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Production Of The Choral Fantasia 129
that we ought to have one of the women singers who will sing for us, sing an aria first—then we will make two numbers out of the Mass, but with German text, find out who can do this for us. It need not be a masterpiece, provided it suits the Mass well." And again: "Be clever in regard to Milder—say to her only that to-day you are begging her in my name not to sing anywhere else, to-morrow I will come in person to kiss the hem of her garment— but do not forget Marconi. . . ."
Milder was to sing the aria "Ah, perfido! spergiuro," said Rockel, and accepted the invitation at once. But an unlucky quarrel provoked by Beethoven resulted in her refusal. After other attempts, Rockel engaged Fraulein Kilitzky, Schuppanzigh's sister-in-law. Being a young and inexperienced singer, her friends wrought her up to such a point that when Beethoven led her upon the stage and left her, stage fright overcame her and she made wretched work of the aria. Reichardt in a letter describes the Akademie: I accepted the kind offer of Prince Lobkowitz to let me sit in his box with hearty thanks. There we endured, in the bitterest cold, too, from half past six, to half past ten, and made the experience that it is easy to get too much of a good thing and still more of a loud. Nevertheless, I could no more leave the box before the end than could the exceedingly good-natured and delicate Prince, for the box was in the first balcony near the stage, so that the orchestra and Beethoven conducting it in the middle below us, were near at hand; thus many a failure in the performance vexed our patience in the highest degree. . . . Singers and orchestra were composed of heterogeneous elements, and it had been found impossible to get a single full rehearsal for all the pieces to be performed, all filled with the greatest difficulties. Such a programme, exclusive of the Choral Fantasia, was certainly an ample provision for an evening's entertainment of the most insatiably musical enthusiast; nor could a grander termination of the concert be desired than the Finale of the C minor Symphony; but to defer that work until the close was to incur the risk of endangering its effect by presenting it to an audience too weary for the close attention needful on first hearing to its fair comprehension and appreciation. This Beethoven felt, and so, says Czerny, there came to him shortly before the idea of writing a brilliant piece for this concert. He chose a song which he had composed many years before,1 planned the variations, the chorus, etc., and the poet Kuffner was called upon to write the words in a hurry according to Beethoven's
'Czerny did not know that Beethoven had formed the idea of this work full eight years before. See notice on the Petter sketchbook ante. Chapter II. hints. Thus originated the Choral Fantasia, Op. 80. It was finished so late that it could scarcely be sufficiently rehearsed. Beethoven related this in my presence in order to explain why, at the concert, he had had it repeated. "Some of the instruments had counted wrong in the rests," he said; "if I had let them play a few measures more the most horrible dissonances would have resulted. I had to make an interruption." The particulars of this scene, in which Reichardt suffered so, are more or less circumstantially related by Ries, Seyfried, Czerny, Moscheles and Dolezalek. Their statements when compared are not inconsistent and supplement each other, except as to Ries, whose memory evidently exaggerated what really occurred. Substantially they are as follows: Seyfried (Appendix to "Beethoven's Studien," p. 15): When the master brought out his orchestral Fantasia with choruses, he arranged with me at the somewhat hurried rehearsal, with wet voice-parts as usual, that the second variation should be played without the repeat. In the evening, however, absorbed in his creation, he forgot all about the instructions which he had given, repeated the first part while the orchestra accompanied the second, which sounded not altogether edifying. A trifle too late, the Concertmaster, Unrath, noticed the mistake, looked in surprise at his lost companions, stopped playing and called out drily: "Again!" A little displeased, the violinist Anton Wranitsky asked "With repeats?" "Yes," came the answer, and now the thing went straight as a string. The "Allg. Mus. Zeit." reported: The wind-instruments varied the theme which Beethoven had previously played on the pianoforte. The turn came to the oboes. The clarinets, if I am not mistaken, make a mistake in the count and enter at once. A curious mixture of tones results. Beethoven jumps up, tries to silence the clarinets, but does not succeed until he has called out quite loudly and rather ill-temperedly: "Stop, stop! That will not do! Again—again!"
Czerny: In the Pianoforte with chorus he called out at the mistake: "Wrong, badly played, wrong, again!" Several musicians wanted to go away.
Dolezalek: He jumped up, ran to the desks and pointed out the place. Moscheles: I remember having been present at the performance in question, seated in a corner of the gallery, in the Theater-an-der-Wien. During the last movement of the Fantasia I perceived that, like a run-away carriage going down-hill, an overturn was inevitable. Almost immediately after it was, that I saw Beethoven give the signal for stopping. His voice was not heard; but he had probably given directions where to begin again, and after a moment's respectful silence on the part of the audience, the orchestra recommenced and the performance proceeded without further mistakes or stoppage. To those who are acquainted with the work, it may be interesting to know the precise point at which the mistake occurred. It was in the passage where for several pages every three bars make up a triple rhythm.
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Seyfried says further: At first he could not understand that he had in a manner humiliated the musicians. He thought it was a duty to correct an error that had been made and that the audience was entitled to hear everything properly played, for its money. But he readily and heartily begged the pardon of the orchestra for the humiliation to which he had subjected it, and was honest enough to spread the story himself and assume all responsibility for his own absence of mind. The pecuniary results of this concert to Beethoven are not known. One of the two December concerts for the Widows and Orphans Fund was on the 22d, the same evening as Beethoven's; the other on the next. The vocal work selected was, in compliment to the venerable Haydn, his "Ritorno di Tobia," first performed in these concerts thirty-three years before. Being too short to fill out the evening, it was preceded, on the 22d, by an orchestral fantasia of Neukomm—on the 23d by a pianoforte concerto of Beethoven. Ries says that Beethoven asked him to play his fourth Concerto in G, giving him only five days in which to learn it. Thinking the time too short, Ries asked permission to play the C minor Concerto instead. Beethoven in a rage went to young Stein, who was wise enough to accept the offer; but as he could not prepare the Concerto in time, he begged Beethoven, on the day before the concert, as Ries had done, for permission to play the C minor Concerto. Beethoven had to acquiesce. Whether the fault was the theatre's, the orchestra's, or the player's, says Ries, the Concerto made no effect. Beethoven was very angry. For this concert Beethoven received 100 florins from Esterhazy, who apparently ranked the composer with the leading actors of the theatre. Towards the close of 1808, dementi again arrived in Vienna and was not a little surprised to learn from Beethoven that he had not yet received from London payment for the compositions which he had sold to Clementi in April, 1807. He wrote on December 28, 1808, to his partner asking that the money, £200, due Beethoven, as he had delivered the six compositions contracted for, be sent at once. But in September, 1809, the account had not yet been liquidated, as we shall see. There is reason to believe that a large number of compositions of greater or less extent was projected and in part sketched during this year; but the number known to have been completed, and therefore properly bearing the date 1808, is small. These compositions are: The "Pastoral" Symphony, Op. 69; the Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 69; the Trios for Pianoforte, Violin and Violoncello, in D and E-flat, Op. 70; the Fantasia for Pianoforte, Orchestra and Chorus, Op. 80; the Song (with four melodies) "Die Sehnsucht."
The Sonata for Pianoforte and 'cello was sketched in 1807, and practically completed in that year, the only sketches appearing among those of 1808 being a couple evidently made while the work was being written out. The earlier sketches appear among those of the C minor Symphony. It is dedicated to Gleichenstein. On June 8 Beethoven offered it, as has been seen, to Breitkopf and Hartel, and it was included in the works for which Hartel signed a contract in person on September 14. On January 7, 1809, Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Hartel asking that Gleichenstein's title "K. K. Hofconcipist" be elided from the dedication, because it was distasteful to him. It was published in 1809, but with a large number of errors which gave occasion to three letters from the composer to the publishers. (La Mara, "Musikerbriefe aus fiinf Jahrhunderten," 1886; Frimmel, "II. Beethoven Jahrbuch"; Kalischer, "Beethoven's Samtliche Briefe," II, 262— where the date is incorrectly given as 1815.) The two Trios are dedicated to Countess Erdody, in whose house Beethoven lived when they were written. The first sketches for them found by Nottebohm belong to the second in E-flat and occur amongst the sketches for the Finale of the "Pastoral" symphony. The Trios are not mentioned in the first letter, in which Beethoven offers the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies besides other works to Breitkopf and Hartel. In the second letter, of July, Beethoven speaks of two pianoforte sonatas, and in a later letter of two trios. This has led to the conclusion that Beethoven first conceived them as solo sonatas and later developed them as trios. Beethoven played them at Countess Erdody's in the Christmastide of 1808, when Reichardt was present; he wrote an enthusiastic account of them under date December 31. On May 26, Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Hartel suggesting changes in the text and also asking that the name of Archduke Rudolph be substituted for that of Countess Erdody in the dedication. The reason given was that the Archduke had become fond of the works and Beethoven had observed that in such cases his patron felt a gentle regret when the music was dedicated to somebody else. Beethoven, of course, says nothing of his quarrel with the Countess (of which something will be said in the next chapter). There was a reconciliation, and Beethoven's solicitude for the Summary Of A Year's Work 133
feelings of the Archduke seems to have evaporated; at any rate, the original dedication remained. The Choral Fantasia was obviously finished only a short time before its performance and is plainly one of the few compositions on which Beethoven worked continuously after once beginning it, though the plan of the work had occurred to him long before. The early sketch, to which allusion has been made, shows that the use of the melody of the song "Gegenliebe" was part of the original scheme. A sketchbook of 1808, whose contents were analyzed by Nottebohm ("Zweite Beethoveniana," p. 495), is devoted entirely to the Fantasia and the Pianoforte Concerto in E-flat, which was not worked out till later. The most interesting disclosures of Nottebohm's study are that there is no hint of a pianoforte introduction such as Beethoven improvised at the performance; that Beethoven first thought of beginning with the string quartet of the orchestra; that work was begun before a text had been found; and that, as in the case of the Choral Symphony, of which the Fantasia is so interesting a prototype in miniature, Beethoven thought of paving the way for the introduction of the voices by words calling attention to the newcomers among the harmonious company (Hori ihr wohl ?). Czerny's statement that the text was written by Kuffner is questioned by Nottebohm, who points out that the poem is not included in the collected writings of that author, though all manner of fragments and trifles are. Because of the ingenuity and effectiveness with which the words were adapted to the music, Nottebohm suspects Treitschke of having written them in accordance with Beethoven's suggestions as to form and contents. The introductory pianoforte fantasia which was published to take the place of Beethoven's improvisation at the first performance, was composed in 1809.
The publications of the year 1808 were: 1. Trois Quatuors pour deux Violons, Alto et Violoncello, composes par Louis van Beethoven. (Euvre 59me. Dedicated to His Excellency Count von Rasoumowsky. Advertised by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir in the "Wiener Zeitung" of January 9. 2. Ouverture de Coriolan, Tragedie de M. de Collin, etc., composie et dedUe a Monsieur de Collin, etc., Op. 62. Advertised in the same place on the same date.
3. "Sehnsucht," by Goethe, No. 1 of the four melodies published as a supplement to the periodical "Prometheus" in April.