Leonore or the Triumph of Conjugal Love
"Overture to Fidelio" E Major
What do opera friends relate the essence of good opera to? Dramatic action combined with superb music? Where do opera friends usually 'look' for such excitement: in the opera itself? This would probably be the 'ordinary' course of events!
However, the history of the creation of Beethoven's only opera 'Fidelio' provides such excitement even prior to one's becoming acquainted with the final version, itself! What can this be attributed to? The answer lies in the 'barely describable' struggle the creation of this work put Beethoven through from its early beginnings in 1804 until the completion of its final version in 1814, a time span of ten years, full of initial hope for a great premiere, disappointed illusions, painful struggle for improvement, renewed disappointment and final breakthrough. Follow this struggle right here in our creation history of this work!
'Just one more question' before we send you on your way, though: why, do you think, did Beethoven take nearly ten years after his 1795 debut as a professional composer in Vienna until he felt 'ready' for such an endeavor? If you can not come up with a suitable answer at this time, perhaps we can also supply you with some additional preliminary insights into this?
Have we roused your curiosity enough for you to dive right into this reading adventure? Let us not keep you any longer: Enjoy your stay with Beethoven on his way 'toward' opera writing, his struggle through it and his final triumphant victory!
Beethoven's 'Operatic Pre-History'
While we might already gain some useful insights by beginning this line of inquiry with Beethoven's arrival in Vienna, it might be even more beneficial to our overall understanding of this issue if we venture back in his life as far as we possibly can, since, in doing so, we will arrive at the question: When did Beethoven gain a very early impression of the use of the human voice in classical music that is a matter of record, so that we can refer to it?
The answer to this is fairly simple and also referred to in our Biographical Pages, namely when we refer to the Cologne Concert of 1778 at which his father presented not only his 'little son of six years' but also the young Bonn singer Helene Averdonk to the public. While we can not learn from this 'what' impression this performance might have made on the then seven-year-old boy, it provides us at least with our first 'indication in writing' of such an early encounter.
From our web site biography, we might also recall that during the next couple of years, the lad Ludwig van Beethoven underwent general basic musical training at the piano and at the organ until he was handed over to his apprenticeship master and at that time most influential teacher on his progress, namely the Bonn court organist Christian Gottlob Neefe.
Christian Gottlob Neefe
We also know that during the course of his unpaid apprenticeship with Neefe, Beethoven had his first in-depth contact with operatic music of his time when he substituted as theatre cembalist and rehearsal conductor for Neefe who had to take over the duties of Kapellmeister Lucchesi due to the latter's leave of absence. A listing of operatic works played in Bonn during that period is provided in our reference section below. (1) Let us quote Thayer on this to illustrate the point:
"In those days, every orchestra was provided with a harpsichord or pianoforte, seated at which the director guided the performance, playing from the score. Here, then, was in part the origin of that marvellous power, with which in later years Beethoven astonished his contemporaries, of reading and playing the most difficult and involved scores at first sight. The position of cembalist was one of equal honor and responsibility . . . This was the high place of honor given to Haydn when in London. In Ludwig van Beethoven's case it was the place in which he, as Mosel says of Salieri, "could make practical use of that he learned from books and scores at home." Moreover, it was a place in which he could, even in boyhood, hear to satiety the popular Italian, French and German operas of the day and learn to feel that something higher and nobler was necessary to touch the deeper feelings of the heart; a place which, had the Elector lived ten years longer, might have given the world another not merely great but prolific, nay inexhaustible, operatic composer." (Thayer: 68-69).
One might wish to consider the last sentence of this quotation very carefully and try to arrive at one's own opinion as to whether Beethoven would, indeed, have developed as predicted.
From our Biographical Pages, we also gained a general concept of Beethoven's further musical development during his Bonn years. His duties next returned him to the status of unpaid court apprentice, and subsequently to that of a paid assistant court organist who mainly performed his duties in church service.
Painting of Beethoven's
alleged playing before Mozart
during his 1787 Vienna visit
A 'sojourn' from this line of duty was afforded to him during his brief journey to Vienna in the spring of 1787. What we do not know, however, is, as to whether the then 16-year-old had an opportunity to see any opera during his brief stay or whether he was able to watch Mozart during his work on the composition of his opera Don Giovanni for Prague, since we can neither ascertain the precise time at which Mozart began working on this opera from his correspondence with his father Leopold (having passed away on May 27, 1787 [Solomon, Mozart - A Life: 420]), nor from biographical literature.
The further progress of Beethoven's musical growth has, as we know from our own recollections here, undergone a hiatus due to the death of his mother in July, 1787, and did not find revitalization until he was able to 'settle' family matters in 1789.
Around this time we can also observe that Beethoven had meanwhile been engaged as viola player in the court orchestra and as such, he certainly had an opportunity to expand his practical knowledge of the workings of an orchestra.
The first and most indicative 'proof' of his real growth towards vocal composition can then be found in his 'Funeral Cantata' on the death of Emperor Joseph II of the year 1790. If you want to refresh your memory with respect to this creation history and listen to some musical examples in form of wave files, we invite you to take a second look:
The remainder of Beethoven's Bonn years brought, as far as his development as composer is concerned, as the most decisive event Haydn's 1792 stopover in Bonn and the subsequent arrangements for the young Bonn musician to join the Austrian master in Vienna as his student.
We also know that Beethoven's main occupation during his first years in Vienna was the study of counterpoint, first with Haydn and the clandestine help of Schenk, then with Albrechtsberger, and also his establishment as a piano virtuoso, while we can not ascertain any particular details with respect to his study of vocal music between 1792 and 1795.
The year 1795, in the spring of which Beethoven emerged as professional composer, is also noted as that in which he must have been in closer contact with the Bonn singer Magdalena Willmann who had arrived in Vienna in 1794 in the wake of Bonn's occupation by the French. Biographical research determined that the refusal of his marriage proposal to that singer dates from that year and since she, as was subsequently related by her family, declined Beethoven's advances on account of his being 'ugly and half-crazy', we can only assume that their contact was more a professional than a private one and that Beethoven may have 'assumed too much' of it. Such a professional contact between a young professional composer and piano virtuoso and a young singer would at least indicate a certain amount of 'vocal musical activity', which should be the actual point to be made here in this context.
From our Biographical Pages, we are also familiar with the fact that Beethoven traveled to Prague and Berlin and later to Pressburg and Pesth in the year 1796.
At the latest upon his return from this journey we can safely assume that Beethoven was also a very active student of vocal Italian music under the Mozart competitor Antonio Salieri (the 'Signor Bonbonniere' of Mörike's novella 'Mozart on his Journey to Prague', the English translation of which can also be found on this website) and that he also took instructions in the Italian language. A listing of the compositions related to that activity is provided in our reference section below (2).
From his gradual working his way into the subject matter of dramatic vocal music we can begin to gain an understanding why the thorough perfectionist Beethoven might not have felt prepared enough, yet, to venture into composing an entire opera at this point.
These years also provided Beethoven many opportunities to become familiar with Mozart's operas of which his favorite became Die Zauberflöte/The Magic Flute, to which he would then write his piano variations on Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen Op. 66 in 1798.
Since Fidelio is often described as an opera in symphonic style, it should also be interesting for us to note that, after Beethoven had conquered various genres of instrumental and vocal composition before he ventured into symphony writing, the actual writing of his first two symphonies during the years 1800-1802/3, may have established his footing in that respect, as well, while the year 1803 would also mark his first attempt at opera writing with which we would have arrived at the threshold of this 'pre-history' at which it should hand over the torch to the actual creation history of Fidelio including the description of all circumstances leading up to it.
However, before we move on, we should also give consideration to some further aspects.
One of these would certainly be the gradual development of the beginning of his hearing loss, the first traces of which go back to 1796 or 1797 and which found its dramatic expression in his 1801 correspondence with Carl Friedrich Amenda and Franz Gerhard Wegeler as well as in his October, 1802, Heiligenstadt Will. In order to 'relive' this aspect of Beethoven's development, you may wish to return of some reading in the section
of our Biographical Pages.
We might also wish to take one last look back at Beethoven's development up to this point and what may or may not have formed the elements of his personal concept of the 'ideal, heroic woman' as portrayed in Leonore/Fidelio in his own life. Here, the Bonn years from 1784 on come to mind with the youth's coming into contact with the von Breuning family and its two female members, Mme. von Breuning and her daughter Eleonore von Breuning. The impressions gained there might have blended in with his own memories of his mother who died from consumption in 1787 and with his further contact with Mme. von Breuning who would become a second mother to him after that.
At this point, we should consider ourselves having accompanied Beethoven into the year 1803, after his fall 1802 return from Heiligenstadt and the beginnings of the musical awakening of his second creative period, one of the hard-labored over fruits of which would also be Fidelio.
Beethoven around 1803
The Year 1803
Let us move right into the year 1803 and present to you from Thayer an excerpt of August von Kotzebue's article on the "Amusements of the Viennese after Carnival" in his Berlin literary journal, the Freymüthige:
" . . . Amateur concerts at which unconstrained pleasure prevails are frequent. The beginning is usually made with a quartet by Haydn or Mozart; then follows, let us say, an air by Salieri or Paer, then a pianoforte piece with or without another instrument obbligato, and the concert closes as a rule with a chorus or something of the kind from a favorite opera. The most excellent pianoforte pieces that won admiration during the last carnival were a new quintet by Beethoven, clever, serious, full of deep significance and character, but occasionally a little too glaring, here and there Odensprünge in the manner of this master . . . Beethoven has for a short time past been engaged, at a considerable salary, by the Theater-an-der-Wien, and will soon produce at that playhouse an oratorio of his composition entitled Christus am Oelberg. . . ." (Thayer: 325).
What is of greatest interest to us with respect to Kotzebue's report is, of course, his reference to Beethoven's having become engaged as theatre composer at the Theater-an-der-Wien, and that apparently already in the earlier part of the year.
It might be interesting to consider what had motivated this theatre to engage Beethoven in early 1803.
Thayer delivers us enough clues by moving on to describing the period of 1801 - 1803 as one of "dearth at Vienna in operatic composition" which could only be livened up by some fresh wind. This fresh wind, however, was not a wind that blew through the streets of Vienna but one that had made its way there all the way from France with the works of the until-then in this city not yet well-known Luigi Cherubini, and the year 1802 brought his introduction to the Viennese public with the March 23 production of his opera Lodoiska by Schikaneder, and his opera Die Tage der Gefahr (Der Wasserträger) on August 14th, by the Court Theatre, which Schikaneder topped with his version under the title Graf Armand, oder Die zwei unvergesslichen Tage. Also performed were his Medea on November 6th (Court Theatre) and Der Bernardsberg (Elise) on December 18th by Schikaneder. Baron Braun (manager of the Court Theatre) is reported as even having gone to Paris to work out a contract with Cherubini according to which he was to write one or more operas for Vienna (Thayer: 326).
Brief mention should also be made here of the reasons that led to the "operatic dearth" in Vienna: Anontio Salieri's responsibilities had shifted from operatic to sacred music that was to occupy him from now on, the former Mozart pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayr suffered from tuberculosis of which he died on September 16, 1803, and other talents did not establish themselves successfully at this time, some of the products of which such as Weigl's Corsär could not be repeated in another work.
Thus the Theater-an-der-Wien whose official management lay in the hands of Bartholomäus Zitterbarth but whose "operatic" management was overseen by Schiakeneder with the aid of the former brother-in-law of Mozart (the second husband of Mme. Hofer, Mozart's sister-in-law), Sebastian Mayer, a "moderately gifted bass singer, but a very good actor, and of the noblest and most refined taste in vocal music, opera as well as oratorio" (Thayer: 326), may have thought to provide some competition of its own to complement the recent influx of works by Cherubini. To this end, Abbe Georg Joseph Vogel as well as Beethoven were engaged as theatre composers. Schikaneder might have built his hopes with respect to Beethoven's capabilities on the previous success of his Prometheus music.
While the first "official" report of Beethoven's engagement by this theatre was contained in the April 12th, 1803 Koetzebue article mentioned above, it would fall to Beethoven's brothers to bear additional and partially earlier witness to this fact, such as Johann van Beethoven's mention of this engagement in his February 12, 1803, letter to the Leipzig music publisher Breitkopf and Härtel, "You have heard by now that my brother has been engaged by the Wiedener Theater, he is to write an opera, is in charge of the orchestra, can conduct, when necessary, because there is a director already available there every day." (Thayer: 327).
Before setting out on his first endeavor at opera-writing, however, Beethoven took the opportunity to write the oratorio Christus am Oelberg for the concert that he was to hold on April 5th. The particulars of the creation and staging of this work should, necessarily, become the object of a separate "Creation History" of this work. However, they have, at least in part, also found their way into our completed creation history of the
With respect to the second 'brotherly witness' to his engagement by the Theater-an-der-Wien we can refer to a letter Beethoven's brother Carl had written to Carl Simrock of Bonn on other matters, which is dated May 25, 1803:
"Vienna, May 25, 1803
Highly esteemed Sir:
I have not been able until now to provide you with three sonatas and something else because your answer to my letter of September of last year arrived here so late. . . . Please write to me soon concerning this.
C. v. Beethoven
A -- Beethoven
In Vienna to be delivered
In the Theater-an-der-Wien, 2nd story" (Thayer: 334).
This indicates to us that Beethoven, having changed his lodgings from the house "am Peter" to the theater apartment offered to him, had also taken in his brother Caspar Carl. Thayer mentions Ignaz von Seyfried as having reported that this move-in occurred prior to the April 5th concert and this was, in general, also confirmed by the Staatsschematismus of that year with these words, "Hr. Carl v. Beethoven lives auf-der-Wien" (Thayer: 334, Footnote 16).
Beethoven is reported as having spent a couple of weeks in Baden to recuperate from the hectic winter life and then to have moved to Oberdöbling near Heiligenstadt for the summer where he mainly worked on his Eroica Symphony, the details of which should find their way into a separate creation history of that work.
It was only after his return to Vienna in the fall that Beethoven finally set to work on his first attempt at opera writing. Let us quote Thayer with respect to the first trace of this:
"Alexander Macco, the painter, after executing a portrait of the Queen of Prussia, in 1801, which caused much discussion in the public press but secured to him a pension of 100 thalers, went from Berlin to Dresden and Prague. In 1803, Macco wrote to Beethoven offering for composition an oratorio text by Prof. A. G. Meissner--a name just then well-known in musical circles because of the first volume of the biography of Kapellmeister Naumann. . . . Just now he felt bound to decline it, which he did in a letter dated November 2, 1803, for the following reason: " . . . it is impossible for me at this moment to write this oratorio because I am just now beginning my opera, which, together with the performance, may occupy me until Easter. . . . " (Thayer: 340).
This is further confirmed by a letter of Georg August Griesinger to Breitkopf and Härtel of November 12, 1803, in which the latter writes, " . . . would you like me to speak of Beethoven? At present he is composing an opera by Schikaneder, but he told me himself that he is looking for reasonable texts.", and his second letter of January 4, 1804, provides us with an indication of how long Beethoven labored over this first attempt before considering it fruitless, "Recently Beethoven has given Schikaneder his opera back because he feels that the text is too ungrateful." (Thayer: 340).
Beethoven literature (i.e. Raoul Biberhofer, DM, Vol. 22 (1930), pp. 409-14 and Willy Hess, BJ, 1957-58, pp. 63--106) discusses details of the material Beethoven was struggling with: Schikaneder's Vestas Feuer, while Nottebohm, in his Ein Skizzenbuch von Beethoven aus dem Jahre 1803 mentions a melodic fragment of one or two pieces that was initially drafted for Schikaneder's opera but which also found its way into Leonore/Fidelio in part by being incorporated to a certain extent into the aria "O namenlose Freude" (all details from Thayer: 340).
Perhaps not only Beethoven scholars but also lay friends of his music can discover a certain "organic development" of Beethoven towards his readiness for operatic composition to his very own, intense and struggle-bound manner of dealing with such a complex challenge.
The Year 1804
Beethoven's already mentioned letter of January 4, 1804, to Rochlitz not only mentions that he had handed Schikaneder his Vestas Feuer back due to its unsuitability, but also that he was already beginning to work on an old French libretto. We shall return to this new libretto shortly.
Before doing so we should, however, also take a look at the process of the change of ownership of the Theater-an-der Wien of which Thayer reports that Zitterbarth had, some months before, already acquired the rights to it from Schikaneder, with a price of 100,000 florins for the rights alone.
We have also had a chance of becoming aware of the competition between the Court Theatre (under the management of Baron von Braun) and the Theater-an-der-Wien (under the operatic management of Schikaneder). Perhaps it might be helpful to mention the source of this sometimes bitter rivalry: This dated back to the February 24, 1801, performance of Mozart's Zauberflöte at the Court Theatre which, amongst other annoyances to Schikaneder, also conveniently neglected to mention his name as the author of the libretto. We might want to feature Treitschke's account of this in Thayer:
"On February 24, 1801, the first performance of Die Zauberflöte took place in the Royal Imperial Court Theatre beside the Kärtnerthor. Orchestra and chorus as well as the representatives of Sarastro (Weinmüller), the Queen of Night (Mme. Rosenbaum), Pamina, (Demoiselle Saal) and the Moor (Lippert) were much better than before. It remained throughout the year the only admired German opera. The loss of large receipts and the circumstance that many readings were changed, the dialogue shortened and the name of the author omitted from all mention, angered S. [Schikaneder] greatly. He did not hesitate to give free vent to his gall, and to parody some of the vulnerable passages in the performance. This change of costume accompanying the metamorphosis of the old woman into Papagena seldom succeeded. Schikaneder, when he repeated the opera at his theatre, sent a couple of tailors on to the stage who slowly accompanied the disrobing, etc. These incidents would be trifles had they not been followed by such significant consequences; for from that time dated the hatred and jealousy which existed between the German operas of the two theatres, which alternately persecuted every novelty and ended in Baron von Braun, then Manager of the Court theatre, purchasing the Theater-an-der-Wien in 1804, by which act everything came under the staff of a single shepherd but never became a single flock." (Thayer: 344-345).
The contract between Zitterbarth and Baron von Braun was finalized on February 11, 1804, with a purchasing price of 1,060,000 florins Vienna Standard. On February 16th, the theatre staged Mehul's Ariodante under the new management.
While Zitterbarth had still retained Schikaneder during his ownership, Baron von Braun dismissed him. The position was, at least for the present, filled by Joseph Ferdinand Sonnleithner. Thayer has this to report of him:
"The eldest son, born 1766, of Christoph Sonnleithner, Doctor of Laws and Dean of the Juridical Faculty at Vienna, Joseph Ferdinand by name, was educated to his father's profession, and early rose to the positions of Circuit Commissioner and Royal Imperial Court Scrivener . . . All the Sonnleithners, from Dr. Christph down to the excellent and beloved representative of the family, Leopold, his grandson who died in 1873, have stood in the front ranks of musical dilettanti, as composers, singers, instrumental performers and writers on topics pertaining to the art. Joseph Ferdinand was no exception. He gave his attention particularly to musical and theatrical literature, edited the Court Theater Calendars, 1794-95, so highly lauded by Gerger, and prepared himself by appropriate studies to carry out Forkel's plan of a "History of Music in Examples", which was to reach the great extent of 50 volumes, folio. To this end he spent nearly three years, 1798-1802, in an extensive tour through northern Europe making collections of rare, old music. Upon his return to Vienna, resigning this project again into the hands of Forkel, he became one of the earliest partners, if not one of the founders, of the publishing house known as the "Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir" (Bureau d'Arts et d'Industrie), of which Schreyvogel was the recognized head. The latter had been appointed Secretary of the Court Theatre in 1802, but resigned, and, on February 14, 1804, Sonnleithner 'was appointed, and on this account was most honorably retired from his former post as Court Scrivener.' On what ground he has been called an 'actor' (Schauspieler) is unknown." (Thayer; 345).
Forkel is known to us as the first Bach biographer from our chronological history of the St. Matthew Passion
Now that we have identified Sonnleithner as Schikaneder's replacement, his role as the translator of the 'old French libretto' into German becomes clear, as well. Before moving on to providing some more particulars of the collaboration between Sonnleithner and Beethoven, we should briefly discuss the original by J.N. Bouilly, Leonore, ou l'Amour conjugal. From the pen of this French advocate stems also Les deux Journees which, in Beethoven's opinion rendered by him in 1823, was, together with La Vestale, the best text of this genre written in its time. Thus, the original Leonore text might not have been quite as excellent as Bouilly's other work but was still turned into one of the successful 'rescue' operas that were popular in France during the last years of the 18th century (a phenomenon that might interest art historians, sociologists andpsychologists alike in their exploration of the reasons for this which might yield different results from each discipline--those of you with an interest in this topic might wish to explore it further in suitable literature). This text had been set to opera music by the French singer Pierre Gaveaux. The work is reported as having been premiered in France on February 8, 1798, with considerable success at the Theatre Feydeau in Paris. Soon after, this original Leonore score was published and became known in Germany.
Perhaps due to the publication of the Gaveaux score and Bouilly libretto and its becoming more widely known, this topic was also taken up by the Italian composer Ferdinando Paer who was appointed Hofkapellmeister in Dresden in 1802. He used a rewriting of the original text in Italian and set it to music under the title Leonora, ossia l'amore conugale and first staged it in Dresden on October 3, 1804. (It is also known that Vienna saw Paer's opera for the first time on February 8, 1809, while the work was staged in Berlin for the first time on July 11, 1810.)
Extract from the
Berlin text book of 1810
This has us return to Sonnleithner and Beethoven at the beginning of 1804 who started collaborating on this new work with an aim of bringing it to the stage of the Theater-an-der-Wien. Not long after his January 4, 1804 letter to Rochlitz, Beethoven corresponded with Sonnleithner regarding their collaboration:
Since it is so difficult to talk with you, I prefer to write you about the things which we have to discuss.---yesterday I again received a letter concerning my trip, which makes my decision about it unshakable. . . . Now I beg of you most sincerely to see to it that the poetical part of the libretto is ready by the middle of next April, so that I can continue to work and the opera can be performed by June at the latest, so that I myself can help you in performance.--My brother has told you of my changing lodgings; I have occupied this one conditionally until a better one can be found. The chance came already some time ago and I wanted to assert my right the with Zitterbarth, at which point Baron Braun became owner of the theatre--The rooms occupied by the painter above and which are clearly adequate only for a servant, need only to be vacated, then my apartment could be granted to the painter, and the affair would be settled.--Since in my apartment the servant must sleep in the kitchen, the servant I now have is already my third--and this one will not stay long with me either; without considering its other inconveniences.--I know beforehand that if it depends upon the decision of Hr. Baron again, the answer will be no. In that case I shall look for something elsewhere immediately. Already I am used to the fact that he has nothing good to say about me--let it be--I shall never grovel--my world is elsewhere.--Now I expect an answer from you on this--meanwhile I do not want to stay an hour longer in this fatal hole. My brother told me that according to your complaint I am supposed to have spoken against you, but don't listen to miserable gossip at the theatre.--The one thing which I find at fault with you is that you listen too much to what some people say which they certainly don't deserve.--Forgive my frankness.--
Faithfully your Beethoven" (Thayer: 347).
This letter provides us with many hints at the different, conflicting circumstances at work at that time that influenced the further turn of events: The journey Beethoven was mentioning was very likely the one he had planned to take to Paris to, among other considerations, also come into contact with the pianist Louis Adam, the violinist Rudolph Kreutzer and the pianoforte maker Sebastian Erard. As we know from biographical literature, this journey was never realized. With respect to the project on hand, Beethoven discusses with Sonnleithner the necessity for the poetical part to be ready by April so that he could assist Sonnleithner with the staging of the work by June. This gives us an indication of what Beethoven would very likely have preferred to see happen with respect to the progress of the work. However, outer circumstances dictated another agenda for the near future. When Beethoven, in his letter, appears to refer unfavorably to Baron von Braun, this might also have to do with the fact that Baron Braun, in having acquired this theatre and with, at that point in time, already having to deal with the management of three theatres and his need to get the reins over this establishment firmly into his hands. Due to this, he might have felt urged not to keep on hiring Vogler and Beethoven to write on further operas at this point. Vogler's first of three initially planned works, Samori was completed and produced by May 7th. The contractual situation might also have appeared to be such that Baron Braun did not have to consider himself bound to the terms between Schikaneder on the one hand and Vogler as well as Beethoven on the other hand. Moreover, Baron Braun could, for a sufficient amount of performances, rely on a well-supplied repertoire at that time. Therefore, this situation necessitated Beethoven's move-out of the Theater-an-der-Wien and his taking up of different lodgings which he is subsequently reported as having found near the "Rothe Haus" in which his friend Stephan von Breuning then lived and also at the end of both of their lives in 1827. Beethoven took apartments in that vicinity, as well. While Beethoven spent the early part of the warm season in Baden and the later months at Döbling, there is to note that a quarrel had taken place between von Breuning and Beethoven which caused the composer to once again remove himself from that vicinity and to move into the Pasqualati house at the Mölkerbastei upon his return to Vienna in the fall. The circumstances of the quarrel itself should best be part of an in-depth description of Beethoven's relationships with his closest friends. Perhaps 'needless to say', a reconciliation between the two Bonn friends still took place in that year. The fall of 1804 would also bring for Beethoven renewed interaction with the by then widowed Josephine von Brunsvik whom he would visit every day and for whom he would develop, or perhaps even re-develop a great passion. During all of this time, work on 'Leonore' had been set aside with other matters having taken precedence.
The late summer and fall of 1804 would also see interesting changes at the Theater-an-der-Wien, with Sonnleithner retiring from his position and with Baron Braun's reinstating of Schikaneder in his stead. It also brought for Beethoven a renewal of his contract for the writing of Leonore. By this time, Paer's version also saw its Dresden October 3 premiere. It is interesting to note that among Beethoven's papers there was found a copy of the Paer score. To this, Richard Engländer, in his Paers "Leonora" and Beethovens "Fidelio" notes "some common ideas of dramatic and musical treatment, lacking in the Gaveaux version, which he believes indicates an influence of the Paer work on the different versions of Fidelio." (Thayer: 360). However, this contention cannot be verified since there is no indication as to when Beethoven might have acquired the Paer score. Paer's work itself was only performed in Vienna as late as on February 8, 1809. With respect to the actual progress of the writing of the music to Leonore during the remainder of 1804, we cannot ascertain from the records directly pertaining to this year as to whether Beethoven set to work on it immediately.
The Year 1805
Due to Beethoven's new contract with the Theater-an-der-Wien for the completion of his opera, he was once again entitled to take up lodgings there. Accordingly, Vienna's city directory of 1805 lists Beethoven's residence as that at the theatre, while, in reality, he also kept his apartment at the Pasqualati house. Thayer reports with respect to this that Beethoven received visitors at the theatre and that he withdrew to the Pasqualati house lodgings to work in seclusion.
Many of his afternoons and evenings, however, might have been spent in the company of Countess Josephine von Brunsvik-Deym which aided the progression of his 'tender friendship' for her into much more than that. While it would certainly go too far to discuss this matter here in-depth, we should perhaps briefly outline this turn of events:
"At the beginning of the year, the more intense nature of this friendship was not only a matter of great concern to Josephine's family and was thus reflected in the correspondence of her sisters Charlotte and Therese and while danger of gossip arose due to the observations of Prince Lichnowsky and Baron Zmeskall's involvment, as a close friend of the von Brunsviks and of Beethoven, in either dissuading the Prince's concerns or in increasing them, Beethoven tried to calm Josephine down and to dissuade her fears in that respect. A translation of the first letter of Beethoven to Josephine of this year also creates the impression that Zmeskall "was to have a word with Tante Gui (Countess Susanna Guicciardi, insertion by the writer)--and suggest that she should speak to you so that you might encourage me more earnestly to finish my opera, because she believed that this might do a lot of good." (Thayer: 378).
At a very human level, however, Beethoven was also able to unburden his pent-up sorrows and grief over his hearing loss to this friend. Three further letters of this year only discuss details of meeting arrangements, the exchange of music and of gifts, while Beethoven's fifth letter to her (which remained a fragment) expresses his feelings as follows:
Josephine von Brunsvik-Deym
" . . . from her--
the only beloved--why is there no language which can express what is far above all mere regard--far above everything--that we can never describe-- Oh, who can name you--and not feel that however much he could speak about you--that would never attain--to you--only in music--Alas, I am not too proud when I believe that music is more at my command than words-- You, you, my all, my happiness--alas, no--even in my music I cannot do so, although in this respect thou, Nature, hast not stinted me with thy gifts. Yet there is too little for you. Beat, though, in silence, poor heart--that is all you can do, nothing more--for you--only you--eternally you--only you until I sink into the grave--My refreshment--my all. Oh Creator, watch over her--bless her days--rather let all calamities fall upon me--
Only you-- May you be strengthened, blessed and comforted--in the wretched yet frequently happy existence of us mortals--
Even if you had not fettered me again to life, yet you would have meant everything to me--" (Thayer: 379).
With all five letters not bearing a specific date, we do not know for how long this intensity lasted and whether or not Beethoven continued to see 'too much' of Josephine, while records also show that they were at least neighbors at Hetzendorf during his summer stay there. The events of the fall of 1805 would have Josephine retreat from Vienna to Martonvasar. This writer wishes to refrain here from judging what influence this 1805 encounter between Josephine and Beethoven might or might not have had on his opera, leaving it up to readers to explore this issue further if they wish to, in appropriate sources.
During his summer stay at Hetzendorf, Beethoven is reported as having spent much time at the Schönbrunn park, completing further details of his opera which was already sketched before he left for Hetzendorf. He delivered this clue himself by writing in the upper right hand corner of page 291 of the Leonore sketchbook, "June 2nd Finale always simpler. All pianoforte music also. God knows why my pianoforte music always makes the worst impression, especially when it is badly played" (Thayer: 380).
With respect to the Leonore sketchbook can be reported that Gustav Nottebohm was of the opinion that most of its content belongs to the year 1804, and Thayer has to add to this in general that "The sketchbook is filled for the most part with work on the last pieces of the first act and on all pieces of the second act" (Thayer: 380), and that there were originally four sketchbooks belonging together due to their content. Of these, only the second and third were preserved, of which the just discussed one was the second. One can only guess that, very likely, in the first there must have been material that belonged to the first part of Leonore, while the fourth, perhaps, contained work on the second finale and the overture. It is also assumed that Beethoven must have taken the principal numbers of the opera out of his sketches in the order in which they are sequenced in the libretto of 1805, while studies for Fidelio's recitative "Ach brich doch nicht" and her aria "Komm Hoffnung", No. 11, which can be found near the end of the volume, as an exception to the rule. To this, Beethoven also left notes on page 344 of this book, "Duetto with Müller [Marcelline] and Fidelio aside," and "Aria for Fidelio, another text which agrees with her" (Thayer: 380). This might indicate that the duet underwent a change of plans and that the air "Komm Hoffnung" was not initially contained in Sonnleithner's text. With respect to the sketch work, we might wish to feature Otto Jahn's comment contained in Thayer:
"One is amazed at this everlasting experimentation and cannot conceive how it will be possible to create an organic while out of such musical scraps. But if one compares the completed art-work with the chaos of sketches one is overwhelmed with wonder at the creative mind which surveyed its task so clearly, grasped the foundation and the outlines of the execution so firmly and surely that with all the sketches and attempts in details the whole grows naturally from its roots and develops. And though the sketches frequently create the impression of uncertainty and groping, admiration comes again for the marvelously keen self-criticism, which, after everything has been tested with sovereign certainty, retains the best. I have had an opportunity to study many of Beethoven's sketchbooks, but I have found no instance in which one was compelled to recognize that the material chosen was not the best, or in which one could deplore that the material which he rejected had not been used" (Thayer: 380-381).
With respect to "material which he rejected" you might also wish to visit our
of this Fidelio section to take a look at the "Unheard Beethoven" website's midi files of several unused pieces for Leonore/Fidelio. Thayer also notes the already known conclusions some Beethoven scholars arrived at after their study of Beethoven's sketchbooks, namely that the initial material was very often not too unusual and barely associable with Beethoven's genius. As an example of Beethoven's careful scrutiny might serve the observation that in the notes of the Leonore sketchbook can be found eighteen different beginnings to Florestan's air "In des Lebens Frühlingstagen" and ten to the chorus "Wer ein holdes Weib", and that there are also numerous studies for the joyful outburst of "O namenlose Freude", of which only the first bars go back to the material Beethoven had already developed for Vestas Feuer mentioned in our section on the year 1803.
During his summer stay at Hetzendorf, namely in July, Beethoven received the French composer Luigi Cherubini who was visiting Vienna. Of this visit, there exist two different accounts with respect to the kind of reception Cherubini found with Beethoven: Grillparzer calls it favorable while the Beethoven pupil Carl Czerny reports that Cherubini had complained to him of not having been received very friendly. In any event, when Beethoven returned to Vienna at the end of the summer, he brought with him the completed opera that needed to be rehearsed.
This point might serve us well to mention that during all of the time of the creation of Leonore/Fidelio, Beethoven's Bonn pupil Ferdinand Ries had been present in Vienna and was also at his side as his helper in many ways. Perhaps, some of you will recall that the young man had lost Beethoven's graces with respect to one issue: After Ries had innocently 'collaborated' with Prince Lichnowsky in the past in conveying to the Prince the content of a new piece of music Beethoven had just composed and which Lichnowsky, in turn, played to Beethoven the next day as 'something new' of his own, Beethoven would no longer play piano in front of the young man. In keeping with this, he demanded that Ries remove himself one morning when he wanted to play some of the pieces of his new opera for the company of the Prince and some of their mutual friends, at which occasion even the pleas of Lichnowsky could not change the composer's mind: he refused to play, altogether, after that. In this way, Ries never heard any of the new pieces of this opera at that time and soon he had to return home since, as a French subject, he was liable to conscription. In contrast to Beethoven's 'musical harshness' towards Ries, biographical literature also speaks of his coming to his aid on his way home by "giving him a letter commending him to the benevolence of Princess Liechtenstein" (Thayer: 382).
From this point on, nothing can keep us from thoroughly discussing all details of the rehearsal of this opera for its fall 1805 premiere. It might be helpful to first introduce the lead role singers, beginning with Anna Milder.
The young Anna Milder as Leonore
"My dear child! You have a voice like a house!" (Thayer: 383) is what Haydn is reported as having said of this pupil of Neukomm some years prior to that. The now twenty year-old Mlle. Milder had begun her theatrical career on April 9, 1803, with the part of Juno in Süssmayr's Spiegel von Arkadien in which that composer had already included a grand aria that was particularly suited to her voice. While her 1805 beginnings with the role of Leonore might still be considered timid due to her lack of stage experience, compared to her later success with this role, her voice certainly never left anything to be desired.
The role of Marzelline was to be filled by Louise Müller who is described in Thayer as a "tasteful and honest singer, although she did not have the help of a voice of especial volume" (Thayer: 383). It is reported of her that she, in time, developed into a very good stage actress and a good singer in the comic genre.
The part of Florestan could, unfortunately, not be filled with a singer whose voice and bearing was a match to Anna Milder as Leonore. Fritz Demner is described as having had a good voice with a high range, mostly playing semi-comic roles fairly well, and that "...he was best in airs in which there was little agility and more sustained declamation" (Thayer: 383).
Let us now move on to discussing Sebastian Mayer, Mozart's brother-in-law already mentioned here in connection with his assistance to Schikaneder. He, too, was rather more of a good actor than a great singer. He was to fill the role of Pizarro that might have been rather 'too much' for him. Thayer even reports that Beethoven meant to cure him of his rather highly developed self-confidence with which he was ready to take on any task, even the difficult role of Pizarro, and wrote the following passage into the opera villain's air:
Let us also quote Thayer to this to render this as accurately as possible:
". . . the voice moves over a series of scales, played by all the strings, so that the singer at each note which he has to utter, hears an appoggiatura of a minor second from the orchestra. The Pizarro of 1805 was unable with all his gesticulation and writhing to avoid the difficulty, the more since the mischievous players in the orchestra below maliciously emphasized the minor second by accentuation. Don Pizarro, snorting with rage, was thus at the mercy of the bows of the fiddlers. This aroused laughter. The singer, whose conceit was thus wounded, thereupon flew into a rage and hurled at the composer among other remarks the words: 'My brother-in-law would never have written such damned nonsense" (Thayer: 384).
We still have reports on the quality of the singers of the roles of Don Fernando, Weinkopf as having had a very pure and even expressive voice, yet his role was not large enough for his voice to have a real bearing on the effect of the entire performance, and further on that of Jacquino that was sung by Cache who is also reported as having been a good actor but who could not remember his part unless it was "fiddled into his head" before rehearsals, and here perhaps really last and least, Rothe as Rocco who was lacking in quality both as actor and as singer so that his name could subsequently not even be found in any sources of Vienna's theatrical history.
With respect to the actual rehearsals, Thayer quotes Ignaz von Seyfried, director of the orchestra at the Theater-an-der-Wien from 1798 to 1828 with "I directed the study of the parts with all the singers according to his suggestions, also all the orchestral rehearsals, and personally conducted the performance" (Thayer: 384). What varying talents Seyfried had to work with, as far as singers were concerned, can be understood to a degree from our brief discussion of this issue.
Ignaz von Seyfried
In the midst of all our earnestness in trying to trace the history of this opera, this native of the capital city of Bavaria is glad to be endowed with a Bavarian sense of humor that can appreciate examples of Beethoven's outbursts of temper as belonging to his character and as one part of his complex personality without becoming too upset about them. One more such fine example, Beethoven rendered in connection with the Leonore rehearsals, of which the painter Willibrord Mähler, the Rhinelander who painted Beethoven twice, namely around this time and once again in 1815, is reported as having later remembered that at one of the more important rehearsals, the third bassoon was absent and that Beethoven was very upset about this. Prince Lobkowitz, perhaps in an attempt to smooth the situation over and to console Beethoven, pointed out that at least two bassoons were present, so that, perchance, the absence of the third would not make such a tragic difference. Beethoven's anger about this remark had him explode on his way home when he passed the Lobkowitz palace and halted to shout into the palace door, "Lobkowitzian ass!"
With respect to the very first Leonore overture, Forbes' edition of Thayer has to report that, contrary to Thayer himself, along with Nottebohm who believed this work as having been composed in 1807, Anton Schindler reported of it as having been composed in 1805, which was also reported as confirmed by the later research of Levinsohn and Braunstein. Schindler's account discusses the fact that Beethoven himself was not quite satisfied with this work and had it tried out by a small orchestra at Prince Lichnowsky's. The circle of experts who formed the audience there found this overture too light and unfitting for the opera. As a result, it was supposed to have been laid aside and "never made its appearance again in Beethoven's lifetime" (Thayer: 385) and to only have appeared in print as late as in the fourth decade of the 19th century and had been added to Beethoven's works as op. 138 (this entire issue shall be further investigated).
Initially, the premiere of Leonore was scheduled for October 15th. With respect to the stumbling-blocks that were in the way of this timing, we might wish to look at Sonnleithner's letter to the theatre censor of October 2, 1805:
"Court Secretary Josef Sonnleithner begs that the ban of this September 30th on the opera Fidelio be lifted since this opera from the French original of Boully [sic] (entitled Leonore, ou l'amour conjugal) has been most especially revised because the Empress had found the original very beautiful and affirmed that no opera subject had ever given her so much pleasure; secondly: this opera which was revised by Kapellmeister Paer in Italian has been given already in Prague and Dresden; thirdly: Beeethoven has spent over a year and a half with the composition, also since the ban was completely unanticipated, rehearsals have already been held and other arrangements have been made in order to give this opera on the name-day of the Empress [October 15]; fourthly: the plot takes place in the 16th century, thus there could be no underlying relationship; finally in the fifth place: there exists such a big lack of opera libretti, this one presents the quietest description of womanly virtue and the evil minded governor is executing only a private revenge like Pedrarias in Balboa" (Thayer: 385-386).
While this ban was lifted on October 5th and while some changes were still made to the most harsh scenes, there were still other difficulties to deal with such as the copying of music and its subsequent rehearsal. This is best illustrated by a note Beethoven wrote to Sebastian Mayer:
"Dear Mayer! The third act quartet is now all right; what has been written out with red pencil must be written over in ink by the copyist away, otherwise it will fade away!--This afternoon I shall send for the 1st and 2nd act again because I want to look through them also myself.--I cannot come, because since yesterday I have had diarrhoea-- my usual sickness. Don't worry about the overture and the rest; if necessary everything could be ready even by tomorrow. In the present fatal crisis I have so many other things to do that I must put off everything which is not completely necessary.
Your Friend Beethoven" (Thayer: 386).
The overture Beethoven refers to in this note could, according to our findings, not have been Leonore No. 1; rather, it must have been Leonore No. 2.
While the October 15th premiere was already in jeopardy due to these difficulties, everyday circumstances for the Viennese changed dramatically due to the pending arrival of the French military, with Ulm falling on October 20th and Bernadotte entering Salzburg on October 30th. With his troops arriving on their way via the Danube, Vienna had to consider itself defenseless. All those who could afford it left Vienna on the spot, such as members of the nobility, bankers and other businessmen--among them, of course, also Beethoven's patrons and their friends who could have provided the "audience backbone" to the initial success of his opera. Even the Empress who allegedly had a fondness for the topic of this opera, left Vienna on November 9th, while French troops reached the villages around Vienna on November 10th and marched into the city in full formation under the command of Murat and Lannes on November 13th.
Napoleon and his troops entering Vienna
Engraving by Le Beau, after Naudet
The French army was 15,000 men strong. Napoleon made his headquarters at Schönbrunn and issued a proclamation from there on November 15th. It is reported that Murat took up quarters in Archduke Albert's palace, while the Lobkowitz palace was occupied by General Hulin. This time of the French occupation of Vienna would see the premiere of Leonore/Fidelio on November 20, 21 and 22. While Beethoven wanted to retain the name Leonore for his opera, while the directors of the theatre advertised it as Fidelio, much to the dismay of the composer. With respect to the first performance, a correspondent of Kotzebue's Freimüthige had this to say about it in a general report on the situation in Vienna (the report is dated December 26, 1805):
"Also in the beginning the theatres were completely empty; gradually the French began to go to them, and they still form the majority of the audience. 'Rencently little new of significance has been given. A new Beethoven opera 'Fidelio or Die eheliche Liebe' has not pleased. It was performed only a few times and after the first performance [the theatre] remained completely empty. Also the music was really way below the expectations of amateur and professional alike. The melodies as well as the general character, much of which is affected, lack that happy, clear, magical impression of emotion which grips us so irresistibly in the works of Mozart and Cherubini. The music has some beautiful passages, but it is very far from being a perfect, yes, even successful work. The text, translated by Sonnleithner concerns a story of rescue which has become in fashion ever since Cherubini's 'Deux Journees'" (Thayer: 387).
On January 8, 1806, the Allgemeine Mus. Zeitung rendered this verdict:
" . . . Up to now Beethoven has sacrificed beauty so many times for the new and strange; thus this characteristic of newness and a certain originality in creative idea was expected from this first theatrical production of his--and it is exactly these qualities that are the least in evidence. Judged dispassionately and with an open mind, the whole is distinguishable neither by invention nor execution. The overture . . . cannot be compared with his overture to the ballet Prometheus. As a rule there are no new ideas in the vocal pieces, they are mostly too long, the text repeats itself endlessly, and finally the characterization fails remarkably--as for example the duet in G from the third act after the scene of recognition. For the continuously running accompaniment in the highest register of the violins more nearly expresses mere wild jubilation rather than the quiet feeling of deep sorrow for the circumstances in which they have been reunited. Much better is a four-part canon from the first act and an effective soprano aria in F major [E major?] in which three horns obbligato and a bassoon form a beautiful, if at times somewhat overloaded, accompaniment. The choruses are ineffectual and one, which indicates the joy of prisoners over the sensation of fresh air, miscarries completely . . . " (Thayer: 387).
This criticism deals with the fact that in the earlier version of the opera that, at the occurrence of the duet "O namenlose Freude", the dramatic situation does not necessarily lend itself to such an outburst in the face of the fact that, after the liberating trumpet call that announces the arrival of Don Fernando, Rocco tears the pistol away from Leonore in such a vehement way that she faints, and the following recitative and duet still deal with this uncertainty and a possible death of the couple, a danger that is only eliminated once Don Fernando finally arrives on the scene.
All of these comments indicate that the first few and only performances of the work in 1805 with its audience of mainly French soldiers and only a few Beethoven friends was a failure. Thus Stephan von Breuning's attempt at cheering Beethoven up with distributing an introductory poem to the opera among the audience at the second performance could only be considered a kind gesture but not anything that would actually improve the situation.
Attempts to save this work would soon be underway, however. With respect to these, we might, perhaps, quote Thayer's feature of the report of the singer Joseph August Röckel who was to take on the role of Florestan in the 1806 revision:
"It was in December, 1805--the opera house An-der-Wien and both the Court theatres of Vienna having been at that time under the intendance of Baron Braun, the Court Banker--when Mr. Meyer, brother-in-law to Mozart and Regisseur of the opera An-der- Wien, came to fetch me to an evening meeting in the palace of Prince Karl Lichnowsky, the great patron of Beethoven. Fidelio had already been performed a month previously An-der-Wien--unhappily just after the entrance of the French, when the city was shut against the suburbs. The whole theatre had been taken up by the French, and only a few friends of Beethoven had ventured to hear the opera. These friends were now at that soiree, to bring Beethoven about, to consent to the changes they wanted to introduce in the opera in order to remove the heaviness of the first act. The necessity of these improvements was already acknowledged and settled among themselves. Meyer had prepared me for the coming storm, when Beethoven should hear of leaving out three whole numbers of the first act.
At the soiree were present Prince Lichnowsky and the Princess, his lady, Beethoven and his brother Kaspar, [Stephan] von Breuning, [Heinrich] von Collin, the poet, the tragedian Lange (another brother-in-law to Mozart), Treitschke, Clement, leader of the orchestra, Meyer and myself; whether Kapellmeister von Seyfried was there I am not certain any more, though I should think so.
I had arrived in Vienna only a short time before, and met Beethoven there for the first time.
As the whole opera was to be gone through, we went directly to work. Princess L. played on the grand piano the great score of the opera and Clement, sitting in a corner of the room, accompanied with his violin the whole opera by heart, playing all the solos of the different instruments. The extraordinary memory of Clement having been universally known, nobody was astonished by it, except myself. Meyer and I made ourselves useful, by singing as well as we could, he (basso) the lower, I the highter parts of the opera. Though the friends of Beethoven were fully prepared for the impending battle, they had never seen him in that excitement before, and without the prayers and entreaties of the very delicate and invalid princess, who was a second mother to Beethoven and acknowledged by himself as such, his united friends were not likely to have succeeded in this, even to themselves, very doubtful enterprise. But when after their united endeavors from seven till after one o'clock, the sacrifice of the three numbers was accomplished, and when we, exhausted, hungry and thirsty, went to restore ourselves by a splendid supper--then, none was happier and gayer than Beethoven. Had I seen him before in his fury, I saw him now in his frolics. When he saw me, opposite to him, so intently occupied with a French dish, and asked me, what I was eating, and I answered: 'I don't know!' with his lion-voice he roared out: 'He eats like a wolf--without knowing what! Ha, ha, ha!'" (Thayer: 389).
The omitted numbers were:
* A grand aria of Pizarro with chorus;
* A comic duo between Leonore/Fidelio and Marzelline, with violin and violoncello solo accompaniment;
* A comic trio of Marzelline, Jacquino and Rocco.
This refers, of course, not to the pieces that actually did not reappear in the 1806 revision, but to the pieces that were agreed upon to be omitted on that December, 1805 evening.
With respect to the upcoming revision, we will have to move on to the events of 1806.
The Year 1806
Stephan von Breuning's letter to his sister Eleonore and her husband, Franz Gerhard Wegeler, of June 2, 1806, although partially inaccurate, still renders a fairly representative account of the revision and re-staging of Fidelio in that year:
" . . . Nothing, perhaps, has caused Beethoven so much vexation as this work, the value of which will be appreciated only in the future. . . . Beethoven, who had observed a few imperfections in the treatment of the text in the opera, withdrew it after three representations. After order had been restored he and I took it up again. I remodelled the whole book for him, quickening and enlivening the action; he curtailed many pieces, and then it was performed three times again with great success. Now, however, his enemies in the theatre arose, and as he had offended several persons, especially at the second representation, they succeeded in preventing further performances. Before this, many obstacles had been placed in his way; to let one instance stand as proof for the others, he could not even get permission to secure an announcement of the opera under the changed title Fidelio, as it is called in the French original, and as it was put into print after the changes were made. Contrary to promise the first title Leonore appeared on the poster. This is all the more unpleasant for Beethoven since the cessation of the performances on which he was depending for his honorarium, which consists in a percentage of the receipts, has embarrassed him in a financial way. He will recover from the set- back all the more slowly since the treatment which he has received has robbed him of a great deal of his pleasure in and love for work. . . ." (Thayer: 394).
The observant reader of our chronological account will note that von Breuning or his copyist interchanged the words "Fidelio" and "Leonore" by mistake. With respect to other inaccuracies, we shall have occasion here to subsequently discuss these.
What also becomes clear from von Breuning's account is that it was not Sonnleithner but he who revised the text. Beethoven withheld this fact from Sonnleithner when he wrote to him towards the end of the revisions:
"Dear best Sonnleithner!
I hope you will not refuse me when I beg you very sincerely to give me a small statement in writing that I may again have the libretto printed with your name [!} with its present alterations-- When I made the changes, you were thoroughly occupied with your Faniska, and so I made them myself. You would not have had the patience to undertake these changes and it would have made for further delays in the performance of our opera.--Therefore I quietly dared to hope for your consent. The three acts have been made into only two. In order to effect this and give the opera a livelier course, I have shortened everything as much as possible, the chorus of prisoners and music of that sort particularly.-- All this made it necessary to revise only the first act, and therein lies the change in the libretto--
I will carry the cost of printing, and beg you once again for a granting of my request--
respectfully yours Beethoven.
P.S. The time is so short, otherwise I would have sent you the libretto to convince you--
P.P.S. Send me, best S. this statement right away by my servant, because I must show it to the censor" (Thayer: 394).
Beethoven is reported as having revised the overture due to a passage in the Allegro that had proven too difficult for the woodwinds in the Leonore No. 2 overture. Beethoven not only re-wrote this passage, but many others and also introduced several new thoughts. Thayer states that, perhaps, Beethoven also wanted to re-assert his position as instrumental composer by re-writing the overture in such a way that a new work was the result, namely Leonore No. 3, op. 72b. With respect to this re-writing as well as with respect to all revisions, Beethoven is reported as having dragged his feet to the point that Baron Braun presented him with one option only: to either have the work re-staged for the first time on March 29, 1806, or not at all, with the effect that Beethoven picked up his pace and complied.
With respect to the title of the opera by which it was to be presented this time, Beethoven as well as von Breuning were of the opinion that it had been agreed to change it to Leonore, and therefore, the new text-book was printed with that title on it.
Leonore or the Triumph of Conjugal Love
Libretto by J. Sonnleithner,
Revision by Stephan von Breuning
Title Page of the Second Edition, 1806
However, the theatre management decided otherwise, perhaps mainly due to the fact that the first version had been titled Fidelio and due to the fact that this revision was closely based on the original opera that had been staged by that title the fall before, but perhaps also due to the fact that Paer's opera was titled Leonora. As for the original production, von Breuning also wrote an introductory poem to the revision.
The Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung had this to report of it:
"Beethoven has again produced his opera Fidelio on stage with many alterations and abbreviations. An entire act has been omitted, but the piece has benefited and pleased better."
The work was repeated on April 10th, 1806, and thus saw two performances in 1806 opposed to von Breuning's mentioning of three. With respect to the circumstances due to which a third performance did not occur, we may wish to feature Beethoven's two letters to Sebastian Mayer:
Baron Braun tells me that my opera is supposed to be performed on Thursday; I shall ask you please to see to it that the choruses get more rehearsals, for last time they were full of blunders. Also, we must have another rehearsal on Thursday in the theatre with the whole orchestra-- The orchestra for sure was not at fault, but-- on the stage several were; but that was too much to ask since the time was too short. But I had to bring it off then for B. Braun had threatened me with the fact that if the opera were not given on Saturday it would not be given any more. I am counting on your loyalty and friendship, which you have shown me in the past, to take care of this opera now; after this the opera will no longer need such rehearsals and you can perform it when you want to. Here are two libretti, I ask you to give one to Röckel. Farewell, dear Mayer, and give my affair your attention.
Your friend Beethoven" (Thayer:395-396).
The second letter expresses a sharper degree of Beethoven's dissatisfaction:
Please ask Hr. v. Seyfried to conduct my opera today, I want to look at it and hear it from a distance. Thus at least my patience will not be so greatly tried as if I were to hear my music bungled close at hand!-- I cannot help thinking that it has been done on purpose. I will say nothing about the wind-instruments, but--that all pp, crescendos, all decrescendos and all fortes, ff, have been scratched out of my opera! At any rate they are not at all played. All delight in composing departs when one hears one's music played thus! Tomorrow or the day after I will fetch you for dinner. Today I am unwell again.
Your friend Beethoven.
P.S.--If the opera is to be given the day after tomorrow there must be a rehearsal again tomorrow in the room--otherwise it will get worse and worse each day!" (Thayer: 396).
(With respect to Beethoven's letters to Sebastian Mayer, a further letter, namely no. 244 of the Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe [no translation of it is featured in Anderson] is up for auction on December 10, 1999, at Sotheby's in London, and it reportedly deals with Beethoven sending to Mayer the first and second act of the opera, and it is stated that this letter must have been written before the March 29, 1806 performance.)
Let us see whether we can shed some light on the matter of there having been only two performances of the revised version of Fidelio:
Seyfried, in his record of performances in the Theater-an-der-Wien, lists for that upcoming Saturday, April 12, 1806, on which Fidelio might have been given again as anticipated by Beethoven, Paer's Sargina, and for April 13 and 14, Agnes Bernauer as having been staged. This provides us with a fairly reliable indication that, indeed, Fidelio was not staged again.
With respect to an additional, fairly reliable source as to the reasons why the opera was not staged again, Thayer states that it can be relied on the singer Röckel (3) who sang the part of Florestan in the two spring 1806 performances, with the argument that this bachelor who had many opportunities during that time to keep Beethoven company and who was also an "insider" with respect to the theatre events as opposed to von Breuning in his official position as Secretary of the War Office who, surprisingly enough, found time to assist Beethoven with the revision of the text but who was not present in the theatre like Röckel and therefore less of an "insider". Röckel's account will be featured here shortly.
Thayer moves on to pondering that von Breuning's statement must have mainly relied on Beethoven's interpretation of the facts and takes a look at the questions as to who might have been those enemies of Beethoven at the threatre von Breuning refers to and can not find that any of them, beginning with Baron Braun, Schikaneder, Seyfried, Sebastian Mayer, Concert Master Clement, up to the soloists, namely Mlle. Milder, Weinkopf and Röckel might constitute a likely set of enemies who wanted to prevent the opera from being staged again, since all of them were, if not intimate friends, then at least favorably disposed towards Beethoven. While it is mentioned that the orchestra and the chorus might have refused to endure Beethoven's conductorship, this point was also no longer an issue since the baton had customarily and necessarily already passed to Seyfried. It is also pointed out that Baron Braun would very likely have allowed the work to be re-staged as long as it would continue to draw an audience, and that the work was beginning to make its way.
It is further argued that Beethoven, in his second letter to Mayer, is judging the musicians and singers at the theatre very unfairly, and this contention is supported by the consideration that these artists had already become used to the first version of Fidelio, after which it might have been more difficult to "unlearn" what they had committed to memory with respect to the various numbers in order to acquire a thorough enough familiarity with the new versions.
On the basis of these arguments, Röckel's account is featured as a more likely version of the turn of events:
"When the opera was produced in the beginning of the following year, it was exceedingly well received by a select public, which became more numerous and enthusiastic with each new representation; and no doubt the opera would have become a favorite if the evil genius of the composer had not prevented it, and as he, Beethoven, was paid for his work by a percentage, instead of a mere honorarium, an advantage which none enjoyed before him, it would have considerably advanced his pecuniary arrangements. Having had no theatrical experience, he was estimating the receipts of the house much higher than they really were; he believed himself cheated in his percentage, and without consulting his real friends on such a delicate point, he hastened to Baron Braun--that high-minded and honorable nobleman--and submitted his complaint. The Baron, seeing Beethoven excited and conscious of his one susceptibility (i.e., suspicious temper), did what he could to cure him of his suspicions against his employees, of whose honesty he was sure. Were there any fraud, the Baron said, his own loss would be beyond comparison more considerable than Beethoven's. He hoped that the receipts would increase with each representation; until now, only the first ranks, stalls and pit were occupied; by and by the upper ranks would likewise contribute their shares.
'I don't write for the galleries!' exclaimed Beethoven.
'No?' replied the Baron, 'My dear Sir, even Mozart did not disdain to write for the galleries.'
Now it was at an end. 'I will not give the opera any more,' said Beethoven, 'I want my score back.' Here Baron Braun rang the bell, gave orders for the delivery of the score to the composer, and the opera was buried for a long time. From this encounter between Beethoven and Baron Braun one might conclude that the former's feelings had been injured by the comparison with Mozart; but since he revered Mozart highly, it is probable that he took offence more at the manner in which they were uttered than at the words themselves.--He now realized plainly that he had acted against his own interests, and in all probability the parties would have come to an amicable understanding through the mediation of friends if Baron Braun had not very soon after retired from the management of the united theatres, a circumstance that led to a radical change of conditions" (Thayer: 397- 398).
Röckel's contention that "the parties would have come to an amicable understanding" might be supported by the observation that, while Beethoven might have taken along the vocal score and while the orchestral parts remained at the theatre, Beethoven certainly mellowed somewhat within a few weeks when he asked Baron Braun's permission to borrow from the theatre " . . . flauto primo, the three trombones and the four horn parts of my opera.--I need them, but only for a day, in order to have a few trifles copied for myself, which could not be written into the score for want of room, also because Prince Lobkowitz is thinking of giving the opera at his house and asked me for it.--I am not completely well, otherwise I would have come myself to pay my respects--" (Thayer: 398). As another reason for Beethoven's asking for the score from Baron Braun might be indicated by von Breuning's conclusion of his June 2, 1806 letter with: "I will only write you the news that Prince Lichnowsky has now sent the opera to the Queen of Prussia, and I hope the performances in Berlin will show the Viennese what they have at home" (Thayer: 398). Whether Prince Lobkowitz had the opera performed at his house can not be ascertained, while we do know that, for the year 1806 or any time thereafter before the 1814 revision of the work, there have been left any records of a Berlin performance of the work. (Details on any possible revisions of the opera and/or overtures for a proposed 1807 Prague staging of the work might be featured here after some further research.) With this, we might be ready to move on to the year 1814.
Beethoven around 1814
The Year 1814
Those of you who have read our creation history of the 'Battle Symphony' might recall that the staging of this work in 1814 brought for Beethoven as one of the most significant consequences the revival of Fidelio. This time, however, the revision of the text was to be entrusted to Georg Friedrich Treitschke (4). This revival came about mainly due to the sudden popularity of Beethoven's music, and we might best quote Treitschke directly from Thayer who relies on the publication of this in Orpheus, Musikalisches Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1841 (Vienna), edited by August Schmidt (pp. 293ff):
"The Inspizienten of the R. I. Court Opera, Saal, Vogl and Weinmüller, were granted a performance for their benefit, the choice of a work being left to them, without cost" (Thayer: 571-572).
Since chances were that the opera of a recently very popular composer would draw the most crowds, the choice fell on Beethoven's Fidelio, since it could be produced at no cost to the institution and might guarantee them a handsome revenue. Treitschke's further account is as follows:
"Beethoven was approached for the loan of the opera and very unselfishly declared his willingness, but on the unequivocal condition that many changes be made. At the same time he proposed my humble self as the person to make these changes. I had enjoyed his more intimate friendship for some time, and my twofold position as stage-manager and opera-poet made his wish a pious duty. With Sonnleithner's permission I first took up the dialogue, wrote it almost wholly anew, succint and clear as possible--an essential thing in the case of Singspiele" (Thayer: 572).
Treitschke then moves on to discussing the particular changes he made:
"The scene of the entire first act was laid in an open court; the psoitions of Nos. 1 and 2 were exchanged; later the guard entered to a newly composed march; Leonora's Air received a new introduction, and only the last movement, 'O du, für den ich alles trug,' was retained. The succeeding scene and duet-- according to Seyfried's description 'a charming duettino for soprano voices with concertante parts for violin and violoncello, C major, 9/8 time'-- which was on the old book, Beethoven tore out of the score; the former was unnecessary, the latter a concert piece. I was compelled to agree with him; the purpose in view was to save the opera as a whole. A little terzetto for Rocco, Marcelline and Jaquino which followed ('a most melodious terzetto in E-flat' as Seyfried says) fared no better. There had been a want of action and the music did not warm the hearers. A new dialogue was desired to give more occasion for the first finale. My friend was again right in demanding a different ending. I made many plans: at leght we came to an agreement: to bring together the return of the prisoners at the command of Pizarro and their lamentation."
"The second a act offered a great difficulty at the very outset. Beethoven at first wanted to distinguish poor Florestan with an aria, but I offered the objection that it would not be possible to allow a man nearly dead of hunger to sing bravura. We composed one thing and another; at last, in his opinion, I hit the nail on the head. I wrote words which describe the last blazing up of life before its extinguishment:
'Und spür ich nicht linde, sanft säuselnde Luft,
Und ist nicht mein Grab mir erhellet?
Ich seh', wie ein Engel, im rosigen Duft,
Sich tröstend zur Seite mir stellet.
Ein Engel, Leonoren, der Gattin so gleich!
Der führt mich zur Freiheit,--ins himmlische Reich!"
"What I am now relating will live forever in my memory. Beethoven came to me about seven o'clock in the evening. After we had discussed other things, he asked how matters stood with the aria? It was just finished, I handed it to him. He read, ran up and down the room, muttered, growled, as was his habit instead of singing--and tore open the pianoforte. My wife had often vainly begged him to play; to-day he placed the text in front of him and began to improvise marvellously--music which no magic could hold fast. Out of it he seemed to conjure the motive of the aria. The hours went by, but Beethoven improvised on. Supper, which he had purposed to eat with us, was served, but--he would not permit himself to be disturbed. It was late when he embraced me, and declining the meal, he hurried home. The next day the admirable composition was finished" (Thayer:572-753).
Röckel reports to this that the Italian Radici, the new 1814 Florestan, hoped to be applauded after he would have finished his air. This, however, was, according to Röckel, not possible and also very uncalled for atfer the planned pianissimo ending of the air that was accompanied by the con sordino of the violins. How was Beethoven to solve this problem without, on the one hand, offending the singer nor, on the other hand, spoiling the intended effect of this air? He accomplished this by shortening the adagio and by adding as conclusion an allegro that would lead the tenor into his high registers. However, also keeping in mind the following entrance of Rocco and Fidelio in pursuit of their task of digging a grave for Florestan and the practical impossibility of allowing for applause in-between the end of the air and their arrival, Beethoven came up with the idea of adding to the allegro a small coda for the orchestra that ends on a new pianissimo and thereby restores the silence required for the entrance of Rocco and Fidelio in pursuit of their sinister task.
Treitschke continues his account by mentioning that the changes to the second act mainly consisted of abbreviations and changes to the poetry, as, for example, the interruption of the quartet Er sterbe etc. by a short break in which Jaquino and others enter to report the arrival of the minister, so that Pizarro can not carry out his murder of Florestan because he is called away, and that, after the next duet, Rocco re-enters to accompany Florestan and Leonore to the minister.
This solution had Treitschke accomplish a change of scenery from the dungeon to the conclusion of the opera "in full daylight upon a bright green courtyard of the palace" (Thayer: 574), which was a desirable improvement in his mind.
With respect to an interesting source of information to the revision of Fidelio, Thayer mentions the so-called Dessauer sketchbook, reportedly in the possession of the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, that has been determined as belonging to the year 1814, containing the two new finales of the opera, but also an interesting remark by Beethoven on page 72, "For Milder, B-flat above", most likely referring to the "measure before the last in Leonore's aria" (Thayer: 574).
This sketchbook also contains, on page 82, Florestan's air, page 90 features the melodrama, page 108 the recitative "Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin", and sketches for the overtures to Fidelio, all thoroughly reviewed by Nottebohm. At this point, we are not listing sketches to other works of this year that are contained in it.
Beethoven has interrupted in his revision work by the concert of February 27th that he was supposed to give and that he mentioned in his letter to Count Franz von Brunsvik of February 13, 1814, and in his not to Archduke Rudolph. (The details to the February 27th concert can be looked up in our history of
A further matter delayed both composer and libretto reviser in their work on Fidelio. Let us quote Thayer on this:
"The French Armies had so often taken possession of the capitals of the various Continental states, that the motives are inconceivable, which induced Schwarzenberg to restrain the approach of the allied armies on Paris, until Blücher's persistence, enforced by his victories, at last compelled the Commander-in-Chief to yield the point. When this became known in Vienna, it was determined to celebrate the event, so soon as news of it should arrive, by an appropriate performance in the Court Opera. To this end, Treitschke wrote a Singspiel in one act entitled Gute Nachricht (Good News). Of the nine pieces of music in it, the overture was given to Hummel and the concluding chorus, 'Germania, wie stehst du jetzt im Glanze da', to Beethoven" (Thayer: 576-577).
Let us return to Fidelio, however, and report that it was at the end of March when Beethoven received from Treitschke the completely revised libretto, and his note to Treitschke reads as follows: "I have read your amendments to the opera with great pleasure; they determine me the more to rebuild the ruins of an old castle" (Thayer: 577).
Yet, Beethoven's attention was again diverted from continuously working on rebuilding those ruins, and that by such matters as the concert he was to give at the Hotel zum Römischen Kaiser on April 11th, namely for a military charity, arranged by the owner of that property and by Schuppanzigh. (one of the works performed was op. 97, the Archduke Trio). In the course of the exchange of notes for the rehearsal of this Trio, Anton Schindler appears for the first time as messenger between Schuppanzigh and Beethoven who reportedly recognized this young man again at that concert. However, as Thayer points out, it should be noted that there was no further direct contact between Beethoven and Schindler until later in 1814.
Since the good news of the final victory of the allied armies reached Vienna on April 10th, the Gute Nachricht was also performed on April 11th.
We should not fail to mention here that on April 15th, 1814, Beethoven's old friend and patron, Prince Karl Lichnowsky--who had supported him in the revision of the first version of the opera by holding the revision soiree at his residence in December, 1805--passed away. Unfortunately, we do not have any direct comment of Beethoven as to how this might have affected him.
About this time, the composer discussed, in a note to Zmeskall, his move to new lodgings.
He moved from the Pascqualati house to the first story of the Bartenstein house, which was also situated at the Mölkerbastei, thereby still remaining in the vicinity of some of his friends (such as Princess Lichnowsky and the Erdödys).
With respect to the setbacks in his work on the opera, Beethoven mentioned in a note to Treitschke that four to five days had been stolen from him on account of the "cantata" (probably referring to Die gute Nachricht).
With respect to the just-mentioned note of Beethoven to Treitschke we might wish to quote the remainder of it since it provides us with an impression of how the 'rebuilding of an old ruin' was affecting Beethoven in his actual execution of his intention:
" . . . now, of course, everything must be done at once; and I could write something new more quickly than add new things to old as now. I am accustomed in my composing, even in my instrumental music, to keep the whole in view. But here my whole has--in a certain way--been distributed everywhere and I have got to think myself back into my work ever and anon-- It is not likely that it will be possible to give the opera in two weeks' time. I think that it will be in 4 weeks. Meanwhile the first act will be finished in a few days--But there still remains much to do in the second Act, and also a new overture, which will be easiest because I can compose it entirely new. Before my Akademie a few things only were sketched here and there, in the first as well as the second act. It was not until a few days ago that I could begin to work things out. The score of the opera is as frightfully written as any that I ever saw. I have to look through note after note (it is probably a pilfered one). In short, I assure you, dear T. the opera will secure for me the crown of martyrdom. If you had not given yourself so much pains with it and revised everything so successfully, for which I shall be eternally grateful to you, I would scarcely have been able to bring myself to it.--You have thereby saved some good remainders of a ship that was stranded.--
If you think that the delay with the opera will be too long, postpone it till some future time. I am going ahead now until everything is finished, and, just like you, I have been changing everything and making it better, which I see more and more clearly every moment. But it cannot go as fast as if I were composing something new--and in 14 days that is impossible.-- Do as you think best, but as a friend of mine. There is no want of zeal on my part.
Your Beethoven" (Thayer: 580-581).
The "Gute Nachricht" saw several repeat performances that were concluded on May 3rd, so that Treitschke felt compelled to urge Beethoven on to come to an end with his Fidelio revisions. In spite of their not having neared completion yet, rehearsals at the opera began in mid-April, with the performance being schedule for May 23rd.
With respect to Beethoven's 'progress', Thayer reports of a memorandum of the composer on his revision, reading: "The opera Fidelio [ ? } March to 15th of May, newly written and improved" (Thayer: 581). This was dated May 15th, a Sunday, and Beethoven's specific answer to Treitschke the 17th, which is not featured in detail, as opposed to a letter ascribed to the 14th of May:
"Worthy T! Your satisfaction with the chorus delights me infinitely.-- I was of the opinion that you ought to apply all the works to your profit and therefore mine also. But if you do not want to do this, I should like to have you sell it outright for the benefit of the poor.
Your copyist and Wrantisky were here yesterday about the matter, I told them, that you, worthy Tr., were entirely master in the affair.-- For this reason I await now your frank opinion.-- Your copyist is an ass!--but he is completely lacking in the well-known splendid ass's skin [Eselshaut]-- Therefore my copyist has undertaken the work of copying, and by Tuesday little will remain to be done, and my copyist will bring everything to the rehearsal-- As for the rest, the whole matter of the opera is the most wearisome thing in the world, and I am dissatisfied with most of it--and--there is hardly a piece in it to which in my present state of dissatisfaction I ought not to have patched for some satisfaction.-- That is the great difference between being able to surrender to free reflection or enthusiasm--
wholly your Beethoven" (Thayer: 581).
According to Treitschke, the final rehearsal took place on May 22nd. However, the overture was not completed, yet, and that it might have been on the 20th or 21st of May that Beethoven was out for dinner with his friend, Dr. Bertolini, at the "Römischer Kaiser", where he, when the bill of fare was delivered, took it and started drawing lines on the back side and began to write notes. Urged by Bertolini to leave, Beethoven held him back, indicating that he had just now come up with an idea for the new overture and that he stayed to finish its initial sketch.
Treitschke's report continues by mentioning that on the actual final rehearsal morning of May 22nd, Beethoven was absent while everybody still waited for him. Finally, it was decided to fetch him from his apartment, where he was found fast asleep in bed, a glass of wine with a bisquit in it standing next to him, but also aburnt-out candle, and the sketches to the overture being strewn all over the floor, bearing witness to the fact that, while Beethoven must have been working long into the small hours, he was not able to complete the overture.
With respect to what was actually used that evening as a replacement overture, there are different accounts, with Schindler insisting on the overture to Leonore as having been played and Seyfried recalling the overture Die Ruinen von Athen as having been performed. A contemporary comment featured in Der Sammler sides with Seyfried.
An 1823 conversation of Beethoven has been preserved in which he remarked: "The people applauded, but I stood ashamed; it did not belong to the rest" (Thayer: 582).
The textbook title for this occasion surprisingly reads:
An Opera in Two Acts, etc."
The word "Leonore" is crossed out and "Fidelio" written at the side in red pencil afterwards inked over. There was then on the part of some one--whom?--an intention subsequently abandoned, of thus changing the title.
Again, in the list of "properties," stands
2 chains . . . Mme. Hönig.
and the same occurs in the list of the
Herr Saal . . . Don Fernando, minister.
Herr Vogel . . . Don Pizarro, Governor of a State's prison.
Herr Radichi . . . Florestan, a prisoner.
M. Hönig . . . Leonore, his wife, under the name of Fidelio.
Hr. Weinmller . . . Rokko, jailer.
Mlle. Bondra . . . Marzelline, his daughter.
Hr. Frühwald . . . Jaquino.
Prisoners of State, etc. etc."
Here, we can also feature a Reclam listing in picture form:
From the comparison between the Thayer and Reclam versions we can provide you with a concrete example that Thayer rightfully mentions that Mme. Hönig was replaced by Mme. Milder-Hauptmann at the actual performance.
With respect to the 1814 Vienna premiere of the revised version, Treitschke reports that "The opera was capitally prepared. . . . Beethoven conducted, his ardor often rushed him out of time, but Kapellmeister Umlauf behind his back, guided everything to success with eye and hand. The applause was great and increased with every representation" (Thayer: 583).
On May 26th, the opera was performed again, this time with the new overture in E major which was received with enthusiastic applause, and Beethoven was called out twice. Further performances followed on June 2nd, 4th and 7th, as well as on June 21st, after the opera had been closed for preparations to a reception on the return of the Emperor.
With respect to a performance of the opera to Beethoven's own benefit, Beethoven wrote the following to Treitschke about this time:
"Dear worthy Tr! What you say about a quarter of the receipts is understood, of course! And for a moment only I must moreover remain your debtor, but I will not forget that I am.-- As regards a benefit performance for me I should like to have the day set on a week from yesterday, that is next Thursday.--
I called on Hr. Palffy today but did not find him in. Do not let the opera rest too much! It surely would be injurious!
I will visit your shortly as I still have a lot to discuss with you. Running out of paper, I must end.
Wholly your Beethoven" (Thayer: 583).
To this letter, two comments should be made:
1. That the requested date for the benefit performance was not granted;
2. That the July 1st issue of the Wiener Zeitung features a "Musical Note" with respect to:
"The undersigned, at the request of the Herren Artaria and Co., herewith declares that he has given the score of his oper FIDELIO to the aforesaid music establishment for publication under his direction in a complete pianoforte score, quartets, or arrangements for wind band. The present musical version is not to be confounded with an earlier one, since hardly a musical number has been left unchanged, and more than half of the opera was composed anew. Scores in the only authorized copy and also the book in manuscript may be had from me or from the reviser of the book, Hr. Fr. Treitschke, R. I. Court Theatre Poet. Other unauthorized copies will be punished by law.
Ludwig van Beethoven" (Thayer: 584).
To this, the then 20-year-old Praguer Ignaz Moscheles (5) later reported that he was delighted about this offer that enabled him to become acquainted with a composer whom he had admired for some time. One of his notes might once again provide us with a glimpse at Beethoven's "human nature":
"Coming early to Beethoven, he was still in bed; this day he was particularly merry, leaped up at once, and, as he was, went to the window, which opened to the Schottenbastei, to look through the arranged numbers. Naturally the street boys assembled under the window until he cried out: 'Damn the youngsters, what do they want?' I smilingly pointed to his garment. 'Yes, yes, you are right,' said he and hastily threw a dressing-gown over his shoulders. When we reached the last great duet, 'Namenlose Freude,' where I had written down the text 'Ret-terin des Gat-ten,' he crossed it out and wrote 'Rett-erin des Gatt-en'; for it was not possible to sing on 't.' Under the last number I had written 'fine with God's help.' He was not at home when I carried it to him; and when he sent it back under mine were the words: 'O man, help yourself.'" (Thayer: 584).
While Thayer entertains its readers with Moscheles' account of Beethoven's resons for choosing him over Hummel as arranger of the piano reduction, it is also pointed out therein that Beethoven might have chosen a less prolific composer in his own right who might have put too much of a stamp of his own on such a piano reduction in form of a talented young man who was more pliable and sub-serviant to Beethoven's needs. It is also mentioned that the score was not published immediately which proved to be a mistake since rogue scores soon appeared and reaped profits that should have fallen to Beethoven and Treitschke.
While the warm season moved on and the nobility and well-to-do would soon leave Vienna, Beethoven thought of ways to make the public aware of his upcoming Fidelio performance for his own benefit and handed over to the Friedensblätter the song "An die Geliebte" by Stoll that was featured as a supplement to the July 12th issue, and closed with the following words:
"A WORD TO HIS ADMIRERS
How often in your chagrin, that his depth was not sufficiently appreciated, have you said that van Beethoven composes only for posterity! You have, no doubt, been convinced of your error since if not before the general enthusiasm aroused by his immortal opera "Fidelio"; and also that the present finds kindred souls and sympathetic hearts for that which is great and beautiful without withholding its just privileges from the future" (Thayer: 586-587).
Beethoven also thought of adding a new attraction to the opera of which this noted of his to Treitschke is indicative:
"For heaven's sake, dear friend! It seems that you have no instinct for money-making-- See to it that Fidelio is not given before my benefit. This was the arrangement with Schreyvogel-- Since Saturday when you last saw me at the theatre, I have been confined to my bed and room, and not until yesterday did I feel a trace of improvement. I might have visited you today did I know that poets like Phaeacians observe Sunday! We must talk about sending out the opera so that you may receive your quarter share and so it is not sent out in stolen copies all over the world. I know nothing of business but think that if we were to sell the score to a publisher here and it were to be printed, the result would be better for you and me. If I understand you correctly I ought to have the song by this time-- Please, dear friend, hurry it up!-- Are you angry? Have I offended you? If so, it was done inadvertently, and therefore forgive an ignoramus and musician. Farewell, let me know something soon.
Your grateful debtor and friend Beethoven
Milder has had her aria for a fortnight, I shall learn today or tomorrow whether she knows it. It will not take her long" (Thayer: 587).
With respect to the benefit performance for Beethoven can be reported that it took place on Monday, July 18th, 1814. In it, Rocco's "Gold Aria" was included again. For this purpose, Treitschke revised the previous Sonnleithner and Breuning texts, as well. With respect to the new piece for Mme. Milder-Hauptmann, Treitschke reports that it was intended as a new grand aria for Leonore, but due to its impeding the flow of action, it was not added, while Beethoven himself only stated, "For this performance . . . two new pieces have been added" (Thayer: 587), while the Friedensblätter notice states "Fidelio will be given with two entirely new arias sung by Mme. Milder and Hr. Weinmüller, for the benefit of the composer" (Thayer: 587).
Based on a review of various sources, Thayer concludes that the text to this "new piece for Milder" was that of "Komm, Hoffnung", yet not the aria she had already sung in the previous six performances; rather, it was the one referred to by Beethoven in his letter to Treitschke below his signature. With respect to a critique of this change, let us quote from the report of the Allg. Mus. Ztg.:
"The second aria with four horns obbligato (E major) which was performed with power and feeling by Mad. Milder-Hauptmann (Fidelio) is beautiful and of great artistic worth. Yet it seems to this critic that now the first act has lost its fast pace and is held up by the performance of these two arias and has become unnecessarily long" (Thayer: 588).
The Fidelio sektchbook features on page 107 an account of the prices for the copies of the opera that Beethoven sent out: "Hamburg, 15 gold ducats; Grätz 12 florins; Frankfort, 15 gold ducats; Stuttgart, 12 gold ducats; Karlsruhe, 12 gold ducats; Darmstadt, 12 gold ducats", while the next pages show sketches to zu "Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin", but is missing any sketches to the new aria for Leonore. Therefore, Thayer ponders as to whether it was not, after all, the one arranged by Moscheles that is still sung today and also refers to W. Hess, Beethovens Oper Fidelio, pp. 179-180, for further reading.
On July 14th, Beethoven wrote to Archduke Rudolf, apologizing for his absence from the countryside on account of the upcoming benefit concert, which was advertised as follows on July 15th:
Reports of this performance were all very favorable, including the performance of the singers, such as Forti as Pizarro, but also the new overture, and reported of a full house, thus sending some revenue Beethoven's way.
Due to all of this, Beethoven did not get away from Vienna during this summer for long stretches of time, which only allowed him a brief stay at Baden. While the upcoming Vienna Congress that was initially schedule to begin on August 1st was postponed until early fall, August saw the publication by Artaria of the piano reduction of Fidelio.
In early fall, Fidelio opened the Court theatre season with its performance of September 26th, and Thayer argues that, while the management had gone from Prince Lobkowitz to Palffy, his staging of this work as season opener might be an indication against the rumors of his animosity towards and disfavor of Beethoven.
One of the viewers in the audience was Dr. Alois Weissenbach of Salzburg, also hard of hearing, and an amateur writer who came into contact with Beethoven on account of his writing the text to "Der glorreiche Augenblick".
With respect to further performances of Fidelio in 1814, we can still report that it was again given on Tuesday, October 4th, and on October 9th, and in Prague on October 26th. With respect to this, the following from Reclam.
In his above comment, Carl Maria von Weber, who directed this performance, expressed that the Praguers were not ready, yet, for this opera and that "Punch and Judy" shows might be what they prefer.
That Beethoven held himself "admirably" during his socializing at the Vienna Congress, he later confirmed, himself. How his only opera held itself in further performances during his lifetime, can be seen here in our following section.
Fidelios further Fate during Beethoven's Lifetime
After Prague in November, 1814, Dresden was able to enjoy this opera for the first time on April 12, 1815, while Berlin had this pleasure on October 11th of that year (Reclam: 17). With respect to the Berlin staging, Thayer reports that the first performance featured Mme. Schultze, Ignaz Schuppanzigh's sister-in-law, as Leonore, while Mme. Milder-Hauptmann, three days later, began her Berlin appearances in this role and celebrated new triumphs with it. Beethoven expressed his thanks and appreciation to Milder as follows on January 6, 1816:
"Wien am 6ten Jänner 1816.
Meine wertgeschätzte einzige Milder, meine liebe Freundin!
Sehr spät kommt mein Schreiben von mir Ihnen zu; wie gern möchte ich dem Enthusiasmus der Berliner mich persönlich beifügen können, den Sie im Fidelio erregt. Tausend Dank von meiner Seite, daß Sie meinem Fidelio so getreu geblieben sind.--Wenn Sie den Baron de la Motte-Fouque in meinem Namen bitten wollen, ein großes Opern-Sujet zu erfinden, welches auch zugleich für Sie anpassend wäre, da würden Sie sich ein großes Verdienst um mich und um Deutchlands Theater erwerben.--Auch wünschte ich solches ausschließlich für das B e r l i n e r T h e a t e r zu schreiben, da ich es hier mit dieser knickerigen Direktion nie mit einer neuen Oper zustande bringen werde.--Antworten Sie mir bald, baldigst, sehr geschwind, so geschwind als möglich, aufs geschwindeste--, ob so was tunlich ist.--Herr Kapellmeister B. [oder W.?] hat Sie himmelhoch bei mir erhoben und hat recht; glücklich kann sich derjenige schätzen, dem sein [=dessen] Los Ihren Musen, Ihrem Genius, Ihren herrlichen Eigenschaften und Vorzügen anheimfällt-- so auch ich.--Wie es auch sei, alles um Sie her darf sich nur N e b e n m a n n nennen, ich allein nur führe mit Recht den ehrerbietigen Namen H a u p t m a n n, und nur ganz im stillen.
Ihr wahrer Freund und Verehrer
(Mein armer unglücklicher Bruder ist gestorben--dies ist die Ursache meines lange ausgebliebenen Schreibens.)
Sobald Sie mir geantwortet haben, schreibe ich auch an Baron de la Motte-Fouque; gewiß wird Ihr Einfluß in Berlin es leicht dahin bringen, daß ich für das Berliner Theater, und besonders berücksichtigt für Sie, mit annehmlichen Bedingungen eine ganze Oper schreibe.--Nur antworten Sie bald, damit ich mich mit meinen übrigen Schreibereien damit eintheilen kann" (Schmidt, Beethovenbriefe: 102-102).
Here the English version from Thayer:
" . . . If you were to beg Baron de la Motte Fouque'--in my name--to invent a grand opera subject which would at the same time be adapted to you, it would do a great service to me and the German stage--I should like, moreover, to compose it exclusively for the Berlin stage as I shall never bring about another opera for the parsimonious management here. . . . "(Thayer: 633).
This letter ends with the above 'musical greeting' to Mme. Milder-Hauptmann.
Reclam lists as further performers of the Berlin staging(s) Mmlle. Sebastiane as Marzelline, Buchert as Minister, Blume as Pizarro, Eunicke as Florestan, Wauer as Rocco and Relenstein als Jacquino. It is also reported that in 1815, Vienna saw ten Fidelio performances.
In 1816, the following cities saw Fidelio premieres: March 10th: Karlsruhe, May 22nd: Hamburg (with Ritzenfeld, Schäfer, Gerstäcker, Mad. Aug. Krüger, Aschenbrenner, Berthold, and Mad. Fischer, as well as Gloy), June 3rd: Kassel and on September 4th: Weimar, while Vienna saw again ten performances of the work.
Further, Vienna saw nine performances in 18174, while 1818 saw the Leipzig premiere, and Vienna followed again in 1819 with further three performances, after which the opera, in the city of its creation, would rest for three years.
My own native city of Munich saw this opera for the first time on July 1, 1821, at first with Henriette Eberwein, later, however, with Nanette Schechner (who also visited Beethoven in Vienna in the winter of 1827) as Leonore, and at the other end of then-Germany, in Königsberg, the opera was seen for the first time during the summer of the same year.
In 1822, however, a new star as Leonore arose in Vienna:
It was a benefit performance for her that brought Fidelio back to the stage. The ensemble consisted also of Haitzinger as Florestan, Zelner as Rocco, Forti as Pizarro, Rauscher as Jacquino, and the later Viennese comedy writer, Johann Nestroy ("Einen Jux will er sich machen" and other works) as Minister, and Mmlle. Demmer as Marzelline. Thayer quotes an interesting comment of the your singer on her debut:
"Under the guidance of my talented mother many of the traits in Leonore's character became clear to me; however, I was still too young, too little developed within to have a full understanding of what took place in Leonore's soul, emotions for which Beethoven had conceived his immortal harmonies. At the rehearsals which were led by Umlauf who was then kapellmeister, the limits of my underdeveloped young voice soon became known and many things in my part were changed for me so that the effect did not suffer too much. The last rehearsals were set, when I learned before the dress rehearsal that Beethoven had asked for the honor of conducting the work himself in celebration of the day. On hearing this news a great fear came over me, and I also remember my frightful awkwardness which nearly drove my poor mother, as well as those who were working with me, to despair. But Beethoven sat in the orchestra and waved his baton over everyone's heads, and I had never seen the man before!-- At that time the master's physical ear was already closed to all sounds. With a bewildered face and unearthly inspired eyes, waving his baton back and forth with violent motions, he stood in the midst of the performing musicians and didn't hear a note! If he thought it should be piano he crouched down and almost under the conductor's desk and if he wanted forte he jumped up with the strangest gestures, uttering the weirdest sounds. With each piece our courage dwindled further and I felt as though I were watching one of Hoffmann's fantastic figures appear before me. The inevitable happened: the deaf master threw the singers and orchestra completely off the beat and into the greatest confusion, and no one knew any longer where they were. Beethoven, however, knew nothing of all this, and so with difficulty our rehearsal came to an end, with which he seemed well satisfied, for he laid down his baton with a cheery smile. But now it was impossible to entrust him with the performance, and Kapellmeister Umlauf had to perform the heart-rending task of pointing out to him that the opera could not be given under his direction. I am told that he resigned himself with a melancholy look upwards, and I found him at the performance on the following night sitting in the orchestra behind Umlauf lost in profound thought. . . . Beethoven followed the whole performance with eager attention, and he looked as if he were trying to see from each of our gestures whether we have even half understood him.
Even then they used to call me a little genius; and indeed on that evening a more mature spirit seemed to have come over me, for several touches of sheer genius shone forth from my performance which must not have escaped Beethoven, for the next day he came himself, the great master, to bring me his thanks and congratulations. With hot ears I moistened the hand that he offered me, and in my joy, I would not have exchanged anything in the world for this praise from Beethoven's lips! He promised at that time to write an opera for me, but unfortunately it remained nothing but a promise" (Thayer: 811-812).
Contrary to this, Schindler reports of this rehearsal as follows:
"the impossibility of going ahead with the author of the work was evident. But how, in what manner inform him of the fact? Neither Duport, the director, nor Umlauf was willing to speak the saddening words: 'It will not do; go away, you unhappy man!' Beethoven, already uneasy in his seat, turned now to the right now to the left, scrutinizing the faces to learn the cause of the interruption. Everywhere a heavy silence. Then he summoned me. I had approached near him in the orchestra. He handed me his notebook with an indication that I write what the trouble was. Hastily I wrote in effect: 'Please do not go on; more at home.' With a bound he was in the parterre and said merely: 'Out, quick!' Without stopping he ran towards his lodgings, Pfarrgasse, Vorstadt Leimgrube. Inside he threw himself on the sofa, covered his hands and remained in this attitude till we sat down to eat. During the meal not a word came from his lips; he was a picture of profound melancholy and depression. When I tried to go away after the meal be begged me not to leave him utnil it was time to go to the theatre. At parting he asked to go with him next day to his physician, Dr. Smetana, who had gained some repute as an aurist" (Thayer: 810-111).
The issue of November 9th, 1822, of the Theaterzeitung reports that November 3 was the Empress' name day, that the square around the opera house was illuminated and that the national anthem, "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" was sung. This can also seen in the program announcement:
The paper further reports that the overture received such a strong applause that it had to be repeated twice, as well as the great duet and the canon quartet, and that the soprano singer (Schröder-Devrient) and the Tenor (Anton Haizinger, Florestan, see the below picture) were called out after the performance.
Fidelio was repeated on November 4th and 26th, December 2nd and 17th, 1822, and on March 3rd and 18th, 1823.
Carl Maria von Weber directed the work again, this time in Dresden, in 1823. To this effect, he corresponded with Beethoven on January 28th, February 18th, April 7th and June 5th, while Beethoven's replies are dated February 16th, April 1oth and June 5th, 1823. Unfortunately, these letters have not been preserved. However, from Weber's notes was left the following:
"Fidelio. To Beethoven. The performance in Prague under my direction of this mighty work, which bears testimony to German grandeur and feeling, gave me an intimacy, as inspiring as it was instructive, with the essence through which I hope to present it to the public in its complete effectiveness here, where I have all possible means at my command. Every representation will be a festival day on which I shall be priviledged to offer your exalted mind the homage which lives in my heart, where reverence and love for you struggle with each other" (Thayer: 863).
In order for Beethoven to be able to send the score to Weber, he had to borrow it from the Kärntnerthor-Theater, the musical archives of which were now in the hands of Count Gallenberg, Giulietta Giuicciardi's husband. Weber received it from Beethoven on April 10th, 1823. It should also be noted that Weber sent Beethoven 40 ducats as an honorarium. The composer thanked him in his letter of July 17th, 1823.
Nanette Schechner, of whom we already reported in connection with the Munich performance of the work in 1821, was then able to perform the role of Leonore in Vienna in 1826. However, she was not able to make the acquaintance of Beethoven at that time. A further premiere of the work during Beethoven's lifetime took place on October 1st in Braunschweig. With this, Nanette Schechner's 1827 visit of Beethoven is the last connection to the opera during the composer's lifetime.
However, since 1827 was "only" the year of death of Beethoven, but not that of his opera, we can, in building a bridge to our further sections here, still present you with some information on the subsequent fate of this opera in Europe:
From our creation history we already know that the singers Anna Milder-Hauptmann and Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient put their stamps on the role of Leonore. In German-speaking Europe, singers such as, for example, Louise Köster-Schlegel (with 58 performances), Vilma von Voggenhuber (with 98 performances) followed suit, but also the early 20th century saw such great performers as Lilli Lehman who even, according to Reclam, wrote her own study of this role. During the 19th century, the work saw the following premieres in German-speaking cities:
December 26, 1828: Mannheim
In the year 1831: March 1st: Darmstadt, March 16th: Dessau, October 2nd: Mainz, October 21st/22nd: Oktober: Rudolstadt, December 7th: Bremen
June 24, 1832: Coburg
In the year 1833: March 7th: Schwerin, June 26th: Rostock, December 11th: Wiesbaden
March 4, 1845: Neustrelitz
The rest of Europe saw, among others, also the following premieres:
June 22, 1818: Riga
In the year 1829, in the Salle Favart in Paris: a guest performance of the Aachen Ensembles under Röckel, the Florestan of 1806;
May 5, 1832: Straßburg
Mai 18 1832: London at the King's Theatre, with a German performance by the Celard Opera Society, with Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient;
August 4, 1841: Brünn (Brno);
Mai 20th, 1851 in London: An Italian performance at Her Majesty's Theatre;
Juni 12th, 1851 in London: The first English performance with the Malibran as Leonore, in the Covent Garten Theatre;
February 4, 1886 in Rome in the Apollo theatre.
To return to the city in which the opera was written, to Vienna--from here, we can report on a few remarkable stagings during the 19th, but also on the most remarkable staging during the 20th century:
For Beethoven's 100th birthday, on December 16th, 1870, in the new Court Opera House;
For Beethoven's 50th anniversary of his death, on March 26, 1877, again at the new opera house built by Semper;
On May 1, 1880, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Beethoven statue;
On November 5th, 1955, under Karl Böhm's baton, on the occasion of the re-opening of the Wiener Staatsoper, to which we do not want to withhold the following photographs from you:
Photos: Votava--Information Source: Wiener Stadtchronik, 1955
From here, we would now like to refer you to our other pages featured here, via our next page, the
which might provide you with some further interesting details for your reading, listening and viewing pleasures!
(1) Listing of operatic works performed during the 1782/1783 Season:
Das Rosenfest by Wolf [of Weimar]
Azalia by Johann Küchler (bassoonist in the Bonn Chapel)
Die Sklavin (La Schiava) by Piccini
Zemire et Azor by Gretry
Das Mädchen im Eichthale (Maid of the Oaks) by d'Antoine (Captain in the Army of the Elector of Cologne)
Der Kaufmann von Smyrna by J.A. Juste [Court Musician in The Hague]
Die seidenen Schuhe by Alexander Frizer [or Fridzeri]
Die Reue vor der That by Dezede
Der Aerndtetanz by J.A. Hiller
Die Olympischen Spiele (Olympiade) by Sacchini
Die Lügnerin aus Liebe by Salieri
Die Italienerin zu London by Cimarosa
Das gute Mädchen (La buona figluiola) by Piccini
Der Antiquitäten-Sammler by Andre
Die Entführung aus dem Serail by W.A. Mozart
Die Eifersucht auf der Probe (Il Geloso in Cimento) by Anfossi
Rangstreit und Eifersucht auf dem Lande (Le Gelosievillane) by Sarti
Unverhofft kommt oft (Les Evenements imprevus) by Gretry
Felix, oder der Findling (Felix ou l'Enfanf trouve) by Monsigny
Die Pilgrimme von Mekka by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Source for all of the above: Thayer: 32.
(2) Listing of related compositions from the years 1796/7 - 1800
Scene and Aria, "Ah, perfido!", for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 65 (text of first part by Metastasio
Variations for Pianoforte on a Russian Dance from Wranitzky's Das Waldmädchen, WoO 71.
Variations for Pianoforte on "Une fievre brulante" from Gretry's Richard, Coeur de Lion, WoO 72.
Variations for Pianoforte and Violin on a Theme from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, WoO 45.
Songs set to texts by Mestastasio:
Duet for Soprano and Tenor, "Scrivo in te" Il nome, WoO 99, No. 11
Quartet for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, "Nei campi e nelle selve" (Cantata 27), WoO 99, NO. 7. Two versions.
Trio for Soprano, Alto and Bass, "Per te d'amico aprile" Il nome, WoO 99, No. 9.
Two Aria from Umlauf's Die schöne Schusterin, WoO 91. (1) for Tenor and Orchestra; (2) for Soprano and Orchestra.
Variations on "La ci darem la mano" from Mozart's Don Giovanni for Two Oboes and English Horn, WoO 28.
1797. Songs set to texts by Metastatio:
Duet for Tenor and Bass, "Fra tutte le pene" (Zenobia), WoO 99, N. 3
Duet for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, "Sal;vo tu vuio la sposo?" Zenobia.
Quartet for Soprano, Alto,Tenor and Bass, "Quelle cetra ah pur tu sei" (Pel giorno natalizio di Maria Teresa) WoO 99, No. 11. Two versions.
Trio for Soprano, Alto and Tenor, "Fra tutte le pene" Zenobia, WoO 99, No. 3
Trio for Soprano, Tenor and Bass, "Quella cetra ah pur tu sei" (Pel giorno natalizio di Maria Teresa), WoO 99, No. 10.
Song "La partenza" (text by Metastasio), WoO 124
Variations for Pianoforte and Violoncello on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen," from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Op. 66
Trio for Soprano, Tenor and Bass, "Chi mai di questo core" (text by Metastasio from "Il Ritorno"), WoO 99, No. 2. Variations for Pianoforte on "Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen," from Winter's Das unterbrochene Opferfest, WoO 75
Variations for Pianoforte on "La stessa, la stessissima," from Salieri's Falstaff, WoO 73.
Variations for Pianoforte on "Tändeln und scherzen," from Süssmayer's Soliman II, WoO 76.
Source for all of the above: Thayer: 201-202, 217-218.
(3) "Johann August Röckel (1783-1870), a young man educated at the University of Munich, had for some time been private secretary to the Bavarian Charge des Affaires at Salzburg. The approach of the French armies after the fall of Ulm made his position and prospects very uncertain. It was just then that an agent of Baron Braun came thither in search of a young, fresh tenor to succeed Demmer, whose powers were fast yielding to time. The engagement was offered him and thus it came about, that Röckel, in the autumn of 1805, became first tenor in the Theater-an-der Wien. After appearing in divers characters with much success, considering his inexperience, he was offered the part of Florestan in the contemplated revival of Fidelio" (Thayer: 388).
(4) The Leipziger Georg Friedrich Treitschke, born in 1776, began his Vienna career as singer at the Vienna Court Theatre. However, his other talents were soon discovered, so that he, already after two years, was appointed as stage manager and theater poet, positions which he held for several years until he, in 1809, during the French occupation of Vienna, was appointed as theater manager at the Theater-an-der-Wien, and, in 1811, as that of the Kärntnerthortheater.
(5) Thayer quotes Moscheles' own account of his encounters with Beethoven as follows:
"In the year 1809, my studies with my master, Weber (Dionysius), closed, and being then also fatherless, I chose Vienna for my residence to work out my future musical career. Above all, I longed to see and become acquainted with that man, who had exercised so powerful an influence over my whole being, whom though I scarcely understood, I blindly worshipped. I learnt that Beethoven was difficult of access and would admit no pupil but Ries, and for a long time my anxiety to see him remained magnified. In the year 1810, however, the longed-for opportunity presented itself. I happened to be one morning in the music shop of Domenico Artaria, who had just been publishing some of my early attempts at composition, when a man entered with short and hasty steps, and, gliding through the circle of ladies and professors assembled on business, or talking over musical matters, without looking up, as though he wished to pass unnoticed, made his way direct for Artaria's private office at the bottom of the shop. Presently Artaria called me in and said: "This is Beethoven!" and to the composer, "This is the youth of whom I just spoke to you." Beethoven gave me a friendly nod and said he had just heard a favorable account of me. To some modest and humble expressions, which I stammered forth, he made no reply and seemed to wish to break off the conversation. I stole away with a greater longing for that which I had thought than I had felt before this morning, thinking to myself--'Am I indeed such a musical nobody that he could not put one musical question to me?--nor express one wish to know who had been my master, or whether I had any acquaintance with his work? My only satisfactory mode of explaining the master and comforting myself for this omission was in Beethoven's tendency of deafness, for I had seen Artaria speaking close to his ear..."
"I never missed the Schuppanzigh Quartets, at which he was often present, or the delightful concerts at the Augarten, when he conducted his own Symphonies. I also heard him play several times, which, however, he did but rarely, either in public or in private. The production which made the most lasting impression upon me, were his Fantasia with orchestral accompaniment and chorus and his Concerto in C minor. I also used to meet him at the houses of MM, Zmeskall and Zizius, two of his friends, through whose musical meetings Beethoven's works first made their way to public attention [ ? ]; but, in place of better acquaintance with the great man, I had mostly to content myself on his part with a distant salute."
"It was in the year 1814, when Artaria undertook to publish a pianoforte arrangement of Beethoven's Fidelio, that he asked the composer whether I might be permitted to make it. Beethoven assented upon condition that he should see my arrangement of each of the pieces, before it was given into the engraver's hands. Nothing could be more welcome to me, since I looked upon this as the long wished-for opportunity to approach nearer to the great man and to profit by his remarks and corrections. During my frequent visits, the number of which I tried to multiply by all possible excuses, he treated me with the kindest indulgence. Although his increasing deafness was a considerable hindrance to our conversation, yet he gave me many instructive hints, and even played to me such parts as he wished to have arranged in a particular manner for the pianoforte. I thought it, however, my duty not to put his kindness to the test by robbing him of his valuable time by any subsequent visits . . . " (Thayer: 584-585).