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Previous Episode: His Early Life

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Episode 2: Establishing his career in Vienna.    1792 - 1803

(ESTABLISH THE BEGINNING OF THE FIRST MOVEMENT OF THE 5th SYMPHONY AND THEN TAKE UNDER)
BEETHOVEN: Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
NARRATOR:

Symphony 5
1st Movement
Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman
Beethoven in 1803
by Christian Horneman
The Life and Music of Ludwig van Beethoven by Shaun MacLoughlin and Bob Pierson.  Episode 2. Taking Vienna by Storm.

Beethoven was to spend the rest of his life in Vienna, creating such great works as the 5th Symphony.

(BRING UP 5th SYMPHONY AGAIN, AND THEN TAKE UNDER)

The novelist and critic, Ernst Hoffmann, who gave his name to Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, wrote of it.
HOFFMANN:
E.T.A. Hoffmann, 	jurist, author, composer, music critic, artist
Ernst Hoffmann, jurist, author,
composer, music critic, artist
Haydn's music is full of love and happiness, but there is no suffering, no pain.  Mozart leads us into the inner depths of the spirit.  It is a premonition of the infinite.  And now comes Beethoven.

(BRING UP 5th SYMPHONY AGAIN, AND TAKE UNDER AGAIN)

He opens the realms of the colossal and immeasurable.  Radiant beams shoot through the deep night of this region.  His music evokes terror and pain, and awakens that endless longing that is the essence of romanticism.

(BRING UP 5th SYMPHONY AGAIN, AND THEN PLAY OUT AS APPROPRIATE)
NARRATOR: Just one month after Beethoven's departure for Vienna, his father, Johann, died.  Ludwig made no effort to return for his funeral, and portrayed no resolution to be with his brothers.  A diary of his expenses, at this time, records payments for:
BEETHOVEN: Boots, shoes, a piano, a desk and the costs of lessons with Haydn.
NARRATOR: He appears to have been more concerned with his new life in Vienna than with funeral expenses for his father.

Compared with the Bonn of his childhood, Vienna was a very cosmopolitan city.  A few years before Beethoven arrived, a traveller had described seeing:
TRAVELLER:
Vienna in Beethoven's Time
Vienna in Beethoven's Time
Hungarians in their close-fitting trousers, Poles with their flowing sleeves, Armenians and Moldavians with their half-Oriental costumes, Serbians with their twisted moustaches, Greeks smoking their long stemmed pipes in the coffee-houses, bearded Muslims with broad knives in their belts, Bohemian peasants in their long boots, Polish Jews with their faces bearded and their hair twisted in knots, Hungarian and Transylvanian wagoners with sheepskin greatcoats, Croats with black tubs on their heads.
NARRATOR: Music was everywhere and it was classless.  An English visitor wrote:
ENGLISHMAN: No place of refreshment, from the highest to the lowest, is without music. Bassoonists and clarinettists are as plentiful as blackberries, and in the suburbs, at every turn, one alights upon fresh carousing, fresh fiddling, fresh illuminations.
NARRATOR:










JOSEPH:





NARRATOR:
Emperor Joseph II
Emperor Joseph II
But Vienna was a city living in fear.  Marie Antoinette had recently been guillotined by the French revolutionaries.  To Parisians she was the detested 'Austrian whore', but to the Viennese she was the sister of the late Emperor Joseph II.

Before he had died in 1790, he had had to be on his guard, and issued instructions to the police:

To unobtrusively investigate what the general public is saying about the Emperor, whether among the upper or lower classes there are any malcontents or agitators. This is to be reported to headquarters.

Thus sophisticated, enlightened, artistic Vienna became a police state with a network of spies and informers.

Beethoven was well aware of these threats to civil freedom .  In May 1793, in the personal album of Theodora Vocke, a lady in Vienna, he quoted the poet Schiller:
BEETHOVEN: I am not wicked - hot blood is my fault - my crime is that I am young.
Precepts: To do good whenever one can; to love freedom above all else, never to deny the truth, even before the throne.
NARRATOR: And his New Year's resolution for 1794 reads:
BEETHOVEN: Courage.  Despite all weakness of body, my spirit shall rule.  You have lived twenty-five years.  This year must determine the complete man - nothing must remain undone.
NARRATOR:

Piano Concerto
Number 1
It would not be long until he started to compose some of his most enduring works, such as his First Piano Concerto.

(ESTABLISH PIANO CONCERTO 1 THEN WEAVE BENEATH THE FOLLOWING)

Meanwhile he established a reputation as an improviser in the salons of the nobility. Improvisation contests were immensely popular.

In his early years in Vienna, Beethoven's attitude towards most of his patrons fluctuated between burning ambition to succeed in their eyes and fierce, surly independence.

There were always two sides to Beethoven His friend Wegeler reported that when asked to play in the mid nineties.
WEGELER: He would fly into a rage.   He often came to me, gloomy and out of sorts, complaining that they had made him play, even though his fingers ached and the blood under his nails burned.  I would try to divert calm him.  I could never cure him of his obstinacy, which was often the source of bitter quarrels with his closest friends and patrons.
NARRATOR: While Goethe complained to a friend:
GOETHE: A more self-contained, energetic, sincere artist I never saw.  His talent amazed me.  Unfortunately he is an utterly untamed personality, not altogether in the wrong in holding the world to be detestable, but who does not make it any more enjoyable either for himself or for others by his attitude.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile with Haydn's departure for England in 1794, Beethoven was expected by the Elector to return home.  He chose instead to remain in Vienna.  Although his stipend from the Elector expired, a number of Viennese noblemen, recognising his talent offered him financial support.  By 1796 he was described in a survey of the Viennese musical world as:
SURVEY: A musical genius.  He is widely admired for the velocity of his playing, and is astounding in the way he masters the most formidable of difficulties with the greatest of ease.

(BRING UP PIANO CONCERTO 1 AND PLAY OUT AS APPROPRIATE)
NARRATOR:
Prince Karl Lichnowsky
Prince Karl Lichnowsky
That year with his patron Prince Lichnowski, he went on a musical tour, to Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin.

He calculated that should he ever need to leave Vienna, he would find royal and aristocratic sponsors elsewhere.  He spent six months in Berlin, where the new King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II, was a devoted amateur cellist.

Beethoven wrote to his brother, Johann.
BEETHOVEN: First of all I am very, very well.  My art is winning me friends and renown, and what more do I want?  And this time I shall make a good deal of money.
NARRATOR:

Pathetique Sonata
2nd Movement
Prince Franz von Lobkowitz
Prince Franz
von Lobkowitz
Between 1798 and 1802 Beethoven tackled what he considered the pinnacles of composition: the string quartet and the symphony.  With the composition of his first six string quartets written on commission for, and dedicated to, Prince Lobkowitz, along with premieres of the First and Second Symphonies in 1800 and 1802, Beethoven was justifiably considered one of the most important of a generation of young composers following after Haydn and Mozart.

(ESTABLISH THE 'PATHETIQUE' SONATA No. 8 AND FADE UNDER:)

The Sonata No. 8, popularly known as The Pathetique was written in 1798 when the composer was 27 years old.  The Beethoven scholar, Barry Cooper, describes it as:
COOPER: Surpassing any of his previous compositions, in strength of character, depth of emotion and level of originality.

(BRING UP THE PATHETIQUE AND WEAVE UNDER:)
NARRATOR:
1804 portrait by W. J. Mähler. The complete painting depicts Beethoven with a lyre-guitar
1804 portrait
by W. J. Mähler
In May of 1799, Beethoven gave piano lessons to the daughters of Hungarian Countess Anna Brunsvik.  While this round of lessons lasted less than one month, Beethoven formed a relationship with the older daughter Josephine that has been the subject of speculation ever since.

(BRING UP THE PATHETIQUE AND WEAVE UNDER:)

Shortly after these lessons she married Count Josef Deym, and Beethoven was a regular visitor at their house, giving lessons and playing at parties.  While her marriage was by all accounts unhappy, the couple had four children, and her relationship with Beethoven did not intensify until after Deym died in 1804.

(BRING UP THE PATHETIQUE AND PLAY OUT)

Daniel Steibelt
Daniel Steibelt
Meanwhile he continued with his professional life, as busy as ever.  An improvisation contest was organised, with another great improviser, Daniel Steibelt from Berlin.

Steibelt was a typical Prussian with a militaristic bearing, ramrod erect backbone, smartly dressed and with a haughty manner.

He was sponsored by Prince Lobkowitz, who was later to be a patron of Beethoven and whose imposing palace contained a salon grand enough for orchestral performances.  The scruffy, uncouth Beethoven was sponsored by his first patron in Vienna, Prince Lichnowsky, with whom he stayed when he first came to the city.

Beethoven was the overwhelming winner and succeeded in thoroughly humiliating Steibelt, who vowed never to set foot in Vienna again, as long as Beethoven lived.

Beethoven lived in Vienna for the rest of his life and Steibelt kept his promise.

Meanwhile in 1801, Beethoven, who has been said, hardly ever not to have been in love, enjoyed a mutual infatuation with another piano student.

(ESTABLISH THE MOONLIGHT SONATA AND PLAY UNDER)

She was the sixteen year old Giulietta Guiccardi.  He wrote to his childhood friend Franz Wegeler:
BEETHOVEN: I seem to be a misanthrope, but actually I am not at all.  This change has been brought about by a dear enchanting girl, who loves me and whom I love.  After two years I am again enjoying a few blissful moments and for the first time I feel that marriage might bring me happiness.
NARRATOR:

The Moonlight
Sonata
Giulietta Giucciardi (1784-1856)
Giulietta Guicciardi
He dedicated the Moonlight Sonata to her.

(BRING UP THE MOONLIGHT SONATA AGAIN AND CONTINUE TO PLAY UNDER:)

Later the German music critic Ludwig Rellstab wrote that it reminded him of the moon setting over Lake Lucerne.

Beethoven proposed to her, and she was inclined to accept.  But one of her parents - probably her father - forbade her to marry a man:
GIULLIETTA'S FATHER: Without rank, fortune or permanent engagement; a man, too, of character and temperament so peculiar, and afflicted with the incipient stages of an infirmity which, if not arrested and cured, must deprive him of all hope of obtaining any high and remunerative official appointment and at length compel him to abandon his career as the great pianoforte virtuoso.

(BRING UP THE MOONLIGHT SONATA AGAIN AND PLAY OUT:)
NARRATOR: In any case the romance had faded by 1803. Beethoven rarely allowed his love life to interfere for long with his composing.

'Crisis' and 'triumph over adversity' are the watch words most often used to describe his life in the years 1798 to 1802, when he began to have intimations of the deafness that Giulietta's father was probably referring to.

(ESTABLISH ROMANCE NO. 2 FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO AND TAKE UNDER:)

Yet at this time he was composing some of his serenest music, such as the Romance No. 2 for Violin and Cello.  He revealed his secret in a long and passionate letter to Franz Wegeler.
BEETHOVEN:

Romance 2 for
Violin and Cello
That jealous demon, my wretched health, has put a nasty spoke in my wheel; and it amounts to this, that for the past three years my hearing has become weaker and weaker.  I have ceased to attend any social functions just because I find it impossible to say to people: "I am deaf".  If my enemies, of whom I have a fair number, were to hear about it, what would they say?

(BRING UP ROMANCE NO. 2 FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO AND TAKE UNDER:)
NARRATOR: In fact he had begun to lose his hearing in 1796 at the age of 25.  He suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a "ringing" in his ears that made it hard for him to perceive and appreciate music.  He also avoided conversation.  The cause of his deafness has variously been attributed to syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, auto-immune disorder and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake.

Meanwhile, the agonising prospect of finding he was progressively losing touch with the world around him was spurring him to produce more abundantly than ever.  In the same letter to Wegeler, he wrote:
BEETHOVEN: I live entirely in my music; and have hardly completed a composition than I have already begun another. At my present rate of composition, I often produce three or four works at a time.
NARRATOR: On the advice of his doctor, he lived in Heiligenstadt, just outside Vienna, from April to October 1802 in an attempt to come to terms with his condition.  There he wrote his famous Heiligenstadt Testament to his brothers Karl and Johann.
BEETHOVEN:
Beethoven's house Heilgenstadt
Beethoven's house
at Heiligenstadt
O you who think I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, you do not know the secret causes.  From childhood my heart and mind were disposed to the gentle feelings of good will.  But reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case, aggravated by senseless physicians, cheated year after year in the hope of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady.

I was compelled early to isolate myself.  It was impossible for me to say to men speak louder, shout, for I am deaf.  I must live like an exile.  What a humiliation when one stood beside me and heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard the shepherd singing and again I heard nothing.  Such incidents brought me to the verge of despair, but little more and I would have put an end to my life - only art it was that withheld me.

(BRING UP ROMANCE NO. 2 FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO AND PLAY OUT)
NARRATOR: He asks his brothers to thank his friends, especially Prince Lichnowsky and Professor Schmidt, his physician.  He reminds them:
BEETHOVEN: Virtue alone can make a man happy.  Money cannot do this.  It is virtue alone that has sustained me in my misery.
NARRATOR: And he ends.
BEETHOVEN: Joyfully I go to meet death.  If it comes before I can develop all my artistic capabilities, then in spite of my hard fate, it will come too soon and I shall probably wish it later.  Even so, I should be content, for will it not release me from a state of endless suffering?  Come then, Death, whenever you will and I will meet you with courage.
NARRATOR:

Piano Concerto 3
Theater an der Wien
Theater an der Wien
In fact he was to live for another 24 years and to write music for 23 of them.

Back in Vienna, Emanuel Schikanader who had once played Papageno in Mozart's Magic Flute was now Manager of the Theater an der Wien.  He hoped that Beethoven would write an opera and so he offered him the post of official composer, which brought with it a small apartment in the building.

Beethoven moved in and started to organise his first concert, in which he would conduct his First Symphony and for which he would write new works, including the Third Piano Concerto, which he dedicated to the King of Prussia.

(ESTABLISH PIANO CONCERTO 3 AND THEN TAKE IT UNDER:)

It was asking for trouble because it was not ready in time.  Beethoven asked Ignaz Seyfried, the Head of Music at the theatre, to turn the pages for him:
SEYFRIED: Heaven help me!  It was easier said than done.  I saw almost nothing but empty pages.  At the most on one page or other a few Egyptian hieroglyphics, wholly unintelligible to me, were scribbled down to serve as clues for him.  He played nearly all the solo part from memory, since as was so often the case, he had not had time to put it all down on paper.

He gave me a secret glance whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages.  My scarcely concealable anxiety, not to miss the decisive moment, amused him greatly, and he laughed heartily at our jovial supper afterwards.
NARRATOR: The concert was not a great success; but in spite of this Vienna's most senior critic wrote that:
CRITIC: This concert confirms my long-held opinion that Beethoven in time can bring about a revolution in music, just like Mozart.  He is hastening towards this goal with great strides.

(BRING UP PIANO CONCERTO 3 AND FADE OUT UNDER:)
NARRATOR:

The Kreutzer Sonata
1st Movement
George Bridgetower
George Bridgetower
At about this time he met another virtuoso, not a pianist, but a violinist.  George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower was tall, slim, good looking with an eye for the ladies.  His father was West Indian and his mother Polish and he had performed for the English King and Queen at Windsor Castle. He dared to ask Beethoven, that he would dedicate a sonata to him.

(INTRODUCE THE KREUTZER SONATA, ESTABLISH THEN WEAVE UNDER)

He must have caught Beethoven in a good mood because he agreed and a date was set for only a month hence.  This left little time to compose. At half past four in the morning of the day of the concert he summoned his pupil and helper Ferdinand Ries and told him to copy the violin part as quickly as he could.
REIS: And the piano part?
BEETHOVEN: Don't worry.  I'll improvise.
REIS: But . . .
BEETHOVEN: Do as I say!  Just do it!
NARRATOR:The second movement existed only as a scrawl, both parts were set down by Beethoven on manuscript paper in his own, almost illegible hand:
BEETHOVEN: Bridgetower will have to read this part over my shoulder.
REIS: Sir, he will never be able to . . .
BEETHOVEN: He will have to.  It is the only way.

(BRING UP THE KREUTZER SONATA AGAIN AND TAKE UNDER AGAIN)
NARRATOR: Fortunately Bridgetower rose to the occasion.  He used his intuition, inspiration and audacity.  As Beethoven later wrote, he proved himself to be :
BEETHOVEN: A very able virtuoso and an absolute master of the instrument.
NARRATOR: He dedicated the sonata to him, writing on the title page:
BEETHOVEN: Mulatto sonata, composed for the mulatto Bridgetower, great fool and mulatto composer.
NARRATOR:













KREUTZER:
The Kreutzer Sonata by Rene Prinet 1910
The Kreutzer Sonata
by Rene Prinet 1910
But that was not the end of the story.

Later Bridgewater made a rude, sexual remark about a certain lady that so offended the moralistic Beethoven, that he scratched out the dedication and instead sent it to the French violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer.

Ever since it has been called the Kreutzer Sonata.

When Kreutzer received the manuscript in Paris, he said:

It's Devil's music.  Impossible to play.  He doesn't understand the violin.
NARRATOR: Later Tolstoy was to borrow the title The Kreutzer Sonata for a novel, that was banned by the Russian authorities, for its sexual content and the artist Rene Prinet was inspired by it to paint a violinist, making advances to an attractive pianist.

(BRING UP THE KREUTZER SONATA AGAIN AND PLAY OUT UNDER:)

In the winter of 1803-04, Beethoven plunged into Full time work on his Third Symphony, known as The Eroica.  It grew to a length that dwarfed any previous symphony by him or anyone else.  His assistant Reis wrote.
REIS: In his own testimony it is the greatest work he has yet written.  He played it for me recently and I believe Heaven and Earth will tremble at its performance.  He is very anxious to dedicate it to Napoleon.

(ESTABLISH THE SECOND MOVEMENT OF THE EROICA AND THEN TAKE UNDER:
NARRATOR:

The Eroica
Symphony 3
2nd Movement
Beethoven had a "picture" in his imagination of a slow processional march of a fallen hero, being taken to his grave.  The following years of 1803 to 1812, have been labelled his "Heroic Period".

(BRING UP THE SECOND MOVEMENT OF THE EROICA AND THEN PLAY OUT UNDER THE CLOSING CREDITS TO EPISODE 2)

Episode 3: The Heroic Years 1803 - 1811

Episode 4: The Last Years 1812 - 1827

Another Excellent Beethoven Website

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