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all who were present on the occasion, including the conductor, Franz
Clement. Where Ries got the story from is difficult to imagine, since he
was himself in St. Petersburg at the time. On the contrary, the members
of the orchestra were all on excellent terms with Beethoven, who prized
their approval far more than that of the general public; and was wont,
when particularly pleased with a performance, to turn round, his face
beaming with delight, and exclaim, "Bravi, tutti!" But woe betide those
who dared to question the effect of the new and somewhat startling
combinations which he introduced! Ries found this out to his cost. At
the unexpected entrance of the horn in the Allegro of the Eroica, he - as
usual, beside his master in the orchestra - exclaimed, "How abominably
wrong!" for which outburst he was nearly rewarded by a box on the ear.

Pianoforte playing, improvisation, and orchestral conducting were given
up one after the other - not suddenly, for Beethoven was resolved to defy
his fate as long as possible, - but henceforth it is with Beethoven the
composer alone that we have to do.

The autumn of 1802 saw him so far restored as to be able to commence his
great work on Napoleon, which, however, on account of many
interruptions, was not finished until the year 1804.

In 1802 he writes thus to his publisher, Hofmeister, who had requested
him to compose a sonata of a revolutionary tendency: - "Are you riding to
the devil in a body, gentlemen, that you propose to me to write _such a
sonata_? At the time of the revolutionary fever it might have done, but
now, when everything is once more in the beaten track, when Bonaparte
has signed the Concordat with the Pope - now such a sonata! If it had
been a _missa pro Sancta Maria a tre voci_, or a _Vesper_, I would
immediately have taken pen in hand and written in ponderous notes a
_Credo in unum_, - but, good heavens! such a sonata in these fresh,
dawning Christian times! Ho! ho! I'll have nothing to do with it!" and
yet at this very time he must have been busy with a work destined to the
honour of the great Disturber of the Peace of Europe. The idea for this
emanated originally from General Bernadotte, the French Ambassador at
Vienna - a great admirer of the composer, - and was in reality warmly
entered into by Beethoven, who, with his red-hot Republicanism and love
for Plato, was an enthusiastic supporter of the First Consul, and
imagined nothing less than that it was Napoleon's intention to remodel
France according to the Platonic method, and inaugurate a golden age of
universal happiness. With the news of the empire came the destruction of
this elysian prospect, - Beethoven in a fury tore to pieces the
title-page of his symphony on which was written simply, -



and stamping it under foot, showered a volley of imprecations on the
head of the tyrant who had played so false a game.

No persuasion could induce him at first to publish the work, but after
the lapse of some years this masterpiece of ideal writing was given to
the world under the title of "Sinfonia Eroica per festegiare il
sovvenire d'un grand' uomo." Great man as Napoleon had been in
Beethoven's estimation, he never could think of him otherwise than with
detestation, till the sudden collapse of the Napoleonic idea in 1815,
and the death of its promoter in 1821, changed his wrath into a kind of
grim commiseration, which he showed by remarking that he had "seventeen
years before composed the music suited to this catastrophe!" meaning
the Funeral March in the Eroica.

This, the first great manifesto of the Sovereign of the World of Sound,
was a wonderful advance on the first two symphonies, produced somewhere
about the years 1800-1802. In these he took up the art where Haydn and
Mozart had left it; but, "though he could dally and tarry awhile with
them, he would not remain with them;" his greater earnestness impelled
him on to realms unknown to them, to conquest compared with which theirs
faded into comparative insignificance.

In 1805 Ferdinand Ries left Vienna, after having enjoyed Beethoven's
instruction for five years. He was, in fact, the only one whom Beethoven
recognised as his pupil (with the exception of the Archduke Rudolph),
and to him he entrusted the playing of his concertos, &c., for the first
time, when no longer able to do so himself. The impressions which Ries
has left in his Notices, of Beethoven as an instructor, are like his
other statements, somewhat contradictory. In one place he declares that
during the lessons the master was engaged in composition or some similar
work at one end of the room, while he was playing at the other, and that
he seldom sat down by him for half an hour at a time. Again, he says
that Beethoven took extraordinary pains with him - sometimes extending
the lesson over two hours, and making him repeat ten times - nay,
oftener - any passage with which he was not quite satisfied. Probably the
truth lies between these two extremes. Beethoven, who had no settled
order in his life, could not be expected to be systematic in tuition;
hence the impression of desultoriness left upon the mind of the pupil. A
characteristic anecdote of this period is worth quoting.

"Beethoven," says Ries, "had given me the manuscript of his third
concerto, that I might appear in public with it for the first time as
his pupil; Beethoven conducted and turned over the pages for me. I had
begged him to compose a cadenza for me, but he directed me to write one
myself. He was satisfied with my composition, and altered little; but
one brilliant and very difficult passage, which seemed to him too
hazardous, I was to change. The easier one did not please me, and I
could not make up my mind to play it in public. The critical moment
arrived - Beethoven had seated himself quietly - but when I boldly
attacked the difficult cadence, he gave his chair a violent push. The
cadenza, however, succeeded, and Beethoven was so delighted that he
exclaimed, 'Bravo!' which electrified the audience."

In 1805 Beethoven produced his solitary opera, "Leonora" (afterwards
known as "Fidelio"), amid a series of annoyances and vexations such as
probably no operatic writer, either before or since, has ever had to
contend against. What between troubles arising out of the libretto, the
overture, the singers, the critics, and the theatrical cabals, our poor
Beethoven was well-nigh driven distracted.

The story on which the opera is founded (originally taken from the
French, and so well known as to require no repetition here) is almost
too slight for dramatic purposes, inasmuch as there is but one really
powerful situation - that of the grave scene - in the entire piece, and
the whole interest, therefore, is concentrated on the one figure,
Leonora. What Beethoven has made out of these slender materials; how he
has depicted, in all its intensity and tenderness, that love which he
was doomed never to experience, needs no description from us.

What was Beethoven's object in choosing this theme for his labours? Was
it a foreshadowing of bliss that might be his? or was it the delineation
of a character which, in its earnestness and purity, should be the
reverse of that "Don Juan" of Mozart, of which he once said, "The divine
art ought never to be lowered to the folly of such a scandalous

The little byplay and domestic "asides" cost our soaring Beethoven
infinitely more trouble than the most impassioned scenas, and he was
obliged to write the little air of Marcelline, "O, wär' ich schon mit
Dir vereint," no less than thrice before he could attain the requisite

The composition of the four "Leonora" overtures is without a parallel in
musical annals. When Beethoven had finished No. 1, in C major, he
consented to its being first tried over by a small orchestra at Prince
Lichnowski's, in the presence of a select number of critics and
connoisseurs, by whom it was condemned as being light and almost flimsy
in structure, and as affording no clue to the contents of the opera. It
was therefore withdrawn, and not published till after the composer's

But may not the light-heartedness which distinguishes this overture have
been intentional on the part of Beethoven? may he not have wished to
represent his heroine before the shadow of grief had fallen upon her, in
the enjoyment of the highest wedded bliss?

Marx takes this view of "Leonora" No. 1, adducing in support of it the
following extract from one of the manuscript books in which Beethoven
was accustomed to hold intercourse with his friends: -

"Aristotle, when he speaks of tragedy, says that the hero ought first to
be represented as living in the greatest happiness and splendour. Thus
we see him in 'Egmont.' When he is in the enjoyment of felicity, Fate
comes and throws a noose over his head from which he is not able to
extricate himself. Courage and Defiance appear upon the scene, and
boldly look Destiny - aye, and death - in the face. Clärchen's fate
interests us, like that of Gretchen in 'Faust,' because she was once so
happy. A tragedy which begins as well as continues gloomily, is

"Leonora" No. 2 was condemned on account of the predominance of the wind
instruments, and No. 3 ultimately, because the stringed instruments had
so much to do that precision was out of the question.

When, at length, the composer was satisfied with his creation; when the
singers (pacified by the friendly intervention of Seyfried) had agreed
to give the music as it was written; when all difficulties were
apparently overcome, the unlucky composer's annoyances reached a climax
in the reception accorded to his work by the public.

With great want of judgment (purposely to annoy him, as Beethoven
thought) the opera was produced a few days after the French troops had
entered Vienna; when all his friends and patrons, including Lichnowski,
had sought refuge at their country seats till the storm had blown over;
and the theatre was filled with French officers and soldiers, an
audience utterly incapable of appreciating the master. As might have
been anticipated, the work was coldly received, and, after three
representations, withdrawn. In 1806 it met with the same fate, and not
till 1814 did this, the grandest work of the German school - a work which
has fought its way to every stage in Europe, and has been brought home
to every heart by a Malibran, a Schröder-Devrient, or a
Tietjens, - obtain a favourable hearing.

During the time the opera was in progress, Beethoven (like Mozart in
producing his "Seraglio") suffered keenly from the jealousy of some of
his opponents, and his brothers took care that every barb should find
its way home to his sensitive mind. Even his friend Stephan Breuning, in
his great desire to help the composer, aggravated the evil by the very
warmth of his partisanship, - and thus, by constant dwelling upon them,
many little slights assumed a disproportionate magnitude, and annoyed
our poor Beethoven intensely.

But enough of darkness and despondency; life now begins, by one of
those sudden and apparently inexplicable changes, to wear a rosier hue
for the composer. Reserving our inquiry into the cause of this, we close
this chapter with the beautiful letter to the poet Matthison, whose
"Adelaïde" he had set to music some time previously.

"MOST ESTEEMED FRIEND, - You will receive, together with this, a
composition of mine which has already been printed for several
years, but of which, to my shame, you perhaps know nothing yet.

"I may, perhaps, be able to excuse myself, and to explain why I
dedicated anything to you, which came so warmly from my heart, and
yet did not make you acquainted with it, - by the plea that, at
first, I did not know where you resided, and then my diffidence led
me to think that I had been somewhat hasty in dedicating anything to
you without knowing if it had your approval. And, indeed, even now I
send you the 'Adelaïde' with some timidity. You yourself know what
changes a few years produce in an artist who is constantly
progressing; the more one accomplishes in art, the less is one
satisfied with former works.

"My most fervent wish will be realized if you are not altogether
dissatisfied with the music to your heavenly 'Adelaïde,' and if you
are incited by it to compose a similar poem soon, and (should my
request not seem too bold) to send it to me forthwith, when I shall
put forth all my strength to approach your lovely poetry in merit.

"Consider the dedication as a mark of my esteem and gratitude for
the exquisite pleasure which your poetry has always afforded, and
will still afford me.

"When playing the 'Adelaïde,' remember sometimes

"Your sincere admirer,



[Footnote 16: Surgeon-in-Chief to the army.]

[Footnote 17: Eleanore von Breuning.]

[Footnote 18: Stephan von Breuning.]

[Footnote 19: Probably in the house of Baron Pasqualati.]

[Footnote 20: A painting by Füger, Director of the Vienna Academy.]

[Footnote 21: Christoph Breuning.]

[Footnote 22: Madame von Breuning.]

[Footnote 23: Franz Ries, the violinist.]

[Footnote 24: Ferdinand, afterwards Beethoven's pupil.]

[Footnote 25: Professor of Medicine at the Académie Joséphine, and
author of several works.]

[Footnote 26: Undoubtedly the Countess Julia Guicciardi.]

[Footnote 27: The Breuning family had long been in possession of one of
the most honourable posts in the Teutonic Order, four members had
successively filled the office of Chancellor, and Stephan himself was
afterwards appointed to the government of Mergentheim. He was generally
esteemed, and died a short time after Beethoven.]

[Footnote 28: The omission of the name of Johann van Beethoven from this
document is somewhat unaccountable. It may have been caused through
Beethoven's irritation at his conduct. The original of the Promemoria is
now in the possession of Madame Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt.]

[Footnote 29: Beethoven was at the time in his thirty-second year; but
he never knew precisely his age.]





The Fourth Symphony - Julia Guicciardi - Letters to her - To Bettina
Brentano - Beethoven's Attachments - Domestic Troubles - Frau Nanette
Streicher - Daily Life - Composing _im Freien_.

"In love with an Ideal,
A creature of his own imagination,
A child of air, and echo of his heart;
And like a lily on a river floating,
She floats upon the river of his thoughts."

Whence comes it that after a storm of darkness and gloom - after the
disappointment of his "Leonora" - the next offspring of the poet's fancy
should be a symphony (No. 4), the most delicately finished and bright in
colouring which we possess?

The mystery is not easily solved. Former biographers have at once come
to the conclusion that this was the period in which Beethoven's love for
Julia Guicciardi, alluded to in a letter to Wegeler, had reached its
climax. This hypothesis has, however, been put to flight by the
discovery of Alexander Thayer that the lady was married to Count
Gallenberg (afterwards the Keeper of the Archives of the Imperial Opera)
in 1803 - that is, three years before the composition of the work.

Is the B flat major Symphony, after all, as much the exponent of the
master passion as is, in another way, the C sharp minor Sonata? Or is
it, with its troubled, gloomy opening, expanding into glorious warmth
and sunshine, another evidence of Beethoven's resolution to set fate at
defiance, and to keep at bay the monster Grief which threatened to
annihilate him? Who can tell? When the traveller, suddenly emerging from
some mist-hung mountain gorge, steps out upon the rocky platform, he
beholds in the distance, beneath his delighted gaze, a landscape bathed
in sunshine; so to the poet's excited fancy there must have been present
some bright vision, one of those "loftier spirits, who sported with him
and allotted to him nobler tasks," drawing a veil over the troubled
Past, and pointing him onwards to a glorious Future.

Let the Reader take which interpretation he will.

We propose briefly to present to him the two sets of letters which show
us Beethoven in two different aspects as a lover - the first _pur et
simple_, the second Platonic.

Nothing is known with certainty of Beethoven's "immortal beloved," whose
name vibrates throughout the Adagio of the Moonlight Sonata. The letters
to her (of date unknown, written from some baths in Hungary, whither he
had been ordered for his health) breathe the very intensity of
passion - a passion at times too deep for words.[30]

"_Morning, 6th July._

"My Angel! my All! my Second Self!

"Only a few words to-day, written with a pencil (with thine). My
residence will not be definitely fixed before to-morrow. What a
ruinous waste of time! - Why this deep sorrow where Necessity speaks?
can our love exist otherwise than by sacrifices, than by our not
expecting everything? Canst thou alter the fact that thou art not
wholly mine, that I am not wholly thine? - Alas! look into the
beauties of Nature, and calm thy mind for what must be endured. Love
demands all, and with perfect right, and thus _I feel towards thee_
and _thou towards me_, only thou forgettest so easily that I have to
live _for myself_ and _for thee_, - were we perfectly united, thou
wouldst feel this trial as little as I do.

"My journey was terrible. I only arrived yesterday at four o'clock
in the morning, owing to the want of horses. The driver chose
another route, but what a fearful one! At the last station they
warned me not to travel by night, and tried to terrify me by a
forest, but this only stimulated me, though I was wrong. The
carriage broke down on that dreadful road, a mere rough, unmade
country lane, and had not my postillions been what they were, I
should have been obliged to remain there by the wayside.

"Esterhazy, on the usual route, had the same fate with eight horses
that I had with four, and yet I felt a certain degree of pleasure,
as I always do when I overcome anything happily. - Now, in haste,
from the outer to the inner man! We shall probably soon see each
other again. I cannot communicate to thee to-day the reflections I
have been making, during the last few days, on my life - were our
hearts ever near to one another, I should make none such. My heart
is full of much that I have to say to thee. Ah! there are moments in
which I feel that language is absolutely nothing. Take courage!
continue to be my true, my only treasure, my All, as I am thine. The
gods must send the rest - that which is ordained to be, and shall be
for us.

"Thy faithful


"_Monday evening, 6th July._

"Thou grievest - thou - the dearest of all beings! - I have just
learned that the letters must be sent off very early. Mondays and
Thursdays are the only days on which the post goes to K - -. - Thou
grievest! Ah! where I am, there thou art with me - with our united
efforts I shall attain my object - I shall pass my life with
thee - what a life!!! whereas now!!! without thee - persecuted at
times by the kindness of others, a kindness which I neither deserve
nor wish to deserve. Servility from man to his fellow-creature pains
me; and, when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am
I? what is he who is called the greatest? and yet even here is
displayed the Divine in man! - I weep when I think that thou wilt
probably receive no tidings of me before Saturday. However much thou
mayest love me, I love thee more fervently still - never hide thy
feelings from me. - Good night! as a patient here I must now go to
rest. Ah, God! so near! - so far apart! is not our love a true
celestial mansion, enduring as the vault of heaven itself!"

"_7th July._

"Good morning!

"Even before I rise my thoughts throng to thee, my immortal beloved,
at times with joy, then again mournfully, waiting to hear if fate be
favourable to us. I can only live entirely with thee, or not at all.
Yes! I am resolved to wander apart from thee until the moment shall
arrive when I may fly into thine arms, may feel my home in thee, and
send my soul encompassed by thine into the world of spirits. Yes,
alas! it must be so! Thou wilt be prepared, for thou knowest my
faithfulness. Never can another possess my heart; never, never. Oh
God! why must I fly from what is so dear to me? - and yet my life in
V - - is, as at present, a sorrowful one. Thy love made me at once
the happiest and the most miserable of men. At my age I require a
uniformity, an evenness of life; and can this be possible in our
relations? - Angel! I have just heard that the post goes out every
day; and must stop that thou mayest receive this letter soon. - Be
calm; only by calmly viewing our existence can we attain our aim of
passing our lives together. Be calm; love
me - to-day - yesterday - what longing, what tears for thee - for
thee - for thee - my Life! my All! Farewell! Oh! continue to love
me - never misjudge the faithful heart of thy lover.


"Ever thine,

"Ever mine,

"Ever each other's."

It was indeed the case that no other love ever did "possess his heart"
in the same way. This was, if not his first, at least his only _real_
love. Such letters as these Beethoven wrote to no one else; the contrast
between them and the three following (addressed to Bettina Brentano,
afterwards Madame von Arnim) will be at once apparent: -

"_Vienna, August 11, 1810._

"DEAREST FRIEND, - Never has there been a more beautiful spring than
this year; I say so, and feel it too, because in it I first made
your acquaintance. You have yourself seen that in society I am like
a fish on the sand, which writhes, and writhes, and cannot get off
until some benevolent Galatea throws it back into the mighty ocean.
I was, indeed, quite out of my element, dearest friend, and was
surprised by you at a time when discouragement had completely
mastered me - but how quickly it vanished at your glance! I knew at
once that you must be from some other sphere than this absurd world,
in which, with the best will, one cannot open one's ears. I am a
miserable being, and yet I complain of others!! - But you will
forgive me for this with that good heart which looks out of your
eyes, and that intelligence which is hidden in your ears, - at least
they know how to flatter by the way in which they listen.

"My ears are, alas! a partition wall through which I cannot easily
have any friendly intercourse with men. Otherwise! - perhaps! - I
should have felt more assured with you; but I could only understand
the full, intelligent glance of your eyes, which has so taken hold
of me, that I shall never forget it. Dear friend, dearest
girl! - Art! who understands her? with whom can I discuss this great
goddess?... How dear to me are the few days in which we chatted
together, or, I should say, rather corresponded! I have preserved
all the little notes with your witty, charming, most charming
answers, and so I have to thank my defective hearing that the best
part of those hasty conversations is written down. Since you left I
have had vexatious hours - hours of shadow in which I can do nothing.
I wandered in the Schönbrunn Allée for about three hours after you
left, but no angel met me who could have taken possession of me as
you did, _my Angel_.

"Pardon, dearest friend, this deviation from the original key, but
such intervals I must have as a relief to my heart. So you have
written about me to Goethe, have you not? I could bury my head in a
sack, so that I might not hear or see anything of all that is going
on in the world, because I shall not meet you again, dearest angel,
but I shall receive a letter from you soon. Hope sustains me, as she
does half the world; through all my life she has been my companion.
What would otherwise have become of me? - I send you 'Kennst du das
Land,' written with my own hand, as a remembrance of the hour in
which I first knew you. I send you also another, which I have
composed since I took leave of you; my dearest _Herz_!"

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