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Chapter XIV. The Year 1814—Success of "Wellington's
Chapter I The Year 1803—Cherubini's Operas in Vienna—Beethoven's Engagement at the Theater-an-der-Wien—"Christus am Olberg" again—Bridgetower and the "Kreutzer" Sonata— Negotiations with Thomson—New Friends—Mahler's Portrait of Beethoven.
KOTZEBUE, after a year of activity in Vienna as Alxinger's successor in the direction, under the banker Baron von Braun, of the Court Theatre, then a year of exile in Siberia (1800), whence he was recalled by that semi-maniac Paul, who was moved thereto by the delight which the little drama "Der Leibkutscher Peters III." had given him—then a short time in Jena, where his antagonism to Goethe broke out into an open quarrel, established himself in Berlin. There he began, with Garlieb Merkel (1802), the publication of a polemical literary journal called the "Freymiithige," Goethe, the Schlegels and their party being the objects of their polemics. Spazier's "Zeitung fur die Elegante Welt" (Leipsic) was its leading opponent, until the establishment of a new literary journal at Jena. At the beginning of 1803, Kotzebue was again in Vienna on his way to Italy. Some citations from the "Freymiithige" of this time have an especial value, as coming, beyond a doubt, from his pen. His position in society, his knowledge from experience of theatrical affairs in Vienna, his personal acquaintance with Beethoven and the other persons mentioned, all combine to enable him to speak with authority. An article in No. 58 (April 12) on the "Amusements of the Viennese after Carnival," gives a peep into the salon-life of the capital, and introduces to us divers matters of so much interest, as to excuse the want of novelty in certain parts.
.... Amateur concerts at which unconstrained pleasure prevails are frequent. The beginning is usually made with a quartet by Haydn or Mozart; then follows, let us say, an air by Salieri or Pae'r, then a pianoforte piece with or without another instrument obbligato, and the concert-closes as a rule with a chorus or something of the kind from a favorite opera. The most excellent pianoforte pieces that won admiration during the last carnival were a new quintet1 by Beethoven, clever, serious, full of deep significance and character, but occasionally a little too glaring, here and there Odenspriinge in the manner of this master; then a quartet by Anton Eberl, dedicated to the Empress, lighter in character, full of fine yet profound invention, originality, fire and strength, brilliant and imposing. Of all the musical compositions which have appeared of late these are certainly two of the best. Beethoven has for a short time past been engaged, at a considerable salary, by the Theater-an-der-Wien, and will soon produce at that playhouse an oratorio of his composition entitled "Christus am 0l- berg." Amongst the artists on the violin the most notable are Clement, Schuppanzigh (who gives the concerts in the Augarten in the summer) and Luigi Tomasini. Clement (Director of the orchestra an-der-Wien) is an admirable concert player; Schuppanzigh performs quartets very agreeably. Good dilettanti are Eppinger, Molitor and others. Great artists on the pianoforte are Beethofen [sic], Hummel, Madame Auernhammer and others. The famous Abbe Vogler is also here at present, and plays fugues in particular with great precision, although his rather heavy touch betrays the organist. Among the amateurs Baroness Ertmann plays with amazing precision, clearness and delicacy, and Fraulein Kurzbeck touches the keys with high intelligence and deep feeling. Mesdames von Frank and Natorp, formerly Gerardi and Sessi, are excellent singers. A few words may be added to this picture from other sources. Salieri's duties being now confined to the sacred music of the Imperial Chapel, Siissmayr being far gone in the consumption of which he died on Sept. 16 (of this year—1803), Conti retaining but the name of orchestral director (he too died the next year), Liechtenstein and Weigl were now the conductors of the Imperial Opera; Henneberg and Seyfried held the same position under Schikaneder, as in the old house, so now in the new.
Schuppanzigh's summer concerts in the Augarten, and Salieri's Widows and Orphans concerts at Christmas and in Holy Week, were still the only regular public ones. Vogler had come from Prague in December, and Paer, who had removed to Dresden at Easter, 1802, was again in Vienna to produce his cantata "Das Heilige Grab," at the Widows and Orphans Concert. It was a period of dearth at Vienna in operatic composition. At the Court Theatre Liechtenstein had failed disastrously; Weigl had not been able to follow up the success of his "CorsSr," and several years more elapsed before he obtained a permanent name in musical annals by his "Schweizerfamilie." Salieri's style had become too familiar to all Vienna
'Probably the Quintet for Pianoforte and Wind-instruments, Op. 16, published in March, 1801.
Cherubini's Operas In Vienna 3
longer to possess the charms of freshness and novelty. In the Theater-an-der-Wien, Teyber, Henneberg, Seyfried and others composed to order and executed their work satisfactorily enough —indeed, sometimes with decided, though fleeting, success. But no new work, for some time past, composed to the order of either of these theatres, had possessed such qualities as to secure a brilliant and prolonged existence. From another source, however, a new, fresh and powerful musical sensation had been experienced during the past year at both: and in this wise: Schikaneder produced, on the 23rd of March, a new opera which had been very favorably received at Paris, called "Lodoiska," the music composed "by a certain Cherubini." The applause gained by this opera induced the Court Theatre to send for the score of another opera by the same composer, and prepare it for production on the 14th of August, under the title "Die Tage der Gefahr." Schikaneder, with his usual shrewdness, meantime was secretly rehearsing the same work, of which Seyfried in the beginning of July had made the then long journey to Munich to obtain a copy, and on the 13th—one day in advance of the rival stage—the musical public was surprised and amused to see "announced on the bill-board of the Wiener Theater the new opera 'Graf Armand, oder Die zwei unvergessliche Tage.'" In the adaptation and performance of the work, each house had its points of superiority and of inferiority; on the whole, there was little to choose between them; the result in both was splendid. The rivalry between the two stages became very spirited. The Court Theatre selected from the new composer's other works the "Medea," and brought it out November 6. Schikaneder followed, December 18, with "Der Bernardsberg" ("Elise"), "sadly mutilated." Twenty years later Beethoven attested the ineffaceable impression which Cherubini's music had made upon him. While the music of the new master was thus attracting and delighting crowded audiences at both theatres, the wealthy and enterprising Baron Braun went to Paris and entered into negotiations with Cherubini, which resulted in his engagement to compose one or more operas for the Vienna stage. Besides this "a large number of new theatrical representations from Paris" were expected (in August, 1802) upon the Court stage. "Baron Braun, who is expected to return from Paris, is bringing the most excellent ballets and operas with him, all of which will be performed here most carefully according to the taste of the French." Thus the "Allg. Mus. Zeitung."