« ForrigeFortsett »
MEISSNER'S ORATORIO TEXT REJECTED
Alexander Macco, the painter, after executing a portrait of the Queen of Prussia, in 1801, which caused much discussion in the public press but secured to him a pension of 100 thalers, went from Berlin to Dresden, Prague, and, in the summer of 1802, to Vienna. Here he became a great admirer of Beethoven, both as man and artist, and claimed and enjoyed so much of his society as the state of his mind and body would allow him to grant to any stranger. Macco remained but a few months here and then returned to Prague, whence he wrote the next year offering to Beethoven for composition an oratorio text by Prof. A. G. Meissner-a name just then well known in musical circles because of the publication .of the first volume of the biography of Kapellmeister Naumann. If Meissner had not removed from Prague to Fulda in 1805, and if Europe had remained at peace, perhaps Beethoven might, two or three years later, have availed himself of the offer; just now he felt bound to decline it, which he did in a letter dated November 2, 1803. In it he said:
I am sorry, too, that I could not be oftener with you in Vienna, but there are periods in human life which have to be overcome and often they are not looked upon from the right point of view, it appears that as a great artist you are not wholly unfamiliar with such, and so - I have not, as I observe, lost your good will, of which fact I am glad because I esteem you highly and wish that I might have such an artist in my profession to associate with. Meissner's proposal is very welcome, nothing could be more desirable than to receive such a poem from him, who is so highly honored as a writer and who understands musical poetry better than any other German author, but at present it is impossible for me to write this oratorio because I am just beginning my opera which, together with the performance, may occupy me till Easter -if Meissner is not in a hurry to publish his poem I should be glad if he were to leave the composition of it to me, and if the poem is not completed I wish he would not hurry it, since before or after Easter I would come to Prague and let him hear some of my compositions, which would make him more familiar with my manner of writing, and either-inspire him further or perhaps, make him stop altogether, etc.
Was, then, the correspondent of the “Zeitung für die Elegante Welt” right? Had Beethoven really received one of Schikaneder's heroic texts? This much is certain: that in the words “because I am just beginning my opera," no reference is made to the “Leonore” (“Fidelio”). They may only express his expectation of beginning such a work immediately; or they may refer to one already begun, of which a fragment has been preserved. In Rubric II of the sale catalogue of Beethoven's manuscripts and music, No. 67, is a “vocal piece with orchestra, complete, but not entirely orchestrated.” It is an operatic trio'; the dramatis personæ are Porus, Volivia, Sartagones; the handwriting is that of this part of the composer's life; and the music is the basis of the subsequent grand duet in “Fidelio,” “O namenlose Freude.” The temptation is strong to believe that Schikaneder had given Beethoven another “Alexander," the scenes laid in India-a supplement to that with which his new theatre had been opened two years before. However this was, circumstances occurred, which prevented its completion, or indeed the composition by Beethoven of any text prepared by Schikaneder.
The compositions which may safely be dated 1803, are few in comparison with those of 1802. The works published in the course of the year were the two Pianoforte Sonatas, Op. 31, Nos. 1 and 2 (in Nägeli's “Répertoire des Clavecinistes”); the three Violin Sonatas, Op. 30 (Industrie-Comptoir); the two sets of Variations, Op. 34 and 35 (Breitkopf and Härtel); the seven Bagatelles, Op. 33 (Industrie-Comptoir); the Romanza in G for Violin, Op. 40 (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); the arrangement for Pianoforte and Flute (or Violin) Op. 41 of the Serenade (Op. 25), which was not made by Beethoven but examined by him and “corrected in parts" (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); the two Preludes for Pianoforte, Op. 39 (Hoffmeister and Kühnel); two songs, “La Partenza” and “Ich liebe dich” (Traeg); a song, "Das Glück der Freundschaft,” Op. 88 (Löschenkerl in Vienna and Simrock in Bonn), of which Nottebohm found a sketch amongst the sketches for the “Eroica” Symphony in the book used in 1803 and which, therefore, though it may have been an early work, was probably rewritten in 1803; and the six Sacred Songs by Gellert, dedicated to Count Browne (Artaria). The two great works of the year were the “Kreutzer" Sonata for Violin and the "Sinfonia Eroica.” The title of the former, “Sonata per il Pianoforte ed un Violino obligato in uno stilo (stile) molto concertante quasi come d'un Concerto,” is found on the inner side of the last sheet of the sketchbook of 1803 described by Nottebohm. Beethoven wrote the word “brillante" after “stilo” but scratched it out. It is obvious that he wished to emphasize the difference between this Sonata and its predecessors. Simrock's tardiness in publishing the Sonata annoyed Beethoven. He became impatient and wrote to the publisher as follows, under date of October 4, 1804:
KREUTZER AND HIS SONATA
Dear, best Herr Simrock, I have been waiting with longing for the Sonata which I gave you-but in vain-please write me what the condition of affairs is concerning it—whether or not you accepted it from me merely as food for moths—or do you wish to obtain a special Imperial privilegium in connection with it?—well it seems to me that might have been accomplished long ago.—Where in hiding is this slow devil—who is to drive out the sonata-you are generally the quick devil, are known as Faust once was as being in league with the imp of darkness and for this reason you are loved by your comrades; but again—where in hiding is your devil-or what kind of a devil is it that sits on my sonata and with whom you have a misunderstanding?-Hurry, then, and tell me when I shall see the sonata given to the light of daywhen you have told me the date I will at once send a little note to Kreutzer, which you will please be kind enough to enclose when you send a copy (as you in any event will send your copies to Paris or even, perhaps, have them printed there)—this Kreutzer is a dear, good fellow who during his stay herel gave me much pleasure. I prefer his unassuming manner and unaffectedness to all the Extérieur or intérieur of all the virtuosi—as the sonata is written for a thoroughly capable violinist, the dedication to him is all the more appropriate although we correspond with each other (i.e., a letter from me once a year) I hope he will not have learned anything about it. ....
As a proof of the growing appreciation of Beethoven in foreign lands it may be remarked here that in the summer of 1803 he received an Erard pianoforte as a gift from the celebrated Parisian maker. The instrument belongs to the museum at Linz and used to bear an inscription, on the authority of Beethoven's brother Johann, that it was given to the composer by the city of Paris in 1804. The archives of the Erard firm show, however, that on the 18th of Thermidor, in the XIth year of the Republic (1803), Sébastien Erard made a present of “un piano forme clavecin" to Ludwig van Beethoven in Vienna.
1Kreutzer came to Vienna with Bernadotte in 1789.
The Year 1804–The “Sinfonia Eroica”-Beethoven and Breu
ning—The “Waldstein” Sonata-Sonnleithner, Treitschke and Gaveaux—“Fidelio” Begun-Beethoven's Popularity.
able pass the mehikanederon to th
URING the winter 1803–04 negotiations were in progress the result of which put an end for the present to Beet
hoven's operatic aspirations. Let Treitschke, a personal actor in the scenes, explain:
On February 24, 1801, the first performance of “Die Zauberflöte” took place in the Royal Imperial Court Theatre beside the Kärnthnerthor. Orchestra and chorus as well as the representatives of Sarastro (Weinmüller), the Queen of Night (Mme. Rosenbaum), Pamina (Demoiselle Saal) and the Moor (Lippert) were much better than before. It remained throughout the year the only admired German opera. The loss of large receipts and the circumstance that many readings were changed, the dialogue shortened and the name of the author omitted from all mention, angered S. (Schikaneder) greatly. He did not hesitate to give free vent to his gall, and to parody some of the vulnerable passages in the performance. Thus the change of costume accompanying the metamorphosis of the old woman into Papagena seldom succeeded. Schikaneder, when he repeated the opera at his theatre, sent a couple of tailors on to the stage who slowly accomplished the disrobing, etc. These incidents would be trifles had they not been followed by such significant consequences; for from that time dated the hatred and jealousy which existed between the German operas of the two theatres, which alternately persecuted every novelty and ended in Baron von Braun, then manager of the Court Theatre, purchasing the Theater-an-der-Wien in 1804, by which act everything came under the staff of a single shepherd but never became a single flock.
Zitterbarth had, some months before, purchased of Schikaneder all his rights in the property, paying him 100,000 florins for the privilegium alone; and, therefore, being absolute master, “had permitted a dicker down to the sum of 1,060,000 florins Vienna standard. ... The contract was signed on February
CLEMENTI COMES TO VIENNA
11th and on the 16th the Theater-an-der-Wien under the new arrangement was opened with Méhul's opera 'Ariodante.'”.
Zitterbarth had retained Schikaneder as director; but now Baron Braun dismissed him, and the Secretary of the Court Theatres, Joseph von Sonnleithner, for the present acted in that capacity.
The sale of the theatre made void the contracts with Vogler and Beethoven, except as to the first of Vogler's three operas, “Samori” (text by Huber), which being ready was put in rehearsal and produced May 7th.
It was no time for Baron Braun, with three theatres on his hands, to make new contracts with composers, until the reins were fairly in his grasp, and the affairs of the new purchase brought into order and in condition to work smoothly; nor was there any necessity of haste; the repertory was so well supplied, that the list of new pieces for the year reached the number of forty-three, of which eighteen were operas or Singspiele. So Beethoven, who had already occupied the free lodgings in the theatre building for the year which his contract with Zitterbarth and Schikaneder granted him, was compelled to move. Stephan von Breuning even then lived in the house in which in 1827 he died. It was the large pile of building belonging to the Esterhazy estates, known as “das rothe Haus,” which stood at a right angle to the Schwarzspanier house and church, and fronted upon the open space where now stands the new VotivKirche. Here also Beethoven now took apartments.?
It is worth noting, that this was the year—October, 1803 to October, 1804—of C. M. von Weber's first visit to Vienna, and of his studies under Vogler. He was then but eighteen years old and “the delicate little man” made no very favorable impression upon Beethoven. But at a later period, when Weber's noble dramatic talent became developed and known, no former prejudice prevented the great symphonist's due appreciation and hearty acknowledgment of it.
Among the noted strangers who came to Vienna this spring was Clementi.
“He sent word to Beethoven that he would like to see him.” “Clementi will wait a long time before Beethoven goes to him,” was the reply. Thus Czerny.
When he came (says Ries) Beethoven wanted to go to him at once, but his brother put it into his head that Clementi ought to
1 Allg. Mus. Zeit. XXIV, p. 320. *But Ries says that Beethoven hired these lodgings besides those in the theatre.