Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/194

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182
BEETHOVEN.

mentions[1] as distinct in kind from his earlier ones, and therefore to be included in the series of his large works, and numbered accordingly. In addition there were published 2 Preludes (op. 39), dating from 1789; 7 Bagatelles, some of them as old as 1782, but one at least (No. 6) written within the last twelve months. Also the Romance in G for Violin and Orchestra (op. 40), which was published this year, and 6 Sacred Songs (op. 48), dedicated to his Russian friend Count von Browne. And proofs at that date appear to have been formidable things, and to have required an extraordinary amount of vigilance and labour. Not only had the engravers' mistakes to be guarded against, and the obscurities of Beethoven's writing, but the publishers were occasionally composers and took on themselves to correct his heresies and soften his abruptnesses as they passed through their hands. Thus in the Sonata in G (op. 31, No. 1), Nägeli of Zurich interpolated four bars.[2] Of course Beethoven discovered the addition on hearing Ries play from the proof, and his rage was naturally unbounded. The mistakes were corrected, and an amended proof was transmitted at once to Simrock of Bonn, who soon got out an 'Edition très correcte';—but Nägeli adhered to his own version of Beethoven's music, and editions are still issued[3] containing the four redundant bars. It is needless to say that after Opus 31 he published no more for Beethoven. But even without such intentional errors, correcting in those days was hard work. 'My Quartets,' he[4] complains, 'are again published full of mistakes and errata great and small; they swarm like fish in the sea—innumerable.' The Quintet in C (op. 29), published by Breitkopf, was pirated by Artaria of Vienna, and being engraved from a very hasty copy was extraordinarily full of blunders.[5] Beethoven adopted a very characteristic mode of revenge; fifty copies had been struck off, which he offered Artaria to correct, but in doing so caused Ries to make the alterations with so strong a hand that the copies were quite unsaleable.[6] It was an evil that never abated. In sending off the copies of the A minor Quartet twenty years later, he says, 'I have passed the whole forenoon to-day and yesterday afternoon in correcting these two pieces, and am quite hoarse with stamping and swearing'—and no wonder when the provocation was so great. The noble Sonatas, op. 31, to the first of which one of the above anecdotes refers, were unfortunate in more ways than one. They were promised to Nägeli, but Caspar Beethoven[7] by some blunder—whether for his own profit or his brother's does not appear—had sold them to a Leipsic house.[8] The discovery enraged Beethoven, who hated any appearance of deceit in his dealings; he challenged his brother with the fact, and the quarrel actually proceeded to blows. Knowing how much Beethoven disliked his early works, it is difficult not to imagine that the appearance of the two boyish Preludes, op. 39, and of the Variations, op. 44 (1792 or 3), both published at Leipsic—was due to the interference of Caspar.

A great event in 1803 was the production of 'The Mount of Olives,' his first vocal composition on a larger scale than a scena. The concert took place in the Theatre 'an der Wien' on April 5, and the programme included three new works—the Oratorio, the Symphony in D, and the Pianoforte Concerto in C minor, played by himself. Interesting accounts of the rehearsal (in which Prince Lichnowsky showed himself as friendly as ever) and of the performance will be found in Ries and Seyfried.[9] Difficult as it is to conceive of such a thing, the Symphony appears to have been found too laboured by the critics, and not equal to the former one.[10] The success of the Oratorio is shown by the fact that it was repeated three times (making four performances) by independent parties in the course of the next twelve months. The Sonata for Piano and Violin, now so well known as the 'Kreutzer Sonata,' was first played on May 17, at the Augarten, at 8 a.m. There was a curious bombastic half-caste English violin-player in Vienna at that time named Bridgetower. He had engaged Beethoven to write a sonata for their joint performance at his concert. Knowing Beethoven's reluctance to complete bespoken works, it is not surprising to find him behind time and Bridgetower clamouring loudly for his music. The Finale was easily attainable, having been written the year before for the Sonata in A (op. 30, No. 1), and the violin part of the first movement seems to have been ready a few days before the concert, though at the performance the pianoforte copy still remained almost a blank, with only an indication here and there. But the Variations were literally finished only at the last moment, and Bridgetower had to play them at sight from the blurred and blotted autograph of the composer. Beethoven's rendering of the Andante was so noble, pure, and chaste, as to cause a universal demand for an encore: A quarrel with Bridgetower caused the alteration of the dedication.

Before Beethoven left town this year he made an arrangement to write an opera for Schikaneder, Mozart's old comrade, the manager of the Theatre 'an der Wien.'[11] Beyond the bare fact nothing is known on the subject. It is possible that a MS. Trio[12] preserved in the library of the 'Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde' at Vienna, and afterwards worked up into the duet in 'Fidelio,' is a portion of the proposed work, but this is mere conjecture. The arrangement was announced on June 29, and Beethoven had before

  1. See his letter (Dec. 26, 1802) in Thayer, ii. 213.
  2. Between the 28th and 27th bars from the end of the first movement.
  3. E.g. that of Holle of Wolfenbüttel. An equally gratuitous alteration has been made in the Sonata op. 81 a. See Thayer, Verseichniss, p. 192.
  4. Letter to Hoffmeister, April 8, 1802.
  5. Ries, 120.
  6. Ries, 120. He issued a notice to the public, cautioning them against this incorrect edition.
  7. Ries, 87.
  8. Caspar had already offered them to Andre of Offenbach. See Thayer, ii. 202.
  9. Ries, 76; Seyfried, Notizen, 19; and see Thayer, ii, 223, 224.
  10. See the report in Thayer, ii, 225.
  11. See Thayer, ii, 221, 222
  12. Nottebohm, Beethoveniana, p. 82.