Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/200

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188
BEETHOVEN.
 

This they followed in April by the C minor and Pastoral Symphonies (op. 67 and 68), dedicated jointly to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Rasoumoffsky, and by the Cello Sonata in A (op. 69), dedicated to the Baron von Gleichenstein, who with Zmeskall shared Beethoven's intimate friendship at this date; and these again in October,[1] by the two Pianoforte Trios (op. 70), dedicated to the Countess Erdödy, in whose house Beethoven had been living since his rupture with [2]Lichnowsky; and lastly on Nov. 22 by a Song, 'Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte.'[3]

On May 12 the French again entered Vienna; on the 21st Aspern was fought, and Napoleon took possession of the island of Lobau, close to the city. Wagram took place on July 6, and the whole summer, till the peace was concluded on Oct. 14, must have been a very disturbed season for the inhabitants of Vienna. Beethoven's lodging being on the wall was much exposed to the firing. The noise disturbed him[4] greatly, and at least on one occasion he took refuge in the cellar of his brother's house in order to escape it. He had his eyes open however to the proceedings of the French, and astonished a visitor many years afterwards with his recollections of the time.[5] It is remarkable how little external events interfered with his powers of production. As far as quality goes the Piano Concerto in E flat and the String Quartet in the same key—both of which bear the date 1809—are equal to any in the whole range of his works. The 6 Variations in D (op. 76)—the theme afterwards used for the March in the 'Ruins of Athens'—are not remarkable, but the Piano Sonata in F# written in October is very so. Though not so serious as some, it is not surpassed for beauty and charm by any of the immortal 33. It seems to have been a special favourite of the author's. 'People are always talking of the C# minor Sonata,' said he once, 'but I have written better things than that. The F# Sonata is something very different.'[6] A more important (though not more delightful) Sonata had been begun on May 14 to commemorate the departure of the Archduke from Vienna on that day. It is dated and inscribed by Beethoven himself, and forms the first movement of that known as 'Les Adieux, l'Absence et le Retour.' Among the sketches for the Adieux is found a note[7] 'Der Abschied am 4ten Mai—gewidmet und aus dem Herzen geschrieben S. K. H.'—words which show that the parting really inspired Beethoven, and was not a mere accident for his genius to transmute, like the four knocks in the Violin Concerto, or the cook's question in the last Quartet. A March for a military band in F, composed for the Bohemian Landwehr under Archduke Anton, and 3 Songs 'L'amante impaziente' (op. 82, No. 4), ' Lied aus der Feme,'[8] and 'Die laute Klage'[9]—complete the compositions of 1809. Haydn had gone to his rest on May 31, in the middle of the Austrian occupation, but we find no allusion to him in any of Beethoven's journals or letters.

The correspondence with Thomson of Edinburgh, opened in 1806, was renewed this autumn. It began with a letter from Thomson, sending 43 airs, which was promptly answered by Beethoven, and it lasted until Feb. 21, 1818, during which time Beethoven harmonised no less than 164 national melodies. For these he received in all a sum of some £200.[10]

1810 began with the return of the Archduke on Jan. 30, and the completion of the Sonata. The sketch books[11] show that the next few months were occupied with the composition of the music to 'Egmont,' the String Quartet in F minor, Songs of Goethe's (including the Erl King,[12] which, though well advanced, was never completed), and with the preliminary ideas of the B flat Trio. The music to 'Egmont' was first performed on May 24, probably at some private house, as no record of it survives in the theatrical chronicles. It was in May[13] that Beethoven had his first interview with Bettina Brentano, then twenty-five years old, which gave rise to the three well-known letters, the authenticity of which has been so hotly disputed. Knowing Beethoven's extreme susceptibility it is not difficult to believe that the letters are in the main genuine, though some of the expressions have probably been tampered with. Beethoven's relation to the Archduke, and his increasing reputation, were beginning to produce their natural result. He complains[14] that his retirement is at an end, and that he is forced to go too much into society. He has taken up his summer quarter at Hetzendorf as before, but the old seclusion is no longer possible, he has to be in and out of Vienna at the season which he detested, and which hitherto he had always devoted entirely to composition. That he was also at Baden in August is evident from some MS. pieces of military music, all dated Baden, 1810, and one of them August.[15] He seems to have had some prospect of marriage at this time, though the only allusion to it is that it has been broken off.[16] Meantime this winter was a busy one for the publishers of his music. The pianoforte arrangement of 'Fidelio,' as revised for 1806 (without Overture or Finales), was published by Breitkopf in October, and is dedicated to the Archduke Rodolph. In December the same firm issued the Quartet in E♭ (op. 74), inscribed to Prince Lobkowitz, the Variations in D (op. 76), the Fantasia in G minor, the Sonata in F#—dedicated respectively to Count Brunswick, and his sister Therese—and the Sonatina[17] in G; also earlier in the year the Sestet for wind instruments (op. 71), and the Song 'Andenken' (No. 248). Another Sestet

  1. See the A. M. Z. for Oct. 18.
  2. See the letter to Oppersdorf just cited, and Reichardt in Nohl, Leben.
  3. B. & H. 235.
  4. Since the above was written Mr. Nottebohm has published an account of a sketch-book of 1809, which shows a good deal of agitation. N. B. No. XXV.
  5. Rochlitz, Für Freunde der Tonkunst, iv. 359.
  6. Thayer, ii. 172.
  7. Nottebohm, N. B. No. V.
  8. B. & H. 236.
  9. Ibid. 254.
  10. See the ample details in Thayer, Chron. Verzeichniss, No. 174-177.
  11. Nottebohm, N. B. XXI.
  12. Ibid. Beethoveniana, XXIII.
  13. See Letter of Aug. 15, 1812.
  14. Letter to Wegeler, May 2, and to Zmeskall, July 10.
  15. Thayer, Verzeichniss, No. 156, 157.
  16. Letter of Breuning, in Wegeler, Nachtrag, 14.
  17. First sketched in C, as 'Sonate facile,' N. B. XXV.