Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Fugues And Their Contents 389

Haughwitz, was compossed towards the end of the Summer, and the sketches show that Beethoven contemplated a setting for four voices. A Fugue in D major, for five stringed instruments, was completed on November 28, 1817, and was designed for the manuscript collection of Beethoven's works projected by Haslinger, who published it soon after Beethoven's death in 1827, as Op. 137. Beethoven was particularly interested in fugues at the time. "To make a fugue requires no particular skill," he said later to Holz; "in my study days I made dozens of them. But the fancy wishes also to assert its privileges, and to-day a new and really poetical element must be introduced into the old traditional form." The sketches for the conclusion of the Quintet fugue (Nottebohm, "Zweite Beethoveniana," p. 350) are mixed with notes from Bach and others showing how zealous were his studies in the form at that time. The year also saw work done on the Pianoforte Sonata in B-flat, Op. 106, and the beginning of the Symphony in D minor. The list of publications for the year is also very small:1. Sonata for Pianoforte, A major, Op. 101; Steiner and Co. 2. Two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violoncello, Op. 102, published, apparently in January, 1817, by Simrock in Bonn, and in 1819 by Artaria in Vienna. 3. Song: "So oder So"; as supplement in the "Modenzeitung" of February 25. 4. Song: "Ruf vom Berge"; supplement to Treitschke's poems, for which it had been composed at the close of 1816. 5. The canon: "Lerne Schweigen," written for Neate; supplement to Kanne's "Allg. Mus.-Zeit." March 6, and on June 5 with Payer's solution. 6. Volume III of the Welsh songs written for Thomson. Chapter XVIII The Year 1818—A Broadwood Pianoforte—Commission for an Oratorio—Conception of the Mass in D—The Nephew; A Mother's Struggle for Her Son—The Pianoforte Sonata in B-flat, Op. 106.

AN entry in an old "Porter's Book" of John Broadwood and Sons, manufacturers of pianofortes in London, offers an agreeable starting-point for the story of Beethoven's life in 1818. In this book the porter of the firm signs his name, Millet, to the record that on December 27, 1817, he took from the warehouse "A 6 octave Grand Pianoforte, No. 7,632, tin and deal case, Thomas Broadwood, Esq., marked |V- B.| care of F. E. J. Bareaux and Co., Trieste (a present to Mr. van Beethoven, Viene), deliv'd to Mr. Farlowes to be shipped." Some time previously Mr. Thomas Broadwood, the then head of the house, with a Mr. Goding (probably the rich brewer), visited the principal cities of the continent and doubtless became acquainted with Beethoven and offered to present to him one of the firm's pianofortes. On January 3, 1818, Mr. Broadwood seems to have informed Beethoven that the instrument had been shipped, and exactly one month later Beethoven sent the following acknowledgment to the generous donor:

Mon tres cher Ami Broadwood I

Jamais je n'eprouvais pas un grand Plaisir de ce que me causa votre Annonce decette Piano, avec qui vous m'honorSs de m'en faire prisent; je regarderai comme un Autel, ouje deposerai les plus belles offrandes de mon esprit au divine Apollon. A us sit 6t comme je recevrai votre Excellent Instrument, je vous enverrai d'en abord les Fruits de VInspiration des premiers moments, que j'y passerai, vous servir d'un souvenir de moi a vous mon tris cher B., et je ne souhaits ce que; qu'ils soient dignes de votre Instrument. Mon cher Monsieur et Ami recevhs ma plus grande Consideration de votre Ami et tres humble serviteur Louis van Beethoven. Vienne le Sme du mois Fevrier, 1818.

Delight In The BroadWood Pianoforte 391

This letter was sent to Broadwood by Joseph Anton Bridi of the firm of Bridi, Parisi and Co., in Vienna, who had evidently been commissioned to look after the delivery of the instrument to Beethoven after its arrival in Trieste. At least Bridi, in transmitting the letter to Broadwood under cover and date February 5, informs the latter that he had taken the proper steps to have the pianoforte sent to Vienna by Bareaux (or Barraux) and Co., and asks for instructions how to carry out what he understands to be the donor's desire that the instrument be delivered to Beethoven without his being put to any expense whatever, not even for the import duty. The latter charge must have been in the mind of Beethoven when he wrote a letter, without date, to Count Lichnowsky enclosing a document bearing on the case expressing the hope that he be permitted to receive the instrument and proposing to apply by word of mouth to Count Stadion, the Austrian Minister of Finance. Madame Streicher was also appealed to in the matter, Beethoven begging her in a letter to ask her "Cousin from Cracow" to get from the chief customs official in Vienna an order for the forwarding of the pianoforte, which could be sent to the custom house in Trieste. But neither Broadwood nor Beethoven was called on to pay the duty, the Austrian Exchequer remitting the charge. After some delay the pianoforte was delivered at Streicher's wareroom and later sent to Beethoven at Modling. While it was still in his possession, Streicher asked Potter to try it, saying that Moscheles and others could do nothing with it— the tone was beautiful but the action too heavy. Potter, who was familiar with the English instruments, found no difficulty in disclosing its admirable qualities. He told Beethoven, however, that it was out of tune, whereupon the latter replied in effect: "That's what they all say; they would like to tune it and spoil it, but they shall not touch it." Beethoven's delight in the pianoforte must have been great. Bridi reports to Broadwood that the composer already rejoiced in it in anticipation and expressed a desire to dedicate the first piece of music composed after its reception to the donor, "convinced that it would inspire something good." His jealousy of it seems to have been so great that he would not permit anybody to tune it except Stumpff, of London, who came with a letter of introduction from Broadwood.1

'Beethoven does not seem always to have maintained so reverential a feeling for the instrument as is indicated by the above statement. In Thayer's note-book the American editor of this biography found this anecdote: "Once Beethoven told Stein that some strings in his Broadwood Pf. were wanting, and caught up the bootjack and struck the keys with it to show." The case of the instrument, simple, plain but tasteful in design, is of mahogany and the structure generally of a solidity and strength paired with grace which caused no little surprise at the time. The compass is six octaves from C, five leger-lines below the bass staff. Above the keys is the inscription: Hoc Instrumentum est Tkomce Broadwood (Londini) donum, propter Ingenium illustrissimi Beethoven. On the board, back of the keys, is the name "Beethoven," inlaid in ebony, and below this the makers' mark: "John Broadwood and Sons, Makers of Instruments to His Majesty and the Princesses. Great Pulteney Street. Golden Square. London." To the right of the keyboard are the autograph names Frid. Kalkbrenner, Ferd. Ries, C. G. Ferrari, J. L. Cramer and C. Knyvett. The presence of these names gave rise to a theory which was widely spread, and is not yet wholly dissipated, that their owners had joined Mr. Broadwood in making the gift; it has also been stated that the gift came from the Philharmonic Society. This latter statement is disproved by the fact that the records of the Society contain no mention of such a transaction; as for the names of the virtuosi, they were no doubt scratched upon the instrument as a compliment to Beethoven and an evidence that they had played upon it. Beethoven kept the instrument as long as he lived. At the sale of his effects it was bought by Spina, the music publisher, for 181 florins; Spina gave it to Liszt, in whose house at Weimar it was up to his death. In 1887, Princess Marie Hohenlohe, daughter of Liszt's friend, the Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein, presented it to the National Museum in Buda-Pesth. The time had come for Beethoven to take his nephew from the home and institute of the Giannatasios. On January 6 he wrote to inform the director that Karl would leave his "admirable institute" at the expiration of the month and that Giannatasio might rest assured of his and the lad's life-long gratitude: "I have observed in Karl that he already feels grateful, and this is a proof that though he is frivolous he is not malicious, and least of all is he bad at heart. I have hopes of all manner of good from him, all the more because he has been under your excellent care for nearly two years." Karl left the institute on January 24, and on June 15 Fanny Giannatasio wrote in her diary: "We hear nothing from Beethoven," who was then in Modling. Ill-advised and full of evil consequences as was Beethoven's step in taking personal charge of his nephew, it was yet creditable to his heart and bears strong witness to his high sense of duty. His purpose was pure and lofty, and his action prompted by both love and an ideal sense of moral obligation. It was a woeful misBeethoven's Unfitness As Guardian 393

take, however; Beethoven sadly misjudged his fitness to fill the delicate and difficult r6le of guardian and parent. In all his life he had never had occasion to give a thought to the duties which such an office involved. In the conduct of his own affairs he had always permitted himself to be swayed by momentary impulses, emotions and sometimes violent passions, and he could not suddenly develop the habits of calm reflection, unimpassioned judgment and consistent behavior essential to the training of a careless and wayward boy. In his treatment of him he flew from one extreme to the other—from almost cruel severity to almost limitless indulgence, and, for this reason, failed to inspire either respect for his authority or deep affection for his person, to develop the lad's self-control or a desire for virtuous living. Very questionable, too, if not utterly unpardonable, were the measures which Beethoven took to separate the boy from his mother in spite of the dying wishes of his father. We have seen his protestations at times of his unwillingness to give her pain. When he was cruel in his own confession it was because he imagined himself constrained to be so by a high obligation of duty. There can be no doubt that the woman whom Beethoven called "The Queen of Night" was wicked and vicious, and that his detestation of her was as well founded as his wish to save his nephew from evil communications and influences. But there were times when he seemed willing to give filial instincts their due. "Karl did wrong," he writes to Madame Streicher from Modling in June 1818, "but —mother—mother—even a bad one remains a mother. To this extent he is to be excused, especially by me, who know his intriguing, passionate mother too well." Why did he not follow this thought to its ultimate conclusion? Why did he permit, if indeed, he did not encourage, the lad to speak disrespectfully of his mother? A memorandum in the Tagebuch after February 20th reads: "Karl's mother has not seen him since August 10"—a period of more than six months. How often she was allowed to see him during the following months is not of record; we only know from Beethoven himself, in his letters to Madame Streicher, that the mother's instinct—if, because she was a bad woman, the word "love" be not allowed—drove her to employ the only means by which she could know the condition of her son during the summer in Modling—i. e., bribing or feeing the servants. That at least is Beethoven's accusation, and exceedingly wroth he was.1

'We have contented ourselves with mere references to Beethoven's letters to Madame Streicher in this period. They are mostly brief notes monotonously asking help in domestic affairs, and, though frequently interesting because of their exhibition of

« ForrigeFortsett »