Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/190

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178
BEETHOVEN.

grosses deutsches Volk sind wir,'[1] to Friedelberg's words, which is dated April 14, but did not prove more successful than his former one. In May he writes to Wegeler in terms which show that with publications or lessons his pecuniary position is improving; but from that time till Oct. 1—the date of an affectionate entry in Lenz von Breuning's album—we hear nothing whatever of him. A severe illness has to be accounted for,[2] and this is probably the time at which it happened. In November occurred the annual ball of the 'Bildenden Künstler,' and his dances were again played for the third time; the seven Landler,[3] ascribed to this year, were not improbably written for the same ball. His only other publications of 1797 not yet mentioned are the Pianoforte Rondo in C major, which many years afterwards received the opus number 51, and last, but not least, 'Adelaide.' Some variations[4] for 2 Oboes and Corno Inglese on 'La ci darem' were played on Dec. 23 at a concert for the Widows and Orphans Fund, but are still in MS.

The chief event of 1798 is one which was to bear fruit later—Beethoven's introduction to Bernadotte the French ambassador, by whom the idea of the Eroica Symphony is said[5] to have been first suggested to him. Bernadotte was a person of culture, and having R. Kreutzer, the violin-player, as a member of his establishment may be presumed to have cared for music. Beethoven, who professed himself an admirer of Bonaparte, frequented the ambassador's levees; and there is ground for believing that they were to a certain extent intimate. On April 2 Beethoven played his Piano Quintet (op. 16) at the concert for the Widows and Orphans Fund. The publications of this year show that the connexion with the von Brownes indicated by the dedication of the Russian Variations was kept up and even strengthened; the 3 String Trios, op. 9 (published July 21), are dedicated to the Count, and the 3 Sonatas, op. 10 (subscribed July 7, published Sept. 26), to the Countess. The 3rd of these sonatas forms a landmark in Beethoven's progress of equal significance with op. 7. The letter[6] which he appended to the Trios speaks of 'munificence at once delicate and liberal'; and it is obvious that some extraordinary liberality must have occurred to draw forth such an expression as 'the first Mæcenas of his muse' in reference to any one but Prince Lichnowsky. In other respects the letter is interesting. It makes music depend less on 'the inspiration of genius' than on 'the desire to do one's utmost,' and implies that the Trios were the best music he had yet composed. The Trio for Piano, Clarinet, and Cello (op. 11), dedicated to the mother of Princess Lichnowsky, was published on Oct. 3. This is the composition which brought Steibelt and Beethoven into collision, to the sad discomfiture of the former.[7] Steibelt had shown him studied neglect till they met at Count Fries's, at the first performance of this Trio, and he then treated him quite de haut en bas. A week later they met again, when Steibelt produced a new Quintet and extemporised on the theme of Beethoven's Finale—an air from Weigl's 'Amor marinaro.' Beethoven's blood was now fairly up; taking the cello part of Steibelt's quintet he placed it upside down before him, and making a theme out of it played with such effect as to drive Steibelt from the room. Possibly this fracas may account for Beethoven's known dissatisfaction with the Finale.[8] The other publications of 1798 are Variations: 12 for Piano and Cello on an air in the 'Zauberflöte,' afterwards numbered as op. 66; 6, easy,[9] for Piano or Harp, possibly written for some lady friend, and published by his old ally Simrock at Bonn; and 8 on 'Une fièvre brulante.'[10]

This year he again visited Prague, and performed at two public concerts, making an immense impression.[11] After his return, on Oct. 27, he played one of his two Concertos at the Theatre auf den Wieden. Wölfl was in Vienna during this year, and in him Beethoven encountered for the first time a rival worthy of his steel. They seem to have met often at Count Wetzlar's (Wölfl's friend), and to have made a great deal of music together, and always in a pleasant way.[12] It must have been wonderful to hear them, each excited by the other, playing their finest, extemporising alternately and together (like Mendelssohn and Moscheles), and making all the fun that two such men at such an age and in capital company would be sure to make. Wölfl commemorated their meeting by dedicating three sonatas to Beethoven, but met with no response.

But Beethoven did not allow pleasure to interfere with business, as the publications of the following year fully show. The 3 Sonatas for Piano and Violin, dedicated to Salieri (op. 12), published on Jan. 12, 1799, though possibly composed earlier must at any rate have occupied him in correction during the winter. The little Sonata in G minor (op. 49, No. 1) is a child of this time, and is immediately followed in the sketch books by the 'Grande Sonate pathétique'—Beethoven's own title—(op. 13), dedicated to Prince Lichnowsky, as if to make up for the little slight contained in the reference to Count Browne as his 'first Mæcenas.' The well-known Rondo to the Sonata appears to have been originally intended for the third of the String Trios.[13] Of the origin of the 2 Sonatas, op. 14 (published Dec. 21), little is known. The sketches for the first of the two are coincident in time with those for the Concerto in B♭, which was completed in 1794,[14] and there is ground for believing that it was originally conceived as a string quartet, into which indeed Beethoven

  1. B. & H. 251.
  2. Thayer, ii. 18.
  3. B. & H. 196.
  4. Not the Trio, Op. 87 (Nottebohm, Neue Beethoveniana).
  5. By Schindler, on the statement of Beethoven himself and others.
  6. See Thayer, ii. 33, and Nottebohm's Catalogue, Op. 9. Why are not such interesting matters as this Letter or the Dedications reprinted in all cases with Beethoven's works?
  7. Ries, p. 81.
  8. Thayer, ii. 32, note.
  9. B. & H. 176.
  10. Ibid. 171.
  11. See Tomaschek's interesting account in Thayer, ii. 29.
  12. See Seyfried, Notisen, 6.
  13. Nottebohm, N. B. No. XX.
  14. Nottebohm, N. B. No. II.