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After taking Karl from Giannatasio's institute to his own home Beethoven engaged a tutor to prepare him for matriculation at the gymnasium. This tutor, whose name has not been learned, was a professor at the Vienna University and had evidently agreed not only to look after all of the lad's intellectual needs but also to have an eye on some of the domestic affairs and to that end to become a member of the Beethoven household. On this point, Beethoven enjoined secrecy upon Madame Streicher. How long the service of his "steward," as he playfully called him to Madame Streicher, continued is not known, nor how satisfactory it was. He does not become a subject of Beethoven's correspondence beyond a single reference to the fact that once he staid out all night. Beethoven's London trip had been abandoned without characteristic traits and moods, too insignificant to justify the cumbering of these pages with their literal contents. Those who wish to do so can read them in any of the German collections of Beethoven's letters or in the English translation by Shedlock. But Kalischer's notes and dates and sometimes Mr. Shedlock's translation ought to be critically scrutinized. The letter referred to above, however, deserves to be given in full.
"Best Madame von Streicher!
"It was not possible to reply to your last letter sooner. I would have written to you a few days ago when the servants were sent away, but hesitated in my determination until I learned that it was Frau D. in particular who hindered Karl to make full confession, "lie ought to spare his mother, ' she told him; and Peppi cooperated with her; naturally they did not want to be discovered; they worked together shamefully and permitted themselves to be used by Frau v. Beethoven; both received coffee and sugar from her, Peppi money and the old one probably also; for there can be no doubt that she was herself at the house of Karl's mother; she said to Karl that if I drove her away from my service she would go straight to his mother. This happened at a time when I had reproved her for her conduct with which I had frequent occasion to be dissatisfied; Peppi who often played the eavesdropper when I spoke with Karl appears to have tried to tell the truth, but the old one accused her of stupidity and scolded her stoutly—and so she remained silent and tried to throw me off the trail. The story of this abominable deception may have lasted about six weeks—they would not have got off so easy with a less magnanimous man. Peppi borrowed 0 of 10 florins for stuff for shirts and I afterwards made her a present of the money and instead of 60 she got 70 florins; she might have denied herself these wretched bribes. In the case of the old woman, who was always the worse, hate may have played a part as she always thought herself neglected (although she got more than she deserved) for the scornful smile on her face one day when Karl embraced me, made me suspect treachery and how shameless and deceitful such an old woman could be. Just imagine, 2 days before I came here K. went to his mother one afternoon without my knowledge and both the old woman and P. knew it. But now listen to the triumph of a hoary-headed traitress; on the way hither with K. and her, I spoke with K. about the matter in the carriage, although I did not know all, and when I expressed the fear that we should not be safe in Modling, she exclaimed "I should only rely upon her." O the infamy of it! This was only the 2nd time in the case of a person of such venerable age that such a thing happened to me. A few days before I sent both away I had told them in writing that under no circumstances were they to accept anything for Karl from his mother. Instead of repenting, Peppi tried secretly to take revenge on Karl, after he had confessed all which they knew from the fact that in writing, I had said that all had been discovered—I expected that they would both beg my pardon after this, instead of which they played me one wicked trick after the other. As no betterment was to be expected in such obstinate sinners and I had every moment to fear another piece of treachery, I decided to sacrifice my body, my comfort to better self, my poor, misguided Karl and out of the house they went as a warning example to all those who may come after. I might have made their certificates
The London Visit Postponed 395
notice or explanation to the Philharmonic Society, apparently; but Ries must have written to him, renewing the offer previously accepted, for on March 25, Beethoven writes to his old pupil as follows: In spite of my desire, it was impossible for me to come to London this Winter; I beg of you to say to the Philharmonic Society that my poor state of health hindered me, but I hope that I may be entirely well this Spring and then take advantage of the renewed offers of the Society towards the end of the year and fulfil all its conditions. Please ask Neate in my name not to make use, at least not in public, of the many compositions of mine which he has until my arrival in person; no matter what the condition of his affairs may be I have cause of complaint against him. of character a little less favorable; I set down the time of service of each at full six months although it was not true. I never practise vengeance; in cases where I oppose myself to other people, I never do more against them than is necessary to protect myself against them or to prevent them from doing further harm. On account of Peppi's honesty in general I am sorry to have lost her for which reason I made her certificate more favorable than that of the old woman, and she appears to have been led astray by the old woman but that P.'s conscience was not at ease she showed by saying to Karl that "she did not dare go back to her parents," and, in fact I believe she is still here—I had suspected treachery for a long time until one evening before my departure I received an anonymous letter the contents of which filled me with dread; but they were only suspicions. Karl, whom I took to task at once in the evening confessed but not all. As I often treat him harshly and not without cause, he was too greatly afraid to admit everything at once. In the midst of the struggle we reached here. As I often questioned him, the servants noticed it and the old woman in particular tried to persuade him not to admit the truth. But when I gave Karl my sacred assurance that all would be forgiven if he would but confess the truth, while lying would plunge him into a deeper abyss than that in which he already was, everything came to the light of day—add to this the other data which I gave you before concerning the servants and you will have the shameful story of the two traitresses clearly before you. K. did wrong, but—mother —mother—even a bad one remains a mother. To this extent he is to be excused, particularly by me who know his intriguing, passionate mother too well. The priest here knows already that I know about him for K. had already told me. It is likely that he was not fully informed and that he will be careful; but to guard against K.'s being mistreated by him, since he appears to be rather a rude man, the matter may rest for the nonce. But as K.'s virtue was put to the test for there is no virtue without temptation, I purposely pass the matter by until it happens again (which I do not expect) in which case I will so bethwack his reverence with such spiritual cudgels, amulets with my sole guardianship and consequent privileges that the whole parish will shake. My heart has been terribly shaken up by this affair and I can scarcely recover myself. Now to my housekeeping; it needs your help; how necessary it is to us you already know; do not be frightened away, such a thing might happen anywhere, but if it has once happened and one is in a position to hold it up to one's new servants, it is not likely that it will occur again. You know what we need—perhaps the French woman, and whatever can be found in the way of a chambermaid, good cooking remains the principal thing, even in the matter of economy, for the present we have a person who cooks for us, but badly. I cannot write you more to-day, you will perceive that in this matter I could not act differently; it had gone too far. I do not yet invite you to visit me here for everything is still in confusion; nevertheless it will not be necessary to send me to a lunatic asylum. I can say that I already suffered from this thing fearfully while I was yet in Vienna, though I kept silent. Farewell; do not make anything of this known as some one might think prejudicially of K.; only I who know all the driving wheels here can testify for him that he was terribly misled. I beg of you soon to write us something comforting, touching the art of cooking, washing and sewing. "I am very ill and in need of a stomach restorative. "Modling, June 18 (10?), 1818." Botter [Cipriani Potter] visited me several times, he seems to be a good man and has talent for composition—I hope and wish that your prosperity may grow daily; unfortunately I cannot say that of myself. My unlucky connection with the Archduke has brought me to the verge of beggary. I cannot endure the sight of want—I must give; you can imagine how present conditions increase my sufferings. I beg of you soon to write to me again. If it is at all possible I shall get away from here sooner in order to escape total ruin and will then arrive in London in the Winter at the latest. I know that you will stand by an unfortunate friend; had it only been in my power, and had I not been fettered by circumstances here I would surely have done much more for you. Fare you very well, give my greetings to Neate, Smart, Cramer—although I hear that he is a counter-subject to you and me, yet I already know something of the art of treating such and we shall produce an agreeable harmony in London.
Ries's reverence for royalty, apparently, led him to omit Beethoven's unkind allusion to his august patron and pupil Archduke Rudolph; Schindler, writing much later, prints it and admits, very properly, as we know from other instances of the same kind, that Beethoven sometimes used his friends as whippingboys and that his words and deeds were not always consistent with each other. Beethoven removed to Modling on May 19, taking with him his nephew and the two servants whose treachery aroused the storm of passion which he loosed in the long letter to Madame Streicher, written in June. He found lodgings in the so-called Hafner House in the Hauptstrasse, now ornamented by a memorial tablet. He began taking the baths two days after his arrival and the desire and capacity for work soon returning, he took up energetically the Pianoforte Sonata in B-flat. Karl was placed in a class of boys taught by the village priest, named Frohlich, who dismissed him a month later for reasons which became a matter of judicial record before the end of the year.1 In a document filed as an appendix to Madame van Beethoven's application for guardianship over her son, Frohlich sets forth that Beethoven had encouraged his nephew to revile his mother, applauding him when he applied vile epithets to her either in writing or by shrieking them into his ear, "thus violating the fourth divine commandment"; that the boy had confessed to him that while he knew that he was doing wrong he yet defamed his mother to curry favor with his uncle and dared not tell him the truth because he would only believe lies. "This he once told his mother and would have said more had he not feared being found out and maltreated by his
'It was this priest, evidently, against whom Beethoven threatened to launch the thunderbolts of his wrath so as to shake the earth in a certain event, as he told Madame Streicher.
An Oratorio For The Friends Of Music 397
uncle." Once, too, Beethoven came to him (the priest) and in a tone of malicious joy told him that his nephew had that day called his mother a "Ravenmother" (Rabenmutter—meaning a wicked and unnatural mother). Karl's training being thus contrary to all moral principles, he having also displayed indifference to religious instruction, been guilty of unruly conduct in church and in the streets, so that many of the inhabitants of the village had come to him with complaints, and, therefore, admonitions to the boy and appeals to the uncle having borne no fruit, he had been constrained for the sake of his twelve other pupils, who had said "they did not want to study with the unruly Karl van Beethoven," to dismiss him. These unfortunate first-fruits of Beethoven's error in undertaking personal and sole care of his nephew will call for more attention before the history of the year 1818 is closed, and may be dismissed for the present for more cheerful topics. Towards the end of the year 1815,, the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde had instituted inquiries through Zmeskall touching Beethoven's willingness to compose a work of magnitude for the Society. Beethoven signified his assent to the project and in turn asked Zmeskall whether or not the Society would allow him 400 ducats as an honorarium. There the matter seems to have rested until May, 1818, on the 17th of which month Vincenz Hauschka, a violoncello player and member of the governing committee of the Society, was authorized by his associates to offer Beethoven from 200 to 300 "pieces of gold" for the music to a "heroic oratorio" to be the exclusive property of the Society for one year after the date of its first performance. Hauschka wrote to Beethoven at Modling and received a droll letter in reply. It bears no date. In it Beethoven addresses his friend as "Chief Member of the Society of Enemies of Music [the play on the words Freunde and Feinde is impossible in English], in the Austrian Empire" and "Grand Cross of the Order of the Violoncello." He signifies his willingness to accept the commission in the words: "I am agreed" (Ich bin bereit) set to a fugue-theme:
adding that he had no subject on hand except a sacred one, while the Society had expressed a desire for a heroic work. This was satisfactory to him, but he suggested that as the choir was a large one something sacred be "mixed in":
Mr. v. Bernard would suit him as poet, but the Society, since it claimed to be friendly to music, ought to pay him. He said nothing of his own compensation, but concluded with: I wish you open bowels and the handsomest of close-stools. As for me, I am wandering about here amongst mountains, clefts and valleys, with a piece of music-paper smearing down many a thing for the sake of bread and money—for to such a pitch have I brought it in this all powerful land of the Phaeacians that to gain a little time for a work of magnitude I must always first smear a great deal for money so that I may hold out for a large work. For the rest, my health is much better and if haste is necessary I can still serve you well.
Schindler also places this letter in 1818, and is doubtless correct in so doing, for its tone and contents show that it was not designed as an official communication to the Society, whose minutes show that such a communication was not received until June 15,1819. In the interim, no doubt, some negotiations were in progress between Beethoven and Hauschka, for the former had refrained from mentioning the matter of remuneration. Some understanding on this point must have been reached, however, for, if Pohl is correct, Beethoven was paid an advance sum of 400 florins on August 18, 1819. Nothing came of the matter, as we shall see later. In this year, however, there came to Beethoven an incitation of a different nature and one productive of lasting and magnificent results. About the middle of 1818, as Schindler relates, it became known as a setted fact that Archduke Rudolph had been appointed Archbishop of Olmiitz. March 20th, 1820, was fixed as the day of his installation. Without bidding, invitation or summons of any kind Beethoven "resolved to compose a mass for the solemnity, thus turning again after the lapse of many years to that branch of his art, toward which, after the symphonic