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his own benefit. He had left the palace of Prince Lichnowsky and lodged
at No. 241 "im tiefen Graben." In the fall he went into the country, the
first instance of what was afterward his settled custom. We know of no
publication of music by Beethoven in 1800. He finished the first symphony,
the septet (which he disliked), the string quartets Op. 18, the C-minor
concerto Op. 37, the sonata Op. 22, and other works of less importance,
including the horn sonata for Punto. Czerny, ten years old, met him some
time in this year, and he has left a curious description of him, although
it was written years after the meeting. He mentions the "desert of a
room - bare walls - paper and clothes scattered about - scarcely a chair
except the rickety one before the pianoforte. Beethoven was dressed in a
dark gray jacket and trousers of some long-haired material which reminded
me of the description of Robinson Crusoe. The jet-black hair stood upright
on his head. A beard, unshaven for several days, made still darker his
naturally swarthy face. He had in both ears cotton wool which seemed to
have been dipped in some yellow fluid. His hands were covered with hair,
and the fingers were very broad, especially at the tips."

In 1801 he was feeling well and he worked hard. His ballet "Prometheus"
was given March 28 with success. He changed his lodgings and dwelt in the
Sailer-Staette, where he could look over the town-ramparts. When the days
lengthened, he went to Hetzendorf, near the shaded gardens of Schönbrunn,
modelled after Versailles. "I live only in my music," he wrote Wegeler,
"and no sooner is one thing done than the next is begun; I often work at
three and four things at once." "The Mount of Olives"; the violin sonatas
in A minor and F; the string quintet in C; the pianoforte sonatas, Op. 26,
27, 28, were completed in this year, and other works were sketched. The
so-called "Moonlight Sonata" brings before us Giuletta Guicciardi, to whom
it was dedicated, and the romance connected with her.


Reproduced from a photograph of a painting in which the scene is

The noble women of Vienna were fond of Beethoven; to say they adored him
would not be extravagant. They went to his lodgings or they received
him at their palaces. Even his rudeness fascinated them; they forgave
him if he roared angrily at a lesson, or tore the music in pieces; they
were not offended if he used the snuffers as a tooth-pick. He, too, was
constantly in love, but there is no reason to doubt that his attachments
were honorable. "Oh God! let me at last find her who is destined to be
mine, and who shall strengthen me in virtue," was his prayer. Yet Wegeler
says, that he fancied himself a Lovelace and irresistible. He paraded his
attachments in dedications. There was the beautiful Hungarian Countess,
Babette de Keglevics; the Countess Therese of Brunswick; Baroness Ertmann,
the Countess Erdödy; and there were many others. In lesser station was
Christine Gherardi, and there was Madeleine Willman, the singer, who, it
is said, refused Beethoven's hand because he was "ugly and half-mad."
But his passion for the woman Giuletta Guicciardi was deep-rooted, and
it deserves more than passing notice. Her family came originally from
the Duchy of Modena, and in 1800 her father went to Vienna, an Imperial
Counsellor. She was in her seventeenth year, with dark blue eyes, waving
brown hair, classic features, and a stately carriage. She was then as
good as betrothed to Count Gallenberg, an impressario and a composer of
ballets, whom she married in 1803. After Beethoven's death letters of an
incoherent and a fiery nature were found in a secret drawer, and it was
supposed that they were addressed to the Guicciardi until the ruthless
examination of them by Thayer. She herself made light of the dedication
by telling Jahn in later years that Beethoven gave her the Rondo in G,
but wishing to dedicate something to Princess Lichnowsky, he gave her the
sonata instead. Beethoven, when he was very deaf, wrote in bad French to
his friend Schindler (for his conversation was necessarily at the time in
writing) that he was loved by her; that he raised money for her husband;
and that when she returned to Vienna from Italy, she looked Beethoven
up and wept; but he despised her. The reader who wishes to investigate
the subject and read of her strange adventures with Prince Hermann
Pückler-Muskau, even though illusions be thereby dispelled, is referred to
the chapter "Julia Guicciardi" in "Neue Musikalische Charakterbilder" by
Otto Gumprecht (Leipsic, 1876).

And in this year, 1801, the deafness, which began with violent noise in
his ears, grew on him. In a letter to Wegeler, in which he speaks of a
pension of about $240, from Lichnowsky, he tells of his infirmities. He
connected the deafness with abdominal troubles, with "frightful colic."
He went from doctor to doctor. He tried oil of almonds and cold and warm
baths. Pills and herbs and blisters were of little avail. He inquired into
galvanic remedies. Zmeskall persuaded him to visit Father Weiss, monk and
quack. Discouraged, he still had the bravery to write, "I will as far as
possible defy my fate, though there must be moments when I shall be the
most miserable of God's creatures... I will grapple with fate; it shall
never drag me down." At the same time in telling his sorrow to Carl Amenda
he swore him solemnly to secrecy.

Dr. Schmidt sent him in 1802 to Heiligenstadt, a lonely village, and there
he wrote the famous letter known as "Beethoven's Will," addressed to his
brothers, to be opened after his death (see page 331). It is possible
that this letter full of gloom and distress was only the expression of
momentary depression. The music of this same year is cheerful, if not
absolutely joyous - the Symphony in D, for example - and on his return to
Vienna he wrote letters of mad humor. He changed his lodgings to the
Peters-Platz, in the heart of the city, where he was between the bells
of two churches. He corrected publishers' proofs, and was "hoarse with
stamping and swearing" on account of the errors, "swarming like fish in
the sea." He quarreled with his brother Caspar, who interfered in his
dealings with publishers and brought to light compositions of boyhood.

In April, 1803, a concert was given, the program of which included "The
Mount of Olives," the Symphony in D, and the pianoforte concerto in C
minor, with the composer as pianist. The so-called "Kreutzer Sonata" for
violin and pianoforte, written for the half-breed Bridgetower, was heard
this year; there was a quarrel, and the now famous work was dedicated to
R. Kreutzer, who was in the train of Bernadotte. In the summer, Beethoven
went to Baden near Vienna, and to Oberdöbling, but before he left the
city he talked with Schikaneder about an opera for the theatre "_An der
Wien_." He had also changed his lodgings again and moved to the said
theatre with Caspar. The rest of the year, however, was chiefly given to
the composition of the "Heroic" symphony, which was suggested to him in
1798 by Bernadotte. It is true that he went much in society, associating
with painters and officials, and with the Abbé Vogler; he also began
correspondence with Thomson, the music publisher of Edinburg, concerning
sonatas on Scotch themes. At the beginning of 1804, he was obliged to seek
new quarters, and he roomed with his old friend Stephen Breuning in the
Rothe Haus. At first they had separate sets of rooms; they then thought
it would be cheaper to live together. Beethoven neglected to notify the
landlord, and he was liable for the two suites. Hence hot words and a
rupture. The breach was afterwards healed, but Breuning, who apparently
behaved admirably, wrote in a letter to Wegeler of Beethoven's "excitable
temperament, his habit of distrusting his best friends, and his frequent
indecision. Rarely indeed, does his old true nature now allow itself to
be seen." At Döbling he worked at the Waldstein Sonata and the Op. 54.
The "Bonaparte" Symphony was finished, and, according to Lichnowsky, the
title-page bore simply the inscription "Buonaparte," and the name "Luigi
van Beethoven." Beethoven had unbounded admiration for Napoleon as long as
he was First Consul, and he compared him often with illustrious Romans,
but when the Corsican made himself Emperor of the French, the composer
burst into violent reproaches and tore in pieces the title page of the
Symphony. When the work was published in 1806, the title announced the
fact that it was written "to celebrate the memory of a great man"; and
when Napoleon was at St. Helena, Beethoven once cried out, "Did I not
foresee the catastrophe when I wrote the funeral march in the Symphony?"
When he went back to Vienna for the winter, he lodged in a house of Baron
Pasqualati on the Mölker-Bastion; these rooms were kept for him, even when
he occasionally moved for a season.

In 1805 Baron von Braun took Schikaneder as manager of the "_An der
Wien_," and they made Beethoven an offer for an opera. The story of
Leonora suited the composer, although Bouilly's text had been already set
by Gaveaux and Paer; he worked diligently at his rooms in the theatre, and
later in the fields of Hetzendorf. In the summer he went to Vienna to see
Cherubini. In the fall the operatic rehearsal began. The singers and the
orchestra rebelled at difficulties. The composer was vexed and angry. For
the first time he welcomed deafness. He did not wish to hear his music
"bungled." "The whole business of the opera is the most distressing thing
in the world." The first performance was November 20th, 1805. Anna Milder,
to whom Haydn said, "You have a voice like a house," was the heroine.
Louise Müller was _Marcelline_; Demmer, _Florestan_; Meyer, _Pizarro_;
Weinkopf, _Don Fernando_; Caché, _Jaquino_; Rothe, _Rocco_. The opera
was then in three acts, and the overture seems to have been "Leonora No.
II." The time was unfavorable. The French entered Vienna the 13th of
November; Napoleon was at Schönbrunn; nearly all of the wealthy and noble
patrons of Beethoven had fled the town. The opera was played three nights
and then withdrawn - a failure. It was revised, shortened, and with the
overture "Leonora No. III.," it was again performed March 29, 1806, and
the reception was warmer. It was played April 10th. Beethoven and Braun
quarreled, and Vienna did not hear "Fidelio" for seven or eight years.
Parts of the pianoforte concerto in G and of the C-minor symphony, as well
as the two last of the Rasoumoffsky string quartets Op. 59 were composed
at this time.

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN.

After a posthumous Medallion by Gatteux.]

Some months in 1806 were passed in visits. Beethoven stopped at the
country-seat of Count Brunswick - and some say that he was in love with
Therese, the sister, to whom he dedicated his favorite sonata Op. 78, and
that the posthumous love letters were addressed to her. He went to Silesia
to see Prince Lichnowsky. There were French officers there who wished to
hear him play, and when he refused, the Prince threatened in jest to lock
him up. There was an angry scene, and Beethoven, rushing back to Vienna,
dashed a bust of the Prince to pieces. The 4th symphony was played at a
concert in March, 1807, for Beethoven's benefit. The subscriptions were
as liberal as the program, which was made up of two and a half hours of
orchestral music. Clementi of London paid him $1,000 down for copyrights.
And so he had money and he was cheerful. He worked at the "Coriolan"
overture, and, it is believed, the Pastoral and C-minor symphonies. In
September the mass in C was brought out under the protection of Prince
Esterhazy, who, accustomed to Haydn's music, said to Beethoven, "What,
pray, have you been doing now?" Hummel, the Chapelmaster, laughed, and
there was no intercourse between the composers for some time. In spite of
the failure of "Fidelio," Beethoven looked toward the theatre and offered
to supply one grand opera and one operetta yearly at a salary of about
$960 with benefit performances, an offer that was rejected. 1807 saw the
publication of the "Appassionata" sonata and the thirty-two variations.
The pianoforte concerto in G and the Choral Fantasia were performed in

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN.

From a pencil drawing by Letronne, made in 1814. It has been engraved by
several artists. The above is reproduced from the frontispiece of the
original full score of "Fidelio," published in Bonn.]

The pension from the Elector had been stopped. Prince Lichnowsky made
Beethoven a small allowance, and with this exception, the latter was
dependent on his own exertions. Some time in 1808 Jerome Bonaparte, King
of Westphalia, offered Beethoven the position of _Maître de Chapelle_
at Cassel, with an annual salary, beside travelling expenses, of about
$1,500. This led the Archduke Rudolph, Prince Lobkowitz, and Prince Kinsky
to give a joint undertaking in March 1809 to secure Beethoven 4,000
florins, payable half-yearly, a sum nominally worth about $2,000, and
really about $1,000; this was lessened by the depreciation of the Austrian
paper and the bankruptcy and the death of Prince Kinsky. It was in this
year that Beethoven met young Moscheles, began relations with Breitkopf
and Härtel, negotiated with Thomson about the harmonization of Scottish
melodies, a contract which in the course of years netted him about $1,000.
The French were again in Vienna. Wagram was fought. Beethoven, during
the bombardment of his town, was in a cellar, and dreading the effect of
the explosions on his hearing, called in the aid of cushions. Haydn died
in May, and there is no hint of the fact in the letters or journals of
his quondam pupil. It was the year of the beginning of the "Les Adieux"
sonata, to commemorate the departure of the Archduke.

May, 1810, was the date of the first performance of the music to "Egmont,"
probably in a private house, and in this month Beethoven first saw Bettine
Brentano, "Goethe's child, who seemed the incarnation or the original of
Mignon." With her he fell in love, although she was betrothed to Count
Arnim. The authenticity of the three letters which she published in after
years as his has been a subject of warm dispute. It was in this same year
that he contemplated marriage, and wrote for his baptismal certificate.
But the name of the possible wife is unknown. Some have called her Therese
von Brunswick; others Therese Malfatti.

There was a rumor in Vienna in 1811 that Beethoven thought of moving to
Naples in response to advantageous offers. His income was lowered by
the depreciation in the value of the Austrian paper money. He suffered
from headaches, his feet were swollen, and he hoped that the climate
of Italy would bring relief. His physician did not favor the plan. In
1812 the Brentanos lent Beethoven about $920, and he tried the baths at
Carlsbad, Franzensbrunn, and Töplitz. At the latter place he fell in love
with Amalie Sebald, a soprano from Berlin, about thirty years of age,
handsome and intellectual. The affection was deep and mutual; why the
intimate relations did not lead to marriage, is an insoluble problem.
And here Beethoven met Goethe, whom he reverenced; but the poet saw in
him "an utterly untamed character." The acquaintance did not ripen into
friendship, although Goethe recognized the "marvellous talent" of the
composer; Mendelssohn declared, however, in a letter to Zelter, that the
antipathy of the poet to Beethoven's music was poorly disguised. Nor on
the other hand did the composer relish the self-effacement of Goethe when
he was in the presence of royalty. In October he visited his brother
Johann at Linz and found him entangled with a woman; he forced him to
marry her by threats of arresting her and sending her to Vienna. 1812 was
the year of the composition of the Seventh and Eight symphonies. Beethoven
returned to Vienna in gloomy spirits; he was sick in body; he squabbled
with his servants; Amalie Sebald was ever in his mind.

The defeat of the French at Vittoria in 1813 provoked the vulgar
program-music, "Wellington's Victory," which was suggested also by
Maelzel, the famous mechanician; it enjoyed great popularity, although
Beethoven himself regarded it as "a stupid affair." Spohr was in Vienna
when Beethoven conducted an orchestral concert, the program of which
included the 7th symphony in MS. and this Battle Symphony. He and
Mayseder, Salieri, Hummel, Moscheles, Romberg and Meyerbeer were in the
orchestra. According to Spohr, Beethoven at this time had only one pair of
boots, and when they were repaired he was obliged to stay at home. In 1816
the composer recorded in a note-book that he had seven pairs.

In 1814 Anton Schindler first met Beethoven. They grew intimate, and
five years later he lived with him as a secretary. They quarreled, but
they were reconciled shortly before the death of the composer. "Fidelio"
was revived the same year. The new overture (in E) was included in the
performance. Prince Lichnowsky died before the opera, which had undergone
alteration, was thus produced. Then came a quarrel between Beethoven and
Maelzel, which worried sorely the composer. September saw his triumph,
when six thousand people waxed enthusiastic at a concert given by him in
the Redouten-Saal. There were royal and celebrated visitors, drawn to
Vienna by the Congress. Beethoven wrote a cantata for the event. "_Der
glorreiche Augenblick_" ("The Glorious Moment"), a work unworthy of his
reputation. He was made an honorary member of the Academies of London,
Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam. Vienna gave him the freedom of the city.
He was courted in the drawing-rooms of the great. The Empress Elizabeth of
Russia made him a present of about $4,600. He bought shares of the Bank of

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN.

From an engraving by Eichens after an oil painting by Schimon, painted in

Caspar Carl Beethoven died in November, 1815, and thus gave final and
posthumous anxiety to his brother Ludwig; for he left to him the care of
his son Carl. The mother of the eight-year-old boy was not a fit person
to rear him, and Caspar had written his last wishes with an affectionate
reference to Ludwig, who in fact had ministered generously to his wants
and his caprices, and had thus spent at least $4,000. A codicil, however,
restrained the uncle from taking his nephew away from the maternal house.
The widow did not restrain her passions even in her grief, and Beethoven
appealed to the law to give him control of the boy. There were annoyances,
changes of jurisdiction, and the decree was not given in his favor until
1820. It was before the _Landrechts_ court that Beethoven pointed to his
head and his heart, saying, "My nobility is here and here"; for the cause
was in this court on the assumption that the _van_ in his name was an
indication of nobility. Owing to these law-suits he composed but little;
still it was the period of the great pianoforte sonatas Op. 106, Op. 109,
Op. 110. He was in straitened circumstances. In 1816 his pension was
diminished to about $550. He had quarreled again with Stephen Breuning.
He found pleasure in the thought that he was a father. He was influenced
mightily by the death of his brother and the painful incidents that
followed, not only in his daily life but in his work. At first there was
a time of comparative unproductiveness, and the cantata "Calm Sea and
Happy Voyage" and the song-cyclus "To the Absent Loved-one," with the
pianoforte sonata Op. 101, are the most important compositions between
1815 and 1818. Texts for oratorios and operas were offered him, but he did
not put them to music. In 1818 he received a grand pianoforte from the
Broadwoods, and there was vain talk of his going to England.

His friend and pupil, the Archduke Rudolph, was appointed Archbishop of
Olmütz in 1818, and Beethoven began in the autumn a grand Mass for the
Installation. The ceremony was in March, 1820; the Mass was not finished
until 1822; it was published in 1827, and there were seven subscribers
at about $115 a copy; among them were the Emperor of Russia, the King of
Prussia, and the King of France. The summer and autumn of 1818 and '19
were spent at Mödling in the composition of the Mass, relieved only by
anxious thoughts about his nephew. Sketches for the 9th symphony date back
to 1817, and the theme of the scherzo is found in 1815. This colossal
work was in his mind together with a tenth, which should be choral in
the adagio and the finale, even when he wrote the overture in C for the
opening of the Josephstadt Theatre in Vienna and watched with fiery eyes
Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, the Leonora of the revival in 1822. In this
same year Rossini, sweeping all before him, visited Vienna, and tried
to call on Beethoven. According to Azevedo the interview was painful
between the young man flushed with success and the deaf and "almost blind"
composer of the Heroic Symphony. But Schindler affirms that Beethoven
succeeded in escaping the visits. The operatic triumphs of Rossini and
the thought of the Schröder-Devrient again led him to meditate opera.
There were discussions concerning music to Goethe's "Faust," not in
set operatic form, but incidental airs, choruses, symphonic pieces and
melodrama. In June, 1823, he was hard at work on the Ninth Symphony. He
passed whole days in the open air at Hetzendorf, but his host, a baron,
was too obsequiously civil, and he moved to Baden, where in the fall he
received a visit from Weber. The Philharmonic Society of London in 1822
passed a resolution offering Beethoven £50 for a MS. symphony; the money
was advanced, and the work was to be delivered in the March following.
Ries was in London in the fall of 1823, and in September he heard from
Beethoven that the manuscript was finished, nevertheless there was
additional work on it after the return to Vienna; and according to Wilder,
who quotes Schindler, the finale was not written until Beethoven was in
his new lodgings in town, and the use of the voices in Schiller's Ode was
then first definitely determined, although the intention was of earlier

The Italians still tickled the ears of the Viennese, who apparently cared
not for German music, vocal or instrumental. Beethoven looked toward
Berlin as the city where his solemn Mass and Ninth Symphony (in spite
of his arrangement with the Philharmonic society of London) should be
produced, and he negotiated with Count Brühl. This drove finally the noble
friends of Beethoven in Vienna to send him an address praying him to allow
the first production of these new works to be in the city in which he
lived. Beethoven was moved deeply; he found the address "noble and great."
There were the unfortunate misunderstandings that accompany so often such
an occasion. Beethoven was suspicious, the manager of the Kärnthnerthor
theatre where the concert was given was greedy, and the music perplexed
the singers and the players. Sontag and Ungher, who sang the female solo
parts, begged him to change certain passages, but he would not listen to
them. The 7th of May, 1824, the theatre was crowded, with the exception of
the Imperial box; no one of the Imperial family was present, no one sent
a ducat to the composer. The program was as follows: Overture in C (Op.
124); the Kyrie, Credo, Agnus and Dona Nobis of the mass in D arranged in
the form of three hymns and sung in German, on account of the interference
of the Censure, as the word "mass" could not appear on a theatre program;
the Ninth Symphony. The public enthusiasm was extraordinary. As Beethoven
could not hear the plaudits Caroline Ungher took him by the shoulders and
turned him about that he might see the waving of hats and the beating
together of hands. He bowed, and then the storm of applause was redoubled.
After the expenses of the concert there were about 400 florins for
Beethoven - about $200. The concert was repeated and the manager guaranteed
500 florins. The hall was half-empty. The composer was angry; he at first
refused to accept the guarantee; and he accused his friends whom he had
invited to eat with him of conspiring to cheat him.


From a lithographic reproduction of a painting made by Stieler, in April,


In the Schwarz-Spanier house. From an engraving by G. Leybold of a drawing
made three days after his death.]

Meanwhile his nephew, for whom he was willing to make any sacrifice
and for whose benefit he labored incessantly and sold his manuscripts,

Online LibraryVariousFamous Composers and their Works, Vol. 2 → online text (page 10 of 32)