Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

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 middleway with Beethoven. ("Notizen," p. 101.) 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 3J^ francs), by the Vienna composer Hr. Joseph Dessauer—could not have been the one referred to above. It is, The "eroica" And Napoleon 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 Mar da funebre was written in commemoration of Nelson or Gen. Abercrombie,1 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 Andre in November, 1802,

'See, in the "Allg. Mus. Zeit." Ill, a criticism of "Nelson's Great Seabattle," for pianoforte, violin and violoncello by Ferd. Kauer. Years afterward this piece may have been confounded with the Symphony in Dr. Bertolini's memory. From Otto Jahn's papers we learn that Dr. Bertolini told him that the first idea of the "Sinfonia eroica' was suggested to Beethoven by Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt (May, 1798); and the rumor of Nelson's death at the battle of Aboukir (June 22), at which Nelson was wounded in the head, was the cause of the funeral march. Czerny wrote: "According to Beethoven's long-time friend. Dr. Bertolini, the first idea of the 'Sinfonia eroica' was suggested by the death of the English general Abercrombie; hence the naval (not land-military) character of the theme and the entire first movement." Music of a naval character to celebrate the death of an army officer! Czerny seems to have been at least temporarily weak either in history or logic. 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,"1 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. // 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 (bose Laune) of Beethoven's for the horn; in the second part, several measures before the

'Dr. Schmidt is of opinion that that this anecdote was contributed to his journal by Hieronymus Payer, certainly good authority. A Quarrel With Von Breuning 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. 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, 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 Dobling 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.

« ForrigeFortsett »