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poems he was wont to say that they "exercised a great sway over him, not
only by their meaning, but by their rhythm also. Their language urged
him on to composition."

But of all the blissful influences which tended to make this time the
happiest in his life, not one was so powerful as that of Madame von
Breuning herself. To her everlasting honour be it said that she was the
first of the very few individuals who ever thoroughly understood the
morbid and apparently contradictory character of Beethoven; and greatly
is it to the credit of the latter that he merited the love of such a
woman. Not his abilities alone gave him a place in her heart; it was his
true, noble, generous nature that won for him a continuance of the
favours first bestowed upon the artist. Madame v. Breuning thoroughly
appreciated Beethoven; he felt that she did. Hence the tacit confidence
that existed between them - he coming to her as to a mother, and she
advising him as she would have done one of her own sons. Beethoven used
to say of her that she understood how to "keep the insects from the

Even she, however, sometimes failed in one point, that, namely, of
inducing him to give his lessons regularly. It has been hinted before
that this was an unpalatable task to Beethoven. Wegeler describes him as
going to it _ut iniquæ mentis asellus_, and this dislike grew with every
succeeding year. Even his subsequent relation to his illustrious friend
and pupil, the Archduke Rudolph, was in the highest degree irksome to
him; he looked upon it as a mere court service. But while in Bonn our
composer was not in a position to choose his occupation. "Necessity
knows no law," and the higher claims of genius were forced to submit to
very sublunary considerations. Madame v. Breuning's representations
would sometimes succeed so far as to induce him to go to the house of
his pupil; but it was generally only to say that he "could not give his
lesson at that time - he would give two the next day instead." On such
occasions she would smile and say, "Ah! Beethoven is in a _raptus_
again!" an expression which the composer treasured up mentally, and was
fond of applying to himself in after life.

About this time also Beethoven gained another friend, Count Waldstein, a
young nobleman, who was passing the probationary time previously to
being admitted into the Teutonic Order, at Bonn, under the Grand-Master,
Max Franz. Beethoven afterwards expressed his obligations to him in the
dedication of the colossal sonata Op. 53.

He became a frequent visitor to the young organist's miserable room,
which he soon enlivened by the present of a grand pianoforte, and here
the friends - to outward appearance so different - doubtless passed many a
happy hour, for Waldstein was an excellent musician, and an enthusiastic
admirer of Beethoven's improvisations.

These were also one of the great pleasures in the Breuning circle, where
Wegeler relates that Beethoven would often yield to the general request,
and depict on the pianoforte the character of some well-known
personage. On one occasion Franz Ries, who was present, was asked to
join, which he did - probably the only instance on record of two artists
improvising on different instruments at one and the same time.

We have long lost sight of Johann v. Beethoven, however, and must
retrace our steps to see what has become of him. By the year 1789 he had
grown so hopelessly incapable that it was proposed to send him out of
Bonn on a pension of one hundred thalers, while the remaining hundred of
his former salary should be spent on his children. This plan was not
fully carried out, but the father's salary was by the Elector's orders
paid into Ludwig's hands, and entrusted to his management; so that the
young man of nineteen was the real head of the family.

The Elector Max Franz now followed the example of his predecessor, and
established a national theatre. Beethoven was not this time _cembalist_
to the company; he played the viol in the orchestra, whither he was
often accompanied by his friend Stephan Breuning, who handled the bow
creditably enough. For four years Beethoven occupied this post, and the
solid advantage it was to him is shown in his subsequent orchestration.

In the autumn of the year 1791 an incident occurred which broke the
monotony of the court life, and gives us an interesting side-glimpse of
our young musician. The Teutonic Order, referred to before, held a grand
conclave at Mergentheim, at which the Elector as Grand-Master was
obliged to be present. He had passed some months there two years
before, and had probably found time hang somewhat heavy on his hands; at
any rate, he resolved that his private musical and theatrical staff
should attend him on this occasion.

The announcement of this determination was received with great
approbation by all concerned, and Lux, the first comedian of the day,
was unanimously chosen king of the expedition. His Majesty then
proceeded to appoint the various officers of the household, among whom
Beethoven and Bernhard Romberg (afterwards the greatest violoncellist of
his time) figure as Scullions. Two ships were chartered for the
occasion, and King Lux and his court floated lazily down the Rhine and
the Main, between the sunny vine-clad hills where the peasants were hard
at work getting in the best harvest of the year. It was a merry time,
and, as Beethoven afterwards said, "a fruitful source of the most
beautiful images."

We can imagine the boat gliding peacefully along under the calm moonlit
sky - Beethoven sitting by himself, enjoying the unusual _dolce far
niente_; his companions a little apart are chanting a favourite
boat-song; the harmonious sounds rise and fall, alternating with the
gentle ripple on the water - and the young maestro, pondering on his
future life, tries to read his destiny in the "golden writing" of the
stars. Is not some such scene the background to the Adagio in the
"Sonata quasi Fantasia," dedicated to the Countess Giulietta?

At Aschaffenburg, Simrock, a leading member of the company (afterwards
the celebrated music-publisher), deemed it necessary that a deputation
(which included Beethoven) should pay a visit of respect to the Abbé
Sterkel, one of the greatest living pianists.

They were very graciously received, and the Abbé, in compliance with the
pressing request of his visitors, sat down to the pianoforte, and played
for some time. Beethoven, who had never before heard the instrument
touched with the same elegance, listened with the deepest attention, but
refused to play when requested to do so in his turn. It has been
mentioned that his style was somewhat hard and rough, and he naturally
feared the contrast with Sterkel's flowing ease. In vain his companions,
who, with true _esprit de corps_, were proud of their young colleague,
urged him to the pianoforte, till the Abbé turning the conversation on a
work of Beethoven's, lately published, hinted, with disdain either real
or assumed, that he did not believe the composer could master the
difficulties of it himself. (The work alluded to was a series of
twenty-four variations on Righini's Theme "Vieni Amore.") This touched
Beethoven's honour; he yielded without further hesitation, and not only
played the published variations, but invented others infinitely more
complicated as he went along, assuming the gliding, graceful style of
Sterkel in such a manner as utterly to bewilder the bystanders, who
overwhelmed him with applause.

It was perhaps after this display that he was promoted to a higher post
in King Lux's service by the royal letters patent, and to this weighty
document a great seal - stamped in pitch on the lid of a little box - was
attached by threads made of unravelled rope, which gave it quite an
imposing aspect. Seven years afterwards Wegeler discovered this
_plaisanterie_ carefully treasured among Beethoven's possessions, a
proof of the enjoyment afforded him by this excursion.

At Mergentheim the sensation created by the Elector's musicians was
immense. In an old newspaper exhumed by the indefatigable Thayer, the
following notice of Beethoven occurs.

The writer is Carl Ludwig Junker, chaplain to Prince Hohenlohe, and
himself a composer and critic of no mean reputation. After giving a
general account of the whole orchestra, he goes on: -

"I have heard one of the greatest players on the pianoforte, the
dear, worthy Beethoven.... I believe we may safely estimate the
artistic greatness of this amiable man by the almost inexhaustible
wealth of his ideas, the expression - peculiar to himself - with which
he plays, and his great technical skill. I should be at a loss to
say what quality of the great artist is still wanting to him. I have
heard Vogler[4] play on the pianoforte often, very often, and for
hours at a time, and have always admired his great execution; but
Beethoven, in addition to his finished style, is more speaking, more
significant, more full of expression, - in short, more for the heart;
consequently as good an Adagio as an Allegro player. Even the
first-rate artists of this orchestra are his admirers, and all ear
when he plays. He is excessively modest, without any pretensions
whatever.... His playing differs so materially from the ordinary
mode of touching the piano, that it appears as though he had
intended to lay out a path for himself, in order to arrive at the
perfection which he has now attained."

But even the pleasantest things must come to an end, and the expedition
to Mergentheim was no exception to the rule. In a few weeks, Archbishop,
musicians, and actors were once more at Bonn, busily engaged in
preparing for Christmas.

About this time Beethoven was nominated Court pianist, an appointment
due partly to his friend, Count Waldstein, partly also to the following
circumstance, which gave the Elector a striking proof of his young
_protégé's_ abilities. A new Trio by Pleyel had been sent to Max Franz,
and so great was his impatience to hear it that nothing would content
him but its immediate performance, without previous rehearsal, by
Beethoven, Ries, and Romberg.

To hear was to obey, and the Trio was played at sight very fairly, the
performers keeping well together. It was then discovered that two bars
in the pianoforte part had been omitted, and supplied by Beethoven so
ingeniously that not the slightest break was perceptible!

In the same year, 1791, Beethoven wrote the music for a splendid _bal
masqué_, organized by his friend Waldstein, and attended by all the
nobility for miles around. It was believed for long that Waldstein was
the author of the music.

Beethoven, meanwhile, continued his intimacy with the Breuning family,
where from time to time another attraction offered itself in the person
of Fräulein Jeannette d'Honrath, a young lady of Cologne, who
occasionally paid a visit of a few weeks to her friend Eleanore.

It has been asserted by some writers that Beethoven was insensible to
the charms of woman, and that love was to him a sealed book! For the
refutation of this statement it is only necessary to turn to his works,
which breathe a very different story to such as have ears to hear. For
those who have not, let the testimony of his friend Wegeler suffice:
"Beethoven was _never_ without a love, and generally in the highest
degree enamoured." The reason why his love was fated never to expand and
ripen will be explained in its own place. Here it is sufficient to say
that Beethoven, while glowing with fire and tenderness, eminently
calculated to love and be loved, was throughout his whole life, and in
every relation, delicacy itself; his nature shrunk instinctively from
anything like impurity.

To return: Mademoiselle Jeannette, a fascinating little blonde, divided
her attentions so equally between Beethoven and his friend Stephan, and
sang so charmingly about her heart being _desolé_ when the time for
parting came, that each believed himself the favoured one, until it
transpired that the "Herzchen had long since been bestowed" in its
entirety on a gallant Austrian officer, whom the young lady
subsequently married, and who afterwards rose to the rank of general.

There does not seem to have been any attachment between Beethoven and
Leonore; she was his pupil, his sister,[5] but nothing more; her
affections were already given to young Wegeler, whose wife she
afterwards became.

So our Beethoven was left to gnaw his fingers for the loss of his pretty
Jeannette, and to flutter on the outside of the crowd which hovered
round fair Barbara Koch, the beauty of Bonn, daughter of a widow,
proprietress of a coffee-house or tavern.

What! exclaims the reader, is this an instance of the so-called
"aristocratic leanings" of Beethoven?

We must beg him in reply not to look at things through exclusively
British and nineteenth century spectacles. The position of worthy Frau
Koch was, if not distinguished, certainly respectable.

Lewes, in his Life of Goethe, was obliged to combat with the same
prejudice in his account of the poet's student days at Leipzig, and we
cannot do better than quote his words with regard to the society to be
found in a German Wirthshaus of the period: -

"The _table d'hôte_ is composed of a circle of habitués, varied by
occasional visitors, who in time become, perhaps, members of the circle.
Even with strangers conversation is freely interchanged, and in a little
while friendships are formed, as natural tastes and likings assimilate,
which are carried out into the current of life."

The habitués of Frau Koch's house were the professors and students at
the university, and such members of the Electoral household as were
engaged in artistic pursuits. It was a rendezvous for them all, where
science, literature, art, and politics were discussed by able men; and
here, doubtless, Beethoven, with his friends Stephan Breuning and young
Reicha (nephew of the director), spent many a pleasant evening. The fair
Babette was, as we have hinted, no small attraction. She was a
cultivated woman, and the great friend of Eleanore v. Breuning. She
afterwards became governess to the children of Count Anton von
Belderbusch, whom she finally married.

We now come to an event which completely changed the current of
Beethoven's life - the return of Joseph Haydn from his second visit to
London. As he passed through Bonn the musicians gave him a public
breakfast at Godesberg, on which occasion Beethoven laid before him a
cantata of his composition - probably that on the death of Leopold II. It
met with the warmest praise from Haydn, but the author apparently did
not think highly of it himself, as it was never printed.

Whether the arrangements were made at this time for Haydn's reception of
Beethoven as his pupil, or negotiated afterwards through Waldstein, is
not known. Certain it is that in the October of 1792 we find his
long-delayed hopes on the point of realization, a pension from the
Elector having removed all difficulties.

Beethoven had often bemoaned in secret, and specially to his friend
Waldstein, the irregular, broken instruction he had received,
attributing Mozart's early success to the systematic course of study he
had pursued under the guidance of his father. It is a question, however,
whether Beethoven - even had he enjoyed the advantages of Mozart - would
ever have composed with the facility of the latter. Thayer thinks not;
there is evidence enough in the symphonies, &c., of our great master to
prove that he "earned his bread by the sweat of his brow."

The following note from Waldstein evinces the deep interest he took in
Beethoven, and his faith in the young composer's genius: -

"DEAR BEETHOVEN, - "You are now going to Vienna for the realization
of your wishes, so long frustrated. The Genius of Mozart still
mourns and laments the death of his disciple. He found refuge with
the inexhaustible Haydn, but no scope for action, and through him he
now wishes once more to be united to some one. Receive, through
unbroken industry, the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn.

"Your true friend,
"Bonn, _29th October, 1792_."

In the beginning of November, then, 1792, Beethoven finally took leave
of his boyhood's friends - father and brothers, Wegeler, Franz Ries,
Neefe, Reicha, Waldstein, pretty Barbara Koch, and, hardest of all, the

Some of these he saw for the last time.

He was destined never again to tread the old familiar streets of Bonn.


[Footnote 4: One of the greatest pianists of the time.]

[Footnote 5: The following birthday greeting, surrounded by a wreath of
flowers and accompanied by a silhouette of Eleanore, was found among
Beethoven's papers: -

"Glück und langes Leben
Wünsch' ich heute Dir,
Aber auch daneben
Wünsch' ich etwas mir!
Mir in Rücksicht Deiner
Wünsch' ich Deine Huld,
Dir in Rücksicht meiner
Nachsicht und Geduld!

"Von Ihrer Freundin und Schülerin,







Arrival in Vienna - Studies with Haydn - Timely Assistance of
Schenk - Albrechtsberger - Beethoven as a Student - His Studies in
Counterpoint - Letters to Eleanore v. Breuning.

Behold, then, our young musician at the long-desired goal - free from all
depressing, pecuniary cares, with his pension secure from the Elector,
and a little fund of his own to boot. He reached the capital about the
middle of November, alone and friendless; nor is there any proof that
the advent of the insignificant, clumsily built provincial youth made
the slightest sensation, or roused the interest of one individual among
the many thousands who thronged the busy streets.

His first care, as shown from a little pocket-book still preserved, was
to seek out a lodging suitable to his slender purse; his next, to
procure a pianoforte. The first requirement he at length met with in a
small room on "a sunk floor," which commended itself by the low rent
asked for it. Here Beethoven contentedly located himself until
fortune's smiles had begun to beam so brightly on him that he felt
entitled to remove to more airy lodgings.

We may be sure that he lost no time in setting about the purpose which
he had most at heart, and enrolling himself among Haydn's pupils, for he
could not have been more than eight weeks in Vienna when the master
wrote to Bonn, "I must now give up all great works to him [Beethoven],
and soon cease composing."

The harmony, however, which at first existed between Haydn and his pupil
was soon disturbed. The former seems to have been always pleased with
the work executed by Beethoven, who, on the contrary, was very much
dissatisfied with the instruction given by the master. He was obliged,
in this instance, to make the same experience that he had formerly
confided to Junker, at Mergentheim, regarding pianoforte players, viz.,
that he had seldom found what he believed himself entitled to expect.
Distance lends enchantment to the view; and the keen, striving worker
soon discovered that Haydn was not the profound, earnest thinker that
his longing fancy had painted in Bonn.

But an unexpected help was at hand. One day as he was returning from his
lesson at Haydn's house, his portfolio under his arm, he met a friend
whose acquaintance he had only recently made, but with whom he was
already on intimate terms - Johann Schenk, a thorough and scholarly
musician, afterwards well known as the composer of the "Dorfbarbier,"
and one of the most amiable of men. To him Beethoven confided his
troubles, bitterly lamenting the slow progress his knowledge of
counterpoint made under Haydn's guidance. Somewhat astounded, Schenk
examined the compositions in Beethoven's portfolio, and discovered many
faults which had been passed over without correction.

Haydn's conduct in this instance has never been explained. Generally
conscientious in the discharge of his duties as an instructor, this
carelessness must have arisen either from a pressure of work, or from
some undefined feeling with regard to Beethoven, which prompted him to
give him as little assistance as possible. The latter supposition is
hardly compatible with the terms in which he wrote of his pupil to Bonn,
but Beethoven could never shake off the idea that Haydn did not mean
well by him - a suspicion which was strengthened by what afterwards

Excessively irritated by Schenk's discovery, Beethoven would have gone
on the impulse of the moment to reproach Haydn and break off all
connection with him. Schenk, however, who had early perceived
Beethoven's worth, succeeded in calming him, promising him all the
assistance in his power, and pointing out the folly of a course which
would inevitably have led to the withdrawal of the pension from Max
Franz, who would naturally have disbelieved any complaint against the
greatest master of the day, and have attributed Beethoven's conduct to
wrong motives. The young man had the sense to perceive the justice of
these remarks, and continued to bring his work to Haydn (Schenk always
giving it a strict revisal) until the latter's journey to England in
1794 afforded a feasible opportunity of providing himself with a better

Thus, although neither cordially liked the other, a tolerable appearance
of friendship was maintained. It was, perhaps, impossible that, between
two such totally different natures the connection could have been
otherwise. Haydn was genial and affable; from his long contest with
poverty, rather obsequious; not apt to take offence or to imagine
slights; ready to render unto Cæsar his due; in short, a courtier.

What greater contrast to all this can be imagined than our proud,
reserved, brusque Beethoven? _He_ pay court to princes, or wait with
"bated breath" upon their whims! He, the stormy republican, who regarded
all men as on the same level, and would bow to nothing less than the
Divine in man!

Haydn, who had laughingly bestowed on him the title of the "Great
Mogul," probably felt that there was no real sympathy, or possibility of
such a feeling, between them. Nevertheless, as we have said, they
continued to outward seeming friends, though Beethoven's suspicions
would not allow him to accept Haydn's offer of taking him to London. He
accompanied him, however, in the summer to Eisenstadt, the residence of
Prince Esterhazy, Haydn's patron, and on this occasion left the
following note for Schenk, which shows the friendly feeling existing
between them: -

"DEAR SCHENK, - I did not know that I should set off to-day for
Eisenstadt. I should like much to have spoken once more to you.
Meanwhile, depend upon my gratitude for the kindnesses you have
shown me. I shall endeavour, so far as is in my power, to requite

"I hope to see you soon again, and to enjoy the pleasure of your
society. Farewell, and don't quite forget


One of Beethoven's peculiarities may as well be referred to here in
passing. Although living in the same town with many of his friends - nay,
within a few minutes walk of them, - years would elapse without their
coming in contact, unless they continually presented themselves to his
notice, and so _would_ not let themselves be forgotten. Absorbed in his
creations, the master lived in a world of his own; consequently, many
little circumstances in his career, in reality proceeding from this
abstraction, were at the time attributed to very different motives.

His connection with Schenk is an instance of this. Though both inhabited
Vienna, they had not met for many years, when in 1824 Beethoven and his
friend Schindler encountered Schenk - then almost seventy years of
age - in the street. If his old teacher had spent the intervening years
in another world, and suddenly alighted from the clouds, Beethoven could
not have been more surprised and delighted. To drag him into the
quietest corner of the "Jägerhorn" (a tavern close at hand) was the
work of a moment, and there for hours the old friends mutually compared
notes, and reviewed the ups and downs of fortune that had befallen them
since the days when the Great Mogul used to storm Schenk's lodgings and
abuse his master. When they parted it was in tears, never to meet again.

The opportune departure of Haydn allowed Beethoven to place himself
under the instruction of Albrechtsberger, the cathedral organist. This
man, who counted among his pupils not only Beethoven, but Hummel and
Seyfried, was a walking treatise on counterpoint; but far from investing

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