Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/196

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

part of the day. They went for an immense walk, and did not get home till eight in the evening. During the whole time Beethoven had been humming and growling to himself, but without anything like a tune. On Ries asking him what it was, he replied that it was a theme for the finale of the Sonata. The instant they reached the house he sat down to the piano without taking off his hat, and for more than an hour pounded away at his new idea. Ries sat in a corner listening.—The Sonata in C, just mentioned, contained when completed a long Andante in F—the subject of a very characteristic story, already alluded to (p. 167). This, however, at the advice of some judicious critic, he was induced to take out and replace by the present short introductory Adagio, after which it was published separately, and became the well-known 'Andante favori.'[1] During this summer, on July 19 or 26, there was a concert at the Augarten, at which Beethoven conducted; the Symphony in D was performed, and Ries made his first public appearance as Beethoven's scholar in the C minor Concerto. Ries's story of his cadence is too long for these pages, but should be read.[2] The Pianoforte part having to be written out for Ries, the Concerto was at last ready for publication, and in fact made its appearance in November, dedicated to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, an amateur of remarkable musical gifts, whose acquaintance Beethoven made when he visited his father's court in 1796, and who while in Vienna at this very time was one of the first to hear and appreciate the new Symphony. When Beethoven came back it was to a new lodging, in a house of Baron Pasqualati's, on the Mölker-Bastion near Prince Lichnowsky's, and in some sense this was his last; for though he left it more than once yet the Baron always forbid the rooms to be let, saying that Beethoven was sure to come back to them again. Breuning and he soon met, and a reconciliation took place which was not interrupted for many years but they never again put their friendship so far to the proof as to live together.

Breuning's attitude through the whole affair is in keeping with his solid sensible character, and does him infinite credit. His letter to Wegeler of November 13 gives no hint of a quarrel, but is full of the deepest sympathy with Beethoven under the affliction of his deafness. In addition to the works already mentioned as published during 1804 must be named the great Sonata in E♭, which ultimately became the 3rd of opus 31; 7 Variations on 'God save the King,'[3] and 5 on 'Rule Britannia'; a song, 'Der Wachtelschlag,'[4] and 'Ah! perfido.' Why he selected these two English airs does not appear. At a later date he said, à propos to its use in his Battle Symphony, 'I must show the English a little what a blessing they have in God save the King.'[5] It is satisfactory to find him so fond of it.—The first trial of the Eroica took place in December[6] at Prince Lobkowitz's. The opinions expressed concerning it are collected by Thayer, and should be read and digested by all who are tempted to regard music from the 'finality' point of view.

Beethoven's connection with the Theatre an der Wien, though interrupted, was not at an end. Baron von Braun took Schikaneder into his service, and one of their first acts was to renew the offer. Bouilly's opera, which had been already set by Gaveaux[7] and Paer,[8] was chosen, and Sonnleithner was employed to make the German translation. Beethoven went back to his rooms at the theatre, and set to work with energy. But, remembering his habit of doing several things at once, we need not suppose that, though at work on an opera, he dropped other compositions. A letter to Artaria shows that on June 1, 1805, he was engaged on a new Quintet, the suggestion of Count Fries.[9] Though he had even proceeded so far as to mention it to the publisher, its ultimate fate must be left to the discovery of Herr Nottebohm; it certainly never arrived at publication. He also completed the Sonata in F (op. 54), and probably entirely composed the Triple Concerto (op. 56). But the opera was his main and absorbing business. During the whole of the spring he was hard at work, and in June he betook himself to Hetzendorf, there to put his sketches into shape, and to get inspiration from his favourite woods and fields. To give an idea of the extraordinary amount of labour and pains which he bestowed on his work, and of the strangely tentative manner in which so great a genius proceeded, we may mention[10] that in the sketch-book which contains the materials for the opera—a thick oblong volume of 300 pages, 16 staves to the page—there are no less than 18 distinct and different beginnings to Florestan's air 'In des Lebens Frühlingstagen,' and 10 to the chorus 'Wer ein holdes Weib.' To reduce these chaotic materials to order, and to score the work, was the entire occupation of these summer months. Closely as he was occupied he could occasionally visit Vienna, and on one occasion in July[11] we find him at Sonnleithner 's rooms with Cherubini and Vogler. Cherubini arrived in Vienna with his wife early in the month, and remained till the following April. His operas had long been favourites on the Vienna stage. The 'Deux Journées' was performed under his direction shortly after his arrival, and 'Faniska' was produced for the first time on Feb. 25, 1806. Beethoven knew them well, and has left on record[12] that he esteemed their author above all then living writers for the stage. He also thought so highly of Cherubim's Requiem as to say that he should borrow largely from it in the event of his writing one. But the influence of Cherubini on Beethoven's vocal music is now[13] acknowledged. The two artists were much

  1. B. & H. 192.
  2. Notizen, p. 114.
  3. B. & H. 179, 180.
  4. Ibid. 234.
  5. In his journal 1812-1818. Nohl, Die Beethoven-Feier {1871), p. 55.
  6. Thayer, ii. 261; and Ries, p. 79.
  7. 'Leonore ou l'amour conjugale, opera comique,' Feb. 18, 1798.
  8. 'Leonora ossia l'amore conjugale,' Dresden, Oct. 3, 1804.
  9. Letter to Ataria, June 1, 1805.
  10. Thayer, ii. 281.
  11. Ibid. 282.
  12. Seyfried, p. 22; also Czerny in Cæcilia. See Thayer, ii. 303.
  13. See Hiller, in Macmillan's Magazine, July 1875; also the report of a conversation with Mendelssohn in Marx's Music of the 19th century. A fragment of a sketch-book of Beethoven's in Mr. Joachim's possession contains the Trio in the 'Deux Journées' and a piece from the 'Zauberflöte,' mixed up with bits of 'Fidelio' and of the Finale of the B flat Symphony.