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The Pianoforte Trio In B-flat 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 Hartel'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 Olberg." 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. 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 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."1
Here is the place for a letter to Breitkopf and Hartel: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.
'At this point in the biography, Thayer, believing that the broken marriage engagement which had had so powerful an effect on Beethoven's spirits and intellectual energies in 1810 had been one entered into with Countess Therese Brunswick, introduces the letters to Gleichenstein and makes the following comments, which the English Editor prefers to introduce in a foot-note rather than to put them in the body of the text, as is done in the second German edition, and give them a false interpretation: "The allusion to Gleichenstein's marriage with the younger of the sisters Malfatti, which took place near the end of May, sufficiently indicates the date of these notes; and the statement made in a former chapter—that Beethoven once offered his hand in marriage to the elder, Therese—accounts satisfactorily for the strong excitement under which they were written; for, that this offer was not made before this time (1811) has been—nor after, soon will be—made clear. "There is nothing inconsistent with ordinary experience and observation—certainly not with Beethoven's character as a lover—in placing this occurrence here, a year after the failure of the marriage project. His weakness was not in seeking a wife, for this was wise and prudent, but in the selection of the person; in imagining that the young girl's admiration for the artist—her respect and regard for the friend of her parents and of Gleichenstein—had with increasing years (she was now nineteen) grown into a warmer feeling; and in misconceiving the attentions, civilities and courtesies extended to him by all the members of the family, as encouragement to a suit, the possibility of which had, probably, never entered the mind of any one of them. As Gleichenstein could not have been ignorant of his friend's recent love-troubles, one may well conceive the surprise, dismay and perplexity, which this sudden whim must have caused him. It placed him in a dilemma of singular difficulty. How he escaped from it, there are no means of knowing; the affair was, however, so managed, that the rejection of Beethoven's proposal caused no interruption—or at most a temporary one—in the friendly relations of all the parties immediately concerned. At this distance of time and in the feeble light afforded us, the whole matter has all the appearance of a mere whimsical episode in the composer's life causing him some fleeting disquiet and mortification; but there is no reason to infer that his disappointment was either very severe or very lasting. If, however, this be a mistaken view, it was all the more fortunate that a previous engagement now forced him to turn his thoughts again to composition and gave him no leisure to play the love-lorn Corydon."
Music For "the Ruins Of Athens" 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. Hartel'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 demandsl will make inquiry concerning thematter; I havewritten 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!"
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 Wohltater" (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 Karnthnerthor 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, "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 portrait1 it would be best if you were to bring it with you, no
'It is not a violent presumption that the portrait referred to here was that of Count Brunswick's sister Therese; at least there is strong support for it in a letter published by Work On Thomson's Commission 203
doubt a sympathetic artist will be found who will copy it for friendship's sake."
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 Hfirtel 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.l
Marie Lipsius (La Mara) in Breitkopf and Hartel's "Mittheilungen" for March, 1910 (p. 4102). It is from Beethoven toTherese Brunswick, the original of which has not been found, but which exists in the form of a transcript in a letter written by Therese to her sister Josephine, dated February 2, 1811, now in the possession of Therese's grandniece, Irene de Gerando-Teleki. The letter reads as follows:
"Through Franz I have also received a souvenir of our noble Beethoven which gave me much joy; I do not mean his sonatas, which are very beautiful, but a little writing which I will immediately copy literally:
"'Even without prompting, people of the better kind think of each other, this is the case with you and me, dear and honored Therese; I still owe you grateful thanks for your beautiful picture and while accusing myself as your debtor I must at the same time appear before you in the character of a beggar in asking you if perchance you feel the genius of painting stirring within you to duplicate the little hand-drawing which I was unlucky enough to lose. It was an eagle looking into the sun, I cannot forget it; but do not think that I think of myself in such a connection, although it has been ascribed to me, many look upon a heroic play without being in the least like it. Farewell, dear Therese, and think occasionally of your truly revering friend
Therese complied with Beethoven's request. On February 23 she admonished her sister: "My request to you, dear Josephine, is to reproduce that picture which you alone are able to do; it would not be possible for me to create anything of the kind." And later she repeats in French: "You have told me nothing about Beethoven's eagle. May I answer that he shall receive it?" If the picture referred to by Beethoven in his letter to the Countess was in his possession before February 11, 1811, as appears from the Countess' letter to her sister, how came it to be in the hands of Count Brunswick in July? Here is another unsolved riddle.
'This letter, in French with Beethoven's autograph signature, is preserved in the British Museum. The cantata referred to was to have been a setting of Campbell's "Battle of the Baltic." Returning to England from the Continent in 1801, the poet saw the preparations for the Battle of Copenhagen. Campbell was highly esteemed in Germany, especially by Goethe and Freiligrath, the latter of whom imitated his "The Last Man."