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And thus for Beethoven the winter passed. To compete with successful new works which Schikaneder offered the Vienna audiences of 1806, was no light matter; and it is easy to imagine,
posthumous effects and published by Haslinger as Op. 138 is in reality the first of the series, the one which, according to Schindler's report (third edition, I, 127), was tried over once at Prince Lichnowsky's and put aside as too simple, but purchased at once by Haslinger. It is true that Nottebohm discovered sketches for the overture in company with sketches for the symphony in C minor and, from this fact, argued that the overture had been composed between April, 1807, and December, 1808 (see 'Beethoveniana,' pp. 60 et teq.)\ but in his analysis of the sketchbook of 1803, extending from October, 1802, to April, 180-1, he shows the presence of sketches for 'Leonore' among such for the 'Eroica,' which proves that Beethoven worked on the opera as early as 1803 and that 'these labors were so far advanced when the performance of Paer's opera became known (October 8, 1804) that there could be no thought of an abandonment.' But this demolishes the theory that Op. 138 must have been composed in 1807-08, and we are compelled to believe with Kalischer that Schindler's account is correct and that Haslinger (Steiner and Co.) had for years been in possession of the first overture to 'Leonore' which 'had been laid aside after a trial in 1805,' and that in 1823, at a time when Schindler was Beethoven's confidant, the composer demanded that it be published and Haslinger refused, saying: 'We bought those manuscripts and paid for them; consequently they are our property, and we can do with them as we will.' Only one thing remains problematical, and that is, what could have persuaded Haslinger to state that he had found the overture in a packet of dances which he purchased at the sale of Beethoven's effects. Kalischer calls attention to a letter from Fanny Hensel to Rebekka Dirichlet, written after the music festival at DUsseldorf in 1836 under the direction of Mendelssohn (see 'Die Familie Mendelssohn,' II, 9): 'Oh, Becky! We have got acquainted with an overture to 'Leonore'; a new piece. It is notorious that it has never been played; it did not please Beethoven and he put it aside. The man had no taste! It is so refined, so interesting, so fascinating that I know few things which can be compared with it. Haslinger has printed a whole edition and will not release it. Perhaps he will do so after this success.' That seems to have been the case; but Haslinger permitted the work to be played as early as February 7, 1828, at a concert of Bernhard Romberg's and elsewhere. In his book 'Beethoven's Studien im Generalbass, etc.,' 1832, Seyfried connects this overture with the project, never carried out, of a production of the opera in Prague in 1807. 'For the theatre in Prague," he says, 'Beethoven wrote a less difficult overture which Haslinger, afterward R I. Court Music Dealer, acquired at auction'; to which Haslinger replied: 'This overture is already engraved in score and orchestral parts and, together with other arrangements of it, will yet appear in the course of this year.* Nottebohm, too, convinced that the sketches for the overture had to be placed in 1807, and doubtless influenced by Seyfried's statement, accepted the theory that it had been intended for Prague. Seyfried's statement, however, in view of the involved story of the manuscript in the hands of Haslinger, lacks credibility, and is probably to be charged to the account of Haslinger, who may not have wanted to tell the truth for fear that it might lessen the market value of the work."—
To this the English editor feels in duty bound to say that Nottebohm's argument seems to him at all points invulnerable. The autograph of the overture is no longer in existence. The score bought by Haslinger and the parts are copies which Beethoven corrected. On the first violin part the copyist had written "Ouvertura"; Beethoven added "in C, Characteristic Overture." Under this title the composition was announced by Haslinger in 1828. He did not publish it at the time, but there were many references to it at its performance at Romberg's concert and at other times as a "Characteristic" overture which had been found among Beethoven's posthumous papers. Between 1828 and 1832, when Haslinger finally gave the work to the public, somebody made the discovery, which ought to have been made at sight of the manuscript, certainly at the first performance in 1828 (the melody of Florestan's song occurring in it as one of the themes), that there was a connection between it and "Fidelio." When Haslinger published it, therefore, he abandoned the tiUe under which he had announced it four years before, and called it: "Overture in C, composed in the year 1805 for the opera 'Leonore,' etc." Every student knows how valuable Nottebohm's studies of the sketches are in the determination of dates. Composers usually write the overtures to their operas last; indeed, they that Beethoven felt this, and determined, at all events in his own field of instrumental composition, to leave no doubt who was master. Hence, that monumental work, the great overture to "Leonore" in its second form. He was, as usual, dilatory in meeting his engagements. January and February passed and March drew to its close, and the overture was not ready. This was too much for Baron Braun's patience. He, therefore, selected the best night of the season—Saturday, March 29, the last before the closing of the theatre for Holy Week and Easter—and gave Beethoven distinctly to understand, that if the opera was not performed on that evening, it should not be given at all. This was effectual and the new score was sent in; but so late, as Rockel well remembered, as to allow but two or three rehearsals with pianoforte and one only with orchestra; and these were directed by Seyfried—the composer appearing at neither.
Beethoven and Breuning supposed that a change of title from "Fidelio" to "Leonore" had been agreed to by the directors, and indeed the new text-book and Breuning's poem on the occasion were so printed; but it was determined otherwise. By the new arrangement of the scenes, the number of acts was reduced to two. The new playbill therefore substitutes "Opera in two Acts" for "three"; excepting this, the change of date, and of Rocket's
must do so when utilizing thematic material drawn from the vocal numbers. Mr. Thayer has already called attention to the fact that the vocal numbers were taken up in the order of their occurrence, as Beethoven's sketches show. They also show that the overture was sketched after all the vocal numbers had been planned. And the overture thus sketched was that known as No. 2. There is no hint of the overture No. 1 in the sketches made in 1804 and the beginning of 1805. Schindler says that Haslinger bought the overture immediately after it had been laid aside by Beethoven. That would have been in 1805. But Haslinger was not in Vienna till 1810. If Steiner and Co., with which firm Haslinger associated himself shortly after his arrival in the Austrian capital and of which the firm of Tobias Haslinger was the successor, was meant by Schindler, it remains a mystery that the publishers, so intimately connected with Beethoven, should have kept an overture under lock and key for 23 years and then have given it out as a work bought at the sale of Beethoven's effects. That circumstance could only awaken the suspicion that the composer did not think it worthy of his name and fame. If he did so think, he would not have demanded that Haslinger publish it in 1823. Judging by internal evidence the overture certainly seems to be an earlier work than the overtures which the world knows by the titles "Leonore," Nos. 2 and 8; but contemporary reports (a letter from Vienna printed in the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden," Weimar, 1808) offer evidence in addition to the testimony of Seyfried that Beethoven did write a new overture for the projected Prague performance. No doubt Beethoven was convinced, soon after the revival in 1806, that the third "Leonore" was too long and too severe a piece for its purpose; he was still of that opinion when he revised the opera for the revival of 1814, as is evidenced by his composing the "Fidelio" overture in E, and, more than that, consenting to the use of the overture to "The Ruins of Athens" at the first performance. Mr. Thayer was quite as capable of judging of the value of the evidence in the case as his editors; he was familiar with Nottebohm's contention; and in his history of the year 1807 he unhesitatingly sets down the overture known as "Leonore, No. 1" as that designed for Prague. There is no new evidence so far as this writer knows which could justify a reversal of the opinion which has prevailed amongst musical scholars since 1872.
for Demmer's name as Florestan, it is a facsimile of the previous ones, and announces: "Fidelio oder die Eheliche Liebe." For this determination the directors may well have urged, not only a proper regard for the composer of "Sargino" and the (Italian) "Leonore," but the manifest impropriety of misleading the public by giving a new title to a work which remained essentially unchanged. As on the original production, Breuning wrote a poem: "To Herr Ludwig van Beethoven, on the occasion of thereproduction of the opera composed by him and first performed on November 20, 1805, now given under the new title 'Leonore.'"
The correspondent of the "Allg. Mus. Zeit.," under date of April 2, writes: "Beethoven has again produced his opera 'Fidelio' on the stage with many alterations and abbreviations. An entire act has been omitted, but the piece has benefited and pleased better." On Thursday, the 10th, it was given again. The following letters from Beethoven to Sebastian Meier, referring to this performance, complain of "many blunders" in the choruses, ask for new rehearsals, and say:
Please ask Mr. Seyfried to conduct my opera to-day, I want to look at and .hear it from a distance, thus at least my patience will not be so greatly tried as if I were to hear my music bungled close at hand! I cannot think otherwise than that it is done purposely. I will say nothing about the wind-instruments, but that all pp, crescendo, all decres. and all forte, ff, have been elided from my opera; at any rate they are not played. All delight in composing departs when one hears it (one's music) played thus I
Seyfried's autograph record of all performances in the Theateran-der-Wien, through a long series of years, gives "Sargino" instead of "Fidelio," for Saturday the 12th—and "Agnes Bernauer" for the Sunday and Monday following. That this old, well-known drama was so repeated affords a strong presumption that an opera—we think "Fidelio"—was withdrawn "because obstacles had suddenly appeared" after it was too late to supply its place with another. At all events, the production of "Fidelio" on Thursday, April 10th, was the last; for which fact, two explanations are given—that in Breuning's letter, and one by Rockel in his letter to the author. Breuning attributes it to the composer's enemies—to a cabal, to "several persons whom Beethoven had offended, especially at the second representation"; Rockel, to Beethoven's own imprudence and folly.
Breuning, a Secretary in the War Office, could have had little leisure for theatrical matters in those melancholy days during the French occupation and immediately after; it is a cause of surprise, that he found time for the revision of the "Fidelio" text; his record, therefore, could hardly have been made except upon the representations of his friend—the last man to admit that he was in fault. But Rockel was behind the scenes in a double sense: he sang the part of Florestan and while Beethoven's "friends were, most of them, married men, not able to walk and dine out with him (as he writes) like myself, another bachelor, to whom he took a fancy—I could call upon him in the morning and in fine weather stroll and dine with him in the country." Breuning and Rockel are alike men of unimpeachable veracity; but the latter speaks from personal knowledge and observation.
Breuning's statement is improbable. Who were Beethoven's enemies? Who formed the cabal? Baron Braun, Schikaneder, Seyfried, the Stage-manager Meier, Director Clement, the solo singers (Mile. Milder, Weinkopf, Rockel), were all his friends; and, for anything now known, so were Mile. Miiller, Rothe and Cache. As to orchestra and chorus, they might refuse to play under Beethoven as conductor—nothing more; and, as he had already conducted four if not five times, this would create no great difficulty, as the baton would necessarily pass into the hands of Seyfried at the first or second subsequent performance. Moreover, now that the opera was fairly upon the stage and making its way, it was for the interest of all parties, from Baron Braun down to the scene-shifters, to continue it so long as it would draw an audience. That it was making its way is proved not only by all the contemporary accounts, but by this: that notwithstanding the necessarily empty houses in November, Beethoven's percentage of the receipts finally amounted to nearly 200 florins.
In the second of the notes to Meier, Beethoven is guilty of monstrous injustice. A moment's reflection shows this. The orchestra and chorus had duly rehearsed and three times publicly performed "Fidelio" as first written. Since then (see Jahn's edition) most of the numbers, perhaps every one, had been more or less changed. Now every musician knows that it is easier to play a piece of new music correctly at sight, than a wellknown composition in which material alterations have been made. And yet, because some forty men—playing on a dozen different instruments, and after a single rehearsal at which the composer was not present to explain his intentions—did not effect the impossibility of reading the music correctly and at the same time note all the marks of expression, Beethoven writes: "I cannot think otherwise than that is done purposely!"
All things considered, there can be no hesitation in preferring the testimony of the singer of Florestan, to that of the Court War Councillor.
When the opera was produced in the beginning of the following year (writes Rockel) it was exceedingly well received by a select public, which became more numerous and enthusiastic with each new representation; and no doubt the opera would have become a favorite if the evil genius of the composer had not prevented it, and as he, Beethoven, was paid for his work by a percentage, instead of a mere honorarium, an advantage which none enjoyed before him, it would have considerably advanced his pecuniary arrangements. Having had no theatrical experience, he was estimating the receipts of the house much higher than they really were; he believed himself cheated in his percentage, and .without consulting his real friends on such a delicate point, he hastened to Baron Braun—that high-minded and honorable nobleman—and submitted his complaint. The Baron, seeing Beethoven excited and conscious of his one susceptibility (i. e., suspicious temper), did what he could to cure him of his suspicions against his employees, of whose honesty he was sure. Were there any fraud, the Baron said, his own loss would be beyond comparison more considerable than Beethoven's. He hoped that the receipts would increase with each representation; until now, only the first ranks, stalls and pit were occupied; by and by the upper ranks would likewise contribute their shares.
"I don't write for the galleries!" exclaimed Beethoven.
"No?" replied the Baron, "My dear Sir, even Mozart did not disdain to write for the galleries."
Now it was at an end. "I will not give the opera any more," said Beethoven, "I want my score back." Here Baron Braun rang the bell, gave orders for the delivery of the score to the composer, and the opera was buried for a long time. From this encounter between Beethoven and Baron Braun one might conclude that the former's feelings had been injured by the comparison with Mozart; but since he revered Mozart highly, it is probable that he took offence more at the manner in which they were uttered than at the words themselves.—He now realized plainly that he had acted against his own interests, and in all probability the parties would have come to an amicable understanding through the mediation of friends if Baron Braun had not very soon after retired from the management of the united theatres, a circumstance that led to a radical change of conditions.
In truth, Beethoven had overshot the mark. The overture was too novel in form and grand in substance to be immediately understood; and, in 1806, there was not an audience in Europe able to find, in the fire and expression of the principal vocal numbers, an adequate compensation for the superficial graces and melodic beauties of the favorite operas of the time, and which seemed to them to be wanting in "Fidelio." Even Cherubini, who was all this time in Vienna, failed to comprehend fully a work which, though a first and only experiment, was destined to