While contemporary voices appear to still have taken Beethoven's 'earnest endeavors' in creating this work (so that it could be premiered at two concerts for the benefit of the wounded Austrian and Bavarian veterans of the Battle of Hanau) 'at face value' and to generally have applauded his efforts, Beethoven's reputation appears to have suffered later from his engagement in this 'lucrative bread-work'. Although we may be able to discern the 'time sequence' of all events if we, as the writer did, endeavor to compile a comprehensive 'creation history' of this work, the mere 'visual contemplation' of this 'time sequence' does not aid us in arriving at some kind of understanding as to what role this work might have played and what place it might have taken at the very outset of Beethoven's 'creative hiatus' in-between his second and third style periods. If we, however, first look at the 'scenario' our of which this work was to emerge: Beethoven's life during that period and at Johann Nepomuk Maelzel's (Beethoven's collaborator in this work) coming into contact with him--before we move on to the already mentioned 'time sequence'--and if we ultimately reflect on that time sequence in light of the 'circumstances leading up to' and the 'immediate consequences arising out of' all facts and circumstances surrounding the creation of this work, we might walk into the concert hall with a new perspective on this work in our minds.


Late 1811 and the first half of 1812 saw Beethoven's completing his Eighth Symphony. Beethoven's famous letter of July 6 - 7, 1812 lets us look at the culmination of his encounter with his 'Immortal Beloved', but it does not reveal her identity. While he had arrived at Teplitz when he wrote this letter, he would again meet an interesting circle of artists there that would, this year, also include Goethe.

Beethoven must have left Bohemia towards the end of September, to arrive for a 'brief sojourn' in Vienna either on September 30th or October 1st, from where he set out for and arrived in Linz on October 5th, to visit his brother Nikolaus Johannes. When he arrived there, he was apparently in a state that could be described as the beginning of his grieving process over the (either self-inflicted or 'naturally' occurred) loss of his 'Immortal Beloved'. We might look at Beethoven's 'forceful moral indignation' with respect to his brother's common-law living arrangements with his later wife Therese as 'evidence' of the beginning of Beethoven's grieving process.

That grieving process continued right into 1813, while Beethoven's brother Caspar Carl suffered from a serious bout with tuberculosis, causing the latter to draw up a Will in which he appointed his brother Ludwig as his sole guardian of his son Carl. This fact might be looked at as the 'branching out' of the grieving process into the complex area of Beethoven's psychological entanglements that are described in Sterba's book 'Beethoven and His Nephew'. While we might, in the writer's opinion, not be quite certain as to whether and as to precisely when Beethoven might or might not have followed his long-time Viennese friend, Baron Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanowetz in visiting the so-called 'fortresses' during his grieving process in 1813, we can be more certain of the possibility that the Streichers found Beethoven in a truly deplorable state of personal grooming and emotional frame of mind during their visits to Beethoven's 1813 countryside residence. Mme. Streicher was reported as having looked into shaping up Beethoven's wardrobe, and the couple urged Beethoven to look after himself better and to also set some funds aside 'for the future'.


(b.Regensburg 15 Aug.1772; d.at sea, 21 Jul. 1838)

was the son of a Regensburg organ builder who received a thorough musical education and, like Beethoven, moved to Vienna in 1792, in order to make a living there as a piano performer and teacher. Besides music, however, he also had a great mechanical inclination that soon 'led him to exchange the music room for the workshop' (Thayer 543). In 1807, he sold his first 'Panharmonicon' in Paris, while he is reported as having been hired by the Viennese Imperial court to work on a 'mechancial' project and as having been assigned rooms in Schoenbrunn, in 1809. Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Vienna and his 'taking up residence' in Schoenbrunn forced Maelzel to look for another workshop. He found it in Stein's piano factory (Stein was Nanette Streicher's brother). In 1812, he worked there on a 'new and improved' panharmonicon. We may now move to:




During the time that Beethoven and Maelzel met, the latter was mainly developing the following mechanical devices:

A 'chronometer' for the exact measurement of 'musical time'. An October 15, 1813, article of the 'Wiener Vaterlaendische Zeitung' reported on its successful development and about Antonio Salieri having tested it on Haydn's 'Creation'. This chronometer, however, ws not what would become known as Maelzel's 'metronome', which he had developed and completed by 1817.

During the winter of 1812/1813, Maelzel had opened his 'Kunstkabinett', a public exhibition of 'marbles, bronzes and paintings and a variety of contributions, scientific or curious, from various artists, among them a large electrical machine with apparatus for popular experiments, but the principal attractions were his own Mechanical Trumpeter and the new 'panharmonicon' (Thayer 559). How did this 'panharmoicon' function? It combined all instruments of a military band of the time with a 'powerful bellows' (Thayer 560), all of which was encased. The automatic motive power, in a fashion, functioned in such a way that the keys were touched by pins that were fixed in a revolving cylinder. (Much like in a common hand-organ). Each composition had its own cylinder.

Beethoven himself is reported by Carl Stein as having visited Maelzel at the piano factory and as having become very friendly with him.

That Beethoven's faulty hearing began to deteriorate more and more after 1812 is an as well documented fact as Maelzel's building several very useful ear drum for him, one of which Beethoven used for several years, probably until 1817.

While Maelzel had displayed his new panharmonicon during the winter season of 1812/183 in Vienna, he may also have considered whether or not he was ready to go 'on the road' with his invention. To this end, he knew that he already had in his panharmonicon repertory works of such renowned composers as Handel, Haydn and Cherubini,

" . . . but what if he could add to his repertory some new, striking and popular piece, bearing the great name of Beethoven, he could increase both its attractiveness and the public interest and curiosity in the composer" (Thayer 560).

Along these lines, he must have considered that 'battle music' had already been a favorite of wide audiences, with works such as Koczwara's 'Grande Battaille' in D and his 'Battaille du Prague', Devenne's 'Battle of Gemappe', Neubauer's work on the battle of Martinestie, Janin's on Austerlitz and Fuchs' on Jena, to name but a few.

The news of Wellington's victory at Vittoria in Spain on June 21, 1813, that had also reached Vienna, may have 'inspired' Maelzel to approach Beethoven with a new idea, namely that of catering to the taste of the English public by composing a 'Battle Symphony' for his new panharmonicon. It was also his idea to introduce 'Rule, Britannia' and 'God save the King'.

If we consider the fact that during the same summer, Beethoven had been urged by his friends, the Streichers, to set money aside for the future, and also that he possibly considered 'the future' in light of having to take care of his nephew Carl if his brother Caspar Carl were to pass away, it may almost appear to us as 'perfect timing' that this 'opportunity' offered itself and that Beethoven willingly went along with Maelzel's plans and that he was able to recognize and seize the opportunity.

Beethoven must have gone to work on the project immediately. His o w n first comments on this activity are reflected in his sketchbook to this work,

"Wellington's Victory Vittoria, only God save the King, but a great victory overture for Wellington" (Thayer 561),

and in his so-called 'Tagebuch' (diary) with the following entries:

"I must show the English a little what a blessing there is in God save the King",

and perhaps also in

"It is certain that one writes most prettily when one writes for the public, also that one writes rapidly" (Thayer 561).

Thayer reports on Ignaz Moscheles' comment that Maelzel's contribution would, indeed, not only have been the basic idea for this work but that he also 'designed' its concept, writing

"all the drum-marches and the trumpet-flourishes of the French and English armies; gave the composer some hints how he should herald the English army by the tune of 'rule Britannia', how he should introduce 'Malbrook' in a dismal strain, how he should depict the horror of the battle and arrange 'God save the King' with effects of representing the hurrahs of a multitude. Even the unhappy idea of converting the melody of 'God save the King' into a subject of a fugue in which movement, emanates from Maelzel. All this I saw in sketches and score, brought by Beethoven to Maelzel's workshop, then the only suitable place of reception he was provided with" (Thayer 561).

Moscheles' statement was basically corroborated by Carl Stein, the owner of the piano factory. A further 'corroboration' might also be Beethoven's own writing on the copy of part of the panharmonicon score (in the Artaria collection), "On Wellington's Victory at Vittoria, 1813, written for Hr. Maelzel by Ludwig van Beethoven."

The actual time frame of Beethoven's and Maelzel's collaboration must have been that the general plan was worked out during Beethoven's occasional visits to Vienna during August and September, and the final touches as to its appropriate application for the panharmonicon having been worked on in late September, so that the completed work was in Maelzel's hands in early October.

While Maelzel may originally have had in mind to merely tour Europe with the 'panharmonicon' version of the 'Battle Symphony', very soon after the completion of it he also developed an additional plan in order to raise funds for a journey that should take him and Beethoven directly to England. We may wish to quote Thayer here:

"The problem now was, how to provide the necessary funds and give exhibitions at the principal cities on the way, involved little or no risk for Maelzel, as the experience of the next year proved, but to make the journey direct, with Beethoven for his companion, was impossible until in some manner a considerable sum of ready money could be provided."

"The only recourse of the composer, except borrowing, was, of course, the production of the two new Symphonies, one of which had been copied for trial with small orchestra at the Archduke's, thus diminishing somewhat the expenses of a concert. It was five years since he had had a benefit, and therefore one full house might be counted on with reasonable certainty; but no concert of his had ever been repeated, and a single house would leave but a small margin of profit. Moreover, his fruitless efforts in the Spring to arrange an 'Akademie' were discouraging. Unless the new Symphonies could be produced without cost to himself, and the interest and subsequent concerts, no adequate fund for the journey could be gained; but if so grat a sensation could in some manner be made as to secure this object, the fame it would precede and nobly herald them in London" (Thayer 563- 564).

In essence, Maelzel now aimed at increasing the potential audience at such a concert by adding a work that appealed to the masses--the 'Battle Symphony'. However, this should best be performed by a full orchestra instead of by pianoforte accompaniment.

Maelzel looked around for the right opportunity at which this 'concert version' could be introduced. Two performances of Handel's 'Timotheus' for the benefit of the widows and orphans of Austrians and Bavarians who had died in the last campaign against Napoleon gave him the 'incentive' to try something similar. Beethoven agreed with Maelzel's plan, and Maelzel returned the panharmonicon score to the composer who could let his 'creativity' out on this work, once more!

While Beethoven worked on the orchestra version, Maelzel made preparations for the concert: the combination of Maelzel's 'engaging' personality, the charitable nature of the proposed concert and the public's curiosity to hear Beethoven's latest work brought many forces together to assist in the staging of the benefit concert, among whom were many leading musicians, some only temporarily in Vienna, as Dragonetti, Meyerbeer and the bassoon-player Romberg, for instance.

Beethoven also assisted in the practical realization of this endeavor. He wrote to Archduke Rudolph and asked him to enlist Baron Schweiger's help in lobbying on his behalf with the 'Rector Magnificus' of the Unviersity of Vienna and to thereby secure the University Hall. The use of this faiclity was granted for the 8th of December.


Gloeggl, who was in Vienna at that time and who visited Beethoven, had the opportunity to be present at the rehearsals and reported:

"I remember that in one rehearsal the violin players refused to play a passage in the symphony and rebuked him for writing difficulties which were incapable of performance. But Beethoven begged the gentlemen to take the parts home with them--if they were to practice it at home it would surely go. The next day at the rehearsal the passage went exellently, and the gentlemen themselves seemed to rejoice that they had given Beethoven the pleasure" (Thayer 565).


Before we feature here Louis Spohr's somewhat amusing report on Beethoven's 'physical performance', the writer would, however, like to point out that Beethoven might have felt that such 'intense gesturing' would help him, the hard-of-hearing, to be 'physically with it' during his conducting, in order to 'make up' for what he could no longer clearly hear:

"Beethoven had accustomed himself to indicate expression to the orchestra by all manner of singular body movements. So often as a sforzando occurred, he tore his arms, which he had previously crossed upon his breast, with great vehemence asunder. At piano he crouched down lower and lower as he desired the degree of softness. If a crescendo then entered he gradually rose again and at the entrance of the forte jumped into the air. Sometimes, too, he unconsciously shouted to strengthen the forte. . . . It was obvious that the poor man could no longer hear the piano of his music. This was strikingly illustrated in the second portion of the first Allegro of the Symphony. In one place there are two holds, one immediately after the other, of which the second is pianissimo. This, Beethoven had probably overlooked, because he began again to beat time before the orchestra had begun to play the second hold. Without knowing it, therefore, he had hurried ten or twelve measures ahead of the orchestra, when it began again and, indeed, pianissimo. Beethoven to indicate this had in his wonted manner crouched clean under the desk. At the succeeding crescendo he again became visible, straightened himself out more and more and jumped into the air at the point where according to his calculations the forte ought to begin. When this did not follow his movement he looked out in a startled way, stared at the orchestra to see it still playing pianissimo and found his bearing only when the long-expected forte came and was visible to him. Fortunately this comical incident did not take place at the performance" (Thayer 565-567).

While Maelzel's initial advertisement of the concert referred to the 'Battle Symphony' as his property, Beethoven strongly objected to this, and had the announcement indicate that the work was compsoed by Beethoven out of friendship for Maelzel and for his trip to England. The program announced the following works:

I. "An entirely new Symphony" by Beethoven (the Seventh in A major).

II. Two marches played by Maelzel's 'Mechanical Trumpeter', with full orchestral accompaniment--the one by Dussek, the other by Pleyel.

III. "Wellington's Victory" (Thayer 566).

the concert was such a success that it was repeated on Sunday, December 12th, at noon. The revenue generated through these two concerts was 4,006 florins and was handed over to the 'hohen Kriegspraesidio' for the beneift of the Austrian and Bavarian soldiers wounded in the battle of Hanau. Most press reports were very favorable and confirmed the enthusiasm the concerts aroused in the audience. Spohr also reported that the Allegretto of the Seventh Symphony had to be repeated at each concert.

Schindler called this event 'one of the most important times in the master's life when, with the exception of a few professional musicians, all the voices that up to this moment had been at odds finally united in unanimous acclaim" (Schindler 167), and "It took a work like the Battle symphony to unify the conflicting opinions and thus stop the mouths of the opponents of every type" (Schindler 168).

In the aftermath of these performances Beethoven prepared a 'Note of Thanks' to all participating musicians, for press release. It reads:

"I consider it my duty to thank all the esteemed participants in the concerts of 8th and 12th December, given for the benefit of the imperial Austrian and royal Bavarian soldiers wounded in the battle of Hanau, for the zeal that they showed in so worthy a cause."

"It was a rare assembly of outstanding artists, in which each one, inspired by the sole thought of contributing by his art something for the benefit of the Fatherland, worked together without thought of rank and in subordinate positions to bring about an oustanding performance."

"Not only did Hr. Schuppanzigh as leader of the first violins carry the orchestra with him by his fiery and expressive playing, but Hr. Chief-Kapellmeister Salieri did not disdain to give the beat to the drums and the cannonades. Hr. Spohr and Hr. Mayseder, each by his artistry worthy of the highest leadership, played their parts at the second and third desks, and Hr. Siboni and Giuliani likewise occupied subordinate places."

"The leadership of the whole assemblage fell to me only because the music was of my composition. Had it been someone else, I should have been as willing as Hr. Hummel to take my place at the great drum, since we were all filled solely with the purest feeling of love for the Fatherland and with the joy of giving our powers for those who had given so greatly for us."

"But our greatest thanks are due to Hr. Maelzel, since it was he who first conceived the idea of this concert, and to him fell the most burdensome part of the enterprise, the necessary preliminary work, care, and management. Beyond this I must express my particular thanks to him since by this concert that he brought about and by the composition written specifically for this worthy purpose and delivered to him without fee, he brought to fulfillment my long-cherished ardent wish to lay one of my great works upon the altar of the Fatherland under the present conditions."

Since, however, a notice will soon be published of all those who collaborated on this occasion and the part that they played, the public can then see for themselves with what noble self-denial a number of the finest artists worked together for one fine objective. It was through my encouragement that the leading masters [?] were assembled.

"Ludwig van Beethoven"


"It is to be noted that the original idea for the work on Wellington was mine" (Schindler 168-169).

To this quotation from Schindler should be noted that, in comparison, Thayer's does not feature Beethoven's 'afterhtought' as to the ownership of the work. Rather, in footnote 25, Thayer points out that Schindler originally did not print a final sentence in which Beethoven "purposes to issue a list of musicians and the parts that they played. See A 1438" (Thayer 567). The 1966 MacArdle edition of Schindler we quoted the above from evidently remedied Schindler's original omission.

The reason why this 'Note of Thanks' was not published is simple and complicated at the same time but it can be basically attributed to the quarrel that developed between Beethoven and Maelzel. What was the obvious immediate consequence of this quarrel? It meant that Maelzel's and Beethoven's original plans to go to England did not materialize.

How did Beethoven react to this? One evident effect of his falling-out with Maelzel was this announcement of December 31, 1813, in the 'Wiener Zeitung':


The desire of a large number of music lovers whom I esteem as worthy of honor, to hear again my grand instrumental composition on 'Wellington's Victory at Vittoria', makes it my pleasant duty herewith to inform the valued public that on Sunday, the 2nd of January, I shall have the honor to perform the aforementioned composition with added vocal pieces and choruses and aided by the most admirable musicians of Vienna, in the R.I. Large Redoutensaal for my benefit."

"Tickets for admission are to be had daily in the Kohlmarkt in the house of Baron v. Haggenmueller, to the right of the court on the ground floor, in the comptoir of Baron v. Pasqualati: parterre 2fl, Gallery 3fl. Vienna standard.

Ludwig van Beethoven (Thayer 569).


Beethoven's venturing out on his own left, of course, his collaborator Maelzel without any benefit or profit from their 'joint venture'. With Maelzel's 'Mechanical Trumpeter' not being available for his concert, he had to insert another work. He selected nos. 6, 7 and 8 of the 'Ruinen von Athen', the 'Solemn March with Chorus', and the concluding Bass aria, sung by Weinmueller, with the choruses. In the last 'number', the 'bust of the monarch is made suddenly to appear' (Thayer 570). Beethoven did not yet know where to take a curtain from to produce this effect. In his despair, he wrote to his old, trusted friend Zmeskall on January 1, 1814:


"An N. von Zmeskall

Neujahr 1414

Lieber werter Freund! Alles waere gut, waere der Vorhang da, ohne diesen faellt die Arie durch. Erst heute mittag erfahre ich dieses von S. [Seyfried oder Schuppanzigh?], und mich schmerzt's; sei's nur ein Vorhang, wenn auch ein Bett-Vorhang oder nur eine Art von Schirm, den man im Augenblicke wegnimmt, ein Flor, etc. Es muss was sein; die Arie ist ohnehin mehr dramatisch fuers Theater geschrieben, als dass sie im Konzert wirken koennte, alle Deutlichkeit geht ohne etwas Aehnliches verloren! verloren! verloren! zum Teufel alles! Der Hof kommt wahrscheinlich, Baron Schweiger bat mich instaending hinzugehen, Erzherzog Karl liess mich vor sich und versprach zu kommen, die Kaiserin sagte eben nicht zu aber auch nicht ab.

Vorhang!!!! oder die Arie und ich werden morgen gehangen. Leben Sie wohl, beim neuen Jahr druecke ich Sie ebensosehr als beim alten ans Herz. Mit Vorhang oder ohne Vorhang?

Ihr Beethvn" (Beethoven=Briefe 88).

"To N. von Zmeskall

New Year's Day 1814

Dear worthy friend

All would be well if there were only a curtain, without it the aria will fall though. Just this noon did I learn this from S [Seyfried or Schuppanzigh?] and that pains me; if there were only a curtain, even if it were merely a bed-curtain, or even just some kind of screen that one can remove for the moment (or at the right moment), a veil etc. There must be something; the aria has been written in a more dramatic style for the theater anyway, for it to be effective in a concert; all effect or meaning will be lost without a curtain or something of that sort, lost! lost! lost! the devil take all of it! The court will probably come, Baron Schweiger has urged me to go there; Archduke Karl received me and promised to come, the Empress neither confirmed nor denied whether she will attend.

Hangings!!!! or the aria and I will be hung tomorrow. Farewell; in the New Year I press you as warmly to my heart as in the old. With or without curtain?

Your Beethvn."

For Beethoven, this concert turned out to be a financial success as well as a success with the audience. The profitable outcome was based on the fact that Beethoven was able to work with roughly the same musicians as at the two benefit concerts save for Salieri who was replaced by Hummel at the drums. Thus Beethoven could rely on a team that needed little rehearsal time. The audience's applause was generous, as well, as Thayer reports:

"Many things had to be repeated, and there was a unanimous expression of a desire on the part of all the hearers to hear the compositions again and often, and to have occasion more frequently to laud and admire our native composer for works of his brilliant invention" (Thayer 571).

This was quoted from an article in the 'Wiener Zeitung' of January 9th. The singer Franz Wild who was also present, in his 'Autobiography' (published in 'Rezensionen ueber Theater und Musik', Vienna, 1860, No. 4) rendered a report that corroborates Spohr's observations as to Beethoven's 'conducting gymnastics' and, while we need not repeat every detail of it, we may wish to note how these exercises turned out:

" . . . At first this happened without disturbance of the effect of the composition . . . But all at once the genius ran ahead . . . Now danger was imminent and at the critical moment Kapellmeister Umlauf took the commander's staff and it was indicated to the orchestra that he alone was to be obeyed. For a long time Beethoven noticed nothing of the change; when he finally observed it, a smile came to his lips which, if ever a one which kind fate permitted me to see could be called so, deserved to be called 'heavenly'" (Thayer 570).

On this occasion, Beethoven did publish a brief 'Note of Thanks' in the 'Wiener Zeitung' of January 24th.

Beethoven's appetite for financial and public success having been whetted, he immediately went about launching another 'Akademie' which was advertised in the 'Wiener Zeitung' of February 24th and announced for the 27th of February, again in the large Redoutensaal. On the program were, as the 'Allg. Mus. Zeit.' reports:

"1. The new symphony (A major) which was received with so much applause, again. The reception was as animated as the first time, the Andante (A minor) the crown of modern instrumental music, as at the first performance, had to be repeated.

2. An entirely new Italian terzetto (B-flat major) beautifully sung by Mad. Milder-Hauptmann, Hr. Siboni and Hr. Weinmueller, is conceived at the outset wholly in the Italian style, but ends with a fiery Allegro in Beethoven's individual style. It was applauded.

3. An entirely new, hitherto unheard symphony (F major, 3/4 time). The greatest interest of the listeners seemed centered on this, the newest product of Beethoven's muse, but this was not sufficiently gratified after the single hearing . . . "

4. As the close, Wellington's Victory in the battle of Vittoria was given again, the first part, the battle, having to be repeated. The performance left nothing to be desired; and the attendance was again very large" (Thayer 475-476).

Schindler as well as Beethoven left detailed records with respect to the expenses of this event, and 'old faithful' estimated the audience at 5,000 while 3,000 might have been closer to the truth. Thus, while the new Eighth Symphony was not yet fully understood, everything else, including the 'Battle' pleased and filled Beethoven's pockets.

In the meantime, Maelzel had stayed in Vienna for several weeks after his falling-out with Beethoven while he tried to reach some kind of compromise with the composer. Beethoven, however, did not give an inch. Several meetings took place at the offices of the lawyer Dr. Adlersburg. For the last scheduled meeting, the discouraged Maelzel did not show up. Thayer reports that subsequently or simultaneously, as Maelzel's patience had been tried to the utmost, he "obtained by stealth so many of the single parts of the 'Battle' as to be enabled therefrom to have a pretty correct score of the work written out, with which he departed to Munich and there produced in two concerts on the 16th and 17th of March" (Thayer 579).

When Beethoven heard of this he became very angry and commenced a lawsuit against Maelzel who was well on his way across Europe. Now it also becomes clear why Beethoven hastily prepared the score and sent it to the Prince Regent of England (as he had written to Zmeskall in a note of April): He may have done so to prevent Maelzel from presenting it there as 'his' work. The Prince Regent, however, took no further notice of it other than permitting it being staged.

Op. 91 was once again on the program of a concert for Beethoven's benefit at the Redoutensaal that was initially scheduled for November 20th but postponed three times, first to November 22nd, second to November 27th and finally to the 29th of November.

At this concert, at which Mme. Milder. Dem. Bondra, Hr. Wild and Hr. Forti sang the Cantata 'Der glorreiche Augenblick', several royalties were in attendance, namely the two Empresses (of Austria), the King of Prussia and others. This concert was again a great success.

Another repeat performance for Beethoven's benfit was given on December 2nd (this time, half of the seats were empty), and on December 25th for the benefit of St. Mark's hospital, in front of a large audience.

With this, the initial 'performance history' of Op. 91 ends.


We can still report that in 1815, Beethoven offered this work to Sir George Smart of London for 70 guineas, and an arrangement for pianoforte for 30 guineas. He also corresponded with Johann Peter Salomon and with his former pupil Ferdinand Ries on this matter. Ultimately, the music publisher Robert Birchall bought from Beethoven four works: Op. 91, Op. 92, the Archduke Trio Op. 97, and the Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin, Op. 96, for 136 gold ducats or 65 English pounds (Thayer 623). Steiner of Vienna also published this work in 1815.

While Beethoven's lawsuit with Maelzel (an entirely fruitless endeavor in light of the aforementioned details as well as due to Maelzel's 'mobility' during those years) was amicably settled in 1817 when Maelzel returned to Vienna and presented his latest invention, the metronome that Beethoven also endorsed, and while Beethoven was able to set aside handsome amount of money in bank shares (most of which he would never touch, however, due to his 'obligation' to leave something for his nephew Karl), a sting would remain with Beethoven (who did not in earnest consider this work as one of his better, major compositions but more as a 'lark' with which to amuse the Viennese audiences), namely due to the fact that the Royal Court of England never acknowledged receipt of this work to him. Even as late as in 1823, Beethoven had a letter delivered by Bauer to King George IV. An earlier letter that was found amongst Schindler's papers may be quoted here (in passages) to give you an impression of Beethoven's 'indignation':

"Already in the year 1813, the undersigned undertook the liberty, at the request of several Englishmen then living here, to send to Your Majesty his composition entitled 'Wellington's Battle and Victory at Vittoria' which no one possessed at that time. . . "

. . . For many years the undersigned cherished the sweet wish that Your Majesty would graciously make known the receipt of this work to him; but he has not yet been able to boast of this happiness. . . " (Thayer 837).

When Sir George Smart visited Beethoven in Vienna in 1825, the composer learned and was pleased that the 'Battle' had been performed together with the 'Mount of Olives' in one evening. However, he also mentioned to Smart that he had not yet forgotten King George IV's never having noticed the receipt of the work.

As can be imagined, this lucrative 'bread work' that depicted a battle of 1813, would soon be forgotten and only mentioned in a complete listing of Beethoven's works with Opus numbers, while his former 'collaborator' Maelzel who is, in 'Grove' described as "evidently a shrewed businessman, with a propensity to use ideas of others for his own benefit" ended up traveling "to the USA, where he passed the rest of his life(except for a voyage or two to the West Indies). . . He was found dead in his berth on board of the American brig 'Otis'" (Grove 485).


While the beginning in the late summer of 1813 of Beethoven's and Maelzel's collaborating on this work found Beethoven already in the midst of his grieving process over the loss of his 'Immortal Beloved', that processes' 'foreshadowing' of further complications arising out of it in Beethoven's being drawn to take on the guardianship of his nephew Carl, and right along with all of that also the beginning of Beethoven's 'creative hiatus' between his 'heroic' and his 'late' period, it found the composer also in a frame of mind in which he was susceptible to suggestions of any kind by those who may have meant well for him such as the Streichers and by those who may have meant well, first of all, for themselves while also being willing to share their financial ambitions with their biggest drawing card 'Beethoven' with the latter, such as Maelzel.

The writer ponders as to whether this 'influence' situation could, in the Beethoven-Maelzel case, in some way represent what is generally described as 'undue influence' in legal terms. However, 'undue influence' might presuppose the existence in the 'enticer' of 'deliberate schemes and designs to the detriment of the enticed'. While Maelzel's frame of mind as a 'venturesome inventor/businessman' may have endowed him with the ability to smoothly deal with the public, it may not have provided him with the sense of perception that would have allowed him to fairly judge and become fully aware of Beethoven's 'crisis situation'.

In order for us to 'fairly judge' Beethoven's 'mercenary attitude' in this entire matter, we may, in retrospect, show some generosity of mind in 'balancing out' Beethoven's momentary financial success and his popularity with the 'actual personal gain' he achieved which was none since he set those proceeds aside, bought bank shares save one of which he left to his nephew after his death. Grillparzer's oration statement, 'he gave the world his all and received nothing in return' ultimately stands true in this case, as well. We might just 're-write' this statement to expand it to 'he gave the world his all and received nothing in return, but sometimes he also tried to intentionally reap some benefits himself, but did ultimately not allow himself to make use of them.'


Since most of us approach any subject of real interest to us with whatever personality, mind and cultural background we bring 'into it', our reflections on such topics will undoubtedly be as varying and as differing as our personalities. The writer's reflections are featured here mainly for the purpose of either challenging or enticing you to set out on your own 'journey of the mind' into Beethoven's 'battling' with the time period of 'Wellington's Victory'. If you choose to do so, you will be able to take with you to your next listening experience of this work the fruits of your own imagination and will, thus, only have to show a certain degree of gratitude to the composer as well as to yourselves, as the creative, yet 'revenue-passive' partners in this process.


Ingrid Schwaegermann




Beethoven=Briefe, Ausgewaehlt und herausgegeben von Dr. Leopold Schmidt, Volksverband der Buecherfreunde, Wegweiser-Verlag GmbH, Berlin 1922.

Bory, Robert. Ludwig van Beethoven. His Life and His Work in Pictures. Atlantis Books Zurich-New York.

Schindler, Anton Felix, Beethoven as I Knew Him, Edited by Donald W. MacArdle, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, Faber and Faber, London, 1966.

Thayer's Life of Beethoven, revised and edited by Elliott Forbes, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1964.