Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736 - 1809)
From 1767 on, he worked in Vienna as organist,
composer and music theorist.
From January 1794 to early 1795, he taught
Beethoven in counterpoint.
(Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe,
Vol. 1, p. 34).



"On 9 Mai 1791, the Vienna Municipal Council (Magistrat der Stadt Wien) approved his application and appointed him as assistant to Leopold Hofmann, the aged kapellmeister at St. Stephen's Cathedral; it was for the moment an unpaid appointment, but it carried the further provision that when the post of kapellmeister fell vacant, an event expected rather sooner than later, Mozart would be named kapellmeister at a salary of 2,000 florins",

wrote Maynard Solomon in his Mozart biography (Mozart: A Life, S. 477).

As Thayer (p. 152) reports, Leopold Hofmann died on March 17, 1793.  The Viennese Court Organist Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (who had held the Court Organist postision since 1772) took over Hofmann's position.   (Thayer: 146).

That Albrechtsberger would evenutally play an important role in Beethoven's life as his counterpoint teachers is already known to us from our Biographical Pages.  What might be less known is this cross-reference to Mozart, Hofmann and to the way in which Albrechtsberger came to occupy the position which he also held during his time as Beethoven's teacher.  

With respect to Albrechtsberger's life work, Thayer further reports: 

"Johann Georg Albrechtsberger was born in 1736 at Klosterneuburg and died in Vienna in 1809.  In 1772 he was appointed Court Organist and in 1792 Kapellmeister at St. Stephen's in Vienna.  He was not only a celebrated teacher of music theory, about which he wrote a number of books and pamphlets, but also a very prolific composer of masses, symphonies, quartets and many other chamber combinations" (Thayer: 146).

With respect to Albrechtsberger's activity as an author, we can blend in the following book titles that we found in the German internet antiquarian book market when we explored Nietzsche's self-study in our section on Nietzsche and Beethoven: 

"ALBRECHTSBERGER, JOHANN GEORG. Sämmtliche Schriften über Generalbaß, Harmonie=Lehre, und Tonkunst; zum Selbstunterrichte ... und einer kurzen Anleitung zum Partitur=Spiel, nebst Beschreibung aller bis jetzt gebräuchlichen Instrumente, vermehrt und herausgegeben von seinem Schüler, Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried. Zweite, sorgfältig revidierte Auflage. Erster [bis dritter] Band. Wien, Haslinger [1837} . . .

Im Anhang Biographie Albrechtsbergers und ein Verzeichnis seiner Schüler. Die erste Auflage erschien 1826 bei Strauss in Wien. Innenseite der Ebd. mit Verlagsanzeigen.

- : Anweisung zur Composition mit ausführlichen Exempeln, zum Selbstunterrichte erläutert mit einem Anhange von der Beschaffenheit und Anwendung aller jetzt üblichen musikalischen Instrumente. Lpz., B&H [1818]. . . .

J. G. Albrechtsberger ist vor allem für seine theoretischen Werke und als Lehrer Beethovens bekannt" (Source:  " Katalog6/Buch.htm", cited on November 15, 2000).

However, in order for us to return to Albrechtsberger's role as Beethoven's teacher, we might take another look at the 'pre-history' of this development, and we do so by taking a look at relevant information from our Biographical Pages: 

Barry Cooper (p. 43-44) reports that the main purpose of Beethoven's move to Vienna [in 1792] was his obtaining lessons in counterpoint from Haydn and that he began with these lessons shortly after his arrival in Vienna and continued them in 1793.  Haydn's lessons, as Cooper reports, consisted mainly of the work by Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum, basiert, and Haydn is reported as having proceeded in such a manner that he first taught his student the rules of counterpoint (i.e. those of the parallel fifths) before he gave him practice exercises, and that first in one-part, then in two-part, three-part and four-part counterpoint, altogether amounting to about 300 exercises.  As Cooper reports, Beethoven's rule book has not been preserved, but approximately 245 of of which Haydn had corrected a few with his own hand.  Cooper further argues that previously it had been assumed that such a great number of exercises would have been spread over the entire year.  However, up to now no attention has been paid yet to the fact that the ink that was used in writing down these exercises is remarkably consistent, while other Beethoven manuscripts of this year show a variety of different inks, and that mostly of darker color.  Cooper draws from this the conclusion that these exercises have been written in short succession and in a brief period of time, perhaps within six weeks.   Beethoven's many errors suggest a certain hurry in the completion of these exercises.  Haydn, reports Cooper, had marked some of the errors, but did not pedantically mark all of them.   Cooper assumes that these errors may very well have been discussed in person between Haydn and Beethoven, and on the basis of the marked errors one should not assume that Haydn did not pay attention to his student's work.   A characteristic of these exercises, comments Cooper, is that they deal with the old church modes which made it possible for Beethoven to become quite familiar with them, so that he would use them often in his late works, himself.

Cooper then reports that, according to Johann Schenk's account from the year 1830, which had traditionally been considered quite reliable, already after six months, Beethoven became dissatisfied with Haydn's lessons and that he, Schenk, secretly corrected Beethoven's exercises for free.  Cooper relates Schenk's report that subsequently, Beethoven wrote a clean copy of the corrected exercises so as not to arouse Haydn's suspicions.  However, Cooper believes that in Schenk's report, one can find too many discrepancies that do not correspond with the 245 counterpoint exercises.  He argues that the exercises in Beethoven's hand can hardly be considered clean copies that took into account Schenk's corrections, since they still contain a great number of grammatical errors, but no copying mistakes.   Cooper further argues that these exercises in Beethoven's hand could possibly be those that he presented to Schenk (he does so on the basis of the fact that the corrections contained in them can not definitely and clearly be attributed to Haydn);  if that were, indeed, the case, then Schenk had overlooked a surprising number of errors and it would actually be peculiar if Beethoven were to have preserved this version instead of a possible clean copy.  Together with other inaccuracies, argues Cooper, these problems would point toward the possibility that Schenk's story might be a fidget of his own imagination and that he might have wanted to boost his own ego by relating it. 

In the relevant section of Biographical Pages (on Beethoven's Vienna Study Years), we also present edSchenk's version as related by Thayer.  With respect to this issue, we rendered the following concluding comment: 

While already Thayer-Forbes entertains a discussion of the pro's and con's of Schenk's story, this 1964 edition did not have at its disposal, yet, the argument set forth above by Cooper on the basis of the consistency of Beethoven's ink in his exercises, which appear to lend strong support to Cooper's contentions.

Those who want to read Cooper's further, very interesting arguments with respect to the relationship of Haydn and Beethoven during the period of 1792 - 1794, can do so in the 'Vienna Study Years' section of our Biographical Pages.  In general, we can comment that Cooper's arguments try to remove the burden from this relationship that has traditionally been believed to have existed. 

In any event, Haydn's departure for England at the beginning of 1794 left Beethoven without his counterpoint teacher.  In our next section, we should therefore explore what arrangements have been made for Beethoven's further instructions.   



With respect to those arrangement, Cooper reports: 

"Haydn's departure would have been a natural moment for Beethoven to end his studies in Vienna and return to Bonn.  Indeed the Elector actually suggested in his letter of 23 December: 'I am wondering therefore whether he had not better come back here in order to resume his services.'  Instead, however, Haydn arranged for Beethoven to continue his studies in Vienna with Johann Albrechtsberger, a noted theorist, composer, and leading disciple of the Fux tradition of learned counterpoint.  In the absence of Haydn, he was the obvious choice.  Maximilian Franz visited Vienna early in 1794 and presumably endorsed this new arrangement; but he terminated Beethoven's salary, with the last payment being in February, covering the first quarter of the year.  Beethoven was allowed to remain 'without salary in Vienna, until recalled', but the recall never came, and before the end of the year the Elector himself had been driven out of Bonn for good by the French.

Who supported Beethoven after March is unclear, but he was not left penniless.  Waldstein was also in Vienna during the early part of 1794, and he may have made sure that other noblemen, in particular Lichnowsky, took over Maximilian's role thereafter, although Beethoven had no formal arrangement with Lichnowsky until 1800.  . . . " (Cooper: 49).

Solomon (p. 72) and Kinderman (p. 30) also confirm that Haydn had arranged for Albrechtsberger to take Beethoven on as a counterpoint student, while Thayer renders this lengthy report:  

"In the pretty extensive notes copied from the memorandum book already so much cited, there are but two which can with any degree of certainty be referred to a date later than 1793.  One of them is this:

                      Schuppanzigh, 3 times a W.

                      Albrechtsberger, 3 times a W.

The necessary inference from this is that Beethoven began the year 1794 with three lessons a week in violin-playing from Schuppanzigh (unless the youth of the latter should forbid such an inference) and three in counterpoint from the most famous teacher of that scinece.  Seyfried affirms that the studies with the latter continued "two complete years with tireless persistency."  The coming narrative will show that other things took up much of Beethovens attendtion in 1795, and that before the close of that year, if not already at its beginning, his course with Albrechtsberger had ended.

. . . 

Concerning the nature of the instruction which Beethoven received from Albrechtsberger (which was based chiefly on the master's Anleitung zur Komposition) we turn to Nottebohm(12:  Deiters used the investigation of Nottebohm, in Beethoven Studien, pp. 47 ff. and Beethoveniana, p. 173ff, in the completion of the story of the study under Albrechtsberger.  This took the place of the original narrative by Thayer. . . . )  It becan again with simple counterpoint, in which Beethoven now received more detailed directions than had been given him by Haydn.  Albrechtsberger wrote down rules for him, Beethoven did the same and worked out a large number of exercies on two cantus firmi which Albrechtsberger then corrected according to the rules of strict writing.  There followed contrapuntal exercises in free writing, in imitation, in two-, three- and four-part fugue, choral fugue, double counterpoint in the different intervals, double fugue, triple counterpoint and canon.  The last was short, as here the instruction ceased.  Beethoven worked frequently in the immediate presence and with the direct cooperation of Albrechtsberger.  The latter labored with obvious conscientiousness and care, and was ever ready to aid his pupil.  If he appears at times to have been given over to minute detail and conventional method, it must be borne in mind that rigid schooling in fixed rules is essential to the development of an independent artist, even if he makes no use of them, and that it is only in this manner that freedom in workmanship can be achieved.  Of this the youthful Beethoven was aware and every line of his exercises bears witness that he entered into his studies with complete interest and zeal. (Once Beethoven writes an unprepared seventh-chord with a suspension on the margin of an exercise and adds the query: "Is it allowed?")(13: Beethoven Studien, p. 196 . . .)) This was particularly the case in his exercises in counterpoint and imitation, where he strove to avoid errors, and their beneficial results are plainly noticeable in his compositions.  Several of the compositions written after the lessons, disclose how "he was led from a predominantly figurative to a more contrapuntal manner of writing."  There is less of this observable in the case of fugue, in which the instruction itself was not free from deficiencies; and the pupil worked more carelessly.  The restrictive rules occasionally put him out of conceit with his work; "he was at the age in which, as a rule, suggestion and incitation are preferred to instruction," and his stubborn nature played an important role in the premises.  However, it ought to be added that he was also at an age when his genial aptness in invention and construction had already found exercise in ohter directions.  Even though he did not receive thorough education in fugue from Albrechtsberger, he nevertheless learned the constituent elements of the form and how to apply them.(14; A collection of sketches in the British Museum . . . which was purchased from J. Kafga in 1875, includes certain studies on fugue subjects, which date undoubtedly from this period . . . ) Moreover, in his later years he made all these things the subjects of earnest and devoted study independent of others; and in the compositions of his later years he returned with special manifest predilection to the fugued style.  Nothing could be more incorrect than to emphasize Beethoven's lack of theoretical education.  If, while studying with Albrechtsberger, but more particularly in his independent compositions, Beethoven ignored many of the strict rules, it was not because he was not able to apply them, but because he purposely set them aside.  Places can be found in his exercises in which the rules are violated; but the testimony of the ear acquitted the pupil.  Rules are not the objects of themselves, they do not exist for their own sake, and in despite of all artistic systems; it is the reserved privilege of the evolution of art-means and prescient, forward genius to point out what in them is of permanent value, and what must be looked upon as antiquated.  Nature designed that Beethoven should employ music in the depiction of soul-states, to emancipate melody and express his impulses in the free forms developed by Ph. Em. Bach, Mozart, Haydn and their contemporaries.  In this direction he had already disclosed himself as a doughty warrior before the instruction in Vienna had its beginning, and it is very explicable that to be hemmed in by rigid rules was frequently disagreeable to him.  He gradually wearied of "creating musical skeletons." But all the more worthy of recognition, yea, of admiration, is the fact that the young composer who had already mounted so high, should by abnegation of his creative powers surrender himself to the tyranny of the rules and find satisfaction in conscientious practice of them.

Referring to the number of pages (160) of exercises and the three lessons a week, Nottebohm calculates the period of instruction to have been about fifteen months.  Inasmuch as among the exercises in double counterpoint in the tenth there is found a sketch belonging to the second movement of the Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, which Trio was advertised as finished on May 9, 1795, is follows that the study was at or near its end at that date.  The conclusion of his instruction from Albrechtsberger may therefore be set down at between March and May, 1795.  Nottebohm summed up his conclusions from the investigations which he made of Beethoven's posthumous papers thus: prefacing that, after 1785, Beethoven more and more made the manner of Mozart his own, he continues:(15: Beethoven Studien, p. 201) "the Instruction which he received from Haydn and Albrechtsberger enrichted him with new forms and media of expression and these effected a change in his mode of writing.  The voices acquired greater melodic flow and independence.  A certain opacity took the place of the former transparency in the musical fabric.  Out of a homophonic polyphony of two or more voices, there grew a polyphony that was real.  The earlier obbligato accompaniment gave way to an obbligato style of writing which rested to a greater extent on counterpoint.  Beethoven has accepted the principle of polyphony; his part-writing has become purer and it is noteworthy that the compositions written immediately after the lessons are among the purest that Beethoven ever composed.  True, the Mozart model still shines through the fabric, but we seek it less in the art of figuration than in the form and other things which are only indirectly associated with the obbligato style.  Similarly, we can speak of other invfluences--that of Joseph Haydn, for instance.  This influence is not contrapuntal.  Beethoven built upon his acquired and inherited possessions.  He assimilated the traditional forms and means of expressions, gradually eliminated foreign influences and, following the pressure of his subjective nature with its inclination towards the ideal, he created his own individual style."

. . . 

Ries, speaking of the relations between Haydn, Albrechtsberger and Salieri as teachers and Beethoven as pupil, says (Notizen, p. 86): "I knew them all well; all three valued Beethoven highly, but were also of one mind touching his habits of study.  All of them said Beethoven was so headstrong and self-sufficient (selbstwollend) that he had to learn much through harsh experience which he had refused to accept when it was presented to him as a subject of study.  Particularly Albrechtsberger and Salieri were of this opinion; the dry rules of the former and the comparatively unimportant ones of the latter concerning dramatic composition (according to the Italian school of the period) could not appeal to Beethoven."  It is nw known that the "dry rules" of Albrechtsberger could make a strong appeal to Beethoven as appertaining to theoretical study, and that the old method of composition to which he remained true all his life always had a singular charm for him as a subject of study and investigation.

. . . 

Nothing is known of a dedication to Albrechtberger.  According to an anecdote related by Albrechtsberger's grandson Hirsch, Beethoven called him a "musical pedant"; yet we may see a remnant of gratitude toward his old teacher in Beethoven's readiness to take an interest in his young grandson" (Thayer: 146 - 150).

Cooper (p. 50 - 52) also reports about these studies and mentions as their base Albrechtsberger's Anweisung zur Composition. As Cooper reports, these studies took a bit longer than one year and were also documented in nearly 200 pages of exercises that have been preserved.  He calls their preservation as a fortunate circumstance and comments further: 

" . . . it provides an invaluable window into what must have been an absolutely fascinating series of tutorials, and it reveals much about both Beethoven's ability and his difficulties.  . . . Certainly Beethoven's exercises, though extremely musical and well-written, confirm that he was not very systematic at grasping some of the more subtle rules of counterpoint, and there are occasional infelicities of part-writing.  Albrechtsberger was quick to spot and correct these, and he was also able to suggest numerous improvements or alternatives to what Beethoven submitted.  . . . 

Such changes demonstrate Albrechtsberger's extraordinary mastery of contrapuntal technique and reveal him as a very able teacher.  Beethoven can surely have had few complaints here.

. . .  It is impossible to be certain how far they affected his style in general.  What they did provide for him, however, was much greater confidence in using contrapuntal devices of the kind learnt with Albrechtsberger, and more awareness of the importance of good part-writing.  Albrechtsberger's attention to detail must also have reinforced Beethoven's view that a composer should not be satisfied with what is good, but constantly seek better alternatives.

. . .

. . . About the same date he noted down someone else's report on him:  'Another six months in c[ounterpoint] and he can work on whatever he wants.'  This comment is presumably Haydn's, perhaps sent to Albrechtsberger when Beethoven changed teachers, and much more specifically concerns his musical progress.  But it, too, suggests that the end of Beethoven's apprenticeship as a composer was close at hand" (Cooper: 49-52). 

That Beethoven's studies with Albrechtsberger came to an end in the spring of 1795, has already been reported here by Thayer.  



Of what nature, however, was their relationship after the coclusion of Beethoven's studies?  In order to investigate this issue, we can rely on two kinds of sources, that we want to present here in succession.  

On the one hand, from Beethoven's first years as a young composer in Vienna, three letters to him by his counterpoint teacher Albrechtsberger have been preserved.  We want to present these to you in our own translation and with particulars from the German Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, as referenced below:

                                                           Vienna, the 15th of December, 1796

My dear Beethoven!

  For your tomorrow's Name Day Feast, I wish you the very best.  God may give you health and contentment and much happiness.  Should you, dear Beethoven, be able to spare an hour [tomorrow], then your old teacher would like to invite you to spend it with him.  It would give me great joy if you were to bring with you the trio; we could rehearse it, right away, and I will, since I have more time on my hands now, right away proceed to preparing the score.  

  Yesterday, Haydn was here; he is pondering the idea of a great oratorio that he wants to call 'the Creation' and hopes to have it completed, soon.  He improvised from it and I believe that it will be very good.  

Well, don't forget to visit me, tomorrow, and in the meantime, I send you my sincere greetings.

                                                        Your Johann Georg Albrechtsberger.

Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 1, Letter No. 24, p. 34.

(Original not known, Text according to Andreas Weißenbäck; Albrechtsberger erroneously refers here to B's Name Day but rather, it was his Birthday that was coming up on either Dec. 16 or 17.  It is not quite clear what trio is meant here, perhaps the Serenade, op. 8 or one of the String Trios, op. 9, and what is also not clear is what work Albrechtsberger was supposed to write a score of. Information taken from p. 34).   

                                                         Vienna, the 20th of February 1797.

My dear Beethoven!

  The old Baron Joseph Gleichenstein sent his valet to me and asked me to invite you, dear Beethoven, to a piano concerto for tomorrow evening.  He also related the question as to whether you have already come to a decision with respect to his son Ignaz' lessons.  In the event that you can not come, tomorrow, I am supposed to let him have an answer.  He had already sent [his servant] to you, several times, but you were not home.  When I visited him last time I told him that, to my knowledge, you are very busy these days and that you will hardly have time.  Should you be at home tomorrow morning, I will come to see you.    

Meanwhile, many greetings

                                                           Your Johann Georg Albrechtsberger.

Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 1, Letter No. 29, p. 38-39.

(Original not known, text according to Andreas Weißenbäck; the "old Baron" might refer to a relative of Beethoven's friend Ignaz von Gleichenstein who might have lived in Vienna; and by "Ignaz" might, in all likelihood, be meant Beethoven's friend who stayed in Vienna from 1800 - 1810, with certainty but who might also have spent time there, before.  Information taken from p. 39.)

                                                               Vienna, the 8th of June 1797.

My dear Beethoven!

  I just received your letter and I am surprised that you want to withdraw your trio after it had turned out so well and after I have already completed the score.  

  It would also not be pleasant for the Count, since he already sent invitations to his guests and would have to cancel [the event]. the orchestra is small, but good and will perform it [the work] well.  Therefore, send me news of your decision, immediately, as this afternoon, I will have to send the notes.  

Many greetings

                                                           Your Johann Georg Albrechtsberger.

Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 1, Letter No. 31, p. 40.

(Original not known, text according to Andreas Weißenbäck;  the trio referred to here was in all  likelihood a work Beethoven had composed and Albrechtsberger had arranged for orchestra, and the "Count" in question might, perhaps, be Count Johann Georg von Browne-Camus to whom the Trios Pp. 9 were dedicated; information taken from p. 40).

Those Beethoven friends who are already somewhat familiar with his life will be able to discern a certain trend in the development of his relationship to Albrechtsberger, so that we merely want to leave you pondering your own ideas with respect to them. 

Our second kind of sources are the following comments by Beethoven researchers: 

"A note from Albrechtsberger to Beethoven dated December 15th (in the Vienna Beethoven exhibition of 1927, dated in the catalogue 1795), begins "All best wishes to you tomorrow on your name-day" (1See Ley, "Zu Beethovens Geburtstag", NBJ, vii (1937), p. 29)" Thayer: 53).

"Her third son--the composer--was conceived about a year later; he was born on 16 December, 1770 and christened Ludwig the following day.  There is no documentary proof of his date of birth, which has been the subject of some debate even today, but several later witnesses concur that is was the 16th.(2: These include Johann Albrechtsberger, writing in 1796, . . . " (Cooper: 3n).

"Albrechtsberger, too, seems to have had mixed feelings about Beethoven.  He wrote three extremely friendly letters to Beethoven in 1796 and 1797, but a contemporary musician (whom Thayer considered a reliable witness) reports that Albrechtberger called one of Beethoven's opus 18 quartets "trash" and advised him not "to have anything to do with [Beethoven]; he learned absolutely nothing and will never accomplish anything decent."  For his part, Beethoven referred to Albrechtsberger as a "musical pedant" and creator of "musical skeletons"; but he cherished Albrechtsberger's course of instruction, returned to it for self-study, and in later years rendered assistance to his teacher's nephew.   Nottebohm reports on Albrechtsberger's instruction in a totally favorable light" (Solomon: 73).



In addition to the political turmoil, for Beethoven, the year 1809 also brought with it the deaths of two of his former teachers: Haydn and Albrechtsberger.  However, with Albrechtsberger's death, our exploration of the topic on hand does not end, since in the very same year, Beethoven could make use of Albrechtsberger's legacy in his role as composition teacher of his most noble student and patron, Archduke Rudolph of Austria.  With respect to this, Thayer reports:   

"During the tedious weeks of this miserable summer [1809], Beethoven was busy selecting and copying in order extracts from the theoretical works of C.P.E. Bach, Türk, Kirnberger, Fux and Albrechtsberger, for subsequent use in the instruction of Archduke Rudolph--a task which, in our opinion, he had for some time had in mind, and had begun, at the very latest, early in the year.  This material is largely the basis of that extraordinary imposition upon the musical public prepared by Seyfried and published by Haslinger in 1832, as Beetoven's studies under Haydn and Albrechtsberger.  Seyfried in this book entitled Ludwig van Beethovens Studien im Generalbasse gathered together all that was to be found in the way of exercises, excerpts from textbooks, etc., in Beethoven's posthumous papers and presented them in so confused and arbitrary a manner that only the keenness and patience of a Nottebohm could point the way through the maze (Beethoveniana, pp. 154-203).  To Seyfried's claim that this was the work of Beethoven's student days Nottebohm answered:  "It will require no waste of words to prove the incompatibility of such a claim with the results of our investigations.  As a matter of fact, only the smallest portion of the 'Studies' can be traced back to the instruction which Beethoven received from Albrechtsberger."(7 Beeth., p. 198 . . .)" (Thayer: 467).

From this can be concluded that Beethoven, in his role as Archduke Rudolph's teacher, did not blindly return to his own Albrechtsberger studies as a source, but that he carefully chose suitable material for his student.  

Cooper also briefly mentions these preparations, but also adds a comment as to whom Beethoven entrusted his own pupil Ferdinand Ries:

"One positive activity, however, was the preparation of teaching material in composition for Achduke Rudolph.  Hitherto, Beethoven had always refused to teach composition to anybody, and had sent Ries to Albrechtsberger. . . . " (Cooper: 186).



From Thayer's previous, brief report we already know that later, Beethoven would dedicate himself to teaching Albrechtsberger's grandson.  Let us take a look at Thayer's lengthy report: 

"From the reminiscences of Carl Friedrich Hirsch, as related to Theodor Frimmel, there is reason to believe that Beethoven spent a good deal of time and maybe lived for awhile as well at the hotel "zum Römischen Kaiser" during the winter of 1816-1817.  The following is based on Frimmel's account of this cs conversation.(3 Beethoven Studien, II, pp. 59-69).  Hirsch was born in 1801, the youngest son of Anna Albrechtsberger.  His grandfather was J.G. Albrechtsberger, Beethoven's old teacher in counterpoint.  At this time the Hirsch family lived in the Renngasse close by the hotel "zum Römischen Kaiser" where the young Hirsch became acquainted with Beethoven.  Due to the family relation to Beethoven's former teacher, Hirsch's father mustered up the courage to approach Beethoven and arrange that his son take lessons from him two or three times a week in what would now be called harmony.  These lessons were given free out of respect for the deceased Albrechtsberger and lasted from November, 1816 to the beginning of May, 1817.(4: This date is determined by Hirsch's recollection that the lessons were broken off at the time when one of Beethoven's friends met a sudden death.  Thus must have been Wenzel Krumpholz, whose sudden death on May 2, 1817 is soon to be mentioned)  

According to Hirsch, Beethoven's deafness had advanced to the point where one had to speak to him very loudly.  Beethoven watched his student's hands closely and when a mistake was made he would get very angry, become red in the face, and the vein in his temples and forehead would become swollen; he would also give his pupil a severe pinch through indignation or impatience, and once even bit him on the shoulder.  He was very strict during the lesson, and burst forth in anger particularly over "false fifths and octaves," at which he would spurt out in a great rage "Well, what are you doing?"  After the lesson he was again very "charmant."

Hirsch also described Beethoven's appearance in detail.  Of powerful build, his face was a healthy red, his eyebrows very thick and his brow low.  His nose was very big and broad, especially in the nostrils which were finely "shaped".  His bushy thick hair was already partly gray and stood up from his face.  His hands were "coarse and stout," his fingers short, the veins of the back of his hands thick, and the nails cut short.

Hirsch gave the following account of Beethoven at his lodgings, which he remembered as the "zum Römischen Kaiser": "At home Beethoven worked in a flowery dressing gown, outside the hose he wore a dark green or brown coat with gray or dark trousers to match."  For his head he had a kind of low top-hat or in warmer weather a borwn or dull gold straw hat.  In his whole dress Beethoven was very slovenly.  "In his rooms there was the greatest disorder, notes, sheets, books lying partly on the desk, partly on the floor.  Now and then the master used spectacles for reading but he did not wear them continuously."  The pianos upon which Hirsch was taught at Beethoven's were "first an old five-octave, two stringed instrument made of cherry wood than a six-octave maogany one that was completely out of tune."

Whether Beethoven lived or merely gave lessons at the "zum Römischen Kaiser"--a matter that remains in doubt since the only evidence is from the recollections of one man sizty-three years later--Beethoven's permanent quarters were in the Sailerstätte until April 24th, when once again he changed dwellings" (Thayer: 664-665).



The fact that Albrechtsberger's legacy would also accompany Beethoven for the rest of his life also found reflection in the following comments by Kinderman and Cooper: 

"Warren Kirkendale argued for an interpretation of the Grosse Fuge as Beethoven's 'Art of the Fugue', as a compendium of fugal devices presumably inspired in part by one of Beethoven's teachers from his early Vienna years, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger" (Kinderman: 303).

"Beethoven had studied canon as part of his training with Albrechtsberger years earlier, but only in later life did he develop the habit of composing short canonic exercises as presentation pieces--sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, sometimes both" (Cooper: 239).

"Beethoven was now seeking an expansion of the entire tonal system of twenty-four keys by reviving the church modes, which he had not used since his studies with Albrechtsberger" (Cooper: 265).

With respect to this, in conclusion, one could almost say that the motto of the 'later' Albrechtsberger student Nietzsche, namely, that one does not do proper justice to one's teacher by remaining his pupil, is fitting here with respect to Beethoven insofar as he really went his own way but also applied his teacher's legacy in his own works, in his very own way and at such a time at which he was ready to do so.