Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Beethoven Guaranteed An Annuity 139

Agreement:

The daily proofs which Herr Ludwig van Beethoven is giving of his extraordinary talents and genius as musician and composer, awaken the desire that he surpass the great expectations which are justified by his past achievements. But as it has been demonstrated that only one who is as free from care as possible can devote himself to a single department of activity and create works of magnitude which are exalted and which ennoble art, the undersigned have decided to place Herr Ludwig van Beethoven in a position where the necessaries of life shall not cause him embarrassment or clog his powerful genius. To this end they bind themselves to pay him the fixed sum of 4000 (four thousand) florins a year, as follows: His Imperial Highness, Archduke Rudolph Fl. 1500

The Highborn Prince Lobkowitz "700

The Highborn Prince Ferdinand Kinsky "1800

Total Fl. 4000

which Herr van Beethoven is to collect in semi-annual installments, pro rata, against voucher, from each of these contributors. The undersigned are pledged to pay this annual salary until Herr van Beethoven receives an appointment which shall yield him the equivalent of the above sum. Should such an appointment not be received and Herr Ludwig van Beethoven be prevented from practising his art by an unfortunate accident or old age, the participants herein grant him the salary for life. In consideration of this Herr Ludwig van Beethoven pledges himself to make his domicile in Vienna, where the makers of this document live, or in a city in one of the other hereditary countries of His Austrian Imperial Majesty, and to depart from this domicile only for such set times as may be called for by his business or the interests of art, touching which, however, the high contributors must be consulted and to which they must give their consent. Given in Vienna, March 1, 1809. (L. S.) Rudolph, Archduke. (L. S.) Prince von Lobkowitz, Duke of Raudnitz. (L. S.) Ferdinand Prince Kinsky. This document bears in Beethoven's hand these words: Received On February 26, 1809 from the hands of Archduke Rudolph, R. H. The remarks in a former chapter upon the singular attraction for the young of Beethoven and his works are supported by this contract. Lobkowitz, it is true, was near the master's age, being then 35; but Rudolph and Kinsky were respectively but 21 and 27. Ries, who was then much with Beethoven, asserts that the contract with the King of Westphalia "was all ready; it lacked only the signature" before his Vienna friends moved in the matter and "settled a salary on him for life." He continues: The first fact I knew; of the second I was in ignorance until suddenly Chapelmaster Reichardt came to me and said: "Beethoven positively would not accept the post in Cassel; would I as Beethoven's only pupil go there on a smaller salary?" I did not believe the first, went at once to Beethoven to learn the truth about it and to ask his advice. I was turned away for three weeks—even my letters on the subject were unanswered. Finally I found Beethoven at the Ridotto. I went to him and told him the reason of my inquiries, whereupon he said in a cutting tone: "Sodo you think that you can fill a position which was offered to me?" He remained cold and repellant. The next morning I went to him to get an understanding. His servant said to me gruffly: "My master is not at home," although I heard him singing and playing in the next room. Since the servant positively refused to announce me I resolved to go right in; but he sprang to the door and pushed me back. Enraged by this I grabbed him by the throat and hurled him down. Beethoven, hearing the racket, dashed out and found his servant still lying on the floor and me pale as death. Angrily excited, I so deluged him with reproaches that he stood motionless and speechless with surprise. When the matter was finally explained to him he said, "I did not understand it so; I was told that you were trying to get the appointment behind my back." On my assuring him that I had not yet even given an answer, he at once went out with me to make the mistake good. But it was too late; I did not get the appointment, though it would have been a piece of great good fortune for me at that time. It requires no great sagacity to perceive from the text of the "Agreement," that neither of its signers had any expectation that Beethoven could ever perform the duties of an Imperial Conductor acceptably; and his hope of obtaining the title must have rested upon the influence, which he supposed Archduke Rudolph might exert upon Emperor Franz. Be this as it may, the composer was justly elated by the favorable change in his pecuniary condition; and his very natural exultation peeps out in the correspondence of the time. While the business was still undecided, Gleichenstein had departed on a visit to his native Freiburg, via Munich, taking with him a letter of introduction, the contents of which Beethoven himself thus epitomises: Here, my dear fellow, is the letter to Winter. First it says that you are my friend—secondly, what you are, namely K. K. Hofconcipist— thirdly, that you are not a connoisseur of music but nevertheless a friend of all that is beautiful and good—in view of which I have asked the chapelmaster in case anything of his is performed to let you participate in it.... The Invitation To Cassel Declined 141

On March 18, Gleichenstein received a copy or abstract of the contract enclosed in this: You see my dear, good Gleichenstein how honorable my remaining here has turned out for me—the title of Imperial Chapelmaster will also come later, etc. Write to me as soon as possible if you think that I ought to make the journey in the present warlike state of affairs—and if you are still firmly resolved to travel with me; several have advised me against it, but in this matter I shall follow you implicitly; since you already have a carriage it would have to be arranged that for a stretch you travel towards me and I towards you. Write quickly. Now you can help me hunt a wife, if you find a beautiful one in F. who yields a sigh to my harmonies, but it must be no Elise Burger, tackle her at once. But she must be beautiful, for I cannot love what is not beautiful —else I should love myself. The jesting on matrimony in this letter and the allusion to Burger's unlucky marriage with Christine Elizabeth Hahn, attest the writer's lightness of spirit, but are not to be taken seriously; for we shall soon find reason to believe that at this moment he had a very different project in view than to make a wife of the greatest beauty in Freiburg.1 Under date "Vienna, March 4,1809," Beethoven wrote a letter to Breitkopf and Hartel in which he informed them, by means of an inclosure to which he called their attention, of his change of plans touching the appointment at Cassel and told them that he was contemplating a "little journey," provided the "threatening stormclouds did not become more dense." The letter accompanied the Violoncello Sonata dedicated to Baron Gleichenstein and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, together with a memorandum of slight improvements which had suggested themselves to him at the performance; also a formula for the dedication of the Trios (then numbered 62) to Countess Erdody. About this time came out new compositions and new editions or arrangements of old ones which occupied the opus numbers from 59 to 66 and compelled Beethoven to change these proposed numbers, 59-62 to 67-70. The "Allg. Mus. Zeit." had printed a notice about the offer from Cassel in which Reichardt was represented as having been the intermediary in the negotiations. This brought out from Beethoven a correction dated April 5, addressed to Breitkopf and Hartel: Your letter was received by me with pleasure. I thank you for the article in the A. M. Z., only I wish that when occasion offers, you would make a correction in respect of Reichardt, I was not at all engaged by R., on the contrary, the Chief Chamberlain of his Majesty, the King of Westphalia, Count Truchsess-Waldburg, conveyed to me the offer of First Chapelmaster of H. R. H., the King of Westphalia. This offer was made before Reichardt came to Vienna and he was surprised, as he himself said, that nothing of it had reached his ears. R. took all manner of pains to dissuade me from going there. As I have besides very many reasons for questioning the character of Mr. R.—and he may, for political reasons, perhaps have communicated this to you—I think that I am entitled to the greater credence and that on an occasion which might easily be created, you will print the truth about the affair—since it is important as touching my honor. Also by next post I shall send you all three works, the oratorio, opera, mass—and ask no more for them than 250 florins in convention money—I do not believe that you will complain at this— I cannot find the letter just now in which Simrock offered 100 florins, convention money, for the mass, here too I could get this sum and even something more from the Chemical Printing Co., for them; I am not hoaxing you, that you know—I nevertheless send you all three works because I know that you will not take advantage of the fact. Make the inscriptions in French as you please. Next time you shall receive a few lines about the other matter—it is impossible to-day. Your most obedient Friend and Servant Beethoven. It need not be a pompous retraction, but the truth ought to be made plain.

'On this letter Dr. Riemann comments as follows: "This letter proves conclusively that in the spring of 1809, Beethoven was not yet thinking of a union with Therese Malfatti and that all letters to Gleichenstein containing hints of that nature are of later date. But it may safely be assumed that the settlement of a fixed income upon him together with the receipts from his compositions set Beethoven seriously to thinking of marriage. Although Dr. Malfatti, uncle of the sisters Therese and Anna, had been Beethoven's house physician since the death of Dr. Schmidt (February 13, 1808), it was not until some time in the course of the year 1809, that Beethoven's inclination towards Therese gradually developed until it led to a formal proposal of marriage in the spring of

Do not forget the First Chapelmaster, I laugh at such things, but there are Miserables who know how to dish up such things in the manner of the cook. The allusions to a tour in the letters to Gleichenstein and Breitkopf and Hartel, and the provision made in the Agreement for the composer's temporary absence from Austria, acquire a particular significance from one of the notes of Rockel's conversation, namely: "Beethoven in those days was full of the project of traveling, and a plan was marked out of visiting the German cities, then England and finally Spain; upon which last Rockel laid great stress. He was to have accompanied Beethoven; but he could not leave Vienna, on account of having so many of his brothers and sisters1 sent to him to care for."

'"One of these sisters," writes Thayer, "was sent to him (in 1807-8?), she then being but some twelve years of age. He gave her a good education, and brought her out as a singer, when Hummel fell in love with her, married her and withdrew her from the stage. I asked Rockel if she could by any possibility have been the person with whom Beethoven in 1809-10 had a marriage project? He proved to me that she was not. So that story is put at rest."

Relations With Franz Oliva 143

In March, 1809, Beethoven, forwarding a letter to his brother, "to be delivered at the apothecary shop 'To the Golden Crown'" in Linz, enclosed in it an envelope, inside of which he wrote the words quoted in a previous chapter, in which he prayed God to put feeling in place of insensibility into his brothers, and bemoaned the fact that, needing some one to help him, he knew not whither to turn. The breach between Beethoven and his brother Karl was now, in business matters, complete; and he needed some one to perform for him many little offices which he could not with propriety demand of Zmeskall, Gleichenstein or Rockel, even had they had the leisure and the will. Hence, about this time, was formed his connection with a certain Franz Oliva, clerk in the employ of Offenheimer and Herz. A singular obscurity rests upon this man's personal history and the exact nature of his relations to Beethoven—an obscurity which even the indefatigable investigator Ferdinand Luib did not succeed in removing. What is certain is this: the relations between them were exceedingly close up to the spring of 1812; afterwards less so; but never broken off entirely until the departure of Oliva in 1820 to St. Petersburg, where he found it for his interest to establish himself as a teacher of languages. In due time the "Wiener Zeitung" published an official notice from the Austrian Government calling upon him immediately to return and justify himself for overstaying his leave of absence under pain otherwise of being proceeded against under the emigration laws of the country. Oliva's reply to this was a very practical one; he took a wife, fixed his Lares and Penates in St. Petersburg and begat a daughter, who, under date of August 26, answered a letter of Otto Jahn's inquiring about her father's relations and correspondence with Beethoven by saying that a fire and the death of Oliva from cholera in 1848, had caused the loss and dissipation of Beethoven's letters and that she was unable to write the details of the intercourse between her father and Beethoven. Inasmuch as she fixed the beginning of this intercourse in 1814, it is not likely that her contribution to this history would have been valuable. But the threatening war-clouds became more dense. The same French armies which laid the foundations for Johann van Beethoven's prosperity not only prevented Ludwig's contemplated journey but affected him disastrously both pecuniarily and professionally. On May 4th, the Empress left Vienna with the Imperial family. Archduke Rudolph accompanied her, and Beethoven mourned his departure in the well-known first movement of the Sonata, Op. 81a. This work has been described by Marx as a

« ForrigeFortsett »