Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

an ever-increasing popularity, when nearly all his own then universally admired operas had disappeared from the stage. Schindler records that he "told the musicians of Paris concerning the overture that because of its confusion of modulations he was unable to recognize the principal key." And farther, that he (Cherubini), in listening to "Fidelio," had come to the conclusion that till then Beethoven had paid too little heed to the art of singing, for which Salieri was not to blame. In 1836, Schindler conversed with the Fidelio of 1805-06, Madame Milder-Hauptmann, on the subject: "She said, among other things, that she, too, had had severe struggles with the master chiefly about the unbeautiful, unsingable passages, unsuited to her voice, in the Adagio of the air in E major—but all in vain, until, in 1814, she declared that she would never sing the air again in its then shape. That worked."

Anselm Hiittenbrenner, who became a pupil of Salieri a dozen years later, wrote in a letter to Ferdinand Luib, under date February 21, 1858: "Speaking of Beethoven Salieri told me the composer had submitted 'Fidelio' to him for an opinion: he had taken exception to many things and advised Beethoven to make certain changes; but Beethoven had 'Fidelio' performed just as he had written it—and never visited Salieri again." These last words are too strong; Beethoven's pique against his old master was in time forgotten; for Moscheles (also in a letter to Luib) writes on February 28, 1858: "I cannot recall seeing Schubert at Salieri's, but I do remember the interesting circumstance that once I saw a sheet of paper lying at Salieri's on which in great letters written by Beethoven were the words: 'The pupil Beethoven was here I'"

A letter by Beethoven to Baron von Braun refers to the incidents just described and asks permission to get from the theatre orchestral parts, as follows:

Flauto primo, the three trombones and the four horn parts of my opera. I need these parts, but only for a day, in order to have a few trifles copied for myself which could not be written into the score for want of room, also because Prince Lobkowitz thinks of giving the opera at his house and has asked it of me. There were other reasons why Beethoven desired to render his score perfect. Whether the opera was performed in the Lobkowitz palace is not recorded; but Breuning ends his letter of June 2nd thus: "I will not write you the news that Prince Lichnowsky has now sent the opera to the Queen of Prussia, and that I hope Marriage Of Karl Kaspar Van Beethoven 65

the performances in Berlin will show the Viennese what they have at home."

Breuning's hope was vain; the opera was not given in Berlin. The order of time requires a passing notice of a family event which proved in the end a cause of infinite trouble and vexation to Beethoven and all connected with him by the ties of kindred or friendship. Whether his brother Kaspar's salary was increased above 250 florins, before his appointment in 1809 as Liquidators'-Adjunct with 1000 florins and 160 fl. for lodgings, does not appear; beyond a doubt it had been. But, be this as it may, he now found himself in a position to marry, and on the 25th of May "a marriage contract was closed between Carl Caspar v. Beethoven, R. I. Officer of the Revenue, and of this city (Vienna) and Theresia Reiss, daughter of Anton Reiss, civilian, upholsterer." Their only child, a son, was born—according to the baptismal certificate—on September 4th, 1806. Reiss was a man of considerable wealth, for one in his sphere of life, and able, it is said, to give his daughter a marriage portion of 2000 florins; it appears, too, that the valuable house in the Alservorstadt, owned by Karl at the time of his death, was an inheritance of his wife from her father's estate; indeed, half the right to the property was legally secured to her. So much has been wantonly and falsely written upon this marriage and its consequences, as to render it proper to add here: Karl van Beethoven's character and temperament were not fitted to render a wife permanently happy; on the other hand his wife, before her husband's death, dishonored him by an intrigue with a medical student; but there is no reason whatever to believe that the marriage, at the time it took place, was not considered a good one for, and by, all parties concerned. The notices of Beethoven's own movements during this year are scanty. "Fidelio" and studies to instrumental works employed him during the winter (1805-6), but not to the exclusion of the claims of social intercourse, as one of his characteristic memoranda indicates. It is written with lead pencil on a page of the new quartet sketches: "Just as you are now plunging into the whirlpool of society—just so possible is it to compose operas in spite of social obstacles. Let your deafness no longer be a secret —even in art."

Breuning's report (June 2), that Beethoven "had lost a great deal of his pleasure in and love for work," had even then ceased to be true. On the 26th of May, the first of the Rasoumowski Quartets had been begun—and with it began a series of works which distinguished the year 1806 as one of astonishing productiveness—but more on this point in due time. It is quite certain that he took no summer lodgings: this and other considerations confirm Schindler's statement, that, when the revision of a copy of his opera for Berlin had been finished, he went into Hungary to enjoy "a short rest with his friend Count Brunswick." Thence he journeyed into Silesia to the seat of Prince Lichnowsky near Troppau. Two documents now come up for consideration which fill a hiatus left by the author in the original edition of this work. They are the letters to which reference was made by the English editor in his comments on Beethoven's love-affairs (Vol. I, p. 344). Both are addressed to Breitkopf and Hartel, the first dated "Vienna, July 5, 1806," the second "Gratz, den 3ten Heumonath, 1806"—"Heumonath" meaning July. The inaccuracy of the latter date is too obvious to call for extended comment; Beethoven could not apologize on the third day of the month for tardiness in replying to a letter in answer to one which he had dispatched on the fifth. It is not permissible to play fast and loose with Beethoven's dates, despite their frequent faultiness; we must accept them when they are upheld by corroborative evidence, but reject them when it is plainly impossible to conceive them as correct. In explanation of the obvious incorrectness of the second date it is suggested that when Beethoven wrote "Heumonath," i. e., July, he meant to write "Herbstmonath," i. e., September. Irrespective of their dates, however, the letters furnish evidence of Beethoven's creative activity during the summer of 1806. The first letter is as follows: Vienna, July 5, 1806. I inform you that my brother is going to Leipsic on business of his chancellary and I have given him to carry the overture to my opera in pianoforte arrangement, my oratorio and a new pianoforte concerto— you may also negotiate with him touching some new violin quartets of which I have already completed one and am purposing to devote myself almost wholly to this work. As soon as you have come to an understanding with my brother I will send you the pianoforte arrangement of my opera—you may also have the score. I hear that the symphony which I sent you last year and which you returned to me has been roundly abused in the Musikal. Zeitung, I have not read it, if you think that you do me harm by this you are mistaken, on the contrary you bring your newspaper into discredit by such things—all the more since I have not made any secret of the fact that you sent back this symphony and other compositions—Please present my compliments to Herr v. Rochlitz, I hope his bad blood toward me has become a little diluted, say to him that I Am Bt No Means So Ignorant of foreign Negotiations With Breitkopf And Hartel 67

literature not to know that Herr v. Rochlitz has written some very pretty things, and if I should ever come to Leipsic I am convinced that we shall become right good friends without causing injury or loss to his criticisms....

The pianoforte concerto referred to is that in G major, Op. 58; the Quartets, the set Op. 59; the symphony, the "Eroica." The second letter was written from Prince Lichnowsky's castle, Grfitz, near Troppau in Silesia. Breitkopf and Hartel's endorsement shows that it was received and answered in September: Gratz, Heu-Monath 3rd, 1806.

Rather too much to do and the little journey here I could not answer your letter at once—although I at once decided to accept your offer, since my comfort, too, will be promoted by such an arrangement and many unavoidable disorders obviated—I willingly obligate myself not to sell any more of my works to any one except you nor abroad except in the cases now specified, viz: whenever advantageous offers are made to me by foreign publishers I will inform you of the fact; and if you are otherwise inclined I will at once arrange that you shall have the same work for Germany for a smaller honorarium.—The second case is this: if I should leave Germany, which is easily possible, that you may still participate as above, if you so desire—If these conditions are agreeable to you write me—I believe the plan mutually helpful—as soon as I learn your opinion of the matter—you may have at once 8 violin quartets, a new pianoforte concerto, a new symphony, the score of my opera and my oratorio. My present place of sojourn is here in Silesia so long as autumn lasts—with Prince Lichnowsky—who sends greetings to you—My address is L. v. Beethoven in Troppau. Breitkopf and Hartel's endorsement is as follows: "Resp. (i. e., responsum). Let him propose the honorarium; if acceptable we will send him a contract for three years." In reply to this Beethoven wrote a letter dated Vienna, Nov. 18, 1806, in which he said: Partly my distractions in Silesia, partly the events which have taken place in your country, were to blame that I did not answer your letter before now—should the present condition of affairs prevent your entering into an engagement with me, you are not bound to anything— only I beg you to answer at once by post, so that in case you do not care to make a contract with me—I need not let my works lie idle. With regard to a contract for three years I am disposed to enter into it with you at once if you will agree that I sell several works to England or Scotland. It is understood of course that the works which you have received from me or which I sold you belong only to you, namely are your sole property and have nothing to do with those of France, England or Scotlandbut I must have the privilege to dispose of other works in those countriesBut in Germany, you and no other publisher would be the owner of my works. I would willingly renounce the sale of my works in those countries, but I have received from Scotland such weighty offers and such an honorarium as I could not ask of you, besides a connection with foreign countries is always important for the fame of an artist and in the event of his travelling—As, for instance, in the case of Scotland, I have the right to sell the same works in Germany and France, I would gladly let you have them for Germany and France—so that only London and Edinburgh (in Scotland) would be lost to your sales. . . . For the present I offer you three quartets and a pianoforte concerto—I cannot give you the promised symphony yet—because a gentleman of quality has taken it from me, but I have the privilege of publishing it in half a year. I ask of you 600 florins for the three quartets and 300 fl. for the concerto, both amounts in Convention Florins according to the 20 florin scale.

The negotiations were without result and the compositions mentioned were published by the Industrie-Comptoir. The symphony referred to was doubtless the fourth, in B-flat, and the "gentleman of quality" in all likelihood Count von Oppersdorff, to whom it was dedicated. In October Breuning wrote to Wegeler: "Beethoven is at present in Silesia with Prince Lichnowsky and will not return till near the end of this month. His circumstances are none of the best at present, since his opera, owing to the cabals of his opponents, was performed but seldom, and therefore yielded him nothing. His spirits are generally low and, to judge by his letters, the sojourn in the country has not cheered him." This visit to the Prince came to an abrupt termination in a scene which has been a fruitful theme for the silly race of musical novelette writers. The simple truth is related by Seyfried in the appendix to his "Studien" (page 23) and is here copied literally except for a few additional words interspersed, derived by the present writer from a conversation with the daughter of Moritz Lichnowsky: When he (Beethoven) did not feel in the mood it required repeated and varied urgings to get him to sit down to the pianoforte. Before he began playing he was in the habit of hitting the keys with the flat of his hand, or running a single finger up and down the keyboard, in short, doing all manner of things to kill time and laughing heartily, as was his wont, at the folly. Once while spending a summer with a Maecenas at his countryseat, he was so pestered by the guests (French officers), who wished to hear him play, that he grew angry and refused to do what he denounced as menial labor. A threat of arrest, made surely in jest, was taken seriously by him and resulted in Beethoven's walking by night to the nearest city, Troppau, whence he hurried as on the wings of the wind by extra post to Vienna.1

'Frimmel, in his "Beethoven" (second edition, 189S, p. 42), tells the story in essentially the same manner on the authority of a grandson of Dr. Weiser, house physician of Prince Lichnowsky; Dr. Weiser's version had previously been printed by Franz Xaver Bach in the "Wiener Deutsche'Zeitung" of August 81, 1873. In both cases the story ends with Beethoven's sending a letter to Lichnowsky containing this

« ForrigeFortsett »