Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/206

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194
BEETHOVEN.
 

but not till Jan. 7, 1820. Meantime his energies were taken up with the contest and the various worries and quarrels which arose out of it, involving the writing of a large number of long and serious letters. How he struggled and suffered the following entry in his diary of the early part of 1818 will show:—'Gott, Gott, mein Hort, mein Fels, o mein Alles, du siehst mein Inneres und weisst wie wehe mir es thut Jemanden leiden machen müssen bei meinem guten Werke for meinen theuren Karl. O höre stets Unaussprechlicher, höre mich—deinen unglücklichen unglücklichsten aller Sterblichen.' Between the dates just mentioned, of the beginning and ending of the law-suits, he completed no orchestral music at all. Apart from sympathy for a great composer in distress, and annoyance at the painful and undignified figure which he so often presented, we have indeed no reason to complain of a period which produced the three gigantic Pianoforte Sonatas, op. 106,[1] op. 109,[2] and op. no 110[3]—which were the net product of the period; but such works produce no adequate remuneration, and it is not difficult to understand that during the law-suit he must have been in very straitened circumstances, cheap as education and living were in Vienna at that date. His frequent letters to Ries and Birchall in London at this time urging his works on them for the English market are enough to prove the truth of this. One result of these negotiations was the purchase by the Philharmonic Society, through Mr. Neate, under minute of July 11, 1815, of the MS. overtures to the 'Ruins of Athens,' ' King Stephen' and op. 115, for 75 guineas. To make matters worse Prince Lobkowitz died on Dec. 16, 1816, and with him—notwithstanding that here too Beethoven appealed to the law—all benefit from that quarter ceased. His pension was therefore from that date diminished to about £110. The few compositions attributable to this period are an arrangement of his early C minor Trio (op. 1) as a String Quintet (op. 104); two sets of national airs with variations for Piano and Flute (op. 105 and 107), a few songs—'So oder so,' 'Abendlied,' and the Hymn of the Monks in 'William Tell'[4] in memory of his old friend Krumpholz, who died May 2—and others. None of these can have been remunerative; in fact some of them were certainly presented to the publishers.

An incident of this date which gratified him much was the arrival of a piano from Broadwoods. Mr. Thomas Broadwood, the then head of the house, had recently made his acquaintance in Vienna, and the piano seems to have been the result of the impression produced on him by Beethoven. The Philharmonic Society are sometimes credited with the gift, but no resolution or minute to that effect exists in their records. The books of the firm however, show that on Dec. 27, 1817, the grand piano No. 7362[5] was forwarded to Beethoven's address. A letter appears to have been written to him at the same time by Mr. Broadwood, which was answered by Beethoven immediately on its receipt. His letter has never been printed, and is here given exactly in his own strange French.[6]

'A Monsieur Monsieur Thomas Broad vood a Londres (en Angleterre).

Mon très cher Ami Broadvood!

jamais je n'eprouvais pas un plus grand Plaisir de ce que me causa votre Annonce de l'arrivée de cette Piano, avec qui vous m'honorez de m'en faire présent; je regarderai come un Autel, ou je deposerai les plus belles offrandes de mon esprit au divine Apollon. Aussitôt come je recevrai votre Excellent instrument, je vous enverrai d'en abord les Fruits de l'inspiration des premiers moments, que j'y passerai, pour vous servir d'un souvenir de moi à, vous mon très cher B., et je ne souhaits ce que, qu'ils soient dignes de votre instrument.

Mon cher Monsieur et ami recevéz ma plus grande consideration de votre ami et très humble serviteur Louis van Beethoven. Vienne le 3me du mois Fevrier 1818.'

The instrument in course of time reached[7] its destination, was unpacked by Streicher, and first tried by Mr. Cipriani Potter, at that time studying in Vienna. What the result of Beethoven's own trial of it was is not known. At any rate no further communication from him reached the Broadwoods.

A correspondence however took place through Ries with the Philharmonic Society on the subject of his visiting England. The proposal of the Society was that he should come to London for the spring of 1818, bringing two new MS. Symphonies to be their property, and for which they were to give the sum of 300 guineas. He demanded 400,—150 to be in advance.[8] However, other causes put an end to the plan, and on the 5th of the following March he writes to say that health has prevented his coming. He was soon to be effectually nailed to Vienna. In the summer of 1818 the Archduke[9] had been appointed Archbishop of Olmütz. Beethoven was then in the middle of his great Sonata in B♭ (op. 106), and of another work more gigantic still; but he at once set to work with all his old energy on a grand Mass for the installation, which was fixed for March 20, 1820. The score was begun in the autumn of 1818, and the composition went on during the following year, uninterrupted by any other musical work, for the B♭ Sonata was completed for press by March 1819, and the only other pieces attributable to that year are a short Canon for 3 Voices ('Glück zum neuen Jahr'),

  1. Composed 1818-19, and published Sept. 1819.
  2. Composed 1819-20, published Nov. 1821.
  3. Dated Dec. 25, 1821, and published Aug. 1822.
  4. B. & H. 224, 247, 255.
  5. The compass of this instrument was 6 octaves, from C five lines below the Bass stave. A sister piano, No. 7252, of the same compass and qaulity for the Princess Charlotte, and is now at Claremonth. The number of grand pianos (full and concert only) now (Feb. 1878) reached by the firm is 21,150.
  6. This interesting autograph is in the possession of Mr. M. M. Holloway, to whom I am indebted for its presence here.
  7. The note from Broadwood's agent in Vienna which accompanied this letter shows that all freight and charges were paid by the giver of the piano.
  8. Letter to Ries, July 9, 1817; and Hogarth's Philharmonic Society, p. 18.
  9. Schindler, i, 269.