KARL FRIEDRICH AMENDA

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

" . . . Ich habe nur zwei Freunde in der Welt gefunden, mit denen ich auch nie in ein Mißverhältniß gekommen, aber welche Menschen!  Der eine ist todt,[4] der andere lebt noch.[5] . . . " (" . . . I only have found two friends in the world with whom I never had a misunderstanding, but what friends!  One of them is dead, the other is still alive",  Beethoven wrote on July 24, 1804, to his student Ferdinand Ries [Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No. 186, p. 216-217; to [4]: probably refers to Lorenz von Breuning who died in 1798; to [5]: according to the GA, this refers to Amenda; details taken from p.  217].  

Since, with respect to Beethoven's--according to his own words--closest of two friends, Karl Friedrich Amenda, we have a fair amount of material at our disposal, it is a special pleasure for us to present this Beethoven friend as the first in this new section. 

The sources we have at our disposal are Thayer's standard biography, notes to relevant letters in the Henle Gesamtausgabe of Beethoven's letters and relevant correspondence between him and Amenda. 

First, we offer you a chronological, biographical overview of Amenda's life up to his arrival in Vienna, followed by our presentation of further information, which is also done in chronological order; however, it will be interspersed with relevant correspondence.  In this fashion, we will deal with Beethoven's and Amenda's Vienna friendship years of 1798-1799, followed by a look at the their contact in 1800-1801 and at that of the year 1815.  

After this chronological presentation, we will take a second look at the information presented and render our own comments on it.  

Let us, therefore, begin with our look at Amenda's life before his arrival in Vienna:

 

AMENDA'S LIFE BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL IN VIENNA

Thayer (P. 223) reports that Karl Amenda was born on October 4, 1771, in Lippaiken in  Courland.  He received musical instruction from his father and also from Kapellmeister  Beichtmer and became such a good violinist that he could hold his first concert at the age of 14.  As Thayer reports, he continued to show a lively interest in music.  

Here, we should add that, as the Gesamtausgabe (p. 48) reports, from 1792-1796, he studied Lutheran theology at the  University of Jena; an excerpt of the (German) list of famous men who either studied or taught at this university during that time gives us some idea of the prevalent intellectual climate:


Arndt, Ernst Moritz (1769-1860)
Historian, publicist; 1793/94: studied theology and history there 

Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762-1814)
Philosopher; 1794/99 Professor for Philosophy; important representative of German Idealism; founding chancellor of the University of Berlin

Hölderlin, Friedrich (1770-1843)
Poet; 1795: studies at the University of Jena; wrote some of his patriotic hymns there

Hufeland, Christoph Wilhelm (1762-1836)
Physician; 1793/98 Professor for Medicine; introduced smallpox vaccination; his main work (1796) was:  "Die Kunst, das menschliche Leben zu verlängern" (The Art of Prolonging Human Life)

Hufeland, Gottlieb (1760-1817)
Lawyer; 1785/1803 Professor for Law; important representative of the theory of natural justice

Loder, Justus Christian (1753-1832)
Physician; 1778/1803 Professor for anatomy and surgery; scientific contacts with Goethe; later, he became an important surgeon in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Niethammer, Friedrich Immanuel (1766-1848)
Theologian, philosopher; from 1792 on Professor for Philosophy, from 1798 Professor for Theology; later, he also played an important role in the reform of the Bavarian education system. 

Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich Frhr. von Hardenberg) (1772-1801)
Poet; 1790/91: studies of law; from 1796 on, he belonged to the Jena circle of Romantic poets. 

Reinhold, Karl Leonhard (1758-1823)
Philosopher; 1787/94 Professor for Philosophy; forerunner of Kant's philosophy and co-founder of the German idealistic philosophy. 

Schiller, Friedrich (1759-1805)
Poet, historian; from 1789 on extraordinary Professor for Philosophy; writer of works on history, of aesthetic essays and dramatic literature of world rank.  ("http://www.uni-jena.de/Bedeutende_Pers%C3%B6nlichkeiten.html";  cited on March 12, 2005).  

(As we already know from our time tables to the creation history of the Ode to Joy, Schiller taught at Jena from 1789 to his illness in 1791, went traveling from 1792 - 1794 and returned to Jena in the spring of 1794 where he, on his initiative, began his friendship with Goethe; on account of it, the latter would also frequently visit him  in Jena until Schiller moved to Weimar in 1799.) 


To what extent Amenda might have become aware of the prevalent intellectual climate during his theological studies at Jena, we do not know.  From the Gesamtausgabe we learn that, after the completion of his theological studies, Amenda went to Lausanne, via France, where he stayed for two years in a position as a music teacher and, after engagements in Frankfurt/Main and Constance, arrived in Vienna, in the company of his friend, the guitarist Gottfried Heinrich Mylich (1773 - 1834), in the spring of 1798.

 

1798 - 1799

 

There, he was first employed as a precentor by Princess Karoline Lobkowitz, but soon became the private teacher of Mozart's children.  With respect to his acquaintance and friendship with Beethoven, Thayer reports of and quotes a document of the Amenda family, entitled  "Brief Account of the Friendly Relations between L. v. Beethoven and Karl Friedrich Amenda, afterwards Provost at Talsen in Courland, written down from oral tradition": 

 

"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 reservé.  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 visits 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?"  . . .  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 laughed 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 remedied," 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. advises B. to make a trip to Italy.  B. says he is willing but only on one 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 devolved to 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)


The only interactive comment by Beethoven of his friendship with Amenda has been preserved in his note to Nikolaus Zmeskall, in which Amenda and his friend Mylich are mentioned: 

 Beethoven an Nikolaus Zmeskall

                                                                                                    [Wien, 1798/99][1]

           grave

alto [Notenbeispiel] tenore    [Notenbeispiel]         Basso [Notenbeispiel]

          Ba -ron                                Ba-ron                  Ba-ron  Ba-ron  Ba-ron

     mein wohlfeilster Baron!  sorgen sie, daß der guitarist[2[ noch heute zu mir komme, der Amenda soll statt einer Amende[3], [die er zuw]eilen* für sein schlechtes pausiren verdient, mir diesen [wohlgel]ittenen* guitarist besorgen, wenns seyn kann, so soll der sogenannte [heute abend]* um 5 uhr zu mir kommen, wo nicht, morgen [früh um]* 5 oder 6 uhr, doch darf er mich nicht wecken, falls ich [schlafe]n* sollte -- adieu mon ami à bon Marché [ ...]* vieleicht sehen wir unß im schwanen.

Beethoven to Nikolaus Zmeskall

                                                                                                    [Vienna 1798/99][1]

           grave

alto [Note Sample]      tenore    [Note Sample]         Basso [Note Sample]

          Ba -ron                                Ba-ron                  Ba-ron  Ba-ron  Ba-ron

     my most inexpensive Baron!  take care that the guitarist[2[ will come to me, still today.  Instead of an Amende[3], Amenda, for his at times bad pausing, should make sure that I get this well-liked* guitarist, if possible, the latter should come to see me [tonight]* at five o'clock, if not, tomorrow morning at* 5 or 6 o'clock; however, he is not allowed to wake me up in case that I should still be sleeping--adieu mon ami à bon Marché [ ...]* perhaps we will see each other at the Schwan.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. I, Letter No.  39, p. 46]

[Original:  Vienna, Österreichische Nationalblbiothek [Austrian National Library]; to [1]: refers to the fact that this letter belongs to the period of spring 1798 to fall 1799, when Amenda stayed in Vienna; to [2]: refers to Gottfried Heinrich Mylich, Amenda's friend, the guitarist; to [3]: refers to a monetary fine; * refers to loss of text due to tearing-off of the left bottom corner of the paper; details taken from p. 46.]



Thayer (p. 224) writes that, although it was music that brought Beethoven and Amenda together, it was Amenda's kindness and his noble character that attracted him to Beethoven.  

As proof of Beethoven's devotion to Amenda, Thayer refers to the following dedication:  

 Beethoven an Carl Amenda[1] 

                                                 (Widmung)

                                                                                 (Wien, 25. Juni 1799)

    lieber Amenda! nimm dieses Quartett als ein kleines Denckmal unserer Freundschaft, <und> so oft du dir es vorspielst, erinnere dich unserer durchlebten Tage und zugleich, wie innig gut dir war und immer seyn wird

    dein wahrer und warmer Freund

                                                                             Ludwig van Beethoven

Vien 1799 am 25ten Juni

Beethoven to Carl Amenda[1] 

                                                 (Dedication)

                                                                                 (Vienna, June 25, 1799)

    Dear Amenda! take this quartet as a small memento of our friendship, <and> whenever you play it recall the days which we passed together and the sincere affection felt for you then and which will always be felt by  

    your warm and true friend

                                                                             Ludwig van Beethoven

Vienna, 1799, June 25

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.   42, p. 48]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; to [1]: refers to Carl Amenda [1771-1836), one of Beethoven's closest friends; taken from p. 48.]

 

What was the occasion for this dedication?  With respect to this, the Amenda family report gives us a good indication:     "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 devolved to him.  With doubly oppressed heart A. takes leave of B. to return to his home in Courland."   Although the need for his return, as can be read in the Gesamtausgabe Vol. I (p. 49), was already evident in June, 1799, apparently, it was somewhat delayed.  Beethoven's following lines to Amenda from the interim period describe his own mood during that time, but also some of his plans:  

Beethoven an Carl Amenda

                                                                                             [Wien, Sommer 1799][1]

     heute bekam ich eine Einladung nach möthling auf's Land, ich habe sie angenommen und gehe noch diesen Abend auf einige Tage dahin, sie war mir um so willkommener, da mein ohnedem zerrissenes Herz noch mehr würde gelitten haben, obschon der Hauptsturm wider abgeschlagen ist, so bin [ich] doch noch nicht ganz sicher, wie mein Plan dawider ausschlagen wird, gestern hat man mir eine Reise nach Pohlen im Monath September angetragen, wobey mir die Reise sowohl wie der aufenthalt nichts kostet, und ich mich in Pohlen gut unterhalten kann und auch Geld da zu machen ist, ich habe es angenommen.[2] -- leb wohl lieber A. und gib mir bald Nachricht von deinem Aufenthalte unterwegs wie auch wenn du in deinem Vaterlande angelangt bist.

reise glücklich, und vergesse nicht

                                                                                         deinen bthwen

Beethoven to Carl Amenda

                                                                                             [Vienna, summer 1799][1]

     today, I received an invitation to go to the countryside to Mödling, which I have accepted, and I will still go there for a few days, tonight; it was all the more welcome to me, since my already lacerated heart would have suffered even more, although the main onslaught has been fought off, while I am not sure, yet, how my plan against it will work; yesterday, I was offered a trip to Poland in the month of September, whereby the trip and the stay will not cost me anything, and, since I can be quite well entertained there and also make some money, I have accepted it.[2]--farewell, dear A. and give me news, soon, of your stays en route and also when you have arrived back in your homeland.   

travel happily and do not forget 

                                                                                         your bthwen

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.  43, p. 49]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to the fact that the letter, according to the GA, is connected to Amenda's return to Courland, a matter that had already been determined in June, 1799; to [2]: refers to the fact that there is no documentation with respect to a trip to Poland by Beethoven; details taken from p. 49.]



According to more recent findings of Beethoven research, the "lacerated heart" of the composer is no longer connected to a possible refusal of his marriage proposal to Magdalena Willmann since this event, if it ever took place, is now believed to have occurred in the year 1795.  What also has to remain speculation is the possibility of Beethoven's possibly already having fallen in love with his new piano pupil Josephine von Brunsvik, whose marriage plans were also known during this time.  However, what we can take from Beethoven's lines is his resolve to overcome this emotional state, perhaps even by means of a journey to Poland.  That this trip did possibly not take place, also becomes apparent from the GA notes to this letter.   

Beethoven's next, last lines to Amenda that he wrote in the year 1799 give an indication of the reason why his friend's return to Courland had been delayed:  

Beethoven an Carl Amenda

                                                                                      [Wien, Sommer 1799][1]

     ich gaube dir nicht zeitig genug geben zu können, was mir fürst L.[2] für dich geschickt hat, es ist zwar wenig aber er ist jezt im fortreisen begriffen, und da weiß du wohl, was da so einer Braucht.--

     Ja lieber guter Amenda, ich muß es noch einmal widerholen, daß es mir sehr leid thut, daß du mich nicht von deiner lage früher unterrichtet hast, das hätte sich so ganz anders einrichten laßen, und ich wäre nun nicht in Sorgen, daß es dir unterweg's an etwas mangeln könnte--ich bin augenblicklich in einer Lage, wo ich nichts entbehren kann, da dieser Zustand nicht sehr lange dauren kann, so bitte ich dich innigst, so bald es dir es mag seyn wo es wolle an etwas gebrechen sollte mir es gleich zuwissen zu thuen, indem du versichert seyn kannst, daß ich dir schleunig beystehen werde. --

     da ich nicht weiß, ob du schon Morgen reisest, so glaubte ich nöthig, dir diese noch alles zu sagen.

in Eil dein

                                                                                                        bthwn

Beethoven to Carl Amenda

                                                                                          [Vienna, summer 1799][1]

     I believe that I am not able to give to you in enough of time what Prince L.[2] has sent to me for you; it is little, but since he is about to depart, and you know what a man needs in such a case.-- 

     Yes, dear good Amenda, I have to repeat it once more, that I am very sorry that you did not advise me of your situation earlier, it could have been arranged quite differently, and I would now not to have to worry whether or not you will be lacking something on your way--at the moment I am in a situation in which I can not spare anything; since this state can not last long, I ask you most sincerely, as soon as possible, should you be lacking something, to let me know of it, right away, since you can rest assured that I will come to your aid, immediately.-- 

     Since I do not know whether you already set off tomorrow, I believed it necessary to still tell you all of this. 

In haste, your

                                                                                                        bthwn

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.  44, p. 49-50]

[Original:  Washington, Library of Congress; to [1]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, this letter is connected to Amenda's return to Courland and that it had been delayed due to financial difficulties; to [2]: probably refers to Prince Karl Lichnowsky, who obviously had sent a small amount; details taken from p. 50.]




Although Beethoven was not able to assist Amenda financially in person, his letter still shows that he had his heart in the right place with respect to such matters, in this friendship. 

 

1800 - 1801


" . . . farewell, dear A. and give me news, soon, of your stays en route and also when you have arrived back in your homeland," is what Beethoven wrote in his second-last letter to Amenda, in the year 1799.  That Amenda might not have written back becomes apparent from the latter's lines to Beethoven that, according to the Gesamtausgabe, belong to the years 1800/01:  

  Carl Amenda an Beethoven

                                                                                                  [Wirben, 1800/01][1]

Mein Beethoven.

     Ich nähere mich Dir noch mit derselben innigen Liebe und Achtung, die der Werth Deines Herzens und deines Talentes unwiederstehlich und ewig von mir fordern.

     Du frägst wohl wie ich Dir, <die> nur diese Versicherung wenigstens, so lange hab verschweigen können?  Theurer, o! frage vielmehr: wie ich Dich nur verlassen konnte?  Beydes ist dennoch geschehen; in einer Art von Betäubung, -- mehr weiß ich nicht.  Dennoch hätte ich nicht versäumen sollen Deine Freundschaft für mich in ihrer ersten Lebhaftigkeit zu unterhalten -- Was hab ich Armer, das mir ihre Fortdauer sichern könnte!  Doch, der Werth und die Sicherheit meines theuersten Gutes liegen in ihm selbst, Du bists der der zärtlichsten und treuesten Freundschaft werth ist, die ich mit aller Hingebung Dir nie genug werde zollen können; und nur in Deinem eignen biedern Herzen, liegt ohne mein Verdienst die Gegenliebe die mit ihm für mich fortdauern wird.  Sieh, Geliebter! so denke ich mir mein Verhältniß mit Dir.  Nur diese Ueberzeugung vermag mir das Entstehen und die Fortdauer unsres Bundes zu erklären.  Mögen Dir diese Aeußerungen immer schwärmerisch scheinen; ich bin es nicht im Stande ihre Fülle und Stärke deutlicher auszudrücken.  Nur irren muß Dich dies nicht:  Du bist kein gewöhnlicher Mensch!  Wer Dich kennt wie ich, und Dich nur gewöhnlich liebte, den halt ich des göttlichen Gefühls der Liebe unwerth.

     Wo findet Dich aber jezt meine Sehnsucht?  Vermutlich mußt Du nun Wien verlassen haben[2] wenn Du gleich, nach dem Beyspiele anderer Helden deiner Art, Wien, auf immer am liebsten zu Deinem Aufenthalte wähltest.  Ja, Freund! gönne auch recht viel andern Freunden der Musik das Glück Dich näher kennen zu lernen.  Du bist es nicht allein Dir und ihnen schuldig sondern selbst den allgemeinen Fortschritten Deiner Kunst, die Dir als wahrem Künstler nach meiner Ueberzeugung mehr als Gewinst und Ruhm am Herzen liegt, und die nur dadurch bewürkt werden kann, daß Du persönlich kennen gelernt wirst.  Ausser Wien, glaube mirs, ist das musikalische Publikum noch zu weit zurük, der größte Theil der sogenannten Kenner zu seicht, oder zu pedantisch, um Deine schönen Kompositionen nach Würde beurtheilen zu können.  Du selbst mußt ihnen vorspielen, ihnen Sachen von allerley Gattung nach ihrer jedesmahligen Fassungskraft komponiren; mußt sie zu dir hinaufziehen, wie du es mit mir und andern in Wien gemacht hast.  Blieb man doch in Beurteilung Mozarts, obgleich er sich auf seinen Reisen so vielen mittheilte, außer Wien, dennoch wohl um zehn Jahre zurück.  Dir wird es auch so gehen, das hab ich auf meiner Durchreise in Deutschland gemerkt.  Hätte die Art meiner Reise es nur zugelassen, daß ich nach meinem Wunsche, wenigstens deine Violin-Kompositionen recht hätte bekannt machen können; so konnte ich mich aber nirgends viel aufhalten und daher auf diese Art zum allgemeinen Wohl unsrer Kunst wenig bey tragen.

     Hier im rohen Kurlande ists in dieser Rücksicht schon ganz anders; wo man mich nur kennt, da lebt auch Beethovens Nahme.  Deine Klawiersachen spielen manche, besonders die Schwester Mylichs[3], mit Entzücken.  Auch hier kostete es Mühe das gute Mädchen, und besonders den alten Vater, der Kenner seyn will heraufzuziehen.  Nur meine Musikalische Autorität und einige Nachhülfe brachten es zu stande; nun aber wollen diese, auch nichts anders als von Beethoven hören.  Das ist denn mein süßester musikal[ischer] Genuß wan sie mir vorspielt.  Dann vergeße ich mich oft, und glaube mit Deinen himmlichen Harmonien, meinen Beethoven selbst zu hören.  Dann erwachen aufs lebhasteste in mir alle die feurigen Gefühle, mit denen dein Umgang selbst mich beseelte; mir ists, als müßte ich dann fort hon hier, hin zu Dir, an die Quelle meiner zärtlichsten und lebhaftesten Empfindung.  Ach, warum verlangte mein Schicksaal so viel Aufopferung von mir!

     Aber wahrscheinlich ist mein Loos geworfen, ich hier vielleicht auf immer gefesselt.  Was auch andere günstige Umstände und Aussichten nicht vermogt hätten, das thut ein Mädchen.  Eine hübsche, junge, talentvolle Genferin[4], die in dem nehmlichen adelichen Hause, wo ich einst einige glückliche Jahre verlebte, erzogen wird, hat deinen Amenda gefeßelt, liebt auch ihn mit aller Unschuld und Zärtlichkeit.  Durch Freundschaft und Musik für sanftere Gefühle immer empfänglich erhalten, mußte auch hier mein Herz erwarmen und gerne sich ganz dem Gegenstande hingeben, der, wie für daßelbe geschaffen, ihm so reizend mit der ersten Liebe entgegenkam.  Ich lebe nur zwey Meilen von diesem Mädchen als -- Hofsmeister bey dem Hrn v Stromberg in Wirben auf dem Lande.  Bin gewissenhafter in meinem Amte als ichs in Wien war, wäre es aber vieleicht eben so wenig wenn ich hier mein Mädchen so nahe hätte als dort meinen Beethoven.  O! nun bereue ich alle Stunden die ich zu wenig in Deiner Gesellschaft zubrachte; und das Andenken der Verlebten, Deiner Freundschaft, Deiner Kunst -- Mein Theurer, Dies soll mir in der Todesstunde noch das angenehmste seyn.

     Glaubst Du wohl? ich fange jezt an Klavier zu spielen.  Ich will es durchaus dahin bringen Deine Klawiersachen spielen zu können, denn niemand trägt sie mir hier so recht nach dem Sinne vor. Denn sitz ich einst bey meinem Mädchen oder -- Weibchen, spiele Deine Kompositionen und denk mir bey diesem doppelten Glücke das, was ich einst im Genuße deines Umgangs war. -- O mein Beethoven!  vergiß doch nie eines Freundes der, obgleich vieleicht auf immer von Dir getrennt, alles thun wird um Deiner Gegenliebe würdiger zu werden.  Du füllst noch immer sein ganzes Herz aus; für andere Freunde scheint er nicht mehr daselbe zu haben.   Wo Du auch seyst, Geliebter! meine Sehnsucht folgt Dir nach.  Mit dem Verluste des Meinigen, mögte ich Dein Wohlergehn erkaufen.  Sage nur wo und wie Du lebst

Deinem, ewig Deinem

                                                                                                          Carl A.

Carl Amenda to Beethoven

                                                                                                  [Wirben, 1800/01][1]

My Beethoven.

     I still approach you with the same sincere love and respect that the value of your heart and of your talent irresistibly demand of me and eternally will demand of me.  

     You might ask how I could withhold, at least this reassurance, from you for so long? Dear one, o! rather ask: how could I only leave you? Still, both has happened; in kind of a torpidity,--more, I do not know.  In spite of this, I should not have missed to keep up your friendship for me in its first liveliness--What do I poor one have that could assure me its continuance!  However, the worth and the security of my most precious possession lie in itself, it is you who is worthy of the most tender and most faithful friendship, which I, with all devotion, will not be able to show you enough; and only in your own, worthy heart lies, without my deserving it, the approval that will endure with it for me.  See, beloved! that is how I think of my relationship with you.  Only this conviction can explain to me the beginning and continuance of our ties.   These statements might seem too flattering and enthusiastic to you; I am not able to express these things more strongly and distinctly.  However, you must not be wrong about this:  You are no ordinary human being!  Whoever knows you as I do and only loves you in a common way, I do not consider him worthy of the divine feeling of love.  

However, where will I find my longing, now?  Probably, you must have left Vienna, by now[2].  If you, after the example of other heroes of your kind, chose Vienna as your favorite place, for good.  Yes, friend! Also grant many other friends of music the fortune of getting to know you better.  You not only owe it to yourself and them, but also the general progress of your art, which is, as I am convinced, closer to your heart as a true artist than gain and fame, and which can only be achieved by people getting to know you better.   Outside of Vienna, believe me, the musical public is still too backward, the greater part of the so-called connoisseurs to shallow or too pedantic in order to be able to judge your beautiful compositions according to their merit.  You, yourself, have to play for them, you have to compose things of various genres for them, according to their respective receptive capabilities; you have to pull them up to yourself, as you have done with me and with others in Vienna.  While one, with respect to Mozart, in spite of the fact that he shared so much of himself on his various travels, stayed behind him for about ten years.  You will also experience this, I have felt it during my journey through Germany.   Had the nature of my journey only allowed me that I, according to my wishes, would at least have been able to acquaint people with your violin compositions; however, I was not able to stay on anywhere and could contribute little  to the general welfare of our art in this way.  

     Here in the rough Courland, with respect to this, it is quite different; wherever one knows me, there also lives Beethoven's name.  Some play your piano pieces with pleasure, particularly Mylich's[]3 sister.  Also here, it took some doing to pull the dear girl and up particularly the dear girl and particularly the old father who claims to be a connoisseur.  Only my musical authority and some work accomplished this; however, now they want to hear nothing but of Beethoven.   It is my sweetest musical enjoyment, when she plays for me.  Then I often forget myself and, with your heavenly harmonies, believe to hear my Beethoven, himself.  Then the fiery feelings awaken in me, with which your company inspired me, in the liveliest manner; then I feel as if I have to get away from here, to you, to the source of my most tender and liveliest feelings.  Oh, why did my fate ask so much sacrifice of me!  

  However, my fate is, perhaps, already sealed, I might be tied down here, forever.   Whatever other favorable circumstances and prospects were not able to accomplish, a girl is doing it.  A beautiful, young, talented girl from Geneva[4] who is being raised in the same noble house in which I spent several happy years, has captured your Amenda and also loves him in all innocence and tenderness.   Always receptive for softer feelings through friendship and music, my heart had to warm up here, too, and totally submit to the subject that, virtually made for this purpose, approached him so charmingly with first love.   I only live two miles away from this girl--as Hofsmeister [private teacher] of HR v Stromberg at Wirben, in the countryside.  I am more conscientious in fulfilling my duties as I was in Vienna; however, I would be as negligent [here as I was there] if I had my girl as close by as there I had my Beethoven.   O! now I regret all hours that I spent too little in your company; and the memory of that which I experienced, of your friendship, of your art--my dearest, this shall still be the most pleasant in the hour of my death.  

     Can you believe it?  now, I am beginning to play the piano.  I want to get to the point that I can play your piano works, since no-one really plays them right for me.  For, when I, some day, will sit with my girl or--wife, play your compositions and, in this double happiness of that what I once was in the pleasure of your company.--O my Beethoven!  never forget a friend who, although perhaps separated from you, forever, will do everything to become more worthy of your love.  You still fill my entire heart; for other friends, I do not appear to have the same [capacity].  Wherever you are, beloved! my longing is following you.  With the loss of my well-being, I want to pay for yours.  Only tell  where and how you live  

to your, eternally your

                                                                                                          Carl A.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No. 51, p. 56-59]

[Original:  Iserlohn Stadtarchiv [City Archive]; to [1]: refers to the fact that this letter appears to be the first one that Amenda wrote to Vienna after his departure [probably in October 1799] to Beethoven.  According to the GA, some time had passed, in the meantime, since Amenda apologizes for his silence, and since he had settled in comfortably in his new job and since he had had time to fall in love and form a tender romantic relationship with a girl.  As the GA further states, Amenda had not received Beethoven's letter of July 1, 1801.  Due to these reasons, the letter, according to the GA, appears to belong to the period of 1800 and the first half of the year 1801; to [2]: refers to the fact that Beethoven, according to the GA, still had advised Amenda before his departure that he had accepted an invitation for a journey to Poland; to [3]:  according to the GA, this refers to the sister of  Gottfried Heinrich Mylich who was in Vienna with Amenda in 1798/99 and who had met Beethoven through him; here, the GA also refers to the fact that, according to Amenda's recollection, Beethoven had sent a "sonata in manuscript" to this sister who played the piano "very nicely", and that this sonata bore Beethoven's dedication in his own handwriting,  "Der Schester meines guten Freundes Mylich" ["to the sister of my good friend Mylich"]; to [4]: refer to Jeanette Benoit (1785 - 18144], whom Amenda married in the summer of 1802, shortly before he took on the pastor's position in Talsen; details taken from p. 59.]


Beethoven's following lines obviously were aimed at reassuring Amenda of his continued friendship:  

 Beethoven an Carl Amenda in Wirben 

                                                                                            [Wien, vor Juli 1801][1]

     Wie kann Amenda zweifeln, daß ich seiner je vergessen könnte -- weil ich ihm nicht schreibe oder geschrieben -- als wenn das Andenken der Menschen sich nur so gegeneinander erhalten könnte. --

     Tausendmal kömmt mir der beste der Menschen, den ich kennen lernte, im Sinn, ja gewiß unter den zwei Menschen, die meine ganze Liebe besaßen, und wovon der eine noch lebt,[2] bist Du der Dritte -- nie kann das Andenken an Dich mir verlöschen -- nächstens erhältst Du einen langen Brief[3] von mir über meine jezigen Verhältniße und alles was Dich von mir interessiren kann. -- 

     Leb wohl, lieber, guter, edler Freund, erhalte mir immer Deine Liebe, Deine Freundschaft, sowie ich ewig bleibe

                                                                                   Dein treuer Beethoven..

An Amenda.

Beethoven to Carl Amenda in Wirben 

                                                                                   [Vienna, before July 1801][1]

     How can Amenda doubt that I could ever forget him--since I am not writing to him or have not written to him--as if the memory of each other of men could only be preserved in this way.--

     A thousand times the best of men who I came to know, comes to my mind, yes, certainly, among the two men who possessed my entire love,, and of whom one is still alive,[2] you are the third--never can the memory of you be extinguished in me--soon, you will receive a long letter[3] from me about my present condition and about everything that could interest you with respect to me.-- 

     Farewell, dear, good, noble friend, always preserve your love and your friendship for me, as I will eternally remain 

                                                                                   your faithful Beethoven..

To Amenda.

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.  66, p. 84]

[Original:  not known; to [1]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, this letter probably preceded the detailed letter of July 1, 1801; to [2]: according to the GA, this probably refers to Franz Gerhard Wegeler, while the second friend might have been Lorenz [Lenz] von Breuning who died on April 10, 1798; to [3]: refers to Letter No.  67;  details taken from p. 84.]


While in the following, famous lines to Amenda, Beethoven once more refers to Amenda's letter, they mainly constitute a detailed description of his own, difficult situation and might also serve as further proof of his close friendship with Amenda, since in addition to him, he only wrote to Wegeler with respect to his loss of hearing:  

Beethoven an Carl Amenda in Wirben 

                                                                                    Vien den 1ten Juli [1801][1]

     mein lieber, mein guter Amenda, mein herzlicher Freund!

     mit inniger Rührung, mit gemischtem Schmerz und Vergnügen habe ich deinen lezten Brief erhalten und gelesen.[2] -- womit soll ich deine Treue deine Anhänglichkeit an mich vergleichen, o das ist recht schön, daß du mir immer so gut geblieben, ja ich weiß dich auch mir vor allen bewährt und herauszuheben, du bist kein Wiener-Freund, nein du bist einer von denen wie sie mein Vaterländischer Boden hervorzubringen pflegt, wie oft wünsche ich dich bey mir, denn dein B. lebt sehr unglücklich, im streit mit Natur und schöpfer, schon mehrmals fluchte ich lezterm, daß er seine Geschöpfe dem kleinsten Zufall augesezt, so daß oft die schönste Blüthe dadurch zernichtet und zerknikt wird, wisse, daß ich <den <für mich> bey> mir der[3] edelste<n> Theil mein Gehör sehr abgenommen hat, schon damals als du noch bey mir warst, fühlte ich davon spuren, und ich verschwieg's, nun ist es immer ärger geworden, ob es wird wieder können Geheilt werden, das steht noch zu erwarten, es soll von den Umständen meines Unterleibs <herrürhen> herrühren, was nun den betrift, so bin ich fast ganz hergestellt, ob nun auch das Gehör besser wird werden, das hoffe ich zwar aber schwerlich, solche Krankheiten sind die unheilbarsten, wie traurig ich nun leben muß, alles was mir lieb und theuer ist meiden, und dann unter so elenden Egoistischen Menschen wie die Zmeskal, Schuppanzig etc, ich kann sagen unter allen ist mir der Lichnowski der erprobteste, er hat mir seit vorigem Jahr 600 fl. ausgeworfen,[4] das und der gute Abgang meiner Werke sezt mich im stand ohne Nahrungssorgen zu leben, alles was ich jezt schreibe, kann ich gleich 4 5 mal verkaufen, und auch gut bezahlt haben -- ich habe ziemlich viel die Zeit geschrieben, da ich höre, daß du bey Z.[5] Klawiere bestellt hast, so will ich dir dann manches schicken in den Verschlag so eines Instruments, wo es dich nicht so viel kostet. -- jezt ist zu meinem Trost wieder ein Mensch hergekommen mit dem ich das Vergnügen des Umganges und der uneigennüzigen Freundschaft theilen kann, er ist einer meiner JugendFreunde,[6] ich habe ihm schon oft von dir gesprochen, und ihm Gesagt, daß seit ich mein Vaterland verlaßen du einer derjenigen bist, die mein Herz ausgewählt hat, auch ihm kann der Z.[meskall] nicht gefallen, er ist und bleibt zu schwach zur Freundschaft, ich betrachte ihn und S.[chuppanzigh] also bloße Instrumente, worauf ich, wenn's mir gefällt, spiele, aber nie können sie edle Werkzeuge meiner innern und äußern Thätigkeit, eben so wenig als wahre theilnehmer Von mir werden, ich taxire sie nur nach dem, was sie mir leisten.

     o wie glücklich wäre ich jezt, wenn ich mein vollkommenes Gehör hätte, dann eilte ich zu dir, aber so von alles muß ich zurückbleiben, meine schönsten Jahre werden dahin fliegen, ohne alles das zu wirken, was mir mein Talent und meine Kraft geheißen hätten -- traurige resignation zu der ich meine Zuflucht nehmen muß, ich habe mir Freylich vorgenommen mich über alles hinaus zu sezen, aber wie wird es möglich seyn?  Ja Amenda wenn nach einem halben Jahre mein Uebel unheilbar wird, dann mache ich Anspruch auf dich, dann musst du alles Verlassen und zu mir kommen, ich reise Dann, (bey meinem spiel und Komposition macht mir mein Üebel noch am wenigsten, nur am meisten im Umgang) und du must mein Begleiter seyn, ich bin überzeugt mein Glück wird nicht fehlen, womit könnte ich mich jezt nicht messen, ich habe seit der Zeit du fort bist, alles geschrieben, bis auf opern und Kirchensachen, ja du schlägst mir's nicht ab, du hilfst deinem Freund seine sorgen sein übel tragen, auch mein Klavierspsielen habe ich sehr Vervollkommet, und ich offe diese Reise soll auch dein glück vieleicht noch machen, du bleibst hernach ewig bey mir

     Ich habe alle deine Briefe erhalten,[7] so wenig ich dir auch antworte, so warst du doch immer mir gegenwärtig, und mein Herz schlug so zärtlich wie immer für dich. --

     <von> die Sache meines Gehörs bitte ich dich als ein großes Geheimniß aufzubewahren, und niemanden, wer er auch sey, anzuvertrauen. --

     schreibe mir recht oft, deine Briefe, wenn sie auch noch so kurz sind, trösten mich, thun mir wohl und ich erwarte bald wieder von dir mein lieber einen Brief. -- dein Quartett[8] gieb ja nicht weiter, weil ich es sehr umgeändert habe, indem ich erst jezt recht quartetten zu schreiben weiß, was du schon sehen wirst, wenn du sie erhalten wirst.[9] -- Jez leb wohl lieber guter, glaubst du vieleicht, daß du zuerst davon Nachricht gieb[s]t

deinem Treuen dich wahrhaft liebenden

                                                                                     lv. Beethowen.

v. Wien.

An Herrn Herrn Carl Amenda. zu Wirben in Kurland.

Beethoven to Carl Amenda in Wirben 

                                                                                 Vienna, the 1st of July [1801][1]

     my dear, my good Amenda, my sincere friend!

     deeply moved, mixed with pain and pleasure, I have received and read your last letter.[2]--with what should I compare your faithfulness and devotion to me, o it is very beautiful that you have always remained so devoted to me, yes, I also have to distinguish you before all others, you are not a Viennese friend, no you are one of those whom the soil of my fatherland brings forth, how often do I wish you were with me, since your B. lives unhappily, at war with nature and creator, several times already I cursed the latter, that he subjects his creations to the slightest coincidence, so that, very often, the most beautiful blossom is destroyed and crushed, know that I <the> with> my most noble [3] part my hearing has decreased very much, already when you were still with me, I felt traces of it, and I kept quiet about it, now, it has become increasingly worse, whether it can be healed, that remains to be seen; supposedly it stems from the condition of my  bowels, as far as these are concerned, they have almost been restored, whether my hearing will also improve, I can hardly hope for, such diseases are the most incurable, how sadly I have to live now, everything that is dear to me I have to avoid, and then among such wretched, egoistical men as  Zmeskal, Schuppanzig etc, I can say that of all, Lichnowsky has proven to be the most worthy, since last year, he has set out 600 fl. for me,[4] that and the good sale of my works ensures that I can live without care for my upkeep, everything that I now write, I can immediately sell 4 5 times and also have it paid for well--I have written a great deal this time, since I hear that you have ordered pianos from Z.[5], I will send something to you in the cover of such an instrument, so that it does not cost you so much.--Now, to my comfort, a man has arrived here with whom I can share the pleasure of his company and of unselfish friendship, he is one of the friends of my youth,[6] I have told him about you, often and told him that, since I have left my fatherland, you are one of those whom my heart has chosen, he can also not like Z.[meskall], he is and remains too weak for friendship, I see him and S.[chuppanzigh] as mere instruments on whom I play as I please, but they can never become noble instruments of my inner and outer activities, and just as little can they become true participants of mine, I tax them by that what they can do for me. 

     o how happy I would be now if I had my complete hearing, then I would rush to you, but now, I have to stay away from everything, my most beautiful years will pass without that my being able to accomplish what my talent and my strength would have requested of me--sad resignation to which I have to take refuge; of course, I have, nevertheless, resolved to rise above everything, but how will it be possible?  Yes, Amenda if, after half a year, my illness will become incurable, then I call upon you, then you have to leave everything and come to me, then I will travel (in my playing and composing, my affliction still troubles me, the least, mostly in social contact) and you have to be my companion, I am convinced that my fortune will not fail, with what could I measure myself, now, ever since you have left, I have written everything, except operas and church pieces, yes, you will not refuse me, you will help your friend to carry his sorrow and his affliction, I have also perfected my piano playing, very much, and I hope that this journey will, perhaps, also mean your fortune, afterwards, you will remain with me, forever 

     I have received all of your letters,[7] as little as I am replying to you, you were still always in my presence, and my heart beat as tenderly for you as ever.-- 

     <of> the matter of my hearing I ask you to keep it as a great secret and not to reveal it to anyone, whoever it may be.-- 

     write to me very often, your letters, be they as short as possible, comfort me and I expect a letter from you, my dear, very soon.--your quartet[8] do not pass on, since I have changed it to a great extent, since only now have I learned how to properly compose quartets, which you will see when you will receive them.[9]--Farewell, now, dear, good [Amenda], do you believe that you will first write to

the one who is faithful to you and truly loves you: 

                                                                                     lv. Beethowen.

v. Wien.

To Herr Herr Carl Amenda. at Wirben in Kurland.

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.  67, p. 84-87]

[Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1] according to the GA, this refers to the fact that the year of Letter No. 65, which shows much in common with the within letter, can be derived from the content; to [2]: possibly refers to Letter No. 51; to [3]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, "der" has been added, afterwards; to [4]: see Letter No.65; to [5]: according to the GA, this initial is clearly legible as "Z" and thus refers to Nikolaus Zmeskall; to [6]: probably refers to  Stephan von Breuning, see also Letter No. 65, note 8; to [7]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, of this time, only Letter No. 51 has been preserved; to 8]: refers to the fact that, as a parting gift, Beethoven had dedicated a copy of the first version of String Quartet op. 18, No. 1, to Amenda; to [9]: refers to the fact that the string quartets, op. 18, according to the GA, have been revised several times before publication; details taken from p. 86-87.]



The above letter's reference to op. 18 will be discussed in more detail in our creation history of this work group.   With respect to the further course of Beethoven's and Amenda's correspondence we have to note that both appeared to be consumed by the tasks of their middle years to such a degree that they did not find time to exchange letters.   

1815


In the year 1815, it was Amenda who tried to re-establish contact with Beethoven:  

 Carl Amenda an Beethoven

                                                                                   Talsen den 20stn Maerz 1815.

Mein Beethoven.

     Nach langem, schuldvollem Schweigen[1], nähere ich mich mit einem Opfer Deiner herrlichen Muse, daß sie Dich mit mir versöhne und Du Deines fast entfremdeten Amenda wieder gedenkest. -- -- O! jene unvergleichlichen Tage! da ich Deinem Herzen so nahe war, da dies liebevolle Herz und der Zauber Deines großen Talents mich unauflöslich an Dich feßelten! -- sie stehen in ihrem schönsten Lichte noch immer vor meiner Seele, sind meinem innigsten Gefühl ein Kleinod, das keine Zeit mir rauben soll. -- Aus Deinem Munde vernahm ichs damals zuweilen, wie Du Dir ein würdiges Sujet zu einer großen Oper wünschtest.  Ich glaube Du hasts noch nicht gefunden. -- Nun siehe:  ich biete Dirs jetzt!  schicke Dir hier eine Oper[2], von der ich dreust zu behaupten wage, daß ihresgleichen noch nicht existirt.  Darum aber sollst auch Du, und kein anderer sie componiren, das ist zugleich der Wunsch des trefflichen Dichters, meines herzlichen Freundes[3].  Diese Abschrift von seiner eignen Hand ist zwar fein, wie wär es aber sonst möglich gewesen eine ganze Oper in ein Briefcouvert zu bringen; mache Dich aber nur mit den kleinen Schriftzügen und insbesondere mit dem Geiste des Ganzen vertraut: und Du wirsts bald geläufig lesen.  Auch kannst Du Dir ja bald eine größere Copie davon machen lassen.  Dann aber, Freund! geh bald ans Werk, und zeige der Welt auch hier was Beethoven vermag, wenn er con amore arbeitet. -- Du wirsts mit Vergnügen bemerken, wie dieser Text ganz mit musikalischer Rücksicht gearbeitet ist, wie einsichtsvoll die Scenen und alle Gesänge geordnet sind.  Eins nur wird Dich vielleicht geniren: die ziemliche Länge des Stücks; die Dich wahrscheinlich nöthigen wird, einiges ohne musikalische Wiederholungen geradedurch zu componiren.

     Dagegen aber freue ich mich schon im Voraus, wie Du bey so manchen schönen Situationen von der Dir eignen Zartheit oder Kraft überströmen, wie Du den verschiedenen Grouppen charakteristische Haltung geben und endlich bey der großen Vollstimmigkeit und dem mancherley Mordspectakel die ganze Fülle der Harmonie zusammen nehmen wirst, die nur Dir in der Vollkommenheit zu Gebote steht. -- O könnte ich und mein treuer Berge, der gleichfalls Deiner großen Muse mit Verehrung huldigt, könnten wir doch bey dieser Arbeit zuweilen um Dich seyn, und so schon manches beym Entstehen mit Dir fühlen, mit Dir genießen!  Sonst war ich einer dieser Glücklichen; der Würdigern wirst Du auch wohl jetzt nicht entbehren!  Ich kenne das Bedürfniß Deines unbefangenen Herzens.  Es ist:  Vervollkommnung der Kunst!  Nun, so liefre denn der Welt die erste der Opern!  Bin ich doch glücklich genug daß Du dabey meiner gedenken wirst, und ich mich einst an dem Entzücken werde weiden können, mit welchem die Welt das Meisterwerk zweyer meiner herzlichsten Freunde ohnfehlbar aufnehmen wird. -- --

     Schreibe mir nun bald, mein Beethoven!  ich bitte Dich, recht bald, damit ich erfahre, ob Du diesen Brief, mit dem Dir gewiß wichtigen Einschlusse erhalten habest.  Schreibe mir aber insbesondere, wenn auch nur mit wenig Worten, wie Dirs geht.  Zwar bin ich bisher nicht ganz ohne Kunde von Dir gewesen.  Zeitungen, Reisende, haben mir von Dir erzählt, Deine herrlichen Compositionen mir oft von Dir zum Herzen gesprochen: doch alles dies hat meine Sehnsucht nach eigenen Nachrichten von Dir nur vermehrt. -- Du leidest am Gehör? -- Armer Freund! wie sehr bedauere ich Dich! -- Sonst aber bist Du doch wohl? -- Du mußt es seyn; der Ruhm den Du noch jüngst mit Wellington getheilt,[4] verkündet es. -- -- Lebt unser gute[r] Zmeskall noch?  Ich zweifle. -- Grüße gelegentlich unsre gemeinschaftlichen Freunde, besonders die Streichers. -- -- Ich führe noch immer das einfache Leben eines Landpfarrers, auf einem angenehmen Landsitze, an der Seite meiner guten Jeanette, im brüderlichsten Verein mit meinem herzlichen Freunde Berge, umgeben von einer kleinen Kinderwelt, von der fünf liebe Kinder die Meinen sind;[5] zwar nicht ganz frey von Sorgen, doch, Gott sey Dank! ziemlich glücklich und einer bessern Zukunft entgegensehend. -- Musikalischen Genuß hab' ich höchst selten, zuweilen noch in unserer Hauptstadt Mitau, wo ein vortreffliches Mädchen, Marianne von Berner[6] als Violinspielerin, unstreitig, der ersten Größe, glänzt.  Dort hab' ich einst auch Baillot aus Paris gehört.[7] O! was ist doch die Violine für ein mächtig Instrument, wenn Baillots Seele aus ihr spricht! -- Nachdem ich Dich am letzten Abend bey Zmeskall spielen hörte,[8] bin ich von keinem Sterblichen wieder so gewaltig erschüttert worden als von Baillot.  Er war damals in Wien gewesen, sprach mit Enthusiasm von Dir, spielte nichts lieber als Deine Sachen und gestand, daß er nur einmal, aber in großer Verlegenheit von Dir gespsielt habe.[9] Beglücke, lieber Beethoven! uns Violinspieler doch bald wieder mit Quartetten! -- -- Ich schließe, um unserm Freunde Berge noch Raum zu ein Paar Zeilen zu lassen, die er Dir über Euren Bachus schreiben will. -- Gottes bester Seegen über Dich, mein weig theurer Beethoven! -- --

     Meine Addresse ist: H.[errn] Pastor Amenda zu Talsen im Curland.

     -- Freund Berge braucht mehr Raum, und nimmt ein eigen Blatt.[10] Dies Plätzchen gehört also noch mir.  Ich benutze es zu der Frage:  Wirst Du, mein Beethoven, nun nicht einmal große musikalische Reisen machen?  Du bist der Welt durch Deine Werke längst bekannt; man sehnt sich überall Dich selbst kennen zu lernen; goldner Friede beglückt endlich wieder die Welt, u begünstigt überall die Musen.  Du müßtest von Reisen großen Gewinn haben; sie würden, besonders bey Benutzung von Bädern, gewiß auch Deiner Gesundheit zuträglich seyn, und so wie einst bey Haydn, würden die guten Wiener auch bey deiner Rückkehr vom Auslande dich noch mehr schätzen lernen.[11]  Und besuchtetst Du endlich auch den Norden, kämst auf einer Reise nach Petersburg durch Mitau u Riga; wie solltest Du da aufgenommen werden!  Dann eilt' ich in Deine Arme, führte Dich auf einige Tage zu mir -- o ich Glücklicher! -- Dich, meinen innigst geliebten Beethoven in meinem Hause bewirthen! -- Ueberleg Dirs, Freund!

nochmals -- Leb wohl! --

Carl Amenda to Beethoven

                                                                         Talsen the20th of March 1815.

My Beethoven.

     After a long, guilt-laden silence[1], I approach you with a sacrifice to your wonderful muse, so that it may reconcile you with me and so that you will remember your almost estranged Amenda. -- -- O! those incomparable days! when I was so close to your heart, when this loving heart and the magic of your great talent tied me forever to you!--they still stand before my soul in their most beautiful light, they are the most precious memories of my innermost feelings, that no time shall rob me of.--In those days, at times, I heard you saying how much you were longing for a worthy subject to a great opera.  I believe that you have not found it, yet.--Now, see:  I offer it to you, now!  send you an opera[2] here, of which I dare to state that its kind does not exist, yet.  Therefore, only you and no-one else shall compose it, that is, at the same time, the wish of its excellent writer, my sincere friend[3].  This copy by his hand is fine, how else would it, otherwise, have been possible to copy an entire opera into an envelope; however, make yourself familiar with the small writing, particularly with the spirit of the whole, and you will soon read it fluently.  You can also have a larger copy made of it, soon.  However, then, friend! begin work at it, soon and show the world also here what Beethoven can accomplish when he works  con amore.--You will notice with pleasure how this text has entirely been written in consideration of musical requirements, how sensibly the scenes and all singing parts have been arranged.  Only one thing might, perhaps, bother you:  the relative length of the piece which probably will require that you will through-compose much without musical repetitions.  

     In contrast I am already looking forward to the way in which, with respect to many beautiful situations will overflow with your very own tenderness or strength, how you will ascribe particular characteristics to the various groups and finally, how you, in light of all the voices and in light of many a fearful din you will gather the fullness of harmony that is only at your command in its perfection.--O could I and my faithful Berge  who is also worshipping your great muse with reverence, could we only be present while you will be at work, feel a great deal of it at the time of its creation, and enjoy it with you!  I used to be one of those fortunate ones; also now, you will not lack the more worthy ones!   I know the need of your unselfconscious heart.  It is: perfection of art!  Well, then deliver to the world the first of operas!   In this, I am fortunate enough that you will think of me during the process and that some day, I will be able to enjoy the pleasure with which the world will receive the masterwork of two of my most sincere friends, without doubt.-- -- 

     Write soon to me, my Beethoven!  I ask you, very soon, so that I will learn whether you will have received this letter with its important enclosure.  However, most particularly, write to me, if only with a few words, how you are.  While, so far, I have not remained without some news of you, since newspapers and travelers have told me about you, your wonderful compositions have often spoken to my heart: however, all of this has only increased my longing for your own news to me about you.--Your hearing is suffering?--Poor friend!  how sorry I am for you!--Otherwise, however, you are well?--You must be; the fame that you have recently shares with Wellington,[4] pronounces it.-- --I our good  Zmeskall still alive?  I doubt it.--On occasion, send greetings to our mutual friends, particularly the Streichers.-- --I still lead the simple life of a country pastor, at a pleasant rural manor, at the side of my good  Jeanette, in the most brotherly company of my sincere friend Berge, surrounded by a world of small children, of which five dear children are my own;[5] while not entirely carefree, still, thank God! fairly happy and looking towards a better future.--Musical enjoyment I have most rarely, at times, still in our capital Mitau, where an excellent girl,  Marianne von Berner[6] as Violinsist, undoubtedly of the greatest quality, is shining.  There, I once also heard Baillot from Paris.[7] O! what a powerful instrument the violin is, when Baillot's  soul speaks from it!--After I have heard you playing on the last evening at Zmeskall's,[8] I have never been moved ass strongly by a mortal than by  Baillot.  At that time, he had been in Vienna, he spoke of you with enthusiasm, played nothing but your works and admitted that he only played before you once, and that with great awkwardness. [9]  Favor, dear Beethoven! us violins players with quartets, very soon!-- --I am closing to so that my friend Berge will have some space left for a few lines that he wants to write to you about your Bachus.--God's best blessings over you, my eternally dear Beethoven! -- --

 My address is: H.[err] Pastor Amenda at Talsen in Courland.

     -- Friend Berge needs more space, and will take a separate sheet.[10] This space thus still belongs to me.  I use it for the question:  Will you, my   Beethoven, not make some great musical journeys?  Through your works, you have become known to the world, already; everywhere, one is longing to get to know you, in person; golden peace finally reigns over the world and favors the arts, everywhere. From traveling, you should have the greatest gain; particularly if you would be taking baths, travelling should also be good for your health and, as it once was with Haydn, the good Viennese, upon your return from abroad, they would learn to cherish you, more.[11] And were you finally also to visit the north and, en route to Petersburg would also pass through Mitau and Riga; how you would then be received!  Then I would rush into your arms and lead you to my place, for a few days--o, I fortunate one!--to be the host to you, my most sincerely beloved Beethoven, in my house!  Think about it, friend!  

once more--Farevell! --

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No.  791, p. 122 - 126]

[Original:  Berlin, Staatsbibliothek; to [1]: refers to the fact that obviously, the correspondence between Beethoven and Amenda had been interrupted for a long time and that Amenda, in addition to this letter, also tried to get in touch with Beethoven through Count Keyserling;  to [2]:  refers to the handwritten libretto of the great lyrical opera Bacchus by Rudolf vom Berge, that was enclosed with this letter; according to the GA, today, it is part of Schindler's papers at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin; to [3]: refers to Rudolf vom Berge (1775 - 1881), the writer of tragedies and opera libretti who, from 1803 on, lived in Russia, where he, according to the GA, first worked as an actor and then as a private teacher in the Courland towns of  Puhnen and Talsen; to [4]: refers to the successful performances of "Wellington's Victor" op. 91 in December 1813 and January/February 1814; to [5]: refers to the fact that of the six children Amenda had with his wife  Jeanette, nee Benoit (1785 - 18440], five were still alive; to [6]: refers to the Courland violinist Marianne von Berner; to [7]: refers to the violinist and composer Pierre Marie Francois de Sales Baillot [1771-1842], who, on his return journey from Russia gave a concert at Mitau in 1803; to [8]: refer to the fact that, in the summer of 1799, Beethoven had presented Amenda with a copy of op. 18, Nr. 1 which bore the date of June 25, 1799; to [9]: refers to the fact that, during his journey to Moscow, through Anton Reicha's mediation, met Beethoven in Vienna in 1805; to [10]: refers to the fact that this sheet has not been preserved; to [11]: refers to Haydn's journeys to England of 1791/2 and of 1794/5; details taken from p. 125-126.]  


That Beeethoven's following lines are not to be considered as his reply to Amenda's letter, becomes clear from its content and from GA comments:  


Beethoven an Amenda in Talsen

                                                                                        Vien am 12ten April 1815.

Mein lieber guter Amenda[1]!

     Der Ueberbringer dieses Graf Keyperling[2] dein Freund besuchte mich, und erweckte das Andenken von dir in mir, du lebtest glücklich, du habest Kinder[3], beydes trift wohl bey mir nicht ein, zu weitläufig wäre es darüber zu reden, ein andermal, wenn du mir wieder schreibst hierüber mehr -- mit deiner patriarchalischen Einfalt fällst Du mir 1000 mal ein, und wie oft habe ich d.g. Menschen wie du um mich gewünscht -- allein zu meinem Besten oder zu andrer will mir das Schicksaal hierin meine Wünsche versagen, ich kann sagen ich lebe beynahe allein in dieser größten Stadt Deutschlands, da ich von allen Menschen, welche ich liebe lieben könnte, beynahe entfernt leben muß -- auf was für einem Fuß ist die Tonkunst bey euch?  hast du schon von meinen großen Werken dort gehört?  groß sage ich -- gegen die werke des allerhöchsten ist alles klein -- lebe wohl mein lieber guter A

Denke zuweilen deines Freundes

                                                                                     Ludwig van Beethowen.

     wenn du mir schreibst brauchts gar keiner [wei]tern* überschrift, [als]* meines Namens.

An meinen Freund Amenda in Kurland.

Beethoven to Amenda in Talsen

                                                                                    Vienna the12th of April 1815.

My dear good Amenda[1]!

     The bearer of this, Count Keyperling[2] your friend, visited me and awakened my memory of you in me, you live happily, you have children[3], both is not the case, with me, it would go too far to talk about it, some other time, when you will write to me again, more about it--with your paternalistic simplicity, I am reminded of you a 1000 times and how often have I wished to have men of this kind around me--alone for my best or for the best of others, I can say that I almost live alone in this greatest city of Germany, since I have to live apart from all people that I love or that I could love--on what footing is music in your parts? have you heard of my great works, there? great, I say--compared to the works of the Almighty, everything else is small--farewell, my dear good A 

Think sometimes of your friend

                                                                                     Ludwig van Beethowen.

     when you write to me, no other address is needed than my name. 

To my friend Amenda in Courland.

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No.  803, p. 137-138]

[Original:  Riga, Zentrales Staatliches Historisches Archiiv der Republik Lettland [Central Historical State Archive of the Republic of Latvia]; to [1]: refers to the fact that this letter is not to be seen as Beethoven's reply to Amenda's letter No. 791; to [2]: refers to Archibald Count Keyserling [1785 - 1855], Prussian officer, since 1813 in the service of Prince Biron-Wartenberg in Courland; to [4]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, in Riga, the largest city in Latvia, since 1803, most of Beethoven's greater works have been performed; details taken from p. 137-138.]


With this, the correspondence between these two friends ends.  With respect to Amenda's further life we can still note that he, according to the GA, was Provost of the Diocese of Kandau, from 1821 on and, in 1830, was awarded the title of a "Konsistorialrat" [councillor of the consistory], and that he passed away in 1836.  His wife Jeannette died in 1844. 

In our chorological presentation, we tried to refrain from voicing our own opinion with respect to the information offered and want to add a few observations here: 

 

OUR OWN OBSERVATIONS

With respect to our own observations of the information presented here, our attention is drawn to Amenda's studies of theology at the University of Jena, from 1792 to 1796.  The question that arises in this writer's mind is as to what impression Amenda might have taken along of this time on his further life's journey.  

Our extract from the list of famous men who stayed at Jena during this time, on the one hand, raises the question as to whether Amenda might have come in any contact whatsoever with his potential fellow student Ernst Moritz Arndt, who studied theology and history at Jena from 1793-1794.   On the other hand, this list allows us to determine that it does not contain any important theologian who taught at Jena during this time.   Perhaps, Schiller might have been a topic of discussion in the circle of Beethoven and  Johann Andreas Streicher.  However, to what extent Streicher, with respect to his famous poet friend Schiller [with whom he, as those of us know who read our creation history of the 'Ode to Joy', fled from Stuttgart to Mannheim and spent some time there with him] wore his heart on his sleeves, remains speculation in light of Streicher's general modesty.   Beethoven's comment from his last letter to Amenda, "with your paternalistic simplicity, I am reminded of you a 1000 times and how often have I wished to have men of this kind around me" also would, considering Amenda's nature, indicate that he would have concentrated on his theological studies rather than becoming part of the 'Jena in circle' during that time. 

With respect to Amenda's Viennese position as private teacher of the Mozart children, the information contained in the GA differs from Thayer's information and from the description given in the Amenda family document.  The GA describes Amenda as private teacher of the children of the widow of Mozart, while the Amenda family document and Thayer describe him as their music teacher.   " I only live two miles away from this girl--as Hofsmeister [private teacher] of HR v Stromberg at Wirben, in the countryside.  I am more conscientious in fulfilling my duties as I was in Vienna . . . " is what Amenda wrote to Beethoven in  1800/01 and, with it, referred to his position as "Hofsmeister" [private teacher] in Vienna.  The following lines by Mozart's son Franz Xaver Wolfgang to Amenda would indicate that the fulfillment of his duties there can not have suffered too much:

 "Lieber Amenda!

    Ich wünsche schon lange nichts sehnlicher, als eine Gelegenheit ihnen schreiben zu können, konnte aber noch keine finden; izt aber, da ich bey dem H.v. Streicher bin um mich ganz der Musik meinem Fache zu widmen, fand ich diese, bey Uebersendung Ihres Klavieres, auf welchem ich schon oft gespielt habe.  Ich spreche oft mit H.v. Streicher und seiner Frau von ihnen, und habe vernommen, daß sie geheurathet und einen Sohn bekommen haben, welcher ihnen, wie ich wünsche, viel Freude machen wird.  Ich bleibe ihr aufrichtiger Freund und ehemaliger Zögling 

                                                                                     Wolfgang Mozart"

"Dear Amenda!

    For a long time, I wished nothing more than to have an opportunity to write to you, but could not find one;  now, however, since I am with H.v. Streicher in order to entirely dedicate myself to music, my subject, I found it, with the dispatch to you of your piano, on which I have already played, often.  With H.v.Streicher and his wife, I often talk about you and have learned that you have married and have a son who, as I wish, will bring you much joy.  I remain your sincere friend and former pupil   

                                                                                     Wolfgang Mozart"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I, Letter No.  51, Note No. 5, in which the GA describes this letter of Mozart's son Wolfgang as having been written on June 21, 1801 [as source, the GA refers to Ludwig Nohl, Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner, Wien 1874, p. 92].  Wolfgang Mozart's reference to Amenda's marriage and the birth of a son might suggest a later date at which this letter might have been written.] 

The charming written Amenda family recollection of Amenda's friendship with Beethoven speaks for itself that not much should be added but that such family recollections should be enjoyed with caution.  However, that does not take anything away from their pleasant, positive character.  We can supplement these recollections with our look at Beethoven's own comments from this time that, on the one hand, show [in his brief note to Zmeskall] that he judged Amenda's musical capabilities realistically but that, on the other hand, he reteurned Amenda's feelings of friendship to the degree as demonstrated by his presenting to the latter a copy of op. 18/1 with a personal dedication, as a parting gift.    To Beethoven's situation during the year's 1798-99 we can still add that he, as he wrote to Amenda in 1801, already then, noticed the first traces of his hearing loss.  

Amenda's recall to his homeland shows that he, as the second son in his family, was probably allowed some freedom to enjoy his youth and that he, in the framework of the possibilities offered him, did this in a pleasant and appropriate manner.  

In order to gain a somewhat adequate impression of Amenda's situation and of his first correspondence to Beethoven in the years 1800/01, we might first wish to take a look at the events in his life during 1799-1802:   

1.   In the fall of 1799, he returned to his homeland, Courland;
2.   As we know from our chronological presentation including relevant correspondence, at the time at which
      he wrote his long letter to Beethoven in 1800/01, he had
        (a)   already settled in well in his new position as private teacher at Wirben, and
        (b)   already made the acquaintance of the young lady from Geneva,  Jeannette Benoit;
3.   The material contained in our chronological presentation also indicates that, in the year 1802,
      shortly before becoming Pastor at Talsen, he married Jeannette Benoit.

At first, it might appear a peculiar diversion to you that we invite you here to take a look at relevant information from the life of  Friedrich Nietzsche's Father, with respect to the latter's career as a pastor.   After reading the information provided on our sub-page, it might become clear to you what our intention was, namely to give you an idea of the almost inevitably similar course of the beginning of a Lutheran Pastor's career in the pre-industrial era. 

Interesting to note might also be that the choice of a position as private teacher provided a way out for a young theologian so that he did not have to fill the vacancy of a vicar's position, right away.  The history of German literature knows of the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin having deliberately chosen this way out.   It also knows of the hesitation of yet another candidate for the career of a Lutheran pastor, namely of that of the author of the Mozart novel we present at this site in English, Mozart on His Journey to Prague, meaning its writer, Eduard Mörike.

However, with respect to Karl Friedrich Amenda we can note that he, as the second-born son of his family, while he surely would end up as Pastor "some day", still could take some time with it.  However, the death of his older brother brought the "seriousness of life" closer to him than he might have wished for.  

If we consider all of this carefully, the style of Amenda's long letter becomes clearer to us and we might beg to differ slightly with Thayer-Forbes who (p. 223) very likely refers to this letter when he writes that it is "filled with incense which in our day would bear the name of almost too gross flattery".  Rather, considering Amenda's situation, its tone and style become quite understandable while, of course, we also have to consider that the writing style between young gentlemen friends of the romantic era at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century was generally far less sober than our modern writing style.   

In his long letter to Beethoven, Amenda, among other things, was also trying to keep in his lively memory his irrevocably lost youth.  Can we really blame him for that when we consider what company he was surrounded by in Vienna?  Did he, after all, not also recognize that his most important 'Viennese' friend, Beethoven, was "no ordinary man", which we, from today's point-of-view, could understand in such a way that Amenda, as a sensitive, musically highly talented young man who, in comparison to Beethoven as an artist of his caliber, could still be considered as "ordinary" was capable of recognizing and treasuring the true nature of Beethoven as the artist who he was and who, as such,  could not afford the luxury of leading an "ordinary" life but who had to submit himself to the particular condition of his own path, in his very own way.  

The "flip side" of this "coin", Beethoven's short letter (Letter No. 66) to Amenda of the year 1801 shows us that he fully returned Amenda's feelings of friendship but was able to adequately evaluate this friendship in the context of his own life:  "unter den zwei Menschen, die meine ganze Liebe besaßen, und wovon der eine noch lebt,[2] bist Du der Dritte -- nie kann das Andenken an Dich mir verlöschen . . ." ["of the two men who possessed my entire love and of whom one is still alive, you are the third--never can my memory of you be extinguished in me."

Beethoven's long "confessional letter" to Amenda (Letter No. 67) shows us that he also proved his high esteeem of Amenda as one of his closest friend by confiding to him, as he did to Wegeler, the circumstances of his hearing loss and that he also trusts Amenda to keep this a secret.  

If we go out from the assumption that Beethoven research is right in contending that Beethoven and Amenda did not exchange letters between 1801 and 1815, we have to face the fact that Amenda might not have replied to Beethoven's long "confessional" letter.   

How we will judge this depends very much on to what extent we, on the one hand, consider Beethoven's wish that he expressed in this letter, namely that Amenda return to him, travel with him and stay with him forever, literal and how we relate this wish to Amenda's already nearly pre-destined further life path that he referred to in his long letter to Beethoven of the year 1801, "O, why did my fate ask so much sacrifice of me! . . . However, my fate is, perhaps, already sealed, I might be tied down here, forever. . . .  " 

The subsequently very different life paths of the two friends give us strong arguments for a possible reason why they might not have corresponded for nearly fourteen years:  both of them might have been consumed by their respective life tasks to such a degree that they could not find enough time to keep their contact alive.  

To what extent both have drifted apart in their respective daily lives can be seen in Amenda's attempts at rekindling his friendship with Beethoven in the year 1815:  Due to being out of touch with Beethoven, he could no longer "know", with "whom" he would now (actually) be dealing when thinking of Beethoven as an artist:  he recalled the young Beethoven who still hoped that, perhaps, some day, he would find an adequate material for a great opera and that he then, on the strength of its success, might be able to compose even more great operas.  After all, Amenda did not "witness" Beethovens struggle for "his Leonore" of the years 1805 and 1806 and also not his second fight for the revision of "Fidelio" in the year 1814.  As to whether he might even have become aware of this Beethoven opera in the Courland of 1815, we can not determine with certainty.  This writer, however, personally fears that this might not have been the case.  Would he, otherwise, have "dared" to offer Beethoven the libretto of his friend  Rudolf vom Berge?

Amenda might also have had difficulty to gain an adequate impression of Beethoven's near-deafness, so that he, beyond general human sympathy, was not able to comment.  However, what comes across as very honest and sincere is his personal invitation to Beethoven. 

Beethoven's last lines to Amenda (Letter No. 803) very laconically express that he was, "indeed" "no ordinary man" who could afford the luxury of an "ordinary life".  (Let us be glad that, for once, we do not have to discuss Beethoven's "life error" of hoping that his care of his nephew would, at least at some level, be "emotionally requited" by the boy!)  

Let us conclude our own considerations with the final words from this letter:  "have you heard of my great works, there? great, I say--compared to the works of the Almighty, everything else is small--farewell, my dear good A  think sometimes of your friend . . .   Ludwig van Beethowen".

 

CONCLUSION

We hope that our look at Beethoven's friendship with Karl Friedrich Amenda brought you some reading enjoyment and look forward to adding more material here, at the next suitable opportunity. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ludwig van Beethoven.  Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe. [6 Bände]  Im Auftrag des Beethoven-Hauses Bonn herausgegeben von Sieghard Brandenburg.  München: 1996.  G. Henle Verlag.

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