Editor of the Leipzig-based
Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung
Those of you who are already familiar with our section on reviews of Beethoven works in the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung might, perhaps, have noted that some of the reviewers of this periodical had difficulties to come to grips with each of Beethoven's new symphonies. While alienation was, perhaps, the most prevalent reaction to these works, some reviewers, when confronted with Beethoven's next symphony, now moved on to contrasting their alienation with the new work, with their familiarity with Beethoven's last symphony, as this can be clearly observed in the AMZ reviewer's reaction to Beethoven's Second Symphony in comparison to his First Symphony. What fate would Beethoven's Eroica endure under the reviewer's pen? Would their basic attitude change dramatically? Let us try find out more about this, in our chronological exploration of the early reviews of the Eroica!
EARLY RECEPTION HISTORY
From our history of the various premieres of this work we already know that, on January 20, 1805, it was performed semi-publicly in the Würth'sche Concert. In this context, Thayer quotes the report of the AMZ reviewer, of February 13, 1805:
"They were renewed the present winter, and the following report appeared in the AMZ, February 13, 1805: "Beethoven's Symphony in C major was performed at Herr von Würth's with precision and ease. A splendid artistic production. All instruments are used excellently, in which an uncommon richness of beautiful ideas are charmingly and splendidly developed, and overall pervades continuity, order and light. An entirely new symphony by Beethoven (to be distinguished from the second which was published some time ago by the local Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir) is written in a completely different style. This long composition extremely difficult of performance, is in reality a tremendously expanded, daring and wild fantasia. It lacks nothing in the way of startling and beautiful passages, in which the energetic and talented composer must be recognized; but often it loses itself in lawlessness. The symphony begins with an Allegro in E-flat that is vigorously scored; a Funeral March in C minor follows which is later developed fugally. After this comes an Allegro scherzo and a Finale, both in E-flat. The reviewer belongs to Herr van Beethoven's sincerest admirers, but in this composition he must confess that he finds too much that is glaring and bizarre, which hinders greatly one's grasp of the whole, and a sense of unity is almost completely lost.-- . . . " (Thayer: 375).
Both Thayer (p. 376) and Cooper (p. 148) refer to the review that appeared in Kotzebue's periodical, "Der Freymüthige", after the Eroica's public premiere of April 7, 1805, at the Theater-an-der-Wien:
"Some," says he, "Beethoven's particular friends, assert that it is just this symphony which is his masterpiece, that this is the true style for high-class music, and that if it does not please now, it is because the public is not cultured enough, artistically, to grasp all these lofty beauties; after a few thousand years have passed it will not fail of its effect. Another faction denies that the work has any artistic value and professes to see in it an untamed striving for singularity which had failed, however, to achieve in any of its parts beauty or sublimity and power. By means of strange modulations and violent transitions, by combining the most heterogeneous elements, as for instance when a pastoral in the largest style is ripped up by the basses, by three horns, etc., a certain undesirable originality may be achieved without much trouble; but genius proclaims itself not in the unusual and the fantastic, but in the beautiful and the sublime. Beethoven himself proved the correctness of this axiom in his earlier works. The third party, a very small one, stands midway between the others--it admits that the symphony contains many beauties, but concedes that the connection is often disrupted entirely, and that the inordinate length of this longest, and perhaps most difficult of all symphonies, wearies even the cognoscenti, and is unendurable to the mere music-lover; it wishes that H. v. B. would employ his acknowledgedly great talents in giving us works like his symphonies in C and D, his ingratiation Septet in E-flat, the intellectual Quintet in D [C major?] and others of his early compositions which have placed B. forever in the ranks of the foremost instrumental composers. It fears, however, that if Beethoven continues on his present path both he and the public will be the sufferers. His music could soon reach the point where one would derive no pleasure from it, unless well trained in the rules and difficulties of the art, but rather would leave the concert hall with an unpleasant feeling of fatigue from having been crushed by a mass of unconnected and overloaded ideas and a continuing tumult by all the instrument. The public and Herr van Beethoven, who conducted, were not satisfied with each other on this evening; the public through the symphony too heavy, too long, and himself too discourteous, because he did not nod his head in recognition of the applause which came from a portion of the audience. On the contrary, Beethoven found that the applause was not strong enough" (Thayer: 376].
As we already know from our Publication History of the Third Symphony, Thayer (p. 376) reported that Beethoven replied to the public's complaints that the Eroica is too long: "If I write a symphony an hour long it will be found short enough!"), that he steadfastly refused to revise the work but that he was willing to put a note on the title page that the symphony, on account of its length, should be played at the beginning of a concert, before the audience has grown tired.
Solomon (p. 127) reports that also "Czerny reported that the Eroica Symphony was "considered too long, elaborate, incomprehensible, and much too noisy", while the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung had pointed out that the work contains an inordinate amount of peculiarities and novelties. Beethoven's response to this kind of review is also discussed by Solomon, but here, we should best look at the original text and our translation of Beethoven's letter of July 5, 1806, to Breitkopf & Härtel, the publishers of the AMZ:
Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig
Vien am 5ten Juli 1806
. . . ich höre, daß <sie> Man in der Musikal. Zeitung so über die sinfonie, die ich ihnen voriges Jahr geschikt, und die sie mir wieder zurückgeschikt, so loßgezogen hat, gelesen habe ich's nicht, Wenn sie glauben, daß sie mir damit schaden, so irren sie sich, vielmehr bringen sie ihre Zeitung durch so etwas in Mißkredit -- um so mehr, da ich auch gar kein Geheimniß daraus gemacht habe, daß Sie mir diese Sinfonie mit andern Kompositionen zurük geschikt hätten -- Empfehlen sie mich gütigst hr. v. Rochlitz , ich hoffe, sein Böses Blut gegen mich wird sich etwas Verdünt haben, sagen sie ihm, daß ich gar nicht so unwissend  in der <litterarischen> ausländischen Litteratur wäre, daß ich nicht wüßte, Hr. v. Rochlitz habe recht sehr schöne Sachen geschrieben,  und sollte ich einmal nach leipzig kommen, so bin ich überzeugt, daß wir gewiß recht gute Freunde "seiner Kritik unbeschadet und ohne Eintrag zu thun" werden würden -- . . . "
Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig
Vienna on the 5th of Juli. 1806
. . . I hear that <you> one has criticized the symphony that I had sent you last year and that you had sent back to me, in quite a harsh manner, I have not read it, if you believe that you harm me with it, then you are wrong, rather, you bring your paper somewhat into a bad reputation--all the more, since I have not made a secret of the fact that you had returned this Symphony to me with other compositions--Kindly give my regards to Hr. v. Rochlitz , I hope his bad blood against me will have thinned, somewhat, tell him that I am not that un-knowledegable  in foreign literature that I would not know that Hr. v. Richlitz has written very beautiful things,  and should I come to Leipzig, once, then I am convinced that we would become quite good friends "in spite of his criticism"-- . . . "
[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Volume 1, Letter No. 254, p. 286 - 288]
[Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to : refers to Beethoven's possibly referring to the reports of two Viennese performances of the Eroica in January and April 1805 in AMZ 7 , p. 321f. and 501f.; to : refers to Letter No. 226 of June 21, 1805; to : refers to Johann Friedrich Rochlitz, the editor of the AMZ; to : refers to double underlining; details taken from p. 287].
What we, of course, can not determine with certainty is as to whether the tone of the AMZ towards this symphony, after Beethoven's letter, changed due to his complaint. Let us, therefore, take an unbiased look at the next AMZ references to and reviews of this work:
Deuzieme grande Sinfonie de Louis van Beethoven, arrangee en Trio pour Pianof., Viol. et Violonc. par l'Auteur meme. A Vienne au Bureau des arts et d'industrie.
Beethoven's rightfully famous Symphony in D-Major, which has been discussed in this periodical often and thoroughly, is presented here in a reduction--we may certainly presume that it has been issued for those who can not hear the v e r y difficult work completely, or, confronted by the amount of artfully intertwined musical thoughts, perhaps also in light of the too abundant use of the 'loudest' instruments, can not understand it well enough, or finally for those who, in retrospect, want to repeat the enjoyment of the complete performance and to revisit passages that are not quite clear to them or passages that they have come to love. Thus, this reduction, for many reasons, should be welcomed with gratitude, as much as one--and, basically, certainly with good reason--might be against the arrangement of s u c h works. The reviewer who has heard this Symphony several times, in its entirety, yet certainly did not ponder it with the possibility of a reduction in mind, would hardly have believed that of it, such a satisfactory and, at the same time, also very well-appointed reduction could be produced for all three instruments and with respect to the main concepts, than we have before us. Indeed, one does gain a not unworthy and as complete as possible impression of the entire work; in specific details, however, this was impossible to achieve--thus, for example, the beautiful Andante loses a great deal, since it lacks the contrast of the string instruments and the wind instruments, and several passages where the composer had intended to directly showcase particular characteristics of certain instruments or their special treatment, for the sake of a beautiful effect, have to remain rather neutral, here. With respect to this, one should compare, for example, p. 13, syst. 4., and the following, p. 14, the two last systems and the following, p. 16. the first three systems, and where these passages are repeated; and also the entire, unique Scherzando could be mentioned here as an example, although even here, it remains an interesting piece. The last movement, in its tumultuous, wild, adventuresome spirit, could not be rendered as satisfactorily as would have been preferable; it is also, although it does not appear so, at first sight, v e r y difficult to play, so that one will not hear it executed in this form, very often. Also in this form, the reviewer considers it the least. -- The work, according to its inner worth, is etched beautifully, but not without errors.
However, the reviewer should also be allowed to add something here that does not really belong here. Two years ago, Beethoven has written a third great Symphony, approximately in the same style as this Second Symphony, but richer in ideas and artful execution, certainly also still broader, deeper and longer, so that it plays for an hour. This is certainly overdone; after all, everything must have a limit, and when the true, great genius is allowed to demand that critics do not set these limits according to their whims or according to tradition, it has to, nevertheless, respect those that are recommended to him by the human capability for comprehension and enjoyment--and, at that, not that of this or that audience, but that of humans, in general. And the musician has to consider these limits even more as, for example, the painter or the poet--to the greatest extent, however, they should be considered by the composer of instrumental works, since all advantages of assisting arts and additional stimulation are lacking; after all, he can not, as can the poet, say, for example: well, then perform my--Wallenstein with its eleven acts in three days, or not at all but merely read it! Anyhow, this work has been written as it is, and it is certain--(all connoisseurs' voices that the reviewer has heard agree, if not the correspondents of certain leaflets!) it is certain, I say, one of the most original, sublime and profound products that music has to show for itself. Would it not be a true pity if this work, perhaps due to the lack of support or confidence by a publisher, would remain in the dark or if it would not be made known to the world? While, already for some time, there have been rumours that it will be published in Vienna, one has not seen it being published, yet. With these lines, the reviewer did not want to do anything but stir up something and to make a suggestion!--
No. 21 -- The 18th of February, 1807.
Sinfonia eroica, a due Violini, Alto, due Flauti, due Oboi, due Clarinetti, Timpani e Basso, composta per festeggiare il souvenire di un grand Uomo, (?) e dedicata a sua Altezza seren. il Principe di Lobkowitz, da Luigi van Beethoven. Op. 55. Delle Sinfonie No. 3. A Vienna, nel Contor delle arti e d'industria. (V i e r z i g Bogen gr. Format: 9 Guld.)
On several occasions, this periodical already discussed this unique and colossal work, the most extensive and artful of all that Beethoven's original, miraculous mind has brought forth, and that from various aspects. First, our readers received news about the existence and general character of this work, from Vienna, and also as to how it has been received there, on several occasions; subsequently, other writers, such as recently, for example, our Mannheim correspondent, or, some time ago, the reviewer of the piano reduction of Beethoven's Second Symphony--have added to our first reports similar, but also more detailed comments as to the purpose and character of the work and as to the reasons for their impressions: n o w , the rich content of the work requires that one takes a closer look at its technical aspects and mechanical so that one can then follow its creator, step by step--a process that the thoroughness of the execution of this work calls for, a process which, if it would require justification, would find it in the use that young artists draw from such analyses, and in the heightened pleasure that educated music lovers will have in listening to the work after having read it. Perhaps, someone will collate all of these impressions and create a new center from which to go out with respect to this work, and even if that would not be the case--at least there no longer prevails a feeling of uncertainty or ambiguity but rather a sufficient basis for orientation has been established which can become part of the general opinion on this work and thereby elevate the status of the art work, its overall influence and thus also shape its fate.
Accordingly, in this review, the aesthetic aspects will not be entirely overlooked, while, however, mainly the technical and mechanical aspects will be investigated. That the writer, in doing so, can only render a sequence of individual observations and analyses and that he, thereby, will not contribute to our readers' entertainment, can, unfortunately not be changed, as this manner of proceeding lies in the nature of this subject matter. However, one should not want to be entertained on every occasion!--
The beginning of this Symphony is formed by an Allegro con brio in 3/4 time, in E-flat Major. After the entire orchestra has sounded the harmonic triad strongly, twice, the Violoncello renders the following main passage which is subsequently to be taken up by all sides, turned around and executed, quietly, yet noticeably enough:
Already in the 7th measure, where, above c-sharp, in the bass, the diminished seventh-chord, and in the ninth measure, where, above D, the (illegible sign) chord appears, the author prepares the listener to being pleasantly deceived with respect to the harmonic succession; and already this virtually preluding deviation--where one virtually believes to be led towards g-minor, however, instead of the dissolution of the (illegible sign) chord, is led up the fourth into the fifth, and where, by means of the (illegible sign)th chord, one finds oneself, unawares, back "at home" in E-flat Major--that is already interesting and pleasant. From measure 25 onwards, B. thereby endows this thought with a conspicuous and piquant effect by emphasizing the so-called bad parts of the measure and thereby producing a straight time signature (2/4 time, as one can assume that it would be, to facilitate the playing). The poignancy of this and similar, often occurring passages, particularly since they are to be executed with the full power of the orchestra, is extraordinarily impressive and, at the same time, effectively contrasts with the opposite, softer passages, and which, in this entire movement, are as new as they are beautifully invented and predominantly allotted to the wind instruments.--Then, in the second part of the movement, Beethoven masterfully, carefully and thoroughly executed the main ideas that had only been briefly touched in the first part; however, in spite of how certain this solid progressing of the composer could be followed here, it would take pages and pages to illustrate this here; therefore, also with respect to this, the reviewer has to confine himself to a few remarks. For example, it is completely surprising, new and beautiful that, in the pursuit of this second part, where the execution of the earlier ideas begins to become almost too much, suddenly, an entirely new, not yet heard song is taken up by the wind instruments and treated episodically--on account of which not only the amount of pleasantness and its variety is increased, but on account of which the listener is also refreshed so that he gladly continues to follow the composer when he returns to his "abandoned home" in order to elaborate and execute the main ideas with even more artistry--and where only this passage which is of a wonderful effect will be particularly mentioned, where the wind instruments present the main idea canonically, but where the basses move against it vehemently and splendidly in short notes:
Already above, we have mentioned a pleasant harmonic deceit; the reviewer can not refrain from mentioning a similar one that is even more wonderful, in the return of the main idea. Here, B. also, above the c-sharp, strikes the diminished seventh chord, however, he does not move upwards but rather downwards into C-Major and thus is, unbeknownst and yet simply and naturally, at home in F-Major, through the seventh chord. Perhaps we should show the harmonic succession of both passages here, beneath each other:
After the cadenza in F-major, a horn takes up the main idea, the composer moves quickly and intensely towards f-minor and D-flat Major, where the oboe picks up the same idea again and continues it pleasantly. The modulation from F-Major to D-flat major is as follows:
Here, in the second measure, the reviewer would have inserted the (illegible sign) chord as follows:
Beautiful and of a quite special effect is the passage towards the end of the movement where B. moves from E-flat to D-flat and to C-Major and then, while the second violin plays the theme the theme, he gives the following figure to the first (violin):
Already from all of these few descriptions one will assume that this Allegro, regardless of its length, is carefully held together to form a unity that demands our admiration; however, that the wealth of means as well as the artistic experience and originality in the application of the same is causing an effect that, in the case of works of this kind, is very rare, and how it is being considered impossible by those who do not know this style very closely or not at all and that, however, this Allegro, as also the entire work, in order to achieve this effect, go somewhat beyond a set of usual little variations, since they, nevertheless, run along nicely and since, every other moment, one of them ends; but rather an audience that at can at least listen seriously and, in its more serious concentration, can hold on to itself--that is a matter of course, and that not only with respect to this work, but rather with every lengthy and richly elaborated work of poetry or art.
Powerfully and magnificently, this Allegro comes to a close, to be followed by a great funeral march in c-minor, in 2/4 time, which the reviewer, without reservation, at least with respect to the composer's inventiveness and his layout, want to declare B.'s triumph. It might be conceivable that talented, learned, tirelessly diligent composers might bring forth something that could be set alongside the first movement; however, pieces like the second movement are only conceived, born and bred by men with true g e n i u s and every, even the most splendid imitation, of which there will be no lack, will certainly not be heard without to remind one of the superiority of the original. Solemn and profoundly moving is the whole; nobly plaintive and gloomy the minore, calming and lovely the Majore, where flute, oboe and bassoon--to speak with Luther--lead us up the musical scale like a heavenly dance of notes.
Where B. repeats the theme, he moves to f-minor and quite masterfully and with greatest austerity, in the most nobly bound style, he executes this movement, the beginning of which, at least for those art lovers, might find room here who believe that, with some heating up of a lively mind and with knowledge of instrumentation one would, in order to be important, need nothing but--pen and ink; everything else will fall into place by itself, as if it falls straight down from heaven, without first having to bide one's time with boring school work:
To those only one more advice, namely that this movement, which they will hopefully not deny the most beautiful effect, belongs among the double fugues, where 2/4 notes form the "contrasubjectum" (counter-subject).--The theme of the march will appear often during the course of the same, but always with new accompaniment. There where, at the end of this movement, the composer moves to A-flat Major and where the second violin sets in alone, the listener will, but only very briefly, be reminded of the beginning of a Haydn Andante in G-Major. However, the end of the march is quite as original as the beginning; it dies down like a hero. Particular references are not as easy here, since everything is very inter-related and therefore can not be 'singled out'. Even praise can not be accorded on such an 'individual' basis; one has to look at the entire work and stick to it, or one has to admit: I am not for it!--However, one comment with respect to the execution shall not be suppressed! If this funeral music is to be played with effect, then every part of the orchestra has to enter into dealing with its very idea, with great skill and all of its enthusiasm, in order to, for example, have the short notes sound pompous and solemn, the long-drawn notes more gravely and intense, the accurately tailored contrasts between forte, piano, crescendo and desrescendo have to be played very precisely and in unison, with respect to the degree of the strong, weak, ascending and descending--which also only becomes possible for the most skilled orchestra by playing the movement through several times so that all players can make the appropriate adjustments. Furthermore--with the length and the degree of difficulty of all movements of this Symphony, it is almost impossible (even physically impossible) for the orchestra to play all of them, one after another, with the same energy and precision, as well as it is not possible for the listener to follow all of them with the same degree of attention and suspense and in-between relaxation; and since the S c h e r z o that follows the march is, in any event, in almost too sharp contrast to it, certainly, every listener will, at first, not easily be torn away from the sweet feeling of melancholy at the end of the march, as he might want to have it inwardly 'sound out' within himself, so that he might not want to be suddenly torn away from it; therefore, the reviewer finds it advisable that after this march,--one does not insert something else, perhaps something light, an idea which every director should refrain from, but rather just an entirely quiet, solemn break of a few minutes.
The subsequent Scherzo, in 3/4 time, is kind of a side-piece to that in Beethoven's Second Symphony, however, much more unique, piquant, inspired and also much longer. The tempo of the alla breve-measures towards the end of this movement have, as one will soon notice, to be taken in such a way that each of the 3/4 notes takes as long as an entire measure of the earlier and the following 3/4 time. The passage in which, instead of the previous E-flat, H is taken as the theme in the bass, whereby the (illegible sign)th harmony, instead of the harmonic triad, forms the basis, is noticeable. Meanwhile, B. might not have considered what compliment is made towards a certain system. This movement, in spite of the many artful passages it has, is, nevertheless more "ad hominem" than anything else, and that is good; also, it does not disturb the overall character, and that is still better. The reviewer would gladly discuss more of these truly original details, with which this movement is very richly endowed, yet, he should also consider the space that is available to him and leave some room for a detailed discussion of the Finale.
B. had already rendered an arrangement for the piano of the theme of the Finale, the Allegro molto, and has, obviously taken it up again with diligence in order to execute it more richly and grander, here. It deserved this special consideration; aside from some (varied) Haydn themes, the reviewer knows no theme that has been so well-designed and subsequently been used with such economy:
After B. has presented the theme in various wonderful turns and connections, he presents the first four bars as a fugue theme, namely in this manner:
Thus he leads it, bound, on for some fifty measures, and then strikes the chord yet in another unusual manner that creates suspense for the listener, in that he modulates towards D-Major in this manner, and by having the flute execute a thought very brightly that already accompanied the theme as a counter-theme, before:
However, what is a pity here is that the flute that plays everything an octave higher, in such a fast movement, is very difficult to play, if the player does not want to sacrifice its good tone and a decent rendition. Not only this episode seemed important to B. (and also seems important to the reviewer), but also several similar ones that follow; yet, they never remove themselves entirely from the main idea: rather, the composer has understood to weave those first four measures of the theme into them very skillfully, so that they, through piquant and yet understandable deviations into remote keys, through appropriate allotment to the various instruments (particularly in the wind instruments) continue to add new charm to the whole. If some of these passages appear only lightly rendered and without any connection to the main idea, then they appear to do so, only a t f i r s t s i g h t; when one looks more closely, one will, anew, realize the great wealth of B's fantasy, as it always finds new ways to let the main, the interim measures, the accompanying parts, the necessary bass etc. shine through. Of many examples, we want to take a look at two here:
When B. then returns from these pleasant side-alleys to the main street, to the main them, then he has this set in by the second violin, but in reversal, and has the first violin counter it with a new, more lively counter theme:
If the bass then takes up the main theme, then B., truly masterfully, then B. has the also in these samples emphasizes melody that has already been heard earlier:
executed by the flutes, then by the horns, in this shift:
--which creates an incredibly beautiful and friendly effect; at the pedal point, however, he features the theme in simple and double form, diminished and reversed, whereupon, after a finale on the dominant, the wind instruments take up the already mentioned melody in slower movement, to which now a new bass, and through it, a new harmonic succession is added. This eighty plus measures long poco Andante creates a soft, pleasant interruption (only, in the eyes of the reviewer, somewhat too long), which was necessary here (but not quite as long). In order to create an impressive entry for it, the wind instruments have been used excellently and in such a position, that most of them form among themselves a so-called wind instrument harmony while the string instruments play in their contrast. Particularly excellent here are those passages where first the bass, then the bassoons, clarinets and the first horn play the theme the strongest and the violins play lightly against it in trills, and where, then, from A-flat Major to g minor, a gradual ascending takes place:
The entire finale is then concluded by a Presto, the beginning of which falls into the Cadenza of the Andante. At the beginning of this Presto there prevails, however, intentionally, a rather poor unison, namely in g minor--which certainly sounds somewhat peculiar; however, once B. has returned to the main key after that, then he remains in it to the end of this only short, brilliant and very powerfully ending Presto. Once more, this finale unites everything what a well-appointed orchestra can give of life, wealth and energy; it is a true jubilation of all instruments, which will not only enthuse and transport the listener but also every not too leaden member of the orchestra.
By the way, this finale is again long, very long, artificial, very artificial, and some of its gems are very hidden; they ask much of the listener in order that he will not only discover and enjoy them afterwards, on paper, but rather, as it should be, at the very moment of their appearance; also here, some accents are sharp and peculiar: however, be the reviewer is far from complaining about this. Does not all of this also reflect a very rich, picturesque or poetic composition? Is all of this not also true about the greater works of music of the (and, as should be understood, rightfully) praised Bach's? To present such music to a mixed audience, on a regular basis, would not be wise, nay, even unfair; but to ignore it, to not at least perform it in public, would be--something worse. As justified as the complaint about overdone artificiality, bizarre manner, contrived difficulties of execution etc. are with respect to Beethoven's s m a l l e r works that do not say anything or at least not much that could not be said as well, if not better, in a simpler, more natural, pleasant, easy manner, as justified is it when he, with respect to s u c h a work, where almost everywhere the matter itself presents the difficulties for the thinking listener or the executing musician, such complaints are rejected. A conversation on common topics should not be dark, difficult or long; however, who asks of the execution of high, abstract matters that it be fulfilling and still as light, graceful, and brief as any other conversation, asks for the impossible and generally does not know, himself, what he actually wants. With this should, however, not be said that there is not a N i m i u m everywhere and that B's genius does not show here, also in this work, its peculiar tendency to reach its limit: the limit however, where this N i m i u m (in such works, of course!) begins can only be determined--with respect to the mechanical and technical part--by the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of its adequate execution as it becomes evident from the nature of the instruments or that of the human hands; and, with respect to the artistic and aesthetic part, by the g e n i u s i t s e l f , which, also here, is not limited by tradition, but only (which shall happen herewith!) by the unchangeable laws of the aesthetic capabilities of humans, in general--and when he, the genius, has the particular tendency to ask more of this capability than its laws would allow, then it should be allowed to remind him of this, his peculiar tendency, so that he can become his own law and so that he does not throw his products out into the blue.--
In any event, we will not have to wait long before a great number of reductions and arrangements of this work, as soon as it becomes more well-known, will appear. Of course, the reviewer can not refuse anyone to render them, and he also does not want to: he only wants to mention that, on account of its nature, this work can not be reduced tighter than for allowing the possibility of retaining a r e g u l a r l y e x e c u t e d harmony. For two talented players on one pianoforte, as has been reported to the reviewer, Hr. Music director Müller has rendered a carefully and exactly arranged reduction, and thus it has been published by the Bureau de musique in Leipzig, several weeks ago.--
The edition of the original does honor to the publisher, for it is easily understandable that they can not have aimed at immediate profit. The etching is clear and beautiful, but, unfortunately, not quite correct, which, in the case of such a heavily instrumented, difficult and learned work, is all the more regrettable, since these errors will not be found and corrected in rehearsals, everywhere, very easily, and since the diligence of most music directors will not go as far as having a handy score prepared for them. Therefore, this article will feature a list of the most important etching errors.
(What follows is a list of all errors that, however, are not essential for our purpose as we do not have a possibility of direct comparison).
What this chronological exploration of the early reception of the Eroica can show us is, perhaps, that, while Beethoven, through his complaint in his letter to Breitkopf & Härtel also tried to exert a direct influence on them, it might, in the end, still have been growing insight on the critics' part after their closer familiarization with this work that helped to improve their attitude towards it. In our next section, we will take a look at what further performances this work saw during Beethoven's life time.
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