Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/221

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
BEETHOVEN.
209
BEGNIS

This was edited by Mr. Nottebohm, and was succeeded in 1869 by the commencement of a series of articles in the 'Allgemeine musik Zeitung' on various points in Beethoven's works, examined and elucidated chiefly through his sketch-books, and printed with copious quotations, the whole throwing a most interesting light on his method of working. These papers were collected and republished as 'Beethoveniana' (Leipzig, 1872). A further series, entitled 'Neue Beethoveniana,' by the same indefatigable explorer is now (1878) being published in the 'Musikalisches Wochenblatt.' The amount of new and important information on Beethoven's music furnished by these two series no one can tell who has not studied them. They are indispensable for all students of the subject. Mr. Nottebohm has published a new edition of 'Beethoven's Studien,' in which many mistakes in Seyfried's edition are corrected and much additional information given, such as no one who has not the peculiar knowledge possessed by Mr. Nottebohm would be competent to impart.

[App. p.534 "B. & H.'s Complete Edition of the Works was issued between Jan. 1862, and Nov. 1865. Since the publication of the Dictionary Mr. Thayer's 3rd volume has appeared (1879) bringing the life down to 1816.—Before his death in 1882 Mr. Nottebohm issued a second 'Skizzenbuch' (B. & H. 1880), containing the sketches for the Eroica. Early in 1887 appeared 'Zweite Beethoveniana' (Rieter-Biedermann), a volume of 590 pages, containing the 'Neue Beethoveniana' (p. 209 a) and many other articles of the highest interest, the whole completed and edited by E. Mandyczewski.

"While this sheet is at press two works arrive:—'L. van Beethoven, von W. J. v. Wasielewski,' Berlin 1888, 2 vols.; and 'Neue Beethoveniana, von Dr. T. Frimmel,' Vienna, 1888, with 6 illustrations."]

See Appendix for catalogue of printed works.

[ G. ]

BEFFARA, Louis François, born at Nonancourt, Aug. 23, 1751; from 1792 to 1816 Commissaire de Police in Paris, where he died Feb. 2, 1838. Renowned for his collection of documents on the Paris operas, which were unfortunately consumed at the burning of the Hotel de Ville during the Commune in 1871 . For completeness and genuineness the collection could not be surpassed, and its loss is irreparable.

[ F. G. ]

BEGGAR'S OPERA, The. A celebrated piece, written in 1727 by John Gay, who was said to have been instigated to its production by a feeling of annoyance at having been offered a court appointment which he regarded as beneath him. It is also said to have had its origin in an observation of Swift's to its author, that 'a Newgate pastoral might make an odd pretty sort of thing.' Under the thin veil of exposing the vices of highwaymen, pickpockets, gaolers, receivers of stolen goods, and their confederates and associates, it bristles with keen, well-pointed satire on the corrupt and venal politicians and courtiers of the day, and of the prevailing fashionable entertainment—the Italian opera. It has been denied that there is any reference to the latter, because the style of the music of Italian operas is not burlesqued, but the fact is apparent from the introductory dialogue between the Beggar (the assumed author of the piece) and the Player, in which the former is made to say, 'I have introduc'd the similes that are in all your celebrated operas; the Swallow, the Moth, the Bee, the Ship, the Flower, etc. Besides, I have a prison scene, which the ladies always reckon charmingly pathetick. As to the parts I have observed such a nice impartiality to our two ladies, that it is impossible for either of them to take offence.' The allusion in the last sentence to the deadly feud between Cuzzoni and Faustina, which in 1727 divided the fashionable world into two violently hostile factions, is so palpable as to cause surprise at its having been overlooked. 'The Beggar's Opera' was first offered to Colley Cibber for Drury Lane Theatre, but being rejected by him was accepted by John Rich, and brought out at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, Jan. 29, 1727-28. Its success was decisive: it was performed sixty-two nights (not consecutive) during the season, and immediately afterwards played all over England, in Ireland, Scotland, and even in Minorca. By the time it had reached its thirty-sixth re-presentation Rich had netted nearly £4000, whilst Gay's four 'author's nights' had produced him £693 13s. 6d.; whence it was said that it had made Gay rich and Rich gay. The songs were all written either to ballad tunes (English and Scotch, some of considerable antiquity), or the tunes of the most popular songs of the day. These tunes, sixty-nine in number, were arranged and scored by Dr. Pepusch, who also composed an overture for the piece. They were chosen with great judgment, and to them its remarkable success was in a great degree attributable. The rage for 'The Beggar's Opera' shewed itself in its scenes and songs appearing on fans and screens, in the attire of Lavinia Fenton (the performer of Polly) becoming the pattern for that of ladies of fashion, and in the temporary desertion of the Italian Opera. Hogarth published an engraving representing a scene in Act II. Some of the songs were said to have received finishing touches from the hand of Pope. The success of 'The Beggar's Opera' led to the production of a host of other pieces with songs written to ballad tunes, and thence denominated Ballad-Operas. [English Opera.]

[ W. H. H. ]

BEGNIS, Giuseppe de, born at Lugo, in the Papal States, 1793, sang soprano in the chapel at Lugo till he was nearly fifteen, when his voice broke. Thinking it would never return, and having a strong taste for comedy, he took lessons of Mandini, a celebrated Italian actor; but, his father being opposed to this course, he began to study music again under Saraceni the composer, the brother of Madame Morandi. He made his first operatic appearance in the carnival of 1813 as primo buffo in Pavesi's 'Marco Antonio' at Modena, and was most successful. He next went to Forli and Rimini, and returned to Modena. In the following carnival he sang at Siena, at the opening of the new Teatro degli Academici Rozzi, as Pazzo in Paer's 'Agnese,' and as Selim in the 'Turco in Italia ' of Rossini, and was enthusiastically applauded in both. He next appeared at Ferrara, Badia, and Trieste. In the carnival of 1815 he was at Cesena, and particularly brilliant in Fioravanti's 'Bello piace a tutti,' in which he imitated with his falsetto the celebrated Pacchierotti. He now sang at various theatres until the carnival of 1816, at Milan, where he was laid up for three months, and unable to sing. On his recovery he proceeded to Parma, where his success was more brilliant than ever; then to Modena and Bologna. Here he played successfully in Paer's 'Agnese,' which had been tried twice before there without success. The piece was chosen for the benefit of Signora Ronzi, who was engaged there. Shortly after,