Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/201

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BEETHOVEN.
189
 

(op. 81b)—probably, like that just mentioned, an early work—was issued by Simrock, and four settings of Goethe's 'Sehnsucht,' with a few more songs by other publishers. The frequent appearance of Goethe's name in the music of this year is remarkable, and coupled with the allusion in his letter to Bettina of Aug. 11, implies that the great poet was beginning to exercise that influence on him which Beethoven described in his interview with Rochlitz in 1823.

The Trio in B flat was completed during the winter, and was written down in its finished form between March 3 and 26, [App. p.533 "1811"] as the autograph informs us with a particularity wanting in Beethoven's earlier works, but becoming more frequent in future. The Archduke (to whom it was ultimately inscribed) lost no time in making its acquaintance, and as no copyist was obtainable, seems to have played it first from the autograph.[1] The principal compositions of 1811 were the music to two dramatic pieces written by Kotzebue, for the opening of a new theatre at Pesth, and entitled 'Hungary's first hero,' or 'King Stephen,' and the 'Ruins of Athens.' The Introduction to the Choral Fantasia, which may be taken as a representation of Beethoven's improvisation, inasmuch as it was actually extemporised at the performance—was written down à propos to the publication of the work in July, and a Song 'An die Geliebte'[2] is dated December in the composer's own hand.

The publications of the year are all by Breitkopf, and include the Overture to 'Egmont' in February; the Piano Concerto in Eb, and the Sonata in the same key (op. 81a), in May and July respectively, both dedicated to the Archduke; the Choral Fantasia (op. 80), dedicated to the King of Bavaria (July), and the 'Mount of Olives' (Nov.). The preparation of the last-named work for the press so long after its composition must have involved much time and consideration. There is evidence that an additional chorus was proposed;[3] and it is known that he was dissatisfied with the treatment of the principal character. A note to Treitschke (June 6) aeems to show that Beethoven was contemplating an opera. The first mention of a metronome[4] occurs in a letter of this autumn.

The depreciation in the value of paper money had gone on with fearful rapidity, and by the end of 1810 the bank notes had fallen to less than 1–10th of their nominal value—i.e. a 5-florin note was only worth half a florin in silver. The Finanz Patent of Feb. 20, 1811, attempted to remedy this by a truly disastrous measure—the abolition of the bank notes (Banco-zettel) as a legal tender, and the creation of a new paper currency called Einlösungsscheine, into which the bank notes were to be forcibly converted at 1–5th of their ostensible value, i.e. a 100-florin note was exchangeable for a 20-florin Einlösungsschein. Beethoven's income might possibly have been thus reduced to 800 florins, or £80, had not the Archduke and Prince Lobkowitz agreed to pay their share of the pension (1500 + 700 = 2200 florins) in Einlösungsscheine instead of bank notes. Prince Kinsky would have done the same as to his 1800 florins, if his residence at Prague and his sudden death (Nov. 13, 1812 [App. p.533 "Nov. 3"]) had not prevented his giving the proper instructions. Beethoven sued the Kinsky estate for his claim, and succeeded after several years, many letters and much heart-burning, in obtaining (Jan. 18, 1815) a decree for 1200 florins Einlösungsscheine per annum; and the final result of the whole, according to Beethoven's own statement (in his letter to Ries of March 8, 1816), is that his pension up to his death was 3400 florins in Einlösungsscheine, which at that time were worth 1360 in silver, = £136, the Einlösungsscheine themselves having fallen to between ½ and ⅓rd of their nominal value.

1812 opens with a correspondence with Varenna, an official in Gratz, as to a concert for the poor, which puts Beethoven's benevolence in a strong light. He sends the 'Mount of Olives,' the 'Choral Fantasia,' and an Overture as gift to the Institution for future use—promises other (MS.) compositions, and absolutely declines all offer of remuneration. The theatre at Pesth was opened on Feb. 9 with the music to the 'Ruins of Athens' and 'King Stephen,' but there is no record of Beethoven himself having been present. This again was to be a great year in composition, and he was destined to repeat the feat of 1808 by the production of a second pair of Symphonies. In fact from memoranda among the sketches for the new pair, it appears that he contemplated[5] writing three at the same time, and that the key of the third was already settled in his mind 'Sinfonia in D moll—3te Sinf.' However, this was postponed, and the other two occupied him the greater part of the year. The autograph score of the first of the two, that in A (No. 7), is dated May 13; so that it may be assumed that it was finished before he left Vienna. The second—in F, No. 8—was not completed till October. His journey this year was of unusual extent. His health was bad, and Malfatti, his physician,[6] ordered him to try the baths of Bohemia—possibly after Baden or some other of his usual resorts had failed to recruit him, as we find him in Vienna on July 4, an unusually late date. Before his departure there was a farewell meal, at which Count Brunswick, Stephen Breuning, Maelzel, and others were present.[7] Maelzel's metronome was approaching perfection, and Beethoven said goodbye to the inventor in a droll canon, which was sung at the table—he himself singing soprano[8]—and afterwards worked up into the lovely Allegretto of the 8th Symphony. He went by Prague to Töplitz, and Carlsbad—where he notes the postilion's horn[9] among the sketches

  1. Briefe, No. 70.
  2. B. & H. 248.
  3. To follow the air: Nottebohm, N. B. XXV. This was as far back as 1800
  4. Letter to Zmeskall, Sept. 10—under the name not of 'Metronome' but of 'Zeitmesser.'
  5. Nottebohm, N. B. VI.
  6. Letter to Sehwelger, Köchel, No. 1.
  7. Schindler, i. 195. For the canon see B. & H. 256, No. 2. There is some great error in the dates of this period—possibly there were two journeys. The whole will be settle in Mr. Thayer's new volume.
  8. Conversation-book, Nohl, Leben, iii, 841.
  9. Nottebohm, N. B. VI.