BEETHOVEN VIGNETTES


In this section of our website on the topic of Musicians and Beethoven, we also want to provide you with an opportunity to read one or the other shorter texts by Beethoven's contemporaries.  Most of them are based on these individuals' later recollections of him.  

Therefore, they are not necessarily rooted in biographical accuracy but rather, they convey interesting, individual overall impressions.  In this spirit, as our first contribution, we offer you Seyfried's short recollection.  

 

 




Ignaz von Seyfried


Seyfried's Friendly Relationship with Beethoven

 

With respect to his relationship to Beethoven, Seyfried reports:  

"Our firmly-established friendship ties were never severed during long years [of our acquaintance] and neither were they darkened by the smallest of disagreements.  It was not the case that we were or could always have been of the same opinion; rather, each of us expressed his views freely as he had acquired them through conviction and as he felt  them to be true, far from wanting to impose one's own, diverging views and convictions on the other part by means of an egotistical, petty sense of self-importance.  In any event,  B e e t h o v e n  was far too straightforward, open and tolerant that he would have wanted to hurt another man by scorning him or by unpleasantly disagreeing with him; what he did not like, he used to heartily laugh about, and I believe that I can say with confidence that never in his life, at least not intentionally, did he aim at making an enemy; however, those who were not familiar with his peculiarities--I am referring to his earlier years in which his unfortunate deafness had not set in, yet--might also not have been able to come to terms with him on a daily basis.  On the other hand, when  B e e t h o v e n , towards some of those self-imposed 'protectors' of his, sometimes threw out the baby with the bathwater, the fault lies only in the fact that this honest German always wore his heart on his sleeves and knew anything better than the art of diplomacy and also in the fact that he--convinced of his own worth--never allowed himself to become the pawn of the idle caprices of his patrons who basked in the glory of his name and his art.--Thus he was only  m i s u n d e r s t o o d  by those who did not take the trouble of getting to  k n o w  this unique man. 

When he composed  F i d e l i o , the oratorio:  C h r i s t    o n   t h e    M o u n t   o f    O l i v e s , the   S y m p h o n i e s in E-flat, c-minor and F-major, the   P i a n o f o r t e   concertos in c-minor and G-major, the   V i o l i n   Concerto in D major, both of us lived in the same house and, having bachelor households, on a daily basis, we frequented the same inn and spent many hours in collegial fraternity and in amicable discussions;  for, at that time,  B e e t h o v e n   was cheerful, in the mood for every prank, of good spirits, lively, enjoying life, witty, not seldom also satirical; he had, not yet, been inflicted by any physical ailments; he had not yet been inflicted with the for a musician so devastating loss of hearing; from his childhood bout with smallpox, he had only been inflicted with bad vision, which forced him, from early on, to wear strong, concave, reading glasses.-- 

Of the above-mentioned creations that are acknowledged in the world of music to be masterworks, he let me hear each completed work at the piano, right away and asked me, without allowing me much time for reflection, for my opinion on them; and I was allowed to give it freely, without reservations, without having to fear that I would hurt him in his pride as an artist, which he was not filled with, in that manner.  Die symphonies and concertos that he performed for the first time at his benefit concerts at the Theater-an-der-Wien, the oratorio and the opera, I rehearsed myself with the singers, according to his direction, held all rehearsals and personally directed the performances; at the performance of his concertos, he invited me to turn the pages for him; however--heaven help!--that was easier said than done; I looked at nearly empty sheets; only on one or the other page there were jotted-down a few hieroglyphs that were illegible to me, as his personal cues, since he almost played the his entire part from memory since, as usual, the time was too short for him to write his part down.  Thus, each time, he merely indicated to me when it was time to turn the page after he had finished the invisible passage related to it, with a brief wink, and my barely concealed fear to miss the decisive moment, gave him a particular delight, which, afterwards, had him break out into bursts of laughter at our jovial after-concert suppers.

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Source: 

Großes Instrumental- und Vokal-Conzert,  edited by Ernst Ortlepp, Vol.  6, p. 72-74, Stuttgart: 1841, Verlag Franz Heinrich Köhler.