Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/713

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had recently risked by bringing out an opera in Paris. Pianoforte music had originated in London a quarter of a century before, and at Steibelt's arrival no fewer than three players and composers of the first magnitude were resident there, de- menti, Dussek, and Cramer. Few particulars of Steibelt's life in London have been recorded. His first public performance seems to have been at Salomon's Benefit Concert on May 1, 1 797, and a fortnight later (May 15) he played a pianoforte concerto of his own at an opera concert. Not long after this he wrote the celebrated Pianoforte Concerto in E (No. 3), containing the 'Storm Rondo.' Whatever may be thought of the merits of this work now, its popularity at the beginning of the century was enormous, and far exceeded that accorded to any other of Steibelt's composi- tions. It is not too much to say that it was played in every drawing-room in England ; in- deed, the notorious 'Battle of Prague' alone could compete with it in popular favour. It was, in all probability, first performed in public at Salomon's concert on March 19, 1798. At the close of the same year (Dec. n) its author again came forward as a composer for the stage, and again met with a favourable reception. His work on this occasion was an English opera, or, as it was described in the Covent Garden play-bill, 'a new grand Heroic Romance, in 3 acts, called Albert and Adelaide ; or the Victim of Constancy.' It must have been an extra- ordinary medley. The first two acts were a translation from the German of Schoerer, who had taken them from the French, and the third act was added from another French play. The music was only in part original, and was eked out by the insertion of a Quintet from 'Lodoiska' and the like expedients. Even the original music was not all written by Steibelt, as Attwood contributed some of it. 1 Yet, after all, the most curious part of this curious production must have been the Overture, which was 'en- livened by a pantomime' ! Such as it was, however, the piece proved sufficiently attractive to keep the boards for some time, and the Over- ture, arranged for the pianoforte, was published in France and sold in Germany. As teacher and performer Steibelt appears to have been as fully employed during his stay of three years or so in London as he had been previously in Paris. Whether he was as much liked by his brother artists as by the amateurs seems very problem- atical ; at any rate his music is conspicuous by its absence in the concert programmes of the time. Two other circumstances of interest connected with Steibelt's visit to England have been pre- served. The first of these is the fact that he conceived a decided predilection for English pianofortes, always using them in preference to any others ; the second is his marriage with a young Englishwoman, described as possessed of considerable personal attractions and as a good player on the pianoforte and tambourine. The

i This Information is derived from an advertisement of Longman, Clement! & Co. in the ' Morning Chronicle ' of Jan. 22, 1799. These pasticcio* were common enouuh then, and until the end of the first ijuarter of the present century.



��last-named accomplishment led her husband to add a tambourine accompaniment to many of his subsequent pieces.

Steibelt now resolved on visiting his native country, from which he had been absent, accord- ing to some authorities, as much as fifteen years. He reached Hamburg in September or October 1 799, but made no great stay there. His next stopping-place was Dresden, where he met with a very enthusiastic reception. Besides several more or less private performances, he gave a concert of his own on Feb. 4, 1800, with the greatest success. Almost immediately after this he went to Prague. His concert in the Bohemian capital attracted a large audience of the upper classes and brought him no less than 1800 gulden, but his playing made little impression, and he went on forthwith to Berlin. 3 Before the end of April he had given two performances in his- native city. It was not very likely that his style would please audiences who still held to the traditions of the school of Bach, and the main result of his visit seems to have been to give great offence to his brother artists. From the capital of Prussia he turned to the capital of Austria, then the metropolis of the musical world, where he arrived about the middle of May. We are told that his reputation was such as to cause some anxiety even to Beethoven's friends. If such was the case they were speedily relieved. At the first meeting a sort of armed truce was observed, but at the second Steibelt was rash enough to issue a distinct challenge. Beethoven was not the man to decline such a contest, and his victory was so decided that his rival refused to meet him again. [See BEE- THOVEN, vol. i. pp. 168 a, 178 &.] This adventure was not likely to contribute to Steibelt's success at Vienna, and a concert that he gave at the Augarten-Saal was rather thinly attended. His German tour as a whole was only partially suc- cessful, and Steibelt determined to return to the more congenial atmosphere of Paris. He arrived there in August 1800, carrying with him the score of Haydn's ' Creation.'

The 'Creation' is one of the very few triumphs of musical art that have been received with favour from the first, and at this time an ac- tive competition for the honour of producing- it was going on everywhere. Steibelt does not seem to have been first in the field at Paris, as Pleyel, Haydn's favourite pupil, had been despatched to request the veteran composer to come and conduct his own work. Pleyel, however, was unable to reach Vienna [PLEYEL, vol. iii. p. 3 a], and the field was thus left open to Steibelt. He made the most of his opportuni- ties. Not content with obtaining 4000 francs from Erard for himself and his assistant, M. de S^gur, as the price of the translation adapted to the music, and 3600 francs for himself and 2400 francs for his fellow-translator from the administration of the Ope'ra, where the work

i All authorities seem to place the visit to Berlin between hi concert at Prague and his arrival at Vienna. Otherwise it would be natural to conjecture from the dates that he went to Berlin before going to Dresden.

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