Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/209

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
BEETHOVEN.
197
 

the regulation of the censorship, and from the difficulties of the music but which was all in time surmounted by the tact and devotion of Lichnowsky, Schindler, and Schuppanzigh, the concert took place in the Kärnthnerthor theatre on May 7.[1] The programme consisted of the Overture in C—'Weihe des Hauses'—the Kyrie, Credo, Agnus and Dona, of the Mass in D, in the form of three hymns,[2] and the 9th Symphony. The house was crowded, and the music, especially the Symphony, excited the greatest enthusiasm. It was on this occasion that the affecting incident occurred of the deaf composer being turned round by Mlle. Ungher that he might see the applause he and his music were evoking. But financially the concert was a failure. The use of the theatre, including band and chorus, cost 1000 florins, and the copying 800 more, but the prices remained as usual, so that the net result to Beethoven was but 420 florins, or under £40. Well might he say that 'after six weeks of such discussion he was boiled, stewed, and roasted.' He was profoundly distressed at the result, would eat nothing, and passed the night in his clothes. The concert, however, was repeated on the 23rd at noon, the theatre guaranteeing Beethoven 500 florins. On the second occasion all the Mass was suppressed but the Kyrie; the trio 'Tremate' and some Italian solos were introduced; the Overture and Symphony remained. The result of this was a loss to the management, and furnishes a curious trait of Beethoven's character. He could not without difficulty be induced to accept the guaranteed sum, but he invited Schindler, Schuppanzigh, and Umlauf to dinner, and then accused them in the most furious manner of having combined to cheat him over the whole transaction! This broke up the party; the three faithful friends went off elsewhere, and Beethoven was left to devour the dinner with his nephew. The immediate effect of the outbreak was to put an end to a promising negotiation which he was carrying on with Neate, who in a letter of Dec. 20, 1823, had, on the part of the Philharmonic Society, offered him 300 guineas and a benefit guaranteed at £500 for a visit to London with a Symphony and a Concerto. The terms had been accepted, and the arrangements for the journey were in a forward state; and although it is probably true that Beethoven's attachment to his nephew was too strong to allow of his leaving him when it came to the point, yet it is equally true that the event just related was the ostensible cause. Four days after he was at his beloved Baden, and craving for music paper.[3]

The subscriptions to the Mass had come in slowly, and in nine months amounted only to 350 ducats (£175) for seven copies.[4] This was too slow to satisfy the wishes of the composer. Indeed he had for some time past been negotiating in a much more mercantile style than before for the sale of Mass, Symphony, and Overture. He offered them to various publishers.[5] It is an unexpected trait in his character, and one for which we may thank his devotion to his nephew, to whom he was now sacrificing everything, that he might leave him well provided for. It resulted in his dealing for the first time with Schott, of Mayence, who purchased the Mass and the Symphony for 1000 and 600 florins respectively on July 19, 1824. He appears at this time to have taken generally a more commercial view of his position than usual, to have been occupied with plans[6] for new collected editions of his works (which however came to nothing), and generally to have shown an anxiety to make money very unlike anything before observable in him. In such calculations he was much assisted by a young man named Carl Holtz, a government employé, a good player on the violin and cello, a clever caricaturist, a bon vivant,[7] and generally a lively agreeable fellow. Holtz obtained an extraordinary influence over Beethoven. He drew him into society, induced him to be godfather to his child, to appoint him his biographer,[8] and amongst other things to forsake his usual sobriety, and to do that which has been absurdly exaggerated into a devotion to drink. That these commercial aims—too absurd if one reflects on the simple unbusinesslike character of Beethoven—and the occasional indulgence to which we have alluded, did not impair his invention or his imagination is evident from the fact that at this time he composed his last Quartets, works which, though misunderstood and naturally unappreciated at the time, are now by common consent of those who are able to judge placed at the head of Beethoven's compositions for individuality, depth of feeling, and expression. The relations with Russia, which Beethoven had originally cultivated through the Count de Browne, and the works dedicated to the Emperor of Russia and the Prince Rasoumoffsky, and which had been deepened by the personal attention shown him in 1814 by the Empress were now to bear their full fruit. Early in 1824 he received a letter from Prince Galitzin, a Russian nobleman living at Petersburg, and subsequently others, requesting him to compose three string quartets to be dedicated to the Prince and handsomely paid for. The first of these, that in E♭, sketched at Baden in the autumn of 1824, was sold to Schott[9] in advance for the sum of 50 ducats, and was completed after his return to Vienna early in October. It was first played on March 6, 1825, and published in the following March. With the Quartet Schott received the Overture op. 124, the 'Opferlied' (op. 121), and 'Bundeslied' (op. 122), an air 'An Chloe' (op. 128), and 11 Bagatelles (op. 126), for which he paid the sum of 130 ducats. The Quartet was

  1. Schindler, ii. 62–68
  2. These were thus announced, and sung to German words, owing to the interference of the Censure and the clergy. A similar stipulation is still made at Exeter hall. A Mass be announced as a 'Service.' Thus extremes meet.
  3. Letter to Steiner, May 27.
  4. Schindler, ii. 17. The subscribers were the courts of Prussia, France, Saxony, Darmstadt, and Russia; Prince Radziwill, and Mr. Schelbie, the founder of the Schiller Verein at Frankfort.
  5. See Breife, Nos. 237, 246, 255; and Neue Briefe, No. 299 note.
  6. Letter to Peters, June 5, 1822.
  7. Briefe, Nos. 368, 377.
  8. Ibid. No. 379.
  9. Letter of Sept. 17. Here again we are puzzled by the fact that the quartet was sold to Schotts before Prince Galitzin had either paid, or declined to pay, the sum he promised.