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Goethe's Reply To Bettina 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 raptust" 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. 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 daemon, 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. (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.
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 Schonbrunn, 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:1 Beethoven's Letter To Bettina 191
'From the "Athenanim." There are a few variations in the letter as printed in the Nuremburg journal and in "Ilius Pamphilius"—"Bettine" is changed to "friend," "frog" to "fish," "and on the bastion" is omitted, "fascinated" (gebannt) is altered to "seized" (gepackt). A few other differences are grammatical errors. It seems proper at this place for the English Editor to remark that Mr. Thayer's argument in favor of the authenticity of the Bettina letters was printed in the Appendix to Vol. Ill of the original edition with a concluding foot-note by Dr. Deiters in which he said that he had not been convinced by his author's painstaking exposition that the letters are genuine. Dr. Riemann in the second German edition prints the letters and the argument in the text, distributing the latterin two chapters and appending a foot-note in which he gives it as his opinion that only the second (that dated February 10,1811, the autograph of which is in existence) is authentic at a letter, while the other two, though probably based on observations made by Beethoven to Bettina, were put into epistolary shape by her. One of Bettina's letters to PUckler-Muskau, which tells of Beethoven's rudeness to Goethe as illustrated in the anecdote which plays so important a role in the third letter, would seem to bear out this theory. But it is also likely that Beethoven's original letters were tricked out by her for literary effect, which would help to explain the disappearance
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 Schonbrunn 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 bedranget 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. of the autographs of the letters of 1810 and 1812. The second letter, which was printed in facsimile in the Marx-Behncke critical biography of Beethoven (4th ed., 1884), was in possession of Pastor Nathusius in Quedlinburg in 1902. 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 Hartel. 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 (Op. 75, 83 and 82). 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 Hartel 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 % time where, after the fc) fc; lq the minor returns again, it reads (I just take the bass part) thus:
The two measures marked by a X are redundant and must be stricken out, of course also in all the parts that are pausing.
Sorrows Borne In Silence 193
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 "Morgenlandische 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 Brilhl, 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