Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/192

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in pianoforte playing, and has left a delightful account of his first interview, and of much which occurred after it.[1] Among the letters of this winter and the spring of 1801 are some to Hoffmeister, formerly a composer, and then a music-publisher in Leipsic, which ended in his publishing the Septet, the Symphony in C, the Piano Concerto in B♭, and the Sonata (op. 22) in the same key. The price given for these works was 20 ducats each, except the Concerto, which was 10. The ducat was equal to 10s. English. The Concerto is priced so low because 'it is by no means one of my best, any more than that I am about to publish in C major, because I reserve the best for myself, for my journey'[2] a confession which proves that the Concerto in C minor was already in existence. The letters show keen sympathy with projects for the publication of Bach's works, and of Mozart's sonatas arranged as quartets.[3] They speak of his having been ill during the winter, but the vigorous tone of the expression shows that the illness had not affected his spirits. On Jan. 30, 1801, he played his Horn Sonata a second time, with Punto, at a concert for the benefit of the soldiers wounded at Hohenlinden.

He was now immersed in all the worry of preparing for the production of his Ballet of Prometheus, which came out on March 28 at the Court (Burg) Theatre. Its great success is evident from the fact that it was immediately published in a popular form—Pianoforte Solo,[4] dedicated to Princess Lichnowsky—and that it had a run of 16 nights during 1801, and 13 during the following year. Apart from its individual merits the Prometheus music is historically interesting as containing a partial anticipation of the Storm in the Pastoral Symphony, and (in the Finale) an air which afterwards served for a Contretanz, for the theme of elaborate variations, and for the subject of the last movement of the Eroica Symphony. The Ballet gave occasion for an unfortunate little encounter between Beethoven and Haydn, evidently unintentional on Beethoven's part, but showing how naturally antagonistic the two men were. They met in the street the day after the first performance, 'I heard your new Ballet last night,' said Haydn, 'and it pleased me much.' ‘O lieber Papa,’ was the reply, 'you are too good: but it is no Creation by a long way.' This unnecessary allusion seems to have startled the old man, and after an instant's pause he said 'You are right: it is no Creation, and I hardly think it ever will be?'

The success of 'Prometheus' gave him time to breathe, and possibly also cash to spare: he changed his lodgings from the low-lying 'tiefen-Graben' to the Sailer-stätte, a higher situation, with an extensive prospect over the ramparts.[5] For the summer of 1801 he took a lodging at Hetzendorf, on the south-west side of the city, attracted by the glades and shrubberies of Schönbrunn, outside which the village lies, and perhaps by the fact that his old master the Elector was living in retirement there. It was his practice during these country visits to live as nearly as possible in entire seclusion, and to elaborate and reduce into ultimate form and completeness the ideas which had occurred to him during the early part of the year, and with which his sketch-books were crowded. His main occupation during this summer was 'The Mount of Olives,' which Ries found far advanced when he arrived in Vienna in 1801.[6] The words were by Huber,[7] and we have Beethoven's own testimony[8] that they were written, with his assistance, in 14 days. He was doubtless engaged at the same time, after his manner, with other works, not inferior to that oratorio in their several classes, which are known on various grounds to have been composed during this year. These are 2 Violin Sonatas in A minor and F, dedicated to Count von Fries—originally published together (Oct. 28) as op. 23, but now separated under independent Nos.; the String Quintet in C (op. 29); and not less than 4 masterpieces for the Piano—the Grand Sonatas in A♭ (op. 26) and D (op. 28); the two Sonatas entitled 'Quasi Fantasia' in E♭ and in C# minor (op. 27); which, though not published till 1802, were all four completed during this year. To each of them a word or two is due. The Sonata in A♭—dedicated, like those of op. 1 and 13, to his prime friend Prince Carl Lichnowsky—is said[9] to owe its noble Funeral March to pique at the praises on a march by no means worthy of them in Paer's 'Achille.' That opera—produced at Vienna on the 6th June of this year—is the same about which Paer used to tell a good story of Beethoven, illustrating at once his sincerity and his terrible want of manners. He was listening to the opera with its composer, and after saying over and over again, 'O! que c'est beau,' 'O! que c'est interessant,' at last could contain himself no longer, but burst out 'il faut que je compose cela.'[10] 10 The Grand Sonata in D received its title of 'Pastorale' (more appropriate than such titles often are) from Cranz the publisher, of Hamburg. The Andante, by some thought inferior to the rest of the Sonata, was Beethoven's peculiar favourite, and very frequently played by him.[11] The flyleaf of the autograph of the work contains a humorous duet and chorus—'the praise of the fat,' making fun of Schuppanzigh[12]—'Schuppanzigh ist ein Lump, ein Lump,' etc. The remaining two, qualified as ' Fantasia' by their author, have had very different fates. One, that in E♭, has always lived in the shadow of its sister, and is comparatively little known.

  1. Published by C. F. Pohl, Jahren-Bericht des Conservatoriums der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, 1870. Also Thayer, ii. 106. The drawback to this, and to so much of the information regarding Beethoven, is that it was not written till many years after the events that it describes.
  2. Letter of Dec. 15, 1800.
  3. In curious contradiction to the strong expressions on the sunject of arrangements in a subsequent letter, quoted by Thayer, ii. 183.
  4. Originally numbered op. 24, but when the Overture was issued in Parts it was numbered op. 43, and op. 24 was given to the Violin Sonata in F.
  5. Thayer, ii. 131.
  6. Thayer (ii. 160) has shown that Ries has mistaken the year, and did not come to Vienna till 1801.
  7. Author of Winter's 'Unterbrochene Opferfest,' and other pieces.
  8. His letter of Jan. 23, 1804, printed by Pohl in Die Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Vienna, 1871), p. 57.
  9. Ries, p. 80.
  10. F. Hiller, in Thayer, ii. 134.
  11. Czerny, in Thayer, ii. 134.
  12. Thayer, Verzeichness, No. 91.