Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/89

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��RASOUMOWSKY.

dedicated three of his greatest works, and whose name will always survive in connexion with the

  • Rasoumowsky Quartets' (op. 59). He was the

son of Kyrill (i.e. Cyril) Rasum, a peasant of Lemeschi, a village in the Ukraine, who, with his elder brother, was made a Count (Graf) by the Empress Elisabeth of Russia. Andreas was born Oct. 22, 1752, served in the English and Russian navies, rose to the rank of admiral, and was Russian ambassador at Venice, Naples, Copen- hagen, Stockholm, and Vienna. In England his name must have been familiar, or Foote would hardly have introduced it as he has in 'The Liar' (1762). At Vienna he married, in 1788, Elisabeth Countess of Thun, one of the ' three Graces,' elder sister of the Princess Carl Lichnowsky [see vol. ii. 132 a]; and on March 25, 1792, had his audience from the Emperor of Austria as Russian ambassador, a post which he held with short intervals for more than 20 years. He was a thorough musician, an excellent player of Haydn's quartets, in winch he took 2nd violin, not improbably studying them under Haydn himself. That, with his connexion with Lichnowsky, he must have known Beethoven is obvious ; but no direct trace of the acquaintance is found until May 26, 1806 (six weeks after the withdrawal of Fidelio), which Beethoven in his usual polyglott has marked on the first page of the Quartet in F of op. 59, as the date on which he began it ' Quartette angefangen am 26ten May 1806.'

In 1808 the Count was in possession of his own palace, in the Landstrasse suburb, on the Donau Canal, an enormous building 'on which for nearly 20 years he lavished all his means,' now the Geological Institute; and in the summer or autumn of the same year formed his famous quartet party Schuppanzigh, 1st violin ; Weiss, viola ; Lincke, cello ; and he himself 2nd violin l which for many years met in the evenings, and performed, among other compositions, Beethoven's pieces, ' hot from the fire,' under his own im- mediate instructions.

In April 1809 appeared the C minor and Pastoral Symphonies (,Nos. 5 and 6), with a dedi- cation (on the Parts) to Prince Lobkowitz and ' son excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rasum- offsky ' (Breitkopf & Hiirtel). These dedications doubtless imply that Beethoven was largely the recipient of the Count's bounty, but there is no direct evidence of it, and there is a strange absence of reference to the Count in Beethoven's letters. His name is mentioned only once July 24, 1813 and there is a distant allusion in a letter of a much later date (Nohl, Briefe B. 1865, ^- 354)- How different to the affection, the jokes, the grumbling, the intimate character, of his notes to his other friends and supporters ! In the autumn of 1814 came the Vienna Congress (Nov. i, 1814 June 9, 1815), and as the Empress of Russia was in Vienna at the time, the Am- bassador's Palace was naturally the scene of special festivities. It was not however there thai Beethoven was presented to the Empress,

��RASOUMOWSKY.

��77

�� ��i Afterwards played by Sina.

��but at the Archduke Rodolph's. 2 The Count's hospitalities were immense, and, vast as was his palace, a separate wooden annexe had to be con- structed capable of dining 700 persons.

On June 3, 1815, six days Lefore the signa- ture of the final Act of the Congress, the Count was made Prince (Fiirst), and on the 3 1st of the following December the dining-hall just mentioned was burnt down. The Emperor of Russia gave 400,000 silver roubles (40,000) towards the rebuilding, but the misfortune appears to have been too much for the Prince ; he soon after sold the property, pensioned his quartet, and disappears from musical history. The quartet kept together for many years after this date, Sina playing 2nd violin. Beethoven mentions them a propos to the Gallitzin Quartets in the letter to his nephew already referred to, about 1825. [A.W. T.)

The three quartets to which Rasoumowsky's name is attached form op. 59, and are in F, E. minor, and C respectively. The first of the three, as already mentioned, was begun May 26, 1806, and the whole three were finished and had evidently been played before Feb. 27, 1807, the date of a letter in the Allg. mus. Zeitung de- scribing their characteristics. 3 They were pub- lished in Jan. 1808 (Vienna Bureau des Arts ; Pesth, Schreyvo^el), and the dedication (on the Parts) begins 'Trois Quatuors tres humblement dedie'es a son Excellence Monsieur le Comte/ etc. Beethoven himself mentions them in a letter to Count Brunswick, which he has dated May 1 1, 1806, but which Mr. Thayer (iii. n) sees reason to date 1807.

The Quartet in F is the one which Bernard Romberg is said to have thrown on the ground and trampled upon as unplayable. The slow movement is entitled in the Sketchbook ' Einen TrauerweidenoderAkazienbaumaufsGrabmeinea Bruders ' A weeping willow or acacia tree over the grave of my brother. But which brother? Au- gust died in 1783, 23 years before, Carl not till 10 years after, and Johann not till 1848. Carl's marriage-contract had however been signed only on May 25, 1806. Is it possible that this in- scription is a Beethovenish joke on the occasion ? If so, he began in fun and ended in earnest. Mendelssohn was accustomed to say that this Quartet, and that in F minor (op. 95), were the most Beethoveuish of all Beethoven's works. The finale has a Russian theme in D minor lor its principal subject :

Thfcme russe. Allegro. /- . ^ x

��tempre

��* Schindler, I. 233 (quoted by Thayer, Hi. 321). The statement under BEETHOVEN [vol. 1. 192 a] is incorrect,

3 They are again alluded to in the number for May 5 as more and more successful, and possibly to be soon published ; and then, with. astonishing naiveU, follows ' Kberl's newest compositions, too, are anticipated with great pleasure ' !

�� �