A Season In Financial Doldrums 209

judgment they are those, which occupy the last leaves of the sketchbook (Petter's) partly filled in the Spring of 1809.1 There was no call nor special inducement for the immediate completion of any orchestral work. Since the "Egmont" Overture and the "Pastoral" Symphony, produced by Schuppanzigh in May, and the "Coriolan" Overture at a charity concert on July 14, there is but one notice of the performance of any one of Beethoven's greater compositions, and even this (November 15) is very doubtful. In truth, this was no season for grand musical entertainments with a view to private emolument. The Finance Patent of February shed its baleful influence on the just and the unjust and compelled all classes alike to study and practise economy. Even the old favorite of the Vienna public, Franz Clement, returning from a musical tour in Russia, and Sebastian Meier, "although Handel's 'Acis and Galatea' was performed" in their annual Akademies, "had few hearers." Two or three virtuosos were able to fill small halls; but no performances on a grand scale were ventured, except for charities; at these the wealthy appeared in force, it being a pleasant and fashionable method of doing something to alleviate the general distress. Beethoven was not the man to hasten his works to completion when there was no prospect of making either in public or in private any present use of them. The ascertained compositions of this year were: I. Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97.

II. Music to "Die Ruinen von Athen," Epilogue by A. von Kotzebue. III. Music to "Konig Stephan, Ungarn's erster Wohlthater," a

Prologue by A. von Kotzebue. IV. Song by StoU, "An die Geliebte."

The publications: I. Grand Concerto pour le Pianoforte avec accompagnement de VOrchestre compose' et didii a son AUesse Impiriale Rodolphe Archiduc, etc. Op. 73. E-flat. Breitkopf and Hartel, in February. II. Four Ariettas and a Duet. Op. 82. (With Italian and German words: "Dimmi ben mio," "T'intendo," "Che fa, che fa il mio bene," "Che fa il mio bene" and "Odi l'aura.") Breitkopf and Hartel, March. III. Overture to Goethe's "Egmont." Op. 84. Orchestral parts. Breitkopf and Hartel, March.

IV. Fantasia for Pianoforte, Orchestra and Chorus; dedicated to Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria. Op. 80. Breitkopf and Hartel, July.

'Nottebohm contends that the book extends from the end of 1811 to the beginning of 1813. See "Zweit. Beeth.," pp. 289, 290. V. Les Adieux, VAbsence et le Retour. Sonate pour le Pianoforte composie et dMiie a son Altesse Imperiale VArchiduc Rodolphe, etc. Op. 81. E-flat. Breitkopf and Hartel, July. VI. Three Songs by Goethe with Pianoforte accompaniment. Dedicated to Princess Kinsky. ("Trocknet nicht," "Was zieht mir das Herz," "Kleine Blumen, kleine Blatter.") Op. 83. Breitkopf and Hartel, October. VII. "Christus am Olberg." Oratorio. Op. 85. Score. Breitkopf and Hartel, October. Chapter XII The Year 1812—Beethoven's Finances—The Austrian "Finanzpatent"—Beethoven and Graz—Second Sojourn in Teplitz—Beethoven and Goethe—Amalie Sebald— Beethoven in Linz—Meddles with his Brother's Domestic Affairs—Rode and the Sonata, Op. 96—Spohr—Malzel and his Metronome—The Canon to Malzel.

BEETHOVEN must again, for the present, be made his own biographer. The selections from his correspondence taken for this purpose will all gain in interest and perspicuity by first giving the notes to Zmeskall and the Archduke so as to afford a sort of background for the more important ones, and by introducing here the explanations which numerous allusions demand in a short series of observations. Schindler writes in 1840: In 1811, the Austrian Finanzpatent reduced these 4000 florins to onefifth [the reference being to Beethoven's annuity]; [and in I860]: How severely our composer was hit by it is seen in the circumstance that also all contracts which had to do with paper money were reduced to onefifth of the specified sum. In accordance with this Beethoven's annuity of 4000 florins in bank-notes became subject to reduction. It was reduced to 800 florins in paper money. An error of some kind must be here involved. This seems so obvious and palpable, as to render it hardly credible that, in all the long years since 1840, it has not caught the attention of some one writer on Beethoven and induced him to cast his eye for a moment upon the Patent itself. The depreciation of a national paper currency to null and its subsequent repudiation by the Government that emitted it is, in effect, a domestic forced loan equal in amount to the sum issued; and the more gradual its depreciation, so much the more likely is the public burden to be general and in some degree equalized. Such a forced loan was the "Continental Currency" issued by the American Congress to sustain the war against England in 1775-83; and such were the French "Assignats" a few years later; and such, to the amount of 80 per centum of all the paper in circulation, was the substitution of notes of redemption for the bank-notes at the rate of one for five, by the Austrian Finanz-Patent, promulgated February 20th, and put in force March 15th, 1811. But if Schindler be correct, the Imperial Royal Government went farther and committed the folly and injustice—with little or no advantage to itself— of issuing and enforcing a decree which, in its effect, simply confiscated 80 per centum of all domestic indebtedness—where the payment in specie or its equivalent was not stipulated—to the gain of the debtor and the loss of the creditor! According to more modern ideas of national economy, those ordinances of the Finanz-Patent of February 20, which relate to "continuing, periodically recurring payments of interest, incomes, farm-rents, pensions, maintenance moneys, annuities, etc.," were certainly unwise and uncalled-for; but they involved no such blunder as that. The Government assumed that every contract of pecuniary obligation between Austrian subjects, wherein special payment or its equivalent was not stipulated, was payable in banknotes; and that the real indebtedness under any such contract was in justice and equity to be determined and measured by the value in silver of the bank-notes at the date of the instrument. This second proposition is fallacious and deceptive, because such contracts rested upon the necessary presumptions that the faith and honor of the supreme authority were pledged to the future redemption of its paper at par and that the pledge would be redeemed. But this was not seen or was not regarded. Consequently, there was annexed to the Finanz-Patent a table showing decimally the average equivalent of the silver florin in the bank-notes, month by month, from January, 1799 to March, 1811. This table was made a "Scala tiber den Cours der Bancozettel nach welchem die Zahlungen zufolge des Paragraphs 13 und 14 des Patents vom 20 Hornung, 1811, zu leisten sind." ("Scale of the rate of exchange according to which payments are to be made in accordance with paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Patent of February 20, 1811.") We copy two of the months as examples:


Beethoven's annuity contract bore date March 1, 1809, when one florin in silver was equal to two and forty-eight hundredths in bank-notes. Hence his 4000 did not shrink to 800 but to 1612^;l Legal Aspect Of The Annuity Contract 213

'Kinsky, 725, 80; Archduke Rudolph, 604, 84; Lobkowitz, 282, 26.

in paper money; but this paper money then was intended to be, and for some time was, equal to silver. More than this he could not legally demand; but the original reasons for the contract, the intentions of the donors and the mutual understanding of the parties gave him a perfect claim in equity for the full amount of 4000 florins in notes of redemption. Nor did the princes hesitate to admit its justice. They were men of honor and this was a debt of honor. Archduke Rudolph immediately gave the necessary order and instructions in writing; and Beethoven's anxiety because the others had not yet given him the same security was justified by the event, although he might have expressed it rather more delicately.1

The opening of the new theatre in Pesth not having taken place in October as proposed, was deferred to Sunday, February 9th, that it might bear the character of a festivity in honor of the Emperor's birthday (October 12th). The performances were repeated on the 10th and 11th to crowded audiences which received Beethoven's music to "King Stephen" and "The Ruins of Athens" (reported to be "very original, excellent and worthy of its master") with clamorous applause. Beethoven had been so favorably impressed with Kotzebue's texts that in January, 1812, he applied to him for an opera text: Highly respected, highly honored Sir: While writing music for the Hungarians to your prologue and epilogue, I could not refrain from the lively wish to possess an opera from your unique talent, romantic, serious, heroico-comic or sentimental, as you please; in short, anything to your liking I would accept with pleasure. True, I should prefer a big subject from history and particularly one from the darker periods, Attila, etc., for instance; but I should accept with thanks anything and any subject coming from you, from your poetical spirit, which I could translate into my musical. Prince Lobkowitz, who sends his greetings, and who now has the sole direction of the opera, will certainly grant you an honorarium commensurate with your deserts. Do not refuse my request, you will find

'After the large payment for a year and a quarter which Beethoven received from Kinsky on July 81, 1810, the Prince continued to pay 450 florins regularly every quarter but on July 26 (from March to May), 1811, with the memorandum: "450 bank-notes, or 90 florins notes of redemption," and again the same on August 30 (for June-August), 1811;—i. e., one-fifth of the stipulated sum. It was not until the issuance of the Court Decree of September 13, 1811, that the more favorable rate of the above table was established. It is to be assumed that the payments thereafter were made in accordance with the scale, 185 florins in notes of redemption for 450 florins; the receipts have not been preserved. (See "Beethoven und Prinz Kinsky," Frimmel's "II. BeethovenJahrbuch," 1909, by V. Kratochvil.) Lobkowitz's payments were suspended in September, 1811, for nearly four years, his assumption of the management of the theatres having thrown his financial affairs into disorder and caused the sequestration of his estates.

« ForrigeFortsett »