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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 A Polonaise For The Empress Of Russia 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. 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.1
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 Mahler, 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 Mahler 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 pro-1gramme 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
'In Jahn's notices these sums are doubled. This audience is doubtless the one referred to by Schindler, as being proposed by the Empress, or perhaps was a consequence of that one. 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 Eianoforte accompaniment, which, he playing for me, I sang at a matinee efore 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 Wahrung) 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. Kochel 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 Rudolph .... 1500 fl.
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This sum, 3400 fl. in notes of redemption, was the equivalent of 1360 fl. Con. M., silver, or 952 Prussian thalers. 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" here1 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
'"Fidelio" had its first performance in Prague on November 21, 1814. Liebich was the director of the theatre, and C. M. von Weber chapelmaster. 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 with- Iout question is preposterous; to use it as authentic historic matter without scrupulous examination, is to do great injustice to the ) dead. J 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 Haring, 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.