Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/177

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BEETHOVEN.
165
BEETHOVEN.

to a conclave of the Deutschen Orden; the journey was by water along the Rhine and Main, the weather was splendid,—there was ample leisure, and the time long remained in Beethoven's recollection 'a fruitful source of charming images.' At Aschaffenburg he heard a fine player—the Abbé Sterkel, and showed his instant appreciation of the Abbé's graceful finished style by imitating it in extemporising. In Mergentheim the company remained for a month (18 Sept.—20 Oct.). An interesting account of the daily musical proceedings is given by Junker, the Chaplain at Kirchberg,[1] including an account of Beethoven's extempore playing. He compares it with that of Vogler, whom he knew well, and pronounces it to have displayed all Vogler's execution, with much more force, feeling, and expression, and to have been in the highest degree original.

The Beethovens were still living in the Wenzelgasse, Carl learning music, and Johann under the Court Apothecary. Ludwig took his meals at the Zehrgarten[2]—a great resort of the University professors, artists, and literary men of Bonn, and where the lovely Babette Koch, daughter of the proprietress, was doubtless an attraction to him.[3] His intimacy with the Breunings continued and increased; Madame von Breuning was one of the very few people who could manage him, and even she could not always make him go to his lessons in time: when he proved too obstinate she would give up the endeavour with the remark 'he is again in his raptus,' an expression which Beethoven never forgot. Music was their great bond, and Beethoven's improvisations were the delight of the family. His duties at the organ and in the orchestra at this time were not very great; the Elector's absences were frequent, and gave him much time to himself, which he spent partly in lessons, partly in the open air, of which he was already very fond, and partly in assiduous practice and composition. The sketch-books of that time are crammed with ideas, and confirm his statement, made many years later,[4] that he began thus early the method of working which so emphatically distinguishes him.

In July 1792 Haydn again passed through Bonn on his return from London. The Elector's Band gave him a dinner at Godesberg, and Beethoven submitted a cantata to him, 'which Haydn greatly praised, warmly encouraging the composer to proceed with his studies.' What the cantata was is not known, though it is conjectured to have been on the death of the Emperor Leopold II.[5]

The compositions which can be fixed to the years 1791 and 92 consist of Songs (portions of op. 52), a Rondino[6] for Wind instruments, the Trio for Strings, op. 3, an Allegro and Minuet for 2 Flutes (Aug. 23, MS.), and perhaps a set of 14 Variations[7] for Pianoforte, Violin, and Cello, in E♭, published in 1804 as op. 44; 12 Variations[8] for Piano and Violin on 'Se vuol ballare'; 13 ditto for Piano[9] on 'Es war einmal'; and 12 ditto[10] for Piano, 4 hands, on an air of Count Waldstein's.

Hitherto the Elector seems to have taken no notice of the most remarkable member of his orchestra. But in the course of this year—whether prompted by Neefe or Waldstein or by his own observation, or possibly by Haydn's approbation—he determined that Beethoven should visit Vienna in a more permanent manner than before, for the purpose of studying at his expense. Haydn was communicated with, and in the very beginning of November Beethoven left Bonn, as it proved, never to return to it again. His parting words to Neefe are preserved:[11]—'Thank you for the counsel you have so often given me on my progress in my divine art. Should I ever become a great man you will certainly have assisted in it, which will be all the more gratifying to you, since you may be convinced that' etc. The Album in which his friends—Waldstein, the Breunings, the Kochs, Degenhart, and others—inscribed their farewells is still existing[12] and the latest date is Nov. 1. E. Breuning's lines contain allusions to 'Albion,' as if Beethoven were preparing to visit England—possibly with Haydn? Waldstein's entry is as follows:—'Dear Beethoven, you are travelling to Vienna in fulfilment of your long-cherished wish. The genius of Mozart is still weeping and bewailing the death of her favourite. With the inexhaustible Haydn she found a refuge, but no occupation, and is now waiting to leave him and join herself to some one else. Labour assiduously, and receive Mozart's spirit from the hands of Haydn. Your true friend Waldstein. Bonn, October 29, 1792.'

What provision the Elector made for him beyond his modest pay of 150 florins is not known. An entry of 25 ducats (£12 10s.) is found in his notebook shortly after he reached Vienna, but there is nothing to show what length of time that moderate sum represented, or even that it came from the Elector at all.

Thus ended the first period of Beethoven's life. He was now virtually twenty-two. The list of his known compositions to this time has been given year by year. If we add the Bagatelles (op. 33), the 2 easy Sonatas (op. 49), the 2 Violin [App. p.533 "Pianoforte"] Rondos (op. 51), the Serenade Trio (op. 8), and a lost Trio for Piano, Flute, and Bassoon,[13]—all probably composed at Bonn—and compare them with those of other composers of the first rank, such as Mozart, Schubert, or Mendelssohn, it must be admitted that they are singularly few and unimportant. For the orchestra the Ritterballet already referred to is the single composition known, while Mozart—to mention him only—had in the same period written 36 Symphonies, including so mature a masterpiece as the 'Parisian' in D. Against Mozart's 28 Operas, Cantatas, and M asses, for voices and full orchestra, composed

  1. Thayer, i, 209-215.
  2. Ibid, i. 218.
  3. He wrote twice to her within a year after he left Bonn. See his letter to Kleonore Breuing, Nov. 7, 1795
  4. Letter to Archd. Bodolph, July 28, 1815. Sketches of the Bonn date are in the British Museum.
  5. Thayer, i. 232. He died March 1, 1792.
  6. B. & H. No. 60.
  7. Nottebohm, Beethoveniana, III.
  8. B. & H. No. 108.
  9. Ibid. No. 175.
  10. Ibid. No. 122.
  11. Tahyer, i. 237.
  12. Nottebohm, Beethoveniana XXVII.
  13. Thayer, Versiechenies, No 22.