Page images

Moscheles informs us, has been placed in the hands of Messrs. Cramer & Co., to be disposed of for the benefit of one of the female relatives of the deceased. We cannot resist presenting a few extracts from this affecting document, as they enable us to explain many of the peculiarities of habits and manners of the much-enduring and sensitive composer.

“ Born with a lively, ardent disposition, susceptible to the diversions of society, I was forced at an early age to renounce them, and to pass my life in seclusion. If I strove at any time to set myself above all this, O how cruelly was I driven back by the doubly painful experience of my defective hearing! And yet it was not possible for me to say to people Speak louder, – bawl, – for I am deaf!' Ah! how could I proclaim the defect of a sense, that I once possessed in the highest perfection, in a perfection in which few of my colleagues possess or ever did possess it! Indeed I cannot! Forgive me then if ye see me draw back when I would gladly mingle among you. Doubly mortifying is my misfortune to me, as it must tend to cause me to be misconceived. From recreation in the society of my fellow-creatures, from the pleasures of conversation, from the effusions of friendship, I am cut off. Almost alone in the world, I dare not venture into society more than absolute necessity requires. I am obliged to live as an exile. Patience, so I am told, - I must choose for my guide. I have done so. Steadfast, I hope, will be my resolution to persevere, till it shall please the inexorable Fates to cut the ihread. Perhaps there may be amendment,– perhaps not, I am prepared for the worst, — I, who so early as my twentyeighth year, was forced to become a philosopher, it is not easy, for the artist more difficult than for any other. O God! thou lookest down upon my misery ; thou knowest that it is accompanied with love of my fellow-creatures and a disposition to do good! O men! when ye shall read this, think that ye have wronged me ; * and let the child of aftliction take comfort in one like himself, who, in spite of all the impediments of nature, yet did all that lay in his power to obtain admittance into the rank of worthy artists and men.” — pp. 80–84.

Then addressing his brothers from whom he had received so many wrongs, and declaring them the heirs of all he possesses, he expresses the wish that they may live happily, more exempt from care than he had been, and thus continues ;

[ocr errors]

*This document was addressed to his brothers.

- pp. 84, 85,

“ Recommend virtue to your children ; that alone, — not wealth, — can give happiness; I speak from experience. It was this that upheld me even in affliction. ***** How glad I am to think that I may be of use to you even in my grave ; so let it be done ; I go to meet death with joy.

If he comes before I have had occasion to develope all my professional abilities, he will come too soon for me, in spite of my hard fate, and I should wish that he delayed his arrival. But even then I am content, for he will release me from a state of endless suffering. Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee with firmness."

In 1902 his health, bodily and mental, had improved so much that he resumed a plan previously formed of doing homage to Napoleon, in a grand instrumental composition. He accordingly applied himself to it, and proceeded with that truly wonderful work the “ Sinfonia Eroica.” Various causes, however, conspired to prevent its completion till 1804. In the mean time he was not idle, but composed many things for his patrons and publishers. He was a republican in politics and full of the spirit of independence. • Plato's Republic,” says Schindler, " was infused into his flesh and blood.” As long as he believed Napoleon was actuated by no other design ihan to republicanize France upon similar principles, he entertained towards him respect and even enthusiasm. But when the news came that he had caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor, the enraged musician tore off the title leaf of his symphony, and dashed it upon the floor with a torrent of execrations against the new monarch. Nor was he reconciled to him until his death at St. Helena, when he sarcastically remarked that “ seventeen years before, he had composed appropriate music to this catastrophe, in which it was exactly predicted, musically, but unwittingly, - alluding to the Dead March in that Symphony."

In 1800 Beethoven was occupied with his sublime work “ Christ on the Mount of Olives,” the first performance of which took place on the 5th of April, 1803. In 1805 he composed his “ Fidelio,” and both these were written in the thickest part of the wood in the park of Schönbrun, where he had a seat between two stems of an oak. He revisited this scene of his inspiration in 1823 in company with Schindler, who has given an account of the visit and the interesting reminiscences that were awakened by it.

- pp. 76, 77.

“It was during this period that his brother Carl (his real name was Caspar), who had some years previously followed him to Vienna, began to govern him, and to make Beethoven suspicious of his sincerest friends and adherents, from wrong notions, or, perhaps, even from jealousy. It was only the still undiminished authority of Prince Lichnowsky over Beethoven and his true interests, that intimidated and somewhat checked the perversity of Carl, and thereby peace was still for a short time insured to Beethoven and those around him. At any rate here commences the history of Beethoven's sufferings, which terminated only with his death, and which originated not only in the conduct of his brother, but also in his own gradually increasing deafness, and the distrust which it engendered. This first brother was joined in time by a second, Johann, whose sentiments soon became identified with those of Carl.”.

In 1812 Beethoven became acquainted with Goethe, at Toplitz, but he appears to have been soon forgotten by the poet, who, says Schindler, in 1823, " when as minister he had it in his power to render him an essential service, with little trouble to himself, did not even deign to reply to a very humble epistle from our Master. That letter was forwarded to him at Weimar, through the grand-ducal chargé d'affaires, and must, of course, have reached his hands."

Of the cause of this neglect we find no explanation in the biography.

Among the peculiarities of Beethoven was the custom of changing his place of abode “as often in a year as others do inns and places of diversion. Hence it was no uncommon thing for him to have three or four lodgings to pay for at once. The motives for these frequent changes were in general trivial ; ” — too much or too little sun, a dislike of the water, a preference for the North side of the city in spring, of the South in summer ; and yet with all these changes and migrations, he produced in three years, at this period, nearly one hundred of his works. The price paid for these works yearly increased, and in like proportion did his necessities, whims, and eccentricities. Notwithstanding the large sums he had received he had laid up nothing, and appears to have troubled himself but little about pecuniary matters, leaving every thing to the management of his brother Carl, who made no effort to awaken bis attention to the subject.

“ The first impulse to secure, by economy, a competence for the future, was given by an excellent woman, Madame VOL. LIII. - No. 113.


[ocr errors]

p. 140.

Streicher, whose persuasions were beneficial to Beethoven in another point, inasmuch as they induced him again to mingle in society, though indeed but for a short time, after he had almost entirely withdrawn himself from it. Madame Streicher found Beethoven, in the summer of 1813, in the most deplorable condition with reference to his personal and domestic comforts. He had neither a decent coat nor a whole shirt. Madame Streicher put his wardrobe and his domestic matters to rights, and he complied with all her suggestions. He hired a man servant, who was a tailor and had a wise, but she did not live in the house with him. They paid the greatest attention to Beethoven, who now found himself quite comfortable, and, for the first time, began to accustom himself to a regular way of life, that is to say, in so far as it was possible for him. While his attendant followed his business undisturbed in the anteroom, Beethoven produced, in the adjoining apartment, many of his immortal works.

In the third period of his life, viz. from the year 1913 to his death in 1827, Beethoven, in addition to the terrible malady which was now beyond all hope of relief, was doomed to suffer additional inflictions in the shape of lawsuits and quarrels with unprincipled men, and their influence upon his creative genius was deplorable. One of these quarrels was with our old friend Maelzel, for whose “ Panbarmonicon" he composed a “ Battle Symphony,” which Beethoven wrote to spur him on to the completion of an apparatus for assisting his hearing. We are pleased to find Moscheles in a note exonerating the ingenious artist, who has given pleasure to so many by his curious contrivances, from all blame ; it also appears, that Maelzel designed the whole composition, and even wrote many parts of it himself.

In 1816, Beethoven undertook to set up an establishment of his own, and M. Schindler has given a specimen of the manner in which he set about it.

“ He seems to have made his first inquiries of a person conversant with house-keeping ; a paper containing, on the left, Beethoven's questions, and, on the right, the answers to them is an interesting document of his spirit of enterprise. He asks, for instance,

"'1. What is a proper allowance for two servants for dinner and supper, both as to quality and quantity?'

- p. 172.

On the right hand side is given the answer in most minute detail.

“62. How often should one give them meat ? Ought they to have it both at dinner and supper ?

««3. Do the servants take their meals off the victuals cooked for the master ; or have they their own separately ; that is, have they different victuals from what the master has ?

“«4. How many pounds of butchers' meat are allowed for three persons

?'" In another place the biographer has given an extract from bis journal, to show what a yoke Beethoven had imposed upon himself, and in what a state of irritation his temper was kept by his domestic arrangements.

( 1819. ""31st January. Given warning to the house-keeper. “'15th February. The kitchen maid came.

6.8th March. The kitchen maid gave a fortnight's warning. ««12th May. Arrived at Mödling.

Miser et pauper


"6" 1820. w.17th April. The kitchen maid came. A bad day. (This means that he had nothing to eat, because all the victuals were spoiled by long waiting.)

"28th July. At night, the kitchen maid ran away.'

“ Such was Beethoven's domestic state, with very little alteration, till his death. The impossibility of making himself understood by his servants was the principal cause of the incessant changes.” — p. 189.

« On one occasion he missed the score of the first movement (Kyrie) of his grand mass. All search for it proved vain, and Beethoven was irritated to the highest degree at the loss, which was irreparable ; when lo ! several days afterwards, the whole Kyrie was found, but in what condition ! The large sheets, which looked just like waste paper, seemed to the old house-keeper the very thing for wrapping up boots, shoes, and kitchen utensils, for which purpose she had torn most of them in half. When Beethoven saw the treatment to which this production of his genius had been subjected, he could not refrain from laughing at this droll scene, after a short gust of passion, and after the sheets had been cleaned from all the soils contracted in such unseemly company.” - pp. 197, 198.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »