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A Talented Archduke 79
certain new names in both categories, which become prominent in his history in the years immediately before us. Archduke Rudolph Johann Joseph Rainer, youngest son of Emperor Leopold II, and half-brother of Emperor Franz, was born January 8, 1788, and therefore was, at the end of 1805, just closing his seventeenth year. Like his unfortunate uncle, Elector Maximilian, he was destined to the church, and like him, too, he had much musical taste and capacity. His private tutors were all men of fine culture, and one of them, Joseph Edler von Baumeister, Doctor of Laws, remained in later years in his service and will be met with hereafter. In music he, with the children of the imperial family, was instructed by the R. I. Court Composer, Anton Tayber, and made such good progress that, if tradition may be trusted, he, while still but a boy, played to general satisfaction in the salons of Lobkowitz and others. But an archduke has not much to fear from hostile criticism; a better proof that he really possessed musical talent and taste is afforded by the fact that, so soon as he could emancipate himself from Tayber, and have a voice in the selection of a teacher, he became a pupil of Beethoven. It is largely possible that the old relation of the composer to Maximilian may have had some influence upon the determination of his nephew; and it is very probable that Rudolph's decision was based upon the great reputation of Beethoven and the respect in which, as he saw, the artist was held by the Schwarzenbergs, Liechtensteins, Kinskys, and their compeers. But whatever weight be allowed to these and like considerations, it must have been something more than a capricious desire to call the great pianist "master," which made him his pupil, friend and patron until death parted them. One necessarily thinks better of his musical talents for this, just as Maximilian's musical taste and insight stand higher in our estimation because of his early appreciation of Mozart's genius. The precise date of Beethoven's engagement has eluded the research of even the accurate and indefatigable Kochel. There is so little doubt, however, that he was the immediate successor of Tayber, as to render reasonably certain that it occurred at the end of the young Archduke's fifteenth year—that is, in the winter of 1803-4. It is perhaps worth remarking, that the "Staats-Schematismus" for 1803 first gives, in the R. I. Household, a separate chamber to the boys, Rainer and Rudolph; three years later "Archduke Rudolph, coadjutor of the Archbishopric of Olmiitz," is given one alone; but before 1806 he certainly was the pupil of Beethoven. In Fraulein Giannatasio's notices from the years 1816-18,1 she relates: At that time Beethoven gave lessons to Archduke Rudolph, a brother of Emperor Franz. I once asked him if the Archduke played well. "When he is feeling just right," was the answer, accompanied by a smile. He also laughingly referred to the fact that he would sometimes hit him on the fingers, and that when the august gentleman once tried to refer him to his place, he pointed for justification to a passage from a poet, Goethe, I think. It must have been a mistake of the young lady's to make Beethoven speak here in the present tense; for it is incredible that he should have taken such a liberty in 1816-17, when Rudolph was a man of some thirty years; or indeed at any time after the first lessons in his boyhood. The anecdote therefore in some degree supports the conjecture above offered. So also does Schindler's statement—a point on which he was likely to be well informed by the master himself—that the pianoforte part of the Triple Concerto, Op. 56, was written for the Archduke; for this work was sketched, at the latest, in the spring of 1805, and surely would not have been undertaken until the composer thoroughly knew his pupil's powers, and that his performance would do the master no discredit. And finally, what Ries relates is in the tone of one who had personal knowledge of the circumstances detailed; and thus determines the date as not later than 1804: Etiquette and all that is connected with it was never known to Beethoven [?] nor was he ever willing to learn it. For this reason he often caused great embarrassment in the household of Archduke Rudolph when he first went to him. An attempt was made by force to teach him to have regard for certain things. But this was intolerable to him; he would promise, indeed, to mend his ways but—that was the end of it. Finally one day when, as he expressed it, he was being tutored [als man ihn, wie er es nannte, hofmeisterte] he angrily forced his way to the Archduke and flatly declared that while he had the greatest reverence for his person, he could not trouble himself to observe all the regulations which were daily forced upon him. The Archduke laughed good- naturedly and commanded that Beethoven be permitted to go his own gait undisturbed—it was his nature and could not be altered. At all events it may be accepted as certain that Beethoven had now, 1805-6, formed those relations with the Archduke, which were strengthened and more advantageous to him with each successive year, until death put an end to them. Two brothers, differing in age by nineteen years, owed their rise from the condition of singers at the Russian Court into posi- 'See the "Grenzboten," April 3, 1857.
Count Andreas Rasoumowsky 81
tions of great wealth and political importance to their gratification of the lascivious lusts of two imperial princesses, afterwards known in history as the Empresses Elizabeth Petrowna and Catherine II. Thus the two Rasums, born in 1709 and 1728, of half-Cossack parentage, in the obscure Ukraine village of Lemeschi, became the Counts Rasoumowsky, nobles of the Russian Empire. They were men of rare ability, and, like Shakespeare's Duncan, "bore their faculties so meek," that none of the monarchs under whom they served, not even those who personally disliked either of them, made him the victim of imperial caprice or ill will. A whimsical proof of the rapidity with which the new name became known throughout Europe is its introduction in 1762 into a farce of the English wit, Samuel Foote.1 The Empresses provided their paramours with wives from noble families and continued their kindness to the children born of these unions—one of whom came in time to occupy a rather prominent place among the patrons of Beethoven. Andreas Kyrillovitch (born October 22, 1752), fourth son of the younger Rasoumowsky, was destined for the navy and received the best education possible in those days for his profession, even to serving in what was then the best of all schools, an English man-of-war. He had been elevated to the rank of captain when, at the age of 25, he was transferred to the diplomatic service. He was Ambassador successively at Venice, Naples, Copenhagen and Stockholm; less famous, perhaps, for his diplomacy than notorious for the profuseness of his expenditures, and for his amours with women of the highest rank, the Queen of Naples not excepted. Rasoumowsky was personally widely known at Vienna, where he had married (November 4, 1788) Elizabeth, Countess Thun, elder sister of the Princess Charles Lichnowsky, and whither he was transferred as Ambassador early in 1792, being officially presented to the Emperor on Friday, May 25, as the "Wiener Zeitung" records. Near the-end of Czar Paul's reign (in March, 1799) he was superseded by Count Kalichev; but on the accession of Alexander was restored, his "presentation audience" taking place October 14, 1801. His dwelling and office had formerly been in the Johannes-Gasse, but now (1805-6) he was in the Wallzeil, but on the point of removing to a new palace built by himself. Schnitzer says: "Rasoumowsky lived in Vienna like a prince, encouraging art and science, surrounded by a luxurious 1Young Wilding: "Oh how they [the women] melt at the Gothic names of General Swapinbach, Count Rousoumoffsky, Prince Montecuculi and Marshal Fustinburgh." ("The Liar.")
library and other collections and admired and envied by all; what advantages accrued from all this to Russian affairs is another question." This palace, afterwards nearly destroyed by fire and rebuilt, is now, after various vicissitudes, the seat of the Imperial Geological Institute, Landstrasse, Rasoumowsky-Gasse No. 3. True to the traditions of his family, the Count was a musician and one of the best connoisseurs and players of Haydn's quartets, in which he was accustomed to play the second violin. It is affirmed, evidently on good authority, that he had studied these works under that master himself. It would seem a matter of course, that this man, so nearly connected, too, with Lichnowsky, was one of the first to appreciate and encourage the genius of the young Beethoven upon his removal from Rome to Vienna. In fact, this has been affirmed most positively and discoursed upon at great length; and yet the few known data on this point—all of a negative character—are in conflict with that opinion. Neither Wegeler nor Ries mentions Rasoumowsky. Whatever Seyfried and Schindler may conjecture, all the facts given by them belong to the period on which we are now entering. Up to Op. 58, inclusive, not a composition of Beethoven's is dedicated to Rasoumowsky. Just now (end of 1805), the Count has given the composer an order for quartets with Russian themes, original or imitated; but only once, in all the contemporary printed or manuscript authorities yet discovered, have the two names been brought into connection; namely, in the subscription to the Trios in 1795, where we find the Countess of Thun, her daughters and the Lichnowskys down (in the aggregate) for 32 copies, and "S. E. le Comte Rasoumoffsky, Embassadeur de Russie"—for one.
The Hungarian Count Peter Erdody married, June 6, 1796, the Countess Anna Marie Niczky (born 1779), then just seventeen years of age. Reichardt describes her, in December, 1808, as a "very beautiful, fine little woman who from her first confinement (1799) was afflicted with an incurable disease which for ten years has kept her in bed for all but two to three months"—in which he greatly exaggerates the evil of her condition—"but nevertheless gave birth to three healthy and dear children who cling to her like burs; whose sole entertainment was found in music; who plays even Beethoven's pieces right well and limps with still swollen feet from one pianoforte to another, yet is so merry and friendly and good—all this often saddens me during an otherwise joyous meal participated in by six or eight good musical souls." There is nothing to show how or when the very great intimacy between the Countess and Beethoven began; but for many years she is promCountess Erdody And Baroness Ertmann 83
inent among the most useful and valued of his many female friends, and it is not at all improbable that the vicinity of the Erdody estate at Jedlersee am Marchfelde was one reason for his frequent choice of summer lodgings in the villages on the Danube, north of the city. Their intercourse was at length (about 1820) abruptly terminated by the banishment for life of the Countess beyond the limits of the Austrian Empire—unhappily, for reasons that cannot be impugned. It is a sad and revolting story, over which a veil may be drawn. There is no necessity, arising from Beethoven's relations to her, to give it now the publicity which was then so carefully and effectually avoided. It is even possible that Beethoven's heart was never wrung by a knowledge of the particulars. The Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann, wife of an Austrian officer who was stationed in those years at or near Vienna, studied Beethoven's compositions with the composer, and became, as all contemporary authorities agree, if not the greatest player of these works at least the greatest of her sex. Reichardt, a most com- Jpetent judge, heard her repeatedly in the winter of 1808-09 and recorded a highly favorable impression of her. Well might the master call her his "Dorothea-Cacilia!" In that delightful letter, in which the young Felix Mendelssohn describes his visit at Milan (1831) to the Ertmanns, "the most agreeable, cultured people conceivable, both in love as if they were a bridal couple, and yet married 34 years," where he and the lady delighted each other by turns in the performance of Beet- Vhoven's compositions and "the old General, who now appeared in his stately gray commander's uniform, wearing many orders, was very happy and wept with joy"; and in the intervals he told "the loveliest anecdotes about Beethoven, how, in the evening when she played for him, he used the candle snuffers as a toothpick, etc." In this letter there is one touching and beautiful reminiscence of the Baroness. "She related," says Mendelssohn, "that when she lost her last child, Beethoven at first did not want to come into the house; at length he invited her to visit him, and when she came he sat himself down at the pianoforte and said simply: 'We will now talk to each other in tones,' and for over an hour played without stopping, and as she remarked: 'he told me everything, and at last brought me comfort.'"
It was noted in a former chapter, that the leading female pianists also of Vienna were divided into pro and anti Beethovenists. The former party just at this time gained a valuable accession in a young lady who, during her five years' residence