Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/714

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702

��STEIBELT.

��was to be performed, he transposed the part of Adam to suit the tenor Garat, and in many places even attempted to improve Haydn's music by additions and alterations of his own. In spite of these drawbacks, the performance, which took place on Christmas Eve, 1800, proved a decided success. Public curiosity was much ex- cited ; a fortnight before the performance not a box was to be had ; an eager crowd surrounded the Opera House at nine in the morning; at the end of the first part a subscription was started to strike a medal in honour of the com- poser (nay, so much was the work on every one's lips that one of the vaudeville theatres produced a parody of it three days later called 'La recreation du monde'). Key directed the performance and Steibelt presided at the piano- forte. The adaptation of the words seems to have been fairly performed ; at the alterations made in the score competent judges were, na- turally enough, extremely indignant. Moreover, the circumstances of his departure some four or five years before had not been forgotten, and thus, in spite of the eclat of the 'Creation,' Steibelt did not feel very comfortable in Paris. Even the success of his ballet 'Le Retour de Zephyr' at the Opera, on March 3, 1802, did not reconcile him to his position, and he embraced the opportunity afforded by the con- clusion of the Treaty of Amiens on the 22nd of the same month, and returned to London.

The next six years of his life, about equally divided between London and Paris, were among the busiest of his busy career. His popularity in London was as great as ever ; he lived in the most fashionable part of the town, and was re- ceived with applause wherever he went. For the King's Theatre in the Haymarket he wrote two ballets, ' Le Jugement du berger Paris ' in 3 acts (produced May 24, 1804), an( i '^a belle Laitie're' (produced Jan. 26, 1805). It seems very characteristic of the composer that his work was not ready on either occasion. In the former case several airs had to be written at a very short notice by Winter, who was also responsible for the scoring of the second act 1 ; in the latter case an apology was circulated for the omission of the denouement of the piece, ' Mr. Steibelt not having finished that part of the music.' 2 Both ballets were, nevertheless, received with great favour, the march in the first act of ' Le Juge- ment ' and the pastoral scene in the second act of 'La belle Laitie're' coming in for special applause. He also played his Pianoforte Con- certo No. 5 (a la chasse, op. 64) at the Opera -concerts, apparently in the summer of 1802, with great success. After his return to Paris Steibelt followed up his dramatic achievements in England with an Intermezzo, 'La Fete de Mars/ composed in celebration of the Austerlitz campaign, and performed at the Opera on March 4, T 806. Encouraged by these successes he again tried his hand on a larger work, 'La Princesse de Babylone/ an opera in 3 acts. This was ac-

��' Morning Chronicle,' May 25. 1804.

��2 Ibid. Jan. 28, 1806.

��STEIBELT.

cepted by the Academic and was in active pre- paration when the importunity of his creditors compelled the composer to leave Paris suddenly in the autumn of 1808. But his energies were by no means confined to writing for the stage. Several of his chief sonatas date from these years. Still more important are the two Con- certos in Eb (Nos. 4 and 5), for the pianoforte, and the 'Methode' for that instrument published in French, German, and Spanish, in which he claims to have invented the signs for the use of the Pedals adopted by dementi, Dussek, and Cramer. [See SORDINI, vol. iii. p. 636 6.] Above all, it was on his return to Paris in 1805 that he published his Etude, a collection of 50 studies in 2 books undoubtedly the best of his piano- forte works. In the midst of all this occupation he found time to meditate further travels. Russia, a country that in the previous century had at- tracted Galuppi, Paisiello, Sarti, Cimarosa, and Clementi, had just furnished an asylum to Boiel- dieu and a home to Field, was then a sort of Promised Land to French musicians, and it is not strange that Steibelt should have been more than willing to go there, when he received in 1808 the offer of a very advantageous appoint- ment from the Emperor Alexander. Owing to causes already mentioned he left Paris for St. Petersburg in October, 1808. His journey was not however very speedy when he felt himself out of the reach of his creditors. He stopped at Frankfort to give a great concert on Nov. 2, 3 and at Leipzig made a stay of some weeks and repeated the programme of the Frankfort concert. During his sojourn in Leipzig he put forth (Nov. 24, 1808) a notice in which he complains that some German publishers had issued very faulty editions of his works even going so far as to annex his name to compositions by other people, and announces his intention of having all his future works published by Breitkopf & Hartel, an intention that was not very consistently carried out. Even after leaving Leipzig he lin- gered at Breslau and Warsaw to give concerts, so that he could hardly have reached St. Petersburg till the beginning of the spring of 1809.

Here, at last, his wanderings came to an end. He was appointed, it is not very clear when, director of the Ope*ra Fran9ais, and when Boiel- dieu left, at the close of 1810, Steibelt received the title of ' Maitre de Chapelle ' to the Emperor in his place. It was, however, a title to which no emolument was attached, and that in no way relieved its possessor from professional duties. In managing and writing for the Opera, and in teaching and composing for the pianoforte, the remaining years of Steibelt's life were spent, comparatively at least without excitement. About the year 1814 he ceased to play in public, and did not appear again for six years, when the production of his Eighth Pianoforte Con- certo a very remarkable work induced him to come forward once more as a performer on March 16, 1820. Meanwhile his pen was not

3 The correspondent of the A. M. Z. (xi. 170) oddly describes him as Steibelt of London.'

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