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Vienna, January 20, 1816. My dear Ries:I see from your letter of January 18, that you have safely received the two things—as no couriers are going, the post is safest, but it costs a great deal, I will send you the bill for what I have paid here for copying and postage soon, it is very little for an Englishman but all the more for a poor Austrian musician! See that Mr. B.' recompenses me for this, since he has the compositions for England very cheaply. Neate, who has been about to go every moment, but always remains, will bring the overtures with him, I have always communicated to him the injunctions touching them given by you and our deceased S.2—the symphony will be dedicated to the Empress of Russia. The pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A must not be published before the month of June, the publisher cannot be earlier—tell this at once to B. my dear good R. The Sonata with violin, which will go from here by the next post, may also be published in London in the month of May—but the Trio later. (It will also arrive by the next post) I will fix the date myself later. And now my heartiest thanks dear Ries, for all the kindness you have shown to me and particularly for the corrections. Heaven bless you and make your progress ever greater in which I take a cordial interest—commend me to your wife. It is necessary here to state certain facts, both to explain the failure of Mr. Neate to sell any of these works to the London publishers, and to render some of the letters to come intelligible. The Philharmonic Society was an association of the first musicians of London and its vicinity, and no city on earth could at that time present such an array of great names. Here are a few of them taken alphabetically from its roll: Atwood, Ayrton, Bridgetower, Clementi, Cramer, Carnaby, Dragonetti, Horsley, Lindley, Mazzinghi, Mori, Naldi, Novello, Ries, Shield, Smart, Spagnoletti, Viotti, Watts, S. Webbe, Yanewicz. Imagine the disappointment of these men, fresh from the performance of the C minor Symphony, when they played through the overtures to "The Ruins of Athens" and "King Stephen," which, however interesting to a Hungarian audience as introductions to a patriotic prologue and epilogue in the theatre, possess none of those great qualities expected from Beethoven and demanded in a concert overture! Nor was the "Namensfeier" thought worthy of its author. Ries speaks thus of this matter: After I had with much trouble persuaded the Philharmonic Society to permit me to order three overtures from him, which should remain its property, he sent me three, not one of which, in view of Beethoven's great name and the character of these concerts, could be performed, because
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expectation was tense and more than the ordinary was asked of Beethoven. A few years later he published all three and the Society did not think it worth while to complain. Amongst them was the overture to "The Ruins of Athens," which I consider unworthy of him. But when it became known that neither of the three—Op. 115 possibly excepted—was new, and that not one of them had been composed to meet the Society's order, is it surprising that this act of Beethoven's was deemed unworthy of him, disrespectful, nay, an insult to the Society, and resented accordingly? Another matter was personal with Mr. Birchall. That publisher, having at last (early in February) received the last of the works purchased by him, immediately deposited with Coutts and Co. the sum agreed upon, to the composer's credit, and forwarded the following "Declaration" to Vienna for signature, leaving the day of the month blank—as it still remains—to be inserted when signed:Received .... March, 1816, of Mr. Robert Birchall—Music Seller, 133 New Bond Street, London—the sum of One Hundred and thirty Gold Dutch Ducats, value in English Currency Sixty-five Pounds, for all my Copyright and Interest, present and future, vested or contingent, or otherwise within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the four following Compositions or Pieces of Music composed or arranged by me, viz.:1st. A Grand Battle Sinfonia, descriptive of the Battle and Victory at Vittoria, adapted for the Pianoforte and dedicated to his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent—40 Ducats. 2nd. A Grand Symphony in the Key of A, adapted to the Pianoforte and dedicated to
3rd. A Grand Trio for the Pianoforte, Violon and Violoncello in the Key of B. 4th. A Sonata for the Pianoforte with an Accompaniment for the Violin in the Key of G, dedicated to And, in consideration of such payment I hereby for myself, my Executors and Administrators promise and engage to execute a proper Assignment thereof to him, his Executors and Administrators or Assignees at his or their Request and Costs, as he or they shall direct. And I likewise promise and engage as above, that none of the above shall be published in any foreign Country, before the time and day fixed and agreed on for such Publication between R. Birchall and myself shall arrive. Instead of this document, so indispensable for his security, the publisher received a new demand from Beethoven!—one for five pounds additional, as per memorandum:
Postage to Amsterdam
The very unfavorable impression which this proceeding made upon the mind of Mr. Birchall may readily be conceived. These £5 are the 10 ducats mentioned in the following letter, portions of which were suppressed when printed by Ries: Vienna, May 8, 1816. My answer comes somewhat tardily; but I was ill, had much to do and it was impossible for me to answer you sooner; now only the most necessary things—not a Heller of the 10 ducats in gold has as yet arrived, and I am already beginning to believe, that the Englishmen, too, are only magnanimous in foreign lands; so also with the Prince Regent from whom I have not even received the copyist's fees for my Battle sent to him, not even written or oral thanks;1 Fries here deducted 6 fl. Convention money. On the receipt of the money from Birchall, besides 15 fl. Convention money for postage, tell B. this—and see that you yourself get the draft for the 10 ducats, otherwise it will go like the first time—what you tell me about Neate's undertaking would be desirable for me. I need it, my salary amounts to 3400 florins in paper, I pay 1100 house-rent, my servant and his wife nearly 900 fl. Calculate what remains. Moreover, I have got to care wholly for my little nephew. He is till now still in the Institute; this costs me close to 1100 fl. and is poor besides, so that I must establish myself in decent housekeeping so that I can have him with me. How much one must earn in order to live here; and yet there is never an end for—for—for—you know it already. As to the dedications another time. A few orders besides the concert would also be welcome from the Philharmonic Society—besides my dear pupil Ries ought to sit down and dedicate something good to me to which the master would also respond and repay kind with kind. How shall I send you my portrait! I hope too, to have news from Neate, urge him on a bit, be assured of my sincere interest in your futures. Urge Neate on to work and composition. All things lovely to your wife. Unfortunately I have none. I found only one, whom I shall doubtless never possess; but am not a woman hater on that account. Your true friend, Beethoven. Immediately upon the receipt of this letter, Ries spoke with Mr. Birchall, who next day (March 15), deposited the £5 with Coutts and Co.; but month after month passed and still the "Declaration" with Beethoven's signature did not arrive. Of the justice, propriety, delicacy of this new demand, nothing need be said; its historical importance is due entirely to the very unfavorable effect which it and the correspondence relating to it produced upon the minds of the London publishers. Mr. Neate was in some degree prepared for the coldness with which those gentlemen received his proposals in Beethoven's behalf, by a letter written to him after Ungrounded Suspicion Of Neate 337
'The Prince Regent had never ordered this work nor had his permission to present and dedicate it to him been asked before sending it. Beethoven resented the fact that he had not been recompensed until the day of his death.
the trial of the overtures. One sentence in it he remembered word for word: "For God's sake, don't buy anything of Beethoven!" But he was not prepared for the utter refusal in all quarters to listen to him. He besought Mr. Birchall to purchase the overtures. The reply was: "I would not print them, if you would give me them gratis."
As to the score of the Symphony in A (the Seventh), it was folly to expect that the Philharmonic Society would pay a large sum for the manuscript of a work already (March 6) advertised in Vienna for subscription at the price of twenty-five florins.
It is another instance of Beethoven's unlucky tendency to suspect the conduct and motives of others, that seeing in a newspaper a notice of the production of one of his Symphonies by the Philharmonic Society, he at once assumed that it was the Seventh and that Neate had given the use of his manuscript!Under such circumstances Neate could do nothing for Beethoven; nor could he well disclose the true causes of his failure; so the composer characteristically assumed that he would do nothing, and, as will be seen, gave vent to his wrath in terms equally bitter and unjust. The letters selected pertaining to these transactions are reserved for their places in chronological order.
Linke's departure with the Erdodys to Croatia was noted in the last chapter; he returned to Vienna in the Autumn in season to enable Schuppanzigh to begin his winter season of quartets in November. They were given in the hall of the hotel "Zum Romischen Kaiser," and had now ended. So, too, had ended the engagement of Schuppanzigh, Weiss and Linke with Rasoumowsky. The destruction of his palace, the approach of old age, and failing sight, induced him now to dismiss them with suitable pensions from his service. Schuppanzigh went to Russia; Linke returned to the Erdodys and Weiss remained in Vienna. Before their departure the first two gave each a farewell concert. Schuppanzigh's took place in the palace of Count Deym, the programme being made up entirely of Beethoven's works, viz: Quartet C major, Op. 59; Quintet for Wind-instruments and Pianoforte, Op. 16, Carl Czerny, pianist; and the Septet, Op. 20. Beethoven "entered at the beginning of the quartet" and shared in the deafening applause of the crowded audience. Czerny relates: "When I played the Quintet with Wind-instruments at Schuppanzigh's concert, I allowed myself in my youthful frivolity, many changes— increasing the difficulty of passages, using the higher octaves, etc. Beethoven very properly and severely upbraided me for it in the presence of Schuppanzigh, Linke and the other players. The next day I received from him the following letter, which I copy exactly from the original lying before me":
I cannot see you to-day, to-morrow I will come to you in person to talk with you. I burst out so yesterday, I was very sorry after it had happened, but you must pardon it in an author who would have preferred to hear his work just as he wrote it, beautifully as you played otherwise. I will make it good publicly to-morrow at the Violoncello Sonata. Be assured that as an artist I cherish the best of good feeling for you and shall always strive to manifest it.
Linke's concert took place on the 18th of February in the hall of the "RSmischer Kaiser," the programme, except a Rondoletto for the Violoncello by Romberg, being also entirely Beethoven. Stainer von Felsburg played the new Sonata, Op. 101, and Czerny the pianoforte part of one of the Sonatas, Op. 102, on which occasion the composer "made it good publicly." And so, except for an occasional visit to Vienna by Linke, two more of our old acquaintances disappear for several years; also Hummel and Wild. Hummel we shall meet again beside Beethoven's death-bed; Wild no more. An album-leaf containing a canon, "Ars longa, vita brevis est" and "A happy journey, my dear Hummel, think occasionally of your friend, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vienna, April 4, 1816," was the farewell to the pianist and composer. On the 20th, Wild gave a little musical festival "in the home of an art-lover," at which he sang the "Adelaide" and "An die Hoffnung," Op. 94. Beethoven was present and played the accompaniments. And this was his farewell to the singer. On April 3d, Beethoven wrote the following letter to Ries: My dear Ries:Hr. B. has probably received the Trio and Sonata by this time, in the last letter I asked 10 ducats more for copying and postage, probably you will work out these 10 ducats for me—I always have some worriment lest you are spending a great deal for me for postage, I greatly wish that you would be so kind to charge up to me all my letters to you as I want to have you reimbursed from here by the house of Fries to the house of Coutts in London. Unless the publisher B. objects, in which case he must send me notice immediately by post, the Sonata with violin will appear here on June 15th, the Trio on July 15th, concerning the pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony, I will inform Herr B. when it is to come out. Neate must now be in London; I gave him to carry with him a number of my compositions; and he promised to put them to the best use for me, greet him for me. Archduke Rudolph also plays your works with me, my dear Ries, of which II sogno pleases me particularly. Farewell, my dear R., commend me to your dear wife as well as all the pretty English women to whom it might give pleasure.