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length it should be played near the beginning of a concert, before the audience was become weary. Beethoven, though choleric and violent in his anger, was placable. The theft of the Quintet in C dedicated to Count Fries, as related by Ries, and Beethoven's warning against the pirated edition, will be remembered. Nottebohm has sufficiently established the fact that the engraved plates were not destroyed, as supposed by Ries, but afterwards again used with the composer's consent and even his corrections. A short letter to the offending publisher (June 1) shows that his wrath was already appeased, and seems to indicate a purpose to grant him the copyright of a new quintet—a purpose which, under the pressure of his opera, and the subsequent invasion of the French, remained unexecuted. Ignatz Pleyel, born in 1757, the twenty-fourth child of a schoolmaster at Ruppersthal, a village a few miles from Vienna, a favorite pupil of Haydn and just now the most widely known and popular living instrumental composer except his master, came from Paris this season to revisit, after many years' absence, the scenes of his youth. He brought with him his last new quartets, "which," writes Czerny, were performed before a large and aristocratic society at the house of Prince Lobkowitz. At the close, Beethoven, who was also present, was requested to play something. As usual he let himself be begged for an infinitely long time and at last almost dragged by two ladies to the pianoforte. In an ill humor he grabs a second violin part of the Pleyel quartet from a music desk, throws it on the rack of the pianoforte and begins to improvise. He had never been heard to improvise more brilliantly, with more originality and splendor than on this evening! but through the entire improvisation there ran through the middle voices like a thread or cantus firmus the notes, in themselves utterly insignificant, which he found on the accidentally opened page of the quartet, upon which he built up the most daring melodies and harmonies in the most brilliant concerto style. Old Pleyel could show his amazement only by kissing his hands. After such improvisations Beethoven was wont to break out into a ringing peal of amused laughter.
Beethoven's abandonment (if there really was one) of the rooms in the theatre in the spring of 1804, and his subsequent relinquishment of the apartments in "das Rothe Haus" to share those of Breuning, compelled his brother Kaspar to seek a lodging of his own, which he found for the present on the Hohen Markt. But the new contract, with Baron Braun, gave the composer again a right to the apartments in the theatre building, which he improved, at the same time retaining the dwelling in the Pasqualati house. The city directory for 1805 gives his The Sketches For "fidelio" 45
address at the theatre, and there he received visitors; at the Pasqualati house he was accustomed to seclude himself for work, forbidding his servant to admit any person whatever. In the summer he retired to Hetzendorf, and wrought out his opera, sitting in the same crotched oak in the Schonbrunn Garden where, four years before, he had composed the "Christus am Olberg." Thus again he had three lodgings at the same time, as in the preceding summer; with this difference, that now one was no expense to him. The thousand times repeated story of Ries, that in 1804 he had four dwellings at once, is a mistake. Before his migration to Hetzendorf—say about the middle of June—Beethoven had completely sketched the music of his opera. This is made sufficiently certain by one of those whimsical remarks that he was in the habit of making on the blank spaces of whatever manuscript he happened to have before him. In this case he writes: "June 2d Finale always simpler. All pianoforte music also. God knows why my pianoforte music always makes the worst impression, especially when it is badly played." This is in the midst of sketches to the final chorus of the opera, and is written upon the upper outer corner of page 291 of the "Leonore" sketchbook which became the property of Mr. Paul Mendelssohn, of Berlin. The principal value of this manuscript lies of course in the insight which it gives the musician into the master's methods of composition;1 but for the biographer the volume is by no means without its value. Its striking confirmation of the previously formed opinion, that two current notions in relation to the composition of the opera are erroneous, well repays the toil of studying it through. First: A misinterpreted sentence in Jahn's article on "Leonore, oder Fidelio," has originated and given currency to the idea that Beethoven's "daring enthusiasm for the welfare of men and their rights" led him to begin his sketches for the opera with the "second finale, with its hymn-like character." But the sketchbook, if it proves anything, proves this: that Beethoven began at the beginning and took up all the principal numbers in order, as they stood in Sonnleithner's text; that the final choruses were the last to be sketched; and that this sketchbook happens to begin in the midst of the chorus of prisoners (originally the second finale) because the previous studies are wanting.
'See Nottebohm's study of the sketches for "Fidelio" in "Zweite Beethoveniana," p. 409 et icq.; also what Jahn has to say, and the results of Erich Prieger's labors in connection with the reprint of the original form of the opera. This volume contains the first sketches of Nos. 11, 18, 15a, 17a and 18a (appendix) of Jahn's edition; Nos. 1 and 5 occur, but not in the original studies; Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are either entirely wanting or only come up in mere fragmentary afterthoughts, as No. 9, on page 51, where Beethoven has written at the top of the page: "in the duet between P. and R." and just below: "dann schleich ich," with a hint (4 bars of music unisono) for the accompaniment. Afterthoughts for the duet "Um in die Ehe"—Fidelio and Marcelline—occur also on pages 23, 344, and possibly one or two others, but not more. The studies for Fidelio's recitative "Ach brich noch nicht" and aria "Komm Hoffnung" (No. 11), which are found near the end of the volume, seem to form a marked exception to the rule; but if these are really the first sketches, their appearance after the final scenes is explained by two remarks in Beethoven's hand on page 344: "Duetto with Miiller (Marcelline) and Fidelio aside," and "Aria for Fidelio, another text which agrees with her." These notes clearly indicate a change of plan in connection with the duet, and that the beautiful air, "Komm Hoffnung," did not stand in Sonnleithner's original text.
(The other current error thoroughly exploded by the sketchbook is this, namely, that the noblest passages in the opera are a sort of spontaneous outpouring in music of feelings and sentiments awakened, or rendered intense and vivid, by the unfortunate love-affairs of the composer. Now, there is nothing from the first page to the last of this manuscript that conveys the impression of any such spontaneity. Every number, as it now stands complete in the score, was the tardy result of persevering labor —of the most painstaking study. Where Jahn says: "I have not had an opportunity to study many of Beethoven's sketchbooks, but I have found no instance in which one was not compelled to recognize that the material chosen was not the best, or to deplore that the material which he rejected had not been used," he might have added, with truth, that some of the first ideas noted to passages, now among the gems of the opera, are commonplace and trivial to such a degree, that one can hardly attribute them to Beethoven. Yet, there they are in his own hand. Jahn's compendious general description of the contents of this manuscript cannot be improved, except in a single passage, in which, probably trusting his memory a little too much, he conveys the mistaken (as we think) impression, that the aria of Marcelline is here first sketched.
Patient Labor On The Opera 47
The sketches [says he] are, naturally enough, of very different kinds; in part they are widely varying efforts to give musical expression to the same text, and many numbers, like the airs of Marcelline and Pizarro, the grave duet, a few striking passages, appear for the first time with motivi wholly different from those now to be found in the opera. ... At other times, whole pieces are written down in a breath essentially as they have remained. This is rather too strongly expressed, unless Jahn had in mind the arias of Rocco and Marcelline.
By the side of such passages are examples of indefatigable detail work, which cannot find a conclusion, of turning not only single motivi and melodies but the tiniest elements of them this way and that, and out of all conceivable variations to draw out the form that is best. One is amazed at this everlasting experimentation and cannot conceive how it will be possible to create an organic whole out of such musical scraps. But if one compares the completed art-work with the chaos of sketches one is overwhelmed with wonder at the creative mind which surveyed its task so clearly, grasped the foundation and the outlines of the execution so firmly and surely that with all the sketches and attempts in details the whole grows naturally from its roots and develops. And though the sketches frequently create the impression of uncertainty and groping, admiration comes again for the marvelously keen self-criticism, which, after everything has been tested with sovereign certainty, retains the best.1 In the notices of the "Leonore" sketchbook, made for use in this work, are copied eighteen different beginnings to Florestan's air, "In des Lebens Friihlingstagen," and ten to the chorus, "Wer ein holdes Weib"; others being omitted, because illegible or little more than repetitions. The studies for that wondrous outburst of joy, "O namenlose Freude," are numerous; but the first bars of the duet are the same in all of them, having been taken by Beethoven from an "old opera."
It certainly seems a little like cold-blooded cruelty thus ruthlessly to demolish the structure of romance which has been rising for thirty years on the sandy foundation laid by Schindler in his story of the Countess Guicciardi, and of which, through some fancied connection, the opera "Leonore" has become an imposing part. But facts are stubborn things, and here they are irreconcilable with the romance. Inborn genius for musical composition, untiring industry, and the ambition to rival Cherubim in his own field, sufficiently explain the extraordinary merits of this work of Beethoven; want of practice and experience in operatic writing, its defects.
Beethoven's seclusion at Hetzendorf from June to September (probably) and his labor of reducing the chaos of the sketch
'Juhu, "Gesammelte Schriften," p. 244.
book into the order and beauty of the score of "Leonore"—on which, as he told Schindler, he wrought in the bright summer days, sitting in the shades of Schonbrunn—are unbroken for us except by his first meeting with Cherubini. Some time in July —for that master arrived in Vienna after the 5th of that month, and Vogler was in Salzburg before the 28th—"Cherubini, Beethoven and Vogler were gathered together at Sonnleithner's; everybody played, Vogler first, and without ceasing, so that the company meanwhile sat down to table. Beethoven was full of attention and respect toward Cherubini." Such is Jahn's note of a communication to him by Grillparzer; and Czerny told him: "B. did not give Cherubini a friendly reception in 1805, as the latter complained to Czerny later."
At the end of the summer season Beethoven returned to town with his opera ready to be put in rehearsal. Here Ries found him. "He was really fond of me," says he, "and gave me a comical proof of the fact in one of his fits of absentmindedness"; and Ries goes on to relate in the "Notizen":
When I came back from Silesia, where, on Beethoven's recommendation, I had spent a considerable time as pianoforte player for Prince Lichnowsky on his estate, I went into his room; he was about to shave and had lathered himself up to the eyes (for his fearful beard extended so far). He jumped up, embraced me cordially and, behold! he had transferred the soap from his left cheek to my right so completely that there was nothing left of it on him. Didn't we laugh!
r With all his kindness to Ries, Beethoven had neither forgotten nor forgiven the affair of the "Andante favori":
One day when a small company including Beethoven and me breakfasted with Prince (Lichnowsky) after the concert in the Augarten (8 o'clock in the forenoon), it was proposed that we drive to Beethoven's house and hear his opera "Leonore," which had not yet been performed. Arrived there Beethoven demanded that I go away, and inasmuch as the most urgent appeals of all present were fruitless, I did so with tears in my eyes. The entire company noticed it and Prince Lichnowsky, following me, asked me to wait in an anteroom, because, having been the cause of the trouble, he wanted to have it settled. But the feeling of hurt to my honor would not admit of this. I heard afterward that Prince Lichnowsky had sharply rebuked Beethoven for his conduct, since only love for his works had been to blame for the incident and consequently for his anger. But the only result of these representations was that Beethoven refused to play any more for the company. It so happened, that Ries thus lost his only opportunity ever to hear the "Leonore-Fidelio" music in its original form; but this Beethoven could not anticipate, as he could have no suspicion that they were so soon to be parted. Bonn, being now