Beethoven And Amalie Von Sebald 229

I cannot yet say anything definite about myself, sometimes I feel better and next things appear to be in the old rut, or to be preparing a long sickness for me. If I could give expression to my thoughts concerning my sickness as definitely as I can express my thoughts in music, I should soon help myself. To-day too, I must keep to my bed. Farewell, and rejoice in your good health, dear Amalie.

Your friend


The sickness does not seem to increase exactly, but still to crawl onward, so no standstill! this is all that I can tell you about it. I must give up the thought of seeing you at home, mayhap your Samoyeds will relieve you of their journey to the Polar regions, if so come to


Thank you for all the things which you think good for my body, the necessities have been cared for—also my illness seems less obstinate. I deeply sympathize with you in the sorrow which must come to you because of the sickness of your mother. You know that I like to see you, but I cannot receive you otherwise than lying in bed. I may be able to get up to-morrow.—Farewell, dear Amalie—

Your somewhat weak


(In Amalie Sebald's handwriting):

My tyrant commands an account—here it is:

A fowl 1 fl. V. S.

The soup 9 kr.
With all my heart I hope that it may agree with you.

(In Beethoven's handwriting):

Tyrants do not pay, but the bill must be receipted, and you can do that best if you come in person. N. B. With the bill to your humbled tyrant.1

Hard upon the first letter to Amalie Sebald there followed a letter to Breitkopf and Hartel which confirms the statement concerning his illness and its cause and discloses his desire to leave Vienna, though temporarily, for concert purposes.

Beethoven's health must have rapidly improved after the 16th of September, for Chapelmaster GloggPs "Linzer MusikZeitung" announces his arrival in that place on October 5th:

'An album once owned by Amalie Sebald contains this inscription:
Ludwig van Beethoven

Den Sie, wenn Sie auch wollten,
Doch nicht vergessen sollten.

Teplitz, August 8, 1812.

The couplet might be rudely translated:

Whom, even if you would

Forget, you never should. "At that date," says Thayer, Beethoven "was not in Teplitz; the 1812 should doubtless be 1811, and was probably added long afterwards by some one who knew nothing of their meeting the previous year."

Now we have had the long wished for pleasure of having within our metropolis for several days the Orpheus and greatest musical poet of our time, Herr L. van Beethoven, and if Apollo is favorable to us we shall also have an opportunity to admire his art and report upon it to the readers of this journal.

He had come thither, probably direct via Prague and Budweis, to pass a few weeks with his brother Johann, who gave him a large room affording him a delightful view of the Danube with its busy landing-place and the lovely country beyond. Franz Glbggl— later a music publisher in Vienna, then a youth in Linz—shortly before his death wrote down his reminiscences of the composer, for use in this work.

Beethoven (he wrote) was on intimate terms of friendship with my father, chapelmaster of the cathedral in Linz, and when he was there in 1812, he was at our house every day and several times took meals with us. My father asked him for an Aequale for 6 trombones, as in his collection of old instruments he had a soprano and a quart trombone,1 whereas only alto, tenor and bass trombones were commonly used. Beethoven wanted to hear an Aequale such as was played at funerals in Linz, and my father appointed three trombone players one afternoon when Beethoven was expected to dine with us and had them play an Aequale as desired, after which Beethoven sat down and composed one for 62 trombones, which my father had his trombonists play, etc.

Among the cavaliers who were in Linz was Count von Donhoff, a great admirer of Beethoven, who gave several soirees in his honor during the composer's sojourn. I was present at one of these. Pieces were played and some of Beethoven's songs were sung, and he was requested to improvise on the pianoforte, which he did not wish to do. A table had been spread with food in an adjoining room and finally the company gathered about it. I was a young lad and Beethoven interested me so greatly that I remained always near him. Search was made for him in vain and finally the company sat down without him. He was in the next room and now began to improvise; all grew quiet and listened to him. I remained standing beside him at the pianoforte. He played for about an hour and one by one all gathered around him. Then it occurred to him that he had been called to the table long before—he hurried from his chair to the dining-room. At the door stood a table holding porcelain dishes. He stumbled against it and the dishes fell to the floor. Count Donhoff, a wealthy cavalier, laughed at the mishap and the company again sat down to the table with Beethoven. There was no more thought of playing music, for after Beethoven's fantasia half of the pianoforte strings were broken. I recall this fantasia because I was so fortunate as to have heard it so near him.

One of Beethoven's memoranda, copied into the Fischoff Manuscript, is this: "In 1812, I was in Linz on account of B."

'A bass trombone in F, a fourth lower than the tenor trombone. 'A slip of memory; the composition, which was used at Beethoven's funeral, is for 4 trombones.

Interference With A Brother's Affairs 231

Supposing this B. to stand for Beethoven's brother it confirms certain very unpleasant information obtained in Linz (1860), from perfectly competent authority, namely, that the principal object of the journey thither was to interfere in Johann's domestic affairs.

Soon after coming to Linz, the apothecary, being unmarried and having a house much too large for his necessities, leased a part of it to a physician from Vienna, whose wife's sister some time later joined them. She, Therese Obermeyer, was described as possessing a very graceful and finely porportioned figure, and a pleasing, though not beautiful, face. Johann van Beethoven soon became acquainted with her, liked her, and made her his housekeeper and—something more.

When it is considered, that the apothecary was a man of some thirty-five years, that he had gained his present position entirely by his own enterprise, perseverance and good fortune, and that, beyond advice and remonstrance, his brother had no more right to meddle in his private concerns than any stranger, it seems hardly credible that Beethoven, with all his eccentricities of character, could have come to Linz with precisely this purpose in view. But, according to the evidence, this was so. Had the motive of his visit been simply fraternal affection, and had he then and there first discovered his brother's improper connection with Therese, he could justly have employed earnest expostulation and entreaty to the end of breaking it off—but nothing more; if unheeded, he could leave the house. But to come thither for this express object, and employ force to accomplish it, was an indefensible assumption of authority. Such, at all events, was Johann's opinion, and he refused to submit to his brother's dictation. Excited by opposition, Ludwig resorted to any and every means to accomplish his purpose. He saw the Bishop about it. He applied to the civil authorities. He pushed the affair so earnestly, as at last to obtain an order to the police to remove the girl to Vienna if, on a certain day, she should be still found in Linz. The disgrace to the poor girl; the strong liking which Johann had for her; his natural mortification at not being allowed to be master in his own house; these and other similiar causes wrought him up almost to desperation. Beethoven, having carried his point, might certainly have borne his brother's anger with equanimity; might have felt pity for him and sought to soothe him in his trouble. But no; when Johann entered his room with reproaches and upbraidings, he, too, became angry and a scene ensued on which— let the curtain be drawn. It was, unhappily, more disgraceful to Ludwig than Johann. The apothecary, to use the language of the card-table, still had the commanding trump. Should he play it? The answer is in the parochial register at Linz. It is the record of marriage, November 8th, 1812, of Johann van Beethoven to Therese Obermeyer. There is some slight reason to think that the journey to Linz was suddenly undertaken in consequence of a false report that Johann was about to marry Therese, and with the intention to prevent it. Whether this be true or not he lost the game and immediately hastened away to Vienna, angry and mortified that the measures he had taken had led to the very result which he wished to prevent; had given to the unchaste girl the legal right to call him "brother," and had put it in Johann's power—should he in the future have cause to rue his wedding-day —to reproach him as the author of his misfortune. Indeed, when that unhappy future came, Johann always declared that Ludwig had driven him into this marriage; how the composer then viewed the matter, we shall see when the time comes. One sister-in-law had already been to Beethoven a bitter source of shame and mortification; and now the other?—Time must show. Here we part from the apothecary, and it will be long before we meet him again.

Beethoven's professional occupation in Linz was the completion of the Eighth Symphony, which, on Johann van Beethoven's doubtful authority, was wrought out from the sketches during walks to and upon the Postlingberg.1 Schindler's account of the origin of the famous Allegretto Scherzando adds a new name to our dramatis persoTue.

Johann Nepomuk Mfflzel was the son of an organ-builder of Ratisbon. He received a thorough musical education, and began life on his own account as a performer upon and a teacher of the pianoforte of no mean ability; but his extraordinary taste for mechanism and talent for invention soon led him to exchange the music-room for the workshop. It is somewhere related, that, having been appointed "Court Mechanician" at Vienna and having a work to execute for the Empress, rooms were assigned him, in 1809, in Schbnbrunn. Soon after this, Napoleon took possession of that palace, and while there played a game with Kempelen's chess player (of which Malzel had become proprietor), Allgaier

'Beethoven had begun to work industriously on the Eighth Symphony before he went to Teplitz; indeed, he seems to have reported to Breitkopf and Hartel in a letter which has not been preserved, but which was sent from Franzensbrunn, that he had finished two symphonies; for the "Allg. Mus. Zeit." of September 2,1812, says: "L. van Beethoven, who took the cures first at Tbplitz, then in Karlsbad and is now in Eger, has . . . . again composed two new symphonies." But the autograph bears the inscription: "Linz in October, 1812."

Association With Malzel


being (probably) the person concealed in the chest. The truth of the anecdote we cannot warrant. From Schbnbrunn, Malzel removed to rooms in Stein's pianoforte manufactory, and began the construction of a new and improved panharmonicon, having sold his first one in Paris. This was his principal employment in the year 1812. Carl Stein (from whom the author derived this information) remembered distinctly the frequent visits of Beethoven to Malzel's workshop, the great intimacy of the two men, and the persevering efforts of the mechanician to construct an ear-trumpet which the deaf composer should find of practical use and benefit. It is well known, that of the four instruments constructed, one was so far satisfactory as to be used occasionally for some eight or ten years. The necessity and practicability of inventing some kind of machine by which composers should be able to indicate exactly the duration of a piece of music—in other words, the rapidity of its execution—had been for several years subjects of wide discussion. An article in the "Wiener Vaterlandische Blatter" of October 13, 1813, entitled "Malzel's musikalischer Chronometer," reads:

On his journeys through Germany, France and Italy, as a consequence of his approved knowledge of mechanics and music, Herr Malzel had repeatedly been solicited by the most celebrated composers and conservatories to devote his talent to an invention which should be useful to the many, after many efforts by others had proved defective. He undertook the solution of the problem and succeeded in completely satisfying the first composers of Vienna with the model which was recently exhibited, which will be followed soon by the recognition of all others in the countries mentioned. The model has endured the most varied tests which the composers Salieri, Beethoven, Weigl, Gyrowetz and Hummel applied to it. Court Chapelmaster Salieri made the first application of this chronometer to a work of magnitude, Haydn's "Creation," and noted all the tempos according to the different degrees on the score, etc. Herr Beethoven looks upon this invention as a welcome means with which to secure the performance of his brilliant compositions in all places in the tempos conceived by him, which to his regret have so often been misunderstood.

The "Allg. Mus. Zeit." of December 1st devotes some two pages to the instrument, from which a few words of description are enough for our purpose:

The external parts of this chronometer .... consist of a small lever which is set in motion by a toothed wheel, the only one in the whole apparatus, by means of which and the resultant blows on a little wooden anvil, the measures are divided into equal intervals of time.

That "chronometer" was not what is now known as Malzel's "metronome."

« ForrigeFortsett »