BEETHOVEN BACKGROUND PAGE 3/2
In the year 1798, we can observe two events that may be thematically related to the realm of ideas that the Ode to Joy represents (such as friendship, freedom and heroism):
In this year, Beethoven's friend Karl Friedrich Amenda arrived in Vienna. This young man was born in Lippaiken in Courland on October 4, 1771. Having studied music with his father (a pastor) and with Kapellmeister Beichtmer, he became a very talented violinist at a very young age and even gave a concert when he was 14 years old. He attended the University of Jena and completed his theological studies there in 1797, while he also continued his musical studies to a certain extent. After setting out on a tour, he arrived in Vienna in the spring of 1798, first took on a position as preceptor of Prince Lobkowitz and then as music teacher in Konstanze Mozart's family. The Amenda family prepared and carefully kept an interesting account of Amenda's coming into contact with Beethoven and of his friendship with the composer. It reads as follows:
"After the completion of his theological studies K.F. Amenda goes to Vienna, where he several times meets Beethoven at the table d'hote, attempts to enter into conversation with him, but without success, since Beeth. remains very reserve. After some time Amenda, who meanwhile had become music teacher at the home of Mozart's widow, receives an invitation from a friendly family and there plays first violin in a quartet. While he was playing somebody turned the pages for him, and when he turned about at the finish he was frightened to see Beethoven, who had taken the trouble to do this and now withdrew with a bow. The next day the extremely amiable host at the evening party appeared and cried out: "What have you done? You have captured Beethoven's heart! B. requests that you rejoice him with your company." A., much pleased, hurries to B., who at once asks him to play with him. This is done and when, after several hours, A. takes his leave, B. accompanies him to his quarters, where there was music again. As B. finally prepared to go he said to A.: "I suppose you can accompany me." This is done, and B. kept A. till evening and went with him to his home late at night. From that time the mutual visites became more and more numerous and the two took walks together, so that the people in the streets when they saw only one of them in the street at once called out: "Where is the other one?" A. also introduced Mylich, with whom he had come to Vienna, to B., and Mylich often played trios with B. and A. His instrument was the second violin or viola. Once when B. heard that Mylich had a sister in Courland who played the piano forte prettily, he handed him a sonata in manuscript with the inscription: "To the sister of my good friend Mylich." The manuscript was rolled up and tied with a little silk ribbon. B. complained that he could not get along on the violin. Asked by A. to try it, nevertheless, he played so fearfully that A. had to call out: "Have mercy--quit!" B. quit playing and the two laughthed till they had to hold their sides. One evening B. improvised marvellously on the pianoforte and at the close A. said: "It is a great pity that such glorious music is born and lost in a moment." Whereupon B.: "There you are mistaken; I can repeat every extemporization": whereupon he sat himself down and played it again without a change. B. was frequently embarrassed for money. Once he complained to A.; he had to pay rent and had no idea how he could do it. "That's easily remedies," said A. and gave him a theme ("Freudvoll und Leidvoll") and locked him in his room with the remark that he must make a beginning on the variations within three hours. When A. returns he finds B. on the spot but ill tempered. To the question whether or not he had begun B. handed over a paper with the remark: "There's your stuff!" (Da ist der Wisch!) A. takes the notes joyfully to B's landlord and tells him to take it to a publisher, who would pay him handsomely for it. The landlord hesitated at first but finally decided to do the errand and, returning joyfully, asks if other bits of paper like that were to be had. But in order definitely to relieve such financial needs A. advised B. to make a trip to Italy. B. says he is willing but only on condition that A. go with him. A. agrees gladly and the trip is practically planned. Unfortunately news of a death calls A. back to his home. His brother has been killed in an accident and the duty of caring for the family devolves on him. With doubly oppressed heart A. takes leave of B. to return to his home in Courland. There he receives a letter from B. saying: "Since you cannot go along, I shall not go to Italy." Later the friends frequently exchanged thoughts by correspondence" (Thayer 223-224).
Chapter XI of Forbes' Thayer also refers to General Jean Baptiste Bernadotte's coming to Vienna on February 5, 1798, as new french emissary, of his not being very successful at gaining access to the Imperial court, and, on finally succeeding, holding several conversations with the Imperial family, of his Vienna stay coming to an early end due to his displaying the French tricolor and his unfortunate idea of wanting to defend it by force, if needed. Due to a riot that broke out, Bernadotte had to be protected by the infantry and 'removed' on the spot. During his brief stay, however, he, who was also in the company of Rudolph Kreutzer, allegedly also met with Beethoven, and that Bernadotte was supposed to have inspired Beethoven to write a 'heroic symphony' as he subsequently did with the 'Eroica'. At least, Anton Schindler recalls this as follows:
"The first idea for the symphony is said to have gone out from General Bernadotte, then French Ambassador in Vienna, who esteemed Beethoven very highly. This I heard from several of Beethoven's friends. I was also told so by Count Moritz Lichnowsky (brother of Prince Lichnowsky), who was often in the society of Bernadotte with Beethoven . . .", and that in 1823, "Beethoven had a lively recollection that Bernadotte had really first inspired him with the idea of the 'Eroica' Symphony'" (Thayer 204).
Back to the Timetable: 1798
With respect to the friendship between Beethoven and the von Brunsvik family, we may wish to just briefly describe how he came to know the family in the year 1799, for which we can turn to Thayers's quoting Therese von Brunsvik:
"During the extraordninary sojourn of 18 days in Vienna my mother desired that her two daughters, Therese and Josephine, receive Beethoven's invaluable instruction in music. Adalbert Rosti, a schoolmate of my brother's, assured us that Beethoven would not be persuaded to accept a mere invitation; but that if Her Excellency were willing to climb the three flights of stairs of the house in St. Peter's Place, and make him a visit, he would vouch for a successful outcome of the mission. It was done. Like a schoolgirl, with Beethoven's Sonatas for Violin and Violoncello and Pianoforte under my arm, we entered. The immortal, dear Louis van Beethoven was very friendly and as polite as he could be. After a few phrases de part et d'autre, he sat me down at his pianoforte, which was out of tune, and I began at once to sing the 'cello parts and played right well. This delighted him so much that he promised to come every day to the Hotel zum Erzherzog Carl--then zum Goldenen Greifen. It was May in the last year of the last century. He came regularly, but instead of an hour frequently stayed from twelve to four or five o'clock, and never grew weary of holding down and bending my fingers, which I had been taught to lift high and hold straight. The noble man must have been satisfied; for he never missed a single day in the 16. We felt no hunger until five o'clock. My good mother bore her hunger--the inn-people, however, were indignant, for it had not yet become the custom to eat dinner at five o'clock in the evening" (Thayer 235).
Back to the Timetable: 1799
As mentioned in the Beethoven timetable section of this year, Beetoven did enjoy the professional ties with Franz Xaver Hofmeister who moved to Leipzig and who would publish Beethoven's works there quite frequently. Here, we wish to feature Beethoven's letter to him of December 15th of that year:
Geliebtester Herr Bruder! Ich habe dero Anfragen schon mehrmalen beantworten wollen, bin aber in der Briefstellerei erschrecklich faul und da steht's lange an, bis ich einmal statt Noten trockene Buchstaben schreibe. Nun habe ich mich endlich einmal bezwungen, dero Begehren Genuege zu leisten.--Pro primo ist zu wissen, dass es mir sehr leid ist, dass Sie, mein geliebter Herr Bruder in der Tonkunst, mir nich eher etwas zu wissen gemacht haben, damit ich Ihnen meine Quartetten haette zu Markt bringen koennen, sowie auch viele andere Sachen, die ich nun schon verhandelt. Doch wenn der Hr. Bruder ebenso gewissenhaft sind als manche andere ehrliche Stecker, die uns arme Komponisted zu Tod stechen, so werden Sie schon auch wissen, wenn sie herauskommen, Nutzen davon zu ziehen.--Ich will in der Kuerze also heerzetzen, was der Herr Bruder von mir haben koennte: 1. ein Septett per il violino, viola, violoncello, contra Bass, clarinett, corno, fagotto; --- tutti obligati. (Ich kann gar nichts unobligates schreiben, weil ich schon mit einem obligaten Akkompagnement auf die Welt gekommen bin.) Dieses Septett hat sehr gefallen. Zum haeufigeren Gebrauch koennte man die drei Blasinstrudmente: Fatotto, clarinetto und corno, in noch eine Violine, noch eine Viola und noch ein Violoncello uebersetzen. -- 2. eine grosse Symphonie mit vollstaendigen Orchester. -- 3. ein Konzert fuers Klavier, welches ich zwar fuer keins von meinen besten ausgebe, sowie ein anderes, was hier bei Mollo herauskommen wird (zur Nachricht an die Leipziger Rezensenten), weil ich die besseren noch fuer mich behalte, bis ich selbst eine Reise mache, doch duerfte es Ihnen keine Schande machen, es zu stechen. -- 4. eine grosse Solosonate. -- Das ist alles, was ich in diesem Augenblicke hergeben kann; ein wenig spaeter koennen Sie ein Quinteett fuer Geigeninstrumente haben, wie auch vielleicht Quartetten, und auch andere Sachen, die ich jetzt nicht bei mir habe. -- Bei Ihrer Antwort koennen Sie mir selbst auch Preise festsetzen und da Sie weder Jud' noch Italiener, und ich auch keins von beiden bin, so werden wir schon zusammen kommen. -- Geliebtester Hr. Bruder, gehaben Sie sich wohl und sein Sie versichert von der Achtung
Ihres Bruders L.v. Beethoven
The translation of this letter reads as follows:
Most beloved Brother, Sir! On several occasions, I already wanted to answer your enquiries; however, in letter-writing I am terribly lazy and it takes a long time until I write dry letters of the alphabet instead of notes. Now I have finally forced myself to satisfy your desire. -- In primo you should know that I regret very much that you, my beloved brother in the art of tones, did not let me know any earlier, so that I could have brought my quartetts to the market through you, as well as many other things which I have already negotiated. If, however, my brother will turn out to be as conscientious as some other honest cutters of notes who will, some day, cut us poor composers to death, he will, when the notes are coming out, have his just reward from them. -- I will, thus, briefly list what my brother can have from me: 1. a septet per il violino, viola, violoncello, contra bass, clarinett, corno, fagotto; -- tutti obligati. (I cannot write anything but in obligato style, for I was already born with an obligato accompaniment). This septet has pleased very much. For frequent use, the three wind instruments: Fagotto, clarinetto and corno, could be transcribed for one violin, one viola and one violoncello. -- 2. a great symphony with complete orchestra. -- 3. a concert for the piano, which I do not consider one of my best, as another one which will be published here by Mollo (for the Leipzig reviewers' information), for I am still keeping the better ones to myself until I will go on a journey; however, this work will not put you to shame if you cut it. -- 4. a great solo sonata. -- That is all that I can give away at the moment; a bit later, you can have a quintett for string instruments, and possibly also quartets, and also other things which I do not have with me at the moment. -- In your reply, you can set the prices yourself and since you are neither Jew nor Italian, and neither am I, we will come to terms. -- Most beloved brother, farewell and rest assured of the esteem
of your brother L. v. Beethoven.
While we can see here how much Beethoven held this composer and music publisher in high esteem, the thoughtless remark in the last sentence with respect respect to other ethnic groups and nationalities shows us that even composers of works such as the Ode to Joy were "men of their times" in commonly held prejudices.
Back to the Timetable: 1800