Complete Encyclopaedia of Music/B/Beethoven, Louis Van
Beethoven, Louis Van. The greatest composer of the present century, was born in Bonn, on the Rhine, December 17, 1770. His father was tenor singer in the elector's chapel, a man of irregular habits, besides being a severe taskmaster to the boy, whose early musical education he superintended in persona stubborn, impetuous, impatient boy, who hated to sit still, and had absolutely to be driven to the piano, and yet who loved music dearly in his own way. These were circumstances to imbitter the sweets of home, and to provoke to surly self-reliance a genius which could not brook artificial methods, and could feel its own appointed way better than rules and teachers could show it. Yet he loved to talk of the good old grandfather, who died when he was but three years old, and he always cherished a warm affection for his mother. Besides music, the rest of his education was common enough - the rudiments of a public school, and "a little Latin." But the ideal side of his nature found a more genial home in the society of the refined and hospitable family of Von Breuning, his warmest friend through life. The family consisted of the mother, three sons, and s younger daughter, who became Beethoven's pupil. These were his good angels, who could appreciate his mind, and forgive his sins against conventionality. Here he was always welcome and at home; here he grew familiar with intellectual society, and with the works of the German poets.
At the age of 15, he was appointed organist in the chapel of the Elector of Cologne, Max Franz brother of the Emperor Joseph II. This post was obtained for him by Count Waldstein, an amateur of taste, who was the first to recognize his genius, and his friend and patron through life. An anecdote of his skill and playfulness at this time is related : - "On the last three days of the passion week, the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah were always chanted; these consisted of passages of from four to six lines, and they were sung in no particular time. In the middle of each sentence, agreeably to the old choral style, a rest was made upon one note, which rest the player on the piano (for the organ was not used on those three days) had to fill up with a voluntary flourish. Beethoven told Heller, a singer at the chapel, who was boasting of his professional cleverness, that he would engage, that very day, to put him out, at such a place, without his being aware of it, so that he should not be able to proceed. He accepted the wager ; and Beethoven, when he came to a passage that suited his purpose, led the singer, by an adroit modulation, out of the prevailing mode into one having no affinity with it, still, however, adhering to the tonic of the former key ; so that the singer, unable to find his way in this strange region, was brought to a dead stand. Exasperated by the laughter of those around him; Heller complained to the elector, who (to use Beethoven's expression,) "gave him a most gracious reprimand, and bade him not play any more such clever tricks."
It was while in this situation, a few years after, that he had an opportunity of showing a cantata of his own composition to Haydn, who, on his way home from England, was invited to a breakfast by the electoral band. The result, as we may suppose, was encouraging to the young artist. He continued to busy himself with the composition of small sonatas, songs, and especially variations for the piano. A feat of his in this kind displayed his extraordinary power before Sterkel, the most accomplished pianist whom Beethoven had ever heard. "The doubt expressed by this finished performer, whether the composer of these variations could play them fluently himself, spurred on Beethoven, not only to play by heart such as were printed, but to follow them up with a number of others extemporized on the spot ; and at the same time he imitated the light and pleasing touch of Sterkel, whom he had never heard till then, whereas his own usual way of playing the piano was hard and heavy, owing, as Beethoven declared, not to his want of feeling, but to his practising a great deal upon the organ, of which he was very fond. But it was natural, that the impetuous, restless young artist should incline more to excess of strength than of delicacy in his playing.
His life in Bonn terminated in 1792, when, by the favor of the elector, and through the instrumentality of his old patron, he was sent to Vienna, to enjoy the instruction of Haydn. He was now twenty-two ; and he looked back upon this period as the happiest part of his life. Very little is told of it. Evidently he was not a youth to be easily known. He lived in his art, too absorbed in it to be much given to dazzling exploits before the crowd. The deafness which withdrew him from I the world at a later period was already predicted prepared in the rapt and inward tone of his whole mind. He was indeed morally "deaf" from the first to what most regard the loudest call ; by birth and constitution an awkward stranger in the world of commonplace, and ill conformed to its details and its regularities. He had then and always a great dislike to giving lessons. He never would have submitted to it, to help himself ; only the necessities of his family and the thought of his dear mother could induce him to it. Madame von Breuning used to compel him against his will to go over to the opposite house, and continue his lessons in the family of the Austrian ambassador. As he knew himself observed, he would sulk along, "ut iniquae mentis asellus," but even on the doorstep would often turn back, and promise to give two hours the next day, for it was impossible to do it now. After one of these occurrences, or any like freak of wayward genius, Mme. von Breuning was accustomed to wink and say, "Our Beethoven has had another ' raptus '" - a phrase which he was fond of using, as we shall see.
It is to be regretted that more is not preserved of his sayings and doings in the house of Von Breuning, for there, it seems, he was in his element. How intimate his relation was to these good friends, and how nobly he could repent of the violent impulses which were always involving him in misunderstandings with his friends, is shown by a letter which he wrote from Vienna to the daughter, his pupil, in 1793.
CHARMING ELEONORA. My dearest Friend: A year has elapsed since my stay in this capital, and this is the first letter you receive tom me; yet rest assured you have ever lived in my recollection. I have often conversed with you and yours, although not with that peace of mind which I could have desired, for the late wretched altercation was hovering before me, showing me my own despicable conduct. But so it was; and what would I not give, could I obliterate from the page of my life this past action, so degrading to my character, and so unlike my usual proceedings. It is true, there were many circumstances widening the breach between us, and I presume that in those whisperings, conveying to Its our mutual expressions, lay the chief source of the growing evil. We both imagined that we spoke from conviction, and yet it was but in anger, and we were both of us deceived. Your good and noble mind has, I know, long forgiven me; but they say that self-accusation is the surest sign of contrition, and it is thus 1 wanted to stand before you. Now let us draw a veil over the whole affair, taking is warning by it, that, should a difference arise between friends, they should not have recourse to a mediator, but explain face to face. You receive here-with a dedication from me to you, and I only wish the work were greater and more worthy of you. . . . Let it be a revival of the many blessed hours which I spent at your house; perhaps it may tend to recall me to your mind until I return, which, however, will not be so soon. How we will rejoice then, my dear friend I You will find me a more cheerful creature, whose days of trouble have passed away, their furrows smoothed by the lot of better days," he.
Vienna was too much the seat of the Muses, with its princely amateurs, its congress of great artists, Haydn still living, the spirits of Gluck and of Mozart (only a year since departed) still hovering over the place, ever to let him "return ;" and "better days" he was destined never to now.
He went to Vienna, already a distinguished composer, but comparatively ignorant of the science of counterpoint ; for his own instinct revealed to him the laws, so far as they were founded in nature ; and he had no hesitation then, or ever after, in setting at nought such as were merely arbitrary. His own sense of beauty he trusted, in spite of science; and the world soon acknowledged in the violation of the law the presence of a higher law. That he learned much from Haydn is evident from the traces of Haydn perceptible in his earlier style, (for instance, in the first symphony in C major, and in his first set of three sonatas dedicated to that master.) But his confidence in him as a teacher was soon destroyed. F r returning one day from his lesson, with
his roll of music under his arm, he met the learned composer, Schenk. Schenk ran his eye over it, and found it full of mistakes, which had not been noticed, though Beethoven said that the exercise had just come from Haydn's correcting hand. This aroused his suspicion ; and taking advantage of Haydn's second visit to England, he withdrew from his instructions entirely, and was never again intimate with him. Schenk from that time became the confidential corrector of his compositions, even after Albrechtsberger gave him lessons in counterpoint.
It was the Augustan age of music in Vienna when Beethoven settled there, perhaps the only place where he could have found patrons worthy of him. His proud disregard of outward rank, which he would never condescend to flatter, and which (unless he found it combined with benevolence) he could hardly treat with conventional courtesy, believing as he did that genius and virtue derive the only true patent of nobility front Heaven; his exposure to calumny through the strangeness of his manners, and to the malignant criticism of those who envied his rising fame, and could not understand his compositions ; and his determined principle of never writing a word in his own defence, unless his honor were attacked,-would have found him little favor, had there not been among the wealthy and powerful of Vienna those who had a soul for art, and insight enough to read his Heaven-derived patent of equality with the greatest.
His first welcomer and friend was Von Swieten, once physician to the Empress Maria Theresa - a zealous amateur, whose delight it was, in his old age, to assemble the finest musical talent in his house. Here Beethoven became acquainted with the compositions of Handel, Bach, and all the great masters as far back as Palestrina ; and he was always obliged to stay after the rest were gone, and add half a dozen fugues of Bach "by way of a blessing." Frequently the old man would not let him go at all.
The Prince Carl von Lichnowsky, too, the most noble-minded of those Austrian princes, with his consort, became like father and mother to the young artist. Their "kindness pursued" him, and "did not abate even when the adopted son, by his obstinacy, would have forfeited the favor of any other patrons." The princess found every thing he chose to do or let alone "right clever, original," &c. To use his own words "They would have brought me up there with grandmotherly fondness, which was carried to such a length that very often the princess was on the point of having a glass shade made to put over me, so that no unworthy person might touch or breathe upon me." It was at Prince Lichnowsky's music parties that all Beethoven's compositions were first tried. To the prince's strictures he always listened with respect ; and indeed censure from those whom he trusted was dearer to him than praise. Here too was that famous "Rasumowsky Quartet," consisting of the saint, four superior artists, who for years performed Beethoven's quartets under his own direction; thus forming a fountain head of the genuine Beethoven spirit, and the standard for players all over the world.
Thus far hope and prosperity attended him By the year 1800 he had composed his two firs symphonies, over twenty sonatas, trios, quartets
Ind his well-known septet, embracing many of his most admired productions. Not only at the shrine of art had he worshipped. Love was the ruling star and chief source of his inspiration through this early period and long after. Though never married, though never blessed with a fair ministering spirit, like Mozart's Constance, though utterly uncommunicative on the whole subject, yet it appears that the secret passion always preyed upon him. But so ideal was it that it doomed it-self to disappointment. Its objects, it is said, were generally persons of rank ; for with such, necessarily, he chiefly associated. Here was the beginning of sorrows - one of the causes which shut his heart against the world, and made him solitary and reserved, while it infused a depth and strength of passion, an unutterable longing, into his compositions of that time. His "Sonata Pathetique," (Op. 13,) his Sonata in A b, (containing the "Marcia Funebre," (Op. 26,) and that other, in C minor, (Op. 27,) called the "Moonlight Sonata ; "his incomparable song "Adelaide," &c., &c., may be regarded as confessions of a platonic love, which shrunk from the cold air, where words pass current. The Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom the latter sonata is dedicated, was for a long time the "bright particular star." Nothing is told concerning her; but we have several of his letters to her, written in 1806, which are full of the purest passion, while their abrupt, impatient style seems all along to curse the coarse and unmanageable nature of speech.
In the year 1800 he composed his only oratorio, the "Mount of Olives," which he wrote during a summer residence in a pleasant village adjoining the Imperial Gardens of Sch�nbrun. Both this and his only opera, "Fidelio," a few years later, were composed in the thickest part of the wood in the park of Sch�nbrun, where he used to sit between the two stems of an oak, which shot out from the main trunk a couple of feet above the ground. But before this time, "the evil principle," (as he called it,) in the shape of his brother Carl, had begun to govern him, taking advantage of his ignorance of worldly affairs, and making him suspicious of all the world. His younger brother, John, soon followed and joined the interest of Carl. It was he, who, having by his thrift some years later become an owner of real estate, sent in his card one new year's day, as if to provoke and tantalize his unsuccessful, nobler brother : "John von Beethoven, Land-owner." Beethoven returned it, "Ludwig von Beethoven, Brain-owner." Add to these troubles the rapid and alarming increase of his deafness, and we see how wretched was to be the worldly lot of one who was soaring higher and higher into the pure heaven of art. The remarkable "Will," which he addressed to his brothers during a severe sickness in 1802, describes his state: -
"FOR MY BROTHERS, CARL AND . .. BEETHOVEN.-0 ye, who con eider or declare me to be hostile, obstinate, or misanthropic, what injustice ye do me! Ye know not the secret causes of that which to you wears such an appearance. My heart and my mind were from childhood prone to the tender feelings of affection. Nay, I was always disposed ever to perform great actions. But consider that fur the last six years I have been attacked by an incurable complaint, &c. . Born with a lively, ardent disposition, susceptible to the diversions of society, I was flared at an early age to renounce them and to pass my life In seclusion. If I strove at any time to set myself above all this, 0, how cruelly was I driven back by the doubly painful experience of my defective hearing! And yet it was not possible for me to say to people, ' Speak louder, bawl, for I am deaf!' Ah, how could I proclaim the defect of a sense that I once possessed in the highest perfection-in a perfection in which few of my col-leagues possess or ever did possess it! Indeed, I cannot! Forgive one, then, if ye see me draw back when I would gladly mingle among you. Doubly mortifying is my misfortune to me, as it must tend to muse me to be misconceived. From recreation in the society of my fellow-creatures, from the pleasures of conversation, front the effusions of friendship, I am cut oft Almost alone in the world, I dare not venture into society more than absolute necessity requires. I am obliged to live as in exile. If I go into company, a painful anxiety comes over a since I am apprehensive of being exposed to the danger of betraying my situation. Such has been my state, too, during this half year that I have spent in the country. Enjoined by my intelligent physician to spare my hearing as much as possible, I have been almost encouraged by him i my present natural disposition; though hurried away by my fondness for society, I sometimes suffered myself to he enticed into It. But what It humiliation, when any one standing beside me could hear at a distance a flute that I could not hear, or any one heard the shepherd singing, and I could not distinguish a sound! Such circumstances brought me to the brink of despair, and had well nigh made me put an end to my life: nothing but my art held my hand. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to quit the world before I had produced all that I felt myself called to accomplish. Anil so I endured this wretched life-so truly wretched, that a somewhat speedy change is capable of transporting me from the hest into the worst condition. Patience- so I am told - I must choose for my guide. I have done so. Steadfast, I hope, will be my resolution to persevere. till it shall please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread. Perhaps there may be amendment- perhaps not; I am prepared for the worst-I, who, so early as my twenty-eighth year, was forced to become a philosopher- it is not easy - for the artist, more difficult than for any other. 0 God, thou lookest down upon my misery; thou knowest that it is accompanied with love of my fellow-creatures, and a disposition to do good ! O men, when ye shall read this, think that ye have wronged me; and let the child of' affliction take comfort on finding one like himself who, in spite of all the impediments of nature, yet did all that lay in his power to obtain admittance into the rank of worthy artists and men."
In 1802, Beethoven commenced his "Heroic Symphony," which was not finished till 1804. It was intended in honor of Napoleon, to whom Beethoven, in the simplicity of his enthusiasm for freedom, looked up as the hero of democracy. The score lay before him, neatly printed, and dedicated to the First Consul, when the news was brought to him that Napoleon had caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor of the French. Instantly he tore off the title page, and flung the work upon the floor ; and it was long before he could be induced to give his mind to it again. When he did, he changed its title to "Heroic Symphony, to celebrate the Memory of a Great Man" - and the famous funeral march became rather a lamentation over disappointed hopes in a man.
Fiddle " occupied him exclusively in 1804-5, the stormy history of whose first production we may not stop to relate. He found his peace again in a form of art where there were no singers to consult, no opera manager or public to please, only his own artistic ideal, namely, in the symphony. The years 1806-8 witnessed the production of his fourth, fifth, and sixth symphonies - the last two being the one in C minor, and the "Pastorale." He directed the orchestra himself. But here again his deafness caused new trouble ; for in listening for the coming in of the different parts, he would unconsciously retard the time and mislead the performers, and sometimes get involved in serious altercations with them.
In 1809, he was tempted to leave Vienna by the offer of a good situation from a neighboring monarch. This roused the pride of some of his noble patrons, who subscribed an annuity of four thousand florins for him, on condition that he would not leave Austria. A depreciation of the currency reduced this sum to one fifth, and the death of one subscriber, and the failure of another, reduced it still further ; so that he relied mainly on his compositions for support.
It was in 1810 that he met, perhaps, the most appreciating spirit with whom he ever conversed, in the person of the girl Bettine Brentano, of Frankfort, who seems to have passed in and out unannounced among people of' genius, by a sort of divine right ; and whose letters to Goethe contain some of the best things which have been said concerning Beethoven.
"I could not get anyone to introduce me," she says, "but I found him out alone. He has three apartments, in which he alternately secretes himself: one in the country, one in town, and it third on the ramparts. It was there I found him, on the third floor. I entered unannounced; he was seated at the piano; I gave my name; he was most friendly, and asked me if I would hear a song which he had just been composing, and sang with a shrill and piercing voice that made the hearer thrill with wofulness, 'Knowest thou the land.' 'Is it not beautiful?' said he, enthusiastically ; 'exquisitely beautiful! I will sing it again.' He was pleased with my cheerful raise. 'Most people,' he remarked, 'are moved on hearing music, but these have not musicians' souls: true musicians are too fiery to weep.' He then sang another song of yours, which he had just been composing: 'Dry not, dry not, ye tears,' &c. He accompanied me home, and it was during our walk that he said all these fine things on the art-talking so loud all the while, and standing still so often, that it required some courage to listen to him in the street. He, however, spoke so passionately, and all that he uttered startled me so, that I forgot even the street. They were all not a little surprised at home
seeing me enter the room with him, in the midst of a large dinner
party. After dinner he sat down to the instrument, and played unasked, wonderfully, and at great length." . . .
We have not room for the many wonderful sayings ascribed to Beethoven in this letter ; the reader will find it entire in the "Correspondence of Go�the with a Child," a translation of which was published in Lowell, Massachusetts, some years since.
Schindler (the biographer to whom we are indebted chiefly for our facts) is disturbed by seeing so much fine talk put into the mouth of the down-right laconic artist; and Bettine adds, that when she showed Beethoven what she had written, he exclaimed, "And did I say all this? Then indeed I had a raptus!" But the letters which he wrote to her a short time after, when she had become the wife of Von Arnim, are in quite as high a strain, and quite as fluent. (See Life of Beethoven, by Moscheles, published in London in 1844.)
Thus far, (1813,) Beethoven's troubles were all of that nature that he could escape from them into his inner world of art. They rather favored the creative impulse. Disappointed love, deafness, want of worldly tact, which, if it drew him into many dilemmas, also brought him exemption from many cares, and his proud, independent spirit, - these only made his abstraction from the outward world more complete, and increased his feeling of the greatness of his mission. Abstraction, entire devotion to his art, and living in music, is the key to all his peculiarities and eccentricities in his way of living. Inspired with new musical suggestions, he would even forget his food. Thus there is a story of his going into an inn, and throwing himself down upon a seat, buried in thought ; after some time he rose and called for the reckoning, quite unconscious that he had ordered nothing. One of his habits was to stand by the hour pouring buckets of cold water upon his hands, while in the frenzy of composition. And this may have had something to do with his frequent change of lodgings ; for often he would be paying for three or four dwelling-places at once - since his humor would have it that now he could not compose unless he were on the north side, and now unless he were on the south side of the city. Once a certain baron assigned to him a suit of apartments in his beauful villa, and supremely happy was he as he surveyed the charming landscape from his window ; yet he soon took a dislike to the place, and for no other reason than because "the baron, whenever he met him, was continually making too profound obeisances to him." He was extremely fond of the country and the open air, and would often walk alone, absorbed in his work, till the day was far spent, nay, be gone for days. Ries relates the following anecdote : -
"In a walk, in which we wandered about a great while before we got home, Beethoven had kept all the way muttering or partly howling to himself, up and down continually, without singing any definite notes. To my inquiry what it was, he answered, 'A theme has just occurred to me for the last allegro of my sonata, (Op. 57.)' When we entered his room, he ran to the piano. without taking off his hat. I seated myself in a corner, and he soon forgot all about me. And now he thundered away at least an hour at the new and beautiful finale of' that composition. Finally he stood up, astonished to see me still there, and said, ' I can give you no lesson to-day. I must work.' "
Think, too, of his improvisations on the plan at which he was fond of seating himself in the dusk of the evening. " In the latter part of his life, his playing at such times was more painful than agreeable to those who heard it. The inward mind alone was active ; the outward sense no longer cooperated with it. Sometimes he would lay his left hand flat upon the key-board, and thus drown, in discordant noise, the music to which his right was feelingly giving utterance." In the soft passages he pressed the keys so lightly that they gave no sound. "The most painful thing of all was to hear him improvise on stringed instruments, owing to his incapacity of tuning them. The music which he thus produced was frightful, though in his mind it was pure and harmonious." Let his deafness convince those, who are spiritually deaf to his works, that music is more a thing of the soul than of the sense!
In the last twelve or thirteen years of his life, Beethoven was subjected to calamities, which served not so much to abstract him from the world as to distract him altogether. He was forced into relations with the practical side of life, and with the selfishness of the world, which he knew how to renounce, but to engage in which, unfitted as he was, could only craze and bewilder him. He got involved in a provoking lawsuit with Maelzel, the inventor of the metronome, who, it seems, had unfairly appropriated the score of' one of his symphonies (called the "Battle of Vittoria, not reckoned among his nine great symphonies :) this increased his suspicion of men, and made him watch his copyists with the utmost jealousy. Again: in 1815, his brother Carl died, leaving him the guardianship of his son, since the mother was considered an unsafe person to whom to intrust the education of a child. Hence another law-suit, continued through several years, subjecting him to all manner of mortifications and distractions, and quite breaking the calm heaven of the creative artist. But his sense of responsibility was strong ; and he would leave no stone unturned to secure to himself the undisputed guardianship of the boy, to whose welfare he studiously devoted himself. Meanwhile, too, in preparation for his new duties, he had under-taken housekeeping, of which, with his bachelor inexperience and eccentricities, he of course made a sorry piece of work-petty vexations all the time. Finally, the boy, who had fine talents, and of whom no father could be more fond than he, proved unworthy and ungrateful, and poisoned his last source of' worldly hope. His letters to the young man, (see Moscheles,) in 1825, possess a most mournful interest, and exhibit his deep sensibility, his conscientious regard for duty, the struggle between his tender love and his stern, uncompromising sense of truth, in the noblest and most affecting light. We pity and admire the noble-minded sufferer when we read the short, pithy, burning sentences.
Every thing seemed to conspire to try the en-durance of the high-souled Prometheus, chained to the rock of necessity. Deafness now become almost total, decay of general health, anxiety about the means of subsistence, the intrigues of enemies, the death of his old friend Prince Lichnowsky, and, above all, the degeneracy of public taste in Vienna, (the florid, sensuous manner of Rossini having carried all before it like a flood, so that he, Beethoven, was now considered out of date, though several of his noblest compositions had never yet been heard in public,) - all these things served to cloud and depress him. But he trusted in his soul. There was that in him that was greater than fate. Inwardly he felt allied with the good and all-prevailing Power, the soul and essence of all things. He felt that God was near him in his art. He had been true, and bowed to no meanness ; he had sacrificed self, and wrought for truth and beauty with a single aim. So that even now his creative energies did not fail him. The greatest of his works (as time is slowly and surely discovering) were produced in those dark days. His Mass, (the second, in D,) which he composed for the installation of the Archduke Rudolph as Archbishop of Olmutz, he himself esteemed his greatest. He made a subscription for a certain number of copies of it among the crowned heads of Europe ; and it is remarkable that Goethe, to whom he wrote as prime minister to the Duke of Weimar, found it convenient to re-turn no answer to his old friend. The minister of the King of Prussia suggested to Beethoven whether he would rather receive a royal diploma in lieu of the price proposed. "Fifty ducats!" replied Beethoven firmly, to whom all the badges princes could bestow were no temptation. At the same time his brain was teeming with the conception of his gigantic "Choral Symphony," his ninth and last, in which, having exhausted all the usual orchestral effects, and being at a loss how to carry out his thought on so sublime a scale, he at last exclaimed, "I have it! Friends, let us sing the immortal Schiller's 'Hymn to Joy ; ' " and a choir of voices accordingly are introduced. These works, as well as the sonatas and quartets of that period, which bring the number of his printed works up to about one hundred and forty, are but beginning to be understood, yet are fast outgrowing the prejudice that they are only the wild and outr� effusions of a mind nearly insane. Indeed, this insanity bids fair to be the wisdom of ages to come.
Some few bright signs there were to cheer him in the surrounding darkness. What must have been his feelings when, after long withdrawal from the public, his place usurped by the modern showy style, he received a letter signed by many of the noblest names, of persons who had a sense for genuine art, calling upon him, for the honor of music and of Germany, to appear once more, and suffer his Mass and "Choral Symphony" to be performed at a benefit concert.
"Let this summons," they write, " to so noble a work not he heard in vain Delay no further to transport us back to those long-departed days when the power of Polyhymnia moved with mighty spells alike the hearts of the multitude and of the consecrated priests of art. Need we say with what deep regret your late retired mode of life has filled us ? Is any assurance required that all eyes have been turned towards you, and that all have seen with sorrow that he, whom they acknowledge as the highest of living men in his own domain, should have looked on in silence while our German soil has been invaded by the footsteps of foreign art, the seat of the German muse usurped, and German works have be-come but the echo of those of strangers, threatening a second childhood of taste to succeed its golden age? &c.
Beethoven declined reading the paper till he should be alone. "I arrived," says Schindler, "only just as he had finished its perusal. He communicated to me the contents, and after running them over once more, handed the paper quietly to me ; then turning towards the window, he remained some time looking up at the sky. I could not help observing that he was much affected, and, after I had read it, I laid it down without speaking, in the hope that he would first begin the conversation. After a long pause, whilst his eyes never ceased following the clouds, he turned round, and said, in a tone which betrayed his emotion, "It is really gratifying ! I am much pleased.'" "To Schindler's entreaties that he would accept the proposal he replied, 'Let us get into the open air.' After a great deal of discussion and management, not without innumerable provocations, intrigues on the part of selfish managers, &c., the concert was arranged. Still it was a glorious day for Beethoven and for art. The theatre was crowded. The master, standing with his back to the proscenium, was not even sensible of the tumultuous applause of the auditory at the close of the symphony, until Mme. Unger, by turning round and making signs, roused his attention, that he might at least see what was going on in the front of the house. This acted, however, like an electric shock on the thousands present, who were struck with a sudden consciousness of his misfortune ; and as the floodgates of pleasure, compassion, and sympathy were opened, there followed a volcanic explosion of applause, which seemed as if it would never end."
Beethoven died on the 26th of March, 1827, aged fifty-six, during a tremendous hail storm, after a most painful sickness, brought on by a cold taken while travelling, and aggravated by carelessness on his own part and neglect on the part of those who should have been nearest to him. Several beautiful anecdotes are told of his last sickness. Thus, only a few days before his death, he received from an admirer in England a magnificent present of all Handel's works, whom he had always reverenced as the greatest of composers. The volumes were laid upon his bed; and he exclaimed, pointing to them. "That is the true thing," (Das ist das Wahre,) and he spent his brightest hours for the few last days in poring over the notes of those sublime religious strains.
Beethoven was a Catholic by birth. His was a deeply-religious spirit ; although religion was with him rather a matter of sentiment and experimental feeling, than of any technical creel and system. It is said he had written with his own hand two inscriptions, said to be taken from the temple of Isis, which were framed, and lay constantly upon his writing table. They were as follows : -
I. "I am that which is, - I am all that is, all that was, and all that shall be, - no mortal man hath my veil uplifted!"
H. "He is One, self-existent, and to that One all things owe their existence."
Two things he would never talk about - religion and thorough bass. For he regarded them both as things ultimate and settled ; the one the foundation of life, the other of music. He regarded a good life as the only confession of faith; and the production of true works of musical art as the only solution of the laws of harmony. His life and his music alike were a yearning and striving towards the spiritual essence, which he felt to be supreme, and the ground of all things. His music was his religion ; into that he poured his life. In his music he aspired to the Infinite. In his music he accomplished the great sacrifice of self, and displayed the heroic will by his resolute adherence to the theme, mastering and con-trolling his thronging inspirations. In his music was he always true, as in his life, compromising nothing for effect, for immediate success or comfort, but spending himself to give worthy utterance to holy and deep sentiments. In his music are the tenderest love, and energetic will, and loftiest aspiration, and purity and faith ; as he himself said, "The secret of all true art lies, after all, in the moral." To such truth-loving self-renunciation as his, how much was revealed! How much he has bequeathed to the ages in that language which admits of no misconstructions, like words ; which sets forth no partial truths, like all thoughts and systems which are only started to be contradicted ; that language which comes from the heart of the man, and expresses the sentiment which reconciles all conflicting views, and speaks to the heart again ! When will the world appreciate his music?
We add the following from F�tis' Biographie Universelle : -
"Never was the interest which so great a man excited manifested so forcibly as during his last sickness: anxiety was depicted on every face; a great crowd obstructed the avenues to his house, and the most distinguished personages called at his door to learn the news. The report of the danger which threatened him was rapidly circulated, and soon reached Weimar, where Hummel was, who departed instantly for Vienna, with the intention of becoming reconciled to Beethoven, who had been angry with him some ears previous. On entering the chamber, Hummel melted into tears ; Beethoven stretched out his hand to him, and these two celebrated men separated only as true friends. After the fatal moment, a general consternation spread through the city. More than thirty thousand persons followed in the funeral procession, and among the eight masters of the chapel who officiated as pall bearers might be seen Eybler, Weigl, Hummel, Gyrowetz, and Seyfried. Thirty-six artists, among whom were the poets Grillparzer and Castelli, carried the torches. The requiem of Mozart, as also a hymn by M. Seyfried, were per-formed for the obsequies, in the church of the Augustines ; and the remains of the great man were deposited in the cemetery of Wharing, near Vienna, where a monument was shortly after wards erected over his grave.
"We know of but two pupils who were educated by Beethoven : one is the Archduke Rodolph, who possesses remarkable talent as a pianist, and who has practised with some success as a composer ; the other is Ferdinand Ries. Beethoven was little suited to direct a musical education, as he was too much preoccupied and too impatient, and could not follow the progress of a pupil in methodical order.
"Although twenty-four years old when he published his trios for the piano, violin, and violoncello, which he considered his first production, Beethoven has left a considerable number of works of every kind. His activity of composition might indeed be considered astonishing, were it not that, being secluded from society by the afflicting accident which deprived him of his hearing about the year 1796, it was necessary to devote his whole life to composition. The catalogue of his productions comprises thirty-five sonatas for the piano ; thirteen pieces of different kinds for the same instrument, such as andantes, fantasias, preludes, rondos, and dances ; twenty themes with variations for the piano alone ; twenty-two other themes with variations for the piano, with an accompaniment for the violin, violoncello, or flute ; a sonata, two themes with variations, and marches for the piano for four hands ; ten sonatas for the piano, with an accompaniment for the violin ; six duets for a piano and violoncello ; six trios for a piano, violin, and violoncello ; a trio for a piano, clarinet, and violoncello ; a quartet for a piano, violin, viola, and violoncello ; a quintet for a piano, hautboy, clarinet, bassoon, and horn; seven concertos for the piano, the first in C, the second in B flat, the third in C minor, the fourth in C minor, (with violin, violoncello concertante, and orchestra,) the fifth in G, the sixth in D, and the last in E flat ; a fantasia for the piano, with a chorus and orchestra ; five trios for a violin, viola, and violoncello ; a serenata for a violin, flute, and alto ; seventeen quartets for two violins, viola, and violoncello ; three quintets for two violins, two violas, and a violoncello ; a septuor for a violin, viola, violoncello, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and contra-basso ; a sextuor for two violins, viola, two horns, and a violoncello ; two romances for a violin and orchestra, the first in G and the second in F ; a concerto for a violin and orchestra ; seventy-four pieces for the voice, with a piano accompaniment-among which we may mention the cantata of ' Adelaide,' the 'Invitation to the Waltz,' romances, ballads, convivial songs, canons, and the 'War Cry of Austria,' a national song composed in 1797 ; twelve songs for one or more voices, with an orchestra, in one scene of which is the air ' Alt ! perfido ; ' the song entitled 'Germania ; ' three series of Scotch airs ; a march and chorus of the 'Ruins of Athens ; ' the trio, ' Tremate, empi, tremate,' and an elegiac song ; two masses for four voices, chorus, and orchestra, one in C, (op. 86,) the other in D, (op. 123 ;) the oratorio of 'Christ on the Mount of Olives ; ' a dramatic cantata, (' The glorious moment ;') ' Fidelio,' an opera ; ' Egmont, a melodrama; nine symphonies for orchestra, the first in C, (op. 21,) the second in D, (op. 36,) the third in E flat, ('Heroic,' op. 55,) the fourth in B flat, (op. 60,) the fifth in C minor, (op. 67,) the sixth in F, (pastoral, op. 68,) the seventh in A, (op. 92,) the eighth in F, (op. 93,) the ninth in D minor, with a chorus, (op. 125 ;) ' The Victory of Wellington at the Battle of Vittoria,' a military symphony for a double orchestra ; ten overtures for a full orchestra, viz., ' Prometheus,' (op. 43,) 'Coriolanus,' (op. 62,) ' Egmont,' (op. 84,) ' Leonora,' (op. 87,) ' Fidelio,' and the 'Ruins of Athens,' (op. 113,) ' Nahmensfeyer,' (a patronal festival, op. 115,) ' King Stephen,' (op. 117,) ' Weihe des Hauses,' (The Dedication of the Temple, op. 124 ;) a characteristic symphony, (op. 138 ;) some detached works for an orchestra, consisting of two minuets, German dances, two waltzes, and the ballet of ' Prometheus ; ' a trio for two hautboys and an English horn, (op. 66) ; a sextuor for two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons ; a piece in full harmony, a piece for four trombones, and a march for a military band. Some works had been commenced by the illustrious composer, but were not completed before his death ; among which we may mention the plan of a tenth symphony, (an allegretto in E flat, published at Vienna, by Artaria, has perhaps been extracted from this work ;) an octet for two clarinets, two hautboys, two horns, and two bassoons ; a harmony of eight parts in B flat, a part of which has been published by Diabelli, at Vienna. The first two parts of a quintet for two violins, two violas, and a violoncello, were purchased by the same publisher ; also a rondo for the piano and orchestra, (Vienna, Diabelli,) besides three quartets for the piano, and some other pieces of less importance. There have been found, also, among the manuscripts of Beethoven a great number of unpublished pieces, the greater part of which were written in his youth, and condemned to oblivion.
"The works of Beethoven may be divided into several classes, each of which indicates a progressive development of his genius. Being from the first an enthusiastic admirer of Mozart, he could not escape the effect of this admiration - an effect which always manifests itself among men the most original, and the best qualified for invention. Thus, notwithstanding the incontestable originality of his ideas, the trios for the piano, violin, and bass, (op. 1 ;) the sonatas for the piano, (op. 2, 7, and 10 ;) sonatas for the piano and violin, (op. 12 ;) the trios for the violin, viola, and bass, (op. 3, 8, and 9 ;) and the quartets for the violin, (op. 18,) remind us, in form and arrangement, of the style of Mozart, although different shades of a more distinct individuality are observed when we have advanced as far as op. 18. In the symphony in C, (op. 21,) this shade becomes more vivid, and the scherzo is indeed the pure fancy of Beethoven. And the richness of the composer's imagination shows itself still more brilliantly in the quintet in C for violins, violas, and bass, (op. 29,) and in the beautiful sonatas for the piano and violin, (op. 30.) The symphony in D (op. 36) is a composition less remarkable for originality of ideas than for the merit of its arrangement, which is very great ; it is in this symphony that we perceive for the first time that remarkable instinct for instrumental combinations which afterwards gives to the symphonies of Beethoven a beauty so varied, so vigorous, and so brilliant.
But it is in the third symphony particularly, (the Heroic,' op. 55,) that the genius of the artist displays itself in the absolute character of creation ; there every trace of anterior form disappears, the composer is himself, his individuality rises up with majesty, and his work becomes the type of an epoch in the history of the art.
"The second epoch of Beethoven's life, which is so distinctly marked by his 'Heroic Symphony,' comprises a period of about ten years, during which he wrote, besides this work, the symphonies in B flat, C minor, and ' the Pastoral, the beautiful quartets of op. 59, the opera of Fidefio,' the overture of 'Coriolanus,' the beautiful sonatas for the piano in F minor, F sharp, and E minor, the concertos for the piano in C, G, and B flat, a concerto for the violin, a sextuor for two violins, a viola, two horns, and a violoncello, and his first mass. All these are, in general, founded upon a fancy free and full of boldness, but yet confined within bounds fixed by taste, and by a true feeling of analogy in the harmony, and of the necessity of precision in the idea. To the same epoch belongs also the oratorio of 'Christ on the Mount of Olives ;' but a kind of restraint which is frequently felt in the vocal compositions of Beethoven, when he wishes to use scientific forms, has thrown over this work a certain hue of coldness which injures its merit, notwithstanding the beautiful ideas which are diffused through it.
"It appears that the residence of Beethoven in the country was more permanent after 1811 than before, and that at this period he devoted him-self, in his lonely walks, and in the silence of his closet, to historical and philosophical pursuits, of which, until that time, he had known but the outlines. His readings became frequent, and he was every day more fully convinced of the necessity of confining himself, as an artist, to the design of ideality, independent of all exterior communication. Insensibly, and without his perceiving it, his philosophical studies gave to his ideas a slight tincture of mysticism, which diffused itself through his works, as we may observe by his last quatuors ; and without his observing it, his originality, in becoming systematic, lost something of its spontaneousness, and the bounds, within which he had until then kept it, were destroyed. The repetition of the same thoughts was even carried to excess ; the development of the subject which he had selected sometimes approached rambling ; the idea be-came less clear in proportion as it was more melancholy ; the harmony was characterized by more harshness, and seemed from day to day t, indicate the weakness of his recollection of sounds -finally, Beethoven wished to find new forms, not so much for the effect of a sudden inspiration as to satisfy the conditions of a preconcerted plan. The works composed under this direction of the ideas of the artist comprise the third period of his life, and his last style, upon which we have remarked in the symphony in A, the trio for the piano in B flat, (op. 97,) and the last five sonatas for the piano - those fine works in which the beauties more than make amends for the defects. This style arrives at its limit in the grand mass in D, the last overtures, the symphony with a chorus, and especially in the quatuors for the violin, (op. 127, 130, 131, 132, and 135.)
"Thus we see that the compositions of Beet.
noven are divided into throe classes, each indicative of the particular direction of his genius: those of the first class Beethoven did not value ; he disliked to hear them spoken of with praise, and really believed that those who praised them did it merely with a design of undervaluing others. Such a disposition of mind is not without example among great artists, when they are advanced in life. And, notwithstanding his opinion in this respect, it is nevertheless true that many compositions belonging to the first period possess some admirable beauties. The compositions of the second period are those in which the great musician has shown the most power of invention, combined with the most extended knowledge of the perfection of the art. This period extends from op. 55 to op. 92. At the commencement of the third period, his ideas suffered the last transformation, which went on developing itself more and more even to his latest work.
"But what distinguishes the compositions of this great man is the spontaneousness of the episodes by which he arrests, in his beautiful works, the interest which he has created, by substituting for it another as lively as it is unexpected. This art is peculiar to him, and it is to this that his great success is to be attributed. Strangers in appearance, at first thought, these episodes immediately arrest the attention by their originality ; then, when the effect of surprise begins to subside, the composer knows how to reunite them to the unity of his plan, and makes us perceive that, in the ensemble of his composition, variety is dependent upon unity. Beethoven united to this rare quality a deep feeling of the effect of instrumentation, which does not resemble that of any other author. No one possesses as well as he the art of filling up (remplir) the orchestra, and opposing harmony to harmony. Hence it is that the effect of his great works surpasses in power every thing which had been done before.
"Whatever diversity of opinion there may be as to the works of the different periods of Beethoven's life, there is one point on which the world will be forever agreed, viz., that the author of these works deserves to be reckoned among the number of the greatest artists, and of those who by their genius have contributed most to the development of their art."