Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/195

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BEETHOVEN.
183
 

that date, perhaps as early as April, taken up his quarters at the theatre with his brother Caspar, who, with all his faults, was necessary to a person so inapt at business as Ludwig. His summer and autumn were again spent—after a few weeks Kur at Baden[1]—at Ober-döbling, and were occupied principally with his third Symphony on 'Napoleon Bonaparte,' the idea of which, since its suggestion in 1798, appears to have ripened with the contemplation of the splendid career of the First Consul as soldier, lawgiver, statesman, and hero, until it became an actual fact.

Of the order in which the movements of this mighty work were composed we have not yet any information, but there is no doubt that when Beethoven returned to his lodgings in the theatre in the autumn of 1803 the Finale was complete enough, at least in its general outlines,[2] to be played through by its author. There are traces of Beethoven being a great deal in society this winter. Two young Rhinelanders—Gleichenstein, a friend and fellow official of Breuning's in the War Office, and Mähler, also a government official and an amateur portrait painter, were now added to his circle.[3] With another painter, Macco, he[4] appears to have been on terms of great intimacy. The Abbé Vogler was in Vienna this season with his pupil Carl Maria von Weber, and a record[5] survives of a soirée given by Sonnleithner, at which Vogler and Beethoven met, and each gave the other a subject to extemporise upon. The subject given by Beethoven to Vogler we merely know to have been 4½ bars long, while that on which he himself held forth was 'the scale of C major, three bars, alla breve.' Vogler was evidently the more expert contrapuntist, but Beethoven astonished even his rival's adherents by his extraordinary playing, and by a prodigious flow of the finest ideas. Noctes cœnœque deorum.—Clementi too was in Vienna about this time, or a little later, with his pupil Klengel. He and Beethoven often dined at the same restaurant, but neither would speak first, and there was no intercourse.[6] Not for want of respect on Beethoven's side, for he had a very high opinion of Clementi, and thought his Method one of the best. This winter[7] saw the beginning of a correspondence which was not destined to bear fruit till some years later—with Thomson the music-publisher of Edinburgh. Thomson had already published arrangements of Scotch airs by Pleyel and Kozeluch, and, with the true eye of a man of business, was now anxious to obtain from a greater and more famous musician than either, six sonatas on Scotch themes. Beethoven replies on Oct. 5, offering to compose six sonatas for 300 ducats (£150). Thomson responded by offering half the sum named, and there for the present the correspondence dropped. The prospect of an opera from Beethoven was put an end to at the beginning of 1804 by the theatre passing out of Schikaneder's hands into those of Baron von Braun, and with this his lodging in the theatre naturally ceased.[8] He moved into the same house with Stephen Breuning—the 'Rothe Haus,' near the present Votive Church, and there the rupture already spoken of took place.

The early part of 1804 was taken up in passing through the press the Symphony No. 2 (dedicated to Prince Carl Lichnowsky), and the three 4-hand Marches, which were published in March—but the real absorbing occupation of the whole winter must have been the completion of the Bonaparte Symphony. At length the work was done, a fair copy was made, the outside page of which contained the [9]words 'Napoleon Bonaparte … Louis van Beethoven,' and it lay on the composer's table for the proper opportunity of official transmission to Paris. On May 3 the motion for making Napoleon emperor passed the Assembly, and on the 18th, after his election by plébiscite, he assumed the title. The news must have quickly reached Vienna, and was at once communicated to Beethoven by Ries. The story need not be given here in detail. In a fury of disappointment and with a torrent of reproaches he tore off the title page and dashed it on the ground. At some future time it received the new name by which we know it, and under which it was published—'Sinfonia eroica per festeggiare il sovvenire d'un gran uomo'—but this was probably an afterthought, and the cover of the MS. now in the Bibliothek at Vienna,—

Sinfonia grande

Napoleon Bonaparte

804 im August

del Sigr.

Louis van Beethoven

Sinfonie 3 Op. 55

an intermediate title. The right to use the Symphony was purchased by Prince Lobkowitz, to whom it is dedicated. It was played at his house during the winter, and remained in MS. till October 1806.

The fracas at Breuning's rooms ended by Beethoven's dashing off to Baden, and then returning to his old quarters at Döbling. There he composed the Grand Sonata in C, which he afterwards dedicated to Count Waldstein, and that in F, op. 54, which though only in two movements and dedicated to no one is not inferior in originality to its longer companion. It is to the Finale of this work, and not that of the 'Appassionato' as usually believed, that Ries's story applies. Ries appears to have often gone out, as he often did, to Döbling—within an easy walk of Vienna—and to have remained with his master all the after

  1. Not Baden-Baden, but a mineral-water bath 16 or 18 miles south of Vienna.
  2. Thayer, ii. 236.
  3. Ibid. 234.
  4. Ibid. 241.
  5. By Gänsbacher, Ibid. 236.
  6. Ibid. 248.
  7. See the letters and replies in Thayer, ii. 259.
  8. Thayer, ii. 246.
  9. These words can still be made out on the cover of the MS. score at Vienna.