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"Farewell, my friend. It is impossible for me to call you by any
other name, however indifferent I may be to you. Pray believe that I
reverence you and your mother as highly as formerly.

"If it is in my power to contribute anything to your happiness, pray
do not fail to let me know, since it is the only means left to me of
proving my gratitude for past friendship.

"May you have a pleasant journey, and bring your dear mother back in
perfect health!

"Think sometimes of

"Your admiring Friend,

"BEETHOVEN."


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 6: The origin of this work may not be uninteresting to the
reader. It is briefly as follows. Among the effects of Beethoven offered
for sale at the public auction of 1827 were five packets of MSS.,
labelled "Exercises in Composition." These were bought by the publisher,
T. Haslinger, in the not unreasonable belief that they would be found to
present a complete view of the preparation made by the master for his
life's work. He determined to give the collection to the world, and
entrusted the editing of it to the Chevalier von Seyfried, as a friend
of Beethoven and himself a scholarly musician. In process of time the
volume appeared, and was received with very opposite sentiments by
different sections of the public: by some it was accepted as genuine; by
others rejected as a fabrication. Nottebohm's investigation has proved
the truth to lie between the two extremes. "Seyfried's book," he says,
"is neither authentic nor forged; it is a _falsified_ work." Seyfried,
in fact, seems to have gone to work with incredible recklessness; his
"Beethoven's Studies" is an _Olla Podrida_, composed of not only
Beethoven's own exercises (put together without regard to natural
sequence or chronology), but of another theoretical course, probably
that prepared by Beethoven years after for the instruction of the
Archduke Rudolph; while a third element is actually introduced in the
shape of Studies from a MS. written in a strange hand, and possibly the
work of another pupil of Albrechtsberger!]

[Footnote 7: Original father - creator.]

[Footnote 8: The following remarks are eminently characteristic of
Beethoven. When his fiery nature had led him into saying or doing
anything which subsequent reflection showed him to be contrary to true
friendship, his remorse knew no bounds. Wegeler declares that his
contrition was often entirely disproportionate to the fault committed,
as in the present instance.]

[Footnote 9: Variations on Figaro's air, "Se vuol ballare."]

[Footnote 10: Afterwards Count Marienrode, and Minister of Finance in
the kingdom of Westphalia. At a later period he filled the same office
in Wirtemberg.]

[Footnote 11: Wegeler says, "Beethoven often complained to me also of
this sort of _espionage_. He particularized the Abbé Gelinek, a very
fruitful composer of variations, in Vienna, who always settled himself
in his neighbourhood. This may have been one of the reasons why
Beethoven always looked out for a lodging in as open a place as
possible."]

[Footnote 12: _Paraquin_, contro-basso in the electoral orchestra; a
thorough musician, and universally esteemed as such.]

[Footnote 13: _Kerpen_, the residence of an uncle of Fräulein v.
Breuning, where the family usually spent some weeks in summer.]




[Illustration]




CHAPTER V.

THE VIRTUOSO.

Family Occurrences - Music in Vienna - Van Swieten - Prince
Lichnowski - Beethoven's Independence, Personal Appearance,
Manners - Rasoumowski Quartet - Occurrences in Lichnowski's
Palace - First Three Trios - Artistic Tour to
Berlin - Woelfl - Beethoven as an Improvisatore - Steibelt.


Beethoven's period of study embraced over two years, during which many
events took place that produced a revolution in his circumstances, and
left him at their close in a very different position from that in which
they had found him.

The first of these was the death of his father, which happened about a
month after his arrival in Vienna, obliged the young man to take upon
himself once more the duties of guardian to his two brothers, and
necessitated the following petition to the Elector: -

"MOST REVEREND AND GRACIOUS PRINCE, - Some years ago your Highness
was pleased to grant a pension to my father, the court tenor Van
Beethoven, and graciously to decree that one hundred thalers of his
salary should be placed in my hands, that I might provide for the
clothing, maintenance, and education of my two younger brothers, and
also discharge the debts contracted by our father. I wished at once
to present this order to your Highness's treasurer; but my father
earnestly implored me not to do so, that it might not be imagined he
was incapable of superintending his own family; and he further added
that he would himself pay me quarterly the twenty-five R. thalers,
which up to the present time was faithfully performed.

"After his death, however (in December last), when I wished to avail
myself of your Highness's kindness and present the above-mentioned
order, I was alarmed by the discovery that my father had made away
with it.

"With all dutiful respect I therefore beg your Serene Highness
kindly to renew this order, and to instruct your treasurer to let me
have the last quarter of this gracious addition to my salary (due
the beginning of February).

"Your Serene Highness's

"Most obedient and faithful Servant,

"LUD. V. BEETHOVEN, _Court Organist_."

This request was granted, and Franz Ries undertook the management of the
money; but after June, 1793, not only this but the pension granted to
Beethoven himself was suddenly stopped. The fruits of the French
Revolution had made themselves apparent, and the Elector was forced to
fly from Bonn and take refuge in Mergentheim. Henceforth, Beethoven
must depend upon himself.

Luckily the emergency found him prepared; he was already esteemed as one
of the best pianoforte players of the day - nay, there were not wanting
those who assigned to him the very first place. The recommendation of
Count Waldstein, who was nearly related to more than half a dozen of the
best families in Austria, coupled with that of the elector (uncle to the
reigning emperor), together with the fact that he was Haydn's most
promising pupil, gained for the young man admission to the highest
circles in the capital, where his extraordinary abilities speedily met
with recognition, and placed him above all fear of want.

In accounting for the peculiar facility with which Beethoven obtained a
hearing in Vienna, the state of society and position of art at the
period must not be forgotten.

In a wide sense, and as we should understand it now, music was not
universally cultivated or appreciated. The opera houses were two in
number, one entirely given up to Italian performances; the other plain
and unattractive, struggling under great disadvantages to bring forward
native composers.

Church music was at a low ebb; the influence of Albrechtsberger at the
cathedral not tending to much life or novelty in that branch of
composition.

Public concerts, such as are now of daily occurrence, happened perhaps
once a year, when funds were required for some charity.

Thus, music was not then the universal pursuit of all classes. The
enjoyment of it was almost entirely limited to the privileged few - the
aristocracy - who, following the example set by the reigning family,
professed an adoration of the art, a devotion to it, which (though, of
course, in many instances genuine) was so general, so common, as to cast
a doubt upon its reality. Music was, in short, the fashionable rage; to
be non-musical was to shut oneself out of the pale of society - an
alternative not to be thought of without shuddering by the gay,
pleasure-loving Viennese.

Accordingly the musical enthusiasm was wonderful. We find no less than
ten private theatres, each with its full corps of actors and actresses,
at most of which operettas were performed; and an orchestral society,
composed exclusively of members of noble houses, who gave public
concerts, open only to their equals in society, at the unwonted hour of
six in the morning.

In addition to these, every nobleman had his private orchestra, or his
_Quartettistes_, or, if his means would not admit of this, at least one
eminent instrumental player, attached to his household. As all the great
families of Austria vied with each other in the splendour and
_recherché_ style of their musical entertainments, it may easily be
imagined how, in such a state of society, Beethoven was lionized,
petted, and fêted.

Thayer gives a list of no fewer than thirty-one great houses (nine of
them belonging to princes) which must have been open to him, as the
owners were all recognised, worthy dilettanti in the highest sense - not
mere followers of the fickle goddess, Fashion. Add to these the crowd
that is ever ready to patronize him whom the leaders of _ton_ have taken
by the hand, and we see that Beethoven could not have wanted either for
pupils or for opportunities of playing at private concerts.

It was, doubtless, the bustle and pressure of this episode in his life,
the contact with vulgarity in high places, that gave him the dislike he
afterwards manifested to playing in public. At an earlier period in
Bonn, as we have seen, it was his delight to communicate his ideas to
others, and to pour forth the inmost feelings of his soul in the
presence of a little circle of sympathising, cultivated listeners. But
here, in Vienna, to play at the command of some birth-proud aristocrat,
who regarded art and artists as mere ministers to his pleasure - from
such a task Beethoven's mind revolted. Wegeler relates the effect which
such an occurrence would have upon him: -

"An invitation to play in society robbed him of all gaiety. He would
come to me gloomy and down-cast, complaining that he was forced to play
till the blood tingled to his very finger tips. By degrees we would
begin to talk together in a friendly way, when I sought to distract his
thoughts and to soothe him. When this end was achieved, I let the
conversation drop. I placed myself at my desk, and if Beethoven wished
to speak to me again, he was obliged to seat himself on a chair before
the pianoforte. Soon, and often without turning, he would strike a few
undecided chords, out of which the most beautiful melodies were
gradually developed. I dared not hazard a remark about his playing, or
only allude to it _en passant_. Beethoven would go away quite cheerful,
and always return willingly to me. The dislike, however, remained, and
was often the occasion of a rupture between him and his best friends."

But the halcyon days had not yet arrived when the great tone-poet could
devote himself entirely to his life-mission. His own wants and those of
his brothers had to be provided for, and accordingly the round of
pianoforte-playing was gone through, as that of teaching had been
before, and with the same result, it paved the way to life-friendships.

Amongst the distinct leaders of the musical taste of the capital was
Gottfried, Baron van Swieten, the son of Maria Theresa's Dutch
physician, and the composer of twelve symphonies (on which Haydn's
verdict was - "as stiff as himself.") He had formerly passed some time in
Berlin, where he had become acquainted with Friedemann and Emanuel Bach,
and had heard the "Messiah," "Judas Maccabæus," and "Alexander's Feast."
After his return to Vienna, he acted as secretary to a musical society
which met at his house, where the great works of Bach, Handel, and the
old Italian writers (including Palestrina), were devotedly studied.
Mozart's co-operation in this undertaking had been invaluable; but
Mozart was gone, and Van Swieten was inconsolable for his loss until he
discovered Beethoven. He was a quaint type of a race long extinct - the
genuine old _kenner_ or connoisseur. One can almost see him, when at a
concert an incautious whisper was heard in the background, rising
majestically from his place, and conspicuous from his great height,
taking an awful survey of the room to discover the offender and wither
him by a glance! In his efforts after the _true_ in art, however, no
very marked line was discernible to him between the sublime and the
ridiculous; hence the earnestness with which he persuaded Haydn (and for
which the latter never forgave him) to insert the croaking of the frogs
in the Seasons. But take him for all in all, he was a valuable friend to
Beethoven, and as such the latter regarded him. A carefully preserved
note of his is still extant: "If nothing comes in the way, I should like
to see you here next Wednesday, at half-past eight o'clock, with your
nightcap in your pocket."

The latter precaution was not unnecessary, for the insatiable host
(after the evening's entertainment was over and the guests gone home)
would not consent to release his young _protégé_ under at least
half-a-dozen of Bach's fugues for a "good-night," or "_evening
blessing_," as he was wont to call it.

Most valuable were the evenings spent in Van Swieten's house to
Beethoven, for here he was first made fully acquainted with the majesty
of Handel, "that unequalled master of all masters," in Beethoven's
estimation, of whom he once said: "Go, and learn of him how to produce,
with small means, such great effects!"

Another patron of the young musician, and one able to benefit him more
substantially, was the Prince Karl Lichnowski, the accomplished pupil of
Mozart, who, with his amiable wife Christiane, devoted every leisure
hour to artistic pursuits. This couple, worthy in all respects of their
exalted rank, at first attracted by the wonderful improvisation of
Haydn's pupil, soon discovered, on a more intimate acquaintance, the
true nobility of soul and dazzling genius which lay beneath the rough
exterior.

They were childless; with the utmost delicacy it was proposed to
Beethoven in 1794 that he should come to them; he accepted the offer in
the spirit in which it was made, and for several years was an inmate of
the Lichnowski Palace, treated with more than parental tenderness by the
Prince and Princess. The latter took the place of Madame von Breuning,
and Beethoven used afterwards to say laughingly, "They wanted to train
me there with _grandmotherly_ love; and the Princess Christiane would
have liked to put a glass case over me, so that no evil might come nigh
me."

Not that there was never any misunderstanding between Beethoven and his
patron; on the contrary, the Princess had very often to mediate between
them. How could it be otherwise? it was not easy for the powerful,
impulsive mind of Beethoven, with his previous training, to accommodate
itself to the smooth, etiquette-trammelled life of a palace. To abide by
a settled routine was to him impossible; and after a few ineffectual
struggles the attempt to make him do so was abandoned, and the artist
left free to develop himself in his own way.

Wegeler relates that when he came to Vienna he found Beethoven installed
in the Lichnowski Palace, but by no means so content with his position
as one would imagine. Amongst other things he complained to him that the
Prince's dinner-hour was fixed at four o'clock. "Now," said he, "I ought
to be at home by half-past three to dress and trim my beard, &c. I could
not stand that!" So some restaurant was more frequently honoured by his
presence than the Lichnowski dinner-table.

It must not be thought that Beethoven forfeited any of his independence
by thus becoming an inmate of the palace. On the contrary, he knew well,
and the Prince did also, that the advantage was mutual. If he had a
zealous and wealthy patron, the Prince had in return the benefit of the
constant presence of the first pianist and improvisatore of the day at
all his _Musikabende_, besides the _éclat_ attached to the fact that so
many of the composer's productions were first performed at his house.
Not that either of them ever coolly balanced the one set of advantages
over against the other. This was in point of fact the relation between
them; in reality it was more like that of father and son.

The critical judgment of the Prince was highly esteemed by Beethoven,
who often allowed himself to be persuaded by him into making alterations
which no other influence had power to effect; and his proficiency as a
pianoforte-player, which enabled him to master with comparative ease
the difficulties in the new style inaugurated by his _protégé_,
confirmed Beethoven in his own views, and gave him fresh strength to
resist those who would have had him adopt a more simple manner of
writing.

Beethoven's independence of thought and action was of vital importance
in his development. "Help thyself!" was his motto. But we are sometimes
inclined to smile at the lengths to which he carried his favourite
doctrine. For instance, having overheard the prince (who had a
peculiarly loud voice) direct his Jäger, that whenever Beethoven and he
rang at the same time, the latter should be waited on first; he took
care that very day to procure a servant for himself. Another time, when
he had a great desire to learn riding, and the Prince's stud had been
placed at his disposal, he would not accept the offer, but bought an
animal for his own special use. Any one who has ever been so unlucky as
to borrow a friend's favourite horse, will not find Beethoven's conduct
in this instance so very peculiar.

We can now imagine our master settled for a time, in the possession of
much that could make life enjoyable. His days were entirely at his own
disposal, and generally occupied by study; his evenings were passed
either in his patron's _salon_, at Van Swieten's, or at the house of
some connoisseur. Wherever he went, he was welcomed, in spite of his
unpolished manner and appearance.

We have seen how, rather than submit to the necessity of an elaborate
toilette, he would content himself with the plainest fare; but there
was that in Beethoven's _physique_ which the utmost pains could never
have smoothed down to the conventional standard. Rather short, with a
figure more indicative of strength than elegance, hair that baffled
Figaro's efforts to reduce it to order, and a broad face, whose one
redeeming point was the lofty, expansive forehead - a true throne of
genius - Beethoven presented a _tout-ensemble_ which at once marked him
out from all others, and was an index to the independent, original
spirit within.

His demeanour was such as might be expected in one who had made his own
life-path, and had constantly encountered hostility and
misunderstanding; brusque, angular, and a little defiant; but - where he
was sure of his ground - gentle and loveable as a woman, innocent and
guileless as a child.

Beethoven had no time for the _petits-soins_ of life, his thoughts were
too deeply engrossed with higher matters, but that he was the bear so
often represented, we emphatically deny. Such accusations were brought
against him by those who were incapable of appreciating either him or
his works, who would have had the great poet descend to the common level
of every-day life, fritter away precious time and thought, and force his
powerful mind to the punctilious observance of every little social
etiquette.

One condition alone was necessary for Beethoven to come out in a
favourable light in society, viz, _he must be understood_. Not
flattered, not admired, not caressed, - simply understood in his true
character as a poet, an artist, a revealer of beauty undreamt of by
others. The following anecdote is an illustration of this: -

"When we were both still young (writes Herr von Griesinger, Ambassador
from the Court of Saxony to Vienna), I only an _attaché_, and Beethoven
only a celebrated pianoforte player, but as yet little known as a
composer, we happened to be both together at the house of Prince
Lobkowitz. A gentleman, who thought himself a great connoisseur, entered
into a conversation with Beethoven upon a poet's life and inclinations.
'I wish,' said Beethoven, with his native candour, 'that I was relieved
from all the bargain and sale of publication, and could meet with some
one who could pay me a certain income for life, for which he should
possess the right to publish exclusively all that I wrote; and I would
not be idle in composition. I believe Goethe does this with Cotta, and,
if I mistake not, Handel's London publisher held similar terms with
him.'

"'My dear young man,' said this grave wiseacre, 'you must not complain,
for you are neither a Goethe nor a Handel, and it is not to be expected
that you ever will be, for such masters will not be born again.'

"Beethoven bit his lips, gave a most contemptuous glance at the speaker,
and said not another word to him. Afterwards, however, he expressed
himself pretty warmly on the subject of this flippant individual.

"Prince Lobkowitz endeavoured to draw Beethoven into more temperate
habits of thought, and said in a friendly manner, when the conversation
once turned upon this person, 'My dear Beethoven, the gentleman did not
intend to wound you; it is an established maxim, which most men adhere
to, that the present generation cannot possibly produce such mighty
spirits as the dead, who have already earned their fame.'

"'So much the worse, your Highness,' replied Beethoven; 'but with men
who will not believe and trust in me because I am as yet unknown to
universal fame, I cannot hold intercourse.'

"Many then shook their heads, and called the young composer arrogant and
overbearing. Had these gentry been able to look into the future, they
would have been a little ashamed of themselves."

With Beethoven's residence in the Lichnowski Palace, many characteristic
anecdotes are connected, amongst others that already referred to of his
reading the complicated Bach MS. _a prima vista_.

But one of the most important features of his life here was his
connection with the Schuppanzigh Quartette, afterwards known as the
Razoumowski, which, under his auspices, took so notable a place in
musical annals. The players were all very young (Schuppanzigh, first
violin, a boy of sixteen; Sina, second violin, still a very young man;
Weiss, viola, fifteen; and Kraft, violoncello, only fourteen years of
age), and this was probably a recommendation in the eyes of the Prince,
who was passionately fond of the quartets of Haydn and Mozart, and
doubtless found that he could more easily inoculate young and unformed
minds with his peculiar views regarding the performance of them, than he
could persuade more mature artists into adopting his views. Beethoven
was his able coadjutor in this attempt, and the boy-quartet, directed by
one not much older than themselves, did honour to the discernment of
their patron. For many years they worked harmoniously together, meeting
for practice every Friday morning, and probably no quartet-players,
either before or since, enjoyed advantages so great. For them Beethoven
composed his immortal productions, and his genius fired and animated
theirs, so that one mind and one will alone seemed at work. The
following note, preserved by Schindler, relative to the production of
the difficult E flat major Quartet in March, 1825, shows how his desire
that his old companions should prove equal to their reputation continued
unabated to the last: -

"MY GOOD FRIENDS, - Herewith each will receive his part, and must
with it promise allegiance, and pledge himself in all honour to do
his very best to distinguish himself, and to vie with the others in
zeal.

"Every one who wishes to take part in the affair must sign this
paper."

(Here follow the four signatures.)

On one occasion a new pianoforte quartet by Förster, a well-known
composer of the day, was in progress of rehearsal. The violoncellist was
suddenly called out, when Beethoven, who was at the pianoforte,
instantly began to sing the missing part in addition to going on with
his own, which he read for the first time.

The Prince, astonished, asked him how he could sing music with which he
was not acquainted. Beethoven smiled and replied, "The bass _must_ have
been so, otherwise the author could have known nothing whatever of
composition." On the Prince remarking further, that Beethoven had taken
the _Presto_ so quickly that it was impossible for him to have seen the
notes, he answered, "That is not at all necessary. A multitude of faults
in the printing do not signify. If you only know the language, you don't
see them or pay any heed to them."


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