Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/174

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162
BEETHOVEN.
BECKWITH.

first suggestion of marked psalters. Dr. Buck, who was his pupil and successor at Norwich Cathedral, describes his master as being almost as proficient in painting as in music. He died June 3, 1809.

[ E. F. R. ]

BEDOS DE CELLES, Dom François, a learned Benedictine, born at Caux in the diocese of Bezières in 1706, entered the order at Toulouse in 1726, and died at St. Maur on Nov. 25, 1779. Author of 'L'art du facteur d'orgues' (Paris, 1766–78), an admirable work for the time, written at the request of the Académie des Sciences; also of an account of the new organ at St. Martin of Tours, in the 'Mercure de France' for Jan. 1762, of which a German translation by J. F. Agricola will be found in Adelung's 'Musica mechanica organœdi.' De Celles was a member of the Académie des Sciences of Bourdeaux, and corresponding member of that of Paris.

[ F. G. ]

BEER, Jacob Meyer, the original name of Giacomo Meyerbeer.

BEER, Joseph (sometimes written BOER), a remarkable clarinet-player; born 1744 at Grünwald in Bohemia, served as trumpeter first in the Austrian and then in the French army during the Seven Years' War. In 1771 he went to Paris, and there took up the clarinet, on which he rapidly became the first performer of his time. In 1782 he left Paris, and travelled through Holland, Italy, Russia, and Hungary, exciting everywhere the greatest possible enthusiasm. He died at Potsdam in 1811. As a performer Beer united a masterly execution to great power of expression, and indeed effected a complete revolution in the clarinet, which he greatly improved by the addition of a fifth key. Till nearly fifty years old he had heard only French players, and had insensibly acquired their loud harsh tone; but having heard in Brussels a German performer, Schwartz, he discovered what the instrument was capable of, and finally became as celebrated for the softness and purity of his tone, for the delicacy of his nuances, and especially his decrescendo, as he was for his execution. In fact he marks an epoch in the history of the instrument. His compositions comprise three concertos for two clarinets, variations, and duets.

[ M. C. C. ]

BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van[1], born at Bonn, probably Dec. 16, 1770.[2] The earliest form of the name is that with which we are familiar, but it takes many other shapes in the uncertain spelling of the time, such as Biethoffen, Biethofen, Biethoven, Bethoven, Betthoven, and Bethof. He himself appears to have always spelt it as we know it.[3] The family belonged originally to a village near Louvain; thence in 1650 they moved to Antwerp, where in 1685 the name appears in the registers. His father Johann or Jean, and his grandfather Ludwig, were both musicians in the Court band of the Elector of Cologne, at Bonn—the latter a bass-singer, and afterwards Capellmeister, appointed March 1733, the former a tenor singer, March 27, 1756. The grandfather lived till Dec. 24, 1773, when the little Ludwig had just completed his third year. He was a small lively person with extraordinarily bright eyes, much respected and esteemed as a musician, and made an indelible impression on his grandson. His portrait was the only one which Beethoven took from Bonn to Vienna, and he often spoke of it to the end of his life. Beethoven's mother—daughter of the chief cook at Ehrenbreitstein—was married to Johann on Nov. 12, 1767. She was twelve years younger than her husband; her original name had been Keverich, but at the time of the marriage she was a widow—Maria Magdalena Leym or Laym. She died after a long illness on July 17, 1787, a woman of soft heart and easy ways, much beloved by her son. The father, on the other hand, was a severe hard man of irregular habits, who evidently saw his son's ability, gave him the best instruction that his poverty would allow, and kept him to his music with a stern, strict, perhaps cruel, hand. It is perhaps fortunate he did so. The first house they occupied in Bonn, that in which the great composer was born, was 515 in the Bonngasse, now designated by a tablet erected in 1870. Besides their eldest, Ludwig Maria, who was born April 1, 1769, and lived but six days, the Beethovens had three other sons—Caspar Auton Carl, April 7, 1774; Nikolaus Johann, Oct. 1, 1776; and August Franz Georg, Jan. 16, 1781, died Aug. 16, 1783; a daughter, Feb. 23, 1779, who lived only four days, and a second girl, Maria Margaretha Josepha, May 4, 1786. The first of these was the father of the ill-fated youth who gave his uncle so much distress, and was probably the ultimate cause of his death. He died at Vienna, Nov. 5, 1815. The second, Johann, was an apothecary, at Linz and Vienna, the 'Gutsbesitzer' of the well-known anecdote, his brother's bête noire, and the subject of many a complaint and many a nickname. He died at Vienna Jan. 12, 1848. From the Bonngasse the family migrated to 7 or 8 on the Dreieck, and thence to the Rheingasse, No. 934. To the latter they came in 1775 or 76, and there they remained for a few years. Johann Beethoven's income from the Chapel was 300 florins a year (£25)—a miserable pittance, but that of most musicians of the chapel; and this appears to have been his sole means of subsistence, for his voice was nearly gone, and there is no sign of his having had other employment.[4]

According to Beethoven's own statement in the dedication to his earliest publication—the 3 Sonatas for Pianoforte (1781 or 82)—he began music in his fourth year. The few traits preserved of that early period show that, like other children, he did not acquire it without tears. His father was his first teacher, and from him he learned both violin and clavier; reading, writing, arithmetic, and a little Latin he obtained in one of

  1. Van in Dutch is not, like von or de, a sign of nobility.
  2. The baptism is registered on the 17th, and it was the custom to baptise on the day following birth. Beethoven's own belief was that he was born in 1772, which accounts for an occasional mistake in his estimate of the age at which he wrote his early works.
  3. In his letters; but in an advertisement of his, 31 March, 1804, it is Bethofen (Nottebohm, Beethoveniana, p. 4).
  4. See the register in Thayer, Ludwig van Beethovens Leben, 1. 147.