Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/692

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680

��SPONTINI.

��de Longjumeau,' and ' La Muette de Portici,' till obliged to yield to the express command of the King ; that a new code of instructions had altered his position, and made him entirely subordinate to the Intendant ; that he had been reprimanded for selling his free admissions, and had had them withdrawn; that the engagements of certain singers contained a clause stipulating that they should not be obliged to sing in Spontini's operas, etc., etc.

Thomas, when called to account, referred to an 'official of high position' as his authority. And indeed there was a certain amount of truth in the charges. Without directly opposing the production of the operas mentioned, he had not hesitated openly to avow his dislike of them ; no new code of instructions had just then been is- sued, but that of 1831 did materially strengthen the Intendant's position, and to a certain extent make the Director-general his subordinate. Spon- tini had not himself sold free admissions, but his servant had, and in consequence the allotted number had been diminished, very much to his mortification. It was advisable, however, to prevent such a newspaper scandal from reaching the King's ears, so Count Eedern replied, con- tradicting all the false statements, and passing over in silence all the true ones ; Thomas was induced to make a public apology, and the affair seemed at an end. But Spontini's troubles were not yet over ; and his unpopularity was so great that worse attacks might be expected.

On June 7, 1840, King Frederic William TIL died, and Spontini's one mainstay was gone. Though obliged occasionally to express displea- sure at his perpetual squabbles with the In- tendant, the King had been steadfast in his attachment to Spontini and his music. The new King made no change in his position, but his sympathies were in a different direction, and no place was destined for Spontini in the grand designs he was elaborating. This soon became known. If Spontini could have kept himself quiet the change might have been delayed, but he was injudicious enough to lay before the King a paper complaining of the Management and of Count Eedern. The King questioned the In- tendant, and was satisfied with his explanations, but to obviate all appearance of partisanship he appointed a commission to enquire into Spon- tini's grievances. In the meantime the press had taken up the matter. A definite attack was made, to which Spontini was unwise enough to reply (Leipzig Allgemeine Zeitung of Jan. 20, 1841) in such a manner as to give Count Redern ground for an indictment for Use-majesU, and (on Feb. 5) to a direct reprimand from the King.

But this disgraceful treatment of the royal house by a foreigner who had enjoyed for years almost unexampled court favour immensely in- creased the public feeling against Spontini, and for two months he remained in private. On April 2, however, in spite of repeated warnings, he took his seat to conduct 'Don Juan.' His appearance was the signal for a tremendous uproar, and cries of 'hinaus! hinaus !' 'off! off!' He

��SPONTINI.

stood firm, began the overture, and would have proceeded with the opera, but a rush was made to get at him on the stage, and he was forced to retire from the theatre. He never entered it again as conductor.

The trial kept Spontini in Berlin all the sum- mer, but he obtained leave from Aug. 31 to Dec. 10, and went to Paris. His connection with the opera was severed by the King on Aug. 25, on terms of royal generosity. He was to retain his title and full salary, and live where he pleased, 'in the hope that in repose he might produce new works, which the King would hail with pleasure if he chose to conduct them in person at Berlin.' To these munificent arrangements no conditions whatever were attached. Spontini was convicted of Use-majesU, and condemned to nine months' imprisonment, a sentence confirmed by the higher court to which he appealed, but remitted by the King. In the face of all this he had the effrontery to demand a further sum of 46,850 thalers, on the ground that the Man- agement had not supplied him with a sufficient number of librettos, whereby he had lost the sum guaranteed him for first nights, besides profits from other performances and from pub- lishers reckoned at 3000 thalers for each opera! The King referred him to the law- courts, but Spontini's better nature seems at length to have prevailed, and he withdrew his application Dec. 23, 1841. When he finally left Berlin in the summer of 1842 the King granted him a further sum of 6000 thalers. His friends gave him a farewell concert on July 13, 1842, for which he wrote both words and music of a song, duly performed and printed, of which a copy is appended. 1

ADIEU A MES AMIS DE BERLIN. (20 Juillet, 1842.)

ELEGIE. (Annonce.)

Asyle cher, 2 oil ma Lyre ou Musette _ A trop longtems 3 soupir^ sous mes doigtt; Te"mom discret de ma peine secrette, Ecoute-moi pour la derniere fois !

(Explication.)

Je vais partir! helas, ITieure est sonne'e, A mes Amis je dis adieu 1 . . . ; Plus ne reviendra la journe'e Qui me ram6ne dans ce lieu ! . . . . De vous revoir, Amis, plus d'espgrance, Quand je m'exile sans retour 1 Eternelle sera 1'absence ! Eternel sera mon amour !

(Reflexion.)

Pleurez, Amis, o vous, qu'un sort funeste Arrache du toit paternel ! Souvent un doux espoir nous reste ! Mais 1'adieu peut Stre kernel!

(Application.)

Adieu, me dit un tendre pere En me pressant contre son sein ! De mes pleurs j'inondais sa main I ... Et cette fois fut la derniere Ou'il dit adieu, ce tendre pere, Qu'en larmes, il me dit adieu !

The emotion expressed in these lines was no feigned one. Spontini felt leaving Berlin very

Given as printed. It seems to have been a little different at the performance. See Kobert, p. 52, etc. 2 His study. 3 Twenty-three years.

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