Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/205

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BEETHOVEN.
193
 

us who were unworthy of us both. My portrait has long been intended for you. I need not tell you that I never meant it for any one else. Who could I give it to with my warmest love so well as to you, true, good, noble Stephen? Forgive me for distressing you; I have suffered myself as much as you have. It was only when I had you no longer with me that I first really felt how dear you are and always will be to my heart. Come to my arms once more as you used to do.'

October was passed in Baden, chiefly in bed.

On Nov. 15 of this year Caspar Carl Beethoven died—a truly unfortunate event for Ludwig. Caspar had for long received pecuniary assistance from his brother, and at his death he charged him with the maintenance of his son Carl, a lad between 8 and 9. This boy, whose charge Beethoven undertook with all the simplicity and fervour of his nature, though no doubt often with much want of judgment, was quite unworthy of his great uncle. The charge altered Beethoven's nature, weaned him from his music, embroiled him with his friends, embittered his existence with the worry of continued contentions and reiterated disappointments, and at last, directly or indirectly, brought the life of the great composer to an end long before its natural term.

On Christmas Day, at a concert in the Redouten Saal for the benefit of the Bürger Hospital, Beethoven produced his new Overture and Meerestille, and performed the 'Mount of Olives.' As an acknowledgment for many similar services the municipal council had recently conferred upon him the freedom of the city—Ehrenbürgerthum. It was the first public title that the great roturier had received. He was not even a Capellmeister, as both [1]Mozart and Haydn had been, and his advocate was actually forced to invent that title for him, to procure tie necessary respect for his memorials in the lawsuit which occupied so many of his years after this date.[2] It is a curious evidence of the singular position he held among musicians. He was afterwards made a member of the Philharmonic Societies of Stockholm and Amsterdam, and received Orders from some of the Courts in exchange for his Mass, but the one title he valued was that of Ton-dichter—'Poet in music.'[3]

The resuscitation of his Oratorio is perhaps connected with a desire in Beethoven's mind to compose a fresh one. At any rate he was at this time in communication both with the Tonkünstler Societät and the Gesellschaft der Musik- Freunde of Vienna on the subject. By the latter body the matter was taken up in earnest. Subject and poet were left to himself, and a payment of 300 gold ducats was voted to him for the use of the oratorio for one year. The negotiation dragged on till 1824 and came to nothing, for the same ostensible reason that his second Opera did, that no good libretto was forthcoming.[4]

1816 was a great year for publication. The Battle Symphony in March; the Violin Sonata and the B♭ Trio (op. 96, 97)—both dedicated to the Archduke—in July; the 7th Symphony—dedicated to Count Fries, with a pianoforte arrangement, to the Empress of Russia; the String Quartet in F minor (op. 95)—to Zmeskall; and the beautiful Liederkreis (op. 98) to Prince Lobkowitz; all three in December. These, with the 8th Symphony and three detached Songs, form a list rivalling, if not surpassing, that of 1809. The only compositions of this year are the Liederkreis (April), a Military March in D, 'for the Grand Parade' (Wachtparade), June 4, 1816;[5] a couple of songs; and a trifle in the style of a birthday cantata for Prince Lobkowitz.[6] This is the date of a strange temporary fancy for German in preference to Italian which took possession of him. Some of his earlier pieces contain German terms, as the Six Songs, op. 75, and the Sonata 81a. They reappear in the Liederkreis (op. 98) and Merkenstein (op. 100) and come to a head in the Sonata op. 101, in which all the indications are given in German, and the word 'Hammerklavier' appears for 'Pianoforte' in the title. The change is the subject of two letters to Steiner.[7] He continued to use the name 'Hammerklavier' in the sonatas op. 106, 109, and 110; and there apparently this vernacular fit ceased.[8]

Beethoven had a violent dislike to his brother's widow, whom he called the 'Queen of Night,' and believed, rightly or wrongly, to be a person of bad conduct. He therefore lost no time in obtaining legal authority for taking his ward out of her hands and placing him with Giannatasio del Rio, the head of an educational institution in Vienna; allowing his mother to see him only once a month. This was done in February 1816, and the arrangement existed till towards the end of the year, when the widow appears to have appealed with success against the first decree. The cause had been before the Landrechts court, on the assumption that the van in Beethoven's name indicated nobility. This the widow disputed, and on Beethoven's being examined on the point he confirmed her argument by pointing successively to his head and his heart saving—'My nobility is here and here.' The case was then sent down to a lower court, where the magistrate was notoriously inefficient, and the result was to take the child from his uncle on the ground that his deafness unfitted him for the duties of a guardian. Carl's affairs were then put into the hands of an official, and all that Beethoven had to do was to pay for his education. Against this decree he entered an appeal which was finally decided in his favour,

  1. 'Was haben Sie da?' was the enquiry of the 'privilegirie Bettierin' when the hearse drew up with Mozart's body at the gate of the Cemetry, 'Ein Capellmeister' was the answer.
  2. Schindler, i, 202.
  3. See Breuning, 101; and compare letter to Mad. Stericher, Briefe, No. 200; and the use of the word 'gedichtet' in the title of the Oveture Op. 118.
  4. See the very curious letter from Beethoven of Jan 29, 1824, in Pohl's pamphlet, Gesellschaft, etc., 1871.
  5. B. & H. 15.
  6. See Thayer's Catalogue, No. 208.
  7. Briefe, Nos. 167, 68.
  8. The German comes out however when he is deeply moved, as in the 'Bitte fr innern und sssern Frieden,' and the 'Aengstlich' in the 'Dona' of the Mass, the 'beklemmt' in the Cavatina of the B flat Quartet, etc.