Beethoven 1814

Congress Participants

Beethoven 1815


"The largest peace congress in history" is what Radio Stephansdom, in its reference to the exhibition of the Society for the Friends of Music entitled "Musik für Krieg und Frieden" called the Congress of Vienna and further reports that music played a very important role. That Beethoven, perhaps Vienna's greatest composer at that time, would play a large role, is a matter of course.

If we, on our Beethoven Pages, want to deal with this topic, as lay persons with life experience in the area of German-speaking culture, we are well advised to stick to the limited framework of information on Beethoven's life and work. In doing so, we should best concentrate on our usual sources and less on discussions of the political importance of this event.

Perhaps, we might start by recalling how Beethoven, after his period of mourning for his Immortal Beloved, during the period of 1812-1813, started again to take part in the musical life of Vienna. We might remember our Creation History of his Battle Symphony" with its premiere on December 8, 1813, in Vienna, but also his Reworking of his only opera Fidelio with its premiere on May 23, 1814. With this, we have arrived in the summer of 1814 and can now turn to the time frame of the Congress of Vienna in general and to Beethoven's role in it, in particular.

General historical information tells us that Napoleon Bonaparte's decline, in the spring of 1814, led to the First Peace of Paris between the powers of the Sixth Coalition and the French Government under Louis XVIII. Article 32 of the Treaty provided for the holding of a congress in Vienna to negotiate conditions for a permanent peace in Europe. All countries that were party to the Napoleonic wars were invited.

The Congress took place from September 18, 1814 to June 9, 1815, established several new borders in Europe and defined new states. Vienna became the political centre of Europe, and with Emperor Franz I. of Austria, as host, and his Foreign Minister, Prince Metternich, as Chairman, negotiations mostly took place in his Palais at the Ballhausplatz [see our image above].

Metternich's most important opponent was Tsar Alexander I. Further roles were played by the British emissary, Castlereagh and by the representative of France, Talleyrand. Prussia was represented by Prince von Hardenberg and Wilhelm von Humboldt, but it did not play a very strong role. One reason for this was that the personal interference of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. weakened Prussia's position.

While interested individuals among the fairly clueless general population still yearned for the powers to grant them more freedoms, the negotiating parties were mainly concerned with establishing the near-absolutistic pre-revolutionary conditions. Their aim was to establish a European system of equilibrium among all powers in order to avoid future wars.

The euphoria created by the performances of Beethoven's final Fidelio version found many visitors of them still on the side of the clueless who were still hoping for better times.

Where was and with what was Beethoven occupied after the first series of Fidelio performances in July/August 1814? With respect to this, Thayer-Forbes reports:

Baden near Vienna

"Beethoven did not get to the country for any lenghty sojourn this summer; he had only a brief stay at Baden. The Congress of Vienna was originally scheduled to meet on August 1st, but was postponed until the early fall" [TF: 593]. 

As Thayer further repdorts, Beethoven was occupied with a composition of a more private nature:

"Sketches for the Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118 ("Sanft wie du lebtest") are found among the studies for the new Fidelio, and this short work was probably now completed in season to be copied and delivered to his friend Pasqualati on or before the 9th of August, that day being the third anniversary of the death of his "transfigured wife," in honor of whose memory it was composed" [TF: 591].

A further composition that we already discussed in our section on Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, Piano Sonata no. 27, Op. 90, dedicated to Count Moritz Lichnowsky, according to Thayer-Forbes, bears the date of August 16, 1814. Beethoven's letter to Count Lichnowsky of September 21, 1814, from Baden also mentions one of the Congress delegates. Let Thayer-Forbes report about this and let us then quote the original letter, with references provided in English thereafter:

"The Sonata in F minor, Op. 90, bears the date August 16, in which connection the following letter to Count Moritz Lichnowsky, dated September 21 from Baden was written:

Worthy and honored Count and friend!

I did not receive your letter, unfortunately, till yesterday--My cordial thanks for your thought of me and all manner of lovely messages to the worthy Princess Christiane--Yesterday I made a lovely promenade with a friend in the Brühl and the subject of you particularly came up in our friendly conversation, and behold, on arriving here yesterday I find your good letter-- I see that you still persist in overwhelming me with kindnesses. As I do not want you to think that a step which I have taken was prompted by a new interest or anything of that kind, I tell you that a new sonata of mine will soon appear which I have dedicated to you. I wanted to surprise you, for the dedication was set apart for you a long time ago, but your letter of yesterday leads me to make the disclosure now. No new cause was needed for the public expression of my feelings for your friendship and kindness--but you would distress me with anything resembling a gift, since you would totally missapprehend my purpose, and everything of the kind I could only refuse--

I kiss the hands of the Princess for her thought of me and her kindness, I have never forgotten how much I owe you all, even if an unfortunate circumstance brought about conditions under which I could not show it as I should have liked to do--

Concerning what you tell me about Lord Castleregt, the matter is already well introduced. If I were to have an opinion on the subject, it would be that I think it best that Lord Castleregt not write about the work on Wellingston until the Lord has heard it here-- I am soon coming to the city where we will talk over everything concerning a grand concert-- Nothing can be done with the court, I have made an offer--but

[Note Sample]
Al - lein allein. allein
jedoch silentium!!!

Farewell, my honored friend, and think of me always as worthy of your kindness--

                                                                                                                                                                                  Your Beethoven

I kiss the hands of the honored Princess C. a thousand times" [TF: 591-592].  


                                                                            Beethoven an Graf Moritz Lichnowsky

                                                                                                                                                                 Baden am 21ten September 1814

Werther verehrter Graf und Freund!

ich erhalte leider erst gestern ihren Brief[1] - Herzlichen Dank für ihr Andenken an mich eben so alles schöne der verehrungswürdigen Fürstin Christiane[2] - ich machte gestern mit einem Freunde einen schönen spaziergang in die Brühl[3] und unter Freundschaftlichen Gesprächen kamen sie auch besonders vor, und siehe da gestern Abend bey meiner Ankunft finde ich ihren lieben Brief - ich sehe daß sie mich immer mit Gefälligkeiten überhäufen, da ich nicht möchte, daß sie glauben sollten, daß ein schritt, den ich gemacht, durch ein neues Interesse oder überhaupt etwas d.g. hervorgebracht worden sey, sage ich ihnen, daß bald eine Sonate von mir erscheinen wird, die ich ihnen gewidmet,[4] ich wollte sie überraschen, denn längst war diese Dedikation ihnen bestimmt, aber ihr gestriger Brief macht mich es ihnen jezt entdecken, keines neuen Anlaßes brauchte es, um ihnen meine Gefühle für ihre Freundschaft und Wohlwollen öffentlich darzulegen - aber mit irgend nur etwas, was einem Geschenke ähnlich sieht, würden sie mir weh verursachen, da sie alsdenn meine Absicht gänzlich mißkennen würden und alles d.g. kann ich nicht anders als ausschlagen. - ich küsse der Fürstin die Hände für ihr Andenken und wohlwollen für mich, nie habe ich vergessen, was ich ihnen überhaupt allen schuldig bin, wenn auch ein unglückseliges Ereignis verhältnisse hervorbrachte, wo ich es nicht so, wie ich wünschte, zeigen konnte[5] - was sie mir wegen

was sie mir von Lord Castleregt sagen, so finde ich diese sache auf's beste eingeleitet, sollte ich eine meynung hierin haben, so glaube ich, daß es am Besten seyn würde, daß Lord Castleregt nicht eher schrieb wegen dem werk auf wellington, als bis der Lord es hier gehört[6] - ich komme bald in die stadt,[7] wo wir alles überlegen wollen wegen einer großen Akademie[8] - mit dem Hof ist nichts anzufangen, ich habe mich angetragen - allein -

all -- ein all.ein all -- ein

Jedoch Silentium!!! leben sie recht wohl mein verehrter Freund und halten sie mich immer ihres wohlwollens werth -

                                                                                                                                                                                      ihr Beethowen

tausend Hände Küsse der verehrten fürstin C.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 740, p. 57-59; Original: in private hands in Germany; to [1]: according to the GA not preserved; to [2]: refers to Princess Maria Christiane Lichnowsky; to [3]: refers to a forest valley at the edge of the Viennese Woods near Mödling; to [4]: refers to the Piano Sonata Op. 90, the autograph of which, according to the GA, is dated August 16, 1814 and that the first edition with the dedication to the Count was only published in June, 1815; to [5]: refers to the argument Beethoven had with Prince Lichnowsky in the fall of 1806; to [6]: refers to Viscount Henry Robert Stewart Castlereagh [1769-1822], who, in September 1814, had arrived in Vienna as Great Britain's delegate and of whom, according to the GA, Beethoven hoped that he would obtain for him from Prince Regent George some acknowledgement of his sending him a copy of the score of Wellington's Victory, op. 91; to [7]: refers to the fact that the sentence was written on top of an illegible version; to [8]: refers to Letter No. 733 to Treitschke].


Beethoven's general outlook on the "Congress hype" can be seen in his lines to Nepomuk Kanka in the fall of 1814:


                                                                         Beethoven an Johann Nepomunk Kanka in Prag

                                                                                                                                                                                 [Wien, Herbst 1814][1]

Tausend Dank mein verehrter K. ich sehe endlich wieder einen Rechtsvertreter und menschen der schreiben und denken kann, ohne der armseeligen Formeln zu gebrauchen - sie können sich kaum denken, wie ich nach dem Ende dieses Handels seufze, da ich dadurch in allem, was meine Ökonomie betrifft, unbestimmt leben muß -

ohne was es mir sonst schadet, sie wissen selbst, der Geist der wirkende darf nicht an die elenden Bedürfnisse gefesselt werden, und mir wird dadurch noch manches mich selbst beglückendes für das leben entzogen, selbst meinem Hange und meiner mir selbst gemachten Pflicht vermittels meiner Kunst für die bedürftige Menschheit zu handeln, habe ich müßen und mu&szlich; ich noch schranken sezen -

von unsern Monarchen etc der Monarchien schreibe ich ihnen nichts, die Zeitungen berichten ihnen alles[2] - mir ist das geistige Reich das liebste, und der Oberste aller geistigen und weltlichen Monarchien - schreiben sie mir doch, was sie wohl für sich selbst von mir wünschen von meinen schwachen musikalischen Kräften, damit ich ihnen so wenn ich drauf reiche, etwas für ihren eigenen Musikalischen Sinn oder Gefühl erschaffe - brauchen sie nicht alle Papire, die zu der Kinskischen sache gehören, in diesem Falle würde ich sie ihnen schicken, da dabey die wichtigsten Zeugnisse[3] sind, die sie auch glaube ich bey mir gelesen - denken sie an mich, und denken sie, daß sie einen uneigennüzigen Künstler gegen eine knickerische Familie vertreten, wie gern entziehen die Menschen wieder dem armen Künstler, was sie ihm auf sonstige Art zollen - und Zeus ist nicht mehr, wo man sich auf Ambrosia einladen konnte - belfügeln sie lieber Freund die trägen schritte der Gerechtigkeit.

wenn ich mich noch so hoch erhoben finde, wenn ich mich in glücklichen Augenblicken in meiner Kunstspäre befinde, so ziehn mich die Erdengeister wieder herab dazu gehören nun auch die 2 Prozesse[4] - auch sie haben unannehmlichkeiten, obschon ich bey ihren ungewohnten Einsichten und Fähigkeiten und besonders in ihrem Fache das nicht geblaubt hätte, so muß ich sie doch auf mich selbst zurück - einen Kelch des bitteren Leidens habe ich ausgeleert, und mir schon das Martirerthum in der Kunst vermittelt der lieben Kunstjünger und Kunstgenossen erworben - ich bitte sie denken sie alle tage an mich und denken sie, Es sey eine ganze welt, da natürlich es ihnen viel zugemuthet ist, an ein so kleines Indiwiduum zu denken, wie mich -

ihr mit der innigsten Achtung und Freundschaft e[r]gebner

Ludwig van Beethowen

An Seine Wohlgebohrn Herrn Johann Kanka Docktor der Rechte im Königreiche Böhmen in Prag (in Böhmen)

Beethoven to Johann Nepomunk Kanka in Prague

                                                                                                                         & nbsp;                                                                   [Vienna, Fall 1814][1]

A thousand thanks, my esteemed K. finally, I see a representative of the law and a human being who can write and think without using poor clichees - you can hardly imagine how I am longing for the end of this business, since due to it, in everything that my economy is concerned, I have to lead an uncertain life -

aside from what harm it does me otherwise, you know, yourself, the creative mind must not be chained to wretched needs, and many a thing that would make my life happy I am deprived of on account of it, even with respect to my inclination to act on behalf of poor humanity, I had to and still have to set myself limitations -

of our monarchs etc and the monarchies, I am not writing you anything, the papers report everything[2] - to me, the realm of the mind is the most favorite one, and the ruler of all spiritual and earthly monarchies - write to me as to what you would wish from me for yourself from my humble musical gifts, so that, when I reach for them, I can create something for your musical delight - do you not need all papers belonging to the Kinsky matter, in that case, I would send them to you, since among them are the most important testimonials[3] that you, as I also believe, have read at my place - think of me and of the fact that you are representing a selfless artist against a greedy family, how gladly do men withhold from the poor artist what they pay tribute to him in other ways - and Zeus is no longer there, where one could invite oneself to Ambrosia - dear friend, lend wings to the slow pace of justice.

even when I am finding myself exalted, when, in a happy moment, I am in my artistic realm, earthly spirits will always drag me down, and to these, there also belong the two lawsuits[4] - you, too, are experiencing unpleansantness, although, with your unusual insights and capabilities, particularly in your field, I would not have believed it of, so I must [refer] them back to me - I have emptied a bitter cup of suffering, and already acquired the martyrdom of art by means of the dear art followers and fellows - I ask you to think of me every day and think that it is an entire world, since it means to ask a lot of you to think of such a small individual as myself -

yours, with the most sincere esteem and friendship

Ludwig van Beethowen

To His Well-Born Herr Johann Kanka Juris Doctor in the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague (in Bohemia)

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 747, p. 64-65; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection BBr 117; to [1]: according to the GA this refers to the fact that the letter was written after Letter No. 732 of August 22, 1814, and Letter No. 737 of September 14, 1814; to [2]: pursuant to the GA, this refers to the fact that at the Congress of Vienna, many heads of state were present with whom Beethoven came into contact on various occasions; to [3]: according to the GA, this refers to the testimonials of Franz Oliva and Karl August Varnhagen von Ense, according to which Prince Kinsky had promised in July 1812 to pay out Beethoven's salary in the originally agreed-upon amount of 1800 florins, retroactively effective the coming into force of the "Finanzpatent" of March 1811, by means of redemption notes; to [4]: refers to the fact that, pursuant to the GA, that Beethoven, in order to see his claims against Prince Lobkowitz enforced, Beethoven had launched a lawsuit in the summer of 1813, and against the Kinsky estate at a not specifically known point in time].


Returning our focus to Beethoven's compositions, we can consult Thayer-Forbes with respect to them. Reference is made to a number of occasional compositions that might have had a connection with the Congress:

" . . . That Beethoven was bearing this Congress and its visiting dignitaries in mind is shown by the next series of "occasional compositions."-- Next to Op. 90 in the "Fidelio" sketchbook are a few hints for "Ihr weisen Gründer," which, though called a "cantata" in the sketchbook is but a chorus with orchestra--a piece of flattery intended for the royal personages at the coming Congress. It was not finished until September 3rd. This was the only work which Beethoven now had on hand suitable for a grand concert, but he was working on others. Over the title of the manuscript of "Ihr weisen Gründer" is written in pencil by him: "About this time the Overture in C."; this work, what was to be called the "Namensfeier" overture, he now had in hand.

At the same time he was working on a vocal composition of some length. The eventual result would be Der glorreiche Augenblick, with text by Alois Weissenbach, but at this point he was attempting to set a text whose author,-- whoever he was, must have profoundly studied and heartily adopted the principles of composition as set forth by Martinus Scriblerus in his "Treatise of Bathos, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry": for anything more stilted in style, yet more absurdly prosaic, with nowhere a spark of poetic fire to illuminate its dreary pages,is hardly conceivable.-- A short excerpt from the body of the text will suffice:

Alle Stimmen 

Hört ihr klirren der Knechtschaft Ketten?
 Hört ihr seufzen des Ebro Fluth?
 Seht die Donau Ihr roth von Bluth?
 Wer soll helfen? ach, wer soll retten?

                  Erste Stimme
 Und Karl, aus Habsburgs altem Haus,
 Zog, Gott vertrauend, gen ihn aus.
 Wo Habsburg schlug am Donaustrand
 Da schlug er ihn--und Oestreich stand.

                 Zweyte Stimme
 Und Wellington, der Spanier Hort,
 Zog, Gott vertrauend, gen ihn fort.
 Und bey Vittoria schlug er ihn,
 Dass schmachvoll heim er musste flieh'n.

                Dritte Stimme
 Die heil'ge Moskwa flammet auf,
 Der Frevler stürzt im Siegeslauf;
 Borussia sieht, die Völker sehn
      der Freyheit Gluth,
 Und Moskwa gleich flammt Aller Muth.

All Voices

 Hear ye the clang of captives' chains?
 Hear ye the signs of the Ebro's flood?
 See ye the Danube red with blood?
 Who sall succour? who wipe up the stains?

                          First Voice
 And Karl of Habsburg, ancient line,
 Battled with trust in God divine,
 Where Habsburg struck on the Danube's strands
 There struck he him and Austria stands.

                        Second Voice
 And Wellington the Spanish hoard,
 Battled against with trust in the Lord,
 And at Vittoria struck them he
 Till home with shame they had to flee.

                       Third Voice
 Holy Moscow burst in flame,
 The villain plunged ere victory came;
 Prussia sees, the people see Freedom's
 And Moscow's flames to all courage show.
 [and so forth, ad nauseam--]" [TF:593-594].

  King Friedrich of Württemberg

 King Frederic of Denmark

  King Friedr. Wilh. of Prussia

 Tsar Alexander of Russia

Thayer-Forbes then discusses the arrival of the above European monarchs and Beethoven's situation at that time:

"Neither the Overture nor the choral piece to be set to the above was finished, when the arrival at Vienna of the King of Württemberg on the 22nd of September, of the King of Denmark on the 23rd and the announcement of the coming of the Russian Emperor with the King of Prussia on Sunday the 25th, brought Beethoven back to the city. Owing to the failure of Lobkowitz, the Court theatres had passed under the management of Palffy. If there be any truth whatever in his alleged hostility to Beethoven, it is not a little remarkable that the first grand opera performed in the presence of the monarchs--Monday the 26th--was Fidelio. One of the audience on that evening, in a published account of his "Journey to the Congress," records: "To-day I went to the Court Theatre and was carried to heaven--the opera Fidelio by L.v. Beethoven was given." Then follow some fifteen pages of enthusiastic eulogy. That auditor was Alois Weissenbach, R.I. Councillor, Professor of Surgery and Head Surgeon of the St. John's Hospital in Salzburg, where after sixteen years' service in the Austrian armies he had settled, devoting his leisure to poetry and drama." [TF: 594].

Alois Weissenbach

Thayer-Forbes [p. 594] continues by reporting that Weissenbach's tragedy Der Brautkranz in iambic verses and in five acts was performed at the Kärtnerthortheater on January 14, 1809 and wonders whether his plays Barmeciden and Glaube und Liebe were also staged in Vienna. Let Thayer-Forbes continue to report:

"At all events, he was a man of high reputation. Of him Franz Graeffer writes: "That Weissenbach was a passionate admirer of Beethoven's is a matter of course; their natures were akin, even physically, for the Tyrolean was just as hard of hearing. . . . But it was pitiful to hear them shout at each other. It was therefore not possible thoroughly to enjoy them. Strangely enough in a little room, such as in the inn Zur Rose in the Wollzeile, Weissenbach heard much better, and conversed more freely and animately. Otherwise the most prolific, amiable, lively of social companions. A blooming man, aging, always neatly and elegantly clad. How learned he was as a physician will not be forgotten.

Weissenbach himself writes: "Completely filled with the gloriousness of the creative genius of his music, I went from the theatre home with the firm resolve not to leave Vienna without having made the personal acquaintance of so admirable a man; and strangely enough! when I reached my lodgings I found Beethoven's visiting card upon my table with a cordial invitation to breakfast with him in the morning. And I drank coffee with him and received his handgrasp and kiss. Yes, mine is the proud privilege of proclaiming publicly, Beethoven honoured me with the confidence of his heart. I do not know if these pages will ever fall into his hands; if he learns that they mention his name either in praise or blame he will indeed (I know him and know his strong self- reliance) not read them at all; herein, too, he maintains his independence, he whose cradle and throne the Lord established away from this earth. . . . Beethoven's body has a strength and rudeness which is seldom the blessing of chosen spirits. He is pictured in his countenance. If Gall, the phrenologist, has correctly located the mind, the musical genius of Beethoven is manifest in the formation of his head. The sturdiness of his body, however, is in his flesh and bones only; his nervous system is irritable in the highest degree and even unhealthy. How it has often pained me to observe that in this organism the haromony of the mind was so easily put out of tune. He once went through a terrible typhus and from that time dates the decay of his nervous system and probably also his melancholy loss of hearing. Often and long have I spoken with him on this subject; it is a greater misfortune for him than for the world. It is significant that before that illness his hearing was unsurpassably keen and delicate, and that even now he is painfully sensible to discordant sounds; perhaps because he is himself euphony. . . . His character is in complete agreement with the glory of his talent. Never in my life have I met a more childlike nature paired with so powerful and defiant a will; if heaven had bestowed nothing upon him but his heart, this alone would have made him one of those in whose presence many would be obliged to stand up and do obeisance. Most intimately does that heart cling to everything good and beautiful by a natural impulse which surpasses all education by far. . . . There is nothing in the world, no earthly greatness, nor wealth, nor rank, nor state can bribe it; here I could speak of instances in which I was a witness."

We know no reason to suppose that Beethoven received Weissenbach's poem before the interview with him; but, on the contrary, think the citations above preclude such a hypothesis. Moreover, the composer's anxiety to have an interview at the earliest possible moment arose fare more probably from a hint or the hope, that he might obtain a text better than the one in hand, than from any desire to discuss one already received. What is certain is this: Beethoven did obtain from Weissenbach the poem "Der glorreiche Augenblick," and cast the other aside unfinished--as it remains to this day" [TF: 594-596].

Emperor Franz I of Austria

Thayer-Forbes [p. 596-597] then mentions that Beethoven first had to complete his Overture op. 115, which became known as the Namensfeier Overture, and that it was intended for this work to be dedicated to Emperor Franz I. There follows a thorough discussion regarding the reasons for a work of this kind having been composed at this time, and mention is made of the connection of the general polulation to their rulers, since both, in their struggle against Napoleon, were, so-to-say, "sitting in one boat" and had formed a special kind of alliance. The fact that the same rulers ultimately did not grant their subjects the hoped-for freedoms is, as Thayer-Forbes argues, an entirely different matter. Following this, reasons are listed as to why the work was not yet performed in 1814, after all:

"From the "first of the Wine-month" (October 1) to the name-day there remained three days for copying and rehearsal. The theatre had been closed on the 29th and 30th of September, to prepare for a grand festival production of Spontini's La Vestale on Saturday evening, October 1st; but for the evening of the name-day, Tuesday the 4th, Fidelio [its 15th performance) was selected. It was obviously the intention of Beethoven to do homage to Emperor Franz, by producing his new overture as a prelude on this occasion. What, then, prevented? Seyfried answers this question. He writes: "For the year's celebration of the name-day His Majesty, the Empreror, Kotzebue's allegorigal festival play, Die hundertjährigen Eichen had been ordered. Now, as generally happens, this decision was reached so late that I, as the composer, was allowed only three days, and two more for studying and rehearsing all the choruses, dances, marches, groupings, etc." This festival play was on the 3rd and rendered the necessary rehearsal for Beethoven's overture impossible.--Nottebohm, however, dates the last sketches for the "Namensfeier" Overture in early 1814 and thus believes that the date on the autograph refers not to the completion of the work, as Thayer had believed, but to the date when Beethoven began to write out his fair copy. Kinsky-Halm concludes from this line of reasoning that the piece was not performed in 1814 because it has not been completed. At any rate, for some reasons the overture was not completed until March, 1815" [TF: 597].

In connection with the mention of the last Fidelio performance on October 9, 1814, Thayer-Forbes quotes Tomaschek's and Beethoven's conversation about the then still very young composer Giacomo Meyerbeer at great length, which, however, is not relevant to our discussion here. Rather, let us take a look at the following which also confirms Beethoven's sense of humour:

Beethoven in 1814

"Oh, God, what a curse it is to have a face like mine"


"Another consequence of Beethoven's sudden popularity, was the publication of a new engraving of him by Artaria, the crayon drawing for which was executed by Latronne, a French artist then in Vienna. Blasius Höfel, a young man of 22 years, was employed to engrave it. He told the writer,[26 June 23, 1860, in Salzburg (TDR III, 437, B.I) how very desirous he was of producing a good likeness--a matter of great importance to the young artist-- but that Latronne's drawing was not a good one, probably for want of a sufficient number of sittings. Höfel often saw Beethoven at Artaria's and, when his work was well advanced, asked him for a sitting or two. The request was readily granted. At the time set, the engraver appeared with his plate. Beethoven seated himself in position and for perhaps five minutes remained reasonably quiet; then suddenly springing up went to the pianoforte and began to extemporize, to Höfel's great annoyance. The servant relieved his embarrassment by assuring him that he could now seat himself near the instrument and work at his leisure, for his master had quite forgotten him and no longer knew that anyone was in the room. This Höfel did; wrougth so long as he wished, and then departed with not the slightest notice from Beethoven. The result was so satisfactory, that only two sittings of less than one hour each were needed. It is well known that Höfel's is the best of all the engravings made of Beethoven. In 1851, Alois Fuchs showed to the writer his great collection, and when he came to this, explaimed with strong emphasis: "Thus I learned to know him!"

Höfel in course of the conversation unconsciously corroborated the statement of Madame Streicher, as reported by Schindler, in regard to Beethoven's wretched condition in 1812-13. The effect upon him of his pecuniary embarrassments, his various disappointments, and of a mind ill at ease, was very plainly to be seen in his personal habits and appearance. He was at that time much accustomed to dine at an inn where Höfel often saw him in a distant corner, at a table, which though large was avoided by the other guests owing to the very uninviting habits into which he had fallen; the particulars may be omitted. Not infrequently he departed without paying his bill, or with the remark that his brother would settle it; which Carl Caspar did. He had grown so negligent of his person as to appear there sometimes positively "schmutzig" (dirty). Now, however, under the kind care of the Streichers, cheered and inspirited by the glory and emolument of the past eight months, he became his better self again; and--though now and to the end, so careless and indifferent in more externals as occasionally to offend the sensitivities of very nice and fastidious people--he again, as before quoted from Czerny, "paid attention to his appearance" [TF: 589-590].

Beethoven also discussses this picture in his following letter to his friend Zmeskall and to a Mr. Huber:


                                                                                  Beethoven an Nikolaus Zmeskall

                                                                                                                                                                                 [Wien, Herbst 1814][1]

Ich kann weder für das Glück (Wenn der maler es dafür hält) daß er mich gezeichnet, weder für das unglück, daß er mich verzeichnet - da ihm aber so viel an meinem Gesicht, welches wirklich nicht einmal so Viel bedeutet, g(e)legen, so will ich ihm in Gottes Namen sizen, obschon ich das Sizen für eine Art von Buße halte - nun so sey's doch - wie ihnen aber so viel dran gelegen, das begreife ich kaum, wills auch nicht begreifen -

Vale domanovetz


o gott, was ist man geplagt, wenn man ein so fatales Gesicht hat, wie ich.

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 748, S. 65-66; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Sammlung Bodmer BBr69; zu [1]: laut GA war die Datierung des Briefes durch Kastner-Kapp [Nr. 947] und Anderson [Nr. 1001] mit 1819 zu spät, da der enge Kontakt Beethovens mit Zmeskall 1817 endete].

                                                                                  Beethoven to Nikolaus Zmeskall

                                                                                                                                                                                 [Wien, Herbst 1814][1]

I am neither responsible for the luck, if the painter considers it such, nor for the misfortune of his misportraying me - however, since he holds such stakes in my face, even if it does not mean that much to him, I shall, in God's name, sit for him, although I consider sitting as some kind of penance - thus it shall be - however, why you are that interested in it, I can hardly understand and do not wish to understand -

Vale domanovetz


O God, what a curse it is to have a face like mine.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter no. 748, p. 65-66; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection BBr69; to [1]: pursuant to the GA, the dating of the letter by Kastner-Kapp [No. 947] and Anderson [No. 1001] in 1819 was too late, since Beethoven's close ties with Zmeskall ended in 1817].

Beethoven an Herrn Huber[1]

                                                                                                                                                                             [Wien, ab Herbst 1814[2]

Hier mein Werther Huber erhalten sie meinen Versprochenen Kupferstich, da Sie es selbst der Mühe werth hielten, ihn von mir zu verlangen, so darf ich wohl nicht fürchten, einer Eitelkeit hierin beschuldigt werden zu können -

Leben sie wohl und denken sie zuweilen gern ihres Sie wahrhaft achtenden Freundes

                                                                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen

An Seine Wohlgebohrn Herrn Von Huber.(allhier)

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 749, S. 66-67; Original; Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Sammlung Bodmer Br. 157; zu [1]:: verweist darauf, dass der Adressat laut GA nicht identisch ist mit Franz Xaver Huber, dem Textdichter von Beethovens Oratorium Christus am Ölberg op. 85; zu [2]: verweist darauf, dass dem vorliegenden Schreiben der Stich von Blasius Höfel nach der Bleistiftzeichung von Louis Letronne beilag].

Beethoven to Mr. Huber[1]

                                                                                                                                                                             [Wien, ab Herbst 1814[2]

Here my dear Mr. Huber you receive the promised etching, since you, yourself took the trouble of requesting it from me, I may not have to fear to be accused of vanity -

Farewell and sometimes think of your friend who truly values you

                                                                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen

To his Well-born Mr. Von Huber.(here)

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 749, p. 66-67; Original; Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection Br. 157; to [1]: refers to the fact that the recipient, according to the GA, is not identical with Franz Xaver Huber, the writer of the text to Beethoven's Oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives op. 85; to [2]: refers to the fact that this letter was accompanied by the etching by Blasius Höfel, based on the pencil drawing by Louis Letronne].


Op. 136 "Der Glorreiche Augenblick"

In the meantime, Beethoven's work on the Canata, Op. 136, "Der glorreiche Augenblick", due to his receiving the text from Weissenbach at about the end of September 1814, had progressed far enough for it to be featured at several concerts:

"Beethoven had announced a grand concert for November 20, in the large Redoutensaal but advertisements in the Wiener Zeitung of the 18th postponed it till November 22nd, then till the 27th, and finally till the 29th. On November 30th, the newspaper reports: "At noon yesterday, Hr. Ludwig v. Beethoven gave all music lovers an ecstatic pleasure. In the R.I. Redoutensaal he gave performances of his beautiful musical representation of Wellington's Battle at Vittoria, preceded by the symphony which had been composed as a companion piece. Between the two works an entirely new . . . cantata, Der glorreiche Augenblick." One would like to know what Beethoven said when he read this; for the symphony supposed by the writer to be composed as companion piece (Begleitung) to the "Wellington's Victory" was the magnificent Seventh!

The solo singers in the Cantata were Mme. Milder, Dem. Bondra, Hr. Wild and Hr. Forti, all of whom sang well, and Mme. Milder wonderfully. "The two Empresses, the King of Prussia" and other royalties were present and "the great hall was crowded. Seated in the orchestra were to be seen the foremost virtuosi, who were in the habit of showing their respect for him and art by taking part in Beethoven's Akademies." All the contemporary notices agree as to the enthusiastic reception of the Symphony and the Battle, and that the Cantata, notwithstanding the poverty of the text, was, on the whole, worthy of the composer's reputation and contained some very fine numbers. The concert, with precisely the same programme, was repeated in the same hall on Friday, December 2nd, for Beethoven's benefit--nearly half the seats being empty! Ang again in the evening of the 25th for the benefit of the St. Mark's Hospital, when, of course, a large audience was present. Thus the Cantata was given three times in four weeks, and probably Spohr, who was still in Vienna, played in the orchestra; yet he gravely asserts in his autobiography that "the work was not performed at that time" [TF 599-600].

The following sequence of letters might shed a light on the reasons for the delay:


                                                                               Graf Ferdinand Palffy an Beethoven

                                                                                                                                                                          [Wien, 26. November 1814]

[Laut GA verlangt Graf Palffy unter Hinweis auf die mehrmalige Terminverschiebung und die damit verbundenen Einnahmeverluste der Hofoper die Hälfte des Ertrages der für den 29. November 1814 im großen Redoutensaal vorgesehenen Akademie.]

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 755, S. 76; Original nicht bekannt, erschlossen aus der Erwähnung in Brief Nr. 756].

                                                                               Graf Ferdinand Palffy to Beethoven

                                                                                                                                                                          [Wien, November 26, 1814]

[According to the GA, Count Palffy asks, by referring to several delays with respect to this performance and the losses for the Court Oper arising from this, for half of the profits of the academy scheduled for November 29, 1814, in the large Redoutensaal.]

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 755, p. 76; Original not known, derived from the mention in Letter No. 756].



                                                              Fürst Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff[1] an Graf Ferdinand Palffy

                                                                                                                                                                               [Wien,] dt.27.Nov.1814.

An Se. des k.k. wirkl. geh. Raths, Kämmerers und Hoftheaterdirektors, Herrn Grafen Ferd. von Palffy Excell[enz].

Auf Wunsch Ihrer kaiserl. Hoheit, der Frau Großfürstin von Rußland, Erbprinzessin zu Sachsen-Weimar[2], Höchstwelche verhindert gewesen wären, das auf heute angekündigt gewesene Concert des van Beethoven zu besuchen, hat derselbe es auf künftigen Dienstag den 29. dieses verlegt.

Nach einem eingesehenen Schreiben E[uer] E.[xcellenz] vom gestrigen Datum,[3] finden Sie dieses Aufschubes wegen von dem Concertgeber statt des Anfangs geforderten Drittheiles der Einnahme die Hälfte zu verlangen.

Wenn bey einer Gelegenheit, bey welcher es sich um die Beförderung der Kunst handelt, die Forderung eines Drittheiles von einer aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach sehr ergiebigen Einnahme sehen Jedermann in Verwunderung setzen muß, würde die weitere, ohne irgend einen hinreichenden Grund so sehr erhöhte Forderung ganz sicher einen noch weit ungünstigeren Eindruck und eine, dem Ansehen der k.k. Hoftheaterdirection nachtheilige Meynung über deren Kunstsinn[4] hervorbringen.

Obschon ich nun in dieser Hinsicht keinen Einfluß auf den vorliegenden Gegenstand zu nehmen habe; glaube ich E. in der Erwägung, daß es hier nicht nur um die Unterstützung eines ausgezeichneten Künstlers, auf dessen Besitz Wien stolz seyn darf, zu thun ist, sondern höhere Rücksichten eintretten, indem der Aufschub auf Verlangen obgedacht Ir. kaiserl. Hoheit eingetretten, und selbst von Ir.M. der Kaiserin gewunschen worden ist, E. bemerken zu sollen, daß eine so sehr überspannte Forderung allerhöchst[en] Orts nicht anders als mißfällig aufgenommen werden könnte, und es daher um so mehr bey der ersten Bedingung verbleiben dürfte, als diese schon der Aufnahme der Kunst überhaupt ungünstig, und für den Konzertgeber lästig genug ist, auch vormals bey derley Gelegenheiten nie so große Beträge gefordert worden sind.


ad M. Serenss

Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 756, S. 76-77; Original: nicht bekannt, Text laut GA nach dem Konzept Ignaz Mosels; zu [1]: verweist auf Fürst Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff, seit 1807 Obersthofmeister, und in dieser Eigenschaft für die Festveranstaltungen am Wiener Kongress verantwortlich; zu [2]: verweist auf Großfürstin Maria. Laut GA ist die Akademie einem Bericht der österreichischen Geheimpolizei vom 30.11.1814 auf Wunsch der Engländer, wohl aus religiösen Gründen, verlegt worden; zu [3]: verweist auf Brief Nr. 755, der laut GA nicht überliefert ist; zu [4]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA die Passage in spitzen Klammern an der Seite nachgetragen und später gestrichen wurde; zu [5]: verweist auf Ignaz Franz Mosel, Hofsekretär im k.k. Obersthofmeisteramt in Wien].


                                                              Prince Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff[1] to Count Ferdinand Palffy

                                                                                                                                                                               [Wien,] dt.27.Nov.1814.

To the R.I. true Privy Council, Chamberlain and Court Theatre Director, Count Ferd. von Palffy, Excell[ence].

At the request of Her Imperial Highness, Grand Princess of Russia, Heiress to Sachse-WEimar[2], who would have been prevented to visit the Concert of van Beethoven that was scheduled for today, the latter has postponed it to the 29th.

Pursuant to a letter of yesterday by Your E.[xcellency] that I have read,[3] you find it necessary, due to the delay of the Concert by its initiator, to ask for half of the proceeds instead of for one third.

If, at an occasion at which we are dealing with supporting the arts, the request of one third of the proceeds must startle everyone, a further, increased request, without sufficient reason, would result in a far more unfavorable opinion, harming the reputation of the R.I. Court Theatre Direction regarding its positive attitude towards the arts.

Although I, in this respect, do not have any influence over the subject on hand, I believe that Your E., considering, that in this case, we are not only dealaing with supporting an excellent artist, whose working in Vienna the city can be proud of, but rather that further, higher considerations exist, since the delay happened due to the request of Her Imperial Highness and was even asked for by Her Majesty the Empress as a prudent measure, to draw the attention of Your E. to the fact that such an excessive request could, in the highest circles, only be considered with disfavor, so that matters should remain with the first arrangement, since even that is, with respect to the reception of art, very unfortunate, and for the concert initiator very troublesome, and since in the past, at similar occasions, such large sums have never been requested.


ad M. Serenss

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 756, p. 76-77; Original: not known, text, pursuant to the GA, according to a draft by Ignaz Mosel; to [1]: refers to Prince Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff, from 1807 on R.I. Chief Chamberlain and, in this capacity, responsible for the festivities at the Congress of Vienna; to [2]: refers to the Grand Princess Maria. According to the GA, the Academy was postponed, pursuant to a report by the Austrian Secret Police dated Nov. 30, 1814, due to a request made by the British, probably on religious grounds; to [3]: refers to Letter No. 755, which, according to the GA, has not been preserved; to [4]: refers, pursuant to the GA, to the fact that the passage has been added in pointed brackets and was later erased; to [5]: refers to Ignaz Franz Mosel, Court Secretary at the R.I. Office of the Chief Chamberlain in Vienna].


                                                          Graf Ferdinand Palffy an Fürst Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff

[Wien, 29. November 1814]

Daß ich entschlossen habe, die k.k. Hoftheater Pachtung neuerdings und zwar mit einer so grossen Schuldenlast zu übernehmen, geschah theils um den in verschiedenen Zeiten an mich gestellten Verlangen Sr. M. des Kaisers Folge zu leisten, zu gleicher Zeit aber auch weil ich in der Hoftheater Direkzion Ressourcen sah, die Niemand vor mir benutzte. - Grosse musikalische Meisterwerke in den Redouten Sälen von denen ganz vereinigten Opern und Orchester Personale in den Mittags Stunden von Zeit zu Zeit ausführen zu lassen, ist eine dieser Ressourcen, von der ich mir grossen Erfolg, dem Pubikum aber hohen Kunstgenuß versprach.

Seit mehreren Monaten hatte ich den Vorsaz, besonders um den anwesenden Fremden ausgezeichnete Musiken hören zu lassen, den Judas Maccabäus, und Timotheus[1] zu geben; daß ich die Redouten Säle durch sehr lange Zeit nicht benuzen konnte, ist Euer Fürstlichen Gnaden am beßten bekant, so wie die vielen Hindernisse, die ich zu beseitigen habe; nun endlich hätten dazu Produkzionen möglich gemacht werden können, und bloß deshalb weil ich glaubte den anwesenden höchsten Herrschaften durch das Meisterstück Beethovens einen anziehenden Genuß zu verschaffen, und unter einem den mir sehr werthen Künstler besonders nüzlich zu werden, trug ich ihm durch Professor Weissenbach an, die Cantate[2] und die Schlacht von Vittoria[3] gegen dem mehhremale zu geben, daß er und die Direkzion jedesmal den halben Ertrag theilen sollten.

Ich machte diesen Vorschlag um so lieber, als jede andere Musik ganz zum Vortheil der Direkzion gewesen wäre.

Beethoven war damit zufrieden ich befahl alsogleich sein Werk einzustudiren, nun ward es seit mehreren Wochen immer verändert und hinausgeschoben;-Weigl, Treitschke, Maier[4] etc alle klagen unaufhörlich, daß deshalb weder die neue Oper von Weigl,[5] noch andere Opern probiert werden können, daß der Schaden unendlich sey etc-Ich bestand daher umso mehr auf dem halben Ertrag jeder Vorstellung nicht aber auf dem dritten Theil, wie er es in einem nachträglichen Brief[6] verlangt hat.-

Da aber nun in meinem Schreiben[7], von der lezten Verzögerung Erwähnung gemacht wurde, dazu durch die Frau Großfürstin Marie k. Hoheit veranlasst wurde, - stehe ich von ganzem Herzen alsogleich davon ab, und bey der Gewißheit, wenn die Theuerung und die übrigen Umstände so wie jezt bleiben, bis zum nächsten Sommer sicher ein für mich unerschwingliches deficit zu haben, - lasse ich mir alles gefallen;- so haben wenigstens andere gute Menschen, Vortheil davon![8] -

Verzeihen Euer Fürstlichen Gnaden die Weitläufigkeit; ich hielt es aber für meine Pflicht Sie ganz in Kenntniß zu sezen und bitte mir auch die schlechte Schrift - der Eile wegen bey zu vielerlei unangenehmen Gegenständen, die jeden Tag vorkommen, - zu gute zu halten.

Wien, d[en] 29ten 9ber 1814.

F.v.Palffy m.p.

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 757, S. 79-81; Original: Wien, Haus, Hof - und Staatsarchiv [Obersthofmeisteramt, Karton 209, 21.542 ex 1814]; zu [1]: verweist auf Oratorien von G.F. Händel; zu [2]: verweist auf Op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick; zu [3]: verweist auf Op. 91; zu [4]: verweist auf den Komponisten Joseph Weigl, den Hoftheaterdirektor Georg Friedrich Treitschke und den Sänger Sebastian Mayer; zu [5]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA dieser Brief nicht überliefert ist; zu [6]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA dieser Brief nicht überliefert ist; zu [7]: verweist darauf, dass der Satz "zu haben wenigstens..." später eingefügt wurde].

                                                          Count Ferdinand Palffy to Prince Ferdinand von Trauttmansdorff

[Vienna, November 29, 1814]

My reason for recently taking over the R.I. Court Theatre leasehold, and that with such a large burden of debt, happened partly on account of my wanting to comply with the wishes of His Majesty the Emperor conveyed to me at various times, at the same time, however, also due to the fact that in the Court Theatre Direction I saw resources that no-one has used before me. - To see great musical masterworks performed in the Redoutensäle by the opera and orchestra personnel during the noon hours, from time to time, is one of these resources of which I hoped for great success and for great enjoyment of the arts for the public.

For several months I had intended, particularly in order to let the foreigners present in Vienna hear excellent music, to have the 'Judas Maccabäus' and 'Timotheus'[1] performed; that I could not use the Redoutens&aul;le for a long time is well-known to Your Princely Grace, as well as the obstacles that I had to remove; now, finally, those productions could have been realized, and only since I wanted to provide the dignitaries present with the enjoyment of Beethoven's masterwork, and also since I wanted to be useful to an artist that I value very much, I asked him through Professor Weissenbach to have the Cantata[2] and the 'Battle at Vittoria[3] performed several times, whereby he and the Theatre Management would share the proceeds equally.

I made this suggestion even more so in light of the fact that any other musical performance would have been to the entire benefit of the Theatre Management.

Beethoven was satisfied with this and I immediately began to rehearse his work, but now, for several weeks, changes were made to it and it was postponed;-Weigl, Treitschke, Maier[4] etc, all are constantly complaining that neither the new opera by Weigl,[5] nor other operas could be rehearsed, that the loss was immeasurable etc-due to this I insisted on half of the proceeeds all the more, and not on a third, as he has requested in a subsequent letter[6].-

However, since, in my letter[7], mention was made of the last delay, which was caused by the Gand Princess, Her Royal Highness Marie,- I am foregoing it in all sincerity, and with the certainty that, if the inflation and all other circumstances remain as they are now, to run up a huge deficit for myself until next summer, - I will agree to everything; - in this way, at least, other good people will have an advantage from it![8] -

May Your Princely Grace forgive me for my lenghty explanation; however, I considered it my duty to inform you thoroughly and ask you also to forgive my bad handwriting on account of the hurry in the midst of unpleasant circumstances that occur every day.

Vienna, t[he] 29th of 9ber 1814.

F.v.Palffy m.p.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 757, p. 79-81; Original: Vienna, House, Court, and State Archives [Office of the Chief Chamberlain, Box 209, 21.542 ex 1814]; to [1]: refers to the Oratorios by G.F. Handel; to [2]: refers to Op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick; to [3]: refers to Op. 91; to [4]: refers to the composer Joseph Weigl, the Court Theatre Director Georg Friedrich Treitschke and the singer Sebastian Mayer; to [5]: refers to the fact that this letter, according to the GA, has not been preserved; to [6]: refers to the fact that, pursuant to the GA, this letter has not been preserved; to [7]: refers to the fact that the sentenct "zu haben wenigstens..." was inserted later].

Also the following letter by Beethoven to Josef Mayseder is connected to one of these concerts, namely that of December 2, 1814:


                                                                                    Beethoven an Joseph Mayseder[1]

                                                                                                                                                         [Wien, etwa am 30. November 1814[2]

Herr von Mayseder hoffe ich, wird auch dieses mal mir meine Bitte nicht abschlagen, mich durch sein schönes Talent zu unterstüzen,[3] nur die Vollkommenheit, die ich meinen Werken, durch die Aufführung zu geben wünsche, wird mich entschuldigen, demselben [sic] beschwerlich fallen zu müßen.

                                                                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 758, S. 81; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Sammlung Bodmer BBr 28; zu [1]: verweist auf den Violinisten und Komponisten Joseph Mayseder, einen Schüler Schuppanzighs, der zu den namhaften Künstlern gehörte, die im Dezember 1813 und Anfang 1814 in Beethovens Akademien mitgewirkt hatten; zu [2]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA nach Frimmels Argumentation sich der Vermerk auf der Rückseite des Briefes auf Beethovens Akademie vom 2.12.1814 bezog; zu [3]: verweist laut GA auf die Akademie vom 2.12.1814 und darauf, dass Mayseder wahrscheinlich bereits am 29.11.1814 mitgewirkt hatte].

                                                                                    Beethoven to Joseph Mayseder[1]

                                                                                                                                                         [Vienna, around November 30, 1814[2]

Herr von Mayseder, I hope. will also not refuse me my request this time to support me with his beautiful talent,[3] only the perfrection that I wish to give to my works through this performance will be an excuse for my imposing on him.

                                                                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 758, p. 81; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection BBr 28; to [1]: refers to the violinist and composer, a pupil of Schuppanzigh who belonged to the noteworthy pupils who, in December 1813 and at the beginning of 1814, took part in Beethoven's Acacemy concerts; to [2]: refers to the fact that, pursuant to the GA, based on Frimmel's argument that the note on the back side of this letter refers to the Academy concert of December 2, 1814; to [3]: refers, according to the GA, to the Academy concert of December 2, 1814 and to the fact that, perhaps, Mayseder had already performed at the concert of November 29, 1814].

As TDR III reports, Beethoven's benefit concert of December 2, 1814, was not very well attended, while that of December 25, 1814, for the benefit of the St. Mark Hospital had found a larger audience:

"Die Solisten in der Kantate »Der glorreiche Augenblick« waren Mad. Milder, Dem. Bondra, Herr Wild und Herr Forti; sie sangen sämtlich gut, die Milder wundervoll. »Die beiden Kaiserinnen, der König von Preußen« und andere »der höchsten Herrschaften« waren anwesend, und »der große Saal war durchaus angefüllt. In dem zahlreichen Orchester bemerkte man die ersten Virtuosen, die durch ihre Theilnahme an Beethoven's Akademien ihre Achtung gegen ihn und die Kunst zu bezeigen pflegen.« Alle gleichzeitigen Berichte stimmen bezüglich der enthusiastischen Aufnahme der Symphonie und der Schlacht überein, sowie auch darin, daß die Kantate, trotz der Armut des Textes, im Ganzen genommen des Rufes des Komponisten würdig sei und einige sehr schöne Nummern enthalte.

Das Konzert wurde mit ganz demselben Programm in dem nämlichen Saale Freitag den 2. Dezember zu Beethovens Benefiz wiederholt; doch beinahe die Hälfte der Plätze war leer! Eine zweite Wiederholung fand am Abend des 25. zum Besten des S. Markus-Hospitals statt, wo natürlich eine große Zuhörerschaft anwesend war. So wurde die Kantate innerhalb vier Wochen dreimal aufgeführt, und wahrscheinlich hat Spohr, der noch in Wien war, im Orchester mitgewirkt. Trotzdem versichert er mit Bestimmtheit in seiner Selbstbiographie (I, 197), das Werk sei damals nicht zur Aufführung gekommen" [TDR III: 462-463--

--TDR III notes here that the soloists of the Cantata, "Der glorreiche Augenblick" had been Mad. Milder, Dem. Bondra, Mr. Wild and Mr. Forti and that they all had sung well, and Mad. Milder even wonderful. "Both Empresses, the King of Prussia" and others of "the highest dignitaries" had been present, and "the great hall was quite full. In the large orchestra, one could pick out the noteworthy virtuosos who had, with their taking part in Beethoven's Academies, shown their respect for him and for art." As TDR III continues, all reports agreed that the symphony and the "Battle" were received enthusiastically and also that the Cantata, in spite of the poor text, overall, was worthy of the composer and contained some beautiful numbers.

TDR III further writes that the concert was repeated on December 2, 1814, but that half of the seats had remained empty. A second repetition, as is reported further, took place on December 25, for the benefit of the St. Mark Hospital, which was well-visited, of course. Thus, summarizes TDR III, the Cantata had been performed three times within four weeks, and perhaps Spohr, who was still in Vienna, had played in the Orchestra. However, he is reported as having noted in his autobiography that the work was not performed at that time].

Maynard Solomon sheds an interesting light on Beethoven's slowly dwindling popularity:

"Nothing could be more evanescent than such excessive adulation, especially as it was largely founded upon an artifical and atypical aspect of Beethoven's music. It was not surprising, therefore, that the rapidity of Beethoven's rise to popularity was matched by a correspondingly rapid decline, beginning at the end of 1814. Ironically, the first intimations of Beethoven's fall from grace conicided with the peak moment of his popularity--the concert of November 29 in the Redoutensaal, at which Der glorreiche Augenblick was heard for the first time, along with Wellington's Victory and the Seventh Symphony, before a large audience which included two empresses, the King of Prussia, and other eminences along with the foremost virtuosos of Vienna. The hall was filled, the concert was enthusiastically received, and two repeat concerts were scheduled. But at the repetition of the same program on December 2, nearly half of the seats were empty. The third proposed concert was abandoned, and Beethoven gave no public concert of his own benefit from then until May 1824" [Solomon: 225].

With respect to the Cantata, we can add some relevant letters from this time that Beethoven had written:


                                                                                Beethoven an Erzherzog Rudolph

                                                                                                                                                     [Wien, vor dem 25. Dezember 1814][1]

Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit!

Sie sind so gnädig mit mir, wie ich es auf keine weise je verdienen kann. - ich statte I.K.H. meinen Unterthänigsten Dank ab für ihre Gnädige Verwendung wegen meiner Angelegenheit in Prag.[2] - die Partitur von der Kantate[3] werde ich auf's pünktlichste besorgen - Wenn ich noch nicht zu I.K. Hoheit gekommen, so verzeihen sie mir schon gnädigst, nach dieser Akademie für die Armen[4] kommt einem im Theater gleichfalls zum besten des impressario in augustia[5], weil man so viel rechtliche Scham empfunden hat, mir das Drittheil und die Hälfte nachzulaßen[6] - hiefür habe ich einiges neue im werden[7] - Dann handelt sich's um eine neue oper; - wo ich mit dem Sujet dieser Tage zu stande komme[8] - dabey bin ich auch wieder nicht recht wohl - aber in einigen Tägen frage ich mich bey I.K.H. an, wenn ich nur auch helfen könnte, so wäre einer der ersten u. sehnlichsten Wünsche meines Lebens erfüllt. -

Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit treuester Gehorsamster

                                                                                                                                                                          Ludwig van Beethowen

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 760, S. 82-83; Original: Wien, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde; zu [1]: verweist darauf, dass der Brief laut GA vor der Wohltätigkeitsakademie vom 25.12.1814 geschrieben wurde, die wohl kurz bevorstand und als Entschuldigungsgrund für Beethovens Fernbleiben angegeben wird; zu [2]: verweist laut GA darauf, dass der Erzherzog an Graf Kolowrat, den Mitvormund der minderjährigen Söhne des Fürsten Kinsky geschrieben hatte und sich für Beethovens Gehaltsansprüche eingesetzt hatte; zu [3]: verweist auf Op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick und darauf, dass Beethoven dem Erzherzog die Partitur mit Brief Nr. 761 überreichte; zu [4]: verweist auf die Akademie vom 25.12. 1814, deren Einnahmen dem Bürgerspital St. Marx bestimmt waren; zu [5]: verweist auf den Titel einer Oper von Domenico Cimarosa und darauf, dass die Akademie nicht zustandekam; zu [6]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA der Direktor des Hoftheaters, Graf Palffy, anfangs ein Drittel, später sogar die Hälfte der Einnahmen von Beethovens Akademien vom 29.11. und 2.12.1814 verlangt hatte, dann aber infolge der Rüge des Obersthofmeisters, Fürst von Trauttmansdorff, auf eine Gewinnbeteiligung verzichtet hatte; zu [7]: verweist laut GA darauf, dass Beethoven möglicherweise an die Ouvertüre Zur Namensfeier, op. 115, die er zugunsten der Kantate op. 136 zurückgestellt hatte, sowie an die schon früher begonnene Kantate Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt op. 112 und vor allem an ein Klavierkonzert in D-Dur, das aber unvollendet blieb, dachte; zu [8]: verweist laut GA auf Treitschkes Oper Romulus und Remus, die Beethoven jedoch nicht vertonte].

                                                                                Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph

                                                                                                                                                     [Vienna, prior to December 25, 1814][1]

Your Imperial Highness!

You are so gracious towards me, in a way that I shall hardly ever deserve. - I convey to Your I.H. my most humble gratitude for your Gracious intervention with respect to my matter in Prague.[2] - I shall take care of the score of the Cantata[3] in a most timely matter - if I have not yet visited Your I.H., please forgive me most graciously, after this Academy for the poor[4] comes in the theatre, also for the best of the impressario in augusta[5], since one had felt so much legal shame to grant me the third and the half[6] - for this, I have something new in the works[7]- then we are dealing with a new opera; - where I, these days, am dealing with the subject[8] - moreover, I am not feeling well - however, in a few days I shall call on Y.I.H., if I could only help, then this would see one of my first and most desired wishes of my life fulfilled. -

Your Imperial Highness' most faithful and obedient

                                                                                                                                                                          Ludwig van Beethowen

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 760, p. 82-83; Original: Vienna, Society of the Friends of Music; to [1]: refers to the fact that the letter, pusuant to the GA, was written prior to the benefit concert of December 25, 1814, that was to be held shortly and was used as an excuse for Beethoven not visiting the Archduke; to [2]: pursuant to the GA this refers to the fact that Archduke Rudolph had written to Count Kolowrat, the co-guardian of the sons of Prince Kinsky and had pleaded for Beethoven's annuity claims; to [3]: refers to Op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick and to the fact that with Letter No. 761, Beethoven had sent the score to the Archduke; to [4]: refers to the Academy concert of December 25, 1814, for the benefit of St. Mark's Hospital; to [5]: refers to the title of an opera by Domenico Cimarosa and to the fact that this Academy Concert was not held; to [6]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, the Director of the Court Theatre, Count Palffy, had initially asked for a third, and later even for half of the profits of Beethoven's Academy concerts of November 29 and December 2, 1814, but then, based on the rebuke by the Chief Chamberlain, Prince von Trauttmansdorff, had given up his claim; to [7]: according to the GA, this refers to the possibility that Beethoven had thought of the Overture Zur Namensfeier, op. 115, that he had set aside in favor of the Cantata op. 136, as well as on the Cantata that he had begun even earlier, Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt op. 112 and, above all, of a piano concerto in D Major that remained unfinished, however; to [8]: according to the GA, this refers to Treitschke's opera Romulus und Remus, that Beethoven, however, did not compose].


                                                                                   Beethoven an Erzherzog Rudolph

[Wien, nach dem 25. Dezember 1814][1]

Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit!

Meine Größten Dank für ihr Geschenk - ich bedaure nur, daß sie nicht an der Musick Antheil nehmen konnten[2] - ich habe die Ehre ihnen hier die Partitur der Kantate[2] zu übermachen - Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit können sie merere Täge bey sich behalten, hernach werde ich sehn, daß sie so geschwinde als möglich für Sie kopiert werde[4] - noch erschöpft von Strapazen, Verdruß, Vergnügen und Freude alles auf einmal durcheinander werde ich die Ehre haben, I.K.H. in einigen Tägen aufzuwarten - ich hoffe günstige Nachrichten von dem Gesundheitszustand I.K.H., wie gern wollte ich viele Nächte ganz opfern, wenn ich im Stande wäre, Sie gänzlich wiederherzustellen -

Ihro Kaiserliche Hoheit Gehorsamster treuster Diener

ludwig van Beethowen

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 761, S. 83-84; Original: Wien, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde; zu [1]: verweist laut GA darauf, dass der Brief nach der Akademie vom 25.12.1818 geschrieben wurde; zu [2]: verweist laut GA auf die Akademie im großen Redoutensaal zugunsten des Bürgerspitals St. Marx vom 25.12.1812; zu [3]: verweist auf op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick, zu [4]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA eine Abschrift von op. 136 aus dem Besitz des Erzherzogs nicht nachweisbar ist].

                                                                                   Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph

[Vienna, after December 25, 1814][1]

Your Imperial Highness!

My greatest thanks for your gift - I only regret that you could not take part in the music[2] - I have the honour of sending you the score to the Cantata[2] - Your Imperial Highness can keep it for several days, after that I shall see to it that it will copied for you as quickly as possible[4] - still exhausted from stress, trouble, pleasure and joy, everything at once, I shall have the honour of calling on Y.I.H. in a few days - I am hoping for good news regarding the health of Y.I.H., how much would I like to sacrifice many nights if I were able to restore you completely -

Your Imperial Highness' most obedient and faithful servant

ludwig van Beethowen

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 761, p. 83-84; Original: Vienna, Society of the Friends of Music; to [1]: according to the GA, this refers to the fact that the letter was written after the Academy Concert of December 25, 1814; to [2]: according to the GA, this refers to the Academy Concert in the Large Redoutensaal for the benefit of the St. Mark's Hospital on December 25, 1814; to [3]: refers to op. 136, Der glorreiche Augenblick, to [4]: pursuant to the GA this refers to the fact that a copy of op. 136 can not be proven as having existed].

Beethoven an Johann Baptist Rupprecht[1]

[Wien, 30. Dezember 1814][2]

Seit dem Tag liegt schon[3] wo sie mir geschrieben[4] liegt schon dashonorar für dr. Weißenbach bereit,[5] allein erstens nicht wohl und doch dabey sehr beschäftigt und unvermeidlich, wollte ich immer zu ihnen selbst kommen, es ihnen einzuhändigen - ich bitte sie für diesen Augenblick nur mir schriftlich zu geben, daß sie die 300 fl. honorar für dr. weißenbach empfangen haben - da die Unkosten sich auf 5108 fl. belaufen,[6] konnte ich nicht mehr thun - der Verdruß und der Kampf, der hier bey jedem wirken und Emporstreben begleitet ist, ist nicht zu bezahlen!!!!!!

ihr Freund und diener


ihr schönes Lied erhalten sie nächsten Notirt mit Noten[7] -

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 762, S. 84-85; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Sammlung Bodmer BR 206; zu [1]: laut GA spricht für Johann Baptist Rupprecht als Empfänger das am Ende des Briefes erwähnte Lied, s. Anm. 7; zu [2]: verweist auf Datierung entspechend dem Empfangsvermerk; zu [3]: verweist darauf, dass Beethoven die Wortfolge umstellen wollte; zu [4]: verweist darauf, dass dieser Brief nicht überliefert ist; zu [5]: verweist auf das Honorar für den Text zur Kantate Der glorreiche Augenblick op. 136; zu [6]: verweist laut GA wahrscheinlich auf die Unkosten für die Akademien vom 29.11., 2.12. und 25.12.1814, bei denen op. 136 aufgeführt wurde; zu [7]: verweist laut GA wahrscheinlich auf Merkenstein op. 100].

Beethoven to Johann Baptist Rupprecht[1]

[Vienna, December 30, 1814][2]

Since the day there has been lying here[3] where you have written to me[4], the fee for Dr. Weissenbach is ready,[5] alone not having been well and busy at the same time and unavoidably so, I wanted to come and see you, myself in order to hand it over to you - for the moment, I am only asking you to give it to me in writing that you have received the 300 fl. for Dr. Weissenbach - since the expenses amounted to 5108 fl.[6] I could not do more - the trouble and the struggle that accompanies every endeavour here is priceless!!!!!!

Your friend and servant


your beautiful song you will receive at the next opportunity noted with notes[7] -

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 762, p. 84-85; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection BR 206; to [1]: according to the GA, for Johann Baptist Rupprecht as recipient speaks the mentioning of the song at the end of the letter, see 7; to [2]: refers to the dating of the letter pursuant to the note by the recipient; to [3]: refers to the fact that Beethoven wanted to change the sequence of these words; to [4]: refers to the fact that this letter has not been preserved; to [5]: refers to the fee for the text to the Cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick op. 136; to [6]: according to the GA, this probably refers to the costs for the Academies of Nov. 29, Dec. 2 and 25, 1814, at which op. 136 was performed; to [7]: pursuant to the GA, this probably refers to Merkenstein op. 100].


After the benefit concert of December 25, 1814, as Thayer-Forbes reports, one of Beethoven's most important patrons experienced the following misfortune:

Count Razumovsky

"The role which Razumovsky played in Vienna at this time was one of unparalleled brilliance. From the first weeks of the Congress his house was full. Thus Gentz notes under date Sept. 18: 'Visited Raxumovsky; there innumerable visitors, among others Lord and Lady Castlereagh, Count Münster, Count Westphalen, Mr. Coke, the Marquis de Saint-Marsaon, Count Castellafu, all the Prussians, etc.' But as balls soom became the order of the day and Count Stackelberg had given his on October 20, 1814, when the Czar and Czarina of Russia, the King of Prussia and other grandees of all kinds appeared, he also planned one for December 6, and Gentz, who permitted himself the magical vision for only a moment and had to work that night till two o'clock on his dispatches, assures us that this feast was the most beautiful of all that he had attended since the arrival of the French monarch. It was only overshadowed by that which Czar Alexander gave in the same palace, which he borrowed for the occasion from his princely subject.

Turn we to Schindler: "The end of the second period [in Beethoven's life] showed us the composer on a plane of celebrity which may fairly be described as one of the loftiest ever reached by a musician in the course of his artistic strivings. Let us not forget that it was the fruit of twenty years of tireless endeavor. The great moment in the history of the world with which this celebration of his fame was synchronous could not fail to give the incident a brilliancy unparalleled in the history of music. The apparent extravagance of the statement is pardonable when we add that nearly all the rulers of Europe who met at the Vienna Congress placed their seals on our master's certificate of fame.

. . . There he was the object of general attention on the part of all the foreigners; for it is the quality of creative genius combined with a certain heroism, to attract the attention of all noble natures. Shall we not call it heroism, when we see the composer fighting against prejudices of all kinds, traditional notions in respect of his art, envy, jealousy and malice on the part of the mass of musicians, and besides this against the sense, his hearing, most necessary to him in the practice of his art, and yet winning the exalted position which he occupies? No wonder that all strove to do him homage. He was presented by Prince [Count] Razumovsky to the assembled monarchs, who made known their respect for him in the most flattering terms. The Empress of Russia tried in particular to be complimentary to him. The introduction took place in the rooms of Archduke Rudolph, in which he was also greeted by other personages. It would seem as if the Archduke was desirous always to take part in the celebration of his great teacher's triumph by inviting the distinguished foreigners to meet Beethoven. It was not without emotion that the great master recalled those days in the Imperial castle and the palace of the Russian Prince; and once he told with a certain pride how he had suffered the crowned heads to pay court to him and had always borne himself with an air of distinction" [TF: 600-601].

The Razumovsky Palace in Vienna

Thayer-Forbes [p. 601-602] then argues that Beethoven received the Congress dignitaries at the Razumovsky Palace and after it had burned down, at the Vienna Hofburg at the apartments of Archduke Rudolph. The tragic event regarding the Razumovsky Palace is reported as follows:

" . . . Huge as the palace was, it lacked space for the crowds invited thither to the Czar's festivities. A large temporary structure of wood was therefore added on the side next the garden, in which, on the evening of December 30th, a table for 700 guests was spread. Between five and six o'clock of the morning of the 31st, this was discovered to be on fire--probably owing to a defective flue--the conflagration extending to the main building and lasting until noon.

"Within the space of a few hours several rooms in this gorgeous establishment, on which for 20 years its creator had expended everything that splendor, artistic knowledge and liberality could offer, were prey for the raging flames. Among them were the precious library and the inestimable Canova room completely filled with sculptures by this master, which were demolished by the falling of the ceiling.

"The loss was incalculable. To rebuild the palace out of his own means was not to be thought of; but Alexander lost no time in offering his assistance and in sending Prince Wolkonski to him to learn how much money would be required to defray the princiap cost. The Count estimated it at 400,000 silver rubles, which sum he requested as a loan, and received on January 24, 1815. But the sum was for from enough, and in order to obtain further loans, ownership of the splendid building had to be sacrificed."

And thus Razumovsky also passes out of our history" [TF 601-602].

Varnhagen von Ense

Thayer-Forbes then discusses Beethoven's somewhat cooler relations with Varnhagen von Ense and the Vienna stay of the latter:

"Among the visitors to Vienna at the time of the Congress was Varnhagen von Ense, who had gone into the diplomatic service; he came in the company of the Prussian Chancellor von Hardenberg. His attitude toward Beethoven had cooled--probably because of Oliva's complaints touching Beethoven's behavior towards him. His brief report of the meeting with the composer derives some interest from the allusion to Prince Radziwill, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Overture, Op. 115 [which was not published until 1825]. The report [printed in Varnhagen's Denkwürdigkeiten, Vol. III, pp. 314-15] is as follows: "Musical treats were offered on all hands, concerts, the church, opera, salon, virtuosi and amateurs all gave of their best. Prince Anton Radziwill, who was already far advanced in his composition of Goethe's Faust and here gave free rein to his musical inclinations, was the cause of my again looking up my sturdy Beethoven, who, however, since I saw him last had grown more deaf and unsociable, and was not to be persuaded to gratify our wishes. He was particularly averse to our notables and gave expression to his repugnance with angry violence. When reminded that the Prince was the brother-in-law of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, whose early death he had so deeply deplored and whose compositions he esteemed high, he yielded a trifle and agreed to the visit. But it is not likely that a more intimate acquaintance followed. I also refrained from taking the uncouth artist to Rahel, for society rendered him obstreperous and nothing could be done with him alone, nothing could be done unless he was disposed to play. Besides, though famous and honored, he was not yet on that pinnacle of recognition which he has since attained" [TF: 602].

The next topic Thayer-Forbes picks up is that of Beethoven's composition of "Merkenstein", that, according to Nottebohm, was completed in the fall of 1814, and moves on to discussing Beethoven's compositions that were related to his visit of Tsar Alexander I. and his wife, Elizabeth Alexejewna:

Tsar Alexander I.

Tsarina Elisabeth Alexejewna


"Among the sketches to the Glorreiche Augenblick appears the theme of the Polonaise for Pianoforte, Op. 89, the story of which is as follows: In a conversation with Beethoven one day, Bertolini suggested to him that, as polonaises were then so much in vogue, he should compose one and dedicate it to the Empress of Russia; for, perhaps, thereby he might also obtain some acknowledgement from Emperor Alexander for the dedication to him of the Violin Sonatas, Op. 30,--for none had ever been made. As usual, Beethoven at first scorned dictation, but at length thought better of the proposal, sat down to the pianoforte, improvised various themes and requested Bertolini to choose one, which he did. When it was completed, they waited upon Prince Wolkonski, to seek through him permission to make the proposed dedication, which was granted. At the appointed time Beethoven was admitted to an audience with the Empress and presented the Polonaise, for which he received a present of 50 ducats. On this occasion he was asked, if he had ever received anything from the Czar? As he had not, a hundred ducats was added for the Sonatas" [TF: 603].

With respect to the permission for the dedication of the Violin sonatas and the present of the Tsarina of 50 ducats to Beethoven, we can refer to the following correspondence:


                                                                                                                                                     Beethoven an einen Bekannten in Wien[1]

                                                                                                                                                      [Wien, Ende 1814/Anfang Januar 1815[2]

Werther Freund!

Wie sie es am besten finden, ich glaube aber beßer an fürst Narischkin[3] als an die Kaiserin zu schreiben, jedoch das Original davon aufzubewahren, daß man im Fall die Krankheit Narischkins fort währt, man sich an einen andern oder an die Kaiserin selbst wendet. Ihro Durchlaucht haben mir die sehr angenehme Nachricht ertheilen laßen, daß die Kaiserin mein kleines opfer mit wohlgefallen aufgenommen habe,[4] in so fern ist mein höchster wunsch erfüllt - aber wie sehr würde ich mich geehrt finden wenn ich der Welt es bekannt machen könnte, Theil daran nehmen laßen [drücken sie das alles beßer aus] dur[ch] vorsezung ihres Namens etc

da man die große Sinfonie in A[3] als eine der glücklichsten Produkte meiner schwachen Kräfte [sehr bescheiden<]> auszudrüken][ansieht] so würde ich mir die Freyheit nebst der der Polonaise auch diese im Klawierauszuge Sr. Majestät vorzulegen* -

deutliche Auseinandersezung daß man Wohl was kann[7] aber nichts will bey oder von der Rußischen Kaiserin -

sollten sr. Majestät mich wüschen spielen zu hören, wäre es mir die Höchste Ehre, doch muß ich im voraus um Nachsicht bitten, da ich mich seit mehrere[4] Zeit mehr bloß der Autorschaft (von Schaffen) widmete -

Kein Geschenk etc -

glauben sie, daß es beßer ist, in Form einer Bitte an die Kaiserin etc ???!?!! oder an Narischkin bittweise vortragen[8]

wenn ich nur so glücklich seyn könnte für ihro Majestät zu schreiben, wozu sich ihr Geschmack oder liebhaberey am meisten neigt.

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 766, S. 88-89; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; zu [1]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA Thayer [TDRIII, S. 487] und Mac Ardle/Misch Nikolaus Zmeskall für den Empfänger des Briefes halten, wogegen jedoch die Andrede spreche. Laut GA ist auch Frimmels und Andersons Identifizierung des Empfängers mit Baron Schweiger nicht zutreffend. Die GA verweist noch auf Fischman und dessen Vermutung in Bezug auf den Arzt Bertolini, der die Anregung zur Komposition der Polonaise op. 89 gegeben haben soll; zu [2]: verweist darauf, dass der Brief nach Fertigstellung der Polonaise op. 89 im Dezember und vor Brief Nr. 778 an Johann Nepomuk Kanka vom 14.1.1815 geschrieben wurde, in dem Beethoven laut GA vom "grosmüthigen Geschenk" der russischen Kaiserin berichtet; zu [3]: verweist darauf, dass Fürst Alexander Lwowitsch Narischkin als Oberkammerherr die russische Kaiserin Elisabeta Alexejewna zum Wiener Kongress begleitet hatte; zu [4]: verweist auf die Polonaise op. 89; zu [5]: verweist auf Op. 92; zu [6]: verweist darauf, dass laut GA dies offenbar auch geschehen ist; zu [7]: verweist auf dreifache Unterstreichung; zu [8]: verweist laut GA darauf, dass nach den von Otto Jahn aufgezeichneten Erinnerungen des Arztes Dr. Joseph Bertolini es Fürst Wolkonski war, der zwischen Beethoven und der Zarin vermittelte].

                                                                                                                                                     Beethoven to an acquaintance in Vienna[1]

                                                                                                                                                      [Vienna, late 1814/early January 1815[2]

Esteemed Friend!

As you will best see fit, but I believe it is better to write to Prince Narishkin[3] than to the Empress, but to keep the original so that, in the event that Narishkin's illness will take longer, one can turn to someone else or to the Empress, herself. Her Serene Highness has conveyed the pleasant news to me that my small gift has been gracefully accepted,[4] insofar, my greatest wish has been fulfilled - however, how honored would I find myself if I could let the world know about it, take part in it [please express this in a better manner] by setting her name to it etc

since one considers the great symphony in A[3] one of my most fortunate products of my weak forces [very modestly expressed], I would take the liberty of presenting it along with the Polonaise, in form of a piano reduction, to Her Majesty* -

clear discussion that one probably can do something but does not want to, on the part of the Russian Empress -

should her Majesty wish to hear me play, it would be my greatest honour, however, I have to apologize beforehand since for several years[4], I have only concerned myself with my authorship (of my creations) -

No present etc -

do you believe that it is better to present this in form of a petition to the Empress etc ???!?!! or to Narishkin[8]

if I could only be so happy as to write for Her Majesty what is best suited to her taste or inclination.

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 766, p. 88-89; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; to [1]: refers to the fact that, pursuant to the GA, Thayer [TDRIII, p. 487] and Mac Ardle/Misch consider Nikolaus Zmeskall as the recipient of this letter, against which, however, can be considered the manner of address for the recipient. According to the GA, Frimmel's and Anderson's identification of the recipient with Baron Schweiger is also not correct. The GA still refers to Fischman and his hunch regarding the physician Bertolini who was supposed to have been the 'initiator' of the composition of the Polonaise, op. 89; to [2]: refers to the fact that the letter was written after the completion of the Polonaise op. 89 in December and prior to Letter no. 778 to Johann Nepomuk Kanka of January 14, 1815, in which Beethoven, according to the GA, reports of the "generous gift" of the Russian Empress; to [3]: refers to the fact that Prince Alexander Lwowitsch Narishkin, as Chief Chamberlain, accompanied the Russian Empress Elisabeta Alexejewna to the Congress of Vienna; to [4]: refers to the Polonaise op. 89; to [5]: refers to op. 92; to [6]: refers to the fact that, according to the GA, this actually happened; to [7]: refers to threefold underlining; to [8]: according to the GA this refers to the fact that according to the recollections of Dr. Joseph Bertolini which Otto Jahn had recorded, it was Prince Wolkonski who was the intermediator between Beethoven and the Empress].



                                                                        Beethoven an Johann Nepomuk Kanka in Prag

                                                                                                                                                                       Vien am 14<ten Jenner 1815 

Mein werther einziger K!

. . .

. . .

leben sie wohl, ich vermag keinen andern Buchstaben mehr zu schreiben d.g. erschöpfen mich - möge die Freundschaft das Ende herbeyflügeln, denn ich muß, wenn die sach so schlecht ausfällt, Vien verlaßen - weil ich von diesem Einkommen nicht leben würde können - denn hier iest es so weit gekommen, daß alles auf's höchste gestiegen und bezahlt werden muß, meine 2 lezt gegebnen Akademien[6] kosten mich 5108 fl., wäre das großmüthige Gechenk der Kaiserin nicht[7] - ich hätte beynah nichts übrig behalten -

in Eil ihr verehrer und Freund


Für Seine wohlgebohrn Hr. von Kanka

[Quelle: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Bd. 3, Brief Nr. 778, S. 106-107; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Sammlung Bodmer Br 162; zu [6]: verweist auf die Akademien vom 29.11. und 21.12.1814; zu [7]: verweist wohl auf das Geschenk von 50 Dukaten, das Beethoven von der russischen Kaiserin Elisabeth Alexejewna für die Dedikation der Polonaise op. 89 und wohl auch für die Dedikation der Klavierauszüge der Symphonie op. 92 erhalten hatte].


                                                                        Beethoven to Johann Nepomuk Kanka in Prag

                                                                                                                                                                       Vienna, the 14th of January, 1815

My esteemed, only K!

. . .

. . .

farewell, I cannot write another letter, so exhausted - may friendship bring about the end, for, if the matter turns out this bad, I will have to leave Vienna - since I could not live off this income - for here, it has come this far that everything has increased so much and has to be paid dearly, my two latest academy concerts cost me 5108 fl., were it not for the generous gift by the Empress[7] - I would hardly have kept anything for myself -

in haste your admirer and friend


For his well-born Hr. von Kanka

[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 3, Letter No. 778, p. 106-107; Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection Letter 162; to [6]: refers to the Academy concerts of November 29. and December 2, 1814; to [7]: probably refers to the gift of 50 ducats that Beethoven had received from the Russian Empress Elisabeth Alexejewna for the dedication of the Polonaise op. 89 and probably also for the dedication of the piano reduction of the Symphony op. 92].


At the beginning of the chapter to the year 1814 Thayer-Forbes [p. 609-610] discussed Beethoven's failed opera plans regarding Romulus und Remus and then mentions the plan of Beethoven's friend Willibrord Mähler to paint another portrait of him.

Beethovens Portrait by Mähler, 1815

"It was about this time (precisely when the painter could not remember, when speaking of it in 1860), that Beethoven sat again for his friend Mähler, who wished to add his portrait to his gallery of musicians. In his Beethoven Handbuch, Frimmel writes: "It is a half-length portrait in three, or perhaps four copies, of which one is in Freiburg while others have been preserved by the Karajan family and in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Collection" [TF: 610].

Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna 1814

In this way, we can at least try to imagine what Beethoven might have looked like during yet one more important event that he would be present at:

"On the 25th of January, a grand festival took place in the Burg on the occasion of the Russian Empress's birthday, which in part, consisted of a concert in the Rittersaal. The last piece on the program was the canon in Fidelio: "Mir ist so wunderbar," and by a whimsical stroke of fortune Beethoven himself appeared, and, to the audience of emperors and empresses, kings and queens, with their ministers and retinues, played once again in public! Wild, who dates the concert a month too soon, gives an account of it in which, after telling of his own success with "Adelaide," he says: "It would be as untruthful as absurd were I to deny that my vanity was flattered by the distinction which the gathered celebrities bestowed upon me; but this performance of 'Adelaide' had one result wich was infintely more gratifying to my artistic nature; it was the cause of my coming into close contact with the greatest musical genius of all time, Beethoven. The master, rejoiced at my choice of his song, hunted me up and offered to accompany me. Satisfied with my singing he told me that he would orchestrate the song. He did not do this, but wrote for me the cantata 'An die Hoffnung' (words by Tiedge) with pianoforte accompaniment, which, he playing for me, I sang at a matinee before a select audience" [TF: 610].

Beethoven's visit of the Russian Empress was the last event we know of that brought Beethoven into a direct connection with the Congress of Vienna.

What happened from about the end of January to the beginning of June, 1815, will be of interest to us in two respects, namely with respect to the political outcome of the Congress and with respect to Beethoven's own life. Due to the fact that Beethoven was no longer connected to any congress events, we can take a brief, separate look at the political results of the Congress:

During the Congress, the various participating nations pursued quite different goals. For instance, Tsar Alexander probably expected to annect a great deal of Polish territory and to establish the Duchy of Warsaw as a buffer state between Russia and Prussia. Prussia, on the other hand, aimed at annecting the entire Kingdom of Saxony. Austria did not agree with any of these aims and strived for the control of Northern Italy. Contrary to the intentions of the British Parliament, Lord Castlereagh supported France [with Talleyrand] and Austria. This might almost have led to war, when Tsar Alexander suggested to him that Russia had posted about 450,000 soldiers near Poland and Saxony and that he was welcome to try to remove them. Castlereagh had offered Prussia the support of Britain for the annexation of Saxony in the event that Prussia would support an independent Polalnd. When the King of Prussia, Friedrich, repeated this offer openly, the Tsar was so enraged that he asked Metternich for a duel. Only the Austrian Emperor was able to prevent that. A total breakdown of relations between all powers was prevented when members of the British Parliament conveyed to the Russian ambassador that Casltereagh had overstepped his authority and that England would not support an independent Poland. However, from now on, Prussia was very cautious with respect to Britain's role.

The Battle at Waterloo

However, when it became known that Napoleon had fled from Elba and was on his way to Paris, on March 13, 1815, all Congress powers declared him a fugitive, and on March 25, 1815, five days after his arrival in Paris, Austria, Prussia, Russia and Britain pledged to assemble at least 150,000 soldiers against him. With this, the last phase of the Napoleonic Wars began and ended with the Powers' victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.

With respect to Beethoven's further activities in the first half of the year 1815, in light of the end of his direct connection to Congress events, we can concentrate on his personal life. In Volume 3 of the Henle Gesamtausgabe of his letters we find several of them to his trusted friend, Countess Marie Erdödy in Jedlersee, namely from March 1 on. First, the composer thanked her for her letter to him and subsequently sent various letters to her household, be it directly to her or to the private teacher of her children, Magister Joseph Brauchle. Already in his first lines to Brauchle, Beethoven refers to his "lamenting" brother Caspar Carl and his illness. As we know, this was the last phase of the tuberculosis Caspar Carl suffered from and which led to his death in November, 1815. Seven letters to Jedlersee, from the beginning of March to mid-April 1815 bear witness to the fact that Beethoven must have visited the Countess several times. A further reason for Beethoven to feel some measure of joy must have been the letter of March 20th that he had received from his old Baltic friend Amenda, which he replied to on April 12th. [We have already discussed their relationship in detail in our 'friendship' section]. Therefore, while Napoleon was already on his way to his last banishment on St. Helena, Beethoven, for the last time, enjoyed the relative calm of a "nephew trouble-free" summer.

The main results of the Congress of Vienna that ended on June 8, 1815, probably were the restoration of the balance between the five major powers, the so- called "holy alliance" between Prussia, Russia and Austria, with an accompanying obligation to preserve Christian-paternalistic forms of government, the intervention against all national and liberal strivings as well as the solidarity arising out of this, and, as an aside, the recognition of Switzerland as a neutral country.

Beethoven and his former "hero" Napoleon Bonaparte both began the last periods of their lives in more or less personal freedom, while Beethoven, due to his incomparable third creative period definitely emerged victoriously out of his.