« ForrigeFortsett »
The Composer's Attitude Towards The Church 169
assert the contrary, who had seen how he applied the contents of those writings in his own internal life. As an argument against Schindler and to prove Beethoven's orthodoxy in respect to the Roman Catholic tenets, the fervid sentiment and sublime devotion expressed in the music of the "Missa Solemnis" have been urged; but the words of the Mass were simply a text on which he could lavish all the resources of his art in the expression of his religious feelings. It should not be forgotten that the only Mass which can be ranked with Beethoven's in D, was the composition of the sturdy Lutheran, J. S. Bach, and that the great epic poem of trinitarian Christianity was by the Arian, John Milton. Perhaps Schindler would have his readers understand more than is clearly expressed. If he means, that Beethoven rejected the trinitarian dogma; that the Deity of his faith is a personal God, a universal Father, to whom his human children may hopefully appeal for mercy in time of temptation, for aid in time of need, for consolation in time of sorrow—if this be Schindler's "deism," it may be affirmed unhesitatingly, that everything known to the present writer, which bears at all on the subject, confirms his view. Beethoven had the habit in moments of temptation and distress, of writing down short prayers for divine support and assistance, many of which are preserved; but neither in them, nor in any of his memoranda or conversations, is there the remotest indication that he believed in the necessity of any mediator between the soul of man and the Divine Father, under whatsoever name known—priest, prophet, saint, virgin or Messiah; but an even stronger religious sentiment, a more ardent spirit of devotion, a firmer reliance on the goodness and mercy of God are revealed in them, than Schindler seems to have apprehended. Chapter X The Year 1810—Decrease in Productivity—Beethoven's Project of Marriage—Therese Malfatti—Bettina von Arnim and Her Correspondence with Goethe—The Music to "Egmont"—Productions of the Year.
THE topics last under notice have carried us far onward, even to the last years of Beethoven. We now return to the end of 1809—to the master in the full vigor and maturity of his powers. The last months of this year had been marked by an untiring and efficient industry; his sketchbooks abounded in the noblest themes, hints and protracted studies for orchestral, chamber and vocal compositions; and several important works— among them the Seventh Symphony—were well advanced. The princes, whose generosity had just placed him, for the present at least, beyond the reach of pecuniary anxieties, may well have expected the immediate fulfillment of "the desire that he surpass the great expectations which are justified by his past achievements." They were bitterly disappointed. Kinsky did not live to hear any new orchestral work from that recently so prolific pen; Lobkowitz, whose dissatisfaction is upon record, heard but three; while the Archduke saw the years pass away comparatively fruitless, hardly more being accomplished in ten, than formerly in two—the marvellous year 1814 excepted. The close of 1809 terminated a decade (1800-1809) during which—if quality be considered, as well as number, variety, extent and originality— Beethoven's works offer a more splendid exhibition of intellectual power than those of any other composer produced within a like term of years; and New Year, 1810, began another (1810-19), which, compared with the preceding, exhibits an astonishing decrease in the composer's productiveness. The contrast is rendered more striking by the fact that many of the principal works completed in the second decade belong in plan and partly in execution to the first.
First Performance Of The "egmont" Music 171
Schindler's division of Beethoven's life into three distinctly marked periods appears forced—rather fanciful than real; but whoever makes himself even moderately conversant with the subject, soon perceives that a change in the man did take place too great and sudden to be attributed to the ordinary effect of advancing years; but when? The abrupt pause in his triumphant career as composer just mentioned, would seem to determine the time; and, if so, the natural inference is, that both were effects of the same cause. There was a point in the life of Handel when his indefatigable pen dropped from his hand and many weary months passed before he could resume it. The failure of his operas, his diastrous theatrical speculation, consequent bankruptcy, and the culmination of his distresses in a partial paralysis of his physical powers, were the causes. The cessation of Beethoven's labors, though less absolute than in Handel's case, is even more remarkable, as it continued longer and was not produced by any such natural and obvious causes. The fact is certain, and will probably find a sufficient explanation when we come to the details of the master's private history during this period; if not, it is another question the solution of which must await the accident of time or the keener penetration and wider knowledge of some other investigator.
Beethoven's studies were now, for the third time, diverted from important works in hand to an order from the directors of the theatres—the "Egmont" music. The persevering diligence of the last months, of which he speaks in his letters, was evidently for the purpose of clearing his desk of a mass of manuscript compositions sold to Breitkopf and Hartel, before attacking Goethe's tragedy—as decks are cleared for action before a naval battle. If so, he could hardly have seriously engaged upon the "Egmont" before the new year; but nothing is known, which fixes the exact date of either the beginning or completion of the work. Its overture bears the composer's own date "1810"; its first performance was on the evening of Thursday, May 24. The Clarchen was played by Antonie Adamberger—a young actress alike distinguished for her beauty, her genius and her virtues—whose marriage in 1817 to the distinguished archaeologist von Arneth was a distinct loss to the Vienna stage. The two songs which Clarchen has to sing, necessarily brought Fraulein Adamberger for the moment into personal relations with Beethoven, of which she wrote to the present author the following simple and pleasing account under date January 5, 1867:
.... I approached him (Beethoven) without embarrassment when my aunt of blessed memory, my teacher and benefactress, called me to her room and presented me to him. To his question: "Can you sing?" I replied without embarrassment with a decided "No!" Beethoven regarded me with amazement and said laughingly: "No? But I am to compose the songs in 'Egmont' for you." I answered very simply that I had sung only four months and had then ceased because of hoarseness and the fear that continued exertion in the practice of declamation might injure my voice. Then he said jovially with an adoption of the Viennese dialect: "That will be a pretty how do you do!"—but on his part it turned out to be something glorious. We went to the pianoforte and rummaging around in my music.... he found on top of the pile the well-known rondo with recitative from Zingarelli's "Romeo and Juliet." "Do you sing that?" he asked with a laugh which shook him as he sat down hesitatingly to play the accompaniment. Just as innocently and unsuspiciously as I had chatted with him and laughed, I now reeled off the air. Then a kind look came into his eye, he stroked my forehead with his hand and said: "Very well, now I know"—came back in three days and sang the songs for me a few times. After I had memorized them in a few days he left me with the words: "There, that's right. So, so that's the way, now sing thus, don't let anybody persuade you to do differently and see that you do not put a mortant in it." He went; I never saw him again in my room. Only at the rehearsal when conducting he frequently nodded to me pleasantly and benevolently. One of the old gentlemen expressed the opinion that the songs which the master, counting on certain effects, had set for orchestra, ought to be accompanied on a guitar. Then he turned his head most comically and, with his eyes flaming, said, "He knows!"....
Long afterwards, in a Conversation Book, an unknown hand writes: "I remember still the torment you had with the kettledrums at the rehearsal of 'Egmont'." Nothing more is known of the history of this work. Beethoven's name appears on both this year's concerts for the Theatrical Poor Fund—March 25, with the first movements of the Fourth Symphony; April 17, with the "Coriolan" Overture; but it does not appear that he conducted on either occasion; it is, however, probable that he did conduct the rehearsals and performance of a symphony in Schuppanzigh's first Augarten concert in May. Add to the above the subsequent notices of a few songs and the Quartet, Op. 95, and the meagre history of Beethoven as composer for 1810 is exhausted; what remains is of purely private and personal nature. Kinsky's active service in the campaign of 1809 and his subsequent duties in Bohemia had prevented him hitherto from discharging his obligations under the annuity contract; but the Archduke, perhaps Lobkowitz also, was promptly meeting his; and these payments, together with the honorable remuneration granted by Breitkopf and Hartel for manuscripts, supplied Beethoven with ample means for comfort, even for luxury. He had at this time no grounds for complaint upon that score.
Thoughts Hymeneal And Sartorial 173
It was in 1810 that Beethoven received from Clementi and Co. the long-deferred honorarium for the British copyrights bought in April, 1807. Exactly when this money was received by Beethoven cannot be determined from the existing evidence, but it seems to have been before February 4, 1810, on which date Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Hartel offering them the compositions from Op. 73 to 83 (exclusive of 75), and remarking that he was about to send the same works to London. He would scarcely have had such a purpose in mind unless he had had a settlement with his London publishers. Additional evidence, though of little weight, is provided by the circumstance that at the same time he was contemplating a change of lodgings, as a letter to Professor Loeb, written on February 8, shows; it was to his old home in the house of Baron Pasqualati, which he had occupied two years before and which he now took again at an annual rental of 500 florins.
A number of letters to Gleichenstein and Zmeskall to which attention must now be called seem to show us Beethoven in the character of a man so deeply smitten with the charms of a newlyacquired lady friend that he turns his attention seriously to his wardrobe and personal appearance and thinks unusually long and frequently of the social pleasures enjoyed at the home of his charmer. A desire to save space alone prevents the publication of the letters in full, but the reader may find them in the published Collections of the composer's letters.1 In the first of these he sends Gleichenstein 300 florins which the Count was to expend for him in the purchase of linen and nankeen for shirts and "at least half a dozen neckties." On the same day, he informs his correspondent that acting on his advice he had paid Lind 300 florins.
'The letters to Gleichenstein were placed by Nohl and after him by Thayer in the year 1807. Their references to money matters and incidents which seem to point to the acquisition of a larger sum than usual, especially the first, which indicates that Beethoven had recently had an English bill of exchange cashed by his banker, connect them pretty obviously with the payment received from Clementi and Co. Bringing these letters into connection with others which were indubitably written in 1810, Dr. Riemann makes the argument which follows in the body of the text as to the person whom Beethoven expected to marry when he sent to Wegeler on May 2d of that year for a copy of his baptismal certificate. Thayer pursued the theory that the lady was Countess Therese von Brunswick. The English editor has thought it wise to follow Dr. Riemann in assigning the letters to the year 1810, and permitting his German associate to make his argument in favor of Therese Malfatti, as he has already permitted Thayer to urge that the "Immortal Beloved" of the love-letter and the hoped-for bride of 1810 were one and the same person. The personality of the "Immortal Beloved" is not implicated in Dr. Riemann's contention, but only the date when the tender relations between Beethoven and Countess Brunswick came to an end. On that point there is no evidence. Thayer, as we have seen and shall see again, believed that Beethoven had proposed marriage to Therese Malfatti; but he thought it was in 1811. Of the evidence introduced by the Clementi incident, Thayer knew nothing, as it was not unearthed until five years after his death.