Friday, August 27, 2010

8/27 Some Letters from Beethoven

Some select missives from the Maestro...

Letter 41.TO HERR MEYER.    1805.


Pray try to persuade Herr v. Seyfried to direct my Opera, as I wish on this occasion to see and hear it myself from a distance; in this way my patience will at all events not be so severely tried as when I am close enough to hear my music so bungled. I really do believe that it is done on purpose to annoy me! I will say nothing of the wind-instruments; but all pp.'s, cresc., discresc., and all f.'s and ff.'s may as well be struck out of my Opera, for no attention whatever is paid to them. I shall lose all pleasure in composing anything in future, if I am to hear it given thus. To-morrow or the day after I will come to fetch you to dinner. To-day I am again unwell.
Your friend,

If the Opera is to be performed the day after to-morrow, there must be another private rehearsal to-morrow, or each time it will be given worse and worse.

Meyer, the husband of Mozart's eldest sister-in-law, Josepha (Hofer's widow), sang the part of Pizarro at the first performance of Fidelio, Nov. 20, 1805, and also at a later period. Seyfried was at that time Kapellmeister at the Theatre "an der Wien."

"X" brought the Trio in C minor (Op. 1, No. 3) to show to Beethoven, having arranged it as a quintet for stringed instruments (published by Artaria as Op. 104). Beethoven evidently discovered a good many faults in the work; still, the undertaking had sufficient attractions to induce him to correct it himself, and to make many changes in it. A very different score was thus of course produced from that of "X", on the cover of whose work the genial master, in a fit of good humor, inscribed with his own hand the following title:--

A Terzet arranged as a Quintet,
by Mr. Well-meaning,

translated from the semblance into the reality of five parts, and exalted from the depths of wretchedness to a certain degree of excellence,

by Mr. Goodwill.
Vienna, Aug. 14, 1817.

N.B. The original three-part score of the Quintet has been sacrificed as a solemn burnt-offering to the subterranean gods.

Letter 325.TO SCHINDLER.

--Inquire of that arch-churl Diabelli when the French copy of the Sonata in C minor [Op. 111] is to be published. I stipulated to have five copies for myself, one of which is to be on fine paper, for the Cardinal [the Archduke Rudolph]. If he attempts any of his usual impertinence on this subject, I will sing him in person a bass aria in his warehouse which shall cause it and all the street (Graben) to ring!

Schindler relates that Diabelli had refused to let Beethoven again have the MS. of the Sonata, which he had repeatedly sent for when in the hands of the engraver, in order to correct and improve it. Diabelli therefore coolly submitted to all this abuse of the enraged composer, and wrote to him that he would note down the threatened bass aria, and publish it, but would give him the usual gratuity for it, and that Beethoven had better come to see him. On this Beethoven said no more.

Letter 343.TO SCHINDLER.    Hetzendorf, 1823.


You were dispatched yesterday to the South Pole, whereas we went off to the North Pole, a slight difference now equalized by Captain Parry. There were, however, no mashed potatoes there.
Your Friend Amicus,

He no doubt alludes to Captain Parry, the celebrated traveller, who wrote an article in the A.M. Zeitung on the music of the Esquimaux.

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