BEETHOVEN'S SIXTH SYMPHONY
"Hide your faces, poor great poets of antiquity, poor immortals. Your conventional language, so pure and harmonious, cannot compete with the art of sound. You are vanquished, no doubt with glory, but vanquished all the same! You have not experienced what nowadays we call melody, harmony, the combination of different timbres, instrumental colour, modulations, the skilful clashes of conflicting sounds which fight and then embrace, the sounds that surprise the ear, the strange tones which stir the innermost recesses of the soul. The stammering of the childish art which you referred to as music could not give you any idea of this. For cultured minds you alone were the great melodists, the masters of harmony, rhythm, and expression. But these words had a very different meaning in your vocabulary from what we give them now. The art of sound in its true meaning, independent of anything else, was only born yesterday. It has scarcely reached manhood, and is barely twenty years old. It is beautiful and all-powerful: it is the Pythian Apollo of modern times. We owe to it a world of emotion and feeling which was closed to you. Yes, great venerated poets, you are vanquished: Inclyti sed victi" [Hector Berlioz zur Pastorale; Source: The last paaragraph of Hector Berlioz's essay on Beethoven's Sixth Symphony last cited on October 3, 2006],
is what Hector Berlioz wrote at the end of his essay on the Pastoral Symphony. What Berlioz wanted to express with this is one of the possible reactions to this symphony. However, before we deal with its reception, here, as always, we should first follow the traces of its creation.
If we follow Thayer-Forbes [p. 434 ff as well as Maynard Solomon, p. 205], these lead us first into the years 1803 to 1804, in which Beethoven, in his Eroica sketchbook, wrote down a theme for the "merry gathering of peasants" in the third movement of the later symphony. According to TF, the second sketches from this time, in the Eroica sketchbook offer an almost 'prophethic' anticipation of the mood of the entire second movement, however, without the final melody to it.
From our Biographical Pages we know that during this time, Beethoven had embarked on a new path which found its first expression in his Third Symphony. The sketches to the Pastoral Symphony that were completed later certainly offer a distinctive contrast.
Particularly our look at the creation of Beethoven's only opera Fidelio, during the years 1804 - 1805, provided us with an opportunity to take a closer look at his life circumstances so that here--while we may personally recall them as long or as briefly as we each decide--we can move on into the year 1806 in order to read in Thayer-Forbes [p. 434 ff.] that further sketches to the Pastoral Symphony can be found on loose sheets next to sketches to his Mass in C-Major and that both of these belong to the winter 1806/1807. We also know that during this time, after his falling-out with Prince Lichnowsky, Beethoven had to get used to no longer receiving the annual salary of 600 florins from this patron that he had received from about 1800/1801 on.
However, according to Thayer-Forbes [p. 434 ff.], Beethoven's more extensive work on this symphony belongs to the fall of 1807 and to the spring of 1808. In this connection, TF also refers to Nottebohm and his description of a sketchbook which this researcher assigns to the year 1808. According to Nottebohm, Beethoven's working-out of the Sixth Symphony was intermingled with his sketches to the Cello Sonata, Op. 69 and the Trios, Op. 70.
According to TF [p. 434 ff.], from Beethoven's letters to Breitkopf & Härtel, from the summer of 1808, we learn that by this time, the Sixth Symphony was nearly completed. [In this context, Solomon, p. 205, refers to the late summer of 1808].
Here, it might be interesting for us to first look at Thayer-Forbes's report on the topic of "program music" and to the "details" left to us by Beethoven's amanuensis, Anton Schindler, with respect to the circumstances in which Beethoven allegedly composed this work and, secondly, at Barry Cooper's comment to Schindler's "contribution":
"Those who think programme music for the orchestra is a recent invention, and they who suppose the "Pastoral" Symphony to be an original attempt to portray nature in music, are alike mistaken. It was never so much the ambition of Beethoven to invent new forms of musical works, as to surpass his contemporaries in the use of those already existing. There were few great battles in those stormy years that were not fought over again by orchestras, military bands, organs and pianofortes; and pages might be filled with a catalogue of programme music, long since dead, buried and forgotten.
A remark of Ries, confirmed by other testimony, as well as by the form and substance of many of his master's works, if already quoted, will bear repetition: "Beethoven in composing his pieces often thought of a particular thing, although he frequently laughed at musical paintings and scolded particularly about trivialities of this sort. Haydn's "Creation" and "The Seasons" were frequently ridiculed, though Beethoven never failed to recognize Haydn's high deserts," etc. But Beethoven himself did not disdain occasionally to introduce imitations into his works. The difference between him and others in this regard was this: they undertook to give musical imitations of things essentially unmusical -- he never.
In the sketches, he has recorded his own views on the subject:
The hearers should be allowed to discover the situations
Sinfonia caracteristica--or recollection of country life
A recollection of country life
All painting in instrumental music is lost if it is pushed too far
Sinfonia pastorella. Anyone who has an idea of country life can make out for himself the intentions of the composer without many titles--
Also without titles the whole will be recognized as a matter more of feeling than of painting in sounds.
On a bright, sunny day in April, 1823, Beethoven took Schindler for a long ramble through the scenes in which he had composed his Fifth and Sixth symphonies. Schindler writes (1, pp. 153-154): "After we had looked at the bath-house and its adjacent garden at Heiligenstadt and he had given expression to many agreeable recollections touching his creations, we continued our walk towards the Kahlenberg in the direction past Grinzing [?]. Passing through the pleasant meadow-valley between Heiligenstadt and the latter village[16: Schindler here is mistaken. The 'walk toward the Kahlenberg' took them northerly into the valley between Heiligenstadt and Nussdorf, where an excessively idealized bust of the composer now marks the "Scene by the Brook." After thirty years of absence from Vienna, Schindler's memory had lost the exact topography of these scenes; and a friend to whom he wrote the information upon it mistook the Grinzing brook and valley for the true one. This explanation of his error was made by Schindler to Thayer very soon after the third edition of his (Schindler's) book appeared (TDR, III, 103, n. 1) which is traversed by a gently murmuring brook which hurries down from a near-by mountain and is bordered with high elms, Beethoven repeatedly stopped and let his glances roam, full of happiness, over the glorious landscape. Then seating himself on the turf and leaning against an elm, Beethoven asked me if there were any yellowhammers to be heard in the trees around us. But all was still. He then said: 'Here I composed the "Scene by the Brook" and the yellowhammers up there, the quails, nightingales and cuckoos around about, composed with me.' To my question why he had not also put the yellowhammers into the scene, he drew out his sketchbook and wrote: [Note sample]
'That's the composer up there,' he remarked, 'hasn't she a more important role to play than the others? They are meant only for a joke.' And really the entrance of this figure in G major gives the tone-picture a new charm. . . . As a reason for not having mentioned this fellow-composer he said that had he printed the name it would only have served to increase the number of ill-natured interpretations of the movement which has made the introduction of the work difficult not only in Vienna but also in other places. Not infrequently the symphony, because of its second movement, had been declared to be child's play. In some places it shared the fate of the 'Eroica'" [Thayer-Forbes: 436].
Here follows Cooper's comment:
"These bird-calls have been the subject of much misunderstanding, partly through Schindler, who claimed that Beethoven had heard the actual birds during a walk at Heiligenstadt, and partly through an early and widely quoted review that suggested the birds were introduced as a joke. The birds are not random ones that Beethoven happened to hear but were chosen for their symbolic significance. The nightingale is surrounded by a whole aura of symbolism, including love and sweetness of tone. The cuckoo, likewise, is renowned as the harbinger of summer, while the quail has religious overtones of divine providence (based on the story in the book of exodus). Beethoven had written a song about the quail-call ('Der Wachtelschlag', WoO 129( in 1803, in which the bird was portrayed as worshipping God; and, perhaps influenced by Christian Sturm's popular book Betrachtungen über die Werke Gottes im Reiche der Natur (Reflections on the Work of God in the Realm of Nature), he perceived all nature as capable of praising God. He once wrote: 'It seems as if in the country every tree said to me "Holy! Holy!" Thus the bird-calls in the symphony can be seen as an expression of Nature's praise of God, just as the finale represents man's (the shepherds'), and the birds chosen are poetic, archetypal, and symbolic. Schindler's suggestion that they were real birds that Beethoven had heard is as implausible as it is superficial; moreover, this part of the symphony was evidently composed in spring 1808 while Beethoven was still in Vienna, before he moved to Heiligenstadt in the summer" (Cooper: 176-177].
How this symphony was first performed is what we will explore in the next section.
We have decided to present our findings on the first performance of the Sixth Symphony, on the occasion of Beethoven's Academy Concert of December 22, 1808, on a separate page. The following link leads to it while you will not lose this page from your screen:
PUBLICATION AND DEDICATION
As we already mentioned in our section on the Fifth Symphony, it was originally intended for Count Oppersdorff. With respect to this, let us briefly look at what Barry Cooper [p. 171] has to say. As he reports, in his letter to Count Oppersdorff of March, 1808, Beethoven wrote that the [Fifth] Symphony had been intended for the Count for a long time and that he would send the score, against the Count's payment of the remaining 300 florins, right away, while the Count still had the right not to take the work and not to pay the 300 florins. According to Cooper, a receipt dated March 29, 1808, shows that Oppersdorff paid a further 150 florins without having received the score. As Cooper further writes, by November of this year, Oppersdorff was still waiting for the score when Beethoven, in a further letter, explained to him that he had been compelled to sell the score to 'someone else' while he promised to still send him a score. According to Cooper, Beethoven had a second copy of the score made for the first performance of the symphony in December 1808, and he considers it highly likely that after the concert, this copy went to Oppersdorff, for the remaining 150 florins, although no receipt has been preserved. The 'someone else' who received the first copy was Gottfried Härtel who was again in good graces with Beethoven and who received all of his important works, Op. 67 to Op. 86, for publication [from 1809 to 1812].
Thayer-Forbes [p. 434] also writes that the "other party" was Breitkopf & Härtel. In 1808, Beethoven had come to an arrangement with this Leipzig publisher. He had taken up negotiations again in the summer of 1808 and, on June 8, had offered him the Fifth and Sixth Symphony, the Mass in C-Major, and the Sonata for Piano and Cello, Op. 69, for 900 florins, while he did not yet hold high hopes for coming to an arrangement with the Leipzig publisher, again. However, as he pointed out, he preferred this publisher to all other publishers. In the beginning of July , according to TF, Beethoven repeated his offer, however, with a lower fee of 700 florins and still threw in two piano sonatas or, in lieu of them, another symphony. Apparently, Leipzig was not very convinced of the salability of the Mass in C-Major. In reply to this, Beethoven, in a third letter, offered Breitkopf & Härtel the already mentioned works with two trios instead of the two piano sonatas, or, instead of the trios, a symphony, this time for 600 florins, and the Mass for free.
With respect to the correspondence between Beethoven and Breitkopf & Härtel we can again refer you to our separate page:
To this, we can still add Thayer-Forbes's report [p. 435] that on September 14, 1808, Beethoven confirmed the receipt of 100 gold ducats from the publisher, for five of his new works and that he committed himself to deliver the following five works to them: the Symphony in c-Minor, the Symphony in F-Major, two Trios for Piano, etc., and a Sonata for Piano and Violoncello in A-Major, and he confirmed ownership rights of them to the publisher, with the exception of England.
TF further reports that Gottfried Härtel went to Vienna in order to sign the contract and that, on September 14, 1808, in a note to him while he stayed in Vienna, Beethoven apologized that he had not been at home. In this note, Beethoven also wrote that one symphony was being sent to Härtel with it and that the second, that was still in the hands of the copyist, would be sent around eleven o'clock or half past eleven o'clock.
With respect to the Sixth Symphony, TF mentions that the autograph to it was in the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn while in a violin part that was used at the first performance, the word "pastoral" first appears and that this part is with the 'Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde' in Vienna and reads:
Erinnerung and das Landleben
Mehr Ausdruck der Empfindung als Mahlerei."
In the chapter to the year 1809, Thayer-Forbes [p. 478-9] reports of the publication of the Sixth Symphony in F-Major, Op. 68, "dédiée a son Altesse Sérenissime Monsigneur le Prince regnant de Lobkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, et a son Excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rasumoffsky", thus dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky. In our next section, we will take a look at the further fate of this work during Beethoven's lifetime.
THE FURTHER FATE OF THE SIXTH SYMPHONY DURING BEETHOVEN'S LIFETIME
The following review of this symphony that was published by the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitschrift in Leipzig on January 17, 1810, in No. 16 [columns 241-253] is our first contribution to this topic:
' R E C E N S I O N
Sinfonie Pastorale pour 2 Violons, 2 Violes, Violoncelle et Contre-Violon, 2 Flutes, petite Flute, 2 Hautbois, 2 Clarinettes, 2 Bassons, 2 Cors, 2 Tropettes, Timbales et 2 Trompes, composee et dediee a son Altesse Serenissime Monseigneur le Prince regnant de Obkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, et a son Excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rsumofsky, par LOuis van Beethoven. Propriete des Editeurs, No. 6. Oeuvr. 68. a Leipsic, chez Breitkopf et Härtel. (Pr. 4 Thlr. 12 Gr.)
Dies wunderbare, originelle, lebensvolle Werk B.s, das unbedenklich seinen andern Meisterwerken an die Seite gesetzt werden kann, ist im letzten Jahrgange d. Z., als es aus dem Manuscript in Leipzig aufgeführt wurde, vom Verf. der Uebersichten der Concerte in Leipzig näher beschrieben, und über seinen Zweck und seine Beschaffenheit in ästhetischer Hinsicht so gesprochen worden, dass Rec. dies nur wiederholen müsste, wenn er nicht den ihm verstatteten Raum zu etwas anderm zu verwenden gedächte. Er wird nämlich einmal die andere Seite zur nähern Betrachtung hervorheben; die artistische, im engern Sinne des Worts; und von jener sey, Missverständnissen vorzubeugen, hier nur noch ein Wort vorausgesetzt.
Das Werk enthält in Symphonienform ein Gemälde des Landlebens. "Ein Gemälde? -- "Soll denn die Musik malen? und sind wir nicht "schon längst über die Zeiten hinaus, wo "man sich auf musikalische Malerey etwas "zu Gute that?" Allerdings sind wir jetzt so ziemlich damit im Reinen, dass die Darstellung äusserer Gegenstände durch die Musik höchst geschmacklos, und von der ästhetischen Beurtheilung dessen, der sich solcher Aftermittel, Effect zu erregen, bedient, wenig zu halten sey. Allein dieser Ausspruch passt gar nicht auf vorliegendes Werk, welches nicht eine Darstellung räumlicher Gegenstände des Landes, sondern vielmehr eine Darstellung der Empfindungen ist, welche wir bey dem Anblick ländlicher Gegenstände haben. Dass ein solches Gemälde nicht geschmacklos, und dem Zwecke der Musik nicht entgegen sey, sieht jeder ein, der über diese Kunst so wol als über die Natur der Empfindungen, die durch jene ausgedrückt werden sollen, nachgedacht hat.
Jetzt zu jener versprochenen nähern Betrachtung des Werks; und wenn gleich eine schriftliche Anzeige davon uns keine vollständige Idee von dem Werthe dieser Composition geben kann, weil sie, um recht genossen zu werden, gehört werden muss: so kann doch ein prüfender Blick den wir auf sie werfen, beym gemsichten Publicum den Vorsatz rege machen, derselben bey der Aufführung ein aufmerksameres Ohr zu leihen, und bey denkenden Musikern Stoff und Aufforderung zu manchem Angenehmen, Lehrreichen darbieten.
Das Ganze besteht aus fünf Sätzen, davon jeder ein kleines Ganze für sich bildet. Der erste Satz -- Alegro, ma non troppo, (F dur, /34) -- beginnt mit einem einfachen, gefälligen Gesange, welchen die angenehmen, während eines Ganges von der Stadt nach dem Lande in dem Menschen aufsteigenden Gefühle ausdrückt. Das Thema wird nach den ersten Tacten theilweise mit immer veränderter Begleitung und dem allmählichen Eintreten der Blasinstrumente in anfangs schwächern, dann stärkern Intonationen wiederholt, um so die Steigerung der Empfindungen darzustellen, welche nach und nach lebhafter werden, je näher der auf dem Lande Erholung suchende Städter seinem Ziele kommt. Tact 55 tritt ein anderer Gesang ein, welcher auf gleiche Weise, wie der erste, anfangs unter einfacher Violinbegleitung in Achteln, dann in Triolen mit hinzugefügter Flöte, und zuletzt in Sechzehntheilen mit Einstimmung aller Blasinstrumente, die Gefühle eines Andern von der Schwäche bis zur Stärke vortrefflich zeichnet. Gegen das Ende des ersten Theils ist Kraft und reges Leben in allen Stimmen, welches aber näher nach dem Schlusse allmählich wieder abnimmt. Der zweyte Theil beginnt mit den beyden Anfangstacten des ersten, welche von schwach gehaltenen Tönen der Clarinetten, Fagotten und Hörner unterstützt werden. Dann treten auch die übrigen Blasinstrumente, eines nach dem andern, hinzu, und stützen in stärker gehaltenen Tönen das Thema, welches abwechselnd von der 1sten und 2ten Geige, von der Viole und dem Violoncell, welche Triolen darunter spielen, vorgetragen wird. Der Uebergang von B nach D dur, Tact 25, macht eine treffliche Wirkung; allein der, 27 Tacte lange Aufenthalt auf dem Dominantenaccorde ermüdet doch wol das Ohr zu sehr. Der Componist hat das vermuthlich selbst gefühlt, und dadurch abhelfen wollen, dass er das Thema in verschiedene Stimmen, bald in die Saiten-, bald in die Blasinstrumente, mit abwechselnder Stärke und Schwäche des Vortrags legte: allein das Ohr verlangt dem ungeachtet eher durch eine neue Harmonie gereizt zu werden, die, im 55sten Tacte eintretend, nach des Rec. Meynung, etwas zu spät kömmt. Mit diesem Tacte spricht uns das Thema in G dur, wozu die 2te Geige ein artiges Contrethema von zwey Tacten spielt, welches vom V.celle nachgeahmt wird, sehr angenehm wieder zu. Die Modulation von G nach E dur, als der Dominante von A, ist dieselbe, wie jene von F nach D dur, und macht eine gleiche, herrlich überraschende Wirkung; die darauf folgenden Tacte aber sind, gleichfalls wegen des zu langen Verweilens auf dem Dominantenaccorde E, dem Gehör in dem Grade unangenehm, als die endliche Rückkehr des Thema, welches nun in A dur wiederholt wird, erfreulich ist. Nach der Wiederholung desselben nimmt der Künstler, damit das Ohr bey steter Anhörung eines einzigen Satzes nicht ermüde, einen andern Satz von 4 Tacten, den er im Anfange des ersten Theiles nur im Allgemeinen angegeben hatte, auf, und führt uns, indem er denselben erst einfach, dann unter begleitenden Sechzehntheilen, zuletzt durch die Kraft aller Blasinstrumente, mit einem langen Tremolo der ersten Geige gehoben darstellt, in das Anfangsthema zurück, das uns jetzt wie ein alter Bekannter erscheint, dessen wir nicht überdrüssig werden können, weil er uns seine Anwesenheit in den mannigfaltigsten Formen zeigt, und fürchtet er langweilig zu werden, sich lieber einige Zeit entfernt, um uns die Freude des Wiedersehns desto inniger empfinden zu lassen. Unter diesen verschiedenen Arten der Wiederkehr des Hauptsatzes kommen wir, nie die mindeste Leere, jenen oben bemerkten Stellen etwa ausgenommen, empfindend, zum Schlusse dieser ersten Nummer, unbewusst, welchen langen Weg wir schon zurückgelegt haben. No. 2 soll, nach des Künstlers Absicht, eine Scene am Bache darstellen. Wirklich empfinden wir alles, wozu ein solcher entlegener, zur Zufriedenheit und ruhigen Beschauung stimmender Ort in der Natur uns einladet, und diese ganze Nummer spricht das Gemüth, durch Erweckung sanfter Gefühle vorzüglich an. Die Wahl der Tonart B dur, der verweilende 12/8 Tact, die natürlichen, zwar minder überraschenden, doch nicht minder gefälligen Ausweichungen in verwandte Tonarten, alles dies muss den fühlenden Zuhörer von den Regungen einer lebhafteren Freude zur Ruhe einer mehr in sich selbst gekehrten Betrachtung herabstimmen. Die 2te Violine und die Viola fangen einen sanften, in Terzen sich bewegenden Gesang an, der, durch 2 V.celli in der tiefern Octave verdoppelt, vortrefflich herausgehoben wird. Dazu spielt die 1ste Violine einen kurzen, aber zur Einleitung, welche nie Ausführung seyn darf, zweckmässigen Gegensatz, vier Tacte hindurch. Mit dem 5ten Tacte wird die begleitende Bewegung in der 2ten Violine, Viole und den beyden Violoncellen schneller, und wir glauben in der That das sanfte Murmeln eines Baches zu hören. Der Gesang der ersten Violine wird fliessender und zusammenhängender, die Empfindungen werden bestimmter. Mit dem 7ten Tacte ergreifen die erste Clarinette und der erste Fagott den Satz, mit welchem die erste Violine begann. Die murmelnde Bewegung in den Violoncellen und der zweyten Geige dauert fort, und die erste scheint in kurzen Trillern auf das Zwitschern der Vögel in den Umschattungen des Baches zu deuten. Die Hörner blasen dazu eine eigene, aus Rucknoten bestehende Figur, welche ihnen (Tact 25 u. d. folg.) die beyden Fagotte, dann die Clarinetten und Flöten, auf eine geschickte und effectvolle Art abnehmen. Nach dem 52sten Tact erwarten wir den Schluss in die Dominante F, allein der Ideenvorrath ist dem genialen Künstler noch nicht ausgegangen. Er hält den Schluss zurück, modulirt von C, als der Dominante von F, nach A, der Dominante von D, die er oft mit den Nebendominanten D, G, C, unter einem artigen melodischen Satze, den der erste Fagott und die Viole, dann im 41ten Tacte die erste Geige mit veränderter Cellobegleitung, abwechseln lässt, und erfüllt so unsere mehrmals angenehm getäuschte Erwartung erst durch den im 50ten Tacte erfolgenden Uebergang in die Dominante des Haupttons. Jetzt tritt uns wieder das Anfangsthema an, aber unter welcher veränderten Gestalt! Die erste Violine variiert den kurzen Einleitungssatz. Den lieblichen, in Terzen sich bewegenden Gesang, den zu Anfang des Stücks die 2te Viline, die Viola und die verdoppelnden Violoncelle spielten, tragen jetzt die Clarinetten und Fagotte gemeinschaftlich vor. Damit noch nicht zufrieden, gesellt der Componist jene originelle, aus Rucknoten bestehende Figur, bey deren erster Einführung wir an nichts weniger als an Aehnlichkeit mit dem Hauptsatze dachten, hinzu, und überrascht uns durch diese Vebindung so angenehm, wie wir durch das unvermuthete Zusammentreffen unserer Freunde überrascht werden, die sich, der eine von da, der andere von dort, durch ein glückliches Ungefähr an einem gemeinschaftlichen Orte einfinden, wo sie uns ihre verschiedenen Schicksale, die das allgemeine Interesse und das Band der Freundschaft vereinigt, brüderlichen Herzens mittheilen. Diese ganze Stelle vom 50-54ten Tact, unter dieser veränderten, doch nicht unkenntlichen Gestalt, macht einen unbeschreiblich schönen Effect, und giebt uns von dem Geiste des Künstlers einen hohen Begriff. Nicht weniger ist die gleich darauf folgende Stelle (Tact 54 - 58) durch ihre Einfachheit, wie die vorhergehende durch ihre künstliche Zusammensetzung, schön. Die folgenden 4 Tacte haben Rec. weniger gefallen wollen, er glaubt den Grund davon in den zu nahe liegenden Secunden, welche von dem Gesange der ersten und zweyten Violine gebildet werden, zu finden. Der Deutlichkeit wegen, und um das Gesagte zu beurkunden, mögen die genannten Tacte hier Platz finden:
Aus gleichem Grunde haben Rec. die Tacte 91-94 missfallen. Alles andere ist lobenswerth; vorzüglich aber verdient noch eine Stelle gegen das Ende dieser Nummer gerühmt zu werden, in welcher scherzweise die Stimmen der Nachtigall, der Wachtel und des Kuckuks mit einem Glücke nachgeahmt worden sind, welches, wie ein ganz aus dem Spiegel aufgegriffenes Portrait, jeden lãcheln macht, und theils darum von Niemand getadelt werden wird, theils, weil die Stelle, auch von jener speciellen Rücksicht abgesehen, gut und angenehm ist, von Niemand getadelt werden kann. Die Idee, Vogelstimmen durch musikalische Töne darzustellen, ist zwar an sich nicht neu, aber die Art, wie unser Künstler dieselben darzustellen gesucht hat, gehört ihm allein an. Er lässt nämlich alle drey Vogelstimmen eintreten, wodurch ein artiges Ensemble von drey Stimmen, deren jede ihren eigenen Gesang enthält, gebildet wird. Die Stelle ist zu originell, als dass ihre Anführung hier am unrechten Orte seyn dürfte:
Der dritten Nummer, welche ein Allegro aus F dur im 3/4 Tact ausmacht, hat Rec. wegen des mindern Ideenreichthums, wegen Mangels an harmonischer Abwechselung und Instrumentation, wegen verletzter Einheit im Tacte und zu häufiger Wiederholung einzelner Stellen, im Vergleiche mit dem vorhergehenden und nachfolgenden Nummern, weniger Geschmack abgewinnen können. Gleich zu Anfange, ehe wir uns noch in der Haupttonart des Ganzen recht festgesetzt haben, werden wir schon mit dem 9ten Tacte etwas unsanft aus diesem Besitze verdrängt und nach D dur geworfen. Hier ist unseres Bleibens auch nicht lange, denn schon mit dem 17ten Tacte wird uns unser neues Eigenthum abgenommen, und das alte zurückgegeben. Mit dem 24ten Tacte müssen wir diese unangenehme exmissio possessionis noch einmal erfahren, und können nach deren Bestehung erst festern Fuss fassen. Wir bekommen zwar die Haupttonart so bald nicht wieder zu hören: indess wird unser Ohr doch nicht zu sehr durch grelle Uebergänge beleidiget, wenn gleich der 44 Tacte hindurch gehende Unisonus, der nur hin und wieder von einer in den Bässen, Fagotten und Hörnern liegenden Grundstimme gehemmt wird, ermüdet; denn da, wo dieser aufhört und der Satz mehrstimmig wird, gewinnt auch die Fortschreitung an Mannigfaltigkeit und Interesse. Eben so ermüdend ist Rec. der vom 91ten Tact an eingstreute Zwischensatz, theils wegen öfterer Wiederkehr, theils wegen spärlicher Ausschmückung durch neue Harmonien, vorgekommen. Dieselben Mängel scheint ihm auch der Zwischensatz vom 165ten bis zum 204ten Tacte zu haben; wozu noch kommt, dass die Verwandlung des [unleserlicher Bruch]-Tactes in den Zweyvierteltact, und die Unähnlichkeit der Figuren dieses Satzes mit jenen des Hauptsatzes, der Einheit des Ganzen zu viel Abbruch thut. Diess zusammengenommen möchte daher wol diese Nummer den übrigen den Vorrang nicht streitig machen können.
Dafür aber erhalten wir desto reichlicheren Ersatz in den beyden folgenden Stücken. No. 4. stellt uns einen Gewittersturm mit den lebhaftesten Farben dar. Es ist dies Stück unstreitig das gelungenste unter den übrigen dieses ländlichen Gemäldes, und durchaus von erhabener Wirkung. So mannigfach die einzelnen Erscheinungen sind, die uns bey solch einem Gegenstande geboten werden, und so oft denselben schon andere Componisten, theils mit, theils ohne günstigem Erfolge bearbeitet haben: so einfach und neu ist die Form, unter welcher uns der geniale Beethoven dies imposante Naturschauspiel in der Nachahmung giebt. Gewöhnlich fassen Componisten von niederem Range, wenn sie uns einen Sturm darstellen wollen, den höchsten Moment desselben auf, und lassen, um recht natürlich zu seyn, weder die ausübenden Musiker, namentlich die Paukenschläger, nebst den beyden Trompeten- und Flötenbläsern, noch die Zuhörer zu Athem kommen; glauben sie nun eine Zeit lang genug getobt und gerast zu haben, so brechen sie unvermuthet ab, wodurch denn der ganze musikalische Lärmen eher dem Spuk eines Poltergeistes ähnlich sieht, der bey seiner Erscheinung auf einmal alle Elemente erregt, aber, wittert er Morgenluft, unter einem heftigen Knalle verschwindet, nach welchem alles umher plötzlich mit Grabesstille bedeckt liegt. Nicht so Beethoven. Zwar sind auch ihm die höchsten Grade des Orkans Gegenstände der Schilderung: allein er verschmäht dabey so wenig die langsame Annäherung, als die allmälige Entfernung des Wetters. So vernehmen wir mit den beyden ersten Tacten in dem Tremolo der Contrebässe und Violoncelle den fernen Donner, die Violinen malen uns in den folgenden 5 Tacten die leise, unruhige Bewegung der Luft, eine Wirkung des kommenden Gewitters. Nach und nach rückt das Wetter näher heran, und beym 21ten Tact erscheint es uns, unter dem starken Eintreten aller Blasinstrumente und einem 4 Tacte langen Paukenwirbel, in seiner ganzen Furchtbarkeit. Die hohen Töne der dreygestrichenen Octave, f, e, ges, welche die erste Violine hervorbringt; das ununterbrochene, den heulenden Sturm ausdrückende Schreyen der Hoboen, Hörner, Fagotte und Trompeten; die anstrebenden Sechzehntelfiguren in den Bässen, welche das Rollen des Donners nachahmen; die häufigen Dissonanzen, vorzüglich der verminderte Septimenaccord mit seinen Verwechselungen -- ein getreues Bild der Gefühle des Grausens und Entsetzens -- alles erfüllt mit grossen und erhabenen Empfindungen. Allein so allmählich sie entstanden, so allmählich verschwinden auch die heftigen Ausbrüche des Orkans. Die Geigen spielen dann in langsamerer Bewegung, die Blasinstrumente tönen leiser, sparsamer, und in untermischten, erfreuliche Sonnenblicke zeigenden Solostellen, die Trompeten schweigen in den letzten 12 Tacten gänzlich, und lassen sich nicht eher, als in der folgenden Nummer wieder hören, wo sie die freudigen Gefühle des Landmanns nach überstandenem Sturme begleiten. So viel über dies herrliche, ganz auf Effect berechnete Stück. Alle einzelne Schönheiten desselben mit Worten zu beschreiben, würde zu weitläufig, ja unmöglich seyn. Man höre, und man wird hier den Componisten in seiner ganzen Grösse kennen lernen!
No. 5., (F dur, 6/8) deren Inhalt schon angegeben worden ist, beginnt mit einem Satze, der von der Clarinette vorgetragen, den Gesang des Kuhreigens nachahmt. Was kann natürlicher, schöner, und dem Character des Landmanns angemessener gedacht werden, als ein solcher Ausdruck der Freude? Der Gesang fängt in C dur, der Dominante von F, an, und wird Tact 5 von dem Horne auf eine originelle Weise unter dem frey eintretenden [unleserliches Symbol] Accord, der, erst mit dem 5ten Achtel des 8ten Tactes seine Auflösung erhält, wiederholt. Wenn der Künstler hierdurch den verschiedenen Ton der Horteninstrumente an verschiedenen Orten des Dorfes ausdrücken wollte, so hat er seinen Zweck glücklich erreicht. Mit dem 9ten Tacte tritt ein einfach schöner, aus dem ersten Tacte gebauter Gesang der ersten Geige ein, welcher, da er blos in Vierteln und Achteln sich bewegt, den ersten Grad der Freude vortrefflich malt. Mit dem 17ten Tacte nimmt die 2te Violine der ersten diesen Gesang ab, und trägt ihn eine Octave tiefer vor. Die erste Geige begleitet in Sechzehntheilfiguren. Diese schnellere Bewegung nebst der veränderten Begleitung der Blasinstrumente, die, vorher in halben Schlägen und Vierteln, jetzt in gestossnen Achteln fortschreitet, stellt uns den zweyten Moment der Freude dar. Mit dem 24ten Tacte bekommen die Viola und das Violoncell jenen Gesang, den die Clarinetten und Hörner durch Verdoppelung stark herausheben, während die erste Violine das Accompagnement in Sechzehntheiltriolen übernimmt; die anderen Blasinstrumente unterstützen kräftig durch aushaltende Töne -- kurz, alles malt uns den höchsten Grad des Frohsinns, der sich dem lauten Jubel nähert. Mit dem 56ten Tacte leitet der Componist, vermittelst eines Stückes vom Thema, das erst die Geigen, dann die Flöte, Hoboe und Clarinette theilweise vortragen, wiederum in den Hauptsatz ein, der unter jener originellen, frey eintretenden [unleserliches Symbol] Harmonie von neuem erscheint. Auch jene Melodie, die vom 9ten Tact begann, spricht uns wieder zu, aber nach der Beethoven eigenthümlichen Art, mit veränderter Begleitung, welche jetzt die 2te Geige mit der Viola im Wechsel vorträgt. Hierauf folgt, nach einer Modulation in B dur, ein 15 Tacte langer Zwischensatz, dessen Einschaltung uns das Hauptthema, um es nicht lästig werden zu lassen, auf einige Zeit entrückt. Dann kehrt es zurück, aber nur in einem Anschnitte, den der Künstler auf die mannigfachste Art durchführt. So hören wir auch den mehr gedachten Nebengesang in anderer Form wieder. Vom V.cello und Fagotte vorgetragen, wird er von der 2ten, dann von der ersten Violine aufgenommen, und zuerst einzeln, dann von der Figur, die kurz vorher die neue Führerin des Hauptsatzes abgegeben hatte, im Gewande eines Contrathema begleitet, bis zum Schlusse durchgeführt, der mit dem Anfangssatze, der Melodie des Kuhreigens, bedeutend endet.
Und nun genug der Schilderung dieses geistreichen Productes, dessen Anhörung gewiss jedem Gebildeten mehr Vergnügen verschaffen wird, als eine noch so detaillirte Beschreibung geben kann. Möchte der geniale Beethoven uns bald wieder mit solch einem Meisterstücke beschenken. -- Doch, was bedarfs der Aeusserung dieses Wunsches, da der Künstler, der so viel ausdauernden Fleiss als Genie besitzt, bisher allen unseren Wünschen zuvorgekommen ist!" [AMZ January 1810, columns 241 - 253; --
-- ' R E V I E W
Sinfonie Pastorale pour 2 Violons, 2 Violes, Violoncelle et Contre-Violon, 2 Flutes, petite Flute, 2 Hautbois, 2 Clarinettes, 2 Bassons, 2 Cors, 2 Tropettes, Timbales et 2 Trompes, composee et dediee a son Altesse Serenissime Monseigneur le Prince regnant de Obkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, et a son Excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rsumofsky, par LOuis van Beethoven. Propriete des Editeurs, No. 6. Oeuvr. 68. a Leipsic, chez Breitkopf et Härtel. (Pr. 4 Thlr. 12 Gr.)
This wonderful, original, lively work B's that, without hesitation, can be set beside his other masterworks, has been described more closely by the reviewer in the last volume of this periodical, when it was performed from the manuscript, in Leipzig; at that time, the reviewer discussed the purpose and nature of this work from an aesthetic viewpoint, so that he would only have to repeat it here if he did not wish to use the space that is available to him here, for something else. Here, he wants to look at another aspect of this work, namely, in the narrower sense of the word, the artistic aspect; of it, in order to avoid misunderstandings, a word should be said beforehand.
The work contains, in symphonic form, a painting of country life. "A painting?"--"Is music supposed to paint? have we not "already for a long time moved beyond the times in which musical painting was considered of value?" Indeed, by now, it is quite clear to us that the depiction of outer subjects by music is not in good taste and that one should not think very highly of such means to create an effect. However, these contentions have nothing to do with the work at hand which is not a depiction of spatial subjects of the country-side, but rather a depiction of the feelings that we have when being confronted with these subjects. Everyone who has thought about this art as well as about the nature of the feelings that are supposed to be expressed with this music will realize that such a painting is not in bad taste.
Let us now move on to the closer look at the work we promised; and while a written description of it does not provide us with a complete idea of the value of this composition, since it, in order to be properly enjoyed, has to be heard, an examination of it can evoke in the wider public the wish to listen to it more attentively, and to thinking musicians it cam provide material and stimulation to many pleasant and instructive ideas.
The whole consists of five movements of which each one forms a small whole, by itself. The first movement--Allegro, ma non troppo, (F-major, 3/4 time)--begins with a simple, pleasant song that expresses the pleasant feelings that are evoked in us when we wander from the city out into the country-side. After the first measures, the theme is repeated with ever-changing accompaniment and with the gradual entry of the wind instruments, first in weaker and then in stronger intonations, in order to represent the feelings that are gradually growing in us and that become stronger and stronger the closer we come to our destination. At measure 55, a different song sets in that, in the same way as the first, excellently describes a person's feelings that are growing stronger and stronger, first with simple violin accompaniment, then with triples by an added flute, and finally in sixteenths, with the addition of all wind instruments. Towards the end of the first part, strength and life is in all voices, that, however, towards the end, decreases again. The second part begins with the two opening measures of the first, which are supported by the muted sounds of the clarinets, bassoons and horns. Then also all other wind instruments are added, one after another, which, more strongly, support the theme that is played in alternation between the first and second violins and the violoncellos, with mixed-in trills. The transition from B-Major to D-Major, at measure 25, has a splendid effect; a single dominant chord that is held for 27 measures does tire the ear too much. Probably the composer felt this, himself, and wanted to remedy this by having the theme played alternately by the string instruments and by the wind instruments, with alternating force: nevertheless, the ear wants to be stimulated by a new harmony that, entering with measure 55, in the reviewer's opinion, comes somewhat too late. With this measure, the theme in G-Major pleasantly addresses us, to which the second violins play a fine counter-theme, for two measures, which is imitated by the violoncellos. The modulation from G-Major to E-major, as the dominant of A is the same as that from F-Major to D-Major, and has the same, wonderfully surprising effect; however, the following measures, also due to their too long rest on the dominant chord E, are equally unpleasant to the ear as the final return to the theme that is now repeated in A. After its repetition, the artist--in order to avoid his listeners' ears getting tired by constantly listening to one movement--takes up another stretch of four measures that he had only hinted at at the beginning of the first part, and leads us back to the beginning theme by first presenting this passage in a simple manner, then with accompanying sixteenths, and finally with the force of all wind instruments, with a long tremolo in the first violins. Now, this beginning theme appears to us like an old acquaintance of whom we can not grow tired, since he shows us his presence in many ways and if he might get boring, he rather removes himself for a while in order to let us enjoy his return, all the more. With these various kinds of repetitions of the main theme we arrive, never feeling any kind of redundancy--with the exception of the above-noted instances--at the end of the first piece, not aware what a long way we have already come. According to the intentions of the composer, No. 2 is supposed to depict a scene by the brook. Indeed, we feel everything that such a remote place in nature that inspires in us contentment and contemplation invites us to, and the entire piece speaks to the heart in a tremendous way by awakening soft feelings in it. The choice of the B-Major key, the remaining on 12/8 time, the natural, yet not any less surprising and not any less pleasant diversions into related keys, all of this has to evoke in the sensitive listener a turning from more lively joy to the calm of a more inward-oriented contemplation. The second violins and the violas begin a gentle song that is held in thirds and that, doubled by two violoncellos in the lower octave, is splendidly accentuated. To this, for four measures, the first violins play a short, purposeful contrast as introduction which never is menat be an execution. With the fifth measure, the accompanying movement of the second violins, violas and of the two violoncellos is getting faster, and, indeed, be believe to hear the soft murmur of a brook. The song of the first violins becomes more flowing and coherent, the feelings become more pronounced. With the seventh measure, the first clarinet and the first bassoon take up the passage with which the first violins had begun. The 'murmur' in the violoncellos and in the second violins continues, and the first violins, with short trills, seem to be hinting at birdsong in the shadows of the brook. To this, the horns play their own figure that consists of "Rucknoten"-- [Translator's note: no adequate translation was found for this term, at this time; the components of this German word are "Ruck" and "Noten", whereby, of course, "Noten" translates to "notes"; literal English dictionary translations of "Ruck" do not make sense in connection with the combination of this word with musical notes; the closest equivalent would be an incremental move forward]--which are then (measure 25 ff.) taken up by the two bassoons, then the clarinets and flutes, in an effective manner. After measure 52, we expect the finale in the dominant F; however, the ingenious artist has not yet run out of ideas. He is holding the finale back and modulates from C-Major, as the dominant of F-Major, to A-Major, the dominant of D-Major, which he is often alternating with the subdominants D-major, G-Major and C-major, in a pleasant melodious passage, that is taken up by the first bassoon and the violas and then, in measure 41, by the first violins, with a changed cello accompaniment, and, in proceeding thus, he is only fulfilling our often disappointed expectation of the finale with the transition to the dominant of the tonic in measure 50. Now, we are again confronted by the introductory theme, but in what a changed form! The first violins vary the brief introductory passage. The lovely song that is played in thirds, and that, at the beginning of the piece. was played by the second violins, the violas and the violoncellos, is now carried by the clarinets and bassoons. Not satisfied with this, the composer still adds the original figure that consists of "Rucknoten" [see translator's note above], at the first introduction of which we did not think of anything less than a similarity with the main theme and surprises us in such a pleasant way with this combination that we are reminded of a surprise meeting of friends that have come from here and there, to meet at a certain point in order to share their stories that are of mutual interest to them, in brotherly love. The entire passage from measure 50 on, in this changed, although not unrecognizable form, creates an indescribably beautiful effect and gives us a lofty idea of the artist's mind. The passage that follows immediately [from measure 54 to measure 58] is, in its simplicity, not any less beautiful than the previous, artful one. The following four measures have pleased the reviewer less, and he believes to find the reason for this in the seconds that are too close together and that are formed by the playing of the first and second violins. To demonstrate and document this, the mentioned measures are featured here:
For the same reason, the reviewer did not like measures 91 to 94. Everything else is praiseworthy; one passage towards the end of this piece should be particularly pointed out, in which, as a lark, the calls of the nightingale, of the quail, and of the cuckoo have been imitated in such a fortunate manner that, like a portrait from a mirror, makes everyone smile and, partially for this reason, will not be criticized by anyone; this will be so also due to the fact that this passage, aside from any other consideration, is good and pleasant and can not be criticized. The idea of depicting bird calls in music is not new, but the way in which our artist has accomplished it is his alone. He is featuring all three bird calls that form a pleasant ensemble of three voices, whereby each voice is singing its own song. The passage is too original that its featuring here would be out of order:
The reviewer found the third piece, which is an Allegro in F-Major, in 3/4 time--on account of its featuring less original ideas, less change in harmonies and instrumentation, on account of less unity in time and on account of the fact that certain passages are repeated too often--less appealing in comparison to the previous and the following movements. Right at the beginning, before we have settled in the tonic, with the 9th measure, we are rudely removed from our home and thrown towards D-Major. Here, we can also not remain very long, since already with measure 17 our new property is taken away from us and the old one is returned to us. With measure 24, we have to experience this unpleasant dispossession once again, and only after we have gone through it can we find firm ground. While we will not hear the tonic for a while, our ears will be insulted by garish transitions when the unisono, that is held for 44 measures and that is only inhibited by the play of the basses, bassoons and horns, here and there, is growing tired; for there, where it ends and where the movement is heard in many parts, the progression gains variety and interest. In the reviewer's opinion, the passage that is interjected from measure 91 on, is equally tiring, and that partly due to its frequent repetition and partly due to its lack of harmonic elaboration. The passage from measure 165 to measure 204 appears to hold the same lack of interest, to which is added that the transformation of the [illegible fraction] measure into 2/4 time and the dissimilarity of the figures of this passage with those of the main passage, which distracts from unity, is harming the overall impression too much. Due to this, this movement can not win the competition with the other movements.
However, with the following two movements, we are richly compensated. No. 4 depicts a thunderstorm in the most vivid colors. Undoubtedly, this piece is the best among the rest of this depiction of the country-side, and of a thoroughly sublime effect. As manifold as the single features are that are offered to us with such a subject and that have already been presented so often by other composers, partially with success, partially without, as simple and as new is the form with which Beethoven's genius presents this imposing drama of nature. Usually, lesser composers, whenever they want to depict a storm for us, they pick up its peak and, in order to be very natural, they will neither give the performing musicians, particularly the percussionists, the trumpet and flute players, nor the listeners, any opportunity to catch their breath; after they, in their opinion, have raged enough, they suddenly stop so that the entire musical noise has the effect of the appearance and disappearance of a poltergeist that, at his appearance, excites all elements at once while, when he smells the morning air, disappears with a bang, followed by deadly silence. Not so Beethoven. While he, too, depicts the strongest winds, he enters into and out of them gradually. Thus, with the two first measures in the tremolo of the double-basses and violoncellos, we hear faraway thunder, in the next five measures, the violins paint the soft, restless movement in the air, as a precursor to the thunderstorm. Gradually, the thunderstorm is approaching, and by the 21st measure it is fully upon us with the strong entry of the wind instruments and a whirl of the kettledrums, over four measures. The high-octave notes f, e, g-flat that are played by the first violins; the uninterrupted screaming of the oboes, horns, bassoons and trumpets that is depicting the howling storm; the striving sixteenth-notes in the basses, imitating the rolling of thunder, the frequent dissonances, particularly the diminished-seventh chord with its exchanges--a true image of feelings of dread and horror--everything fills us with great and sublime feelings. Alone, as gradually as they have arisen, the strong gusts of wind vanish, again. Then, the violins continue in slower motion, the wind instruments sound quieter, more sparse and with intermingled solo passages, showing hopeful rays of sunshine; in the last 12 measures, the trumpets are entirely silent and will not be heard again until the next number where they will accompany the joyful feelings of the peasants after the storm. So much about this wonderful piece that is entirely geared towards effect. To describe all particular beauties would go too far and would be impossible, indeed. One should listen to them, and here, one will get to know the composer in his entire greatness!
No. 5., (F-Major, 6/8) the content of which has already been mentioned, begins with a passage that is played by the clarinet and that imitates a cattle roundup. What could be more natural, more beautiful and more appropriate to the character of a peasant than such an expression of joy? This passage starts in C-Major, the dominant of F-major and at the fifth measure, it is repeated by the horn in an original manner with the freely entering [illegible symbol] chord that will only be dissolved with the fifth eighth of the 8th measure. If, with this, the artist wanted to express the different tones of the peasants' instruments in different places of the village, he has successfully achieved his purpose. With the 9th measure, a simple, beautiful song of the first violins sets in that is created out of the first measure and that, since it only moves in fourths and eights, depicts the degree of joy excellently. With the 17th measure, the second violins take this song over and present it one octave lower. The first violins accompany it in figures of sixteenths. The faster movement and the changed accompaniment of the wind instrument that, previously played in half-beats and fourths, now proceeds in eights, present to us the second moment of joy. With the 24th measure, the violas and the violoncellos take the song over that is emphasized by the doubling of the clarinets and horns, while the first violins take over the accompaniment with trills of sixteenths; the other wind instruments lend strong support by holding the notes--in short, everything paints for us the highest degree of joy that is reaching loud jubilation. With the 56th measure, the composer, by means of a piece of the theme that is first presented by the violins, then by the flutes, oboes and clarinets, leads us back into the main theme that appears in that original, freely entering [illegible symbol] harmony, anew. Also, the melody that had begun with the 9th measure, is speaking to us again, but in Beethoven's own, peculiar manner, with changed accompaniment that is now being provided in an alternating manner by the second violins and violas. This is followed, after a modulation in B-major, by an intermittent passage, over 15 measures and the entry of which saves us from being "bored" by the main theme, by to its removal. Then it [the main theme] returns, but only in a passage that the artist is executing in the most varied manner. Thus, we also hear the more "imagined" intermittent song again, in another form. Presented by the violoncellos and by the bassoons, it is first taken up by the second violins, and then by the first violins, namely first alone and then by the figure that shortly before had acted as the leader of the main theme, accompanied in the garment of a counter-theme which ends with the first passage, the melody of the cattle roundup, in an impressive manner.
And now enough of our description of this witty product, the listening-to of which will certainly provide more pleasure to every connoisseur than any detailed description can do. May the genius of Beethoven present us with such a masterwork again, very soon.--Alas, is this request even needed, since the artist who is endowed with as much persevering diligence as he is endowed with genius, has hitherto pre-empted all of our wishes!"
For the following year, 1811, Thayer-Forbes [p. 519] points out that in May, Ignaz Schuppanzigh im Mai [probably in his Augarten concert series] presented Beethoven's Egmont overture and his Pastoral Symphony.
Perhaps, the Pastoral Symphony is also connected with an honor that Beethoven received from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, at that time called Laibach by the Austrians. With respect to this, Thayer-Forbes, in the chapter to the year 1819, on page 733, reports:
"In the midst of the worries occasioned by the guardianship, Beethoven was elected Honorary Member of the Philharmonic Society of Laibach, an institution which had been founded in 1702 and revived, after repeated interruptions, in 1816. The project of giving him the distinction had been broached in the councils of the society in 1808, but Anton Schmitt, a physician in Vienna, whose opinion had been asked, had advised against it, saying: "Beethoven is as freakish as he is unserviceable." Eleven years later the men of Laibach had more knowledge or better counsel, and they sent him a diploma on March 15 through von Tuscher. Acknowledging the honor on May 4, Beethoven stated that as a mark of appreciation he was sending, himself in readiness to serve the society should it ever need him. There is no direct evidence as to what composition he had in mind; but in the archives of the Laibach society there is a manuscript copy of the Sixth Symphony. It is not an autograph except as to its title, Beethoven having written "Sinfonia pastorale" on the cover in red crayon, and corrections in lead pencil in the music.[29: See F. Keesbacher, Die philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach (Laibach, 1862), pp 49-51. (TDR, iv, 158, n. 1)"].
Here, we can also feature the original text of Beethoven's letter to the Philharmonic Society in Laibach (Ljubljana):
"Beethoven an die Philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach
[Wien, 4. Mai 1819]
An die Philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach.
Den Ehrenvollen Beweiß, welchen mir die würdigen Mitglieder der Philarm. Gesellschaft <der> als Anerkennung meiner geringen verdienste in der Tonkunst dadurch gegben haben, daß sie mich zu ihrem Ehren Mitgliede erwählt haben, und mir das Diplom darüber durch Hr. MagistratsRAth v. Tuscher haben zustellen laßen, weiß ich zu würdigen, und werde zu einer Zeit als einen Beweiß dieser meiner würdigung ein noch nicht öffentlich erschienenes Werk durch obgedachten Herrn M. R. v. Tuscher an die Gesellschaft die Ehre haben gelangen zu laßen --
Wo übrigens die Gesellschaft meiner bedarf, werde ich jederzeit mich dazu bereit finden laßen.
Der Philarmonischen Geschellschaft Ergebenstes EhrenMitglied
Ludwig van Beethowen.
Vien am 4-ten May 1819
An die Philarmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach"
"Beethoven to the Philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach
[Vienna, May 4, 1819]
To the Philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach.
The honorable proof that the worthy members of the Philarm. Gesellschaft have given me in recognition of my humble achievements in music by making me their honorable member and by sending to me the diploma through Hr. MagistratsRAth v. Tuscher, I know to value and will, as proof of my appreciation of this honor, pass on to the Gesellschaft a work of mine that has not been published, yet, through the said Herr M. R. v. Tuscher--
Moreover, where the Society is in need of my assistance, I will be ready to lend it, at any time.
The most devoted honorable member of the Philarmonische Geschellschaft
Ludwig van Beethowen.
Vienna, the 4th of May 1819
To the Philarmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach"
[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 4, Letter No. 1301, p. 270-272; Original: Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Bodmer Collection; to : according to the GA, the Philharmonische Gesellschaft in Laibach goes back to the Academia Philharmonicum Laibacensis that was founded in 1701, and under its new name, it was founded in 1794 and mainly dedicated itself to contemporary Viennese orchestral music; the GA also reports that already in 1808, an attempt had been made by the Society to win Beethoven as an honorary member and that in 1816, it opened up a music school to which Franz Schubert applied in vain for a post; as the GA further reports, after 1918, the Society was dissolved; to : according to the GA, this refers to the content of the Diploma which is quoted as follows: "The local Philharmonic Society, whose purpose is the refinement of the feeling and fostering of taste in the area of music and that, in its restless striving to strengthen, solidify and refine itself has to, in general, be imbued with the desire to see the number of its honorary members crowned by having you, esteemed Sir, join them. The organ of this Society, the undersigned Board--at this time, fulfills--realizing the general wishes to the Society--its most pleasant duty by proving to you, Esteemed Sir, with its appointing you as an honorary member of the Society, the fullest proof of it most profound reverence of yourself by, at the same time, enclosing a copy of the statutes and a list of the present members: --
From the Board of the Philharmonic Society
Laibach the 15th of March, 1819.
Vidi [name illegible] Albert Hölbling
R.I. Local Governor Office Manager
Joseph Friedr Wagner
Johann G Pommer
to Herr Ludwig van Beethoven, in Vienna" GA Source: photocopy of the lost original, Bonn, Beethoven-Archive [Ley Collection]; to : according to the GA, with respect to this, Kesselbacher assumes that Beethoven, instead of an unpublished work, sent a reviewed copy of Op. 68. As the GA further writes, today, the copy that was in the possession of the Philharmonic Society of Laibach, is at the University Library of Ljubljana and had originally been used at the premiere of the work on December 22, 1808, in Vienna and represents one of the most important sources with respect to the Pastoral Symphony. The GA still adds that perhaps at the time of the Society's first attempt of making Beethoven an honorary member, this might have been sent to Ljubljana. From the archives of the Philharmonische Gesellschaft, there is still a copy of the score of Fidelio at the University Library of Ljubljana that might represent the "not yet published" work; details taken from p. 271-272].
Thayer-Forbes' report [p. 771] that, in the eighteen concerts of the first season of the Concerts Spirituels in Vienna, thus in the season of 1819-1820, Beethoven's first four symphonies, the Pastoral Symphony, the Mass in C-Major, and Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt were performed, closes this section.
ON THE MUSICAL CONTENT
Perhaps, Lewis Lockwood's description of the Pastoral Symphony can serve this purpose:
"The larger organization of the work and the movement titles are as follows:
1. Allegro ma non troppo, 2/4, F major, "Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen
bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande ("The awakening of joyous feelings on
getting out into the countryside");
2. Andante molto moto, 12/8, B-flat major, "Scene am Bach" (Scene by
3. Allegro, 3/4 with Trio in 2/4, F major, "Lustiges Zusammensein der
Landleute" ("Merry gathering of country people");
4. Allegro, 4/4, F minor, "Gewitter. Sturm" ("Thunderstorm);
5. Allegretto, 6/8, F major, "Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare
Gefühle nach dem Sturm" ("Shepherd's song. Happy and thankful
feelings after the storm").
The implicit narrative suggests the experience of an abstract protagonist or observer in nature. In the first movement, having been city bound, he gets out into the countryside and rejoices in its plentitude and wonder. As in the Fifth Symphony the first movement is the crucial basis for all that follows, and curiously it has almost the same length and formal proportional symmetry as the first movement of the Fifth: the exposition, development, and recapitulation are nearly identical in length, and they are followed by a substantial coda. More striking still is the harmonic plan. The principal contrast to the tonic key of F major is not its dominant, C major, but rather its subdominant, B-flat major, to which significant moves are made at several crucial points in the movement: in the development section (at both the beginning and end) and at the start of the recapitulation, a place for which Beethoven always reserves special treatment. Here the quiet approach to the return of the tonic is prepared by a powerful arrival on B-flat major, after which the first theme, in the tonic, slips in quietly in the second violins and violas while the first violins improvise a trill and arpeggio passage above.
Through the whole movement runs a curiously placid harmonic feeling, marked by very slow rates of harmonic change, prolonged harmonic "plateaus" on single chords, much use of repeated figures (especially in the development), and the prevalence of major-mode harmonies from start to finish. The first movement of the Fifth Symphony had been confined primarily to minor keys, above all in the development; here in the Sixth the restriction is just the opposite: there are hardly any inner harmonies in the whole movement, as Arnold Schoenberg discovered one day while listening to the symphony on the radio. The quality of the whole is carried not only by this seeming harmonic static, however, but by the wealth and quality of the thematic material in the motivic elements to which it gives rise. And in the coda one of the best of all Beethoven surprises turns up: after several interrupted cadences suggesting a closure that is still to come, the clarinet takes on a solo with a new thematic idea, bringing to mind a country wind player--a kind of pied piper, who is leading the orchestra to the end of the movement. It is a touch of gentle humor, one of the varieties of the comic that abound in Beethoven and that appear at significant moments from now to the end of his life.
In the slow movement the stage shifts to a "scene by the brook." The movement is famous for the imitations of birds that appear in the coda--the nightingale (flute), the quail (oboe), and the cuckoo (two clarinets)--all of which are named in the score, a point on which Beethoven wrote an emphatic note to his copyist in the autograph manuscript. These bird calls, equivalents in nature to little cadenzas by solo singers, are actually individualized representations of birds that have been evident in the movement from the very beginning. To listen to the entire slow movement and hear the trills in high register in the violin parts as the sound of birds is to gain a mental image of a pastoral scene by a brook. In doing so we realize that the triplet rocking motion of the lower strings at the beginning represents the motion of the brook; that the bird sounds appear just movements into the movement in the first violins as high trilled B-flats; and that the combination implies a musical distance between the brook at ground level and the birds above, singing and trilling, flying in and out of the trees that stand along the sides of the brook. This spatial relationship between the ground-level brook and the birds above is not just a fanciful picture, it represents in nature the registral span that separates the low-register instruments (cellos and basses) from the high ones (violins). The elements chosen for depiction in this seemingly placid brookside scene form the same components for the dramatization of musical register and, more generally, musical space, that Beethoven regularly employs in many of his purely abstract, entirely nonprogrammatic works of this period. These procedures help to integrate the programmatic with the structural, just as we intuitively sense to be the case in this movement.
All of this representation also correlates with the larger shape of the movement and the eventual achievement of a movement-length climax near the end. In its initial sketch of 1804 Beethoven may have anticipated the idea of correlating the growth of the brook with the registral growth of the whole movement. There he had written a 12/8 theme representing the motion of the brook, with the annotation "je grösser der Bach je tiefer der Ton--" ("the wider the brook, the deeper the tone"). This entry illustrates the connection between visual image and musical register: here "grösser" meaning "wider" must also mean "greater" and in a sense "deeper"--as the brook, gaining force and breadth as it runs its course and verges on becoming a river, also becomes deeper. Its greater depth is correlated with the achievement of a musical climax that is registrally wider, from bottom to top; is greater in volume; uses the full orchestra in all its panoply; and gives the movement climactic force near the end. The grand climax in this elaborated, quasi-sonata-form movement comes at the start of the recapitulation, where the tonic B-flat returns after the modulatory excursions of the development action. Now the stream has become a river, and the birds cluster more thickly and trill more animatedly than before; the whole landscape has opened up to a four-octave span and will eventually open still further as the flutes join in.
The scene now shifts to a gathering of country people worthy of Breughel. The tone for the third movement is set by Beethoven's use of the term lustig--this is a "merry" and lively crowd whose collective moods emerge in the metrical animation of the Scherzo. The opening F-major descending theme is immediately balanced by its countertheme in D major. The odd juxtaposition of the two major keys, F and D, continues the insistent focus on the major mode that has been running through the symphony from the start. In the middle section the oboe plays a new theme with strikingly different rhythmic features, an off-the-beat beginning and syncopation, while the bassoonist, as Tovey put it, never seems to know just how many notes to put in. To all this activity the Trio adds a violent foot-stamping dance, with powerful emphasis on the F major and B-flat major harmonies. By treating B-flat major, the subdominant, as an alternate tonic and shifting the sense of tonal balance away from the F-major-D-major harmonies of the Scherzo, Beethoven returns to the tonic-subdominant contrasts that had been postulated by the first movement, all in a powerful peasant-dance context that is fortissimo from start to finish.
Suddenly a storm approaches, piano in the cellos and basses, and quickly breaks out in a fortissimo fury that dominates the landscape. The storm brings the first extended use of the minor mode in the whole work, and we realize that Beethoven has been reserving the minor for the storm, along with a modulatory pattern that makes use of diminished-seventh harmonies as pivots in the chain of harmonic steps. At long last we arrive at a point of stability on C major, where we hear nothing less than a chorale phrase, suggesting a religious element both directly and intentionally--in a sketch Beethoven wrote, "Herr, wir danken Dir" ("Lord, we thank thee").
And now emerges the most beautiful and peaceful of symphonic finales, the "Shepherd's Song," labeled "Joyous and grateful feelings after the storm." "Grateful" describes the feeling of the supposed country folk but also of the ideal listener, who receives confirmation of what was implied in the first movement and thus witnesses a circular return to the tranquil conditions that initiated the entire excursion into nature. The enlarged sonata form of the Finale maintains the prominence of the tonic F major, its dominant C major, and once again the subdominant region B-flat major, thus forming a closing symmetry with the first movement. The world is set right" [Lockwood: 226-230].
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CRITICISM
Let us begin our look at contemporary music criticism with Maynard Solomon's report:
"With the Pastoral Symphony, the working out of Beethoven's post-Heiligenstadt projects seemed to be coming to a close. It was especially fitting that this cycle terminate in idyllic repose, in an Arcadian conclusion to the heroic quest of the preceding half-decade. Beethoven's struggles with Fate--which is to say, with the embodiment of the paternal principle--were not yet at an end, but were temporarily set aside while Beethoven rejoiced in a richly deserved return to Nature and to childhood, which are the twin realms of the bountiful mother. The return to Nature is on the surface of this "characteristic" or genre symphony, which is entitled "Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life" on the autograph score, and which carries the following headings to its movements: "Pleasant, cheerful feelings aroused on approaching the country-side"; "Scene by the brook"; Jolly gathering of villagers"; "Thunderstorm"; and "Shepherd's song. Grateful thanks to the Almighty after the storm." A return to Bonn is suggested by the fact that Beethoven adapted these movement titles from a notice of a symphony, Le Portrait musical de la nature, by an eighteenth-century Swabian composer, Justin Heinrich Knecht, which was advertised in about 1784 on the same page of Bossler's music journal that advertised Beethoven's three Electoral Sonatas, WoO 47.
This innocent work is exceptional in Beethoven's output, although pastoral qualities turn up in several of his piano sonatas, in his Prometheus, in his Variations on a Swiss Air, WoO 64, in the Violin Sonata, op. 96, in the Eighth Symphony, and in several of his last works, including the second finale to the Quartet in B-flat, op. 130. As many have observed, in composing the Pastoral Symphony Beethoven was not anticipating Romantic program music but rather was continuing in the Baroque pastoral tradition, as manifested in many works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and more particularly in Haydn's two oratorios.. Unable to compete with Haydn in the oratorio of which Haydn was the master, Beethoven had transmuted his pastoral style into a symphonic essence. Riezler writes that "it is remarkable how consistently Beethoven avoids all possibility of 'conflict' in the Symphony; but conflict is not really absent. In the fourth movement, "Fate" intrudes as the thunderous voice of the God of wrath, but withdraws without a serious struggle, leaving his children their moment of innocent rejoicing, for which he earns Beethoven's heartfelt gratitude. He wrote, on a leaf of sketches for the last movement: "Herr, wir danken dir"" [Solomon: 205-206].
After this description by Solomon that is also psychologically oriented, let us take a look at William Kinderman's contribution:
"Of the five movements of the Pastoral, the last three are directly connected: the 'Merry gathering of villagers' is disrupted by the 'Thunderstorm' and resolved into the concluding 'Shepherd's song', expressing 'happy, grateful thanks after the storm.'
In accordance with its less directional or deterministic aesthetic, the Pastoral Symphony shows much affinity between the opening movement and the finale, quite unlike the polar opposition embodied in the Fifth. Following the beautifully placid Allegro, marked 'Pleasant, cheerful feelings aroused on arriving in the countryside', and the following 'Scene at the brook', with bird-calls in the winds interpolated before the conclusion, Beethoven introduces the symphony's first marked contrast in the central dance movement. the elements of humour and parody that surface here are not unusual for him; F major, the key of this Allegro, is the tonality of several of his most comic pieces, ranging from the Piano Sonatas op. 10 no. 2 and op. 54 to the Eighth Symphony and the String Quartet op. 135. One of Beethoven's funniest ideas is his parody of a village bassoonist, in the middle of the first section. the bassoon player is unable to play along with the oboe and strings, since he or she can produce only two notes, which vividly conveys a homely touch of rustic surroundings! Just as humorous, though more subtle, is the following sympathetic imitation by the violas and cellos of the falling pitches produced by the worthy bassoonist.
Beethoven interrupts the merry-making of the peasants with an abrupt deceptive cadence, as the natural elements force their attention on the countryfolk. The effective realism of the 'storm', with its wind, rain, thunder and lighting, is used here to make a dramatic point that puts the rest of the work into a new perspective. Hector Berlioz saw this clearly when he wrote of the climax of this Allegro that 'It is no longer just a wind and rain storm: it is a frightful cataclysm, a universal deluge, the end of the world . . . ' In the peaceful, idyllic environment that has prevailed up to this point, the first impact of the full orchestral forces of the F minor triad early in the 'storm' is already disturbing. The climax that impressed Berlioz, on a vast diminished-seventh sonority enhanced by passing-notes in the basses, is so potent in good performance as to endanger the very premise of a 'programmatic' symphony.
It is perhaps in part for this reason that Beethoven wrote that the work was 'more an expression of feeling than tome painting' ('mehr Ausdruck der Empfindung als Malerei'). He does indulge in egregious tone-painting in his 'storm'--his resourceful use of the piccolo to provide streaks of lightning is one example. But unlike many programmatic works, the Pastoral Symphony is not at all confined to realistic depiction. At the climax Beethoven gathers together his entire arsenal of instruments, including the trombones, and breaks the syntax of the musical discourse by protracting the great syncopated chord over six bars. This is a window out of the work into the world, a psychic storm that encourages every attentive listener to re-evaluate his or her aesthetic response to the music" [Kinderman: 123-126].
Cooper's comment, in the overall context of our presentation, also closes the 'circle' of our presentation:
"About the time the settings of 'Sehnsucht' were composed, Beethoven began a major new project--the Pastoral Symphony in F major. Every summer since at least 1799 he had spent an extended period in the country, usually in some nearby village such as Baden to the south or Heiligenstadt to the north of Vienna, and he once wrote: 'No one can love the country as much as I do.' Ideas for a pastoral composition of some sort to express his fondness for the country had been sketched as early as 1803, but he now brought them together for a new symphony.
He was no doubt aware of a long tradition of pastoral music, stretching back at least to the late seventeenth century, if not to the Ancient Greeks. The distinctive features of the classical pastoral style had crystallized in the early eighteenth century, and were exploited by numerous composers, often in the context of Christmas music. They commonly included gentle moods, homophonic texture, prominent use of woodwind instruments, drone basses (in imitation of bagpipes) or very simple harmonies, major keys (most often G or F), lyrical or dance-like melodies in mainly conjunct motion, often in compound metre, and sometimes actual rural sounds such as imitation birdsong or horn-calls. Beethoven used most of these features plus several new ones. He was, however, faced with two main problems in writing a symphony in the pastoral style: the first was to prevent the music degenerating into a mere scene-painting or story-telling; the second was to combine the pastoral style, leisurely and undramatic, with the thrust and dynamism of the symphonic style.
To combat the first problem, Beethoven kept reminding himself about the nature of the work with little comments amongst the sketches:
Sinfonia Caracteristica--or recollection of country life
It is left to the listener to discover the situations himself
All tone painting in instrumental music loses its value if pushed too far
Such comments, which are extremely unusual amongst his sketches, highlight his concerns about pictorial music, and these persisted right through the final version, where the work was eventually entitled: 'Pastoral Symphony, or recollection of country life. More expression of feeling than painting'. Even in the published version, the first movement retained a title that stressed emotion rather than imagery: 'Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the country.' Beethoven's titles for the remaining movements are more explicitly pictorial: 'Scene by the Brook'; 'Merry Gathering of Country People'; 'Thunder, Storm' (an interpolated movement between the customary scherzo and finale; and the 'Shepherds' Song; Glad Feelings with Thanks to the Godhead after the Storm'. Nevertheless, he concentrated for the most part on feeling associated with the scenes, rather than direct pictorialism, and he reminded himself, in another title note among the sketches, that such titles should be superfluous: 'Even someone who maintains only an idea of country life can think for himself what the author intends, without many titles.'
The second problem, the apparent incompatibility of pastoral and symphonic styles, was at its most acute in the first movement, but Beethoven managed to fuse the two styles together in a wholly convincing and original way. As in the Fifth Symphony, the movement is based on a small number of distinctive motifs, but these are subjected to far more repetition than normal development, creating an unusually static character in which often the only changes are in dynamic level or instrumentation. Almost at the start, he evokes what he used to call an 'unbuttoned' mood, introducing a blatant pair of consecutive 5th (bars 11-12) to suggest informality. Even in the development section the customary sense of forward thrust is largely lacking, with remote keys juxtaposed rather than used as the basis for tonal progression. The pastoral mood is also enhanced both by many traditional pastoral features (for example, the movement remains almost entirely in major keys) and by unusual emphasis on the subdominant--the key that most effectively relaxes tension. Particularly notable is the passage immediately before the recapitulation. At this point Beethoven often did something extraordinary (the discordant horn entry in the Eroica, and the reintroduction of third-movement material in the finale of the Fifth Symphony are notable examples) and he increasingly tried to avoid a conventional dominant preparation for the return of the main theme. Thus in the Pastoral Symphony he used a subdominant preparation--four bars of B flat harmony (bars 275-8)--instead of the usual dominant.
Despite these unusual features, however, the symphonic genre remains firmly in evidence, both in the first movement and in the rest of the symphony. The second movement, like the first, is in standard sonata form, and its only specifically non-symphonic feature is the introduction of bird-calls in a kind of woodwind cadenza near the end (though even these are motivically derived). To prevent any doubt about this passage, Beethoven instructed the copyist to insert the names of the relevant birds--nightingale, quail, and cuckoo--into the score and parts. . . .
The one movement that disturbs the rural calm is the fourth movement--the Storm. This was necessary to provide emotional contrast with the rest of the work, and Beethoven cleverly builds up the tension and energy in the previous movement so that the storm seems an almost inevitable outcome. And what a storm! Storm music, like pastoral music, had a long tradition and well established conventions (chiefly in the field of opera); but Beethoven transcends these with music of unprecedented power. Tonally the movement is almost completely unstable, with numerous diminished 7th and constantly shifting chromatic harmony, while rhythmically it never settles into a standard pattern of phrase lengths for long. As the storm reaches its height, previously silent instruments are added--a shrill piccolo and then two trombones--which reinforce the power of the storm. It then gradually subsides, and the initial 'rain' motif is eventually transformed into a rainbow-like phrase in C major for the woodwind instruments, heralding the ranz des vaches (an Alpine herding call) that marks the start of the finale. In terms of both poetic idea and its means of realization, the Pastoral Symphony was one of Beethoven's most original, inspired, and influential works" [Cooper: 175-177].
Cooper, Barry: Beethoven. (Master Musician Series, edited by Stanley Sadie). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Kinderman, William. Beethoven. Oxford + New York, Oxford University Press, 1997.
Ludwig van Beethoven. Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe. [6 Bände] Im Auftrag des Beethoven-Hauses Bonn herausgegeben von Sieghard Brandenburg. München: 1996, G. Henle Verlag.
Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. New York: Schirmer Books, Paperback Edition 1979.
Thayer's Life of Beethoven, edited by Elliott Forbes. Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press, 1964.