Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/204

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
192
BEETHOVEN.
 

been selected as the scene of the Congress, and Beethoven was bound to seize the opportunity not only of performing his latest Symphonies, but of composing some new music appropriate to so great an occasion.[1] He selected in September[2] a Cantata by Weissenbach, entitled 'Die [App. p.533 "Der"] glorreiche Augenblick'—an unhappy choice, as it turned out—composed it more quickly than[3] was his wont, and included it with the Symphony in A, and the Battle of Vittoria, in a concert for his benefit on Nov. 29. The manner in which this concert was carried out gives a striking idea of the extraordinary position that Beethoven held in Vienna. The two Halls of the Redouten-Saal were placed at his disposal for two evenings by the government, and he himself sent personal invitations in his own name to the various sovereigns and other notabilities collected in Vienna. The room was crowded with an audience of 6000 persons, and Beethoven describes[4] himself as 'quite exhausted with fatigue, worry, pleasure, and delight.' At a second performance on Dec. 2 the hall was less crowded. One of the fêtes provided during the Congress was a tournament in the Riding School on Nov. 23, and for this Beethoven would appear[5] to have composed music, though no trace of it has yet been found. During the continuance of the Congress he seems to have been much visited and noticed, and many droll scenes doubtless occurred between him and his exalted worshippers. The Archduke and Prince Rasoumoffsky, as Russian Ambassador, were conspicuous among the givers of fêtes, and it was at the house of the latter [App. p.533 "the Archduke Rodolph; refer to vol. iii. 77 b, note 2"] that Beethoven was presented to the Empress of Russia.

In addition to the profit of the concerts Schindler implies that Beethoven received presents from the various foreign sovereigns in Vienna. The pecuniary result of the winter was therefore good. He was able for the first time to lay by money, which he invested in shares in the Bank of Austria.[6]

The news of Bonaparte's escape from Elba broke up the Congress, and threw Europe again into a state of perturbation. In Vienna the reaction after the recent extra gaiety must have been great. Beethoven was himself occupied during the year by the Kinsky lawsuit; his letters upon the subject to his advocate Kanka [App. p.533 "Kauka"] are many and long, and it is plain from such expressions as the following that it seriously interrupted his music. 'I am again very tired, having been forced to discuss many things with P——. Such things exhaust me more than the greatest efforts in composition. It is a new field, the soil of which I ought not to be required to till, and which has cost me many tears and much sorrow.' … 'Do not forget me, poor tormented creature that I am.'[7]

Under the circumstances it is not surprising that he composed little during 1815. The two Sonatas for Piano and Cello (op. 102), dated 'July' and 'August'; the Chorus 'Es ist vollbracht,' as finale to a piece of Treitschke's, produced to celebrate the entry into Paris (July 15); the 'Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt,' and a couple of Songs, 'Sehnsucht' and 'Das Geheimniss'[8] are all the original works that can with certainty be traced to this year. But the beautiful and passionate Sonata in A (op. 101), which was inspired by and dedicated to his dear friend Madame Ertmann—'Liebe werthe Dorothea Cecilia'—was probably composed at the end of this year, since it was played in public on Feb. 18, 1816, though not published for a year after. The national airs which he had in hand since 1810 for Thomson of Edinburgh were valuable at such a time, since he could turn to these when his thoughts were too much disturbed for original composition—a parcel of Scotch Songs is dated May 1815.

The publications of 1815 are still fewer than the compositions. The Polonaise in C (op. 89)—dedicated to the Empress of Russia,[9] who had greatly distinguished Beethoven at one of Prince Rasoumoffsky's receptions—appeared in March; the Sonata op. 90, and a Song, 'Kriegers Abschied,' in June. These are all. On June 1 he wrote to Salomon, then resident in London, offering his works from op. 92 to 97 inclusive for sale, with 'Fidelio,' the Vienna Cantata, and the Battle Symphony. And this is followed in November by letters to Birchall, sending various pieces. Salomon died on Nov. 25.

The second quarrel with Stephen Breuning must have occurred in 1815[10]. Some one had urged him to warn Beethoven against pecuniary relations with his brother Caspar, whose character in money matters was not satisfactory. Breuning conveyed the hint to Beethoven, and he, with characteristic earnestness and simplicity, and with that strange fondness for his unworthy brothers which amounted almost to a passion, at once divulged to his brother not only the warning but the name of his informant. A serious quarrel naturally ensued between Breuning and Caspar, which soon spread to Beethoven himself, and the result was that he and Breuning were again separated—this time for several years. The letter in which Beethoven at last asks pardon of his old friend can hardly be omitted from this sketch. Though undated it was written in 1826.[11] It contained his miniature painted by Hornemann in 1802, and ran as follows (the original has Du and dein throughout):—

'Beneath this portrait, dear Stephen, may all that has for so long gone on between us be for ever hidden. I know how I have torn your heart. For this the emotion that you must certainly have noticed in me has been sufficient punishment. My feeling towards you was not malice. No—I should no longer be worthy of your friendship; it was passionate love for you and myself; but I doubted you dreadfully, for people came between

  1. Schindler, i. 198.
  2. The glorious Moment. See Nottebohm, Catalogue, op. 136.
  3. Nottebohm, N. B. No. XII.
  4. Letter to Archduke, Köchel, p. 31.
  5. His note to the Archduke, Köchel, p. 29.
  6. Schindler, i. 202.
  7. To Kanka [App. p.533 "Kauka", Feb. 24, 1815.
  8. B. & H. 239 & 245.
  9. The Pianoforte arrangement of the Symphony in A is also dedicated to her.
  10. Schindler (i. 228) says 1817; but it is obvious that it happened before Caspar's death (Breuning, 45).
  11. Schindler, i. 228; ii. 128.