Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/202

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190
BEETHOVEN.
 

for the 8th Symphony—Franzensbrunn, and then Töplitz again;[1] and lastly to his brother Johann's at Linz, where he remained through October and into November, as the inscriptions on the autographs of the 8th Symphony and of three Trombone pieces written for All Souls day demonstrate. The Trombone pieces became his own requiem. At Töplitz he met Goethe, and the strange scene occurred in which he so unnecessarily showed his contempt for his friend the Archduke Rudolph and the other members of the Imperial family.[2] At Töplitz he met Amalie Sebald, and a series of letters[3] to her shows that the Symphony did not prevent him from making love with much ardour. While in Carlsbad he[4]* gave a concert for the benefit of the sufferers in a fire at Baden.[5] The fact of his extemporising at the concert, and hearing the postilion's call, as well as an entry among the sketches for the 8th Symphony, to the effect that 'cotton in his ears when playing took off the unpleasant [6]noise'—perhaps imply that his deafness at this time was still only partial.

One of his first works after returning to Vienna was the fine Sonata for Piano and Violin, published as op. 96. It was completed by the close of the year, and was first played by the Archduke and Rode—whose style Beethoven kept in view in the violin[7] part—at the house of Prince Lobkowitz, on Dec. 29th. A comparative trifle is the 'Lied an die Geliebte,'[8] written during this winter in the album of Regina Lang. The only work published in 1812 is the Mass in C, dedicated—possibly as an acknowledgment of his share in the guarantee—to Prince Kinsky, and issued in Nov. as op. 86 by Breitkopf & Härtel. The state of his finances about this time compelled him to borrrow 2300 florins from the Brentanos of Frankfort, old friends who had known and loved him from the first. A trace of the transaction is perhaps discernible in the Trio in B♭ in one movement,[9] written on June 2, 1812, 'for his little friend Maximiliana Brentano, to encourage her in playing.' The effect of the Bohemian baths soon passed away, the old ailments and depression returned, the disputes and worries with the servants increased, and his spirits became worse than they had been since the year 1803.

The only composition which can be attributed to the spring of 1813 is a Triumphal March, written for Kuffner's Tragedy[10] of 'Tarpeia,' which was produced—with the March advertised as 'newly composed'—on March 26. On April 20 the two new Symphonies appear to have been played through for the first time at the Archduke's.[11] On the advice of his medical men he went at the end of May to Baden, where[12] he was received with open arms by the Archduke. Hither he was followed by his friend Madame Streicher, who remained at Baden for the summer, and took charge of his lodgings and clothes, which appear to have been in a deplorable state. On his return to town he re-occupied his old rooms in the house of Pasqualati, on the Mölk Bastion. The Streichers continued their friendly services; after some time procured him two good servants, and otherwise looked after his interests. These servants remained with him for a year or two, and this was probably the most comfortable time of the last half of Beethoven's life.[13]

As early as April we find him endeavouring to arrange a concert for the production of his two Symphonies; but without success.[14] The opportunity arrived in another way. The news of the great defeat of the French at Vittoria (fought June 21) reached Vienna on July 13, following on that of the disaster of Moscow and the battles of Lutzen and Bautzen (May 2 and 21), and culminating in Leipsic Oct. 19. It is easy to understand how great the sensation was throughout the whole of Germany, and how keenly Beethoven must have felt such events,[15] though we may wonder that he expressed his emotion in the form of the Orchestral programme-music, entitled 'Wellington's Victory, or the Battle of Vittoria,' a work conceived on almost as vulgar a plan as the 'Battle of Prague,' and containing few traces of his genius. This however is accounted for by the fact that the piece was suggested by Maelzel[16] the mechanician, a man of undoubted ability, who knew the public taste far better than Beethoven did. An occasion for its performance soon suggested itself in a concert for the benefit of the soldiers wounded at Hanau (Oct. 30), where the Austrians endeavoured to cut off the retreat of the French after Leipsic. The concert took place on Dec. 8, in the large Hall of the University, and was organised by Maelzel. The programme, like the Battle Symphony itself, speaks of a man who knew his audience. It was of reasonable length and contained the 7th Symphony—in MS. and produced for the first time—two Marches performed by Maelzel's mechanical trumpet, and the Battle Symphony. The orchestra was filled by the best professors of the day Salieri, Spohr, Mayseder,[17] Hummel, Romberg, Moscheles, etc. Beethoven himself conducted, and we have Spohr's testimony that the performance of the Symphony was really a good one. The success of both concerts was immense, and Beethoven addressed a letter of thanks to the performers, which may be read at length in Schindler and elsewhere.

It was probably about this time that Beethoven forwarded a copy of the Battle Symphony to the Prince Regent. The letter which accompanied it has not been preserved, but it was never acknowledged by the Prince, and

  1. Letter to the Archduke, Aug. 12.
  2. Letter to Bettina, Aug. 15, 1812
  3. Nohl, Neue Briefe, No. 79–85. The lock of hair which she cut from his head is still preserved by her family.
  4. Letter to Zmeskall, Briefe, No. 95. Letter to Archduke, Aug. 12, A. M. Z. xiv, 596.
  5. Notes to Letter of July 4.
  6. Nottebohm, N. B. VI.
  7. Letter to Archduke, Köchel No. 4.
  8. Nottebohm, in the Catalogue. B. & H. 249a.
  9. B. & H. No. 80.
  10. Published in Kuffner's complete works as 'Hersilla.'
  11. Letter to Zmeskall, April 19.
  12. Letter to Archduke
  13. Schindler, i. 187.
  14. Letters to Zmeskall, April 19, 26.
  15. See the note to Thayer, ii. 313. The idea noted in his diary is a far nobler one—a National Hymn, each nation engaged to be represented by a march, and the whole to close with a Te Deum. Nohl, Beethovenfeier, pp. 71, 72.
  16. See Moschele's note to his edition of Schindler, i. 153.
  17. Beethoven's droll note to Hummel (Nohl, Neue Briefe, No. 95) shows that there was no quarrel between them.