to be able to follow my inclination to go there and to surrounding places, but this time there was work in every direction, the Hungarian Diet is (in session), there is already talk that the Archduke is to become primas of Hungary and abandon the Bishopric of Olmütz; I have offered to the Archduke, who as primas of Hungary will have an income of not less than 3 millions, to go through a clean million on my own account (it is understood that I would therewith set all the good musical spirits into action in my behalf); in Teplitz I received no further news, as nothing was known of my purpose[207] to leave the place, I think concerning the journey which I am contemplating that in view of my attachment for him I must yield (though not without some unwillingness), the more since I may be needed at festivities; therefore, having chosen the pro, quick to Vienna, where the first thunderous proclamation that I heard was that my gracious lord had given up all thoughts of priesthood and priestly activities and nothing is to come of the whole business.

It is said that he is to become a general (an easy thing to understand, you know) and I am to be Quartermaster-General in the Battle which I do not intend to lose—what do you say to that? The Hungarians provided me with another incident; in stepping into my carriage to go to Teplitz, I received a parcel from Ofen (Buda) with the request to compose something for the opening of the new theatre at Pesth; after spending three weeks in Teplitz, feeling fairly well I sat down, in defiance of my doctor’s orders, to help the Mustachios, who are heartily well disposed towards me, sent my packet thither on September 13, under the impression that the performance was to come off on the 1st of 8ber, whereas the matter is put off for a whole month.[86] I received the letter in which this was intimated, through a misunderstanding, only after my arrival here, and yet this theatrical incident determined me to go to Vienna. Meanwhile, postponed is not abandoned, I have tasted of travel, it has done me great good, now I should like at once to go away again—I have just received the Lebewohl, etc., I see after all you have given French titles to other copies, why, lebe wohl[87] is surely something very different from les adieux, the former we say heartily to a single person, the latter to whole congregations, whole cities—since you permit me to be criticized so shamefully you must submit to the same treatment, you would also have needed fewer plates and the turning of the pages which has now been made very difficult would have been easier, and with this Basta—But how in the name of heaven did you come to dedicate my Fantasia with Orchestra to the King of Bavaria? Do answer me that at once; if you are thereby going to procure me an honorable gift, I will thank you, such a thing is hardly agreeable to me, did you, possibly, dedicate it yourself? what is the connection, one is not permitted to dedicate things to kings without being requested—and then there was no dedication of the Lebewohl to the Archduke, why were not the year, day and date printed as I wrote them, in the future you will agree in writing to retain all superscriptions unchanged as I write them. Let whomsoever you please review the oratorio and everything else, I am sorry that I ever said a word about the miserable business, who can mind what such a reviewer says when he sees how the most wretched scribblers are elevated by them and how they treat most insultingly art works to which they cannot at once apply their standard as the shoemaker does his last, as indeed they must do because of their unfitness—if there is anything to be considered in connection with the oratorio it is that it is my first and early work in this form, was composed in 14 days amidst all possible tumult and other unpleasant alarming circumstances (my brother was mortally ill).

Rochlitz, if I am not mistaken, spoke unfavorably concerning the chorus of disciples “Wir haben ihn gesehen” in C major even before it had[208] been given to you for publication; he called it comic, an impression which here at least was not shown by the local public and amongst my friends there are also critics; that I should write a very different oratorio now, than then, is certain—and now criticize as long as you please, I wish you much pleasure, and if it should hurt a little like the sting of a gnat it will soon be over, and then the whole thing is a little joke cri- cri- cri- cri- cri- crit- i- i- i- i- size- size. Not in all eternity, that you cannot do, herewith God be with you....

Two days later he wrote letters of apology for his sudden departure to Elise von der Recke and Tiedge, promising the former a setting of one of her poems. From the letters to Breitkopf and Härtel and Tiedge, it would appear that Beethoven composed the music to “The Ruins of Athens” and “King Stephen” within a month and sent it to its destination on Monday, September 16, and then departed from Teplitz without saying farewell to his friends. From Varnhagen’s “Denkwürdigkeiten” we learn that “Beethoven, who returned to Vienna from Teplitz with his friend and mine, Oliva, did not remain long in Prague”; and from the correspondence with Rahel (II, p. 154), that Oliva went on to Vienna on September 23, without Beethoven, who made a rather wide detour to visit Lichnowsky. Of this visit we learn in one of Jahn’s notices, namely: “In the year 1811, B. was at Prince Lichnowsky’s on his estate Grätz near Troppau. The Mass in C was performed at Troppau, for which everything possible was drummed up; the master of athletics was put at the tympani; in the Sanctus, Beethoven himself had to show him how to play the solo. The rehearsals lasted three days. After the performance Beethoven improvised on the organ for half an hour to the astonishment of every one; Fuchs was the soprano soloist.” Beethoven returned to Vienna refreshed and invigorated both in body and mind; and something of his old frolicsome humor again enlivens his notes to Zmeskall: He expects him to dine with him at the Swan (which was at that time exceptional, as Beethoven had his own cook); he begs for more quills, and promises shortly a whole parcel of them, so that Zmeskall “will not have to pull out his own”; he may receive “the great decoration of the Order of the ’Cello”; and so on.

Beethoven’s notes to Zmeskall are a barometer that indicates very correctly the rising and sinking of his spirits; they were now high—at composition point—and, as the Archduke did not return from Pressburg until the 7th November, he had at least one month for continuing without hindrance the studies, whatever they were, that followed the completion of the music for Pesth. In our[209] judgment they are those, which occupy the last leaves of the sketchbook (Petter’s) partly filled in the Spring of 1809.[88]

A Season in Financial Doldrums

There was no call nor special inducement for the immediate completion of any orchestral work. Since the “Egmont” Overture and the “Pastoral” Symphony, produced by Schuppanzigh in May, and the “Coriolan” Overture at a charity concert on July 14, there is but one notice of the performance of any one of Beethoven’s greater compositions, and even this (November 15) is very doubtful. In truth, this was no season for grand musical entertainments with a view to private emolument. The Finance Patent of February shed its baleful influence on the just and the unjust and compelled all classes alike to study and practise economy. Even the old favorite of the Vienna public, Franz Clement, returning from a musical tour in Russia, and Sebastian Meier, “although Handel’s ‘Acis and Galatea’ was performed” in their annual Akademies, “had few hearers.” Two or three virtuosos were able to fill small halls; but no performances on a grand scale were ventured, except for charities; at these the wealthy appeared in force, it being a pleasant and fashionable method of doing something to alleviate the general distress. Beethoven was not the man to hasten his works to completion when there was no prospect of making either in public or in private any present use of them.

The ascertained compositions of this year were:

I. Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97.

II. Music to “Die Ruinen von Athen,” Epilogue by A. von Kotzebue.

III. Music to “König Stephan, Ungarn’s erster Wohlthäter,” a Prologue by A. von Kotzebue.

IV. Song by Stoll, “An die Geliebte.”

The publications:

I. Grand Concerto pour le Pianoforte avec accompagnement de l’Orchestre composé et dédié à son Altesse Impériale Rodolphe Archiduc, etc. Op. 73. E-flat. Breitkopf and Härtel, in February.

II. Four Ariettas and a Duet. Op. 82. (With Italian and German words: “Dimmi ben mio,” “T’intendo,” “Che fa, che fa il mio bene,” “Che fa il mio bene” and “Odi l’aura.”) Breitkopf and Härtel, March.

III. Overture to Goethe’s “Egmont.” Op. 84. Orchestral parts. Breitkopf and Härtel, March.

IV. Fantasia for Pianoforte, Orchestra and Chorus; dedicated to Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria. Op. 80. Breitkopf and Härtel, July.

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V. Les Adieux, l’Absence et le Retour. Sonate pour le Pianoforte composée et dédiée à son Altesse Impériale l’Archiduc Rodolphe, etc. Op. 81. E-flat. Breitkopf and Härtel, July.

VI. Three Songs by Goethe with Pianoforte accompaniment. Dedicated to Princess Kinsky. (“Trocknet nicht,” “Was zieht mir das Herz,” “Kleine Blumen, kleine Blätter.”) Op. 83. Breitkopf and Härtel, October.

VII. “Christus am Ölberg.” Oratorio. Op. 85. Score. Breitkopf and Härtel, October.

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Chapter XII

The Year 1812—Beethoven’s Finances—The Austrian “Finanzpatent”—Beethoven and Graz—Second Sojourn in Teplitz—Beethoven and Goethe—Amalie Sebald—Beethoven in Linz—Meddles with his Brother’s Domestic Affairs—Rode and the Sonata, Op. 96—Spohr—Mälzel and his Metronome—The Canon to Mälzel.

Beethoven must again, for the present, be made his own biographer. The selections from his correspondence taken for this purpose will all gain in interest and perspicuity by first giving the notes to Zmeskall and the Archduke so as to afford a sort of background for the more important ones, and by introducing here the explanations which numerous allusions demand in a short series of observations. Schindler writes in 1840:

In 1811, the Austrian Finanzpatent reduced these 4000 florins to one-fifth [the reference being to Beethoven’s annuity]; [and in 1860]: How severely our composer was hit by it is seen in the circumstance that also all contracts which had to do with paper money were reduced to one-fifth of the specified sum. In accordance with this Beethoven’s annuity of 4000 florins in bank-notes became subject to reduction. It was reduced to 800 florins in paper money.

An error of some kind must be here involved. This seems so obvious and palpable, as to render it hardly credible that, in all the long years since 1840, it has not caught the attention of some one writer on Beethoven and induced him to cast his eye for a moment upon the Patent itself. The depreciation of a national paper currency to null and its subsequent repudiation by the Government that emitted it is, in effect, a domestic forced loan equal in amount to the sum issued; and the more gradual its depreciation, so much the more likely is the public burden to be general and in some degree equalized. Such a forced loan was the “Continental Currency” issued by the American Congress to sustain the war against England in 1775-83; and such were the French “Assignats” a few years later; and such, to the amount of 80 per centum of all the paper in circulation, was the substitution[212] of notes of redemption for the bank-notes at the rate of one for five, by the Austrian Finanz-Patent, promulgated February 20th, and put in force March 15th, 1811. But if Schindler be correct, the Imperial Royal Government went farther and committed the folly and injustice—with little or no advantage to itself—of issuing and enforcing a decree which, in its effect, simply confiscated 80 per centum of all domestic indebtedness—where the payment in specie or its equivalent was not stipulated—to the gain of the debtor and the loss of the creditor! According to more modern ideas of national economy, those ordinances of the Finanz-Patent of February 20, which relate to “continuing, periodically recurring payments of interest, incomes, farm-rents, pensions, maintenance moneys, annuities, etc.,” were certainly unwise and uncalled-for; but they involved no such blunder as that. The Government assumed that every contract of pecuniary obligation between Austrian subjects, wherein special payment or its equivalent was not stipulated, was payable in bank-notes; and that the real indebtedness under any such contract was in justice and equity to be determined and measured by the value in silver of the bank-notes at the date of the instrument. This second proposition is fallacious and deceptive, because such contracts rested upon the necessary presumptions that the faith and honor of the supreme authority were pledged to the future redemption of its paper at par and that the pledge would be redeemed. But this was not seen or was not regarded. Consequently, there was annexed to the Finanz-Patent a table showing decimally the average equivalent of the silver florin in the bank-notes, month by month, from January, 1799 to March, 1811. This table was made a “Scala über den Cours der Bancozettel nach welchem die Zahlungen zufolge des Paragraphs 13 und 14 des Patents vom 20 Hornung, 1811, zu leisten sind.” (“Scale of the rate of exchange according to which payments are to be made in accordance with paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Patent of February 20, 1811.”) We copy two of the months as examples:

 1799180018011802180318041805180618071808180918101811
Jan.1.031.131.161.191.301.341.331.471.902.042.214.695.00
Mar.1.051.141.141.181.271.341.291.492.062.102.483.315.00
Legal Aspect of the Annuity Contract

Beethoven’s annuity contract bore date March 1, 1809, when one florin in silver was equal to two and forty-eight hundredths in bank-notes. Hence his 4000 did not shrink to 800 but to 1612-9/10[213][89] in paper money; but this paper money then was intended to be, and for some time was, equal to silver. More than this he could not legally demand; but the original reasons for the contract, the intentions of the donors and the mutual understanding of the parties gave him a perfect claim in equity for the full amount of 4000 florins in notes of redemption. Nor did the princes hesitate to admit its justice. They were men of honor and this was a debt of honor. Archduke Rudolph immediately gave the necessary order and instructions in writing; and Beethoven’s anxiety because the others had not yet given him the same security was justified by the event, although he might have expressed it rather more delicately.[90]

The opening of the new theatre in Pesth not having taken place in October as proposed, was deferred to Sunday, February 9th, that it might bear the character of a festivity in honor of the Emperor’s birthday (October 12th). The performances were repeated on the 10th and 11th to crowded audiences which received Beethoven’s music to “King Stephen” and “The Ruins of Athens” (reported to be “very original, excellent and worthy of its master”) with clamorous applause. Beethoven had been so favorably impressed with Kotzebue’s texts that in January, 1812, he applied to him for an opera text:

Highly respected, highly honored Sir:

While writing music for the Hungarians to your prologue and epilogue, I could not refrain from the lively wish to possess an opera from your unique talent, romantic, serious, heroico-comic or sentimental, as you please; in short, anything to your liking I would accept with pleasure. True, I should prefer a big subject from history and particularly one from the darker periods, Attila, etc., for instance; but I should accept with thanks anything and any subject coming from you, from your poetical spirit, which I could translate into my musical.

Prince Lobkowitz, who sends his greetings, and who now has the sole direction of the opera, will certainly grant you an honorarium commensurate with your deserts. Do not refuse my request, you will find[214] that I shall always be deeply grateful for your compliance. Awaiting your favorable and speedy answer, I subscribe myself

Your admirer
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna, January 28, 1812.

As the date of this letter plainly shows, it was sent to Breitkopf and Härtel together with one to Goethe, with the request that the two be forwarded to their destinations.

Vienna, January 28, 1812.

As a punishment for your absolute silence I charge you with the immediate delivery of these two letters; a windbag of a Livonian promised to look after a letter to K. for me, but probably, the Livonians like the Russians being windbags and braggarts, he did nothing of the sort, although he gave himself out to be a great friend of his.... If the 3 songs by Goethe are not yet printed hurry with them; I should like soon to present them to Princess Kynsky, one of the handsomest, stoutest women in Vienna—and the songs from Egmont, why are they not yet out, in fact why not out, out, out with the whole of E?—do you perhaps want a close tacked on to an entreacte here and there, that might be, but have it done by a Leipsic Corrector of the Music. Zeitung, that kind of thing they understand like a slap in the face. Please charge the postage to me—it seems to me, I hear a whisper, that you are looking out for a new wife, to this I ascribe all the confusion mentioned above. I wish you a Xantippe like the wife of the holy Greek Socrates, so that I might see a German Verleger, which is saying a great deal, verlegen, ja recht in Verlegenheit.[91]

Among the sufferers by the Finanz-Patent were the Ursuline nuns at Graz, whose institution, since 1802, had at no time less than 50 wards and always more than 350 pupils. At this juncture they were excessively poor and in debt. In the hope of gaining them some substantial aid Beethoven’s new friend, Varena, now wrote to him offering to pay him properly for the use of some of his compositions in a concert for their benefit to be given on Easter Sunday, March 29. Beethoven at once presented two of his new compositions to the Art Society of Graz for gratuitous use at charity concerts. At the concert on Easter Sunday there were eight numbers, Beethoven being represented by the overture to “King Stephen,” the march with chorus from “The Ruins of Athens,” the overture to “Egmont,” and the Septet. The nuns gained on the occasion the handsome sum of 1836 fl. 24k. Vienna Standard.

Passing of Old Friends, Coming of New

Walter Scott somewhere remarks: “It is seldom that the same circle of personages, who have surrounded an individual at his first outset in life, continue to have an interest in his career till his[215] fate comes to a crisis. On the contrary, and more especially if the events of his life be of a varied character and worth communicating to others, or to the world, the hero’s later connections are usually totally separated from those with whom he began the voyage, but whom the individual has outsailed, or who have drifted astray, or foundered on the passage.”

A few years more and this will begin to be very true of Beethoven. The old familiar names will rapidly disappear and new ones take their places; some half a dozen perhaps will remain to the end. But this is not yet. The old friends, Lichnowsky, Rasoumowsky, Erdödy and that class, Streicher, Zizius, Breuning and their class, are his friends still. We see less of them, because Beethoven is no longer the great pianist performing in the saloons of the nobles, or playing his new compositions in the lodgings of his untitled admirers. His astonishing playing in the concert of December, 1808—which completed full thirty years since his appearance in Cologne as a prodigy—proved to be, as it happened, the splendid close of his career as a virtuoso. He had surely earned the right to retire and leave that field to his pupils, of whom Baroness Ertmann and Carl Czerny were preëminent as performers of his music. In the more private concerts he had already long given place to the Baroness; and now Czerny began to take it before the public, even to the extent of introducing his last new composition for pianoforte and orchestra. Theodor Körner, lately arrived in Vienna, writes home under date February 15:

On Wednesday, for the benefit of the Society of Noble Ladies for Charity, a concert and tableaux, representing three pictures by Raphael, Poussin and Troyes as described by Goethe in his “Elective Affinities,” were given. The pictures offered a glorious treat, a new pianoforte concerto by Beethoven failed.

Castelli’s “Thalia” gives the reason, why this noble work on this, its first public performance in Vienna, was so coldly received:

If this composition, which formed the concert which had been announced, failed to receive the applause which it deserved, the reason is to be sought partly in the subjective character of the work, partly in the objective nature of the listeners. Beethoven, full of proud confidence in himself, never writes for the multitude; he demands understanding and feeling, and because of the intentional difficulties, he can receive these only at the hands of the knowing, a majority of whom is not to be found on such occasions, etc.

That was precisely the truth. The work was out of place. The warblings of Fräulein Sessi and Herr Siboni, and Mayseder’s[216] variations on the march in “Aline,” were suited to the occasion and the audience. Instead of Beethoven’s majestic work, Chapelmaster Himmel, who had recently been in Vienna, should have been engaged to remain and exhibit his brilliant finger gymnastics.

The new symphony, to which there are allusions in this correspondence, was the Seventh, which he took up and completed this spring (May 13), with the hope of producing it in a concert about the time of Pentecost—but the project fell through.[92]

Explanatory of the Zmeskall correspondence, it is to be noted, that with the approach of the inclement season, Beethoven ceased to cross the wind-swept Glacis to dine with Breuning; that the “greatest thanks” of one of the notes is merely for keeping his pens in order; and that Zmeskall had been making experiments to determine whether the oscillations of a simple weight and string (without lever) might not answer as a practicable and convenient metrometer.

The works of Beethoven publicly performed in Vienna during this half year, so far as has been learned, were the Pianoforte Concerto as above stated; on March 22nd, march with chorus from “The Ruins of Athens,” in Clement’s concert; on April 16th, the “Coriolan” Overture in Streicher’s Pianoforte Warerooms, conducted by Schuppanzigh—the first piece in the concert, which opened the way for the great performance of Handel’s “Timotheus” in November, which in turn led to the foundation of the Society of the Friends of Music; on April 24th, the “Egmont” Overture in the Concert for the Theatrical Poor Fund; and on May 5th, the overture to “Prometheus,” and the C minor Symphony in Schuppanzigh’s first Augarten Morning Concert of the season. His (Schuppanzigh’s) quartet productions were on Thursdays, at noon; “As it is nearly 12 o’clock and I am going to Schuppanzigh’s,” says Beethoven in a note to Zmeskall, on Thursday, February 20—unfortunately only as an auditor. No record of the programmes during the season has been discovered.

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Rejects Imputations on his Conduct

And now turn we to the selection from the Zmeskall correspondence:

(To Zmeskall)

January 19 (extract): Unfortunately I am always too much at liberty and you never.

February 2: The enclosed billet is at least 8 days old.

Not extra-ordinary but very ordinary quill-cutter, whose virtuosity assuredly shows a falling off in this specimen, these need a few new quill-repairs.

When will you throw off your chains, when?

You are thinking again of me—accursed be for me the life in this Austrian Barbary—I shall now go mostly to the Swan, as I cannot escape too much attention in the other inns.

Farewell, as well as I wish that you may without me.

Most Extraordinary one we beg that your servant find some one to clean out the rooms, as he knows the quarters he can at once fix the price—but soon.

Carnival Ragamuffin!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 8: Most Extraordinary, foremost Oscillator of the world and that without lever!!!!

We are indebted to you for the greatest thanks for having endowed us with a portion of your oscillatory power, we wish to thank you for the same in person, and therefore invite you to come to the Swan to-morrow, an inn whose name bears evidence that it was made for the occasion when the talk is about such things.

(February 19.) Dear Z: Only yesterday did I receive written notice that the Archduke will pay his share in notes of redemption—I beg you now to note down for me approximately what you said on Saturday so that I may send it to the other 2. They want to give me a certificate that the Archduke pays in N. R., but I think this is unnecessary, the more since these courtiers in spite of their apparent friendship for me say that my demands are not just!!!!! O heaven help me to bear this; I am no Hercules who can help Atlas bear up the world or do it in his stead. It was only yesterday that I heard in detail how beautifully Herr Baron Kraft had spoken about me at Zizius’s, had judged me—never mind dear Z. it will not be for much longer that I shall continue the shameful manner in which I am living here. Art, the persecuted one, finds everywhere an asylum, did not Dædalus, shut up in the labyrinth invent the wings which carried him upwards into the air, and I, too, will find them, these wings.

The correspondence with the Archduke, of course including the notes to his “spiritual adviser,” Baumeister, and his “chamberlain,” Schweiger, in the very profuseness of its expressions of devotion, awakens some mistrust of its writer’s sincerity. There is too much of profession. True zeal in and a hearty performance of one’s duty need few verbal attestations.

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(To Baumeister)

March 12, 1812.

P. P.

Please send me the overture to the epilogue Ungarn’s Wohlthäter, it must be hurriedly copied in order to be sent to Gratz for use there in a concert for the poor. I count myself altogether too happy when my art is enlisted for such charitable purposes. You need, therefore, only tell H. I. High, our gracious lord, about it and he will certainly be glad to have it delivered to you, the more gladly since you know that all the property of my small intellectual faculties is the sole property of H. I. Highness—as soon as the overture is copied I will immediately return it to H. Imp. Highness.

In a note to the Archduke he excuses his absence the two previous days because he was “unexpectedly” ill, “at just the time when he was about to go” to him. In another he has “oftener than usual” waited upon him “in the evening hour, but no one was to be found.” In another “certain unexpected circumstances prevent” his attendance “to-day, but,” he says, “I shall make use of the gracious privilege of waiting upon you to-morrow evening.” In still another:

I have suffered much during the last few days, twofold I may say because I could not follow my sincerest desire to devote a great deal of time to you; but I hope I shall be through with it (I mean my illness) this spring and summer.

The last of these selections affords another illustration of the usefulness of the Archduke’s library to the composer. Its date has also some importance in the discussion of the famous love-letter; and it is the final notice of Beethoven before his departure from Vienna for the summer.

(To Baumeister)

Sunday, June 28, 1812.

I beg of you most politely that you lend me the two trios for pianoforte, violin and violoncello of my composition for to-day. The first is in D major, the 2nd in E-flat, if I am not mistaken, H. Imp. Highness has written copies of them in his library. Also the sonata in A major with pianoforte and violoncello—separately printed—also the sonata in A minor with pianoforte and violin, is also only printed separately. You will receive everything back again to-morrow morning.

A very interesting series of letters to Varena, and one very creditable to Beethoven, began at the end of January this year and ended, so far as is known, in 1815. Could the space be spared they would all be printed here; but they may be read in the published collections of Beethoven’s letters.

The arrangements of the Irish and Scottish songs for Thomson were continued in this year. A French letter to Thomson under[219] date February 29, 1812, chiefly devoted to business matters, yet contains some expressions which are characteristic of Beethoven’s views and predilections.

Haydn himself assured me, that he also got 4 ducats in gold for each song, yet he wrote only for violin and pianoforte without ritornellos or violoncello.[93] As regards Herr Koželuch, who delivers each song to you for 2 ducats, I congratulate you and the English and Scotch publishers on a taste which approves him. In this field I esteem myself a little higher than Herr Koželuch (Miserabilis), and I hope and believe that you have sufficient discrimination to do me justice.

Thoughts of a Visit to England

He repeats his request that the texts be sent with the Scottish songs, asks if violin and violoncello are to be treated obbligato or if the pianoforte might compose an ensemble in itself, and closes, after having again demanded 9 ducats in gold, with: “we need the gold here, for our country is at present only a paper fountain, and I in particular, for I shall probably leave this country and go to England and then to Edinburgh in Scotland, and rejoice in the prospect of there making your personal acquaintance.”

The letter to Brunswick which follows, has been printed with the date 1809; but in that year Beethoven was not in the Pasqualati house; he was then on the most cordial terms with Oliva (barring the disagreement at Teplitz in 1811); and his satisfaction with the “honorable decree”—the annuity contract—which retained him in Vienna, was at the flood. The date, 1812, renders every point in the letter, except who is meant by “R,” perfectly intelligible.[94] “T” is the manuscript Trio, Op. 97; “S,” the printed sonata, “Les Adieux, etc.,” Op. 81a; “the quartet” is Op. 95, also in manuscript; “nothing decisive” refers to the non-receipt of the desired written instructions from Kinsky and Lobkowitz to their cashiers respecting the notes of redemption, and the “unhappy war” was that movement by Napoleon which proved to be the fatal invasion of Russia.

The letter reads:

Dear friend! Brother!

I ought to have written you earlier; I did so 1000 times in my heart. You ought to have received the T. and S. much earlier; I cannot understand how R. could have detained these so long from you. To the best of my recollection I told you that I would send both sonata and trio, do as[220] you feel inclined, keep the sonata or send it to Forray[95] as you please, the quartet was designed for you long ago, my disorderliness alone is to blame that you receive it only now. And speaking of disorder I am unfortunately compelled to tell you that it still persecutes me on every hand, nothing decisive has been done in my affairs; the unhappy war may delay the final settlement still more or make the matter worse. At one time I resolve upon one thing, at another time upon a different one, unfortunately I must remain in the neighborhood until the matter is settled. O unhappy decree, seductive as a siren, against which I should have stopped my ears with wax and had myself bound so that I could not sign, like Ulysses. If the billows of war roll nearer here I shall come to Hungary; perhaps in any event, if I must care for my miserable self I shall no doubt beat my way through—away, nobler, loftier plans! Infinite are our strivings, the vulgar puts an end to all!

Farewell dear brother, be such to me, I have no one to whom I can give the name, do as much good around you as the evil times will permit.

In the future put the following directions on the coverings of letters to me.

“To H. B. v. Pasqualati.”

The rascal Oliva (no noble r-s-l however) is going to Hungary, do not have too much to do with him; I am glad that this connection which was brought about by sheer necessity, will by this be entirely broken off.—More by word of mouth—I am now in Baden, now here—to be inquired for in Baden at the Sauerhof.

The cause of the estrangement between Beethoven and Oliva is hinted at in two letters from Oliva to Varnhagen. On March 25, Oliva writes: “I should like to write you a great deal about the things that sadden me, about Stoll, and Beethoven still more, but I must postpone it—I was ill lately and it moves me greatly to write about things which are so painful”; and in a letter of June 3, after asking Varnhagen in behalf of Beethoven to deliver a letter to Prince Kinsky and seek to persuade the Prince to come to a decision in the matter of paying the annuity contract in notes of redemption, he adds: “Concerning my unfortunate affairs I can only say that Of.” [Offenheimer, the Vienna banker, Oliva’s employer, is meant] “has treated me very shabbily and I am compelled to seek another engagement, perhaps I shall accept Beethoven’s renewed offer and go with him to England. Stoll cheated me in a very miserable manner and even sought to bring about a rupture with Beethoven, in which he was almost successful; I am completely separated from him.” Beethoven’s wrath, to which he gave expression in his letter to Brunswick, seems to have been assuaged and their friendship continued as before until the departure of Oliva for Russia in 1820.

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There is a little Trio in one movement, which bears the superscription in Beethoven’s hand: “Vienna, June 2, 1812. For my little friend Max. Brentano to encourage her in pianoforte playing.” On one of his visits to the Brentanos, soon after, “the little maiden, whom he occasionally teased, in a fit of childish petulance unexpectedly poured a bottle of ice-cold water over his head when he was overheated.”[96]

Notable Gathering at Teplitz

This was the year in which Beethoven allowed a mask to be taken, at the desire of Streicher, who wished to add his bust to those which already adorned his pianoforte warerooms. The bust was executed by Professor Klein, a pupil of the famous sculptor Fischer, and still adorns the hall for which it was designed. The effigy is the one which has been so often copied and is generally attributed to Dannhauser. That artist was born in 1805, and must have been indeed remarkably precocious, if Beethoven consented to have him, at the age of seven years, plaster his face with gypsum! In May, the son of the Corsican advocate Bonaparte held court at Dresden and received his father-in-law, Emperor Franz, Frederick William of Prussia, the princes of the Rheinbund, etc., etc. Before the end of June, he had crossed the Niemen with his half million of men on his fatal march to Moscow. As if from a presentiment and in the hope of the disastrous failure of the foolhardy invasion of Russia, Teplitz (that neutral ground, but central point of plot and agitation against the parvenu Emperor) became the scene of a virtual congress of imperial personages, or their representatives, accompanied by families, ministers and retinues. Ostensibly they met for health, recreation, social diversion; but views and opinions were exchanged and arrangements made for such concerted action as the result in Russia might render politic. Herr Aug. Rob. Hiekel, Magisterial Adjunct in Teplitz, has kindly communicated copious excerpts from the lists of arrivals that summer, from which these are selected, through the friendly mediation of Dr. Schebek of Prague, which is gratefully acknowledged:

May 29. Emperor Franz, with a large retinue—Wrbna, Althaer, Kinsky, Zichy, etc., etc.

June 4. Marie Louise, Empress of France and retinue; the Grand Duke of Würzburg and retinue.

July 2. The Empress of Austria and household; the Duke Anton of Saxony, with wife and household.

July 7. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar.

July 14. The King of Saxony with wife and royal household.

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July 25. Prince Maximilian of Saxony with wife and royal household.

August 11, 15. Prince Wittgenstein, Baron von Humboldt, and the Prince of Curland, in Prussian service, etc., etc.

Passing from the royal and diplomatic circles, we note:

April 19. Baroness von der Recke, with Demoiselle Meissner and Herr Tiedge.

July 7. Herr Ludwig van Beethoven, Composer, of Vienna, lives in the Eiche, No. 62.[97]

July 8. Herr Carl, Prince von Lichnowsky.

July 15. Hr. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Grand Ducal Privy Councillor of Weimar, etc., etc., in the Gold. Schiff, No. 116.

July 24. Herr Ludwig Baron von Arnim, landowner, with wife, then his sister-in-law, Frau v. Savigny, of Berlin.

August 5. Hr. Joachim, Baron v. Muench-Bellinghausen.

August 7. Hr. Clemens Brentano, Partikulier of Prague.

August 9. Frau Wilhelmine Sebald, wife of the Royal Prussian Commissioner of Justice, with sister Madame Sommer, of Berlin.

August 18. Hr. Fried. Karl von Savigny, Professor, etc., of Berlin.

August 19. Hr. Varnhagen von Ense, R. I. Lieutenant v. Vogelsang, of Prague.

No hint anywhere appears that Beethoven renewed his intercourse with Tiedge and Countess von der Recke—they had, no doubt, departed before his arrival—nor that a meeting took place between him and any one of those persons who arrived on and between the 1st of August and the 19th of the same month. With Varnhagen,[98] too, the meetings during the sojourn at Teplitz this year seem to have been few and fleeting. On June 9, Varnhagen had reported to Oliva in Vienna concerning the success of his visit to Prince Kinsky. On July 5 Beethoven arrived in Prague in company with Oliva’s friend Willisen. Varnhagen writes to Rahel on July 2: “I am writing after the arrival of Beethoven and Willisen.” As appears from a letter from Beethoven to Princess Kinsky dated December 20, 1812, Beethoven called upon the Prince and received 60 ducats on account. Unfortunately he delayed the definitive settlement of the annuity matter; had he[223] attended to it at once he would have been spared the negotiations which followed the sudden death of the Prince.

On July 14th, Beethoven wrote a letter to Varnhagen from Teplitz in which he said: “There is not much to be said about Teplitz, few people and among the few nothing extraordinary, wherefore I live alone! alone! alone!” Three days later Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel, promising some corrections in the Mass in C with the words: “We say to you only that we have been here since the 5th of July, how are we?—on that point much cannot yet be said, on the whole there are not such interesting people here as were last year and are few—the multitude seems fewer than few.”

Beethoven Meets Goethe

On July 19, Goethe enters Beethoven’s name for the first time among his “visits”—no doubt those made by him. On the same day he writes to his wife, who had gone on to Karlsbad for a cure:

Say to His Serene Highness Prince Friedrich, that I can never be with Beethoven without wishing that it were in the goldenen Strauss. A more self-contained, energetic, sincere artist I never saw. I can understand right well how singular must be his attitude towards the world.

Already on the next day Beethoven made a pleasure trip with Goethe to Bilin, and on the 21st and 23rd Goethe spent the evening with Beethoven. Hence the note on the 21st, “He played delightfully.” As Arnim and Bettina are mentioned in the list of arrivals, it is easily possible that this was the evening concerning which Bettina reported to Pückler-Muskau. On the 27th of July, Beethoven went to Karlsbad on the advice of his physician, Dr. Staudenheimer, and he did not return to Teplitz till after September 8th, Goethe having already journeyed to Karlsbad on August 11th. That there was no estrangement between them is proved by the letter of Goethe to Christiane advising him to give Beethoven a letter addressed to him; he therefore expected Beethoven to return, which he did not do, because Staudenheimer sent him further on to Franzensbrunn. Goethe’s letter says: “Herr van Beethoven went from here to Karlsbad a few days ago; if you can find him, he would bring me a letter in the shortest time.” On August 2nd, Beethoven is still looked upon as the possible courier: “If I receive the consignment through Beethoven I will write again, then nothing more will be necessary” (because Goethe himself went to Karlsbad). In Karlsbad Goethe and Beethoven may have met each other only between September 8 and 11. On September 12, Goethe departed; but on the 8th he had written in his journal: “Beethoven’s arrival.”

[224]

In view of these things, Beethoven’s report to Archduke Rudolph from Franzensbrunn on August 12th, which will appear presently, will be read with greater interest, and the only known utterance of Goethe touching Beethoven in the letter to Zelter be viewed with different eyes:

I made Beethoven’s acquaintance in Teplitz. His talent amazed me; unfortunately he is an utterly untamed personality, not altogether in the wrong in holding the world to be detestable, but who does not make it any the more enjoyable either for himself or others by his attitude. He is very excusable, on the other hand, and much to be pitied, as his hearing is leaving him, which, perhaps, mars the musical part of his nature less than the social. He is of a laconic nature and will become doubly so because of this lack.

Many things which have been reported and had so much of a legendary sound as to cause them to be received with doubt, may, under the circumstances, serve to complete the story of the relations between Goethe and Beethoven; such, for instance, as the familiar anecdote according to which, when Goethe expressed his vexation at the incessant greetings from passers-by, Beethoven is said to have replied: “Do not let that trouble your Excellency, perhaps the greetings are intended for me.” This is variously related to have occurred in a carriage at Karlsbad and in the Prater, and during a walk together on the old walls at Vienna; while the late Joseph Türk, the Vienna jeweler, who was in Teplitz in the summer of 1812, makes that place the scene of the story. It may, therefore, possibly have some foundation in truth.

Rochlitz, in 1822, reporting a conversation with Beethoven, has him say: “In Karlsbad I got acquainted with him (Goethe)”; but he makes him also say: “at that time, while I was veritably burning with enthusiasm (so recht im Feuer sass), I also conceived my music for his Egmont.” But this music was composed two years before. Beethoven’s allusion here to the “Egmont” music certainly, and to meeting with Goethe in Karlsbad probably, if correctly reported, prove nothing but the truth of Schindler’s observation: “Beethoven’s memory of the past always proved to be very weak.” Dr. Eduard Knoll, of Karlsbad, in a detailed investigation of the dates of the visit of Goethe and Beethoven to Teplitz and Karlsbad—which also fixes August 6th as the date of the Beethoven-Polledro concert—comes to the same conclusion as the present writer, namely: “In all probability Beethoven came in contact with Goethe only in Teplitz, for during Beethoven’s presence in Karlsbad, it can be proved Goethe was not there. But even in Teplitz the period of their mutual presence was a rather limited one.”

[225]

Help for Sufferers at Baden

On July 26th, a large portion of the town of Baden, near Vienna, including the palace of Archduke Anton, the cloister of the Augustines, the theatre and casino, the parochial church and the palace of Count Esterhazy, was destroyed by a conflagration which broke out between noon and 1 o’clock. In all, 117 houses were burned. “From Karlsbad under date of August 7, it is reported,” writes the “Wiener Zeitung” of August 29th, that “scarcely had the misfortune which recently befel the inhabitants of Baden become known here before the well-known musicians Herr van Beethoven and Herr Polledro[99] formed the benevolent purpose to give a concert for the benefit of the sufferers. As many of the guests of high station were already prepared to depart and it became necessary to seize the favorable moment, and in the conviction that he who helps quickly helps twofold, this purpose was carried out within twelve hours.... Universal and rousing applause and receipts amounting to 954 florins, Vienna Standard, rewarded the philanthropic efforts” of the concert-givers. Beethoven himself gives a very different aspect to this concert in a letter to Archduke Rudolph:

Franzensbrunn, August 12, 1812.

It has long been my duty to recall myself to your memory, but my occupations in behalf of my health in part and partly my insignificance made me hesitate. In Prague I missed Y. I. H. by just a night; for when I went in the morning to attend upon you, you had departed the night before. In Töplitz I heard Turkish[100] music 4 times a day, the only musical report which I am able to make. I was much together with Goethe. From Töplitz, however, my physician, Staudenheim, commanded me to go to Karlsbad and from there here, and presumably I shall have to go from here again to Töplitz—what excursions! and yet but little certainty touching an improvement in my condition! Till now I have had always the best of reports concerning the state of Y. I. H.’s health, also your continued favorable disposition and devotion to the musical muse. Of an academy which I gave for the benefit of the city of Baden destroyed by fire with the help of Herr Polledro, Y. I. H. is likely to have heard. The receipts were nearly 1000 florins V. S. and if I had not been embarrassed in the arrangements 2000 florins might easily have been taken in. It was, so to speak, a poor concert for the poor. I found at the publisher’s here only some of my earlier sonatas with violin, and as Polledro insisted I had to play an old one. The entire concert consisted of a trio played by Polledro, the violin sonata by me, another piece by Polledro and then an improvisation by me. Meanwhile I am glad that the poor Badensians benefited somewhat by the affair. Pray you accept my wish for your high welfare and the prayer to be graciously remembered by you.

[226]

Three days before, Beethoven had written in a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel:

I must refrain from writing more, and instead splash around in the water again. Scarcely have I filled my interior with an ample quantity of it than I must have it dashed over my exterior. I will answer the rest of your letter soon. Goethe is too fond of the atmosphere of the Courts, more so than is becoming to a poet. Why laugh at the absurdities of virtuosi when poets who ought to be the first teachers of a nation, forget all else for the sake of this glitter.

Beethoven arrived in Franzensbrunn on August 8, and on September 7 returned to Karlsbad, where he remained only a few days; after the 16th of September, he was again in Teplitz.[101] His arrival in Franzensbrunn was simultaneous with that of the family Brentano from Vienna.

Rebuking the Courtier Goethe

Madame von Arnim in her letter to Pückler-Muskau gives some account of the intercourse between Goethe and Beethoven:

They got acquainted with each other in Teplitz. Goethe was with him! he played for him; seeing that Goethe appeared to be greatly moved he said: “O, Sir, I did not expect that from you; I gave a concert in Berlin several years ago, I did my best and thought that I had done really well and was counting on considerable applause, but behold! when I had given expression to my greatest enthusiasm, there was not the slightest applause, that was too much for me. I could not understand it; but the riddle was finally resolved by this: the Berlin public is extremely cultured and waved its thanks to me with handkerchiefs wet with the tears of emotion. This was all wasted on a rude enthusiast like myself; I had thought that I had merely a romantic, not an artistic audience before me. But I accept it gladly from you, Goethe; when your poems went through my brain they threw off music and I was proud to think that I could try to swing myself up to the same heights which you had reached, but I never knew it in my life and would least of all have done it in your presence, here enthusiasm would have had to have an entirely different outlet. You must know yourself how good it feels to be applauded by intelligent hands; if you do not recognize me and esteem me as a peer, who shall do so? By which pack of beggars shall I permit myself to be understood?” Thus did he push Goethe into a corner, who at first did not know how he could set matters to rights, for he felt that Beethoven was right. The Empress and the Austrian archdukes were in Teplitz and Goethe was greatly distinguished by them, and it was by no means a matter of indifference to him to disclose his devotion to the Empress; he intimated as much with much solemn modesty to Beethoven. “Nonsense,” said the latter, “that’s not the way; you’re doing no good by such methods, you must plainly make them understand what they have in having you or they will never find out; there isn’t a princess who will appreciate Tasso any longer than the shoe of vanity squeezes her foot—I treated[227] them differently; when I was asked to give lessons to Duke Rainer,[102] he let me wait in the antechamber, and for that I gave his fingers a good twisting; when he asked me why I was so impatient I said that he had wasted my time in the anteroom and I could wait no longer with patience. After that he never let me wait again; yes, I would have showed him that that was a piece of folly which only shows their bestiality. I said to him: “You can hang an order on one, but it would not make him the least bit better; you can make a court councillor or a privy councillor, but not a Goethe or a Beethoven; for that which you cannot make and which you are far from being, therefore, you must learn to have respect, it will do you good.”” While they were walking there came towards them the whole court, the Empress and the Dukes; Beethoven said: “Keep hold of my arm, they must make room for us, not we for them.” Goethe was of a different opinion, and the situation became awkward for him; he let go of Beethoven’s arm and took a stand at the side with his hat off, while Beethoven with folded arms walked right through the dukes and only tilted his hat slightly while the dukes stepped aside to make room for him, and all greeted him pleasantly; on the other side he stopped and waited for Goethe, who had permitted the company to pass by him where he stood with bowed head. “Well,” he said, “I’ve waited for you because I honor and respect you as you deserve, but you did those yonder too much honor.”

In these passages we have the substance of a large portion of the famous third of the Beethoven-Bettina letters. Are they an abstract of that letter or is the letter an expansion of them? In other words, the question is forced upon us: Is that letter authentic? The last paragraph of the Pückler letter affords a decisive answer: “Afterward Beethoven came running to us and told us everything, and was as happy as a child at having teased Goethe so greatly, etc., etc.” Who were they to whom Beethoven came running? They are named in Herr Hiekel’s list of visitors: Ludwig (Achim) von Arnim, his young wife Bettina Brentano and Frau von Savigny, her sister! In the pseudo-letter we read: “Yesterday we met the entire imperial family.” Therefore, if the letter to Pückler be true—and it bears all the marks of being so—and if the other be authentic, Beethoven is made to relate the story one day and write a long letter containing it to the same person the next! It follows: when such a letter in Beethoven’s well-known handwriting shall be seen and accepted as authentic by competent judges, its genuineness may be conceded but, henceforth, until then, never.[103]

Beethoven and Amalie von Sebald

Beethoven returned to Teplitz with no amelioration, but rather an increase of his maladies, and was compelled to remain[228] until near or perhaps quite the end of September. To his great satisfaction, he found there the young lady who had so powerfully attracted him the previous summer. The character of their renewed acquaintance is sufficiently obvious from the series of notes following, which are given in the order which appears to correspond best with their contents.

Teplitz, September 16, 1812.

For Amalie von Sebald:

Tyrant—I? Your tyrant? Only a misapprehension can lead you to say this even if your judgment of me indicated no agreement of thought with me! But no blame to you on this account; it is rather a piece of good fortune for you—yesterday I was not wholly well, since this morning I have grown worse; something indigestible was the cause, and the irascible part of me appears to seize upon the bad as well as the good; but do not apply this to my moral nature; people say nothing, they are only people; they generally see only themselves in others, and that is nothing; away with this, the good, the beautiful needs no people. It is here without help and that, after all, appears to be the reason of our agreement. Farewell, dear Amalie; if the moon shines brighter for me this evening than the sun by day you will see with you the least of men.

Your friend
Beethoven.

Dear, good Amalie. After leaving you yesterday my condition grew worse and from last night till now I have not left my bed, I wanted to send you word yesterday but thought it would look as if I wanted to appear important in your eyes, so I refrained. What dream of yours is this that you are nothing to me, we will talk about that by word of mouth, dear Amalie; I have always wished only that my presence might bring you rest and peace, and that you would have confidence in me; I hope to be better to-morrow and that we may spend the few hours which remain of your sojourn in the enjoyment of nature to our mutual uplift and enlivenment. Good night, dear Amalie, many thanks for your kind thought of your friend

Beethoven.

I will look through Tiedge.

I only wish to report that the tyrant is slavishly chained to his bed. So it is! I shall be glad if I get along with the loss of to-day. My promenade yesterday at sun-up in the woods, where it was very misty, has increased my indisposition and probably delayed my improvement. Busy yourself meanwhile with Russians, Lapps, Samoyeds, etc., and do not sing too often the song, “Es lebe hoch!

Your friend
Beethoven.

I am already better. If you think it proper to come to me alone you can give me a great pleasure, but if you think it improper you know how I honor the liberty of all people, and no matter how you act in this and all other cases, according to your principles or caprice, you will always find me kind and

Your friend
Beethoven.

[229]

I cannot yet say anything definite about myself, sometimes I feel better and next things appear to be in the old rut, or to be preparing a long sickness for me. If I could give expression to my thoughts concerning my sickness as definitely as I can express my thoughts in music, I should soon help myself. To-day too, I must keep to my bed. Farewell, and rejoice in your good health, dear Amalie.

Your friend
Beethoven.

The sickness does not seem to increase exactly, but still to crawl onward, so no standstill! this is all that I can tell you about it. I must give up the thought of seeing you at home, mayhap your Samoyeds will relieve you of their journey to the Polar regions, if so come to

Beethoven.

Thank you for all the things which you think good for my body, the necessities have been cared for—also my illness seems less obstinate. I deeply sympathize with you in the sorrow which must come to you because of the sickness of your mother. You know that I like to see you, but I cannot receive you otherwise than lying in bed. I may be able to get up to-morrow.—Farewell, dear Amalie—

Your somewhat weak
Beethoven.

(In Amalie Sebald’s handwriting):

My tyrant commands an account—here it is:

A fowl1 fl. V. S.
The soup9 kr.

With all my heart I hope that it may agree with you.

(In Beethoven’s handwriting):

Tyrants do not pay, but the bill must be receipted, and you can do that best if you come in person. N. B. With the bill to your humbled tyrant.[104]

Hard upon the first letter to Amalie Sebald there followed a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel which confirms the statement concerning his illness and its cause and discloses his desire to leave Vienna, though temporarily, for concert purposes.

Beethoven’s health must have rapidly improved after the 16th of September, for Chapelmaster Glöggl’s “Linzer Musik-Zeitung” announces his arrival in that place on October 5th:

[230]

Now we have had the long wished for pleasure of having within our metropolis for several days the Orpheus and greatest musical poet of our time, Herr L. van Beethoven, and if Apollo is favorable to us we shall also have an opportunity to admire his art and report upon it to the readers of this journal.

He had come thither, probably direct via Prague and Budweis, to pass a few weeks with his brother Johann, who gave him a large room affording him a delightful view of the Danube with its busy landing-place and the lovely country beyond. Franz Glöggl—later a music publisher in Vienna, then a youth in Linz—shortly before his death wrote down his reminiscences of the composer, for use in this work.

Beethoven (he wrote) was on intimate terms of friendship with my father, chapelmaster of the cathedral in Linz, and when he was there in 1812, he was at our house every day and several times took meals with us. My father asked him for an Aequale for 6 trombones, as in his collection of old instruments he had a soprano and a quart trombone,[105] whereas only alto, tenor and bass trombones were commonly used. Beethoven wanted to hear an Aequale such as was played at funerals in Linz, and my father appointed three trombone players one afternoon when Beethoven was expected to dine with us and had them play an Aequale as desired, after which Beethoven sat down and composed one for 6[106] trombones, which my father had his trombonists play, etc.

Among the cavaliers who were in Linz was Count von Dönhoff, a great admirer of Beethoven, who gave several soirées in his honor during the composer’s sojourn. I was present at one of these. Pieces were played and some of Beethoven’s songs were sung, and he was requested to improvise on the pianoforte, which he did not wish to do. A table had been spread with food in an adjoining room and finally the company gathered about it. I was a young lad and Beethoven interested me so greatly that I remained always near him. Search was made for him in vain and finally the company sat down without him. He was in the next room and now began to improvise; all grew quiet and listened to him. I remained standing beside him at the pianoforte. He played for about an hour and one by one all gathered around him. Then it occurred to him that he had been called to the table long before—he hurried from his chair to the dining-room. At the door stood a table holding porcelain dishes. He stumbled against it and the dishes fell to the floor. Count Dönhoff, a wealthy cavalier, laughed at the mishap and the company again sat down to the table with Beethoven. There was no more thought of playing music, for after Beethoven’s fantasia half of the pianoforte strings were broken. I recall this fantasia because I was so fortunate as to have heard it so near him.

Interference with a Brother’s Affairs

One of Beethoven’s memoranda, copied into the Fischoff Manuscript, is this: “In 1812, I was in Linz on account of B.”[231] Supposing this B. to stand for Beethoven’s brother it confirms certain very unpleasant information obtained in Linz (1860), from perfectly competent authority, namely, that the principal object of the journey thither was to interfere in Johann’s domestic affairs.

Soon after coming to Linz, the apothecary, being unmarried and having a house much too large for his necessities, leased a part of it to a physician from Vienna, whose wife’s sister some time later joined them. She, Therese Obermeyer, was described as possessing a very graceful and finely proportioned figure, and a pleasing, though not beautiful, face. Johann van Beethoven soon became acquainted with her, liked her, and made her his housekeeper and—something more.

When it is considered, that the apothecary was a man of some thirty-five years, that he had gained his present position entirely by his own enterprise, perseverance and good fortune, and that, beyond advice and remonstrance, his brother had no more right to meddle in his private concerns than any stranger, it seems hardly credible that Beethoven, with all his eccentricities of character, could have come to Linz with precisely this purpose in view. But, according to the evidence, this was so. Had the motive of his visit been simply fraternal affection, and had he then and there first discovered his brother’s improper connection with Therese, he could justly have employed earnest expostulation and entreaty to the end of breaking it off—but nothing more; if unheeded, he could leave the house. But to come thither for this express object, and employ force to accomplish it, was an indefensible assumption of authority. Such, at all events, was Johann’s opinion, and he refused to submit to his brother’s dictation. Excited by opposition, Ludwig resorted to any and every means to accomplish his purpose. He saw the Bishop about it. He applied to the civil authorities. He pushed the affair so earnestly, as at last to obtain an order to the police to remove the girl to Vienna if, on a certain day, she should be still found in Linz. The disgrace to the poor girl; the strong liking which Johann had for her; his natural mortification at not being allowed to be master in his own house; these and other similar causes wrought him up almost to desperation. Beethoven, having carried his point, might certainly have borne his brother’s anger with equanimity; might have felt pity for him and sought to soothe him in his trouble. But no; when Johann entered his room with reproaches and upbraidings, he, too, became angry and a scene ensued on which—let the curtain be drawn. It was, unhappily, more disgraceful to[232] Ludwig than Johann. The apothecary, to use the language of the card-table, still had the commanding trump. Should he play it? The answer is in the parochial register at Linz. It is the record of marriage, November 8th, 1812, of Johann van Beethoven to Therese Obermeyer. There is some slight reason to think that the journey to Linz was suddenly undertaken in consequence of a false report that Johann was about to marry Therese, and with the intention to prevent it. Whether this be true or not he lost the game and immediately hastened away to Vienna, angry and mortified that the measures he had taken had led to the very result which he wished to prevent; had given to the unchaste girl the legal right to call him “brother,” and had put it in Johann’s power—should he in the future have cause to rue his wedding-day—to reproach him as the author of his misfortune. Indeed, when that unhappy future came, Johann always declared that Ludwig had driven him into this marriage; how the composer then viewed the matter, we shall see when the time comes. One sister-in-law had already been to Beethoven a bitter source of shame and mortification; and now the other?—Time must show. Here we part from the apothecary, and it will be long before we meet him again.

Beethoven’s professional occupation in Linz was the completion of the Eighth Symphony, which, on Johann van Beethoven’s doubtful authority, was wrought out from the sketches during walks to and upon the Pöstlingberg.[107] Schindler’s account of the origin of the famous Allegretto Scherzando adds a new name to our dramatis personæ.

Association with Mälzel

Johann Nepomuk Mälzel was the son of an organ-builder of Ratisbon. He received a thorough musical education, and began life on his own account as a performer upon and a teacher of the pianoforte of no mean ability; but his extraordinary taste for mechanism and talent for invention soon led him to exchange the music-room for the workshop. It is somewhere related, that, having been appointed “Court Mechanician” at Vienna and having a work to execute for the Empress, rooms were assigned him, in 1809, in Schönbrunn. Soon after this, Napoleon took possession of that palace, and while there played a game with Kempelen’s chess player (of which Mälzel had become proprietor), Allgaier[233] being (probably) the person concealed in the chest. The truth of the anecdote we cannot warrant. From Schönbrunn, Mälzel removed to rooms in Stein’s pianoforte manufactory, and began the construction of a new and improved panharmonicon, having sold his first one in Paris. This was his principal employment in the year 1812. Carl Stein (from whom the author derived this information) remembered distinctly the frequent visits of Beethoven to Mälzel’s workshop, the great intimacy of the two men, and the persevering efforts of the mechanician to construct an ear-trumpet which the deaf composer should find of practical use and benefit. It is well known, that of the four instruments constructed, one was so far satisfactory as to be used occasionally for some eight or ten years. The necessity and practicability of inventing some kind of machine by which composers should be able to indicate exactly the duration of a piece of music—in other words, the rapidity of its execution—had been for several years subjects of wide discussion. An article in the “Wiener Vaterländische Blätter” of October 13, 1813, entitled “Mälzel’s musikalischer Chronometer,” reads:

On his journeys through Germany, France and Italy, as a consequence of his approved knowledge of mechanics and music, Herr Mälzel had repeatedly been solicited by the most celebrated composers and conservatories to devote his talent to an invention which should be useful to the many, after many efforts by others had proved defective. He undertook the solution of the problem and succeeded in completely satisfying the first composers of Vienna with the model which was recently exhibited, which will be followed soon by the recognition of all others in the countries mentioned. The model has endured the most varied tests which the composers Salieri, Beethoven, Weigl, Gyrowetz and Hummel applied to it. Court Chapelmaster Salieri made the first application of this chronometer to a work of magnitude, Haydn’s “Creation,” and noted all the tempos according to the different degrees on the score, etc. Herr Beethoven looks upon this invention as a welcome means with which to secure the performance of his brilliant compositions in all places in the tempos conceived by him, which to his regret have so often been misunderstood.

The “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” of December 1st devotes some two pages to the instrument, from which a few words of description are enough for our purpose:

The external parts of this chronometer ... consist of a small lever which is set in motion by a toothed wheel, the only one in the whole apparatus, by means of which and the resultant blows on a little wooden anvil, the measures are divided into equal intervals of time.

That “chronometer” was not what is now known as Mälzel’s “metronome.”

[234]

Canon and Allegretto Scherzando

It is now to be seen whether Schindler’s account of the Allegretto Scherzando will bear examination. It is this:

In the Spring of the year 1812, Beethoven, the mechanician Mälzel, Count von Brunswick, Stephan von Breuning and others, sat together at a farewell meal, the first about to undertake the visit to his brother Johann in Linz, there to work out his Eighth Symphony and afterward to visit the Bohemian baths—Mälzel, however, to journey to England to exploit his famous trumpet-player automaton. The latter project had to be abandoned, however, and indefinitely postponed. The time-machine—metronome—invented by this mechanician, was already in such a state of forwardness that Salieri, Beethoven, Weigl and other musical notabilities had given a public testimonial of its utility. Beethoven, generally merry, witty, satirical, “unbuttoned,” as he called it, at this farewell meal improvised the following canon, which was at once sung by the participants.

Schindler here prints the now well-known canon and adds: “Out of this canon was developed the Allegretto Scherzando.” That Mälzel’s “ta, ta, ta,” suggested the Allegretto, and that at a farewell meal the canon on that subject was sung, is doubtless true; but it is by no means certain that the canon preceded the symphony. Schindler was then a youth of 17 years, “in the last course of the gymnasium at Olmütz,” and consequently relates his story on the authority of another—Count Brunswick. There may have been a slight lapse of memory on the part of Brunswick as to date, but it is far more probable that Schindler unconsciously adapted what he heard to his own preconceived notions. At all events, the preceding pages show that he was in the wrong as to the metronome, as to the proposed journeys of both Beethoven and Mälzel, and therefore, probably, as to the date of the farewell meal. On this last point, the lists of “Arrivals in Vienna” offer very strong negative evidence, namely: Forray comes from Pesth-Ofen in 1809-10-11; Countess Brunswick, 1811; but no Count Brunswick after March, 1810, until the end of February, 1813—four months after the Eighth Symphony is completed. At that date, we shall find reasons in plenty for the farewell gathering—though none in the “Spring of 1812.” The canon could not have contained the word “Metronome” until 1817; nor could the “ta, ta, ta,” have represented the beat of a pendulum of an instrument not yet invented; it was an imitation of the beat of the lever on the anvil.

The Conversation Books show, in Schindler’s own hand, how he became possessed of the canon. Beethoven, during the first years of their acquaintance, was in the habit of meeting frequently evenings a captain of the Arcierenleibgarde des[235] Kaisers, a certain Herr Pinterics, well known then in musical circles, and Oliva, “in a retired room in the Blumenstock in the Ballgässchen.” In a Conversation Book (1820) Schindler writes:

The motif of the canon, 2d movement of the 8th symphony—I cannot find the original—you will, I hope, have the kindness to write it down for me. Herr Pintericks at that time sang the bass, the Captain 2d tenor, Oliva 2d bass. [Again in 1824]: I am just in the second movement of the 8th symphony—ta, ta, ta—the canon on Mälzel—it was really a very jolly evening when we sang this canon in the “Kamehl”—Mälzel, the bass. At that time I still sang soprano. I think it was the end of 1817.[108] The time when I was permitted to appear before Your Majesty—1816—1815—after the performance of the Symphony in A.—I was still young at that time, but very courageous, wasn’t I?

On the first of these occasions, therefore, the word “Chronometer” must have been sung; on the second, as Mälzel had returned to Vienna with the “Metronome,” that word was substituted, and of course retained in the copy made in 1820. The necessary conclusion is this: If the canon was written before the Symphony, it was not improvised at the farewell meal; if it was improvised on that occasion, it was but the reproduction of the Allegretto theme in canon-form.

Pierre Rode, who at his culmination had occupied perhaps the first place among living violinists, being driven from Russia, made a concert tour in Germany and came in December to Vienna. Spohr, whose judgment of violin playing cannot be impugned, had heard him ten years before with delight and astonishment, and now again in a public concert on January 6. He now thought that he had retrograded; he found his playing “cold and full of mannerisms”; he “missed the former daring in the overcoming of difficulties,” and felt himself “particularly unsatisfied by his cantabile playing.” “The public, too, seemed dissatisfied,” he says, “at least he could not warm it into enthusiasm.” Still, Rode had a great name; paid to and received from the nobles the customary homage; and exhibited his still great talents in their saloons. Beethoven must have still thought well of his powers, for he now took up and completed his Sonata, Op. 96, to be played at one of Lobkowitz’s evening concerts by him and Archduke Rudolph. From the tone of two notes to the Archduke (printed by Köchel), the composer seems to have been less satisfied by Rode’s performances than he had expected to be:

To-morrow morning at the earliest hour, the copyist will be able to begin on the last movement, as I meanwhile am writing on other works,[236] I did not make great haste for the sake of mere punctuality in the last movement, the more because I had, in writing it, to consider the playing of Rode; in our finales we like rushing and resounding passages, but these are not in Rode’s style and this—embarrassed me a little. For the rest all is likely to go well on Tuesday. I take the liberty of doubting if I can appear that evening at Your Imp. Highness’s, notwithstanding my zeal in service; but to make it good I shall come to-morrow morning, to-morrow afternoon, to meet the wishes of my exalted pupil in all respects.

The date of the concert was December 29th. Therefore, if the sketches for the second, third and fourth movements of this noble sonata do not belong to the year 1811, as argued near the close of the preceding chapter, the entire work, except the first movement, was produced in twelve or fifteen days at most.

Spohr’s Account of Beethoven

Though it may be slightly in advance of strict chronological order, it would seem well to quote here what Spohr in his Autobiography writes of his personal intercourse with Beethoven. It is interesting and doubly acceptable as the only sketch of the kind belonging to just this period; it is, moreover, trustworthy. In general, what he relates of the composer in that work so abounds with unaccountable errors as to necessitate the utmost caution in accepting it; it is pervaded by a harsh and grating tone; and leaves the impression, that his memory retained most vividly and unconsciously exaggerated whatever tended to place Beethoven in a ridiculous light. What is here copied is, at least comparatively, free from these objections:

After my arrival in Vienna (about December 1), I at once hunted up Beethoven, but did not find him and therefore left my card. I now hoped to meet him in one of the musical soirées to which I was frequently invited, but soon learned that since his deafness had so increased that he could no longer hear music distinctly in all its context he had withdrawn from all musical parties and, indeed, become very shy of society. I made another attempt to visit him, but again in vain. At last, most unexpectedly, I met him in the eating-place which I was in the habit of patronizing every Wednesday with my wife. I had, by this time, already given a concert (December 17), and twice performed my oratorio (January 21 and 24). The Vienna newspapers had reported favorably upon them. Hence, Beethoven knew of me when I introduced myself to him and greeted me in an extremely friendly manner. We sat down together at a table, and Beethoven became very chatty, which greatly surprised the table company, as he generally looked straight ahead, morose and curt of speech. It was a difficult task to make him understand, as one had to shout so loudly that it could be heard three rooms distant. Afterward, Beethoven came often to this eating-house and visited me at my lodgings, and thus we soon learned to know each other well. Beethoven was frequently somewhat blunt, not to say rude; but an honest eye gleamed from under his bushy eyebrows.

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After my return from Gotha (end of May, 1813), I met him occasionally at the Theater-an-der-Wien, hard behind the orchestra, where Count Palffy had given him a free seat. After the opera he generally accompanied me home and spent the remainder of the evening with me. There he was pleasant toward Dorette and the children. He very seldom spoke about music. When he did so his judgments were very severe and so decided that it seemed as if there could be no contradiction. He did not take the least interest in the works of others; for this reason I did not have the courage to show him mine. His favorite topic of conversation at the time was severe criticism of the two theatrical managements of Prince Lobkowitz and Count Palffy. He was sometimes over-loud in his abuse of the latter when we were still inside the theatre, so that not only the public but also the Count in his office might have heard him. This embarrassed me greatly and I continually tried to turn the conversation into something else. The rude, repelling conduct of Beethoven at this time was due partly to his deafness, which he not yet learned to endure with resignation, partly to the unsettled condition of his financial affairs. He was not a good housekeeper and had the ill-luck to be robbed by those about him. So he often lacked necessities. In the early part of our acquaintance I once asked him, after he had been absent from the eating-house: “You were not ill, were you?”—“My boots were, and as I have only one pair I had house-arrest,” was the answer.

Beethoven had other cares, troubles and anxieties in the coming year—to which these reminiscences in strictness belong and serve as a sort of introduction—not known to Spohr. Theirs was not the confidential intercourse which lays bare the heart of friend to friend. As Varnhagen last year, so Theodor Körner this and the next informs us that Beethoven’s desire again to try his fortune on the operatic stage was in no wise abated. On June 6th the youthful poet writes: “If Weinlig does not intend soon to compose my Alfred, let him send it back to me; I would then, having bettered my knowledge of the theatre and especially of opera texts, strike out several things, inasmuch as it is much too long, and give it to the Kärnthner Theatre, as I am everlastingly plagued for opera texts by Beethoven, Weigl, Gyrowetz, etc.” On February 10, 1813, he writes: “Beethoven has asked me for ‘The Return of Ulysses.’ If Gluck were alive, that would be a subject for his Muse.”

The ascertained compositions of 1812 were:

I. “Sinfonie. L. v. Beethoven, 1812, 13ten Mai.” A major, Op. 92.

II. “Trio in einem Satze.” B-flat. “Wien am 2ten Juni 1812. Für seine kleine Freundin Max. Brentano zu ihrer Aufmunterung im Clavierspielen.

III. “Sinfonia—Linz im Monath October 1812.” F major, Op. 93.

IV. Three Equali for four trombones. “Linz den 2ten 9ber 1812.

V. Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin. G major, Op. 96.

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VI. Irish airs nearly or quite completed for Thomson, and

VII. Welsh airs probably continued.

The publications:

I. Music to “Egmont” except the overture, Op. 84. Breitkopf and Härtel, in January.

II. Messa a quattro voci coll’accompagnamento dell’Orchestra, composta da Luigi van Beethoven.Drey Hymnen für vier Singstimmen mit Begleitung des Orchesters, in Musik gesetzt und Sr. Durchlaucht dem Herrn Fürsten von Kinsky zugeeignet von Ludw. v. Beethoven, 86. Werk. Partitur.” Breitkopf and Härtel, in October.

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Chapter XIII

The Year 1813—Beethoven’s Journal—Death of Prince Kinsky—Beethoven’s Earnings—Mälzel and “Wellington’s Victory”—The A major Symphony—The Concerts of December 8 and 12.

Short as Bettina’s stay in Vienna was, it occurred at the very crisis of Beethoven’s unlucky marriage project; and her society served a good purpose in distracting his thoughts; while her known relations to her future husband prevented the growth of any such feeling on his part as some have conjectured did really awaken. Next came the rather absurd affair with Fräulein Malfatti; but this was so little of an earnest nature[109] as in turn to be quite forgotten, so soon as the rejected lover came fairly under the influence of the remarkable mental and personal charms of Amalie von Sebald, in whom he found all that his[240] warmest wishes could desire. The renewal in the last summer of his acquaintance with her completely cured him of his recent unfortunate passions, but, there is too much reason to believe, at the cost of plunging him into a new one, not the less powerful because utterly hopeless, and so firmly rooted that in 1816 “it was still as on the first day.”

The so-called journal (Tagebuch) of the Fischoff MS. begins thus:

Submission, absolute submission to your fate, only this can give you the sacrifice ... to the servitude—O, hard struggle! Turn everything which remains to be done to planning the long journey—you must yourself find all that your most blessed wish can offer, you must force it to your will—keep always of the same mind.

Thou mayest no longer be a man, not for thyself, only for others, for thee there is no longer happiness except in thyself, in thy art—O God, give me strength to conquer myself, nothing must chain me to life. Thus everything connected with A will go to destruction.

The date given is simply 1812; but the month of September in Teplitz suggests itself instantly for the first two paragraphs, and the time when Beethoven was busy with the Eighth Symphony for the other. The next-following in the manuscript is dated:

May 13, 1813.

To forgo a great act which might have been and remain so—O, what a difference compared with an unstudied life which often rose in my fancy—O fearful conditions which do not suppress my feeling for domesticity, but whose execution O God, God look down upon the unhappy B., do not permit it to last thus much longer—

Learn to keep silent, O friend! Speech is like silver,
But to hold one’s peace at the right moment is pure gold.

It is obvious that the hated “servitude” is the instruction of the Archduke in music, and that the new feeling which he has to defy, and if possible conquer, lest everything go to destruction, is the absorbing affection for Amalie Sebald which he had unconsciously suffered to gain tyrannical sway over his mind and heart. The “great act” of the last citation is the “long journey” of the first—of which hereafter.[110]

Misfortunes of Karl van Beethoven

Other causes also joined to render his case now truly pitiable. The result of his interference with his brother Johann, vexatious[241] and mortifying as it was, was of little moment in comparison with the anxiety and distress caused by the condition of his brother Karl. In 1809, Karl had been advanced to the position of Deputy Liquidator with 1000 fl. salary and 160 fl. rent money; but all salaries being then paid in bank-notes, the minor public officials, especially after the Finanz-Patent, were reduced to extreme poverty. Karl van Beethoven was already owner of the house in the Alservorstadt near the Herrnalser Linie, which contained lodgings for some ten or twelve small families, enclosed a court-garden with fruit trees, etc., and was valued (1816) at 16400 fl.: so long as he remained in the Rauhensteingasse, the whole of this house was rented, and, after deducting interest and taxes, gave him a very desirable addition to his miserable salary. When Beethoven writes, that he had wholly to support “an unfortunate sick brother together with his family,” it must be therefore understood cum grano; but that he had for some time been obliged very largely to aid them in obtaining even the necessaries of life is beyond question. Just now, when his own pecuniary prospects were so clouded, his anxieties were increased by Karl’s wretched state of health, which partly disabled him for his official duties, and seems to have forced him to pay for occasional assistance. In March, he appeared rapidly to be sinking from consumption, and he became so hopeless of improvement in April as to induce him—in his wellfounded distrust of the virtue and prudence of his unhappy wife—to execute the following

Declaration.

Inasmuch as I am convinced of the frank and upright disposition of my brother Ludwig van Beethoven, I desire that after my death he undertake the guardianship of my son, Karl Beethoven, a minor. I therefore request the honorable court to appoint my brother mentioned to the guardianship after my death and beg my dear brother to accept the office and to aid my son with word and deed in all cases.[111]

Vienna, April 12, 1813.

Happily for all parties concerned, Spring “brought healing on its wings.” Karl’s health improved; he was advanced to the position of Cashier of the “Universal-Staats-Schulden Kasse,” with 40 fl. increase of rent money; and now, at last, the decree was issued for the payment of all salaries (of public officials) in silver. Twelve hundred florins in silver, used with reasonable economy, was amply sufficient to relieve Ludwig of this part of his troubles.

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In a letter to Rudolph written in January, Beethoven said bitterly: “neither word, nor honor, nor written agreement, seems binding.”—The words relate to non-payments of the Kinsky and Lobkowitz subscriptions to his annuity.

Kinsky, on the 2nd or 3rd of the preceding November, while riding at Weldus near Prague, was—by the breaking of his saddle-girth—thrown from his horse with such force as to crush his skull, and survived but ten hours. In settling his affairs, the question arose whether, under the Finanz-Patent, Beethoven was entitled to more than the subscription as computed by the scale: or, more correctly, there being no question under the law, Beethoven raised one, by claiming the full nominal sum (1800 fl.) in notes of redemption. The curators of the estates—as it was their sworn duty to do—refused to admit the claim until it should be established by competent judicial authority; and, pending the decision, withheld all payments. As to Lobkowitz, his profuse expenditures had brought him to a suspension of payments and had deprived him of the control of his vast estates. What has just been said of the Kinsky subscription for Beethoven applies, therefore, literally to his. Hence, nothing of the annuity was paid by the Kinsky curators from November 3rd, 1812, to March 31st, 1815; nor by those of Lobkowitz from September 1st, 1811, until after April 19th, 1815. From the abundant correspondence called out by these differences of opinion, as to whether law or equity should rule in the case, three letters to the widowed Princess Kinsky may be selected as explanatory of Beethoven’s views. In the first of these letters, dated at Vienna, December 30th, 1812, Beethoven rehearses the story of the origin of the annuity contract, the disarrangement of the governmental finances, Archduke Rudolph’s prompt compliance with the request that payments be made in notes of redemption instead of bank-notes, and thus reaches the visit of Varnhagen von Ense to Prince Kinsky at Prague. He quotes a letter written by Varnhagen as follows:

Yesterday I had an exhaustive talk with Prince v. Kinsky. Accompanied by expressions of highest praise for Beethoven, he complied at once with his request and from now on will send him notes of redemption and will pay the arrears and the future sums in this currency. The cashier here will receive the necessary instructions and Beethoven can collect everything here when he passes through, or if he prefers in Vienna as soon as the Prince shall have returned.

Prague, July 9, 1812.[112]

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Appeals to Prince Kinsky’s Heirs

Continuing, Beethoven tells the Princess of his visit to Kinsky, who confirmed the statements in the letter and paid 60 ducats on account—as the equivalent of 600 florins, Vienna Standard. It was agreed that the arrears should be paid when the Prince should come to Vienna and instructions be given to his agents. Beethoven’s illness kept him at Teplitz longer than he had expected. Nevertheless, through Oliva he reminded the Prince, then in Vienna, in December of his promises, who again confirmed them and added that he would arrange matters at his exchequer in a few days. After the departure of the Prince with his family he had made inquiries and learned to his astonishment that nothing had been done in the matter. In conclusion he expressed the conviction that the heirs of the noble Prince would act in the spirit of magnanimity which had inspired him and pay the arrears and give directions for the future payments in notes of redemption.

In the second letter he repeats the request, having learned first from the Prince’s representatives that nothing could be done in the matter until a guardian had been appointed, which office had been assumed by Her Highness. “You will easily see,” he continues,

how painful it is to be deprived so long of money which had been counted on, the more since I am obliged wholly to support an unfortunate sick brother and his family and have inconsiderately exhausted my resources, hoping by the collection of my salary to care for my own livelihood. The complete righteousness of my claims you may see in the fact that I faithfully reported the receipt of the 60 ducats which the Prince of blessed memory paid me on account in Prague, although the princely council told me that I might have concealed the fact, as the Prince had not told him, the councillor, or his cashier anything about it.

The third letter, dated February 12, 1813, again urges the duty of the heirs to carry out the intentions of the Prince and formulates his petition as follows:

Namely, I pray Your Serene Highness graciously to command that the salary in arrears from September 1, 1811, be computed in Vienna currency according to the scale of the day of contract, at 1088.42 florins, and paid, and to leave the question whether and to what extent this salary be payable to me in Vienna currency open until the affairs of the estate be brought in order and it becomes necessary to lay the subject before the authorities so that my just demands be realized by their approval and determination.

The payment of the 60 ducats on account of the salary which by the Prince’s consent was to be paid in notes of redemption is again advanced as evidence of the Prince’s intentions, as is also the plea on the score of his necessities. The first and third letters[244] are written in a strange hand and merely signed by Beethoven. The petition contained in the third was not granted.

A Period of Adversity

Schindler has enlarged upon Beethoven’s inexperience and lack of skill in matters of business, and of his propensity to waste his resources in needless changes of lodgings; Wegeler and others inform us of his ignorance of the value of money; Karl van Beethoven had been a great expense to him; and five-eighths of his annuity had for some time remained unpaid. Still, it is impossible to account satisfactorily for the very low state of his finances at this time. He must have been strangely imprudent in non-husbanding his resources. From March 1, 1809, to March 1, 1813, he had received from Kinsky rather more than five semi-annual payments (the “60 ducats” included), from Lobkowitz five and from the Archduke seven—five of them in notes of redemption; in all, 11500 florins. In the Spring of 1810, Collard (Clementi) had paid him £200; from Thomson he had received 150 ducats, if not in July, 1810, at least in July, 1811, and 90 ducats more in February, 1813, and within the last years Breitkopf and Härtel had certainly paid him several thousand florins for the many works of magnitude purchased by them; besides all this he had borrowed at least 1100 florins from Brentano, for two or three years only after this he notes: “I owe F. A. B. 2300 fl., once 1100 and 60 ducats”; and we know of no time after the beginning of 1814, when he was under the necessity of applying to that generous friend for any sums like these. But, whatever was the cause, and whoever was in fault, Beethoven was now, up to the time when his brother Karl received his new appointment, learning by harsh experience a lesson in economy—happily to his profit.

To finish this topic at once, we pass on to the summer, which the composer spent in Baden, meeting there his friends the Streichers. Frau Streicher afterwards related to Schindler, that she “found Beethoven in the summer of 1813, in the most desolate state as regards his physical and domestic needs—not only did he not have a single good coat, but not a whole shirt,” and, adds Schindler, “I must hesitate to describe his condition exactly as it was.” Frau Streicher, after her return to the city, “put his wardrobe and household affairs to rights and, with the help of her husband, saw to the provision of the necessities,” and, what was still better, they impressed upon him the necessity of “putting money by against the future, and Beethoven obeyed in every particular.” A small sum received from Gratz, and the 750 fl. due from the Archduke, September 1st, relieved him for the moment; but before the end of the year, he was again so[245] reduced, probably by the necessary expenditures made on his account by the Streichers, as to obtain a loan of 50 ducats from Mälzel.

The tone of the correspondence during the first half of this year is far less depressed than might be expected under the adverse circumstances just detailed, to which is to be added constant ill health; indeed, his notes to Zmeskall are enlivened by divers gleams of his old humor. For the better understanding of the selections here made it is to be premised, that

(a) Brunswick arrived in Vienna, February 21; that

(b) Beethoven contributed a “newly composed Triumphal March” to Kuffner’s tragedy “Tarpeia” for its first performance in the Burgtheater, March 26; that

(c) One of his symphonies was the principal attraction of the Theatrical Poor Fund Concert in the Kärnthnerthortheater, April 16; that

(d) He could justly claim the use of that theatre from Prince Lobkowitz for a benefit concert; that

(e) Varena had again applied to him for music for another charity concert in Gratz; that

(f) Louis Bonaparte, Ex-King of Holland, then residing in Gratz, was the “rich third party” referred to in one of the letters; and

(g) That the pecuniary embarrassments of Lobkowitz reached their climax this summer and recalled Beethoven from Baden to take the needful steps to secure himself from farther loss, if possible.

On January 24th, he writes to Zmeskall:

We inform you, best Z., of this and the other thing from which you may choose the best, and are most horribly well-disposed toward you. We hear that you have letters from B. addressed to us and beg you to send them. Are you at liberty to-day? If so, you will find me in the Swan—if not, we will find each other somewhere else.

Your friend
Author
Beethoven Bonnensis.

Between this letter and the next there falls a rather long letter in French to Thomson, dated February 19, 1813, which informs us touching the progress of the work on the British songs. Beethoven writes:

I have received your valued letters of August 5, October 30 and December 21, and learned with pleasure that you have received the 62 songs which I have set for you at last and that you are satisfied with all but 9 of them which you specify and in which you would like to have me[246] change the ritornelles and accompaniments. I regret that I cannot accommodate you in this. I am not in the habit of rewriting my compositions. I have never done it, being convinced that any partial alteration changes the character of the entire composition. I regret that you will suffer the loss; but you can scarcely put the blame on me, since it ought to have been your affair to advise me more explicitly of the taste of your country and the small skill of your players. Having now received your instruction on these points I have composed the songs wholly anew and, as I hope, so that they will meet your expectations.

You may believe that it was only with great reluctance that I determined to do violence to my ideas and that I should never have been willing to do so had I not feared that a refusal would cause a loss to you, as in your collection you wanted to have my compositions exclusively and that otherwise you might have had your care and expense to produce a complete work in vain.... The last two songs in your letter of December 21, pleased me very much. For this reason I composed them con amore, particularly the second one. You noted it in Treble clef with a key signature of A-flat but as this key seems too little natural and so little in harmony with the direction Amoroso that it might better be written Barbaresco, I have set it in a more appropriate key.

Further on in the letter he asks Thomson to tell him whether Andantino was to be understood as meaning faster or slower than Andante, “for this term, like so many in music, is of so indefinite a significance that Andantino sometimes approaches an Allegro and sometimes, on the other hand, is played like Adagio.”

A rather long note to Zmeskall of February 25, being about a servant, is not worth copying. It begins: “I have, my dear Z., been almost continuously ill since I saw you last,” and closes after the signature with the word “Miserabilis.” Omitting others of similar contents we come to this interesting letter to Varena:

Help for the Ursulines at Gratz

Dear Sir!

No doubt Rode was right in all that he said about me; my health is not of the best and without fault of my own my condition otherwise is perhaps more unfavorable than at any time in my life; but neither this nor anything else shall dissuade me from helping the equally innocent sufferers, the Convent ladies, so far as my modest talents will permit. To this end, two entirely new symphonies are at your services, an air for bass voice with chorus, several smaller single choruses—if you need the overture to Hungary’s Benefactor which you performed last year, it is at your service.

The overture to “The Ruins of Athens,” although in a smaller style, is also at your service. Amongst the choruses is a chorus of Dervishes, an attractive thing [literally: “a good signboard”] for a mixed public.

In my opinion you would do best to choose a day on which you could give the oratorio “Christus am Ölberg”; since then it has been played all over; this would then fill half of the concert; for the second[247] half you would play a new symphony, the overture and different choruses, as also the bass air with chorus mentioned; thus the evening would not be without variety; but you would better talk this over with the musical councillors in your city and let them decide. What you say concerning remuneration for me from a third person I think I can guess who he is; if I were in my former condition I would flatly say: “Beethoven never takes pay when the benefitting of humanity is concerned,” but now, placed in a condition through my great benevolence (the cause of which can bring me no shame) and other circumstances which are to blame, which are caused by men without honesty or honor, I say frankly I would not decline such an offer from a rich third party; but there is no thought of a demand; even if there should prove to be nothing in the talk about a third person, be convinced that I am just as willing now to be of service to my friends, the reverend women, as I was last year without the least reward, and as I shall always be to suffering humanity as long as I breathe. And now farewell. Write to me soon and I will care for all that is necessary with the greatest zeal.

My best wishes for the convent.

Closely connected with this in subject, and no doubt in time, is the following letter to Zmeskall:

See to the delivery of this letter to Brunswick at once to-day, so that it may arrive as soon as possible and correctly. Pardon me the burdens which I place upon you. I have just been asked again to send works to Gratz in the Steirmark for a concert to be given for the benefit of the Ursulines and their educational convent. Last year such a concert yielded generous receipts. With this academy and that which I gave in Karlsbad for the benefit of the sufferers from the fire in Baden three academies have been given in one year for, by and through me—to me everywhere a deaf ear is turned [literally: “for me everybody wears his ears on his feet”].

Thereupon he wrote again to Varena:

Vienna, April 8, 1813.

My dear V!

I received with much pleasure your letter but again with much displeasure the 100 florins sent by the poor cloister ladies; meanwhile they are deposited with me to be applied to the payment of the expenses for copying. Whatever remains will be returned to the noble cloister women together with a view of the accounts.

For such occasions I never accept anything—I thought that the third person to whom you referred was perhaps the ex-King of Holland and—yes, from him who probably took from the Hollanders in a less righteous way I would have had no hesitation in accepting something in my present condition; now, however, I beg kindly that nothing more be said on the subject. Write me your opinion as to whether if I came to Gratz I could give a concert; for it is not likely that Vienna will long remain my place of residence; perhaps it is already too late, but your opinion on the subject will always be welcome.

The works will be copied and as soon as possible you shall have them—do whatever you please with the oratorio; wherever it can do any good my purposes will best be subserved.

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All things beautiful to our Ursulines, whom I am glad to be able to serve again.

Numbers 8 and 9 of Köchel’s “Drei-und-achtzig Original-Briefe” by Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph and his chamberlain, pray the Archduke to intercede for him with the Rector of the University for permission to give two concerts in the hall of the University. The result is shown in a note to Zmeskall dated April 19:

The hall of the University, my dear Z., is—refused, I received this information day before yesterday, but being ill yesterday I could not come to you to talk it over, nor to-day. There will remain nothing probably except the Kärnthnerthortheater or that An-der-Wien, and I fancy only one A (cademy). If that will not go we must resort to the Augarten, there of course we must give 2 A. Think the matter over a bit, my dear, and give me your opinion. It may be that the symphonies will be rehearsed to-morrow at the Archduke’s, if I can go out, of which I shall let you know.

The rehearsal took place on Resurrection Day, April 18, as we learn from the 48th letter in the Köchel Collection, which, together with the preceding two (Nos. 46 and 47), belong in the year 1813, not in 1819, as Köchel surmised. The following little note to Zmeskall refers to the rehearsal:

Meanwhile I thank you, dear Z., and inform you that the rehearsal will take place at the Archduke’s to-morrow afternoon at 3 o’clock—but I shall give you the particulars to-morrow morning—for the present I have announced it.

Your
Beethoven.

To Zmeskall he wrote on April 23:

Dear Z.: All will go well, the Archduke will take this Prince Fitzly Putzly soundly by the ears—let me know if you intend to eat at the inn to-day or when you do? Then tell me please whether “Sentivant” is correctly spelled, as I want to write to him at the same time for the chorus. I must yet consult with you about the day to be chosen, moreover you must not let anything be observed about the enlistment of the Archduke, for Prince Fitzly Putzly will not come to the Archduke till Sunday, if this wicked debtor were to observe anything in advance he would try to get out of it.

(On April 26): Lobkowitz will give me the theatre for a day after May 15, it seems to me this is about as good as none at all—and I am almost of a mind to give up all thoughts of a concert. He above will surely not let me go utterly to ruin.

(On May 10): I beg of you, dear Z., not to let anything be heard about what I said to you concerning Prince L., as the matter is really going forward and without this step nothing would ever have been certain. I have looked for you at the S. every day, but in vain.

[249]

Pictures with Musical Accompaniment

There follows another long letter to Varena:

My dear V!

There can be no harm in notifying you in advance of what I am sending you; you may be able to use more or less of it. You will receive 3 choruses which are not long and which you can use at different intervals in the concert—a large scene for bass voice with chorus; it is from the “Ruins of Athens” and occurs where the picture of our Emperor appears in view (in Ofen, Hungary, this came upon the stage from below). You may be able to use something of the kind to—stimulate the multitude.

In case of need the bass voice might be changed to a contralto. You will receive only the score of these pieces; had I known which you would use I could have had them copied for you here; I shall receive the scores and H. von Rettig will kindly look after them for you; besides, you will receive a march already copied for the instruments. Instead of a symphony you will receive two symphonies; first, the one which you desired to have written out and duplicate; 2nd, another one, also copied, which it appears to me you have not yet had performed in Gratz. As everything else is copied you can have the vocal pieces copied easily and in time.

Hr. von Rettich will no doubt find some extraordinary occasion to have everything delivered to you quickly, as everybody is willing to help in such benevolent causes. Why can I not do more for the good ladies!

I should have liked to send you two entirely new symphonies of mine, but my present condition commands me unfortunately to think of myself, and I do not know but that I may be obliged to leave this place as a fugitive from the country, for this thank the excellent princes who have made it impossible for me to work for the good and the useful as is my wont. Many thanks for your wine and thank also the worthy ladies for the sweetmeats which they sent me.

(To the same, without date):

P.P. I inform you in haste that in case the first two of the four horn parts are difficult for your players, you replace them with 2 violas, but solo players; the other 2 in C are easy and can be played by 2 hornists.

For the sake of my health I am hurrying to Baden for a measure of improvement. The cost of copying the scores was 8 fl. 24 kr., for which I shall get a receipt. I have charged 3 fl. for my servant to get the things together, making a total of 11 fl. 24 kr.; after deducting this sum I shall return the rest of the 100 fl. in a few days—it is impossible at this moment.

In case you write to me please enclose your letter to the following address in V., namely: To Hrn. Oliva, to be delivered to the Brothers Offenheimer in the Bauernmarkt.

In a letter to the Archduke, who was then in Baden (also written on May 27), Beethoven reports his arrival there. From Baden the correspondence with Varena was continued, as appears from a letter of July 4, 1813, in which Beethoven says:

Pardon this very belated answer, the reason is still the old one, my troubles, contending for my rights, and all this goes very slowly, since I[250] am dealing with a princely rascal, Prince Lobkowitz; another noble prince, one of an opposite character, died, but he as little as I was thinking of his death and in my affairs he left nothing in writing; this must now be fought out in the law courts at Prague. What an occupation for an artist to whom nothing is so dear as his art! and I was brought into all this by H. I. H. Archduke Rudolph....

Receive my thanks for the 150 fl. from the Forest Preservation Society,[113] commend me to the esteemed Society, but I am humiliated by the fact; why do you (or they) place so high an estimate on the little favor which I have shown the reverend ladies? I hope that my troubles will soon come to an end and that I may come into possession of my own; as soon as this happens I shall come in the fall to Gratz and then the 150 fl. shall be dealt with, and I shall then give a large concert for the benefit of the good Ursulines, or some other institution which may be recommended to me as the most needy and most useful....

We learn from the “Aufmerksame” of Gratz, that “Christus am Ölberg,” sent there by Beethoven in the preceding year, was sung as the second part of a concert for the poor on Palm Sunday, April 11, with applause which did honor to the good taste of the musical public of the Styrian capital.

In Vienna the C minor symphony opened and the new march from “Tarpeia” closed Schuppanzigh’s concert on the 1st of May in the Augarten; but no such enthusiasm was awakened as to induce Beethoven to risk the trouble and expense of producing his new symphonies, and the projected “Academies” were abandoned.

Recalled to Vienna early in July, Beethoven wrote thence to Archduke Rudolph:

From day to day I thought that I should be able to return to Baden, meanwhile the dissonances which are keeping me here may possibly detain me till next week. It is a torture for me to stay in the city in the summertime and when I reflect that I am also hindered from attending upon Y. I. H. it tortures and repels me the more. Meanwhile it is the Lobkowitz and Kinsky matter which keeps me here; instead of thinking about a number of measures I must ponder a number of walks (Gänge—passages) which I must make; without this I should scarcely live to see the end of the matter. Your I. H. has doubtless heard of Lobkowitz’s misfortunes. It is pitiable, but to be so rich is not fortunate! It is said that Count Fries alone paid 1900 ducats in gold to Duport[114] and took a mortgage on the old Lobkowitz house. The details are incredible. I hear that Rasoumowsky will come to Baden and bring his Quartet, which would be a very handsome thing, as Y. I. H. would certainly be nicely entertained. I know of no more delightful enjoyment in the country than quartet music. Graciously accept, Y. I. H., my sincerest wishes for your good health and pity me for being obliged to remain here[251] under such repulsive circumstances. Meanwhile I shall try to make up twofold all that you also lose in Baden.

Beethoven soon returned to Baden, where for the present he may be left in the enjoyment of nature, taking such pleasure as his deafness still granted in Rasoumowsky’s quartets, and submitting with what patience he could to his servitude with the Archduke.

Mälzel’s Musical Machines

Mälzel, during the past winter, had opened his “Künstler-cabinet” as a public exhibition. There were marbles, bronzes and paintings and a variety of contributions, scientific or curious, from various artists—among them a large electrical machine with apparatus for popular experiments, but the principal attractions were his own Mechanical Trumpeter and the new Panharmonicon. The Trumpeter executed a French cavalry march with signals and melodies which Mälzel himself accompanied on the pianoforte. The Panharmonicon combined the common instruments then employed in military bands, with a powerful bellows—the whole being inclosed in a case. The motive power was automatic and the keys were touched by pins fixed in a revolving cylinder, as in the common hand-organ or music-box. Compositions of considerable extent had each its own cylinder. The first pieces made ready were Cherubini’s “Lodoiska” Overture, Haydn’s “Military” Symphony, the overture and a chorus from Handel’s “Timotheus”; and by the end of January, Mälzel was at work upon an echo piece composed for him some years before by Cherubini. In the course of the summer he added a “few marches” composed by the popular young pianist, Moscheles, who during their preparation much frequented the workshop.

Beethoven’s “long journey” and “great act” both refer to a proposed journey to England with Mälzel, seriously contemplated during the first months of this year. Brunswick’s visit to Vienna occurred just when the project seemed ripe for execution; as it was on his authority that Schindler reports the “farewell meal” and the singing of the canon, this may be accepted as credible.

The condition of Karl van Beethoven’s health forced his brother to defer the journey; and Mälzel, too, found reason to wait until the end of the year—the idea of his really very beautiful and striking exhibition, the “Conflagration of Moscow,” had occurred to him and he willingly remained in Vienna to work it out. The change for the better in Karl van Beethoven’s health and pecuniary condition, and the completion of the “Conflagration,” left both Beethoven and Mälzel late in autumn free for[252] their departure. The mechanician was not only a man of unquestionable inventive genius, but he also understood the public; knew as by instinct how to excite and gratify curiosity without disappointing expectation, and had the tact and skill so to arrange his exhibitions as to dismiss his visitors grateful for an amusement for which they had paid. He was personally both respected and popular. He knew by experience the principal cities of the Continent, and London well enough to foresee, that the noble compositions of Handel, Haydn and Cherubini secured the success of his Panharmonicon there; but that if he could add to its repertory some new, striking and popular piece, bearing the now great name of Beethoven, he would increase both its attractiveness and the public interest and curiosity in the composer. Battles and sieges had for many years been favorite subjects for descriptive music, and the grand engagements of the last fifty years were few indeed which had not been fought over again by orchestras, bands and all sorts of instruments. Poor Koczwara—who hanged himself in jest at London in 1792—was the author of a “Grande Battaille” (in D) for orchestra, and the “Battaille de Prague” for pianoforte trio “avec tambour,” or pianoforte solo, commemorative of a victory of Frederick II of Prussia. This, for forty years, was a showpiece throughout Europe and even in America. Devenne composed the “Battle of Gemappe”; Neubauer, of Martinestie; Jadin, of Austerlitz; Fuchs, of Jena; and so on, for orchestra. The grand battle piece for two flutes, which is generally supposed to have existed but in a joke, the point of which is its absurdity, was really published—it was an arrangement of Fuchs’ “Jena.” For the pianoforte solo, or with the accompaniment of two or more instruments, the press teemed with battles. Among them were those of Fleurus, Würzburg, Marengo, Jena (by others than Fuchs), Wagram, the bombardment of Vienna. Steibelt produced two land engagements and a “Combat naval”; Kauer, “Nelson’s Battle”; and so on indefinitely.

Wellington’s Victory, or The Battle of Vittoria

When, therefore, the news of Wellington’s magnificent victory at Vittoria, June 21, 1813, reached Vienna, Mälzel saw instantly that it presented the subject of a composition for his Panharmonicon than which none could be conceived better fitted to strike the popular taste in England. A work which should do homage to the hero, flatter national feeling by the introduction of “Rule Britannia” and “God save the King,” gratify the national hatred of the French, celebrate British victory and Gallic defeat, bear the great name of Beethoven and be illuminated by his genius—what more could be desired? He wrought out the plan[253] and explained it to the composer, who, for once, consented to work out the ideas of another. In a sketchbook for this composition, having signals for the battle on its first page, we read: “Wellington’s Victory Vittoria, only God save the King, but a great victory overture for Wellington”; and in the so-called “Tagebuch”: “I must show the English a little what a blessing there is in God save the King”; perhaps, also, another remark just after this was occasioned by his experience on this work: “It is certain that one writes most beautifully when one writes for the public, also that one writes rapidly.” There is nothing in this at all contradictory to Moscheles’s positive and unimpeachable testimony on the origin of the work. In a note to his English edition of Schindler’s book he writes:

I witnessed the origin and progress of this work, and remember that not only did Mälzel decidedly induce Beethoven to write it, but even laid before him the whole design of it; himself wrote all the drum-marches and the trumpet-flourishes of the French and English armies; gave the composer some hints, how he should herald the English army by the tune of “Rule Britannia”; how he should introduce “Malbrook” in a dismal strain; how he should depict the horrors of the battle and arrange “God save the King” with effects representing the hurrahs of a multitude. Even the unhappy idea of converting the melody of “God save the King” into a subject of a fugue in quick movement, emanates from Mälzel. All this I saw in sketches and score, brought by Beethoven to Mälzel’s workshop, then the only suitable place of reception he was provided with.

The same, in general and in most of its particulars, was related to the author by Carl Stein, who was daily in Mälzel’s rooms—they being, as before noted, in his father’s pianoforte manufactory—and who was firmly of the opinion, that Mälzel was afterwards very unfairly, not to say unjustly, treated by Beethoven in the matter of this composition. The composer himself says: “I had already before then conceived the idea of a battle which was not practicable on his Panharmonica,” thus by implication fully admitting that this idea was not his own; moreover, the copy of a part of the Panharmonicon score, in the Artaria Collection, has on the cover, in his own hand: “On Wellington’s Victory at Vittoria, 1813, written for Hr. Mälzel by Ludwig van Beethoven.” This is all more or less confirmatory of Moscheles, if indeed any confirmation be needed. It is almost too obvious for mention, that Mälzel’s share in the work was even more than indicated above, because whoever wrote for the Panharmonicon must be frequently instructed by him as to its capacities and limitations, whether a Beethoven or the young Moscheles. We may reasonably assume, that the general plan of “Wellington’s Victory” was[254] fixed during the composer’s occasional visits to the city in August and September, and such alterations in the score determined upon as the nature of the instrument demanded; so that early in October the whole was ready for Mälzel to transfer to its cylinder.

On Beethoven’s return to his city lodging, between the 15th and 20th of September, his notes to Zmeskall become as usual numerous, the principal topic just now being the engagement of a new servant. While with the assistance and under the direction of the excellent Streichers, Beethoven got his lodgings and wardrobe into decent order, with the aid of Zmeskall he obtained that servant spoken of by Schindler,

who was a tailor and carried on his trade in the anteroom of the composer. With the help of his wife he attended the master with touching care till into the year 1816—and this regulated mode of life did our friend much good. Would that it might have endured a few years longer.

At this stage of the case there came also evidences of love and admiration from Princess Lichnowsky, which are well worth more detailed notice. The Prince was in the habit of frequently visiting his favorite in his workshop. In accordance with a mutual understanding no notice was to be taken of his presence, so that the master might not be disturbed. After the morning greeting the Prince was in the habit of looking through any piece of music that chanced to be at hand, watching the master at his work for a while and then leaving the room with a friendly “adieu.” Nevertheless, these visits disturbed Beethoven, who occasionally locked the door. Unvexed, the Prince would walk down the three flights of stairs. As the sartorial servant sat in the anteroom, His Serene Highness would join him and wait until the door opened and he could speak a friendly greeting to the Prince of Music. The need was thus satisfied. But it was not given long to the honored Mæcenas of Art to rejoice in his favorite and his creations.

This is touching and trustworthy.

To return to “Wellington’s Victory.” Schindler, supposing the Panharmonicon to have played it, remarked in the first edition of his book: “The effect of the piece was so unexpected that Mälzel requested our Beethoven to instrumentate it for orchestra.” He is mistaken as to the reason; for Mälzel had only, in Beethoven’s words, “begun to engrave.” In truth, he was musician enough to see from the score, how very effective it would be if instrumentated for grand orchestra, and sagacious enough to perceive, that the composition in that form might prove of far greater advantage to them in London and probably be more attractive afterwards when performed by the Panharmonicon. But there was another consideration far more important.

Before the age of steam a journey from Vienna to London with the many huge cases required for even a part of Mälzel’s[255] collection, was a very expensive undertaking. The problem now was, how to provide the necessary funds. Beethoven’s were exhausted and his own were very limited. To go alone and give exhibitions at the principal cities on the way, involved little or no risk for Mälzel, as the experience of the next year proved; but to make the journey direct, with Beethoven for his companion, was impossible until in some manner a considerable sum of ready money could be provided.

A Benefit for Wounded Soldiers

The only resource of the composer, except borrowing, was, of course, the production of the two new Symphonies, one of which had been copied for trial with small orchestra at the Archduke’s, thus diminishing somewhat the expenses of a concert. It was five years since he had had a benefit, and therefore one full house might be counted on with reasonable certainty; but no concert of his had ever been repeated, and a single full house would leave but a small margin of profit. Moreover, his fruitless efforts in the Spring to arrange an “Akademie” were discouraging. Unless the new Symphonies could be produced without cost to himself, and the interest and curiosity of the public so aroused as to insure the success of two or three subsequent concerts, no adequate fund for the journey could be gained; but if so great a sensation could in some manner be made as to secure this object, the fame of it would precede and nobly herald them in London.

Beethoven was helpless; but Mälzel’s sagacity was equal to the occasion. He knew that for the highly cultivated classes of music-lovers, able and ready to appreciate the best, nothing better could be desired than new Symphonies by Beethoven; but such auditors are always limited in number; the programme must also contain something surprising, sensational, ad captandum vulgus, to catch the ear of the multitude, and open their pockets. His Trumpeter was not enough; it had lost its novelty; although with an orchestra instead of pianoforte accompaniment, it would be something. Beethoven alone could, if he would, produce what was indispensable. Time pressed, Mälzel had long since closed his exhibition, and every day of delay was a serious expense. The “Conflagration of Moscow,” the model of his Chronometer and the cylinders for his Panharmonicon were all finished, except the “Victory,” and this would soon be ready. Before the end of the year, therefore, he could be in Munich, as his interest imperatively demanded, provided Beethoven should not be his companion. There was nothing to detain him in Vienna after the “Victory” was completed, but his relations to the composer. Him he knew too well to hope from him any work deliberately written[256] with a view to please the multitude, had the time allowed, which it did not.

Preparations were making in October for two grand performances on the 11th and 14th of November, in the R. I. Winter Riding Academy, of Handel’s “Timotheus” for the benefit of the widows and orphans of Austrians and Bavarians who had fallen in the late campaign against Napoleon. On this hint Mälzel formed his plan. This was, if Beethoven would consent to instrumentate the “Victory” for orchestra—in doing which, being freed from the limitations of the Panharmonicon, he could give free play to his fancy—he (Mälzel) would return to him the score, risk the sacrifice of it for its original purpose, remain in Vienna, and make it the popular attraction of a grand charity concert for the benefit of the Austrians and Bavarians wounded in the battle at Hanau, trusting that it would open the way for two or more concerts to be given for their own benefit. Under all the circumstances, it is difficult to decide, whether to admire the more Mälzel’s good judgment, or his courageous trust in it and in Beethoven’s genius. He disclosed his plan and purposes to the composer, they were approved by him, and the score was returned.

While Beethoven wrought zealously on his task, Mälzel busied himself with the preparations for the concert. His personal popularity, the charitable object in view, curiosity to study Beethoven’s new productions, especially the battle-piece, secured the services of nearly all the leading musicians, some of whom were there only in passing or temporarily—Dragonetti, Meyerbeer, the bassoon-player Romberg, and others. Tomaschek, who heard the “Victory” next year, writes that he was “very painfully affected to see a Beethoven, whom Providence had probably assigned to the highest throne in the realm of music, among the rudest materialists. I was told, it is true, that he himself had declared the work to be folly, and that he liked it only because with it he had thoroughly thrashed the Viennese.” There is no doubt that this was so; nor that they, who engaged in its performance, viewed it as a stupendous musical joke, and engaged in it con amore as in a gigantic professional frolic.

The University Hall was granted on this occasion and the 8th of December was fixed for the concert. Young Glöggl was in Vienna, visited Beethoven, and was by him granted the privilege of attending the rehearsals. “I remember,” he writes,

that in one rehearsal the violin-players refused to play a passage in the symphony and rebuked him for writing difficulties which were incapable of performance. But Beethoven begged the gentlemen to take the parts[257] home with them—if they were to practise it at home it would surely go. The next day at the rehearsal the passage went excellently, and the gentlemen themselves seemed to rejoice that they had given Beethoven the pleasure.

Spohr Describes Beethoven’s Conducting

Spohr, playing among the violins,

for the first time saw Beethoven conduct and was surprised in the highest degree, although he had been told beforehand of what he now saw with his own eyes. Beethoven had accustomed himself [he says] to indicate expression to the orchestra by all manner of singular bodily movements. At piano he crouched down lower and lower as he desired the degree of softness. If a crescendo then entered he gradually rose again and at the entrance of the forte jumped into the air. Sometimes, too, he unconsciously shouted to strengthen the forte. It was obvious that the poor man could no longer hear the piano of his music. This was strikingly illustrated in the second portion of the first Allegro of the symphony. In one place there are two holds, one immediately after the other, of which the second is pianissimo. This, Beethoven had probably overlooked, for he began again to beat time before the orchestra had begun to play the second hold. Without knowing it, therefore, he had hurried ten or twelve measures ahead of the orchestra, when it began again and, indeed, pianissimo. Beethoven to indicate this had in his wonted manner crouched clean under the desk. At the succeeding crescendo he again became visible, straightened himself out more and more and jumped into the air at the point where according to his calculation the forte ought to begin. When this did not follow his movement he looked about in a startled way, stared at the orchestra to see it still playing pianissimo and found his bearings only when the long-expected forte came and was audible to him. Fortunately this comical incident did not take place at the performance.

Mälzel’s first placards announcing the concert spoke of the battle-piece as his property; but Beethoven objecting to this, others were substituted in which it was said to have been composed “out of friendship, for his visit to London.” No hint was conveyed of Mälzel’s share in the composition. The programme was:

I. “An entirely new Symphony,” by Beethoven (the Seventh, in A major).

II. Two Marches played by Mälzel’s Mechanical Trumpeter, with full orchestral accompaniment—the one by Dussek, the other by Pleyel.

III. “Wellington’s Victory.”

The success of the performances was so unequivocal and splendid as to cause their repetition on Sunday, the 12th, at noon, at the same prices, 10 fl. and 5 fl. “The net receipts of the two performances, after deducting the unavoidable costs, were 4006 florins, which were reverently turned over to the ‘hohen Kriegs-Präsidio’ for the purposes announced” (“Wiener Zeitung,”[258] December 20). The “Wiener Zeitung,” “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” of Leipsic, and the “Beobachter,” contained excessively laudatory notices of the music and vivid descriptions of its effect upon the auditors, whose “applause rose to the point of ecstasy.” The statements of the contemporary public prints are confirmed by the veteran Spohr, who reports that the Allegretto of the Seventh Symphony “was demanded da capo at both concerts.”

Schindler calls this rightly “one of the most important moments in the life of the master, at which all the hitherto divergent voices, save those of the professional musicians, united in proclaiming him worthy of the laurel.” “A work like the battle-symphony had to come,” adds Schindler with good judgment, “in order that divergent opinions might be united and the mouths of all opponents, of whatever kind, be silenced.” Schindler also preserved a “Note of Thanks” prepared for the “Wiener Zeitung” and signed by Beethoven, which ends with a just and merited tribute to Mälzel:

(For the “Intelligenz-Blatt” of the “Wiener Zeitung.”)

I esteem it to be my duty to thank all the honored participants in the Academy given on December 8, and 12, for the benefit of the sick and wounded Austrian and Bavarian soldiers who fought in the battle at Hanau.

It was an unusual congregation of admirable artists wherein every individual was inspired by the single thought of contributing something by his art for the benefit of the fatherland, and coöperated without considering rank in subordinate places in the excellent execution of the whole.

While Herr Schuppanzigh at the head of the violins carried the orchestra by his fiery and expressive playing, Hr. Chief-Chapelmaster Salieri did not scruple to beat time for the drummers and salvos; Hr. Spohr and Hr. Mayseder, each worthy of leadership because of his art, collaborated in the second and third places and Hr. Siboni and Giuliani also occupied subordinate positions.

To me the direction of the whole was assigned only because the music was of my composition; had it been by another, I should have been as willing as Hr. Hummel[115] to take my place at the big drum, as we were all filled with nothing but the pure love of country and of joyful sacrifice of our powers for those who sacrificed so much for us.

But our greatest thanks are due to Hr. Mälzel, since it was he who first conceived the idea of this academy and there fell to him afterward the[259] management, care and arrangement—the most arduous labors of all. I must also thank him in particular, because by the projection of this academy, he gave me the opportunity, long and ardently desired, by means of the composition especially written for this philanthropic purpose and delivered to him without pay, to lay a work of magnitude upon the altar of the fatherland under the existing conditions.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Why was this document not printed? Beethoven had suddenly quarreled with Mälzel.

Evidence of the impatience with which Beethoven conducted the controversy with the heirs of Prince Kinsky, concerning the payment of the annuity installments, is given by a letter dated “Vienna, December 18, 1813,” to Dr. Beyer, a lawyer in Prague, in which he says:

I have many times cursed this unhappy decree through which I have been plunged into numberless sorrows. Oliva is no longer here and it is unendurable to lose so much time in the matter, which I steal from my art only to see things at a standstill. I have now sent a new opinion to Wolff, he wanted to begin legal proceedings, but I think it better as I have written to Wolff, first to send a petition to the general courts—give me your help in the matter and do not let me go to destruction, here, surrounded by innumerable enemies in everything that I do, I am almost desperate. My brother, whom I have overwhelmed with benevolences, with whose consent I certainly am ... partly in misery is—my greatest enemy!... I would gladly have taken the entire matter out of Wolff’s hands and placed it in yours, but we should only make new enemies.

Compositions and Publications of 1813

The ascertained compositions of this year are:

I. Triumphal March, C major, for Kuffner’s “Tarpeia.”

II. “Wellington’s Victory.”

III. Song: “Der Bardengeist” (“On November 3d, 1813”).

IV. Canon: “Kurz ist der Schmerz.” (First form.) “For Herrn Naue as a souvenir from L. v. Beethoven, Vienna, November 23, 1813.” Johann Friedrich Naue, successor to Türk as Musik-Direktor, etc., at Halle, born in 1790, appears to have been in Vienna on a visit this Autumn.

V. Irish airs quite, or nearly, completed.

Publications:

In Thomson’s preface to the First Volume of “A Select Collection of Original Irish Airs,” dated “Edinburgh, Anno 1814,” he remarks: “After the volume was printed and some copies of it had been circulated, an opportunity occurred of sending it to Beethoven, who corrected the few inaccuracies that had escaped the notice of the Editor and his friends; and he trusts it will be found without a single error.”

It is to be inferred from this, that the first volume was published, at the latest, this year; but the corrections were not sent to Thomson until September, 1814. The songs were originally printed in numbers. Thus[260] of the first volume of the Scotch Songs, principally by Koželuch and Pleyel, the First, Third, and Fourth Sets, now before the writer, contain 25 songs each.

It may be assumed then that at least a part of the Irish Songs came from the press in 1813. The song “Der Bardengeist” was published as a supplement to the “Musenalmanach” of Joh. Erichson for 1814. The preface of the almanac is dated November 20, 1813, and the book was doubtless published before New Year’s Day, 1814.

[261]

Chapter XIV

The Year 1814—Popular Performances Repeated—Revision of “Fidelio”—The Opera Succeeds—Anton Schindler Enters Beethoven’s Life—The Quarrel with Mälzel—Moscheles—The Vienna Congress—J. W. Tomaschek—Count Rasoumowsky’s Palace Burned—Compositions of the Year.

On the last day of 1813, the “Wiener Zeitung” contained this public notice:

Musical Academy

The desire of a large number of music-lovers whom I esteem as worthy of honor, to hear again my grand instrumental composition on “Wellington’s Victory at Vittoria,” makes it my pleasant duty herewith to inform the valued public that on Sunday, the 2d of January, I shall have the honor to perform the aforementioned composition with added vocal pieces and choruses and aided by the most admirable musicians of Vienna in the R. I. large Ridotto Room for my benefit.

Tickets of admission are to be had daily in the Kohlmarkt in the house of Baron v. Haggenmüller, to the right of the court on the ground floor, in the comptoir of Baron v. Pasqualati; parterre 2 fl. gallery 3 fl. Vienna standard.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Mälzel saw, therefore, that the objects for which he had sacrificed the “Battle,” for which he had lost so many precious weeks and had spent so much labor and pains, were accomplished in so far as Beethoven’s new works were now the subjects of general interest and curiosity, and their repeated performance to large and profitable audiences was secured. To his courage and sagacity this was wholly due. It is thoroughly unjust to deny or ignore the value of his services. What his feelings were now, to find himself deprived of all share in the benefit resulting from them, and therefore left without compensation, may readily be conceived. His Mechanical Trumpeter was necessarily discarded with himself, and Beethoven had to find something to take its place on the[262] programme. Hence this note (in December) to Moritz Lichnowsky:

If you, worthy Count, want to take part in our consultation I inform you that it will be held this afternoon at half after 3 o’clock in the Spielmann house on the Graben 1188 in the fourth storey at Hr. Weinmüller’s—it would rejoice me time permitting if you were to attend.

Entirely your
Beethoven.

The result of this conference was the selection of Nos. 6, 7 and 8 of the “Ruins of Athens” music, viz: the “Solemn March with Chorus” and the concluding Bass Air, sung by Weinmüller, with the choruses. The last was exceedingly appropriate in a concert in the Redouten-Saal, it being the number in which (as in the old Bonnian “Blick in die Zukunft”) the bust of the monarch is made suddenly to appear. To insure the effectiveness of this is the object of a humorous note to Zmeskall, on New Year’s Day.

All would be well if there were but a curtain, without it the Air will fall through. Only to-day do I learn this from S. and it grieves me—let there be a curtain even if it be only a bed-curtain, only a sort of screen which can be removed for the moment, a veil, etc. There must be something, the Air is too dramatic, too much written for the theatre, to be effective in a concert; without a curtain or something of the sort all of its meaning will be lost!—lost!—lost!—To the devil with everything! The Court will probably come, Baron Schweiger asked me to go there at once, Archduke Karl admitted me to his presence and promised to come. The Empress did not accept nor did she decline.

Hangings!!! or the Air and I will hang to-morrow. Farewell in the new year, I press you as warmly to my heart as in the old—with or without curtain.

The orchestra was for the most part composed of the same professional and amateur artists as had taken part in the two previous concerts, so that the rehearsals were comparatively inexpensive, the only new music being the selections from “The Ruins”; but Salieri, as director of the cannonade, gave place to Hummel. Franz Wild, the singer, was present and records in his “Autobiography” his reminiscences of the occasion thus:

He (Beethoven) mounted the conductor’s platform, and the orchestra, knowing his weakness, found itself plunged into an anxious excitement which was justified only too soon; for scarcely had the music begun before its creator offered a bewildering spectacle. At the piano passages he sank upon his knee, at the forte he leaped up, so that his figure, now shrivelling to that of a dwarf, disappeared under the desk and anon stretched up far above it like a giant, his hands and arms working as if with the beginning of the music a thousand lives had entered every member. At first this happened without disturbance of the effect of the[263] composition, for the disappearance and appearance of his body was synchronous with the dying away and the swelling of the music; but all at once the genius ran ahead of his orchestra and the master disappeared at the forte passages and appeared again at the piano. Now danger was imminent and at the critical moment Chapelmaster Umlauf took the commander’s staff and it was indicated to the orchestra that he alone was to be obeyed. For a long time Beethoven noticed nothing of the change; when he finally observed it, a smile came to his lips which, if ever a one which kind fate permitted me to see could be called so, deserved to be called “heavenly.”

Success of the Battle Music

The composer had every reason to be satisfied with the result, for not only was it pecuniarly profitable but

the applause was general and reached the highest ecstasy. Many things had to be repeated, and there was a unanimous expression of a desire on the part of all the hearers to hear the compositions again and often, and to have occasion more frequently to laud and admire our native composer for works of his brilliant invention.

So speaks the “Wiener Zeitung” on the 9th, which on the 24th of January printed this:

Note of Thanks.

I had the good fortune on the occasion of a performance of my compositions at the concert given by me on January 2, to have the support and help of a large number of the most admirable and celebrated artists of the city, and to see my works brilliantly made known by the hands of such virtuosos. Though these artists may have felt themselves rewarded by their own zeal for art and the pleasure which they gave the public through their talents, it is yet my duty publicly to express to them my thanks for their mark of friendship for me and ready support.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

“Only in this room” (the large Redoutensaal), says Schindler, “was the opportunity offered to put into execution the manifold intentions of the composer in the Battle Symphony. With the help of the long corridors and the rooms opposite to each other the opposing forces were enabled to approach each other and the desired illusion was strikingly achieved.” Schindler was among the listeners on this occasion and gives assurance that the enthusiasm awakened by the performance, “heightened by the patriotic feeling of those memorable days,” was overwhelming.

Among the direct consequences of this sudden and boundless popularity of Beethoven’s music, to which Mälzel had given the occasion and impulse, was one all the more gratifying, because totally unexpected—the revival of “Fidelio.”

“The Inspizienten of the R. I. Court Opera, Saal, Vogel and Weinmüller, about this time were granted a performance for their[264] benefit, the choice of a work being left to them, without cost.” There was then no opera, German, French or Italian, likely to draw a remunerative house in the repertory of the theatre, which could be produced without expense to the institution. The sensation caused by Beethoven’s new music, including the numbers from “The Ruins of Athens” in which Weinmüller had just sung, suggested “Fidelio.” All three had been in Vienna at its production and therefore knew it sufficiently to judge of its fitness for them as singers, and the probability of its now being successful; at all events the name of Beethoven would surely secure for their night a numerous audience. “Beethoven was approached for the loan of the opera,” says Treitschke, who had this year been re-appointed stage-manager and poet at the Kärnthnerthor-Theater after having been employed some years at the Theater-an-der-Wien, “and very unselfishly declared his willingness, but on the unequivocal condition that many changes be made.”

At the same time he proposed my humble self as the person to make these changes. I had enjoyed his more intimate friendship for some time, and my twofold position as stage-manager and opera-poet made his wish a pious duty. With Sonnleithner’s permission I first took up the dialogue, wrote it almost wholly anew, succinct and clear as possible—an essential thing in the case of Singspiele.

Treitschke’s Revision of “Fidelio”

The principal changes made by Treitschke were, by his own account, these:

The scene of the entire first act was laid in an open court; the positions of Nos. 1 and 2, were exchanged; later the guard entered to a newly composed march; Leonore’s Air received a new introduction, and only the last movement, “O du, für den ich alles trug,” was retained. The succeeding scene and duet—according to Seyfried’s description “a charming duettino for soprano voices with concertante parts for violin and violoncello, C major, 6/8 time”—which was in the old book, Beethoven tore out of the score; the former (he said) was unnecessary, the latter a concert-piece; I was compelled to agree with him; the purpose in view was to save the opera as a whole. A little terzetto for Rocco, Marcelline and Jacquino which followed (“a most melodious terzetto in E-flat” as Seyfried says) fared no better. There had been a want of action and the music did not warm the hearers. A new dialogue was desired to give more occasion for the first finale. My friend was again right in demanding a different ending. I made many plans; at length we came to an agreement: to bring together the return of the prisoners at the command of Pizarro and their lamentation.

The second act offered a great difficulty at the very outset. Beethoven at first wanted to distinguish poor Florestan with an aria, but I offered the objection that it would not be possible to allow a man nearly dead of hunger to sing bravura. We composed one thing and[265] another; at last, in my opinion, I hit the nail on the head. I wrote words which describe the last blazing up of life before its extinguishment:

“Und spür’ ich nicht linde, sanft säuselnde Luft,
Und ist nicht mein Grab mir erhellet?
Ich seh’, wie ein Engel, in rosigem Duft,
Sich tröstend zur Seite mir stellet.
Ein Engel, Leonoren, der Gattin so gleich!
Der führt mich zur Freiheit,—ins himmlische Reich!”

What I am now relating will live forever in my memory. Beethoven came to me about seven o’clock in the evening. After we had discussed other things, he asked how matters stood with the aria? It was just finished, I handed it to him. He read, ran up and down the room, muttered, growled, as was his habit instead of singing—and tore open the pianoforte. My wife had often vainly begged him to play; to-day he placed the text in front of him and began to improvise marvellously—music which no magic could hold fast. Out of it he seemed to conjure the motive of the aria. The hours went by, but Beethoven improvised on. Supper, which he had purposed to eat with us, was served, but—he would not permit himself to be disturbed. It was late when he embraced me, and declining the meal, he hurried home. The next day the admirable composition was finished.

Concerning this air, Röckel writes:

Measurably to satisfy the new Florestan (the Italian Radichi), who wanted to be applauded after his air, which was not possible nor fitting to the situation nor desirable after the pianissimo conclusion of Florestan’s air with the con sordino accompaniment of the violins, without writing a new air, Beethoven cut the Adagio in two and concluded with an Allegro in the high register of the singer; but as the noise of applause would not have been increased by Rocco and Fidelio, who enter at this moment to dig a grave for the supposedly dead man, the composer concluded the noisy Allegro with a coda for the orchestra ending with a new pianissimo, by which device the silence essential to the succeeding scene was again restored.

Treitschke continues:

Nearly all the rest in the second act was confined to abbreviations and changes in the poetry. I think that a careful comparison of the two printed texts will justify my reasons. The grandiose quartet: “Er sterbe,” etc., was interrupted by me with a short pause during which Jacquino and other persons report the arrival of the Minister and make the accomplishment of the murder impossible by summoning Pizarro away. After the next duet Rocco comes and accompanies Florestan and Leonore to the Minister.

At this point, Treitschke avoided what had always appeared to him to be “a great fault”—namely, that the dungeon was the scene of the entire second act—by introducing a change in the scenery so that the conclusion should be “in full daylight upon a bright green courtyard of the palace.”

[266]

Before the middle of February the alterations to be made were determined by musician and poet, and each began his task; both were hindered by frequent interruptions, and its completion deferred.[116]

Beethoven’s attention to it was immediately called away by the concert of which these two notes speak:

No. I.
(To Brunswick.)

Vienna, February 13, 1814. Dear friend and brother! You wrote to me recently, I write to you now—you no doubt rejoice over all victories—also over mine—on the 27th of this month I shall give a second concert in the large Ridotto Room—Come up—You know it now. Thus I am gradually rescuing myself from my misery, for from my salaries I have not yet received a penny.[117] Schuppanzigh has written to Michalcovics[118] whether it would be worth while to come to Ofen; what do you think? Of course such a thing would have to take place in a theatre. My opera is going to be performed, but I am writing much of it over. I hope you are living contentedly, that is not a little, so far as I am concerned, good heavens, my kingdom is in the air, like the wind the tones often whirl in my soul—I embrace you.

No. II.
(To Archduke Rudolph.)

I hope for pardon for my non-attendance. Your displeasure would punish me when I am innocent; in a few days I will make it all up. They intend to perform my opera “Fidelio” again. This gives me a great deal of work, and despite my healthy appearance I am not well. For my second concert the arrangements have been made in part, I must compose something new for Milder in it. Meanwhile I hear, and it is comforting to me, that Y. I. H. is in better health,[119] I hope, unless I am[267] flattering myself too much, soon again to contribute to it. In the meantime I have taken the liberty to inform my Lord Falstaff[120] that he will soon graciously be permitted to appear before Y. I. H.

The “Wiener Zeitung” of February 24th contains the advertisement of the “Akademie, next Sunday, the 27th inst. in the large Redoutensaal,” announcing “a new symphony not yet heard and an entirely new as yet unheard terzetto” as novelties. To Hummel, Beethoven now wrote:

I beg of you conduct this time again the drumheads and cannonades with your admirable chapelmaster and field-marshall’s bâton—do it, I beg of you, and if ever I am wanted to cannonade you, I shall be at your service body and soul.

“Wellington’s Victory” Repeated

The report in the “Allg. Mus. Zeit.” contains the programme in full with a few short and pertinent observations:

1. The new symphony (A major) which was received with so much applause, again. The reception was as animated as at the first time; the Andante (A minor) the crown of modern instrumental music, as at the first performance had to be repeated.

2. An entirely new Italian terzetto (B-flat major) beautifully sung by Mad. Milder-Hauptmann, Hrn. Siboni and Hrn. Weinmüller, is conceived at the outset wholly in the Italian style, but ends with a fiery Allegro in Beethoven’s individual style. It was applauded.

3. An entirely new, hitherto unheard symphony (F major, ¾ time). The greatest interest of the listeners seemed centered on this, the newest product of B’s muse, and expectation was tense, but this was not sufficiently gratified after the single hearing, and the applause which it received was not accompanied by that enthusiasm which distinguishes a work which gives universal delight; in short—as the Italians say—it did not create a furore. This reviewer is of the opinion that the reason does not lie by any means in weaker or less artistic workmanship (for here as in all of B’s works of this class there breathes that peculiar spirit by which his originality always asserts itself); but partly in the faulty judgment which permitted this symphony to follow that in A major, partly in the surfeit of beauty and excellence which must necessarily be followed by a reaction. If this symphony should be performed alone hereafter, we have no doubt of its success.

4. At the close, “Wellington’s Victory in the battle of Vittoria” was given again, the first part, the Battle, having to be repeated. The performance left nothing to be desired; and the attendance was again very large.

The “something new for Milder” resulted in something rather old; for the terzetto in which she sang was the “Tremate, empj, tremate,” fully sketched in 1801-1802, but now first written out and completed in its present form.

[268]

Schindler discovered among Beethoven’s papers, and has communicated substantially in his book, certain accounts of expenses incurred in this concert. Only the Eighth Symphony and the terzetto had to be copied; for these “the specification amounted in total: 452 written pages at 12 kreutzers, makes 90 florins, 24 kr.; the specified cost of the orchestra alone at this concert amounted to 344 florins. Nevertheless, only 7 first violinists and only 6 seconds who were paid some 5 some 7 fl. are mentioned by name, because in each part twice as many dilettanti had played.” One of Beethoven’s own memoranda gives the exact number of the string instruments: “At my last concert in the large Ridotto-room there were 18 first violins, 18 second, 14 violas, 12 violoncellos, 17 contra-basses, 2 contra-bassoons.” Whether the audience numbered 5000, as Schindler reports, or 3000, which is more likely, the clear pecuniary profits of the two concerts were very large. Czerny remembered that on this occasion the Eighth Symphony “by no means pleased” and Beethoven was angry thereat, “because it is much better,” he said. Another of his reminiscences is that Beethoven “often related with much pleasure how, when walking on the Kahlenberg after the performance of the Eighth Symphony, he got some cherries from a couple of girls and when he asked the price of one of them, she replied: ‘I’ll take nothing from you. We saw you in the Ridotto-room when we heard your beautiful music.’”

The University Law Students had a composition by Beethoven on the programme of their concert, on February 12; the Medical Students opened their concert, March 6, with the “Egmont” Overture; and the Regiment Deutschmeister, theirs of March 25 with that to “Coriolan”; with these concerts Beethoven had nothing to do; but in the Annual Spring “Akademie,” March 25, in the Kärnthnerthor-Theater for the Theatre Poor Fund, he conducted the “Egmont” Overture and “Wellington’s Victory.”

Both poet and composer had now been again delayed in their “Fidelio” studies, in this wise: The French Armies had so often taken possession of the capitals of the various Continental states, that the motives are inconceivable, which induced Schwarzenberg to restrain the approach of the allied armies on Paris, until Blücher’s persistence, enforced by his victories, at last compelled the Commander-in-Chief to yield the point. When this became known in Vienna, it was determined to celebrate the event, so soon as news of it should arrive, by an appropriate performance in the Court Opera. To this end, Treitschke wrote a Singspiel in one act entitled “Gute Nachricht” (“Good News”). Of the nine[269] pieces of music in it, the overture was given to Hummel and the concluding chorus, “Germania, wie stehst du jetzt im Glanze da,” to Beethoven.

In a note to Treitschke, called out by the proposed changes in the scenery of “Fidelio,” Beethoven wrote:

The arrival of the Spaniards, which is only suggested in the play, not visibly presented, might be utilized for the multitude to open the big hole of the Wiedener Theatre [the stage]—and there might be a good deal of spectacle besides and the music would not be wholly lost, and I should willingly add something new if it were asked.

Towards the end of March, Beethoven received the new text to “Fidelio.” To Treitschke he wrote: “I have read your amendments to the opera with great pleasure; they determine me to rebuild the ruins of an old castle.” A letter to the poet refers again to the chorus which he had composed for Treitschke’s Singspiel:

I beg you, dear T., to send me the score of the song so that the interpolated note may be written into all the instruments—I shall not take it at all amiss if you have it newly composed by Gyrowetz or anybody else—preferably Weinmüller—I make no pretensions in the matter, but I will not suffer that any man—no matter who he may be—change my compositions.

First Performance of the Trio in B-flat

Beethoven’s attention was now again called away from the opera by a concert in the hall of the Hotel zum Römischen Kaiser, arranged by the landlord and Schuppanzigh for a military charity. Czerny relates that a new grand trio had then for some time been a subject of conversation among Beethoven’s friends, though no one had heard it. This work, Op. 97, in B-flat major, was to open the second part of the concert and the composer had consented to play in it. Spohr was by chance in Beethoven’s rooms at one of the rehearsals and heard him play—the only time. “It was not a treat,” he writes:

for, in the first place, the pianoforte was badly out of tune, which Beethoven minded little, since he did not hear it; and secondly, there was scarcely anything left of the virtuosity of the artist which had formerly been so greatly admired. In forte passages the poor deaf man pounded on the keys till the strings jangled, and in piano he played so softly that whole groups of tones were omitted, so that the music was unintelligible unless one could look into the pianoforte part. I was deeply saddened at so hard a fate. If it is a great misfortune for any one to be deaf, how shall a musician endure it without giving way to despair? Beethoven’s continual melancholy was no longer a riddle to me.[121]

[270]

The concert took place at noon on Monday, April 11. Moscheles was present and wrote in his diary:

In the case of how many compositions is the word “new” misapplied! But never in Beethoven’s, and least of all in this, which again is full of originality. His playing, aside from its intellectual element, satisfied me less, being wanting in clarity and precision; but I observed many traces of the grand style of playing which I had long recognized in his compositions.

In those days a well-to-do music-lover, named Pettenkofer, gathered a number of young people into his house every Saturday for the performance of instrumental music. One evening a pupil of Schuppanzigh’s requested his neighbor at the music-stand, a youth of 18 years, to take a note from his teacher next day to Beethoven, proposing a rehearsal of the Trio, and requiring no answer but “yes” or “no.” “I undertook the commission with joy,” he records:

The desire to be able to stand for even a moment beside the man whose works had for several years inspired me with the greatest reverence for their author, was now to be so unexpectedly and strangely realized. The next morning the bearer of the note, with beating heart, climbed the four flights in the Pasqualati house, and was at once led by the sartorial servant to the writing table of the master. After he had read the missive, he turned to me and said “Yes”; with a few rapidly added questions the audience came to an end; but at the door I permitted myself to tarry a little while to observe the man, who had already resumed his writing, closely.

This youth was Anton Schindler. He continues his narrative:

This, almost the most important event in the life-history of the poor student up to that time, was soon followed by the acquaintanceship of Schuppanzigh. He gave me a ticket for the concert of April 11, given by him.... On this occasion I approached the great master with more confidence, and greeted him reverently. He answered pleasantly and showed that he remembered the carrier of the note.

And thus ended all personal intercourse between Schindler and Beethoven until the end of the year—a fact to be noted.

A few weeks later Beethoven played in the Trio again at a morning concert of Schuppanzigh’s in the Prater, and thus—excepting once accompanying a song—he took leave of the public as a pianist.

Gute Nachricht” was first played also on the evening of Monday, April 11; for the news of the triumphal entry of the allied armies (March 31), as Moscheles records in his diary, reached Vienna the day before. It was repeated on the 12th, 14th, 17th,[271] 24th and May 3rd, in the Kärnthnerthor-Theater, and on June 11th and 14th in the Burg.

Meantime an event had occurred, the effect of which on Beethoven is nowhere indicated; but let us hope and believe that it, for the moment, unfitted him for labor—Prince Carl Lichnowsky, his old friend and protector, died April 15. It is gratifying that the last notice of him in our work is that touching reminiscence by Schindler, which proves that time had neither cooled nor diminished the warm affection that he had conceived twenty years before for the young Bonn pianist.

The following note to Zmeskall was written about this time:

Dear Z.: I am not going on the journey, at least I am not going to hurry—the matter must be pondered more carefully—meanwhile the work has already been sent to the Prince Regent:—If I am wanted I can be had, and then liberty remains with me to say yes or no. Liberty!!! What more do I want???

I should like to consult with you about how to settle myself in my lodging.

This new lodging, for which Beethoven now left the Pasqualati house, was in the 1st storey of the Bartenstein house, also on the Mölker Bastei (No. 96); so that he still remained in the immediate vicinity of his friends, Princess Christine Lichnowsky and the Erdödys.

Beethoven Quarrels with Mälzel

The other matters mentioned in the note call our attention again to Mälzel, who, notwithstanding his bitter disappointment at the turn which his affairs with Beethoven had taken, had still lingered in Vienna several weeks in the hope of making some kind of amicable arrangement with him. As his side of the story was never made public, there is little to add to the information on the subject contained in the papers of Beethoven, preserved by Schindler. From them these facts appear; that Beethoven repaid the fifty ducats of borrowed money; that Mälzel and he had several interviews at the office of the lawyer, Dr. Adlersburg, which had for their subject the “Battle of Vittoria” and the journey to England; that he made various propositions which Beethoven would not accept “to get the work, or at least the right of first performance for himself,” and the like; that, incensed by the conduct of the composer and hopeless of benefit from any farther consultation, he did not appear at the last one appointed; and that he obtained by stealth so many of the single parts of the “Battle” as to be enabled therefrom to have a pretty correct score of the work written out, with which he departed to Munich and there produced it in two concerts on the 16th and 17th of March.

[272]

When this became known in Vienna[122] Beethoven’s wrath was excited and, instead of treating the matter with contemptuous silence, or at most making an appeal to the public in the newspapers, he committed the absurdity of instituting a lawsuit against a man already far on his way to the other extremity of Europe, at the same time in all haste preparing a copy of the “Battle” and sending it to the Prince Regent of England, that at least he might prevent Mälzel from producing it there as a novelty. It was a costly and utterly useless precaution; for, on the one hand, Mälzel found in London no inducement to attempt orchestral concerts, and on the other, the score sent by Beethoven lay buried in the library of the Prince, who neither then nor ever took the slightest notice of it (except to permit its performance, as we shall presently see) or made any acknowledgment to the composer.

Documents in the Mälzel Case

Casting aside all extraneous matter contained in Beethoven’s documents, the real question at issue is very clear. The two leading facts—one of which is admitted by implication, and the other explicitly stated by Beethoven himself—are already known to the reader: First, that the plan of the work was Mälzel’s; second, that the composer wrought it out for the Panharmonicon gratis. In this form, therefore, the composition beyond all doubt was Mälzel’s property. There was, therefore, but one point to be decided: Did the arrangement of the work for orchestra at Mälzel’s suggestion and request, transfer the proprietorship? If it did, Beethoven had a basis for his suit; if it did not, he had none. This question was never decided; for after the process had lingered through several years, the two men met, made peace, Beethoven withdrew his complaint, and each paid the half of all expenses that had been incurred![123]

[273]

Thus had been caused a new interruption of the work on “Fidelio.”

“The beneficiaries,” says Treitschke, “urged its completion to take advantage of the favorable season; but Beethoven made slow progress. To one of the poet’s notes urging haste, Beethoven wrote, probably in April:

The damned Academy, which I was compelled to give partly by my bad circumstances, has set me back so far as the opera is concerned.

[274]

The cantata which I wanted to give robbed me of 5 or 6 days.

Now, of course, everything must be done at once and I could write something new more quickly than add new things to old—I am accustomed in writing, even in my instrumental music—to keep the whole in view, but here my whole, has—in a manner—been distributed everywhere and I have got to think myself back into my work ever and anon—it is not likely that it will be possible to give the opera in a fortnight, I think that it will be 4 weeks.

Meanwhile the first act will be finished in a few days—but there remains much to do in the 2nd Act, and also a new overture, which will[275] be the easiest because I can compose it entirely new. Before my Academy a few things only were sketched here and there, in the first as well as the second act, it was not until a few days ago that I could begin to write the matters out. The score of the opera is as frightfully written as any that ever I saw, I had to look through note after note (it is probably a pilfered one) in short I assure you, dear T. the opera will secure for me the crown of martyrdom, if you had not given yourself so much pains with it and revised everything so successfully, for which I shall be eternally grateful to you, I could scarcely be able to force myself (to do the work). You have thereby saved some good remainders of a stranded ship.

[276]

If you think that the delay with the opera will be too long, postpone it till some future time, I shall go ahead now until everything is ended, and just like you have changed and improved it, which I see more and more clearly every moment, but it cannot go so fast as if I were composing something new—and in 14 days that is impossible—do as you think best, but as a friend of mine, there is no want of zeal on my part.

Your Beethoven.

Rehearsals for the Revised “Fidelio”

The repetitions of the “Gute Nachricht” came to a conclusion with the performance in the Kärnthnerthor-Theater on[277] May 3, and the beneficiaries became more and more impatient. Hence, Treitschke wrote again to Beethoven, asked him what use was to be made of the chorus “Germania,” and urged him to make haste with the work on “Fidelio.” Notwithstanding so much was wanting, the rehearsals had begun in the middle of April, and the performance was now fixed for the 23rd of May. Beethoven’s memorandum of his revisal of the opera reads: “The opera Fidelio [?] March to 15th of May, newly written and improved.” May 15th was Sunday, the “Tuesday” of his answer to Treitschke was therefore the 17th, and the date, doubtless, about the 14th:

Your satisfaction with the chorus delights me infinitely. I was of the opinion that you ought to apply all the works to your profit and therefore mine also, but if you do not want to do this I should like to have you sell it outright for the benefit of the poor.

Your copyists —— [illegible] and Wranitzky were here yesterday about the matter, I told them, most worthy man, that you were entire master in the affair. For this reason I await now your frank opinion—your copyist is—an ass!—but he is completely lacking in the well-known splendid Eselshaut[124]—therefore my copyist has undertaken the work of copying, and by Tuesday little will remain to be done, and my copyist will bring everything to the rehearsal. As for the rest the whole matter of the opera is the most wearisome thing in the world, and I am dissatisfied with most of it—and—there is hardly a piece in it to which in my present state of dissatisfaction I ought not to have patched on some satisfaction. That is the great difference between being able to surrender to free reflection or enthusiasm.

Wholly your Beethoven.

“The final rehearsal,” says Treitschke, “was on May 22d, but the promised new overture was still in the pen of the creator.” It was then, on the 20th or 21st, that Beethoven dined with his friend Bertolini in the Römischer Kaiser. After dinner he took a bill of fare, drew lines on the blank side and began to write. “Come, let us go,” said Bertolini; “No, wait a little; I have the idea for my overture,” replied Beethoven, who remained and finished his sketches then and there. Treitschke continues:

The orchestra was called to rehearsal on the morning of the performance. B. did not come. After waiting a long time we drove to his lodgings to bring him, but—he lay in bed, sleeping soundly, beside him stood a goblet with wine and a biscuit in it, the sheets of the overture were scattered on the bed and floor. A burnt-out candle showed that he had worked far into the night. The impossibility of completing the overture was plain; for this occasion his overture to “Prometheus” [?][278] was taken and the announcement that because of obstacles which had presented themselves the new overture would have to be dispensed with to-day, enabled the numerous audience to guess the sufficient reason.

Schindler says an overture to “Leonore,” Seyfried the overture to “The Ruins of Athens,” was played on this occasion. The “Sammler” in its contemporary notice confirms Seyfried: “The overture played at the first performance does not belong to the opera and was originally written for the opening of the theatre at Pesth.” In 1823, Beethoven in conversation happened to speak of this substitution and remarked: “The people applauded, but I stood ashamed; it did not belong to the rest.” In the manuscript book of the text prepared for use in the theatre on this occasion, one is surprised to see the title begun thus:

Leonore, Fidelio
An Opera in Two Acts, etc.”

The word “Leonore” is crossed out and “Fidelio” written at the side in red pencil afterwards inked over. There was then on the part of some one—whom?—an intention subsequently abandoned, of thus changing the title. Again, in the list of “properties,” stands

A wallet
2 chains
}Mme. Hönig.

and the same name occurs in the list of the

Dramatis Personæ

Herr SaalDon Fernando, minister.
Herr VogelDon Pizarro, Governor of a State’s prison.
Herr RadichiFlorestan, a prisoner.
M. HönigLeonore, his wife, under the name of Fidelio.
Hr. WeinmüllerRokko, jailer.
Mlle. BondraMarzelline, his daughter.
Hr. FrühwaldJaquino.
Prisoners of State, etc., etc.

Madame Hönig was a new soprano, engaged after the “Hoftheater-Taschenbuch” for 1814 had been printed, whose name appears in that for 1815. Though appointed to the part when this text-book was copied, she gave place before the day of performance to the original Fidelio, Mme. Milder-Hauptmann.

The opera was capitally prepared (says Treitschke), Beethoven conducted, his ardor often rushed him out of time, but Chapelmaster[279] Umlauf, behind his back, guided everything to success with eye and hand.[125] The applause was great and increased with every representation.

“Herr v. B.,” says the “Sammler,” “was stormily called out already after the first act, and enthusiastically greeted.” The opera was first repeated on the 26th, when the new overture in E major “was received with tumultuous applause and the composer again called out twice at this repetition.”

The chorus “Germania,” in pianoforte arrangement, was published in June “im K. K. Hoftheater-Verlag.” A characteristic note of Beethoven to Treitschke asks for the manuscript for the purpose of correcting the proof and introduces to our acquaintance a personage or two, who will often meet us henceforth to the end, and therefore merit a short personal paragraph here.

Tobias Haslinger Becomes Music Publisher

The “K. K. Priv. Chemische Druckerey,” the property of Rochus Krasinzky and Sigmund Anton Steiner, passed about 1810 into the hands of Steiner alone. In that year Tobias Haslinger (of Zell in Upper Austria), who had been one of Chapelmaster Glöggl’s singing-boys at Linz and assistant in his music-shop, came to Vienna with the design of establishing himself in business, and there soon became acquainted with Steiner. He detailed to him his purposes and plans and induced him to withdraw his prints and other wares from Grund’s bookstore in the Singerstrasse, and open a shop of his own in the narrow passage then existing at the northeast corner of the Graben, known as the “Paternoster-Gassel,” employing him (Haslinger) as bookkeeper and manager; from which position he soon rose to be partner in the firm, “S. A. Steiner and Co.” Beethoven conceived an odd and whimsical liking for the young man, and in a few years his relations to the firm became very much the same as those which formerly existed between him and the “Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir.” Haslinger had learned divers instruments in Linz, had begun the study of composition there and continued it in Vienna. His Opus 10, “Ideal einer Schlacht,” for the pianoforte, had just been published—the subject of Homeric laughter to Jupiter-Beethoven and the[280] other gods. He made his place of business attractive and it became a favorite resort of composers, musicians, singers, writers for the theatre, the public press, and the like. In his correspondence with the firm Beethoven was “Generalissimus”; Steiner “Lieutenant-General”; Haslinger “Adjutant” or rather “Adjutanterl” (the diminutive of Adjutant); their assistants were “Subalterns”; and the shop, “Office of the Lieutenant-General.” These titles make their appearance in a note, typical of many, written to Treitschke:

The thoughts and endeavors (Dichten und Trachten) of Hr. v. Treitschke are directed to the duty of immediately delivering the manuscript to the subaltern of the Lieutenant-General’s office, so that the engraved page scratched full of errors may immediately be rescratched as it ought to be, and, indeed, all the more, as otherwise the thoughts and endeavors will be frightfully scratched and beaten.

Given in Paternoster Lane, at the primitive publishing house of all who publish. June 4, 1814.[126]

One of Beethoven’s minor productions (still unpublished) was now composed for his friend Bertolini. The occasion was an evening festival arranged by the doctor at his own expense on the name-day (St. John’s day) and in honor of Malfatti. It was a little piece for four voices with pianoforte accompaniment to a text written by Abbate Bondi:

Un lieto brindisi
Tutti a Giovanni,
Cantiam così, così,
Viva longhi anni, etc., etc.

Invitations were extended not only to Malfatti’s relatives and personal friends but to a large number of artists of the various professions, resident or temporarily in Vienna—Dragonetti among the musicians. The scene was Malfatti’s villa in Weinhaus. There they feasted; the wine flowed; the cantata was sung; Beethoven, “thoroughly unbuttoned,” improvised; fun and frolic ruled the hour. “The sport cost me a few hundred florins,” laughingly said the good doctor fifty years afterwards.

“Fidelio” was repeated on May 26, June 2d and 4th and on Tuesday, June 7th. The theatre was then “closed because of preparations for the spectacle to be presented on the return of the Emperor.” After this the theatre closed again for two days and on the 21st was reopened with “Fidelio.” A letter to Treitschke was written about this time:

[281]

Dear and worthy Tr.! What you say about a quarter of the receipts is understood, of course! and for a moment only I must moreover remain your debtor, but I will not forget that I am—as regards a benefit performance for me I should like to have the day set on a week from yesterday, that is next Thursday.

I called on Hrn. Palffy to-day but did not find him in. Do not let the opera rest too much! It is surely injurious.

The day here proposed for the benefit was not granted. The “Wiener Zeitung” of July 1st contained a “Musical Notice” which may be quoted as a comment on the first topic of the above note:

The undersigned, at the request of the Herren Artaria and Co., herewith declares that he has given the score of his opera Fidelio to the aforesaid art establishment for publication under his direction in a complete pianoforte score, quartets, or arrangements for military band. The present musical version is not to be confounded with an earlier one, since hardly a musical number has been left unchanged, and more than half of the opera was composed anew. Scores in the only authorized copy and also the book in manuscript may be had of the reviser of the book, Herrn F. Treitschke, R. I. Court Poet. Other unauthorized copies will be punished by law.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna, June 28, 1814.

Moscheles’s Pianoforte Score

Moscheles, then just twenty years of age, wrote about this time in his diary: “The offer has been made to me to make the pianoforte score of the masterpiece ‘Fidelio.’ What could be more desirable?” “We now find entries,” says his widow, “of how he carried two, and again two numbers to Beethoven, who looked through them; and then, alternately, ‘he changed little’ or ‘he changed nothing,’ or sometimes ‘he simplified it’ or ‘he reinforced it.’ One note reads, ‘Coming early to Beethoven, he was still in bed; this day he was particularly merry, leaped up at once, and, as he was, went to the window, which opened on the Schottenbastei, to look through the arranged numbers. Naturally the street boys assembled under the window until he cried out: ‘Damn the youngsters, what do they want?’ I smilingly pointed to his garment. ‘Yes, yes, you are right,’ said he and hastily threw a dressing-gown over his shoulders.[127] When we reached the last great duet, ‘Namenlose Freude,’ where I had written down the text ‘Ret-terin des Gat-ten,’ he crossed it out and wrote ‘Rett-erin des Gatt-en’; for it was not possible to sing on ‘t.’ Under the last number I had written ‘fine with God’s help.’ He[282] was not at home when I carried it to him; and when he sent it back under mine were the words: ‘O man, help yourself.’”

Before bidding Moscheles farewell for the next half a dozen years, let us look at a few sentences from the preface to the English translation of Schindler’s book, partly for the information they impart and partly to prevent a mistake or two from passing into history on his authority. He thus writes:

In the year 1809[128] my studies with my master, Weber (Dionysius), closed; and being then also fatherless, I chose Vienna for my residence to work out my future musical career. Above all, I longed to see and become acquainted with that man, who had exercised so powerful an influence over my whole being; whom though I scarcely understood, I blindly worshipped. I learnt that Beethoven was most difficult of access and would admit no pupil but Ries; and for a long time my anxiety to see him remained ungratified. In the year 1810, however, the longed-for opportunity presented itself. I happened to be one morning in the music-shop of Domenico Artaria, who had just been publishing some of my early attempts at composition, when a man entered with short and hasty steps, and, gliding through the circle of ladies and professors assembled on business, or talking over musical matters, without looking up, as though he wished to pass unnoticed, made his way direct for Artaria’s private office at the bottom of the shop. Presently Artaria called me in and said: “This is Beethoven!” and to the composer, “This is the youth of whom I have just spoken to you.” Beethoven gave me a friendly nod and said he had just heard a favorable account of me. To some modest and humble expressions, which I stammered forth, he made no reply and seemed to wish to break off the conversation[129].... I never missed the Schuppanzigh Quartets, at which he was often present, or the delightful concerts at the Augarten, where he conducted his own Symphonies.[130] I also heard him play several times, which, however, he did but rarely, either in public or in private. The productions which made the most lasting impression upon me, were his Fantasia with orchestral accompaniments and chorus and his Concerto in C minor. I also used to meet him at the lodgings of Zmeskall and Zizius, two of his friends, through whose musical meetings Beethoven’s works first made their way to public attention [?]: but, in place of better acquaintance with the great man, I had mostly to content myself on his part with a distant salute.

It was in the year 1814, when Artaria undertook to publish a pianoforte arrangement of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” that he asked the composer whether I might be permitted to make it: Beethoven assented upon condition that he should see my arrangement of each of the pieces, before it was given into the engraver’s hands. Nothing could be more welcome to me, since I looked upon this as the long wished-for opportunity to approach nearer to the great man and to profit by his remarks and[283] corrections. During my frequent visits, the number of which I tried to multiply by all possible excuses, he treated me with the kindest indulgence. Although his increasing deafness was a considerable hindrance to our conversation, yet he gave me many instructive hints, and even played to me such parts as he wished to have arranged in a particular manner for the pianoforte. I thought it, however, my duty not to put his kindness to the test by robbing him of his valuable time by any subsequent visits; but I often saw him at Mälzel’s, where he used to discuss the different plans and models of a Metronome (the Chronometer), which the latter was going to manufacture, and to talk over the “Battle of Vittoria,” which he wrote at Mälzel’s suggestion. Although I knew Mr. Schindler, and was aware that he was much with Beethoven at that time [?], I did not avail myself of my acquaintance with him for the purpose of intruding myself upon the composer.

As to the “Fidelio,” Moscheles told the writer (February 22, 1856) that he was selected to arrange it because Beethoven was on bad terms with Hummel; and that to hasten the work, Hummel did arrange one of the finales; but when Beethoven received it and looked it through, he tore it to pieces without remark, or explaining why he did so. Two errors in these last sentences will at once strike the reader—that Schindler was then much with Beethoven, and that Beethoven was on bad terms with Hummel. The explanation is easy. Moscheles had translated Schindler’s book, and unconsciously had adopted certain ideas from it, which in course of time had taken the form of memories. This is a common experience with us all. The true reason why Beethoven rejected Hummel as the arranger of “Fidelio” is obvious: Hummel was a man of sufficient talent and genius to have a style of his own—and one (as is well known) not much to Beethoven’s taste; “Fidelio” arranged by him would necessarily exhibit more or less of this style; moreover, Beethoven could not feel the same freedom in discarding, correcting, making suggestions if the work were done by him, as when performed by a young man like Moscheles.

Publishers Steal the Pianoforte Score

So the score was not now published—a mistake, as the event proved, and as Beethoven himself confessed in the note to Treitschke below. “In accordance with his wish,” says Treitschke, in concluding the relation from which so much has been cited,[131] “I offered our work to foreign theatres; several ordered it, others declined because they already had the opera by Paër. Still others preferred to get it in a cheaper way by hiring cunning copyists who, as is still the custom, stole the text and music and sacrificed them for a few florins’ profit. It was of little use to us[284] that others translated ‘Fidelio’ into several languages and made large sums by it. The composer received scarcely more than a handsome laurel-wreath, and I a little leaf, and the sincere affection of the Immortal.”

Meantime the season had far advanced, the summer heats were approaching, the departure of the nobility and the wealthy for their country-seats was near, and Beethoven thought, perhaps justly, that new attractions must be added to “Fidelio” and the public journals moved to say an appropriate word, to secure him a full house at his benefit, so long deferred. Doubtless with this last object in view, he now gave the “Friedensblätter” the song “An die Geliebte” (text by Stoll), which was engraved as a supplement to the number for July 12, and a notice closing with

A Word to His Admirers.

How often in your chagrin, that his depth was not sufficiently appreciated, have you said that van Beethoven composes only for posterity! You have, no doubt, been convinced of your error since if not before the general enthusiasm aroused by his immortal opera “Fidelio”; and also that the present finds kindred souls and sympathetic hearts for that which is great and beautiful without withholding its just privileges from the future.

This was certainly to the purpose. The earliest hint as to what the new attractions of the opera were to be is found in a note to Treitschke:

For heaven’s sake, dear friend! It seems that you have no instinct for money-making! See to it that “Fidelio” is not given before my benefit, this was the arrangement with Schreyvogel—since Saturday when you last saw me at the theatre, I have been confined to my bed and room, and not until yesterday did I feel a trace of improvement. I might have visited you to-day did I not know that poets like faiaken observe Sunday! We must talk about sending out the opera so that you may receive your quarter and that it is not sent out in stolen copies all over the world. I know nothing of business but think that if we were to sell the score to a publisher here and it were to be printed, the result would be better for you and me. If I understand you correctly I ought to have the song by this time—please, dear friend, hurry it up! Are you angry? Have I offended you? If so, it was done inadvertently, and therefore forgive an ignoramus and musician. Farewell, let me know something soon.

Milder has had her aria for a fortnight, I shall learn to-day or to-morrow whether she knows it. It will not take her long.[132]

[285]

The Great Air in “Fidelio”

Beethoven’s benefit performance of “Fidelio” took place on Monday evening, July 18, 1814. The song so impatiently awaited could have been no other than Rocco’s “gold aria” which had been sung only in the two performances of 1805. Beethoven, desiring now to give Weinmüller a solo, restored it to the score. Jahn, in his edition of “Leonore,” gives two texts—the original by Sonnleithner and one which he conjectures may have been written by Breuning. From them Treitschke now prepared a text, as we have it, by changing somewhat and improving Sonnleithner’s first stanza and joining to it the second stanza of the other, unchanged except by the omission of its close.

As to the new piece for Milder, Treitschke says explicitly it was “a grand aria for Leonore, but as it checked the rapid movement of the rest it was again omitted.” In the advertisement of his benefit Beethoven says only: “For this performance ... two new pieces have been added.” The notice in the “Friedensblätter” next day is somewhat more explicit: “‘Fidelio’ will be given with two entirely new arias to be sung by Mme. Milder and Hrn. Weinmüller, for the benefit of the composer”; and from the “Sammler” we learn that at the performance the new air sung by Madame Milder-Hauptmann “was very effective and the excellent performance seemed to labor under peculiarly great difficulties.” What is known from printed sources concerning this air is this: it was in E-flat major with four horns obbligati;[133] the text was “Komm’ Hoffnung, etc.”; it was not the aria already sung by the Milder six times this season; it was one which the composer is not certain that she can sing after fourteen days’ study; it was not the one which Moscheles had arranged for the new edition of the opera.

Now we read in the “Fidelio” sketchbook about the time when Beethoven wrote to Treitschke about “sending out the opera” (p. 107): “Hamburg, 15 ducats in gold; Grätz, 12 fl.; Frankfort, 15 ducats in gold; Stuttgart, 12 ducats in gold; Carlsruhe, 12 ducats in gold; Darmstadt, 12 ducats in gold”—evidently the price of the opera; and on the next page, “Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin!” i. e., sketches for the recitative; but sketches for the aria are not known. Are not our informants in error? Was not the new air after all the one which Moscheles arranged and which is still sung? And if not, what has become of it?[134]

[286]

Shortly before the performance on July 14, 1814, Beethoven wrote a letter to Archduke Rudolph in which he said:

The management of the theatre is so honest that in spite of a promise, it has already performed my opera “Fidelio” without thinking of my benefit. This amiable honesty it would have practised again had I not been on guard like a former French Danube watchman. Finally after considerable exertion on my part it has been arranged that my benefit of “Fidelio” shall take place on Monday, July 18. This benefit is rather an exception[135] at this time of the year, but a benefit for the author may become a little festival if the work has had at least a modicum of success. To this festival the master humbly invites his exalted pupil, and hopes—yes I hope that your Imperial Highness will graciously accept and illumine the occasion with your presence. It would be nice if Y. I. H. would try to persuade the other Imperial Highnesses to attend this representation of my opera. I shall observe here all that respectful homage demands. Because of Vogel’s illness I was unable to gratify my desire to give the rôle of Pizarro to Forti, for which his voice is better adapted—but because of this there are daily rehearsals, which will benefit the performance, but make it impossible to wait upon Y. I. H. in Baden before the benefit.

Next day, Friday the 15th, appeared, over his own signature, the advertisement of “Beethoven’s Benefit” on Monday, the 18th. “Boxes and reserved seats may be ordered Saturday and Sunday in the lodgings of the undersigned on the Mölkerbastei, in the Baron Pasqualati house, No. 94, in the first storey.” Imagine his comical consternation when the “Wiener Zeitung” came to hand and he read the “Pasqualatischen” instead of the “Bartenstein’schen” house! But the number was correct and that would save his friends the needless ascent of four flights to his old lodging. The contemporary reports of the performance are numerous and all very eulogistic. Forti, as Pizarro, was “entirely satisfactory”; the “gold aria,” although well sung by Weinmüller, “did not make a great effect”; “beautiful and of large artistic value was the aria in E-flat major with four [!] obbligato French horns, but the reviewer is of the opinion that it retards the rapid progress of the first act. The house was very full; the applause extraordinary; the enthusiasm for the composer, who has now become a favorite of the public, manifested itself in calls before the curtain after every act.” All free tickets were[287] invalid; the pecuniary results must therefore have been in a high degree satisfactory.

The Latronne-Höfel Portrait

Another consequence of Beethoven’s sudden popularity, was the publication of a new engraving of him by Artaria, the crayon drawing for which was executed by Latronne, a French artist then in Vienna. Blasius Höfel, a young man of 22 years, was employed to engrave it. He told the writer,[136] how very desirous he was of producing a good likeness—a matter of great importance to the young artist—but that Latronne’s drawing was not a good one, probably for want of a sufficient number of sittings. Höfel often saw Beethoven at Artaria’s and, when his work was well advanced, asked him for a sitting or two. The request was readily granted. At the time set, the engraver appeared with his plate. Beethoven seated himself in position and for perhaps five minutes remained reasonably quiet; then suddenly springing up went to the pianoforte and began to extemporize, to Höfel’s great annoyance. The servant relieved his embarrassment by assuring him that he could now seat himself near the instrument and work at his leisure, for his master had quite forgotten him and no longer knew that anyone was in the room. This Höfel did; wrought so long as he wished, and then departed with not the slightest notice from Beethoven. The result was so satisfactory, that only two sittings of less than one hour each were needed. It is well known that Höfel’s is the best of all the engravings made of Beethoven. In 1851, Alois Fuchs showed to the writer his great collection, and when he came to this, exclaimed with strong emphasis: “Thus I learned to know him!”

Höfel in course of the conversation unconsciously corroborated the statements of Madame Streicher, as reported by Schindler, in regard to Beethoven’s wretched condition in 1812-13. The effect upon him of his pecuniary embarrassments, his various disappointments, and of a mind ill at ease, was very plainly to be seen in his personal habits and appearance. He was at that time much accustomed to dine at an inn where Höfel often saw him in a distant corner, at a table, which though large was avoided by the other guests owing to the very uninviting habits into which he had fallen; the particulars may be omitted. Not infrequently he departed without paying his bill, or with the remark that his brother would settle it; which Karl did. He had grown so negligent of his person as to appear there sometimes positively “schmutzig” (dirty). Now, however, under the kind care of the Streichers, cheered and inspirited by the glory and emolument of[288] the past eight months, he became his better self again; and—though now and to the end, so careless and indifferent to mere externals as occasionally to offend the sensitiveness of very nice and fastidious people—he again, as before quoted from Czerny, “paid attention to his appearance.” From a note of apology to the Archduke, written while busy with the “arrangements for my opera,” we learn that Beethoven contemplated another visit to Teplitz; but the public announcement of a royal congress to meet in Vienna, August 1, put an end to that project, and Baden again became his summer retreat, for recreation but not for rest. Sketches for the “Elegiac Song” (“Sanft wie du lebtest”) are found among the studies for the new “Fidelio,” and this short work was probably now completed in season to be copied and delivered to his friend Pasqualati on or before the 23rd of August, that day being the third anniversary of the death of his “transfigured wife,” in honor of whose memory it was composed. The Sonata in E minor, Op. 90, bears date August 16. Then comes a cantata—as it is named in the “Fidelio” sketchbook, where some hints for it are noted; in fact, it is but a chorus with orchestra—a piece of flattery intended for the royal personages of the coming congress.

Ihr weisen Gründer glücklicher Staaten,
Neigt euer Ohr dem Jubelsang,
Es ist die Nachwelt, die eure Thaten
Mit Segen preist Aeonen lang.
Vom Sohn auf Enkel im Herzen hegen
Wir eures Ruhmes Heiligthum,
Stets fanden in der Nachwelt Segen
Beglückende Fürsten ihren Ruhm.

This is the text; but as the congress was deferred, there was no haste, and the chorus was not finished until September 3rd.

A Compromise with Prince Kinsky’s Heirs

Meanwhile the controversy with the Kinsky heirs had entered upon a new phase. Dr. Johann Kanka, a lawyer in Prague, in a communication to the author,[137] wrote:

The information (concerning Beethoven) which I am able to give, refers for the greater part to business relations out of which, because of my personal and official position, grew the friendly intercourse with Beethoven which was cultivated for several years.

Then, after a rather protracted history of the annuity and the effect produced upon it by the Finanz-Patent of 1811, “whereby Beethoven’s means of subsistence were materially reduced and his longer residence in Vienna rendered impossible,” he continues:

[289]

In this fateful crisis, I, as the judicially appointed curator of the estate of Prince Kinsky and later of that of Prince Lobkowitz, was enabled to bring about a more temperate presentation of the case already presented to the authorities charged with testamentary and guardianship affairs, touching the contractual annuities to be paid to Beethoven—a presentation which reconciled a severely literal interpretation of the law with the righteous demands of equity, and by paving the way for mutual concessions to secure a satisfactory judicial decision which Beethoven, actuated throughout his life by the noblest of feelings, bore in faithful remembrance and described to his few trusted friends as the firm cement of the friendly relations which we bore towards each other, and the reason of his continued residence in Vienna.

Dr. Kanka closed with the promise to grant for use in this work, such letters of Beethoven—“precious relics”—as remained in his possession—a promise fulfilled a few days afterwards. Thus, in half a dozen lines—indeed, by the single statement that he was the curator of the Kinsky estate and as such effected a compromise between the parties—the venerable doctor exposes the mistakes and destroys the hypotheses of all who treated the topic at length from Schindler onward. Beethoven’s lawyer in Vienna was Dr. Adlersburg, and his “legal friend” in Prague, Dr. Wolf, who must have already become heartily weary of his client, for Beethoven himself writes in a letter to the court at Prague:

My continual urging of him to take an interest in the matter, also, I must confess, the reproaches made against him that he had not pursued the matter zealously enough because the steps which he took against the guardians remained without fruit, may have misled him into beginning the litigation.

That, as is here insinuated, Wolf instituted the suit against the Kinsky heirs without explicit instructions from his client, is doubtful; but at all events that proceeding brought matters to a crisis, and led to an interview in the course of the summer between Beethoven and the Verlassenschafts-Curator, with the object, on the part of the latter, of effecting a settlement of the affair by compromise. Kanka, a fine musician and composer, an old friend, or rather acquaintance of Beethoven’s, and of the same age, was a man also whose legal talents and knowledge must have no less deeply than favorably impressed him. The letters written during the next six months to his new friend, show us how Beethoven first relinquished the notion of a legal claim to the 1800 florins in notes of redemption, then abandoned the claim in equity, and at length came into a rational view of the matter, saw the[290] necessity of compromising, and sought no more than to effect this on the best terms possible.[138]

There is a letter to Thomson dated September 15, and another in October, the day not specified. Both are in Italian and only signed by Beethoven. In the first, the demand of “4 zecchini” per melody is renewed and “mille ringraziamente” sent to the author of a sonnet printed in the “Edinburgh Magazine” which Thomson had enclosed to the composer. The occasion of the poem was the performance of selections of Beethoven’s music at a rural festival of artists in England. The hour was advanced to near midnight, when Grahame, the Scotch poet, who was present, inspired by the music and by the beauty of the bright moonlit night, improvised the lines:

Hark! from Germania’s shore how wildly floats
That strain divine upon the dying gale;
O’er Ocean’s bosom swell the liquid notes
And soar in triumph to yon crescent pale.
It changes now! and tells of woe and death;
Of deep romantic horror murmurs low;
Now rises with majestic, solemn flow,
While shadowy silence soothes the wind’s rude breath.
What magic hand awakes the noon of night
With such unearthly melody, that bears
The raptured soul beyond the tuneful spheres
To stray amid high visions of delight?
Enchanter Beethoven! I feel thy power
Thrill every trembling nerve in this lone witching hour.

Beethoven’s thanks came too late; Grahame was dead. The letter of October again presses the demand of “4 zecchini,” but is for the most part devoted to urging Thomson to purchase for publication the “Wellington’s Victory”—about as preposterous as if Professor Max Müller had solicited the editor of a popular magazine, to which he had contributed articles, to undertake a Sanskrit dictionary. Our narrative brings us to a letter

To Count Moritz von Lichnowsky.

Baden, Sept. 21, 1841 [sic].

Worthy honored Count
and friend.

I did not receive your letter, unfortunately until yesterday—cordial thanks for your thought of me and all manner of lovely messages to the[291] worthy Princess Christine—yesterday, I made a lonely promenade with a friend in the Brühl and you up came particularly in our friendly conversation and behold on arriving here yesterday I find your good letter—I see that you still persist in overwhelming me with kindnesses, as I do not want you to think that a step which I have taken was prompted by a new interest or anything of that kind, I tell you that a new sonata of mine will soon appear which I have dedicated to you. I wanted to surprise you, for the dedication was set apart for you a long time ago, but your letter of yesterday leads me to make the disclosure, no new cause was needed for the public expression of my feelings for your friendship and kindness—but you would give me pain with anything resembling a gift, since you would totally misapprehend my purpose, and everything of the kind I could only refuse.

I kiss the hands of the Princess for her thought of me and her kindness, I have never forgotten how much I owe you all, even if an unfortunate circumstance brought about conditions under which I could not show it as I should have liked to do—what you tell me about Lord Castleregt, the matter is already well introduced, if I were to have an opinion on the subject, it would be that I think that Lord Castleregt ought not to write about the work on Wellington until the Lord has heard it here—I am soon coming to the city where we will talk over everything concerning a grand concert—nothing can be done with the court, I have made an offer—but

Adagio
but, but, but, but, but, but
and yet Silentium!

Farewell, my honored friend and think of me always as worthy of your kindness—

Your
Beethoven.

I kiss the hands of the honored Princess C. a thousand times.

Beethoven’s “Lord Castleregt” was Viscount Castlereagh, now in Vienna as British plenipotentiary in the coming congress; and his object was to obtain through him some recognition from the Prince Regent for the dedication of the “Wellington’s Victory.” Nothing came of it.

Prince Lichnowsky’s Romance

The Sonata was the Op. 90, dated “August 16, 1814”—the subject of one of Schindler’s authentic and pleasantest anecdotes. Lichnowsky, after the decease of his first wife, fell in love with Fräulein Stummer, a singer just now transferred from the Theater-an-der-Wien to the Hoftheater, whose talents and unblemished character rendered her worthy of the Count’s affection. Difference in social position long prevented their marriage, nor was it solemnized until some time after the death of Prince Karl.

[292]

When Count Lichnowsky received a copy of the Sonata dedicated to him (writes Schindler), it seemed to him that his friend Beethoven had intended to give expression to a definite idea in the two movements of which it is composed. He made no delay in asking Beethoven about it. As the latter was never secretive about anything, least of all when a witticism or joke was in question, he could not hold back his explanation long. Amidst peals of laughter he told the Count that he had tried to set his courtship of his wife to music, observing also, that if the Count wanted a superscription he might write over the first movement “Struggle between head and heart” and over the second “Conversation with the loved one.” Obvious reasons made Beethoven refrain from publishing the Sonata with these superscriptions.... This circumstance shows again that Beethoven frequently put a poetic idea at the bottom of his works, if he did not always do so.

The only new work suitable for a grand concert which Beethoven now had, was the chorus; “Ihr weisen Gründer.” Over the title of the manuscript is written in pencil by him: “About this time the Overture in C.” This work he had now in hand; also a vocal composition of considerable length. The author of the text, whoever he was, must have profoundly studied and heartily adopted the principles of composition as set forth by Martinus Scriblerus in his “Treatise on Bathos, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry”: for anything more stilted in style, yet more absurdly prosaic, with nowhere a spark of poetic fire to illuminate its dreary pages, is hardly conceivable. It begins something like this:

Nach Frankreichs unheilvollem Sturz, die Gottverlassene
Erhob sich auf den blutigen Trümmern, ein düster Schreckensbild,
Gigantisch hoch empor, die Geieraugen weithin nach Raube drehend,
Mit starker Hand schwingend die eherne Sklavengeissel!
«Wer ist mir gleich?» erscholl mit Macht des Frevlers Stimme,
«Mein fester Sitz ist Frankreich; Italien meiner Stirne Schmuck;
Meiner Füsse Schemel Hispania; nun, Deutschland, du bist mein;
Vertilgen will ich Albion vom Grund: zum Knecht soll mir Moskwa dienen.»
Und furchtbar zog der Riese aus,
Brach ein ins deutsche Kaiserhaus,
Griff frevelnd nach Hispaniens Land,
Verheerte schwer der Moskwa Strand,
Und an der Po und an der Spree
Erschall der Völker lautes Weh.

(And so forth, ad nauseam.)

Alois Weissenbach’s Enthusiasm

Neither the Overture nor the Cantata was finished, when the arrival at Vienna of the King of Wurtemberg on the 22d of September, of the King of Denmark on the 23d and the announcement of the coming of the Russian Emperor with the King of Prussia[293] on Sunday the 25th, brought Beethoven back to the city. Owing to the failure of Lobkowitz, the Court theatres had passed under the management of Palffy. If there be any truth whatever in his alleged hostility to Beethoven, it is not a little remarkable that the first grand opera performed in the presence of the monarchs—Monday the 26th—was “Fidelio.” One of the audience on that evening, in a published account of his “Journey to the Congress,” records: “To-day I went to the Court Theatre and was carried to heaven—the opera ‘Fidelio’ by L. v. Beethoven was given.” Then follow some fifteen pages of enthusiastic eulogy. That auditor was Alois Weissenbach, R. I. Councillor, Professor of Surgery and Head Surgeon of the St. John’s Hospital in Salzburg, where after sixteen years’ service in the Austrian armies he had settled, devoting his leisure to poetry and the drama. His tragedy “Der Brautkranz” in iambics, five acts, was produced January 14, 1809, at the Kärnthnerthor-Theater. Whether his “Barmeciden” and “Glaube und Liebe” were also brought out in Vienna we have no means of deciding. At all events, he was a man of high reputation. Of him Franz Graeffer writes:

That Weissenbach was a passionate admirer of Beethoven’s is a matter of course; their natures were akin, even physically, for the Tyrolean was just as hard of hearing. Both were manly, straightforward, liberal, upright figures. Weissenbach comes to Vienna in 1814, and “Fidelio” is performed. An indescribable longing seizes him to make the personal acquaintance of the author of the immortal work. When he reaches his lodgings a card of invitation from Beethoven lies on his table. Beethoven had been there himself. What a mysterious, magnetic play of congenial spirits! The next day he received kiss and handgrasp. Afterward it was possible often to sit at table with them in the rooms on the ground floor of the Roman Emperor. But it was pitiful to hear them shout at each other. It was therefore not possible thoroughly to enjoy them. Strangely enough in a little room, as also in the inn Zur Rose in the Wollzeile, Weissenbach heard much better, and conversed more freely and animatedly. Otherwise the most prolific, amiable, lively of social companions. A blooming man, aging, always neatly and elegantly clad. How learned he was as a physician will not be forgotten.

Weissenbach himself writes:

Completely filled with the gloriousness of the creative genius of this music, I went from the theatre home with the firm resolve not to leave Vienna without having made the personal acquaintance of so admirable a man; and strangely enough! when I reached my lodgings I found Beethoven’s visiting card upon my table with a cordial invitation to breakfast with him in the morning. And I drank coffee with him and received his handgrasp and kiss. Yes, mine is the proud privilege of proclaiming publicly, Beethoven honored me with the confidence of his heart. I do not know if these pages will ever fall into his hands: if he[294] learns that they mention his name either in praise or blame he will indeed (I know him and know his strong self-reliance) not read them at all; herein, too, he maintains his independence, he whose cradle and throne the Lord established away from this earth.... Beethoven’s body has a strength and rudeness which is seldom the blessing of chosen spirits. He is pictured in his countenance. If Gall, the phrenologist, has correctly located the mind, the musical genius of Beethoven is manifest in the formation of his head. The sturdiness of his body, however, is in his flesh and bones only; his nervous system is irritable in the highest degree and even unhealthy. How it has often pained me to observe that in this organism the harmony of the mind was so easily put out of tune. He once went through a terrible typhus and from that time dates the decay of his nervous system and probably also his melancholy loss of hearing. Often and long have I spoken with him on this subject; it is a greater misfortune for him than for the world. It is significant that before that illness his hearing was unsurpassably keen and delicate, and that even now he is painfully sensible to discordant sounds; perhaps because he is himself euphony.... His character is in complete agreement with the glory of his talent. Never in my life have I met a more childlike nature paired with so powerful and defiant a will; if heaven had bestowed nothing upon him but his heart, this alone would have made him one of those in whose presence many would be obliged to stand up and do obeisance. Most intimately does that heart cling to everything good and beautiful by a natural impulse which surpasses all education by far.... There is nothing in the world, no earthly greatness, nor wealth, nor rank, nor state can bribe it; here I could speak of instances in which I was a witness.

Remarks follow upon Beethoven’s ignorance of the value of money, of the absolute purity of his morals (which, unfortunately, is not true) and of the irregularity of his life. “This irregularity reaches its climax in his periods of productiveness. Then he is frequently absent days at a time without any one knowing whither he is gone.” [?]

We know no reason to suppose that Beethoven received Weissenbach’s poem before the interview with him; but, on the contrary, think the citations above preclude such a hypothesis. Moreover, the composer’s anxiety to have an interview at the earliest possible moment arose far more probably from a hint or the hope, that he might obtain a text better than the one in hand, than from any desire to discuss one already received. What is certain is this: Beethoven did obtain from Weissenbach the poem “Der glorreiche Augenblick,” and cast the other aside unfinished—as it remains to this day.

First, Beethoven had to complete his overture, the supposed scope and design of which may occupy us a moment.

Europe After the Vienna Congress

Scott said, that when he wrote “Waverly, or ’Tis Sixty Years Since,” it had already become impossible for the people of England[295] and Scotland, in their greatly changed and improved condition, to form any correct conception of the state of public feeling in those kingdoms in 1745, when the Pretender made that last effort against the House of Brunswick which is the subject of “Waverly,” and the defeat of which is commemorated by Handel in “Judas Maccabæus.” It is equally difficult for us to conceive adequately the sensations caused by the downfall of Napoleon at the time of which we are writing.

When monarchs play chess with armies, “check to the king” means the shock of contending foes and all the horrors of war; but in perusing the history of Bonaparte’s campaigns, we become so interested in the “game” as to forget the attendant ruin, devastation and destruction, the blood, carnage and death, that made all central Europe for twenty long years one vast charnel-house. But only in proportion as the imagination is able to form a vivid picture of the horrors of those years, can it conceive that inexpressible sense of relief, the universal joy and jubilee, which outside of France pervaded all classes of society, from prince to peasant, at the fall of the usurper, conqueror and tyrant. And this not more because of that event, than because of the all-prevailing trust, that men’s rights, political and religious—now doubly theirs by nature and by purchase at such infinite cost—would be gladly and gratefully accorded to them. For sovereign and subject had shared danger and suffering and every evil fortune together, and been brought into new and kindlier relations by common calamities; thus the sentiment of loyalty—the affectionate veneration of subject for sovereign—had been developed to a degree wholly unprecedented. Nothing presaged or foreboded the near advent and thirty years’ sway of Metternichism. No one dreamed, that within six years the “rulers” at this moment “of happy states” would solemnly declare, “all popular and constitutional rights to be holden no otherwise than as grants and indulgences from crowned heads”;[139] that they would snuff treason in every effort of the people to hold princes to their pledged words; and that their vigilance would effectually prevent the access of any Leonore to the Pellicos, Liebers and Reuters languishing for such treasons in their state prisons. At that time all this was hidden in the future; the very intoxication of joy and extravagant loyalty then ruled the hour. It was, as we believe, to give these sentiments musical expression, that Beethoven now took up and wrought out certain themes and motives, noted by him five years before in connection with the memorandum: “Freude schöner Götterfunken Tochter—[296]Ouverture ausarbeiten.[140] The poetic idea of the work was not essentially changed—the joy of liberated Europe simply taking the place of the joy of Schiller’s poem. But the composer’s particular purpose was to produce it as the graceful homage of a loyal subject on the Emperor’s name-day. How else can the autograph inscription upon the original manuscript be understood: “Overture by L. v. Beethoven, on the first of Wine-month, 1814—Evening to the name-day of our Emperor”? In the arts, as in literature, there is no necessary connection between that which gives rise to the ideas of a work, and the occasion of its composition; the occasion of this overture was clearly the name-day festival of Emperor Franz; why then may it not in the future, as in the past, be known as the “Namensfeier” Overture?

Assuming the “first of the Wine-month” (October 1) to date the completion of the work, there remained three days for copying and rehearsal. The theatre had been closed on the 29th and 30th of September, to prepare for a grand festival production of Spontini’s “La Vestale” on Saturday evening, October 1st; but for the evening of the name-day, Tuesday the 4th, “Fidelio” (its 15th performance) was selected. It was obviously the intention of Beethoven to do homage to Emperor Franz, by producing his new overture as a prelude on this occasion. What, then, prevented? Seyfried answers this question. He writes: “For this year’s celebration of the name-day of His Majesty, the Emperor, Kotzebue’s allegorical festival play ‘Die hundertjährigen Eichen’ had been ordered. Now, as generally happens, this decision was reached so late that I, as the composer, was allowed only three days, and two more for studying and rehearsing all the choruses, dances, marches, groupings, etc.” This festival play was on the 3d and rendered the necessary rehearsals of Beethoven’s overture impossible.[141]

“Fidelio” was sung the sixteenth time on the 9th. Tomaschek, one of the auditors on that evening, gave to the public in[297] 1846 notes of the impression made upon him, in a criticism which, by its harshness, forms a curious contrast to Weissenbach’s eulogy. Having exhausted that topic, however, Tomaschek describes his meetings in an account which has a peculiar interest not only because, though general descriptions of Beethoven’s style of conversation are numerous, attempts to report him in detail are very rare. The description is also valuable because of its vivid display of Beethoven’s manner of judging his contemporaries, which was so offensive to them and begat their lasting enmity. A dramatic poem, “Moses,” words by Klingemann, music (overture, choruses and marches) by von Seyfried, was to be given on the evening of Tomaschek’s first call. Tomaschek says he has no desire “to hear music of this kind” and the dialogue proceeds as follows:

Beethoven’s Opinion of Meyerbeer

B.—My God! There must also be such composers, otherwise what would the vulgar crowd do?

T.—I am told that there is a young foreign artist here who is said to be an extraordinary pianoforte player.[142]

B.—Yes, I, too, have heard of him, but have not heard him. My God! let him stay here only a quarter of a year and we shall hear what the Viennese think of his playing. I know how everything new pleases here.

T.—You have probably never met him?

B.—I got acquainted with him at the performance of my Battle, on which occasion a number of local composers played some instrument. The big drum fell to the lot of that young man. Ha! ha! ha!—I was not at all satisfied with him; he struck the drum badly and was always behind-hand, so that I had to give him a good dressing-down. Ha! Ha! Ha!—That may have angered him. There is nothing in him; he hasn’t the courage to hit a blow at the right time.

Before Tomaschek visited Beethoven again, Meyerbeer’s opera “Die beiden Caliphen” had been produced at the Kärnthnerthor Theatre. Tomaschek comes to take his farewell. Beethoven is in the midst of preparations for his concert and insists upon giving him a ticket. Then the conversation goes on:

T.—Were you at ——’s opera?

B.—No; it is said to have turned out very badly. I thought of you; you hit it when you said you expected little from his compositions. I talked with the opera singers, and that night after the production of the opera at the wine-house where they generally gather, I said to them frankly: You have distinguished yourselves again!—what piece of folly have you been guilty of again? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves not to know better, nor to be able to judge better, to have made[298] such a noise about this opera! I should like to talk to you about it, but you do not understand me.

T.—I was at the opera; it began with hallelujah and ended with requiem.

B.—Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! It’s the same with his playing. I am often asked if I have heard him—I say no; but from the opinions of my acquaintances who are capable of judging such things I could tell that he has agility indeed, but otherwise is a very superficial person.

T.—I heard that before he went away he played at Herrn ——’s and pleased much less.

B.—Ha, ha, ha, ha! What did I tell you?—I understand that. Let him settle down here for half a year and then let us hear what will be said of his playing. All this signifies nothing. It has always been known that the greatest pianoforte players were also the greatest composers; but how did they play? Not like the pianists of to-day, who prance up and down the keyboard with passages which they have practised—putsch, putsch, putsch;—what does that mean? Nothing! When true pianoforte virtuosi played it was always something homogeneous, an entity; if written down it would appear as a well thought-out work. That is pianoforte playing; the other thing is nothing!

T.—I am also carrying away from here a very small opinion of ----’s knowledge.

B.—As I have said, he knows nothing outside of singing.

T.—I hear that —— is creating a great sensation here.

B.—My God! he plays nicely, nicely—but aside from that he is a — —. He will never amount to anything. These people have their little coteries where they go often; there they are praised and praised and that’s the end of art! I tell you he will never amount to anything. I used to be too loud in my judgments and thereby made many enemies—now I criticize nobody and, indeed, for the reason that I do not want to injure anybody, and at the last I say to myself: if there is any good in it it will survive in spite of all attacks and envy; if it is not solid, not firm, it will fall to pieces, no matter how it is bolstered up.

Of some minor compositions belonging to this autumn, this is the story: The Prussian King’s Secretary, Friedrich Duncker, brought to Vienna, in the hope of producing it there, a tragedy, “Leonore Prohaska,” “which tells the story of a maiden who, disguised as a soldier, fought through the war of liberation.” For this Beethoven composed a soldiers’ chorus for men’s voices unaccompanied: “Wir hauen und sterben”; a romance with harp, 6/8, “Es blüht eine Blume”; and a melodrama with harmonica. It is also stated, that he instrumentated for orchestra the march in the Sonata, Opus 26, Duncker preferring this to a new marcia funebre.[143] Dr. Sonnleithner had also a note from some quarter—discredited by him—that even an overture and entr’actes were[299] written. Nothing of the kind is known to exist, and doubtless never did. “It is said the censor would not allow the piece”—it certainly never came to performance; and until its production was made sure, Beethoven would of course—even if he had the time—not have engaged in a work of such extent.

Cantata: “Der glorreiche Augenblick

Beethoven had announced a grand concert for November 20, in the large Ridotto Room, but advertisements in the “Wiener Zeitung” of the 18th postponed it till November 22d, then till the 27th, and finally till the 29th. On November 30th, the newspaper reports:

At noon of yesterday, Hr. Ludwig v. Beethoven gave all music-lovers an ecstatic pleasure. In the R. I. Ridotto Room he gave performances of his beautiful musical representation of Wellington’s Battle at Vittoria, preceded by the symphony which had been composed as a companion-piece. Between the two works an entirely new, etc., etc., cantata, Der glorreiche Augenblick.

One would like to know what Beethoven said when he read this; for the symphony supposed by the writer to be composed as a companion-piece (Begleitung) to the “Wellington’s Victory” was the magnificent Seventh![144]

The solo singers in the Cantata were Mme. Milder, Dem. Bondra, Hr. Wild and Hr. Forti, all of whom sang well, and the Milder wonderfully. “The two Empresses, the King of Prussia” and other royalties were present and “the great hall was crowded. Seated in the orchestra were to be seen the foremost virtuosi, who were in the habit of showing their respect for him and art by taking part in Beethoven’s Academies.” All the contemporary notices[300] agree as to the enthusiastic reception of the Symphony and the Battle, and that the Cantata, notwithstanding the poverty of the text, was, on the whole, worthy of the composer’s reputation and contained some very fine numbers. The concert, with precisely the same programme, was repeated in the same hall on Friday, December 2d, for Beethoven’s benefit—nearly half the seats being empty! And again in the evening of the 25th for the benefit of the St. Mark’s Hospital, when, of course, a large audience was present. Thus the Cantata was given three times in four weeks, and probably Spohr, who was still in Vienna, played in the orchestra; yet he gravely asserts in his autobiography that “the work was not performed at that time.”

The proposed third concert for Beethoven’s benefit was abandoned and there is no clue to the “new things in hand” for it, which Beethoven mentioned in a letter to Archduke Rudolph, unless possibly the “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt” may have been begun for the occasion. The most remarkable and gratifying thing in the letter, however, is to find Beethoven once more speaking of “pleasures and joy”—whence arising, we learn from Schindler. True, he does not, nor cannot yet, speak from personal observation; but his well-known relations to the composer began while the memories of these days were still fresh; and what he records is derived from Beethoven himself for the most part, though, as usual, he has inserted a statement or two, honestly made, but not the less incorrect on that account. But first, a paragraph from an article by Schindler in Raumer’s “Hist. Taschenbuch,” published in 1863:

The rôle which Rasoumowsky played in Vienna at this time was one of unparalleled brilliancy. From the first weeks of the Congress his house was full. Thus Gentz notes under date Sept. 18: “Visited Rasoumowsky; there innumerable visitors, among others Lord and Lady Castlereagh, Count Münster, Count Westphalen, Mr. Coke, the Marquis de Saint-Marsan, Count Castellafu, all the Prussians, etc.” But as balls soon became the order of the day and Count Stackelberg had given his on October 20, 1814, when the Czar and Czarina of Russia, the King of Prussia and other grandees of all kinds appeared, he also planned one for December 6, and Gentz, who permitted himself the magical vision for only a moment and had to work that night till two o’clock on his dispatches, assures us that this feast was the most beautiful of all that he had attended since the arrival of the French monarch. It was only overshadowed by that which Czar Alexander gave in the same palace, which he borrowed for the occasion from his princely subject.

Honors Received at the Vienna Congress

Turn we to Schindler:

The end of the second period (in Beethoven’s life) showed us the composer on a plane of celebrity which may fairly be described as one of[301] the loftiest ever reached by a musician in the course of his artistic strivings. Let us not forget that it was the fruit of twenty years of tireless endeavor. The great moment in the history of the world with which this celebration of his fame was synchronous could not fail to give the incident a brilliancy unparalleled in the history of music. The apparent extravagance of the statement is pardonable when we add that nearly all the rulers of Europe who met at the Vienna Congress placed their seals on our master’s certificate of fame.

As Rasoumowsky was not elevated to the rank of Prince until June 3rd, 1815, Schindler, in his next sentences, is all wrong in making that incident “the cause of festivities of a most extraordinary character to which Beethoven was always invited.”

There (Schindler continues) he was the object of general attention on the part of all the foreigners; for it is the quality of creative genius combined with a certain heroism, to attract the attention of all noble natures. Shall we not call it heroism, when we see the composer fighting against prejudices of all kinds, traditional notions in respect of his art, envy, jealousy and malice on the part of the mass of musicians, and besides this against the sense most necessary to him in the practice of his art, and yet winning the exalted position which he occupies? No wonder that all strove to do him homage. He was presented by Prince [Count] Rasoumowsky to the assembled monarchs, who made known their respect for him in the most flattering terms. The Empress of Russia tried in particular to be complimentary to him. The introduction took place in the rooms of Archduke Rudolph, in which he was also greeted by other exalted personages. It would seem as if the Archduke was desirous always to take part in the celebration of his great teacher’s triumph by inviting the distinguished foreigners to meet Beethoven. It was not without emotion that the great master recalled those days in the Imperial castle and the palace of the Russian Prince; and once he told with a certain pride how he had suffered the crowned heads to pay court to him and had always borne himself with an air of distinction.

There is reason to believe that these receptions in the apartments of the Archduke did not begin until those at Rasoumowsky’s had come to their disastrous end. Huge as the palace was, it lacked space for the crowds invited thither to the Czar’s festivities. A large temporary structure of wood was therefore added on the side next the garden, in which, on the evening of December 30th, a table for 700 guests was spread. Between five and six o’clock of the morning of the 31st, this was discovered to be on fire—probably owing to a defective flue—the conflagration extending to the main building and lasting until noon.

Within the space of a few hours several rooms in this gorgeous establishment, on which for 20 years its creator had expended everything that splendor, artistic knowledge and liberality could offer, were prey of the raging flames. Among them were the precious library and the[302] inestimable Canova room completely filled with sculptures by this master, which were demolished by the falling of the ceiling.

The loss was incalculable. To rebuild the palace out of his own means was not to be thought of; but Alexander lost no time in offering his assistance and in sending Prince Wolkonski to him to learn how much money would be required to defray the principal cost. The Count estimated it at 400,000 silver rubels, which sum he requested as a loan, and received on January 24, 1815. But the sum was far from enough, and in order to obtain further loans, ownership of the splendid building had to be sacrificed.

And thus Rasoumowsky also passes out of our history.—Among the visitors to Vienna at the time of the Congress was Varnhagen von Ense, who had gone into the diplomatic service; he came in the company of the Prussian Chancellor von Hardenburg. His attitude toward Beethoven had cooled—probably because of Oliva’s complaints touching Beethoven’s behavior towards him. His brief report of his meeting with the composer derives some interest from its allusion to Prince Radziwill, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Overture, Op. 115 (which was not published until 1825). The report (printed in Varnhagen’s “Denkwürdigkeiten,” Vol. III, pp. 314-15) is as follows:

Musical treats were offered on all hands, concerts, the church, opera, salon, virtuosi and amateurs all gave of their best. Prince Anton Radziwill, who was already far advanced in his composition of Goethe’s “Faust” and here gave free rein to his musical inclinations, was the cause of my again looking up my sturdy Beethoven, who, however, since I saw him last had grown more deaf and unsociable, and was not to be persuaded to gratify our wishes. He was particularly averse to our notables and gave expression to his repugnance with angry violence. When reminded that the Prince was the brother-in-law of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, whose early death he had so deeply deplored and whose compositions he esteemed highly, he yielded a trifle and agreed to the visit. But it is not likely that a more intimate acquaintance followed. I also refrained from taking the uncouth artist to Rahel, for society rendered him obstreperous and nothing could be done with him alone, nothing could be done unless he was disposed to play. Besides, though famous and honored, he was not yet on that pinnacle of recognition which he has since attained.

Compositions and Publications of 1814

The compositions of the year 1814 were these:

I. Vocal Trio: “Tremate, empj, tremate.” Practically composed in 1801-02, but not known to have been completed and written out for performance and publication until “something for Milder” was needed in the concert of February 27th.

II. “Germania’s Wiedergeburt”; chorus in Treitschke’s “Gute Nachricht.”

III. “Fidelio”; revised and altered.

IV. “Un lieto Brindisi”; cantata campestre, four voices.

[303]

V. Elegiac Song: “Sanft wie du lebtest,” four voices and strings.

VI. Chorus: “Ihr weisen Gründer.”

VII. Sonata for Pianoforte, E minor, Op. 90.

VIII. Overture in C, Op. 115.

IX. Cantata: “Der glorreiche Augenblick.”

X. Three vocal pieces and march (orchestration of the march in the Sonata, Op. 26), for Duncker’s tragedy “Leonore Prohaska.”

XI. Canon: “Kurz ist der Schmerz”; second form as written in Spohr’s Album “on March 3d, 1815.”

XII. Song: “Des Kriegers Abschied.”

XIII. Song: “Merkenstein,” Op. 100; “On December 22d, 1814.”

XIV. “Abschiedsgesang”; for two tenors and bass (“Die Stunde schlägt”). Note on the publication in the “Completed Works, etc.”: “Beethoven wrote this terzetto at the request of Magistrate Mathias Tuscher for the farewell party of Dr. Leop. Weiss before his removal to the city of Steyer.” Beethoven inscribed it: “From Beethoven, so that he may no longer be touched up.” (Um nicht weiter tuschiert zu werden. The pun on the Magistrate’s name is lost in the translation. Tuschiren means to touch up with India ink.)

The publications of the year:

I. Irish Airs, Vol. I, complete, published by Thomson.

II. Chorus: “Germania’s Wiedergeburt”; published in June.

III. Song: “An die Geliebte,” by J. L. Stoll; published as a supplement to the “Friedensblätter,” July 12.

IV. Six Allemandes for Pianoforte and Violin, advertised by Ludwig Maisch on July 30. (The author lacks means and opportunity to determine the authenticity of these dances. It is, however, hardly probable that a Viennese publisher would venture at that time to use Beethoven’s name thus without authority.)

V. “Fidelio”; Pianoforte arrangement by I. Moscheles. Published by Artaria and Co., in August.

[304]

Chapter XV

The Year 1815—New Opera Projects—Beethoven Before Crowned Heads—End of the Kinsky Trouble—Death of Karl van Beethoven—The Nephew—Dealings with England.

Beethoven might well have adopted Kotzebue’s title: “The most Remarkable Year of my Life” and written his own history for 1814, in glowing and triumphant language; but now the theme modulates into a soberer key. “Then there is the matter of a new opera,” says a letter to the Archduke early in December. The “Sammler” of the 17th explains the allusion: “It is with great pleasure that we inform the music-loving public that Herr van Beethoven has contracted to compose an opera. The poem is by Herrn Treitschke and bears the title: ‘Romulus and Remus.’” The notice was based upon this note to Treitschke:

I will compose Romulus and shall begin in a few days, I will come to you in person, first once then several times so that we may discuss the whole matter with each other.

Now here was a promising operatic project; but before six weeks had passed came the “Allg. Mus. Zeitung” bringing Johann Fuss’s musical “Review of the month of December,” wherein among the items of Vienna news was a notice that “Hr. Fuss had composed an opera in three acts entitled ‘Romulus and Remus’ for the Theater-an-der-Wien”! And this was so; portions of it were afterwards sung by a musical society of which Dr. L. Sonnleithner was a member, and in Pressburg it was put upon the stage at a later date;—but it never came to performance in the theatres of Vienna, perhaps in consequence of measures adopted after the following letter to Treitschke:

I thought I could expedite the matter by sending Hrn. v. Schreyvogel a copy of this letter—but no.

You see this Fuss can attack me in all the newspapers, unless I can produce some written evidence against him, or you—or the director of the[305] theatre undertake to make a settlement with him. On the other hand the business of my contract for the opera is not concluded.

I beg of you to write me an answer especially as regards Fuss’s letter; the matter would be easily decided in the court of art, but this is not the case, which, much as we should like to, we must consider.

The matter was so arranged with Fuss as to leave the text in Beethoven’s hands; but how, and on what terms, is not known.

A Polonaise for the Empress of Russia

Among the sketches to “Der glorreiche Augenblick” appears the theme of the Polonaise for Pianoforte, Op. 89, the story of which is as follows: In a conversation with Beethoven one day, in the time of the Congress, Bertolini suggested to him that, as polonaises were then so much in vogue, he should compose one and dedicate it to the Empress of Russia; for, perhaps, thereby he might also obtain some acknowledgment from Emperor Alexander for the dedication to him of the Violin Sonatas, Op. 30,—for none had ever been made. As usual, Beethoven at first scorned dictation, but at length thought better of the proposal, sat down to the pianoforte, improvised various themes and requested Bertolini to choose one; which he did. When it was completed, they waited upon Walkonski, to seek through him permission to make the proposed dedication, which was granted. At the appointed time Beethoven was admitted to an audience with the Empress and presented the Polonaise, for which he received a present of 50 ducats. On this occasion he was asked, if he had ever received anything from the Czar? As he had not, a hundred ducats was added for the Sonatas.[145]

It was about this time (precisely when the painter could not remember when speaking of it in 1861), that Beethoven sat again to his friend Mähler, who wished to add his portrait to his gallery of musicians. This was the picture which, after the death of the artist, was purchased by Prof. Karajan. Another portrait of Beethoven was painted by Mähler for Gleichenstein. On the 25th of January, a grand festival took place in the Burg on the occasion of the Russian Empress’s birthday, which in part consisted of a concert in the Rittersaal. The last piece on the programme was the canon in “Fidelio”: “Mir ist so wunderbar,” and by a whimsical stroke of fortune Beethoven himself appeared, and, to the audience of emperors and empresses, kings and queens, with their ministers and retinues, played for the last time in public! Wild, who dates the concert a month too soon, gives an account[306] of it in which, after telling of his own success with “Adelaide,” he says:

It would be as untruthful as absurd were I to deny that my vanity was flattered by the distinction which the gathered celebrities bestowed upon me; but this performance of “Adelaide” had one result which was infinitely more gratifying to my artistic nature; it was the cause of my coming into closer contact with the greatest musical genius of all time, Beethoven. The master, rejoiced at my choice of his song, hunted me up and offered to accompany me. Satisfied with my singing he told me that he would orchestrate the song. He did not do this, but wrote for me the cantata “An die Hoffnung” (words by Tiedge) with pianoforte accompaniment, which, he playing for me, I sang at a matinée before a select audience.

By far the most important event in Beethoven’s history during these months, was the final settlement, by compromise, of the annuity affair with the Kinsky heirs, on the 18th of January. So soon as the legal formalities could be ended and communicated to Beethoven, he issued in autograph a power of attorney to Baron Josef von Pasqualati in Prague to collect the money due, and act for him in all things necessary. On March 26th, Pasqualati acknowledged the receipt of 2479 florins W. W. as payment on the annuity in full up to the end of March, 1815. In this instance “W. W.” (Wiener Währung) meant notes of redemption, since the bank-notes had been retired from circulation in 1812. The compromise decree arrived at through the ministration of Dr. Kanka fixed the original annuity of 1800 florins at 1200 florins, beginning on November 3d, 1812. There was therefore due to Beethoven, for from November 3d to the end of March, 1815, 2890 florins, from which was deducted 411 florins, as the equivalent of the 60 ducats paid to Beethoven by Prince Kinsky in October, 1812, leaving 2479 florins as aforesaid. The decision in the case with Lobkowitz also soon followed. According to the judgment of the Court, entered on April 19, 1815, the future annual payments were fixed at 700 florins (the equivalent of 280 fl. conventional coin, silver), and the 2508 fl. arrears were ordered paid in notes of redemption within two months. Payments were made accordingly and (as Dr. v. Köchel reported in a private note to the author), from 1811 up to his death, Beethoven received on the annuity contract the following sums every year:

From Archduke Rudolph1500 fl.
From Prince Kinsky1200
From Prince Lobkowitz  700
Total3400 fl.

[307]

This sum, 3400 fl. in notes of redemption, was the equivalent of 1360 fl. Con. M., silver, or 952 Prussian thalers.

Lobkowitz’s Generous and Honorable Conduct

Notwithstanding that Prince Lobkowitz’s financial affairs had been satisfactorily ordered, his return to Vienna was delayed until the Spring of 1815, one reason being that (as he states in a letter to Archduke Rudolph, dated Prague, December 29, 1814) an opinion prevailed in the Austrian capital that his presence would be “unseemly.” In this letter he gives expression to his feelings toward Beethoven as follows:

Although I have reason to be anything but satisfied with the behavior of Beethoven toward me, I am nevertheless rejoiced, as a passionate lover of music, that his assuredly great works are beginning to be appreciated. I heard “Fidelio” here[146] and barring the book, I was extraordinarily pleased with the music, except the two finales, which I do not like very much. I think the music extremely effective and worthy of the man who composed it.

Is this not nobly said?

Consider these facts: Lobkowitz was now deprived of the control of his revenues; those revenues, in so far as they were based upon contracts, were subject to the Finanz-Patent of 1811; the curators of his estates were also bound by it; and the General Court (Landrecht) had no power arbitrarily to set it aside. What that tribunal could and did do was, by its assent and decree, to give binding force to such agreement between the parties in principal, as had obtained the sanction of the curators, with, probably, the consent of the principal creditors of the Prince. It follows then that the concession of Beethoven’s full demand of 700 fl. in notes of redemption could have been obtained only through the good will and active intervention of Lobkowitz himself, using his personal influence with the other parties concerned. Schindler incidentally confirms this.

Will the reader here pause a moment and think what impression the aspersions on Lobkowitz’s character in Beethoven’s letters have left upon his mind? Have they not begotten a prejudice so strengthened by “damnable iteration” that it is now hardly possible to overcome it, and believe it unfounded? Lobkowitz, young, generous to prodigality, rendered careless by the very magnitude of his possessions, had, in the lapse of some twenty years, so squandered his enormous resources, as to fall into temporary embarrassments, which threw the responsibility of[308] meeting his pecuniary engagements upon others, who were bound by the nature of their office to pay none but strictly legal claims. Thus Beethoven became a loser in part of what was originally no debt, but a gift—or rather would have been so, but for the interference of Lobkowitz.

We have here another warning of the great caution to be exercised when using private correspondence for purposes of biography. In writing of Beethoven this is especially necessary, because so large a proportion of it consists of confidential notes and communications containing the ebullitions of splenetic moments, and not seldom hasty charges and mistaken accusations, such as he gladly withdrew on learning the truth. To accept all this without question is preposterous; to use it as authentic historic matter without scrupulous examination, is to do great injustice to the dead.

The proof is ample, that Beethoven was already fully convinced of the entire innocence of both Prince Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz of all desire to escape any really just demands upon them: yet, probably, until the greater part of our present Beethoven literature has sunk into oblivion, the memory of those noble and generous personages will be made to suffer on the authority of Beethoven’s hasty expressions.

A letter written in English, probably by his friend Häring, who had been much in England, and signed by Beethoven, marks the progress of his business with Thomson:

Address.

Mr. George Thomson, merchant in the musical line.

Edingbourgh, Scottland.

Sir,

Many concerns have prevented my answers to your favors, to which I reply only in part. All your songs with the exception of a few are ready to be forwarded. I mean those to which I was to write the accompaniments, for with respect to the 6 Canzonettes, which I am to compose I own that the honorary you offered is totally inadequate. Circumstances here are much altered and taxes have been so much raised after the English fashion that my share for 1814 was near 60£s. besides an original good air,—and what you also wish—an Overture, are perhaps the most difficult undertakings in musical compositions. I therefore beg to state that my honorary for 6 songs or airs must be 35£ or seventy impl. Ducats—and for an Overture 20£ or 50 impl. Ducats. You will please to assign the payment here as usual, and you may depend that I shall do you justice. No artiste of talent and merit will find my pretentions extravagant.

Concerning the overture you will please to indicate in your reply whether you wish to have it composed for an easy or more difficult[309] execution. I expect your immediate answer having several orders to attend, and I shall in a little time write more copiously in reply to your favors already received. I beg you to thank the author for the very ingenious and flattering verses, which obtained by your means. Allow me to subscribe myself

Sir,
your very obedt. & humble servt.
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna, Feb. 7 [?], 1815.

“The Mount of Olives” in London

This naturally turns our attention to Beethoven’s English affairs. “Christus am Ölberg” (“The Mount of Olives,” as the oratorio is called in England and America) had been given for the first time in England on February 25, 1814, by Sir George Smart, who in 1861, in conversation with the author at his house (the one in which Weber died), related the circumstances of this production and of “Wellington’s Victory,” which was a consequence of the success of the oratorio, substantially as follows:

In the winter of 1812-1813, Smart undertook the Lenten oratorio season at Drury Lane Theatre, introducing at the first concert, January 30, 1813, Handel’s “Messiah” with Mozart’s additional accompaniments, but not noting this fact upon the programme. The audience was delighted with the new effects and Mozart’s name appeared on the next programme. During this season Smart heard the “Christus am Ölberg” spoken of. Desiring to find some novelty the next season and Beethoven having already a great name, he offered £50 to anyone who would procure him the score of that work published by Breitkopf and Härtel—an exceedingly difficult thing to get at that time, when Napoleon had almost hermetically sealed the Continent against England. The next winter (1813-14) Jack Morris, keeper of a tavern or eating-house of the better sort, a man who had free entry behind the scenes of the theatre and was continually there, came to Smart and put the score of the oratorio into his hands, to his (Smart’s) great astonishment.

“Well,” said Smart, “I’ll give you the £50.”

“No,” was the reply, “I’ll take only two guineas, for that’s what I paid for it.”

“How did you get it?” asked Smart.

“A friend of mine who is a King’s Messenger bought it for me in Leipsic.”

The only acknowledgment that Morris would take, beside the two guineas, was that Smart should accept an invitation from him to be present at a pugilistic exhibition and at the supper afterwards. The score bears the date of reception, January 7, 1814.

Now to bring it out.

[310]

Samuel J. Arnold translated the text, putting all the characters into the third person, so as not to shock English feelings of reverence by producing Christ and the Apostles on the stage, and Smart adapted the translation to the music. It was rehearsed at his house (“in this room,” said he), and very ill received by amateurs present, who told Smart, he was mad to produce such a thing! On February 25th, the first part of the programme of the “Oratorio,” a sacred concert, at Drury Lane Theatre, was selections from the “Messiah” in which Catalani sang; Part II, “The Mount of Olives,” solos by Mrs. Dickens, Mrs. Bland, Mr. Pyne and Mr. Bellamy; Part III, Musical selections. Parts I and II also closed with selections from “Paradise Lost” read by Miss Smith. The tenth, and last, performance was on May 28th.

Subsequently, Kramer, master of the Prince Regent’s band, told Smart that the Prince had the score of a Battle Symphony by Beethoven, and he was welcome to the use of it, if he desired to produce it. Smart, encouraged by the success of the “Christus,” was delighted, notwithstanding the musicians called the work a piece of musical quackery. On examining it, Sir George saw that it would never do with his audience to end with the fugue on “God save the King,” and consulted with Ferdinand Ries as to what kind of close to make. Ries added to the score a short passage of modulation, which led from the fugue into the plain, simple tune. The work was copied, rehearsed, and produced on the 10th of February, 1815, as Part II of a Drury Lane “Oratorio”—the word being used then for a sacred concert, like “Akademie” in Vienna for a secular one. As the orchestra ended Ries’ passage of modulation, the hymn was taken up and sung by the principal solo singers, and the full chorus. The audience used also to join in and make the old theatre ring again. The success was immense; it was performed several seasons, and Smart cleared £1000 by it.[147]

There is a sketchbook in the Mendelssohn collection, which shows in part what compositions employed Beethoven’s thoughts about this time. It contains sketches to marches; for a “Symphony in B minor”; a “Sonata ’cello pastorale”; a chorus, “Meeresstille”; a song, “Merkenstein.” This confirms a statement of Czerny’s: “On ‘Merkenstein,’ Beethoven composed two little songs, both, I think, for almanacs.” The one published by[311] Steiner and Co., however, does not appear to have come out in that manner. The date of these sketches is fixed by a memorandum of Beethoven’s on the seventh leaf, of Smart’s production in London of “Wellington’s Victory”: “In Drurylane Theatre on February 10th, and repeated by general request on the 13th, ‘Wiener Zeitung’ of March 2d.” This led to inquiry, and Sir George Smart’s name, as leader of the Lenten concerts in London, became known to Beethoven, who engaged his friend Häring, who knew Smart intimately, to write the following English letter in his behalf:

Compositions Offered to England

To Sir George Smart,

Great Portland St., London.

My Dear Sir George:

I see by the papers that you have brought forth in the theatre Beethoven’s battle and that it was received with considerable applause. I was very happy to find that your partiality to Mr. B’s compositions is not diminished and therefore I take the liberty in his name to thank you for the assistance you afforded in the performance of that uncommon piece of music. He has arranged it for the pianoforte, but having offered the original to his R. H. the Prince Regent, he durst not sell that arrangement to any Editor, until he knew the Prince’s pleasure, not only with respect to the dedication, but in general. Having waited so many months without receiving the least acknowledgment, he begged me to apply to you for advice. His idea is to dispose of this arrangement and of several other original compositions to an Editor in London—or perhaps to several united—if they would make a handsome offer—they would besides engage to let him know the day of the appearance for sale of the respective pieces, in order that the Editor here, may not publish one copy before the day to be mentioned. At the end of this letter follows the list of such compositions, with the price, which the Author expects. I am persuaded, Sir George, you will exert yourself to benefit this great genius. He talks continually of going to England, but I am afraid that his deafness, seemingly increasing, does not allow him the execution of this favorite idea.

You are informed without doubt that his opera “Fidelio” has had the most brilliant success here, but the execution is so difficult, that it could not suit any of the English houses.

I submit here his list with the prices. None of the following pieces has been published, but No. 2, 4 and 9 have been performed with the greatest applause.

1. Serious Quartett for 2 violins, tenor and bass40 guineas.
2. Battle of Vittoria—Score70 guineas.
3. Battle of Vittoria arranged for the pianoforte30 guineas.
4. A Grand Symphony—Score70 guineas.
5. A Grand Symphony arranged for the pianoforte30 guineas.
6. A Symphony—Key F—Score40 guineas.
7. A Symphony, arranged20 guineas.
8. Grand Trio for the pianoforte, violin and violoncello40 guineas.
[312]9. Three Overtures for a full Orchestraeach 30 guineas.
10. The Three Arrangementseach 15 guineas.
11. A Grand Sonata for the pianoforte and violin25 guineas.

The above is the produce of four years labor.

Our friend Neate has not yet made his appearance here—nor is it at all known where he is roving about. We—I mean mostly amateurs—are now rehearsing Händel’s “Messiah”—I am to be leader of the 2d violins; there will be this time 144 violins—first and second altogether, and the singers and remainder in proportion. I have been so unfortunate, as not to receive a single line or answer from England since my stay in Vienna, which is near three months; this discourages me very much from writing, for I have dispatched immediately after my arrival several letters and have been continuing to send letters, but all in vain. Amongst those to whom I wrote about two months ago, is our friend Disi—pray if you meet him and his very respectable family [give them] my best regards. I have passed so many happy hours in his house, it would be highly ungrateful for me to forget such an amiable family.

Beethoven happening to call on me just now, he wishes to address a few lines to you [which you will] find at the bottom of this.... My direction is “Monsieur Jean de Häring, No. 298 Kohlmarkt, Vienna.”

Poor B. is very anxious to hear something of the English editors, as he hardly can keep those of this city from him, who tease him for his works.

Häring now writes the following for Beethoven to sign:

Give me leave to thank you for the trouble you have taken several times as I understand, in taking my works under your protection, by which I don’t doubt all justice has been done. I hope you will not find it indiscreet if I solicit you to answer Mr. Häring’s letter as soon as possible. I should feel myself highly flattered if you would express your wishes, that I may meet them, in which you will always find me ready, as an acknowledgment for the favors you have heaped upon my children.

Yours gratefully,
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna 16. March, 1815.

And now I shall beg, my dear Sir George, not to take this long letter amiss and to believe that I am always with the greatest regard,

Your most humble and obedient servant,
John Häring.

Vienna 19. March, 1815.

The works enumerated in this letter, taking them in the same order, are Op. 95, 91, 92, 93, 97, 113, 115, 117 and 96. Häring was evidently ignorant that all of Beethoven’s new works were even then sold, except for England. Steiner had purchased them. The precise terms of the contract between the composer and this publisher are not known; for, although the transaction was too important to have been left to a mere parole agreement, no written instrument has been discovered. Jahn had no copy of any; and Nottebohm writes (November 19, 1875): “I was yesterday in the[313] comptoir of Haslinger, but there nothing is to be found.” The earliest reference to the business yet discovered is a letter to Steiner, from which it is to be inferred that Karl van Beethoven was in some manner interested—perhaps as arranger, under his brother’s inspection, of the editions for pianoforte of the orchestral works:

Vienna, February 1, 1815.

Most Wellborn Lieutenant-General!

I have received to-day your letter to my brother and am satisfied with it but must beg of you to pay also the cost of the pianoforte arrangements in addition, as I am obliged to pay for everything in the world and more dearly than others it would be a hardship for me; besides I don’t believe that you can complain about the honorarium of 250 ducats—but neither do I want to complain, therefore arrange for the transcriptions yourself, but all must be revised by me and if necessary improved, I hope that you are satisfied with this.

In addition to this you might give my brother the collected pianoforte works of Clementi, Mozart, Haidn, he needs them for his little son, do this my dearest Steiner, and be not stone,[148] as stony as your name is—farewell excellent Lieutenant-General, I am always.

Yours truly,
General-in-Chief,
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Works Sold to Steiner

The works purchased by Steiner are named in a list sent by Nottebohm with the letter above cited. It is the copy of an unsigned memorandum, evidently proceeding from Beethoven, which, except the omission of the works mentioned in the Häring letter, runs thus:

Note

Concerning the following original musical compositions, composed by the undersigned, and surrendered as property to the licensed art dealer H. S. A. Steiner.

1st. Score of the opera Fidelio.
2d. Score of the cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick.
3d. Score of a quartet for 2 violins, viola and basso.
4th. Score of a grand Terzet to be sung with pianoforte arrangement.
5th. Score of the Battle of Vittoria with pianoforte arrangement.
6th. Pianoforte arrangement and score of a Symphony in F.
7th. Pianoforte arrangement and score of a Symphony in A major.
8th. Grand Trio for pianoforte, violin and basso in score.
9th. Grand Sonata for pianoforte and violin in score.
10th. Score of a Grand Overture in E-flat major.
11th. Score of a Grand Overture in C major.
[314]12th. Score of a Grand Overture in G major.
13th. 12 English songs with pianoforte accompaniment and German text.[149]

For all of these works which H. Steiner may use as his property in all places except England, I have been wholly recompensed.

Vienna, April 29, 1815.

Whatever may have been the proposed interest of Karl van Beethoven in the contract, his failing health soon prevented him from performing any labor under it. The correspondence with Steiner and Co. indicates that the task of arranging the orchestral works for the pianoforte was performed by Haslinger and Anton Diabelli, with occasional assistance from Carl Czerny, under Beethoven’s superintendence.

Diabelli, born near Salzburg in 1781, had now been for some years one of the more prolific composers of light and pleasing music, and one of the best and most popular teachers in Vienna. He was much employed by Steiner and Co., as copyist and corrector, and in this capacity enjoyed much of Beethoven’s confidence, who also heartily liked him as a man. In the composer’s comical military staff, he was the “General Profoss,” and in the correspondence his name becomes “Diabolus”—for Beethoven could never resist the temptation to a play upon words. About the 1st of April Beethoven received a package which proved to be an opera text by Rudolph von Berge, sent to him with a letter by his old friend Amenda from Courland. While this letter was under way Beethoven received a visit from a friend of Amenda’s who, on his departure from Vienna, carried with him a letter in which he said:

You are 1000 times in my mind with your patriarchial simplicity—unfortunately for my good or that of others, fate denies my wishes in this respect, I can say that I live almost alone in this greatest city of Germany since I must live almost in estrangement from all persons whom I love or could love—on what kind of footing is music with you? Have you ever heard any of my great works there? Great say I—compared with the works of the Highest, everything is small!

Sketches for a “Bacchus” Opera

The opera book sent by Amenda was entitled, “‘Bacchus,’ Grand Lyric Opera in Three Acts.” The libretto was preserved among Schindler’s papers in the Royal Library in Berlin. It seems likely that Beethoven gave some thought to the opera and experimented with some themes. There are interesting notes on a work with a classical subject, the words apparently the beginning of an invocation to Pan, in a sketchbook of 1815, which[315] Nottebohm describes in his “Zweite Beethoveniana” (p. 329 et seq.) without saying whether they belong to Treitschke’s “Romulus” or von Berge’s “Bacchus.” Dr. Riemann assumes without hesitation that the sketches were made for “Bacchus” and sees a premonition of Wagner’s methods in the following:

Treble clef with motif
bountiful

bountiful Pan
not quite so characteristic, it must be evolved out of the B. M.[150] where the
dance only intermittently

Treble clef with motif
Corni

Throughout the opera probably dissonances, unresolved or very differently, as our refined music cannot be thought of in connection with those barbarous times.

On the approach of warm weather the Erdödys removed for the summer to Jedlersee, never to return to the Schottenbastei; and as Lichnowsky was dead, Beethoven had no inducement longer to remain in that vicinity and therefore departed from the Mölkerbastei—also never to return. The new lodging was in the third storey of a house then belonging to Count Lamberti, in the Sailerstätte, with a double number 1055, 1056, near which he had lived a dozen years before, having the same sunny aspect and the glorious view across the Glacis from the Karlkirche and the Belvidere Gardens, away across the Danube to the blue Carpathian mountains in the distance. In this house, about the first of June, Häring introduced to Beethoven the very fine English pianist and enthusiastic musician Charles Neate, who after five months’ study with Winter in Munich had come to Vienna in the hope of obtaining instruction from the great symphonist. To his application, Beethoven replied in substance: “I cannot teach, but I will give you an introduction to my master, Förster” (which he did by letter), “and you may bring your compositions to me for my inspection, and I will examine and remark upon them.” In consequence of this permission Neate saw him almost daily. Beethoven spent a part of this summer in Baden, and Neate took a room very near him. There the composer was in the habit of working all the forenoon, dining early at twelve or one o’clock, and, towards evening, walking with Neate—sometimes up the[316] Helenen-Thal, oftener through the fields. Neate, in the course of his long life—he was nearly eighty when he related these things to the author[151]—had never met a man who so enjoyed nature; he took intense delight in flowers, in the clouds, in everything—“nature was like food to him, he seemed really to live in it.” Walking in the fields, he would sit down on any green bank that offered a good seat, and give his thoughts free course. He was then full of the idea of going to England, but the death of his brother and adoption of his nephew put an end to the project. Neate remembered the boy as a very beautiful, intelligent lad. Beethoven, at that time, and as Neate knew him, was charmingly good-tempered to those whom he liked—but his dislikes were so strong, that to avoid speaking to persons to whom he was not well affected, he would actually increase his pace in the street to a run. At this time, his dark complexion was very ruddy and extremely animated. His abundant hair was in an admirable disorder. He was always laughing, when in good humor, which he for the most part was, as Neate saw him.

One day Neate spoke to him about the popularity of his Sonatas, Trios, etc., in England and added that his Septet was very much admired:—“That’s damned stuff” (or “a damned thing”), said Beethoven, “I wish it were burned!” or words to this effect, to Neate’s great discomfiture. Another time, walking in the fields near Baden, Neate spoke of the “Pastoral Symphony” and of Beethoven’s power of painting pictures in music. Beethoven said: “I have always a picture in my mind, when I am composing, and work up to it.”

Neate conversed with him in German and had no difficulty in making him understand, when speaking into his left ear. He brought to Beethoven an order from the Philharmonic Society of London—obtained by the exertions of Ries—for three concert overtures, of which we shall hear more hereafter.[152]

The destruction of Rasoumowsky’s palace suspended his quartets, and Linke, the violoncellist, passed the summer with the Erdödys at Jedlersee. This gave the impulse to Beethoven to write the principal works of this year: the two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 102. The first bears his date: “To[317]wards the end of July”; the second: “Beginning of August.” While he was employed upon them, Treitschke called upon him for a closing chorus, “Es ist vollbracht,” to a little dramatic piece similar to the “Gute Nachricht,” entitled “Die Ehrenpforten,” and prepared to celebrate the second capitulation of Paris. It was performed July 15, 16 and 23; and, on the occasion of the Emperor’s nameday, was revived “with appropriate changes” October 3rd and 4th; but (according to the theatre bills) with the chorus “Germania” substituted for “Es ist vollbracht.”

Otto Jahn’s Recovery of Letters

This was the last year of Beethoven’s personal intercourse with the Erdödys, a very interesting memorial of which, namely, a series of notes and letters, has been preserved and made public by the coolness and decision of Otto Jahn. Being in Munich in 1852, or about that time, he learned that this correspondence was in the hands—if our memory serve—of the widow Brauchle, and obtained permission to read it in the presence of the possessor. Suddenly starting up he exclaimed (in effect): “I will copy this at the hotel,” and before the lady, in her amazement and perplexity, could refuse or prevent, he was away, and made the only copy known to be in existence, except transcripts made from it.[153] Several of these papers are only Beethoven’s apologies for not coming to Jedlersee “to-day” or “to-morrow”—but all are interesting in the glimpse which they give of the affectionate intimacy which they show as existing between Beethoven and the family.

A letter to Brauchle is important from a biographical point of view. It reads:

I had scarcely returned before I found my brother making lamentable inquiries about the horses—please do me the favor to go to Enzersdorf about the horses, take horses at my expense in Jedlersee, I’ll gladly recompense you. His sickness (my brother’s) is accompanied by a sort of unrest—let us be of help where we can, I am obliged to act thus and not otherwise! I await a speedy fulfillment of my wishes and a friendly answer on the subject from you—do not spare expenses I’ll willingly bear them. It is not worth while to let anyone suffer for the sake of a few dirty florins.

Neate and the Erdödys have carried us forward quite out of the strict order of time, to which we now return, beginning with letters to our old Bonn and London acquaintance, Johann Peter Salomon and others:

[318]

Vienna, June 1, 1815.

My respected countryman!

I have long hoped for the fulfillment of a wish to see you in person in London, to hear you, but the wish has always been frustrated by manifold hindrances—and for the reason that I am not in a position to do so I hope you will not deny my request which is that you speak with some publisher there, and offer him the following works for me: a Grand Trio for pianoforte, violin and violoncello (80 ducats). Sonata for pianoforte and violin (60 ducats). Grand Symphony in A (one of my most excellent), smaller Symphony in F.—Quartet for 2 violins, viola and violoncello in F minor.—Grand Opera in score, 30 ducats—Cantata with choruses and solo voices 30 ducats. Score of the Battle of Vittoria on Wellington’s victory, 80 ducats as also the pianoforte arrangement (if it has not, as I am assured already been published)—I have set down the honorarium of a few works which I think fair for England, but leave it to you in the case of these as well as the others, to do what you think best as to my pay. I hear, indeed, that Kramer is also a publisher[154] but my pupil Ries wrote me recently that he had publicly expressed himself against my compositions, I hope for no other reason than the good of art, wherefore I have no objection to offer, but if Kramer wants any of these injurious works of art, he is just as agreeable to me as any other publisher. I only reserve to myself the privilege of also giving the same works to my local publisher so that the works will appear only in London and Vienna and simultaneously.

Perhaps you may be able to point out to me in what manner I may get from the Prince Regent at least the copyist’s charges for the Battle Symphony on Wellington’s Victory at the battle of Vittoria, which I gave him, for I have long ago abandoned all hope of ever getting anything more, I was not even vouchsafed an answer as to whether I might dedicate the work to the Prince Regent when I publish it, I hear even that the work has already been published in London in pianoforte arrangement, what a fate for an author!!! While the newspapers are full of reports concerning the success of this work as performed at the Drury Lane Theatre, the author is unable to show even a friendly line touching it, not even the expense of copying, besides all this, the loss of all profit, for if it is true that the pianoforte arrangement is already published, no German publisher will take it, it is probable that the pianoforte arrangement will soon appear in a reprint by a German publisher and I will lose honor and honorarium.

Your well-known noble character bids me hope that you will take an interest in the matter and show yourself active in my service; the wretched paper money of our country has already been reduced to the fifth part of its value, I was treated according to the scale, but after much urging the full standard with a considerable loss, but we have again reached a point where the currency is worth much less than one-fifth and I am confronted for the second time with the prospect that my salary will be reduced to nothing without recourse of any kind. My only earnings now come from my compositions, if I could count on their sale in England it would be very advantageous to me.

[319]

Count on my boundless gratitude, I hope for a speedy, a very speedy answer from you.

Some time about October 15th, Beethoven returned to Vienna. And now another bitter parting: The Erdödys, accompanied by Brauchle, Sperl and Linke, departed to Croatia never to return.

Birchall Becomes Beethoven’s Publisher

The letters to Smart, Salomon and Ries were not in vain; through their efforts, especially Salomon’s, Mr. Robert Birchall, Music Publisher of No. 133 New Bond St., was induced to purchase four of the works enumerated by Häring, viz: the pianoforte arrangements of the “Wellington’s Victory,” Op. 91, and Symphony in A, Op. 92; the Trio in B-flat, Op. 97, and the Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin, Op. 96, for “the sum of one hundred and thirty-five gold Dutch ducats—value in English currency, sixty-five pounds.” The correspondence between the composer and publisher as presented by Mr. Birchall’s successors begins with a paper in extraordinary English which has hitherto passed as a note received from Vienna, but which, it is obvious, is nothing but the effort of some resident German to interpret the contents of the following letter from Beethoven:[155]

Vienna, October 28th, 1815.

Well-born Sir!

I inform you that the Battle and Victory Symphony on Wellington’s Victory in pianoforte arrangement was dispatched to London several days ago to the house of Thomas Coutts, in London, whence you may fetch it. I beg you to be speedy as possible in printing it and inform me of the day when you purpose publishing it so that I may give timely notice of the fact to the publisher here—such great hurry is not necessary with the 3 works which follow and which you will receive soon and in the case of which I shall take the liberty to fix the day:—Mr. Salomon will[320] have the goodness to explain to you more clearly why there is this greater haste in the matter of the Battle and Victory Symphony.

Awaiting a very speedy answer regarding the day of publication of the work which you have received.

I remain your obedient servant,
Ludwig van Beethoven

A Dying Brother’s Injunction

We now reach one of the most important and at the same time most melancholy events in Beethoven’s life—an event which exerted the profoundest influence on the rest of his life—the death of his brother Karl. We introduce it with that brother’s last will and testament:

Certain that all men must die and feeling that I am near this goal, but in the full possession of my understanding, I have freely and voluntarily deemed it good to make these, my last dispositions.

1. I commend my soul to the mercy of God, but my body to the earth from which it came and desire that it be buried in the simplest manner in accordance with the rites of Christian Catholicism.

2. Immediately after my death, four holy masses are to be said, to which end I set apart 4 florins.

3. My heirs general are commanded to pay the pious legacies according to law.

4. As my wife at our marriage brought me and paid over 2000 fl. in B. bonds, for which I gave no receipt, I acknowledge receipt of these 2000 fl. in B. bonds and desire that these 2000 fl. in B. bonds as also the deposit be rectified in accordance with the existing marriage contract.

5. I appoint my brother Ludwig van Beethoven guardian. Inasmuch as this, my deeply beloved brother has often aided me with true brotherly love in the most magnanimous and noblest manner, I ask, in full confidence and trust in his noble heart, that he shall bestow the love and friendship which he often showed me, upon my son Karl, and do all that is possible to promote the intellectual training and further welfare of my son. I know that he will not deny me this, my request.

6. Convinced of the uprightness of Hrn. Dr. Schönauer, Appellate and Court Advocate, I appoint him Curator for probate, as also for my son Karl with the understanding that he be consulted in all matters concerning the property of my son.

7. The appointment of heirs being the essential matter in a testament, I appoint my beloved wife Johanna, born Reiss, and my son Karl, heirs general to all my property in equal portions after the deduction of my existing debts and the above bequests.

8. The wagon, horse, goat, peacocks and the plants growing in vessels in the garden are the property of my wife, since these objects were all purchased with money from the legacy received from her grandfather.

In witness whereof, I have not only signed this, my last will with my own hand, but to aid in its execution have also called in three witnesses.

Thus done, Vienna, November 14, 1815.

Karl van Beethoven,
[321]m. p.

Carl Gaber, m. p.
House owner, Breitenfeld No. 9.

Benedikt Gaber, m. p.
House owner, Breitenfeld No. 25.

Johann Naumann, m. p.
House No. 5, Breitenfeld.

(“This testament was delivered under seal to the R. I. L. Austrian General Court, by the Karl Scheffer Solicitor Dr. Schönauer, on November 17, 1815, etc.”)

Codicil to my Will

Having learned that my brother, Hr Ludwig van Beethoven, desires after my death to take wholly to himself my son Karl, and wholly to withdraw him from the supervision and training of his mother, and inasmuch as the best of harmony does not exist between my brother and my wife, I have found it necessary to add to my will that I by no means desire that my son be taken away from his mother, but that he shall always and so long as his future career permits remain with his mother, to which end the guardianship of him is to be exercised by her as well as my brother. Only by unity can the object which I had in view in appointing my brother guardian of my son, be attained, wherefore, for the welfare of my child, I recommend compliance to my wife and more moderation to my brother.

God permit them to be harmonious for the sake of my child’s welfare. This is the last wish of the dying husband and brother.

Vienna, November 14, 1815.

Karl van Beethoven
m. p.

We, the undersigned, certify in consonance with truth that Karl van Beethoven declared in our presence that he had read the statement on the opposite page and that the same is in accordance with his will, finally we certify that he signed it with his own hand in our presence and requested us to witness the act.

Thus done on November 14, 1815.

Carl Gaber, m. p.
Benedikt Gaber, m. p.
Johann Neumann, m. p.

(“This codicil was delivered under seal to the R. I. L. Austrian General Court by the Karl Scheffer Solicitor Dr. Schönauer, on Nov. 17, 1815, etc.”)

On November 20, 1815, the “Wiener Zeitung” printed the announcement: “Died on November 16, Hr. Karl van Beethoven, Cashier in the R. I. Bank and Chief Treasury, aged 38 years,[156] of consumption.” And so in his own house died the brother Karl whose last moments came with a suddenness which aroused his brother’s suspicions that the end had been hastened by poison! Nor would he be satisfied upon the matter until his friend[322] Bertolini had made a post mortem examination “whereby the lack of foundation for the suspicion was proved.”

A few weeks before his death, Karl had applied for leave of absence from his office on the score of his feeble condition; but his petition was harshly refused in a document on which Beethoven afterwards wrote: “This miserable financial product caused the death of my brother.” In fact, however, it made probably little difference; his was evidently one of those common cases of phthisis, where the patient, except to the experienced eye, shows no signs of immediate danger; who at the last moments finds himself free from pain and blessed with a buoyancy of spirit that gives him vain hopes of prolonged life. It is the last flickering of the flame, as the skillful physician well knows.

As above noted, Karl van Beethoven’s will was deposited with the proper authorities on the 17th, and “the R. I. L. Austrian Landrecht (General Court) on November 22, 1815, appointed the widow of the deceased, Johanna van Beethoven, guardian, the brother of the deceased, Ludwig van Beethoven, associate guardian of the minor son Karl.” And so, for the present, we will leave the matter.[157]

And Breuning? Why during these years and especially in this time of sorrow does his name nowhere meet us? His son answers the question in that extremely interesting little volume “Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause.”[158]

Jacob Rösgen, an employee in the office of the Minister of War in which Breuning was a Secretary, had learned certain facts, or suspicions, in relation to Karl van Beethoven’s integrity, which he thought should be communicated to Ludwig as a warning “not to have anything to do with him in financial matters.” To this end he, having obtained Breuning’s word of honor not to make known the source of the information, imparted to him the whole matter. “Breuning faithfully performed the task which he had assumed; but Ludwig, in his tireless endeavor to better his brother,[323] hastened to take him to task for his conduct and charge him with the acts which had been reported to him; he went so far, when pressed by his brother for the source of his information, as to mention the name of his friend Steffen. Kaspar (Karl) then appealed directly to my father and asked the name of the author of the ‘denunciation,’ and when my father resolutely declined to give the name (Rösgen) Kaspar indulged himself in abuse to such an extent that he left insulting letters addressed to him and unsealed with the portier of the Ministry of War. My father, angered and pained at this impertinence and Ludwig’s breach of confidence, read the latter a sharp lecture which ended with the declaration that because of such unreliability it would be impossible longer to hold association with him.”[159] It will be long before we meet Breuning again.

There is a striking incongruity between Beethoven’s pleas of poverty in his letters to correspondents in England at this period and the facts drawn from official and other authentic sources. Let us tarry a moment on this point.

A Period of Prosperity

He was now, at the end of 1815, in the regular receipt of his annuity, 3400 florins in notes of redemption; in March and April the arrears, 4987 florins in such notes, had been paid him; the profits of his concerts since January 1, 1814, with presents from crowned heads and others were, if we may trust Schindler, who appears to speak from accurate knowledge, sufficient in amount to purchase somewhat later the seven bank-shares, which at his death, “according to the price current on the day of his death,” had a value in convention-coin of 7441 florins; Neate had paid him 75 guineas; for the works sold to Steiner and Co. he had “been wholly compensated”; in March (1816) he received from Mr. Birchall 65 pounds sterling; and there were payments to him from Thomson and others, the aggregate of which cannot be determined.

This incongruity is not essentially diminished either by his taxes—sixty pounds for 1814, he tells Thomson—nor by the 10,000 florins W. W. expended for the benefit of his brother, whether the “Wiener Währung” in the letter to Ries be understood as the old five for one, or the new in notes of redemption; for this fraternal charity extended back over a series of years. In this letter to Ries, the reader will observe also a remarkable instance of its writer’s occasional great carelessness of statement, where he speaks of his “entire loss of salary” for several years; for the Archduke’s share had throughout been punctually paid; not[324] to mention again the receipt of what had for a time been withheld of the Kinsky and Lobkowitz subscriptions. The omission of these facts in this and other letters, imparted to Ries an utterly false impression; and on their publication in 1838, to the public also. Hence the general belief that Beethoven was now in very straitened circumstances, and that Karl’s widow and child had been left in abject poverty; the truth as to them being this: that the property left them produced an annual income, which with the widow’s pension amounted at this time to above 1500 florins. From the day that Beethoven assumed the office of guardian and took possession of the child, he had a valid claim upon the mother for a part of the costs of maintaining him—a claim soon made good by legal process. If he afterward elected to suffer in his own finances rather than press his sister-in-law, this is no justification of the heedless statements in some of his letters now—a truth to be held in mind. And now the letter to Ferdinand Ries:

Wednesday, November 22, Vienna, 1815.

Dear R!

I hasten to write you that I to-day sent the pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A by post to the house of Thomas Coutts and Co., as the Court is not here, couriers go not at all or seldom, and this besides is the safest way. The Symphony should appear toward the end of March, I will fix the day, it has occupied too much time for me to make the term shorter,—more time may be taken with the Trio and the Sonata for violin, and both will be in London in a few weeks—I urgently beg of you, dear Ries! to make this matter your concern and to see that I get the money; it will cost a great deal before everything gets there and I need it—I had to lose 600 fl. annually of my salary, at the time of the bank-notes it was nothing then came the notes of redemption and because of them I lost the 600 fl. with several years of vexation and entire loss of salary—now we have reached a point where the notes of redemption are worse than the bank-notes were before; I pay 1000 fl. for house-rent; figure to yourself of the misery caused by paper money. My poor unfortunate brother has just died; he had a bad wife, I may say he had consumption for several years, and to make life easier for him I gave what I may estimate at 10,000 fl. W. W. True, that is nothing for an Englishman, but very much for a poor German, or rather Austrian. The poor man had changed greatly in the last few years and I can say that I sincerely lament him, and I am now glad that I can now say to myself that I neglected nothing in respect of care for him. Tell Mr. Birchall to repay Mr. Salomon and you the cost of postage for your letters to me and mine to you; he may deduct it from the sum which he is to pay me, I want those who labor for me to suffer as little as possible.

Wellington’s Victory at the Battle of Vittoria, this is also the title on the pianoforte arrangement, must have reached Th. Coutts and Co. long ago. Mr. Birchall need not pay the honorarium until he has re[325]ceived all the works, make haste so that I may know the day when Mr. Birchall will publish the pianoforte arrangement. For to-day, no more except the warmest commendation of my affairs to you; I am always at your service in all respects. Farewell, Dear R!

On the same day he wrote to Birchall:

Vienna, November 22, 1815.

Enclosed you are receiving the pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A. The pianoforte arrangement of the Symph. Wellington’s Victory at the Battle of Vittoria was dispatched 4 weeks ago by the business messenger, Hrn. Neumann, to Messrs. Coutts and Co., and therefore must long ago have been in your hands.

You will receive also the Trio and Sonata in a fortnight in exchange for which you will please pay to Messrs. Thomas Coutts and Co. the sum of 130 gold ducats. I beg of you to make haste with the publication of these musical compositions and to inform me of the day of publication of the Wellington Symphony, so that I may make my arrangements here accordingly. With great respect I remain,

Yours truly,
Ludwig van Beethoven, m. p.

The Trio and Sonata, however, were not forwarded until the 3d of the next February—a decidedly long “fortnight.”

In those days £65 was no small sum for the mere right of republication in England of these pianoforte works and arrangements, and Ries richly merited these words of his old master: “And now my heartiest thanks, dear Ries, for all the kindness you have shown to me, and particularly for the corrections. Heaven bless you and make your progress even greater, in which I take a cordial interest.”

Becomes an Honorary Citizen of Vienna

About the first of December, “a magisterial deputation solemnly delivered” into the hands of Beethoven a certificate conferring upon him the citizenship of Vienna in acknowledgment of his benevolent services in behalf of St. Mark’s Hospital. Ries, writing on September 29th for Salomon, who had broken his right shoulder in a fall from his horse, informs Beethoven that at that date the three overtures purchased by Neate for the Philharmonic Society had not reached London. Beethoven, in December, repeats this to Neate, who was still in Vienna, adding, in substance, his readiness to make any desired written agreement about these things in England. Salomon’s misfortune occurred in August; he lingered only until the 25th of November. No higher proof of his reputation in England can be given than the fact that the remains of this Bonn violinist rest near those of Handel in Westminster Abbey.

Schindler somewhere censures the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde for its long delay in making Beethoven an honorary[326] member. It did what was better. Hardly was it organized, when its directors turned their attention to him; and, in the second year of its legal existence, proposed to him through Zmeskall to compose an oratorio for its use. On the 22d of December, Count Appony reported: “that Hr. L. v. Beethoven, through Hrn. v. Zmeskall, had declared his readiness to deliver a large work to the society and that the Board of Management were awaiting his conditions.” It was but the course of common propriety—of ordinary delicacy—to leave him free of all obligation to the society until this matter of business should be settled; indeed, that Streicher was one of the principal founders and most influential members of the society is a sufficient pledge, that no disrespect for, nor indifference to, his great merits, had aught to do with the delay, which Schindler blames. We shall find that, so soon as it was certain that Beethoven could not live to fulfill his engagement, the society sent him its honorary diploma. Could it well do this before?

Of noteworthy new friends and acquaintances may be mentioned here Peters, tutor of the young Princes Lobkowitz, and Carl Joseph Bernard, a young literateur and poet—the reviser of Weissenbach’s poem—a great admirer of Beethoven’s music, soon to be appointed Editor of the official “Wiener Zeitung.” He is the “Bernardus non Sanctus” of the Conversation Books; and the two are the friends whom Beethoven set to music in the text:

Sanct Petrus war ein Fels!
Bernardus war ein Sanct??[160]

Another was Anton Halm, “in whose fresh military nature Master Ludwig took delight,” says Schindler. He was a native of Styria, and now but twenty-six years of age. After some years’ service against Napoleon, he had resigned (1812) his lieutenancy in the 44th Regiment. He was a pianoforte player of very respectable rank, and even before entering the army had appeared in public in Beethoven’s C minor Trio, Op. 1, and the C major Pianoforte Concerto, Op. 15. He had now been three years in Hungary, living during the third with his friend, Brunswick, who gave him a letter to Beethoven upon his departure for Vienna, whither he had come to be tutor in a Greek family named Gyike. “Halm once brought a sonata of his own composition to him,” says Czerny, “and when Beethoven pointed out a few errors, Halm retorted that he (B.) had also permitted himself many violations of the rules, Beethoven answered: ‘I may do it, but not you.’”

[327]

Growing Intercourse with Schindler

Young Schindler’s acquaintance with Beethoven had now advanced a step:

Toward the end of February, 1815 (Schindler writes), I accepted an invitation to become tutor at Brünn. Scarcely arrived there, I was summoned before the police officials. I was questioned as to my relations with some of the tumultuaries of the Vienna University as also certain Italians in whose company I had often been seen in Vienna. As my identification papers, especially the statement concerning the different lectures which I had attended, were not in good order, the latter really faulty—through no fault of mine—I was detained, notwithstanding that a government officer of high standing offered to become my bondsman. After several weeks of correspondence back and forth it was learned that I was not a propagandist and was to be set at liberty. But a whole year of my academic career was lost.

Again returned to Vienna, I was invited by one of Beethoven’s intimate acquaintances to come to an appointed place, as the master wanted to hear the story of the Brünn happening from my own lips. During the relation, Beethoven manifested such sympathetic interest in my disagreeable experiences that I could not refrain from tears. He invited me to come often to the same place and at the same hour, 4 o’clock in the afternoon, where he was to be found nearly every day—reading the newspapers. A handgrasp said still more. The place was a somewhat remote room in the beer-house “Zum Rosenstock” in the Ballgässchen. I was there right often and came to know the place as a quasi-crypt of a number of Josephites of the first water, to whom our master presented no discordant note, for his republican creed had already received a considerable blow through a more intimate acquaintance with the English Constitution. A captain of the Emperor’s bodyguard and Herr Pinterics, widely known in musical Vienna, who played an important rôle in the life of Franz Schubert, were the closest companions of the master and, in the exchange of political views, his seconds actively and passively. From this place I soon began to accompany him on his walks.

But Schindler’s intimacy with Beethoven was not yet such as to save him from errors when writing of this time. Thus he gravely assures us that a concert which took place on the 25th of December “provided the impulse which led the Magistracy of Vienna to elect our master to honorary citizenship.” And yet the “solemn delivery” of the diploma is already an item of news in the Vienna newspapers of December 15. This concert, in the large Ridotto room, conducted by Beethoven was for the benefit of the Bürgerspitalfond (Citizens’ Hospital Fund) and the works performed were “an entirely new overture” (that in C, known as the “Namensfeier”); “a new chorus on Goethe’s poem ‘Die Meeresstille’”; “Christus am Ölberg.” Between the cantata and the oratorio, Franz Stauffer, “the twelve-year-old son of a citizen of Vienna,” played a “Rondo brillant” by Hummel.

[328]

The compositions which are known or, on good grounds, are supposed to belong to the year 1815 are:

1. “15 Scottish Songs, in the month of May,” arranged for Thomson; but they are not all Scottish.

2. Chorus: “Es ist vollbracht”; for Treitschke’s “Ehrenpforte.”

3. Two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violoncello; C major and D major, Op. 102; in July and August.

4. Chorus with orchestra: “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt”; text by Goethe; Op. 112.

5. Song: “Das Geheimniss”; text by Weissenberg.

6. Song: “An die Hoffnung”; text by Tiedge; Op. 94 (probably finished).

7. Canons: “Das Reden,” “Das Schweigen” and “Glück zum neuen Jahre.”[161]

The ascertained publications of the year are:

1. Polonaise, in C major, Op. 89; published by Mechetti, in March.

2. Sonata for Pianoforte, E minor, Op. 90; by Steiner, in June.

3. Song: “Des Kriegers Abschied,” text by C. L. Reissig; by Mechetti, in June.

4. Chorus: “Es ist vollbracht,” pianoforte arrangement; by Steiner in July.

[329]

Chapter XVI

The Year 1816—Guardianship of the Nephew—Giannatasio del Rio—Beethoven’s Works in London—Birchall and Neate—New Distinctions.

Compared with the years immediately preceding, the year 1816 is comparatively barren of large incidents in the life of Beethoven; its recorded history, therefore, is to be found to a still larger extent than before in the composer’s extended correspondence together with explanatory annotations. Some of the letters, especially those written to his English friends, are likely to make a somewhat melancholy, and to that extent erroneous, impression. The real record of the writer finds expression in the letters which he wrote to Steiner and Co. and Zmeskall. These are bubbling over with playfulness and jocularity, proving that the writer was generally in a cheerful humor and in this year was anything but the melancholy Beethoven of the romance writers. He seems to have endured the rapid and disquieting increase in his malady, an inevitable consequence of the exertions and excitement attending the rehearsing and conducting of so many large concerts, with surprising patience and resignation. And why not? His pecuniary affairs were in good condition, notwithstanding his lamentations to Ries and others; he had won his lawsuit with his brother’s widow, and his artistic ambition must have found complete satisfaction in the great fame which he had won. A letter concerning a new operatic project first invites attention. The eight rôles which Madame Milder had played in the past summer in Berlin, had given such keen delight that she had been reëngaged for a second and much longer series. Domestic troubles and sorrows, in which her husband, the jeweler Hauptmann, appears to have been entirely the guilty party and which embittered all her future life, rendered her utterly unable for the present to appear upon the stage; and “because of illness and weakness” it was not until several weeks after her return from the baths at Pyrmont that she could begin the new engagement on[330] October 3d. Meantime “Fidelio” had been put upon the boards and “given for the first time on October 11th with great success.” “This opera,” said the Berlin “Dramaturgisches Wochenblatt” in its notice of the event, “bears within itself the seeds of a dramatico-musical reformation and will hasten the end of the bastard music.” And yet on this evening, the Leonore was Mad. Schultze—Schuppanzigh’s sister-in-law. When, three days after, Mad. Milder took the part, its greatness was for the first time fully appreciated; and of the twenty-four evenings to which her engagement extended, this greatest representative then living of Gluck’s grandest inspirations devoted eleven to “Fidelio.” This triumph of his opera in Berlin, drew from the composer a letter (dated January 6, 1816) full of expressions of gratitude and enthusiastic appreciation of the singer’s talents, and giving voice too, to a rekindled dramatic ambition. He says:

If you were to beg Baron de la Motte Fouqué—in my name—to invent a grand opera subject which would at the same time be adapted to you, you would do a great service to me and the German stage. I should like, moreover, to compose it exclusively for the Berlin stage as I shall never bring about another opera for the parsimonious management here.

The next letter relates to the oratorio for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde:

My dear Zmeskall!

With dread I observe for the first time to-day that I have not yet answered the application of the Gesellschaft der Musif. of the Austrian capital for an oratorio.

The death of my brother two months ago, the guardianship of my nephew which thereby devolved upon me, together with many other unpleasant circumstances and occurrences are the cause of my tardy writing. Meanwhile the poem by H. von Seyfried is already begun and I shall also soon set the same to music. That the commission is highly honorable, I scarcely need tell you; that is self-evident and I shall try to execute it as worthily as my small powers will allow.

As regards the artistic means to be employed in the performance I shall be considerate, but do not wish not to be allowed to depart from those already introduced. I hope that I have made myself understood in this matter. As they insist upon knowing what honorarium I ask, I inquire in turn whether the Society thinks 400 ducats in gold agreeable for such a work. I again beg pardon of the society for the tardiness of my answer; meanwhile, you my dear friend have at least reported by word of mouth my readiness to compose the work, before this, which sets my mind measurably at ease—My dear Z.

Your B.

The next selections require the preliminary statement of certain facts. Beethoven’s dissatisfaction at the appointment[331] (on November 22d) of his sister-in-law as the guardian of her son—now nine years old—was expressed in an appeal to the Upper Austrian Landrecht on the 28th, to transfer the guardianship to himself. Next day, the 29th, that tribunal ordered the petitioner and Dr. Schönauer to appear before it in this matter on December 2d at 10 o’clock a. m. At that time the subject was deferred to the same hour on the 13th. Beethoven then appeared and declared that he could produce “weighty reasons why the widow should be entirely excluded from the guardianship.” Whereupon, on the 15th, it was ordered that he produce those grounds within three days, “failing which, the preparation of the guardianship decree to the widow would be proceeded with without further delay.” The same day Beethoven signed a petition to the City Magistrates for an official certificate concerning the “condemnation of his (Karl’s) mother, Johanna van Beethoven, on an investigation for infidelity.” The magistrate answered him on the same day through their secretary that they could not legally grant him a copy of the judgment against her, but would communicate the “necessary disclosures” to the tribunal. This was done on the 21st. Then came the Christmas holidays, and no further action was taken until the 9th of January, when a decision was rendered in Beethoven’s favor, and he was ordered to appear on the 19th to take the “vows for the performance of his duties.” He complied, and on the outside of this order is written:

To-day appeared Ludwig van Beethoven as the legally appointed guardian of his nephew Carl and vowed with solemn handgrasp before the assembled council to perform his duties.

The Nephew Taken from His Mother

This document also empowered the new guardian to take possession of the boy, who of course was still with his mother. But what to do with him? Beethoven could not take him into his own lodging; a child of that age needs a woman’s care and tenderness.

A certain Cajetan Giannatasio del Rio was at that time proprietor and manager of a private school in the city for boys, which enjoyed a high and deserved reputation. His family consisted of his wife and two highly accomplished daughters, young women of fine talents, of much musical taste and culture, and—especially the eldest—enthusiasts for Beethoven’s music. The composer, accompanied by Bernard and the boy, visited and inspected the school, and was so much pleased with it and the family, that he determined to withdraw his nephew from the public school, and place him there as pupil and boarder. On February 1st, he wrote to Giannatasio:

[332]

With sincere pleasure I inform you that at last on to-morrow I shall bring to you the precious pledge that has been intrusted to me. Moreover I beg of you again under no circumstances to permit the mother to exercise any influence, now or when she may see him, all this I will talk over with you to-morrow. You may impress this also on your servants, for mine in another matter was bribed by her! More by word of mouth though silence would be preferable to me—but for the sake of your future citizen of the world, this melancholy communication is necessary.

[In Karl’s hand]: I am very glad to come to you, and am your Carl van Beethoven.

The next day, February 2, the boy was taken from his mother. The intolerable annoyance caused by her appearing in person or sending a messenger daily to take him from the school, drew from Giannatasio on the 11th a written application to the guardian for “a formal authority in a few lines for refusing without further ado to permit her to fetch her son.” In his reply, Beethoven writes: “as regards the mother I request that on the plea that he is busy you do not admit her to him at all.” He then consulted Joseph Edler von Schmerling, a member of the Landrecht, upon the measures proper for him to adopt, and communicated that gentleman’s advice to Giannatasio by letter, on the morning of the 15th. The same day, taking Bernard with him, he went to the school, and there meeting Giannatasio, the three prepared a formal petition to the Landrecht, praying that tribunal to grant the guardian plenary authority to exclude the widow and her agents from all or any direct communication with the boy. This was signed by Beethoven and immediately presented. On the 20th, the Landrecht granted, essentially, this petition; but its decree contained this proviso: that the mother might still visit her son “in his leisure hours, without disturbing the course of his education or the domestic arrangements, in the company of a person to be appointed by the guardian or the director of the educational institution.” Armed with this authority, Giannatasio on March 8th informed in writing “Madame Jeannette de Beethoven, Vorstadt, Alsergasse, No. 121,” that she has in future “to apply solely to the uncle as to whether, how and when” she can see her son. And thus this wretched business again for the present rested. In these days belongs a letter by Beethoven to Giannatasio:

The Queen of Night surprised us yesterday and also delivered a veritable anathema against you; she showed her usual impertinence and malice against me and set me back for a moment and I almost believed that what she said was right, but when I reached home later I received the result of the decision of the L. R. which turns out to be just what was[333] desired and I communicate the most necessary point, although you will probably receive a copy of it towards evening....

Neate was now gone to London. On his departure Beethoven wrote in his album two canons entitled “Das Schweigen” (Silence) and “Das Reden” (Speech), adding with the date, “January 24, 1816,” the words:

My dear English compatriot in silence and in speech remember your sincere friend

Ludwig van Beethoven.

The London Philharmonic Buys Overtures

The document concerning the sale of the three overtures to the Philharmonic Society which Beethoven promised to give Neate (which Moscheles printed in his paraphrase of Schindler’s biography in translation, as if it had been written in English and not altogether correctly)[162] ran as follows:

In the month of July, 1816 [sic] Mr. Neate in the name of the Philharmonic Society in London, received from me 3 overtures and paid me for the same an honorarium of 75 guineas in consideration of which I bind myself not to permit them to be published in parts[163] anywhere, though the right is reserved by me to perform them wherever I please as well as to publish them in pianoforte arrangement though not before Mr. Neate shall have written to me that they have been performed in London. Moreover, Mr. Neate has assured me that he will kindly take it upon himself (to assure me) that the Philharmonic Society will give me permission after a lapse of one or two years to publish the 3 overtures in score and parts, inasmuch as I can do this only with their consent, with which I present my compliments to the P. S.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna, February 5, 1816.

The three overtures had already been sold to Steiner, but were not published till six years later. The works entrusted to him, as remembered by Mr. Neate forty-five years afterwards, were: 1. A copy of the Violin Concerto, Op. 61, with a transcription of the solo for Pianoforte on the same pages, which Beethoven said he himself had arranged and was effective; 2. The two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 102, with a dedication to Neate; 3. The Seventh Symphony in score; 4. “Fidelio” in score; and 5. The String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95—all in manuscript. There is some reason to think that besides these works Neate also took a copy of “Der glorreiche Augenblick.” On January 20, Beethoven wrote the following letter to Ries in London:[164]

[334]

Vienna, January 20, 1816.

My dear Ries:

I see from your letter of January 18, that you have safely received the two things—as no couriers are going, the post is safest, but it costs a great deal, I will send you the bill for what I have paid here for copying and postage soon, it is very little for an Englishman but all the more for a poor Austrian musician!

See that Mr. B.[165] recompenses me for this, since he has the compositions for England very cheaply. Neate, who has been about to go every moment, but always remains, will bring the overtures with him, I have always communicated to him the injunctions touching them given by you and our deceased S.[166]—the symphony will be dedicated to the Empress of Russia. The pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A must not be published before the month of June, the publisher cannot be earlier—tell this at once to B. my dear good R.

The Sonata with violin, which will go from here by the next post, may also be published in London in the month of May—but the Trio later. (It will also arrive by the next post) I will fix the date myself later.

And now my heartiest thanks dear Ries, for all the kindness you have shown to me and particularly for the corrections. Heaven bless you and make your progress ever greater in which I take a cordial interest—commend me to your wife.

It is necessary here to state certain facts, both to explain the failure of Mr. Neate to sell any of these works to the London publishers, and to render some of the letters to come intelligible.

The Philharmonic Society Disappointed

The Philharmonic Society was an association of the first musicians of London and its vicinity, and no city on earth could at that time present such an array of great names. Here are a few of them taken alphabetically from its roll: Atwood, Ayrton, Bridgetower, Clementi, Cramer, Carnaby, Dragonetti, Horsley, Lindley, Mazzinghi, Mori, Naldi, Novello, Ries, Shield, Smart, Spagnoletti, Viotti, Watts, S. Webbe, Yanewicz. Imagine the disappointment of these men, fresh from the performance of the C minor Symphony, when they played through the overtures to “The Ruins of Athens” and “King Stephen,” which, however interesting to a Hungarian audience as introductions to a patriotic prologue and epilogue in the theatre, possess none of those great qualities expected from Beethoven and demanded in a concert overture! Nor was the “Namensfeier” thought worthy of its author. Ries speaks thus of this matter:

After I had with much trouble persuaded the Philharmonic Society to permit me to order three overtures from him, which should remain its property, he sent me three, not one of which, in view of Beethoven’s great name and the character of these concerts, could be performed, because[335] expectation was tense and more than the ordinary was asked of Beethoven. A few years later he published all three and the Society did not think it worth while to complain. Amongst them was the overture to “The Ruins of Athens,” which I consider unworthy of him.

But when it became known that neither of the three—Op. 115 possibly excepted—was new, and that not one of them had been composed to meet the Society’s order, is it surprising that this act of Beethoven’s was deemed unworthy of him, disrespectful, nay, an insult to the Society, and resented accordingly?

Another matter was personal with Mr. Birchall. That publisher, having at last (early in February) received the last of the works purchased by him, immediately deposited with Coutts and Co. the sum agreed upon, to the composer’s credit, and forwarded the following “Declaration” to Vienna for signature, leaving the day of the month blank—as it still remains—to be inserted when signed:

Received ... March, 1816, of Mr. Robert Birchall—Music Seller, 133 New Bond Street, London—the sum of One Hundred and thirty Gold Dutch Ducats, value in English Currency Sixty-five Pounds, for all my Copyright and Interest, present and future, vested or contingent, or otherwise within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the four following Compositions or Pieces of Music composed or arranged by me, viz.:

1st. A Grand Battle Sinfonia, descriptive of the Battle and Victory at Vittoria, adapted for the Pianoforte and dedicated to his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent—40 Ducats.

2nd. A Grand Symphony in the Key of A, adapted to the Pianoforte and dedicated to

3rd. A Grand Trio for the Pianoforte, Violon and Violoncello in the Key of B.

4th. A Sonata for the Pianoforte with an Accompaniment for the Violin in the Key of G, dedicated to

And, in consideration of such payment I hereby for myself, my Executors and Administrators promise and engage to execute a proper Assignment thereof to him, his Executors and Administrators or Assignees at his or their Request and Costs, as he or they shall direct. And I likewise promise and engage as above, that none of the above shall be published in any foreign Country, before the time and day fixed and agreed on for such Publication between R. Birchall and myself shall arrive.

Instead of this document, so indispensable for his security, the publisher received a new demand from Beethoven!—one for five pounds additional, as per memorandum:

Copying1.10.0
Postage to Amsterdam1.  0.0
Trio2.10.0
 £5. 0.0

[336]

The very unfavorable impression which this proceeding made upon the mind of Mr. Birchall may readily be conceived. These £5 are the 10 ducats mentioned in the following letter, portions of which were suppressed when printed by Ries:

Vienna, May 8, 1816.

My answer comes somewhat tardily; but I was ill, had much to do and it was impossible for me to answer you sooner; now only the most necessary things—not a Heller of the 10 ducats in gold has as yet arrived, and I am already beginning to believe, that the Englishmen, too, are only magnanimous in foreign lands; so also with the Prince Regent from whom I have not even received the copyist’s fees for my Battle sent to him, not even written or oral thanks;[167] Fries here deducted 6 fl. Convention money. On the receipt of the money from Birchall, besides 15 fl. Convention money for postage, tell B. this—and see that you yourself get the draft for the 10 ducats, otherwise it will go like the first time—what you tell me about Neate’s undertaking would be desirable for me. I need it, my salary amounts to 3400 florins in paper, I pay 1100 house-rent, my servant and his wife nearly 900 fl. Calculate what remains. Moreover, I have got to care wholly for my little nephew. He is till now still in the Institute; this costs me close to 1100 fl. and is poor besides, so that I must establish myself in decent housekeeping so that I can have him with me. How much one must earn in order to live here; and yet there is never an end for—for—for—you know it already. As to the dedications another time. A few orders besides the concert would also be welcome from the Philharmonic Society—besides my dear pupil Ries ought to sit down and dedicate something good to me to which the master would also respond and repay kind with kind. How shall I send you my portrait! I hope too, to have news from Neate, urge him on a bit, be assured of my sincere interest in your futures. Urge Neate on to work and composition. All things lovely to your wife. Unfortunately I have none. I found only one, whom I shall doubtless never possess; but am not a woman hater on that account.

Your true friend,
Beethoven.

Ungrounded Suspicion of Neate

Immediately upon the receipt of this letter, Ries spoke with Mr. Birchall, who next day (March 15), deposited the £5 with Coutts and Co.; but month after month passed and still the “Declaration” with Beethoven’s signature did not arrive. Of the justice, propriety, delicacy of this new demand, nothing need be said; its historical importance is due entirely to the very unfavorable effect which it and the correspondence relating to it produced upon the minds of the London publishers. Mr. Neate was in some degree prepared for the coldness with which those gentlemen received his proposals in Beethoven’s behalf, by a letter written to him after[337] the trial of the overtures. One sentence in it he remembered word for word: “For God’s sake, don’t buy anything of Beethoven!” But he was not prepared for the utter refusal in all quarters to listen to him. He besought Mr. Birchall to purchase the overtures. The reply was: “I would not print them, if you would give me them gratis.”

As to the score of the Symphony in A (the Seventh), it was folly to expect that the Philharmonic Society would pay a large sum for the manuscript of a work already (March 6) advertised in Vienna for subscription at the price of twenty-five florins.

It is another instance of Beethoven’s unlucky tendency to suspect the conduct and motives of others, that seeing in a newspaper a notice of the production of one of his Symphonies by the Philharmonic Society, he at once assumed that it was the Seventh and that Neate had given the use of his manuscript!

Under such circumstances Neate could do nothing for Beethoven; nor could he well disclose the true causes of his failure; so the composer characteristically assumed that he would do nothing, and, as will be seen, gave vent to his wrath in terms equally bitter and unjust. The letters selected pertaining to these transactions are reserved for their places in chronological order.

Linke’s departure with the Erdödys to Croatia was noted in the last chapter; he returned to Vienna in the Autumn in season to enable Schuppanzigh to begin his winter season of quartets in November. They were given in the hall of the hotel “Zum Römischen Kaiser,” and had now ended. So, too, had ended the engagement of Schuppanzigh, Weiss and Linke with Rasoumowsky. The destruction of his palace, the approach of old age, and failing sight, induced him now to dismiss them with suitable pensions from his service. Schuppanzigh went to Russia; Linke returned to the Erdödys and Weiss remained in Vienna. Before their departure the first two gave each a farewell concert. Schuppanzigh’s took place in the palace of Count Deym, the programme being made up entirely of Beethoven’s works, viz: Quartet C major, Op. 59; Quintet for Wind-instruments and Pianoforte, Op. 16, Carl Czerny, pianist; and the Septet, Op. 20. Beethoven “entered at the beginning of the quartet” and shared in the deafening applause of the crowded audience. Czerny relates: “When I played the Quintet with Wind-instruments at Schuppanzigh’s concert, I allowed myself in my youthful frivolity, many changes—increasing the difficulty of passages, using the higher octaves, etc. Beethoven very properly and severely upbraided me for it in the presence of Schuppanzigh, Linke and the other players. The next[338] day I received from him the following letter, which I copy exactly from the original lying before me”:

I cannot see you to-day, to-morrow I will come to you in person to talk with you. I burst out so yesterday, I was very sorry after it had happened, but you must pardon it in an author who would have preferred to hear his work just as he wrote it, beautifully as you played otherwise. I will make it good publicly to-morrow at the Violoncello Sonata.

Be assured that as an artist I cherish the best of good feeling for you and shall always strive to manifest it.

Linke’s concert took place on the 18th of February in the hall of the “Römischer Kaiser,” the programme, except a Rondoletto for the Violoncello by Romberg, being also entirely Beethoven. Stainer von Felsburg played the new Sonata, Op. 101, and Czerny the pianoforte part of one of the Sonatas, Op. 102, on which occasion the composer “made it good publicly.” And so, except for an occasional visit to Vienna by Linke, two more of our old acquaintances disappear for several years; also Hummel and Wild. Hummel we shall meet again beside Beethoven’s death-bed; Wild no more. An album-leaf containing a canon, “Ars longa, vita brevis est” and “A happy journey, my dear Hummel, think occasionally of your friend, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vienna, April 4, 1816,” was the farewell to the pianist and composer. On the 20th, Wild gave a little musical festival “in the home of an art-lover,” at which he sang the “Adelaide” and “An die Hoffnung,” Op. 94. Beethoven was present and played the accompaniments. And this was his farewell to the singer. On April 3d, Beethoven wrote the following letter to Ries:

My dear Ries:

Hr. B. has probably received the Trio and Sonata by this time, in the last letter I asked 10 ducats more for copying and postage, probably you will work out these 10 ducats for me—I always have some worriment lest you are spending a great deal for me for postage, I greatly wish that you would be so kind to charge up to me all my letters to you as I want to have you reimbursed from here by the house of Fries to the house of Coutts in London. Unless the publisher B. objects, in which case he must send me notice immediately by post, the Sonata with violin will appear here on June 15th, the Trio on July 15th, concerning the pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony, I will inform Herr B. when it is to come out. Neate must now be in London; I gave him to carry with him a number of my compositions; and he promised to put them to the best use for me, greet him for me. Archduke Rudolph also plays your works with me, my dear Ries, of which Il sogno pleases me particularly. Farewell, my dear R., commend me to your dear wife as well as all the pretty English women to whom it might give pleasure.

[339]

Appeals to Charles Neate

On May 15, a letter of condolence to Countess Erdödy was called out by the sudden death of her son Fritzi. At the countryseat in Croatia, the lad burst one morning into his sister’s room and, complaining of his head, with a cry of anguish sank dead at her feet. Beethoven labors sadly in his effort to find words of comfort for the stricken mother: “Reflect that your son might have been forced to go into battle and might then, like millions of others, have met his death, besides you are still the mother of two dear, hopeful children.” On the same day he wrote a French letter to Neate which, because of its characteristic style and unconventional spelling, Moscheles reproduced literally. A paragraph will suffice us here:

Avanthier on me portait un extrait d’une Gazette anglaise nommée Morning cronigle, ou je lisoit avec grand plasir, que la societé philharmonique à donné ma sinfonie in A♯; c’est une grande satisfaction pour moi, mais je souhais bien d’avoir de vous même des nouvelles, que vous ferez avec tous les compositions, que j’ai vous donnés; vous m’avez promis ici, de donner un concert pour moi, mais ne prenez mal, si je me méfis un peu, quand je pense que le Prince regent d’angleterre ne me dignoit pas ni d’une reponse ni d’une autre reconnaissance pour la Bataile que j’ai envoyé a son Altesse, et lequelle on a donnée si souvent a Londre, et seulement les gazettes annoncoient le reussir de cet œuvre et rien d’autre chose....

The following letter of a few days later was written in English, probably by Häring, and only signed by Beethoven:

Vienna, May 18, 1816.

My dear Neate:

By a letter of Mr. Ries, I am acquainted with your happy arrival at London. I am very well pleased with it, and still better I should be pleased if I had learned it by yourself.

Concerning our business, I know well enough that for the performance of the greater works, as the Symphony, the Cantata, the Chorus, and the Opera, you want the help of the Philharmonic Society, and I hope your endeavour to my advantage will be successful.

Mr. Ries gave me notice of your intention to give a concert to my benefit. For this triumph of my art at London I would be indebted to you alone; but an influence still wholesomer on my almost indigent life, would be to have the profit proceeding from this enterprise. You know, that in some regard I am now father to the lovely lad you saw with me; hardly I can live alone three months upon my annual salary of 3400 florins in paper, and now the additional burden of maintaining a poor orphan—you conceive how welcome lawful means to improve my circumstances must be to me. As for the Quartet in F minor, you may sell it without delay to a publisher, and signify me the day of its publication, as I should wish it to appear here and abroad on the very day. The same you be pleased to do with the two Sonatas, Op. 102, for pianoforte and violoncello; yet with the latter it needs no haste.

[340]

I leave entirely to your judgment to fix the terms for both works, to wit, the Quatuor and the Sonatas, the more the better. Be so kind to write me immediately for two reasons; 1st, that I may not be obliged to shrink up my shoulders when they ask me if I got letters from you; and 2dly, that I may know how you do, and if I am in favour with you. Answer me in English if you have to give me happy news (for example, those of giving a concert to my benefit), in French if they are bad ones.

Perhaps you find some lover of music to whom the Trio and the Sonata with violin, Mr. Ries had sold to Mr. Birchall, or the Symphony arranged for the Pianoforte, might be dedicated, and from whom there might be expected a present. In expectation of your speedy answer, my dear friend and countryman, I am, yours truly,

Ludwig van Beethoven

We can follow the progress of the business in connection with the compositions to be published in London in the following letter to Ries:

Vienna, June 11, 1816.

My dear R.!

I am sorry that because of me, you are again compelled to pay out some postage money, willing as I am to help and serve others it gives me equal pain to burden others with my affairs. Of the 10 ducats nothing has appeared up-to-date and the conclusion to be formed from this is that in England as here there are wind-bags and people who do not keep their word. I charge nothing against you in this. Nevertheless I must beg of you to go to Mr. Birchall again in the matter of the 10 ducats, and to collect them yourself, I assure you on my honor that I paid the 21 fl. in Convention coin for expenses outside the copyist’s fee and several postages in bank-notes. The money was not even paid in ducats, though you yourself wrote me that it would be paid in Dutch ducats—therefore there are also in England such conscientious persons to whom keeping their word is nothing?!! The publisher here has applied to me to have the Trio published in London on the last of August, for which reason I beg of you kindly to speak with Mr. B. Mr. B. can get himself in readiness concerning the pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A, since as soon as the publisher here tells me the day I shall immediately let you or B. know.

As I have not heard a syllable from Neate since his arrival in London, I beg you to tell him to give you an answer whether he has sold the Quartet in F minor as I want to publish it here simultaneously, and what I may expect in reference to the Violoncello Sonatas? Of all the other works which I sent by him I am almost ashamed to speak, even to myself for having again been so trustful to give them to him wholly without conditions trusting that his friendship and care for my interests would find a way. I was given to read a translation of a report in the Morning Chronicle about the performance of a Symphony (probably in A). The same thing will probably happen to this as well as all the other works which I gave to N. as happened to the Battle, I shall probably get nothing for them as I got nothing for that work except to read about the performances in the newspapers. The pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A was hastily copied and after looking through it carefully[341] I have had the transcriber change a few passages which I will communicate to you. All things lovely to your wife.

In haste, your true friend,
Beethoven.

N. B. Have you dedicated your Concerto in E-flat to Archduke Rudolph? Why did you not write to him yourself about it?

Touching the unhappy negotiations with Birchall and the “declaration,” Beethoven finally wrote, in French, the following letter:

(To Mr. Birchall)

Vienna, July 22, 1816.

Monsieur:

I received the declaration for my signature concerning the works which I ceded to you. I am perfectly willing to meet your wishes as soon as the trifling affair of the 10 ducats due me for the expense of copying, postage, etc., is adjusted, as I have had the honor to explain to you in detail.

I beg of you, Monsieur, kindly to remit the small sum so as to enable me to send you the before-mentioned document. Please accept the assurance of my greatest esteem, etc.

Mother Banned During Surgical Treatment

Beethoven had now made up his mind to take his nephew from Giannatasio’s care and make a home for him with himself. The removal was to be made at the end of the approaching quarter and meanwhile Karl was to remain where he was so that he might have proper care during his recovery from the effects of an operation for hernia. Beethoven notified his purpose to Giannatasio on July 28, 1816, and admonished his friend that in the interim the old strictness was to be observed touching the mother’s visits. The following passage is from the letter:

As regards the Queen of Night, matters will remain as they have been, and even if the operation should be performed at your place, as he will be ill for a few days and consequently more susceptible and irritable, she is all the less to be admitted to him since all impressions might easily be renewed in K. which we cannot permit. How little we can hope for amendment in her case is shown by the enclosed insipid scrawl which I send you only that you may see how how right I am in pursuing the plan adopted; but this time I did not answer her like a Sarastro but like a sultan.

The surgical operation on the boy was performed by Dr. Smetana and under the affectionate care which he received at the hands of the Giannatasios he quickly recovered and visited his uncle at Baden, going thither with the Giannatasios. Fräulein Fanny tells the story of the visit simply and gracefully:

[342]

While his nephew was still with us [she writes], Beethoven once invited us to visit him at Baden where he was spending the summer months, my father and we two daughters with Karl. Although our host had been informed of our coming we soon noticed that no arrangement had been made for our entertainment. B. went with us in the evening to a tavern where we were surprised to note that he dickered with the waiter about every roll, but this was because owing to his bad hearing he had frequently been cheated by serving-people; for even then one had to be very close to his ear to make him understand and I recall that I was often greatly embarrassed when I had to pierce through the grayish hairs which concealed his ear; he himself often said: “I must have my hair cut!” Looking at him cursorily one thought that his hair was coarse and bristly, but it was very fine and when he put his hand through it, it remained standing in all directions which often looked comical. (Once when he came we noticed a hole in the elbow when he was taking his overcoat off; he must have remembered it for he wanted to put it on again, but said, laughing, taking it completely off: “You’ve already seen it!”)

When we came to his lodgings in the afternoon a walk was proposed; but our host would not go along, excusing himself saying he had a great deal to do; but he promised to follow and join us, and did so. But when we came back in the evening there was not a sign of entertainment to be seen. B. muttered excuses and accusations against the persons who had been charged with the arrangements and helped us to settle ourselves; O how interesting it was! to move a light sofa with his help. A rather large room in which his pianoforte stood, was cleaned for us girls to use as a bedroom. But sleep remained long absent from us in this musical sanctuary. Yes, and I must confess to my shame that our curiosity and desire to know things led us to examine a large round table which stood in the room. A note-book in particular received our attention. But there was such a confusion of domestic matters, and much of it which to us was illegible that we were amazed; but, behold, one passage I still remember—there it stood: “My heart runs over at the sight of lovely nature—although she is not here!”—that gave us a great deal to think about. In the morning a very prosaic noise roused us out of our poetical mood! B. also appeared soon with a scratched face, and complained that he had had a quarrel with his servant who was going away, “Look,” he said, “how he has maltreated me!” He complained also that these persons, although they knew that he could not hear, did nothing to make themselves understood. We then took a walk through the beautiful Helenenthal, we girls ahead, then B. and our father. What follows we were able to overhear with strained ears:

My father thought that B. could rescue himself from his unfortunate domestic conditions only by marriage, did he know anybody, etc. Now our long foreboding was confirmed: “he was unhappy in love! Five years ago he had made the acquaintance of a person, a union with whom he would have considered the greatest happiness of his life. It was not to be thought of, almost an impossibility, a chimera—nevertheless it is now as on the first day.” This harmony, he added, he had not yet discovered! It had never reached a confession, but he could not get it out of his mind! Then there followed a moment which made good for many misunderstandings and grievous conduct on his part; for he acknowledged[343] my father’s friendly offer to help him as much as possible in his domestic troubles, and I believe he was convinced of his friendship for him. He spoke again of his unfortunate loss of hearing, of the wretched physical existence which he had endured for a long time. He (B.) was so happy at the noonday meal (in the open air in Helena) his muse hovered around him! He frequently turned aside and wrote a few measures with the remark: “My promenade with you cost me some notes but brought in others.” All this happened in September of the year 1816.

Beethoven’s project now was, upon returning to the city to abandon his tavern life and so to arrange his domestic affairs as to have his nephew live with him and attend school or study with private tutors—perhaps both. As usual Zmeskall was charged with looking after servants, discovering their qualifications, etc. After Karl should come there would be need of a housekeeper, but meanwhile Beethoven suggested to Zmeskall that he find for him a servant who should be good, of decent deportment, well recommended, married “and not murderous so that my life may be safe inasmuch as for the sake of several rapscallions I want to live a little longer in this world.” He returned to Vienna by September 27 at the latest.

An die ferne Geliebte

That brilliant youth Alois Jeitteles of Brünn, now a student of medicine at Vienna, wrote when hardly twenty-one years of age the beautiful series of songs “An die ferne Geliebte,” so exquisitely set to music by Beethoven. Schindler states, that the composer thanked the young poet for the happy inspiration; but whether he had found them in a handbook, which is probable, or received them in manuscript, does not appear. But no one can hear them adequately sung without feeling that there is something more in that music than the mere inspiration of the poetry. It was completed not many weeks before, in his letter to Ries (May 8), he wrote: “I found only one whom I shall doubtless never possess”; and but six months before the above conversation with Giannatasio. Just five years had now elapsed since he became acquainted with Amalie von Sebald: was she not the real inspiration of “An die ferne Geliebte”?[168]

Peter Joseph Simrock of Bonn, then 24 years of age, was now in Vienna. He was often with Beethoven, in Baden, in his lodging in the Sailerstätte and in the inn “Zur goldenen Birn,” where he often dined after the removal of Giannatasio to that quarter. Mr. Simrock also told the writer that he had no diffi[344]culty in making Beethoven understand him if he spoke into his left ear; but anything private or confidential must be communicated in writing. On one occasion the composer handed him paper and pencil, remarking that his servant was an eavesdropper, etc. A few days afterwards when Simrock called again, “Now,” said Beethoven, “we can talk, for I have given my servant 5 florins, a kick in the rear and sent him to the devil.”

Everywhere in public, said Simrock, Beethoven railed at Emperor Franz because of the reduction of the paper money. “Such a rascal ought to be hanged to the first tree,” said he. But he was known and the police officials let him do what he pleased. He ate a great deal at the tavern because he ordered haphazard and sent away what was not to his taste.

Another of Beethoven’s visitors just now was Alexander Kyd. This gentleman, since July 25, 1810, a Major-General in the East India Company’s Engineer Corps, paid the usual tribute to the climate, and, broken down in health, came to Vienna to put himself under the treatment of Malfatti. He thus made the acquaintance of Dr. Bertolini, who gave to Jahn and the present writer the following details:

An English Commission Rejected

Kyd was a great lover of music, and, after his long residence in India, enjoyed to the utmost his present opportunities of hearing it. Bertolini took him to Czerny, who during several visits played to him all the pianoforte works of Beethoven then in print. The General was ravished with these compositions, asked for a complete thematic catalogue of the composer’s works, and besought Bertolini to introduce him to their author. This took place on the 28th of September “in the house next to the Colorado Palace,” said Bertolini. They found him shaving and looking shockingly, his ruddy face browned by the Baden sun variegated by razor cuts, bits of paper, and soap. As Kyd seated himself crash! went the chair. In the course of the interview, the General, showing the common belief of Beethoven’s poverty, proposed to him through the Doctor, to compose a symphony for which he would pay him 200 ducats (£100), and secure its performance by the London Philharmonic Society, not doubting that the profits of the work to the composer would thus amount to £1000. He offered also to take him himself to London. To Beethoven’s leaving Vienna just now there really seems to have been no serious impediment, other than his nephew; and the boy was certainly in the best of hands so long as he remained with Giannatasio. However, he did not accept the proposition, nor even the order for the Symphony; because Kyd desired to have it rather like the[345] earlier, than the later ones—that is, somewhat shorter, simpler, and more easy of comprehension than these last. The conclusion of the story as told in the Fischoff MS. corresponds entirely with the Doctor’s relation:

When Bertolini related all this to his friend with sympathetic joy the latter received it in an entirely different spirit. He declared that he would receive dictation from no one; he needed no money, despised it and would not submit himself to the whim of another man for half the world, still less compose anything which was not according to his liking, to his individuality. From that time he was also cool toward Bertolini and remained so.

When he afterwards quarrelled with and insulted Malfatti he broke entirely with Bertolini; but both those gentlemen were too honorable ever to disclose the details of this breach. Simrock writes in an autograph notice for this work:

When I visited Beethoven in Vienna on September 29, 1816, he told me that he had had a visit on the day before from an Englishman who on behalf of the London Philharmonic Society had asked him to compose a symphony for that institution in the style of the first and second symphonies, regardless of cost.... As an artist he felt himself deeply offended at such an offer and indignantly refused it and thus closed the interview with the intermediary. In his excitement he expressed himself very angrily and with deep displeasure towards a nation which by such an offer had manifested so low an opinion of an artist and art, which he looked upon as a great insult. When we were passing Haslinger’s publishing house in the Graben in the afternoon he stopped suddenly and pointing to a large, powerfully built man who had just entered, cried out: “There’s the man whom I threw down stairs yesterday!”

“Whom I threw down stairs” was, of course, meant metaphorically. It is pretty evident that Beethoven in some degree misunderstood General Kyd’s proposition and that this ebullition of spleen was rather directed against Neate and the Philharmonic Society than the General. It is greatly to be regretted that this artistic pride had so little restraining effect upon his correspondence when pecuniary matters form the topic—which remark brings us again to Mr. Birchall. Beethoven had at last discovered the £5 to his credit in the bank of Fries and Co., and signed a receipt for it on August 3d—too late to prevent the following letter being sent to him:

August 14, 1815.

Sir:

Mr. Birchall received yours of the 22d of last month and was surprised to hear you have not yet received the additional £5.0.0 to defray your expenses of copying, etc. He assures the above sum was paid to[346] Messrs. Coutts and Co., March 15th last, to be transmitted to Messrs. Fries and Co., of Vienna for you, which he supposed you would receive as safe as the previous sum. In consequence of your last letter, inquiry has again been made at Messrs. Coutts and Co., respecting it and they have referred to their books and find that Messrs. Fries and Co., were written to on the 13th of May, and in that letter the following extract respecting you was contained.

London, May 13, 1816.

“To Messrs. Fries and Co.:

“We have received from Mr. Birchall a farther sum of five pounds [£5] on your account for the use of Mr. Beethoven. You will therefore please to account to that gentleman for the same and include the amount in your next bill upon us.

“Coutts and Co.”

If Mr. Beethoven will call on Messrs. Fries and Co., and get them to refer to that letter, no doubt it will be immediately paid, as there is a balance in their favour at Messrs. Coutts and Co., of £5.0.0, which was not included in their last Bill on London.

Mr. Birchall is sorry you have not received it so soon as you ought, but he hopes you will be convinced the fault does not lay [sic] with him, as the money was paid the day after Mr. Ries spoke about it.

Mr. Birchall wished particularly to have the Declaration returned to him as soon as possible and likewise wishes you to favour him with the Dedications and operas, which are to be put to the Trio, Sonata and the Grand Symphony in A. The publication of the Sonata has been delayed a long time in consequence of that, but he hopes you will not delay forwarding all on the receipt of this. When you write again Mr. Birchall will be glad to know your sentiments respecting writing Variations to the most favourite English, Scotch or Irish airs for the Pianoforte with an accompaniment either for the violin or violoncello—as you find best—about the same length as Mozart’s airs “La dove prende” and “Colomba o tortorella” and Handel’s “See the Conquering Hero Comes”; with your Variations, be so good, when you oblige him with your terms, as to say whether the airs need be sent you; if you have many perhaps mentioning the name will be sufficient. In fixing the price Mr. Birchall wishes you to mention a sum that will include Copying and Postages.

For R. Birchall.
C. Lonsdale.

Beethoven’s reply in English bears all the marks of Häring’s pen, being only signed by himself:

Vienna, October 1, 1816.

My dear Sir:

I have duly received the £5, and thought previously you would not increase the number of Englishmen neglecting their word and honour as I had the misfortune of meeting with two of this sort. In reply to the other topics of your favour, I have no objection to write Variations according to your plan and I hope you will not find £30 too much, the accompaniment will be a flute or violin or a violoncello; you’ll either decide it when you send me the approbation of the price, or you’ll leave it to me. I expect[347] to receive the songs or poetry—the sooner the better, and you’ll favour me also with the probable number of works of Variations you are inclined to receive of me.

The Sonate in G with the accompaniment of a violin is dedicated to his Imperial Highness, Archduke Rudolph of Austria—it is Op. 96. The Trio in B-[flat] is dedicated to the same and is Op. 97. The Piano arrangement of the Symphony in A is dedicated to the Empress of the Russias, meaning the wife of the Emperor Alexander—Op. 98.

Concerning the expenses of copying and posting, it is not possible to fix them before hand, they are at any rate not considerable and you’ll please to consider that you have to deal with a man of honour, who will not charge one 6d [sixpence] more than he is charged for himself. Messrs. Fries and Co., will account with Messrs. Coutts and Co. The postage may be lessened as I have been told.

I offer you of my works the following new ones. A grand Sonata for the pianoforte alone £40. A Trio for the Piano with accompt. of Violin or Violoncello for £50. It is possible that somebody will offer you other works of mine to purchase: for ex. the Score of the Grand Symphony in A. With regard to the arrangement of this Symphony for the piano, I beg you not to forget that you are not to publish it until I have appointed the day of its publication here in Vienna. This cannot be otherwise without making myself guilty of a dishonourable act—but the Sonata with the violin and the Trio in B-flat may be published without any delay.

With all the new Works which you will have of me or which I offer you, it rests with you to name the day of their publication at your own choice. I entreat you to honour me as soon as possible with an answer having many orders for compositions and that you may not be delayed. My address or direction is:

Monsieur Louis van Beethoven,
No. 1055 and 1056 Sailerstätte, 3te Stock,
Vienna.

You may send your letter if you please direct to your,

Most humble servant,
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven not only complained of Neate to Ries, but now wrote to Smart of him in such bitter terms that that gentleman suppressed the letter entirely except to show it to Neate himself, whose grief and astonishment at the injustice done him are but partly expressed in this next letter:

Neate Defends Himself Against Censure

London, October 29, 1816.

My dear Beethoven:

Nothing has ever given me more pain than your letter to Sir George Smart. I confess that I deserve your censure, that I am greatly in fault; but must say also that I think you have judged too hastily and too harshly of my conduct. The letter I sent you some time since, was written at a moment when I was in such a state of mind and spirits that I am sure, had you seen me or known my sufferings, you would have excused every unsatisfactory passage in it. Thank God! it is now all over, and I[348] was just on the point of writing to you, when Sir George called with your letter. I do not know how to begin an answer to it; I have never been called upon to justify myself, because it is the first time that I ever stood accused of dishonor; and what makes it the more painful is “that I stand accused by the man who, of all in the world, I most admire and esteem, and one also whom I have never ceased to think of, and wish for his welfare, since I made his acquaintance.” But as the appearance of my conduct has been so unfavorable in your eyes, I must tell you again of the situation I was in previous to my marriage.


I remain in my profession, and with no abatement of my love of Beethoven! During this period I could not myself do anything publicly, consequently all your music remained in my drawer unseen and unheard. I, however, did make a very considerable attempt with the Philharmonic to acquire for you what I thought you fully entitled to. I offered all your music to them upon condition that they made you a very handsome present; this they said they could not afford, but proposed to see and hear your music, and then offer a price for it; I objected and replied “that I should be ashamed that your music should be put up by auction and bid for!—that your name and reputation were too dear to me”; and I quitted the meeting with a determination to give a concert and take all the trouble myself, rather than that your feelings should be wounded by the chance of their disapproval of your works. I was the more apprehensive of this, from the unfortunate circumstances of your Overtures not being well received; they said they had no more to hope for, from your other works. I was not a Director last season, but I am for the next, and then I shall have a voice which I shall take care to exert. I have offered your Sonatas to several publishers, but they thought them too difficult, and said they would not be saleable, and consequently made offers such as I could not accept, but when I shall have played them to a few professors, their reputation will naturally be increased by their merits, and I hope to have better offers. The Symphony you read of in the “Morning Chronicle” I believe to be the one in C minor; it certainly was not the one in A, for it has not been played at a concert. I shall insist upon its being played next season, and most probably the first night. I am exceedingly glad that you have chosen Sir George Smart to make your complaints of me to, as he is a man of honor, and very much your friend; had it been anyone else, your complaint might have been listened to, and I injured all the rest of my life. But I trust I am too respectable to be thought unfavorably of by those who know me. I am, however, quite willing to give up every sheet I have of yours, if you again desire it. Sir George will write by the next post, and will confirm this. I am sorry you say that I did not even acknowledge my obligation to you, because I talked of nothing else at Vienna, as every one there who knows me can testify. I even offered my purse, which you generously always declined. Pray, my dear Friend, believe me to remain,

Ever yours, most sincerely,
C. Neate.

[349]

Zmeskall, whose patience and forbearance were inexhaustible, had again provided his friend with servants—a man and his wife—and something was done towards making the lodging in the Sailerstätte ready to receive the nephew at the end of the quarter. But this was not yet to be. The circumstances explain the following little letter to Zmeskall of date November 3, 1816:

Dear Z. Your non-recommendation of the servants engaged by me I can also not recommend—I beg of you at once to hand over to me through Hr. Schlemmer the papers, testimonials, etc., which you have from them. I have reason to suspect them of a theft. I have been continually ill since the 14th of last month and must keep to my bed and room. All projects concerning my nephew have foundered because of these miserable persons.

Wretched Domestic Conditions

Further information is provided by the following letter to Giannatasio:

Valued Friend:

My household greatly resembles a shipwreck, or threatens to, in brief I have been so swindled in reference to these people by one who affects to be a connoisseur, moreover my recovery seems to be in no hurry. To engage a steward whose exterior and interior is unknown under such circumstances, and to leave the education of my Karl to chance, I can never do, great as are the sacrifices which in many respects I shall again be called upon to make, I therefore beg you to keep my Karl again for this quarter, I shall accept your suggestion regarding his cultivation of music to this extent that Karl shall leave you 2 or even 3 times a week evenings at 6 o’clock and remain with me till the next morning when he shall return to you again by about 8 o’clock. Every day would be too taxing for K. and for me, since it would always have to be at the same hour, too wearisome and restricting. We shall discuss more in detail during this quarter what would be most practicable and considerate also for me, for, in view, unfortunately of the fact that my circumstances are continually getting worse I must also use this expression, if your residence in the garden had been better adapted to my health, everything would more easily have been arranged. As regards my indebtedness to you for the last quarter I must beg of you to bring the matter directly to my attention as the bearer of this has been blessed by God with a certain amount of stupidity which one might not begrudge him if others were not affected by it. Regarding the other expenditures for Karl during his illness or matters connected with it, I beg of you to have patience for a few days as I have large expenditures just now on all hands. I should also like to know how I am to conduct myself toward Smettana in view of his successfully accomplished operation. So far as his compensation is concerned if I were rich or not in the condition of all (except the Austrian usurers) whom fate has bound to this country, I would not ask at all. I only mean an approximate estimate. Farewell, I embrace you with all my heart, and will always look upon you as the friend of myself and my Karl.

[350]

In November, Mr. Lonsdale wrote as follows in behalf of Mr. Birchall:

London, November 8, 1816.

Sir:

In answer to yours of the 1st October, I am desired by Mr. Birchall to inform you, he is glad to find you are now satisfied respecting his promise of paying you £5 ... in addition to what you before received according to agreement; but he did not think you would have delayed sending the receipt signed after the receipt of the 130 ducats merely because you had not received the £5 ..., which latter sum was not included in the receipt. Till it comes Mr. Birchall cannot, at any rate, enter into any fresh arrangement, as his first care will be to secure those pieces he has already paid you for, and see how they answer his purpose as a Music Seller and without the receipt he cannot prevent any other Music Seller from publishing them. In regard to the airs with variations, the price of £30, which is supposed you mean for each, is considerably more than he could afford to give, ever to have any hopes of seeing them repay him—if that should be your lowest price—Mr. Birchall will give up his idea of them altogether. The Symphony in A will be quite ready for publication in a week; Mr. Ries (who has kindly undertaken the inspection of your works) has it now looking over—but it will not come out till the day comes you may appoint.

Mr. Birchall fears the Sonata in G and the Trio in B-flat have been published in Vienna before his—he will be obliged to you to inform him of the day, when you write, that they were published. I am sorry to say, that Mr. Birchall’s health has been very bad for two or three years back, which prevents him from attending to business and as there are, I fear, but little hopes of his being much better, he is less anxious respecting making any additions to his catalogue than he otherwise would have been; he is much obliged to you for the offer of the Sonata and the Trio, but he begs to decline it for the reasons before mentioned.

Hoping to hear soon respecting the paper sent for your signature,

I am Sir, for Mr. Birchall, etc.
C. Lonsdale.

P. S. The Sonata in G is published and the Trio will be in a few days. Is Mr. Beethoven’s opera of Fidelio published? Where and by whom?

End of the English Connection

To this letter Beethoven sent an answer addressed to Mr. Birchall dated December 14, 1816, as follows:

Vienna, December 14, 1816.—1055 Sailerstätte.

Dear Sir:

I give you my word of honor, that I have signed and delivered the receipt to the house, Fries and Co., some day last August, who, as they say, transmitted it to Messrs. Coutts and Co., where you’ll have the goodness to apply. Some error might have taken place that instead of Messrs C. sending it to you, they have been directed to keep it till fetched. Excuse this irregularity, but it is not my fault, nor had I ever the idea of withholding it from the circumstance of the £5 not being included. Should the receipt not come forth at Messrs. C., I am ready to sign any other and you shall have it directly with return of post.

[351]

If you find variations in my style too dear at £30, I will abate, for the sake of your friendship, one-third, and you have the offer of such variations as fixed in our former letters for £20 each air.

Please to publish the Symphony in A immediately, as well as the Sonata and the Trio—they being ready here.

The grand opera Fidelio is my work. The arrangement for the pianoforte has been published here under my care, but the score of the opera itself is not yet published. I have given a copy of the score to Mr. Neate under the seal of friendship and whom I shall direct to treat for my account in case an offer should present.

I anxiously hope your health is improving. Give me leave to subscribe myself, Dear Sir,

Your very obedient servant,
Ludwig van Beethoven.

[Postmark, Dec. 31, 1816.]

This letter closed the correspondence; for upon the death of Mr. Birchall his successor, Lonsdale, did not deem the connection with the composer to be worth retaining. Letters to Zmeskall, Sir George Smart and Neate, in London, tell of incidents which make up the history of the latter part of the year 1816:

(To Zmeskall—December 16.)

Here dear Z. you will receive my friendly dedication[169] which I hope will be a precious souvenir of our long-continued friendship and be accepted as a proof of my respect and not as the end of a long-spun thread (for you belong to my earliest friends in Vienna). Farewell—Abstain from the decayed fortresses, the attack exhausts more than those on the well preserved.

As ever,
Your friend,
Beethoven.

N.B. If you have a moment’s time please tell me how much a livery will cost now (without cloak) with hat and boot money.

The most extraordinary changes have taken place, the man, thank God, has gone to the devil, but on the other hand the wife seems disposed to attach herself all the more closely.

(To Sir George Smart, dictated to Häring.)

Vienna, December 16, 1816.—1055 Sailerstätte, 3d Floor.

My dear Sir:

You honor me with so many encomiums and compliments that I ought to blush, tho’ I confess they are highly flattering to me and I thank you most heartily for the part you take in my affairs. They have rather gone a little back through the strange situation in which our lost—but happily recovered—friend Mr. Neate found himself entangled. Your kind letter of 31 October, explained a great deal and to some satisfaction and I take the liberty to enclose an answer to Mr. Neate, of whom I also received a letter, with my entreaties to assist him in all his undertakings in my behalf.

[352]

You say that the Cantata might serve your purpose for the Oratorios and I ask you if you find £50 too much to give for it? I have had no benefit for it whatever until now, but I still should not wish to ask of you a price by which you might be a loser. Therefore we shall name £40, and if your success should be great, then I hope you will have no objection of adding the £10, to make the sum as mentioned. The Copyright would be yours and I should only make the condition of my publishing it here at a period, which you will be pleased to appoint and not before. I have communicated to Mr. Häring your kind intentions (good wishes) and he joins with me in the expression of the highest regard, which he always entertained for you.

Mr. Neate may keep the different works except the Cantata if you accept it and I hope he will have it in his power with your assistance to do something for me, which from my illness and from the state of the Austrian finances would be very welcome.

Give me leave to subscribe myself with the greatest esteem and cordiality,

Ludwig van Beethoven.

(Mr. Häring, at Beethoven’s dictation, to Mr. Neate.)

Vienna, December 18, 1816.

My dear Sir:

Both letters to Mr. Beethoven and to me arrived. I shall first answer his, as he has made out some memorandums, and would have written himself, if he was not prevented by a rheumatic feverish cold. He says: What can I answer to your warmfelt excuses? Past ills must be forgotten, and I wish you heartily joy that you have safely reached the long-wished-for port of love. Not having heard of you, I could not delay any longer the publication of the Symphony in A, which appeared here some few weeks ago. It certainly may last some weeks longer before a copy of this publication appears in London, but unless it is soon performed at the Philharmonic, and something is done for me afterwards by way of benefit, I don’t see in what manner I am to reap any good. The loss of your interest last season with the Philharmonic, when all my works in your hands were unpublished, has done me great harm; but it could not be helped, and at this moment I know not what to say. Your intentions are good, and it is to be hoped that my little fame may yet help. With respect to the two Sonatas, Op. 102, for pianoforte and violoncello, I wish to see them sold very soon, as I have several offers for them in Germany, which depend entirely upon me to accept; but I should not wish, by publishing them here, to lose all and every advantage with them in England. I am satisfied with the ten guineas offered for the dedication of the Trio, and I beg you to hand the title immediately to Mr. Birchall, who is anxiously waiting for it; you’ll please to use my name with him.

I should be flattered to write some new works for the Philharmonic—I mean Symphonies, an Oratorio, or Cantatas, etc. Mr. Birchall wrote as if he wished to purchase my “Fidelio.” Please to treat with him, unless you have some plan with it for my benefit concert, which in general I leave to you and Sir George Smart, who will have the goodness to deliver this to you.

[353]

The score of the opera “Fidelio” is not published in Germany or anywhere else. Try what can be done with Mr. Birchall, or as you think best. I was very sorry to hear that the three Overtures were not liked in London. I by no means reckon them among my best works, (which, however, I can boldly say of the Symphony in A), but still they were not disliked here and in Pesth, where people are not easily satisfied. Was there no fault in the execution? Was there no party spirit?

And now I shall close, with the best wishes for your welfare, and that you enjoy all possible felicity in your new situation of life.

Your true friend,
Ludwig van Beethoven.

Dr. Kanka’s Help Implored

Toward the end of the month Beethoven wrote a lengthy letter to Dr. Kanka:

Vienna, December 28, 1816.

My very dear and honored friend:

To-morrow’s post-wagon will carry for you a Symphony by me in score, the reported Battle Symphony in score, Trio and a Violin Sonata and a few song pieces—I know that you feel in advance that I am grateful for all that you do for me as lately also for the quick remittance recently of my semi-yearly [dues]. But now again a request, rather an imposition, yes even a commission. The city of Retz, consisting of about 500 houses will appoint you as Curator of a certain Johann Hamatsch in Prague, for heaven’s sake do not decline such a simple judicial matter for thereby my poor little nephew will finally receive a small fortune, of course the matter will first have to be passed on by our magistracy here, inasmuch as the mother will probably have some benefit of it, think of it how much time these things will take, my poor unfortunate brother died without seeing the end, for the courts have such care for His Majesty, that the predecessor of the present syndicus of the city of Retz wanted to pay my brother 5000 florins for 500 (x) such are the honorable men which our amiable Christian monarch has around him—the present syndicus is himself an honest and capable man (for, if he wanted to he might have been like the former), meanwhile the aforementioned Hamatsch in Prague (a tradesman) has not yet given notice of his acceptance (N. B.—for 4 or 5 years).

The syndicus Bayer of Retz will therefore send you the Curatel decree together with a copy of the bill of exchange from the magistracy of Retz, I know much too well how small and trivial the case is for a man of brains like yourself, if you do not think it fitting, I beg of you to choose somebody for it and to promote the matter as much as you can—but it would in every respect be better if you would undertake it, perhaps a mere consultation with the man (in Prague) would bring the matter to a conclusion.

xThe present syndicus needed only 30 days and as many nights to extricate the matter from its former confusion in which it had been left.

My nephew, so dear to me, is in one of the best institutions in Vienna, displays great talent, but all this goes to my expense and the Retz affair might enable me to spend a few hundred florins more on the education of my dear nephew. I embrace you as one of my dearest friends.

[354]

A little cantata, written in honor of Prince Lobkowitz, belongs to this month of December. An autograph copy was given some forty years afterwards to Dr. Ottokar Zeithammer, of Prague, by the aged widow of Beethoven’s friend Peters, who gives this account of its origin:

The copy of a little cantata which he (Beethoven) wrote for me to be performed on the birthday of the Prince, now long dead, and which—as he himself says—reached me after his death, was in reality written by him and most daintily tied together with blue ribbon.... The cantata consists only of a few reiterated words, we can hardly say composed by himself, and originated when he heard of the approaching birthday festival of the Prince when visiting us. “And is there to be no celebration?” he asked, and I answered him, “No.” “That will not do,” he replied; “I’ll hurriedly write you a cantata, which you must sing for him.” But the performance was never reached.[170]

The intended performance never took place, because Lobkowitz, born on December 7, 1772, died on December 16, 1816. And so he, too, disappears from our history. The foregoing receives all needful confirmation in this letter:

(To Peters.)

January 8, 1816.
[Should be 1817.]

Only yesterday did I hear from Hrn. von Bernard, who met me, that you are here and therefore I send you these two copies, which unfortunately were not finished until just at the time when the death of our dear Prince Lobkowitz was reported. Do me the favor to hand them to His Serene Highness, the first-born Prince Lobkowitz, together with this writing, it was just to-day, I intended to look up the cashier to ask him to undertake its delivery in Bohemia, not having, in truth, believed anyone here.

I, if I may speak of myself, am in a state of tolerably good health and wish you the same. I dare not ask you to come to me for I should be obliged to tell you why, and that I should not presume to do as little as why you would not or would not desire to come. I beg you to write the inscription to the Prince as I do not know his given name—the 3rd copy please keep for your wife.

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The Coming of Anselm Hüttenbrenner

To the few names which this year have appeared in our narrative, there is still to be added one worthy of a paragraph: that of a wealthy young man from Gratz, an amateur musician and composer of that class whose idol was Beethoven—Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who came to Vienna in 1815 to study with Salieri, and formed an intimate friendship with Franz Schubert. His enthusiasm for Beethoven was not abated when the present writer, in 1860, had the good fortune to enjoy a period of familiar intercourse with him, to learn his great and noble qualities of mind and heart, and to hear his reminiscences from his own lips. That these, in relation to Beethoven, were numerous, no one will expect; since no young man of twenty-two years, and a stranger, could at the period before us be much with the master except as a pupil—and he took none—or in the position lately occupied by Oliva and soon to be assumed by Schindler; which of course was all out of the question with Hüttenbrenner.

I learned to know Beethoven [he relates] through the kindness of Hrn. Dr. Joseph Eppinger, Israelite. The first time Beethoven was not at home; his housekeeper opened to us his living-room and study. There everything lay in confusion—scores, shirts, socks, books. The second time he was at home, locked in with two copyists. At the name “Eppinger” he opened the door and excused himself, having a great deal to do, and asked us to come at another time. But, seeing in my hand a roll of music—overture to Schiller’s “Robbers” and a vocal quartet with pianoforte accompaniment, text by Schiller—he took it, sat himself down to the pianoforte and turned all the leaves carefully. Thereupon he jumped up, pounded me on the right shoulder with all his might, and spoke to me the following words which humiliated me because I cannot yet explain them: “I am not worthy that you should visit me!” Was it humility? If so it was divine; if it was irony it was pardonable.

And again:

A few times a week Beethoven came to the publishing house of Steiner and Co. in the forenoon between 11 and 12 o’clock. Nearly every time there was held there a composers’ meeting to exchange musical opinions. Schubert frequently took me there. We regaled ourselves with the pithy, often sarcastic remarks of Beethoven particularly when the talk was about Italian music.

Hüttenbrenner remembered as a common remark in Vienna in those days that what first gave Beethoven his reputation on coming there twenty-four years before, was his superb playing of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavichord.”

Two or three minor notes will close the story of the year. In the concert for the Theatrical Poor Fund, in the Theater-an-der-Wien, September 8th, one of the finales to Beethoven’s[356] “Prometheus” music was revived: “A glorious piece worked out in a masterly manner,” says a reporter; and the concert for the Hospital of St. Mark, on December 25, opened with his “Symphony in A, one difficult of execution, which was performed with the greatest precision under the direction of this brilliant composer.” More important was a proposition made early in the year by his old friend Hoffmeister in Leipsic, for a complete edition of his pianoforte works, which came to nothing and concerning which more in another connection. In July he received another series of songs from Thomson which, according to a letter in French to Thomson, dated January 18, 1817, he had already finished by the end of September.

Works Composed and Published in 1816

The works composed in 1816 are:

I. Pianoforte Sonata in A major, Op. 101, dedicated to Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann.[171] Nottebohm’s researches place all the sketches for the sonata in the years 1815 and 1816. (See, “Zweit. Beeth.,” pp. 340 and 552 et seq.)

II. Song: “Der Mann von Wort,” Op. 99.

III. Song-cycle: “An die ferne Geliebte,” Op. 98. The autograph bears the inscription “1816 in the month of April.” Sketches from 1815 and 1816 are described by Nottebohm in “Zweit. Beeth.,” p. 334 et seq.

IV. March in D major, for military band; the autograph bears the inscription in Beethoven’s hand: “March for the grand parade of the Guard, by L. v. Beethoven, June 3, 1816.”

V. Cantata for the birthday of Prince Lobkowitz, composed for Peters.

VI. Song: “Ruf vom Berge,” dated “December 13, 1816.”

The publications for the year were:

I. Song: “Das Geheimniss,” as a supplement for the “Wiener Modenzeitung,” February 29, 1816.

II. Song: “An die Hoffnung,” Op. 94; by Steiner and Co., in February.

III. “Wellington’s Sieg, oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria, in Musik gesetzt von Ludwig van Beethoven. 91stes Werk”; by Steiner and Co., Vienna, in March.

IV. Canon: “Glück zum neuen Jahr”; by J. Riedel, Vienna, in May.

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V. Song: “Die Sehnsucht,” words by Reissig; by Artaria in a collection which appeared in June.

VI. Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin, Op. 96; dedicated to Archduke Rudolph; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in July.

VII. Trio for Pianoforte, Violin and Violoncello, Op. 97; dedicated to Archduke Rudolph; published by Steiner and Co., Vienna, on July 16.

VIII. Song: “Merkenstein,” Op. 100; dedicated to Count Dietrichstein; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in September.

IX. Song: “Der Mann von Wort,” Op. 99; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in November.

X. Song-Cycle: “An die ferne Geliebte,” Op. 98; dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in December.

XI. Symphony, No. 7, in A major, Op. 92; dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in December.

XII. Symphony, No. 8, in F major, Op. 93; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in December.

XIII. Quartet for Strings, F minor, Op. 95; dedicated to Zmeskall; Vienna, Steiner and Co., in December.

XIV. Two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 102. According to a letter of Zmeskall’s dated January 20, 1817, these sonatas were not published later than the works last mentioned, that is, December, 1816. They were published by Simrock without dedication. In the later edition published by Artaria in 1819, they are dedicated to Countess Erdödy.

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Chapter XVII

The Year 1817—Beethoven and the Public Journals of Vienna—Fanny Giannatasio’s Diary—The Philharmonic Society of London—Cipriani Potter—Marschner—Marie Pachler-Koschak—Beethoven’s Opinion of Mälzel’s Metronome.

Beethoven’s splenetic remarks to strangers in his last years upon the music, musicians and public of Vienna have given rise to widely diffused but utterly false conceptions as to the facts. Thus William Henry Fry, a leading American writer on music in the middle of the nineteenth century,[172] did but express a common opinion in the following:

That composer [Beethoven] worked hard for thirty years. At his death, after the cup of glory had overflowed, his name resounding through Christendom, he left in all a beggarly sum of two or three thousand dollars, having lived as any one acquainted with his career knows, a penurious life, fitted to his poverty and servile position in Vienna.

Beethoven and the Viennese Journalists

The popular want of appreciation of his merits “doomed Beethoven to a garret, which no Irish emigrant would live in.” It is altogether unnecessary to argue against such statements, as the whole tenor of this biography refutes them; but the public press of Vienna deserves a vindication, and the appearance of a new “Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung” on January 2nd, 1817, affords a suitable opportunity for the little that need be said on the subject. This journal, conducted “with particular reference to the Austrian Empire,” and published by Steiner and Co., was, during the first two years, without the name of any responsible editor; the volumes for 1819 and 1820 announce Ignaz von Seyfried as holding that position; the others, from 1821 to 1824, bear the name of Friedrich August Kanne. A leading writer in the earlier volumes was Hofrath Ignaz von Mosel, who already had some local celebrity[359] for his articles on musical topics in the “Vaterländische Blätter” and other periodicals, and who continued a prolific contributor to musical journals to the end of his life in 1844. Beethoven valued him as a writer; but Mosel had the temerity to undertake, like Mozart, the task of revising and modernizing Handel. Of his eight mutilations of that great man’s works, two, “Samson” and “Belshazzar,” were printed and, for some fifty years, adopted for performance throughout Austria and Germany—a remarkable proof of the general ignorance which prevailed concerning the works of the greatest oratorio composer; for two such monuments of arrogant presumption, of incompetency to comprehend his author and of a false and perverted taste, probably do not exist unless, perhaps, among the other six works which were not printed. One of Beethoven’s sarcasms, remembered by Carl Czerny, indicates his opinion of Mosel’s dilettantism. Reading a newspaper once at Artaria’s, he saw that Mosel “had been ennobled, particularly because of his services in behalf of music.” “The Mosel is muddy where it flows into the Rhine” (Der Mosel fliesst trüb in den Rhein!), said Beethoven, laughingly. Kanne ranked with the best musical journalists of the day, and, to use the words of Hanslick, his labors and influence as a critic were considerable, especially because of his enthusiasm for Beethoven, is certain.

Taking 1821-1822 as a medium date, the leading political and literary journals in Vienna in those years were the “Wiener Zeitung,” Joseph Carl Bernard, editor; the “Beobachter,” Joseph Pilat, editor; the “Sammler,” Portenschlag and Ledermeyer, editors; the “Wiener Zeitschrift” (fashion journal), Johann Schickh, editor; and the “Theater-Zeitung,” Adolph Bäuerle, editor. Most of these editors were personal friends of Beethoven; and whoever performs the weary task of looking through their myriads of pages sees that all were his admirers and let no opportunity pass unimproved of adding a leaf to his laurels. Still, disappointment at the comparative paucity of matter relating to him follows such an examination. The cause, however, lay in himself; in the small number of his new compositions of high importance, and in the rarity of his appearance before the public. True, there were newspapers, and in divers languages, that took no note of Beethoven and his works because music and musicians were not within their scope; but not one of them was hostile. In short, whether the periodical press be considered as the exponent or the guide of public opinion, in either case its tone at Vienna during the ten years which remained of Beethoven’s life[360] is ample refutation of the so oft asserted disregard for and contemptuous neglect of their great composer on the part of the Viennese. The correspondence of this and the next two or three years is very voluminous. Schindler says most pertinently of it:

During these years our composer, instead of writing many notes, as had been his wont, wrote many letters, referring in part to his domestic affairs, in part to the litigation and in part to the education of his nephew. These letters are, in general, among the least encouraging and most deplorable testimonials to the excitement which attended his passionate prosecution of these objects. Those of his friends and nearer acquaintances who permitted themselves to be drawn into these three matters were so overwhelmed with documents and communications that they blessed the hour in which the lawsuit was brought to a conclusion.

Mistaken Training of Nephew Karl

There are few men of whom a most false and exaggerated picture may not be presented by grouping together their utterances, spoken or written at long intervals and in the most diverse moods and states of mind. Thomas Carlyle says: “Half or more of all the thick-plied perversions which distort the image of Cromwell will disappear if we honestly so much as try to represent them in sequence as they were, not in the lump as thrown down before us.” Hence, strict chronological order must not lightly be abandoned—never when distortion of the image is thereby produced. But there are series of letters covering comparatively short periods of time, which may be grouped and placed apart with no ill consequence. Such is the series to Steiner and Co.; and such to the Streichers and Zmeskall, which are too unimportant to place in the text.[173] An abstract or analysis of them would serve but a small purpose; but they should be read despite their triviality, for they show, better than any description would, the helplessness of their writer in all affairs of common life; also, by implication, the wretched prospect of any good result to his undertaking the supervision and education of a boy more than usually endowed with personal attractions and mental capacity, but whose character had already received a false bias from the equally indiscreet alternate indulgence and severity of his invalid and passionate father and of his froward and impure mother. Moreover, this undertaking rendered necessary a sudden and very great change in the domestic habits of a man nearly fifty years of age, who, even twenty years before, had not been able, when residing in the family of his Mæcenas, Lichnowsky, to bear the restraints imposed by common courtesy and propriety. It is obvious that there was but one course to be taken for the boy from[361] which a good result might reasonably have been expected; and this was to send him at once to some institution far enough from Vienna to separate him entirely, vacations excepted, from both mother and uncle; to subject him there to rigid discipline and give him the stimulus of emulation with boys of his own age. When it was too late, as will be seen, this idea was entertained, but not sanctioned by the civil authorities. That such a course with the boy would have resulted well, subsequent events leave no doubt; for, passing over the question how far facts justify the harsh judgments recorded against him for more than half a century, each new writer bitterer than the last, we know this: that after his uncle’s death, although his bad tendencies of character had been strengthened and intensified by the lack of efficient, consistent, firm and resolute restraint from 1815 to 1827, yet a few years of strict military discipline made of him a good and peaceable citizen, a kind and affectionate husband and father. Had Beethoven’s wisdom and prudence equalled his boundless affection for his nephew, many painful pages in this work would have no place; many which, if the truth and justice to the dead and living permitted, one would gladly suppress. But it must not be forgotten that Beethoven, on his death-bed, as Schindler relates, expressed “his honest desire that whatever might some day be said of him, should adhere strictly to the truth in every respect, regardless of whether or not it might give pain to this or the other person or affect his own person.”

Let us again take up the thread of our narrative. We are still to imagine Beethoven living in the lofty, narrow house. No. 1055-6 Sailerstätte, entered from the street, but its better rooms on the other side looking over the old city wall and moat and out across the Glacis and little river Wien to the suburb Landstrasse, where, fronting on the Glacis, stood the institute of Giannatasio in which his nephew was a pupil, having been placed there in February, 1816. There is no record, nor do the sketchbooks show, that in the first half of this year his mind was occupied with any important composition; on the contrary, his time and thoughts were given to the affairs of his nephew, to his purposed housekeeping and to quarrels with his servants, as the frequent letters to the Streichers and Zmeskall show ad nauseam. A curiously interesting picture of the man and his doings is disclosed by the letters referred to, Fanny Giannatasio’s records, and the jottings which that young woman wrote down in the form of a diary.[174]

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At the beginning of the year 1817, Beethoven seems to have harbored a desire to take lodgings nearer the institute. Giannatasio offered to let him have one which was at his disposal, but Beethoven declined the offer with the words: “Gladly as I should like to make use of your kind offer that I live with you in the garden-house, it is for various reasons impossible.” In April he moved into rooms in the Gärtnerstrasse near the Streichers and the institute. Meanwhile there had been a misunderstanding between him and Giannatasio. A fortnight later explanations had been made and peace restored; but when Nanni asked Beethoven if he was still angry he replied: “I think much too little of myself to get[363] angry.” The nephew had been to blame and had disclosed new evidences of a thoughtlessness which had deeply pained his good uncle.

Chiefly from the letters written in this year, we learn a sequence of other happenings. Early in January, Beethoven sends copies of the song-cycle, “An die ferne Geliebte,” to Court Councillor Peters, tutor in the house of Prince Lobkowitz, for the new prince whose Christian name he does not know. In the same month he writes an autograph French communication to Thomson, in Edinburgh, stating that all the songs which he had commissioned in the previous July had been completed by the end of September,[364] but had not been forwarded because of an illness from which he was not yet quite recovered. As to the folksongs of various nations he urges that prose versions of the texts be obtained as being preferable to the versified, a thing which he had suggested before, the prose being a better guide for him to the sentiment of the songs than rhymed lines. On January 30, he rebukes Zmeskall for having pained him by sending him a gift in acknowledgment of the dedication of the String Quartet, Op. 95, which had come from the press in December, 1816. “Although you are only a performing musician,” he writes, “you have several times exercised the power of imagination, and it seems to me that it has occasionally put unnecessary whims into your head—at least so it seemed to me from your letter after my dedication. Good as I am and much as I appreciate all the good in you, I am yet angry, angry, angry.” Other letters to Steiner at this time refer to the Pianoforte Sonata in A, Op. 101, which was then in the hands of the printers and appeared in February with a dedication to Baroness Ertmann. The suggestion had gone out that German composers substitute German terms in music in place of Italian. With characteristic impetuosity, Beethoven decided to begin the reform at once, although it seems to have involved the reëngraving of the title-page of the new Sonata. He wrote to Steiner in the military style with which we are already familiar:

To the Wellborn Lieut[enant] Gen[eral], for his own hands.

Publicandum

After individual examination and taking the advice of my council we have determined and hereby determine that hereafter on all our works with German titles, Hammerclavier be printed in place of pianoforte; our best Lt. Gen. as well as the Adjutant and all others concerned will govern themselves accordingly and put this order into effect.

Instead of Pianoforte, Hammerclavier—which settles the matter once for all.

Given, etc., etc.,
on January 23, 1817.

by the
G[eneralissimu]s
....m.p.

Beethoven was in doubt as to the correctness of “Hammerclavier,” thinking that it might better be “Hämmerclavier.” In another communication he says the matter must be referred to a philologist. At the same time he offers, if necessary, to pay for the engraving of a new title, adding that perhaps the old one might be utilized for another sonata. He bases his acceptance of the new word on the belief that the instrument itself was a German invention—a theory long ago disproved so far as the priority of the invention is concerned.

[365]

Baroness Ertmann now lived at St. Pölten, where the command of her husband lay quartered, and thither Beethoven sent a copy of the “Hammerclavier” sonata accompanied by the following letter:

My dear, valued Dorothea-Cäcilia!

You must often have misunderstood me when I was obliged to appear displeasing to you particularly in the early days when my style had less recognition than it has now. You know the teaching of the un-called apostles who helped themselves along with quite other means than the holy gospel; I did not want to be counted among them. Receive now what was often intended for you and what may be a proof of my affection for your artistic talent as well as your person. That I did not hear you play at Czerny’s recently was due to my ill-health which at last seems to be giving way before my strength.

I hope soon to hear you, how it goes at Pölten with ..., and whether you care anything for your

Admirer and friend,
L. van Beethoven, m.p.

All things lovely to your worthy husband and consort.[175]

Reflections Committed to Paper

The picture of Beethoven’s domestic affairs will gain in vividness by imagining the following extracts from the so-called “Tagebuch” of the Fischoff Manuscript to be scattered through these preceding pages. Dates are nowhere given; but memoranda of letters to Brentano in April follow which prove these notes to belong to the previous months:

Never again live alone with a servant; there is always danger, suppose, for instance, the master falls ill and the servant, perhaps, also.

He who wishes to reap tears should sow love. (Beethoven is here surely thinking of his nephew.)

The Compassionate Brothers (the monks) in Tell, form a semi-circle around the dead man and sing in deep tones:

Rasch tritt der Tod den Menschen an
Es ist ihm keine Frist gegeben
Er stürzt ihn mitten in der Bahn
Es reisst ihn fort vom vollem Leben
Bereitet oder nicht zu gehn!
Er muss vor seinen Richter stehen!

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Vidi malum et accepi.—(Plinius.)

Tametsi quid homini potest dari maius quam gloria et laus et aeternitas.—(Plinius.)

What more can be given to man than fame and praise and immortality?

Audi multa loquere pauca.

Something must be done—either a journey and to this end the writing of the necessary works or an opera—if you are again to remain here during the coming summer an opera would be preferable in case circumstances, but moderately—if the summer sojourn is to be here, a decision must be made, where, how?

God help me, Thou seest me deserted by all men, for I do not wish to do wrong, hear my supplication, only for the future to be with my Karl, since the possibility shows itself nowhere, O harsh fate, O cruel destiny, no, no, my unhappy condition will never end.

This one thing I feel and clearly comprehend, possessions are not the highest things in life, but guilt is the greatest evil.

There is no salvation for you except to go away, only thus can you swing yourself up to the summits of your art again, while here you are sinking into vulgarity, and a symphony ... and then away—away—away—meanwhile collect the salary which mayhap can be done yet for years.

Work during the summer for the journey, only thus can you carry out the great task for your poor nephew, afterward wander through Italy, Sicily, with a few artists—make plans and be of good cheer for the sake of C.

In my opinion, first the saline baths, like those of Wiesbaden, etc., then the sulphur baths like Aix-la-Chapelle were everlastingly cold. Spend evenings and afternoons in company, it is uplifting and not wearying and live a different life at home.

Sensual enjoyment without a union of souls is bestial and will always remain bestial; after it, one experiences not a trace of noble sentiment but rather regret.

Beethoven’s mind was engrossed with the plans of travel indicated in these excerpts throughout the year; he considered a tour of some kind essential to the restoration of his health and the recovery of his creative powers. A remittance from the Kinsky estate falling due in April, he wrote a letter to Kanka asking him to make the collection for him and enclosed a receipt. He complains of still feeling the effects of an inflammatory catarrh with which he had been attacked in the previous October, and ends by asking what would be the consequence if he were to leave the Austrian Empire; would a signature sent from a foreign place be valid?—meaning, probably, would such a signature be looked upon as evidence of a violation of the contract which he was under to his noble patrons not to take up a residence outside the Austrian dominions. His chronic dissatisfaction with the conditions which surrounded him in Vienna, as well as the moody mind in[367] which his illness had left him, also breathes through the following letter (written in German) to Charles Neate in London:

Explanations to Charles Neate

Vienna, April 19, 1817.

My dear Neate!

Since the 15th of October I have been seemingly ill and I am still suffering from the consequences and not quite healed. You know that I must live from my compositions alone, I have been able to compose very little, and therefore to earn almost nothing, all the more welcome would it have been if you had done something for me—meanwhile I suspect that the result of everything has been—nothing.

You have even written complainingly of me to Hering, which was not deserved by my fair dealing with you—meanwhile I must justify in the premises, namely: the opera Fidelio had been written for several years, but the book and text were very faulty; the book had to be thoroughly remodeled, wherefore several pieces of the music had to be extended, others shortened, others newly composed. Thus, for instance, the overture is entirely new, as well as various other numbers, but it is possible that the opera may be found in London, as it was at first, in which case it must have been stolen as is scarcely to be avoided at the theatre. As regards the Symphony in A, as you did not write me a satisfactory reply, I was obliged to publish it, I should as willingly have waited 3 years if you had written me that the Philharmonic Society had accepted it—but on all hands nothing—nothing. Now regarding the Pianoforte Sonatas with Violoncello, for them I give you a month’s time, if after that I have no answer from you I shall publish them in Germany, but having heard as little from you about them as about the other works, I have given them to a German publisher who importuned me for them, but I have bound him in writing (Hering has read the document) not to publish the Sonatas until you have sold them in London, it seems to me that you ought to be able to dispose of these 2 sonatas for 70 or 80 ducats in gold at least, the English publisher may fix the day of publication in London and they will appear on the same day in Germany, it was in this manner Birchall bought and got the Grand Trio and the Violin Sonata from me. I also beg you as a last favor to give me an answer touching the sonatas as soon as possible. Frau v. Jenny swears that you have done everything for me, I too, that is to say I swear that you have done nothing for me, are doing nothing and will do nothingsumma summarum, nothing! nothing! nothing!!!

I assure you of my most perfect respect and hope as a last favor a speedy reply.

The Sonatas had been published three months before this letter was written, by Simrock in Bonn; a fact which Beethoven seems to have assumed was not known in London. The Frau v. Jenny mentioned was the Countess von Genney, through whose aid Beethoven hired a villa in Hetzendorf, from Baron von Pronay in 1823. Beethoven’s irascible outbreak against Neate must be read in the light of the latter’s letter of explanation and apology dated October 29, 1816, and printed in the preceding chapter.

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The new lodgings in Georgi were occupied by Beethoven on April 24, 1817, but the contract of rent may have been temporary and conditional, for in July and again in September he wrote to Frau Streicher about lodgings in the Gärtnergasse, and later in the year he changed his lodgings, for which he had little use during the summer because of his sojourn in the country.

Alois Fuchs, now a youth of nearly 18 years, had come to Vienna some months earlier to enter the university, dependent largely upon his musical talents and knowledge for his support. Here he appears to have studied the violin under Beethoven’s old friend, Krumpholz. Whether because the composer remembered him as the solo singer in his mass at Troppau, or through the intervention of Krumpholz, Fuchs has not informed us; but at any rate he had promised a contribution to the youngster’s album. On May 2nd Krumpholz died very suddenly of apoplexy while walking on the Glacis, and Beethoven commemorated the event by writing his “Gesang der Mönche” (from Schiller’s “Tell”) for three male voices in Fuchs’s album with the superscription: “In memory of the sudden and unexpected death of our Krumpholz on May 3rd, 1817.” The date was not intended to record the time of composition, but of the death of the violinist; as such a record it was an error.

Karl’s Mother Made to Share Her Pension

After the composer’s removal to the suburb Landstrasse, his mind was much occupied with a new matter between himself and the widow van Beethoven, namely, her bearing a share of the expenses of her son’s education. This was concluded by a contract signed by both parties on May 10, 1817, binding her to pay at once into court 2,000 florins for the lad’s education and support, and in the future to pay to the same tribunal every quarter at least one-half of the pension which the widow was to receive, as well as other contributions. Reference is had to this agreement in the following entries in the Fischoff “Tagebuch” in January or February of the next year:

Karl’s mother asked for the contract, the basis of which was that the house should be sold. From the proceeds of the sale it might be counted upon that all debts could be paid out of the one-half and also the half of the widow’s income besides the money for Karl’s needs and desires, so that all (indeed! prob. not alone) might live decently but well, but inasmuch as the house is not to be sold! which was the chief consideration for the signing of the contract since it was alleged that execution had already been levied against it, my scruples must now cease, and I can well imagine that the widow has cared pretty well for herself, which I most cordially wish her. My duty, O Lord, I have done.

[369]

It would have been possible without offending the widow, but that was not the matter, and Thou, Almighty One, seest into my heart, knowest that I have sacrificed the best of my own for the sake of my precious Karl, bless my work, bless the widow, why cannot I wholly follow my heart’s inclinations and hereafter for the widow——

God, God, my refuge, my rock, O my all, Thou seest my inmost heart and knowest how it pains me to be obliged to compel another to suffer by my good labors for my precious Karl!!! O hear me always, Thou Ineffable One, hear me—Thy unhappy, most unhappy of all mortals.

This was the barren result of negotiations which had cost Beethoven, as to any important work, the first half of the year. In May, Beethoven took rooms in Heiligenstadt to try the baths for his obstinate catarrh, of which he speaks in a characteristic letter to Countess Erdödy, railing against his Italian physician (either Malfatti or Bertolini), whom he accuses of lacking both honesty and insight, and describing the treatment prescribed for him.

Christian Kuffner, a poet, afterwards Court Secretary, who (though Nottebohm questioned it) probably gave poetical form to the text for the Choral Fantasia, also spent some time in the summer of 1817 in Heiligenstadt, and, as he told Music Director Krenn, often went with Beethoven of an evening to Nussdorf for a fish supper in the tavern “Zur Rose.” On one of these occasions, when Beethoven was amiably disposed, Kuffner began:

K.—Tell me frankly, which is your favorite among your symphonies?

B.—(in great good humor) Eh! Eh! the “Eroica.”

K.—I should have guessed the C minor.

B.—No; the “Eroica.”

Long years afterwards, in 1826, when Kuffner was negotiating with Beethoven for an oratorio text, he recalled the meetings in Nussdorf and wrote in Beethoven’s Conversation Book: “Do you remember the fisherman’s house in Nussdorf, where we sat till midnight in the light of the full moon on the terrace, before us the rushing brook and the swollen Danube? I was your guest.” Beethoven soon had his fish with less trouble; he moved to Nussdorf, perhaps in June (at least he was there in July, though he kept his lodging in the city), and in Nussdorf he remained till October, sending occasional notes to Frau Streicher, from which it appears that he was having his customary trouble with servants. Here, too, he received the following highly important letter from Ferdinand Ries, written in London on June 9, 1817:

For a very long time I have been forgotten by you, although I can think of no other cause than your too great occupation, and, as I was compelled to hear from others, your serious illness. Truly, dear Beethoven,[370] the gratitude which I owe you and always must owe you—and I believe I may honestly say I have never forgotten it—although enemies have often represented me to you as ungrateful and envious—is unalterable, as I have always ardently desired to prove to you in more than words. This ardent desire has now (I hope) been fulfilled, and I hope to find again in my old teacher, my old and affectionate friend. The Philharmonic Society, of which our friend Neate is now also a director, and at whose concerts your compositions are preferred to all others, wishes to give you an evidence of its great respect for you and its appreciation of the many beautiful moments which your great works have so often provided for us; and I feel it a most flattering compliment to have been empowered with Neate to write to you on the subject. In short, my dear Beethoven, we should like to have you with us in London next winter. Friends will receive you with open arms; and to give you at least one proof of this I have been commissioned on behalf of the Philharmonic Society to offer you 300 guineas on the following conditions:

1st. You are to be here in London next winter.

2nd. You are to write two grand symphonies for the Philharmonic Society, which are to be its property.

3rd. You must bind yourself not to deliver any composition for