The address written by someone else reads: “Vienna / Mr. Salomon / most renowned virtuoso in / the service of His Royal / Highness the Prince Regent / London / Newman street, Oxford street / no. 70.” A few months after the letter to Smart Beethoven asked Johann Peter Salomon if he saw a chance to have the Prince-Regent at least reimburse him for the costs for copying the battle symphony. Apart from that he had heard a piano reduction was being prepared which would violate his rights and remuneration as author (in fact this was not the case and Beethoven had already sold the composition for Austria to Steiner). Although he tried several times to remind the English king of this neglect, Beethoven never received any acknowledgement for the dedication. After having sent the king a printed copy of the score many years later, Beethoven once more asked the renowned London harp manufacturer Johann Andreas Stumpff for help in 1825 but also his efforts were in vain. Stumpff replied: “I have made many inquiries with even the ones closest to the king in relation to the Battle at Victoria but have heard no more than one would regret not being able to help in this matter and that Sir Benj. Bloomfield, then director of the musical department, who might have received the composition, was no more in London but at the Swedish court as an envoy for many years and that possibly with favourable luck one might remind the king in this matter.”
The planned simultaneous edition by Steiner in Vienna and Birchall in London failed in this case, too. Beethoven had asked the Vienna publisher to delay the edition because he needed to find an English publishing house first. At the end of November 1815 he told Ries the title of the English edition and asked for the publication date. In December Ries confirmed receipt of the scores. Beethoven was told that there would be a delay of three to four months which Beethoven then indicated to Steiner. Nevertheless, the English edition was published within a month in January 1816 and thus two months earlier than the German edition.
Other publishing houses
Two Italian musicians working in London, Francesco Cianchettini and cello player Sperati, referring to themselves as “Importers of Classical Music” on the title page, published a series of 27 symphonies in score editions each month between 1807 and 1809. Apart from 18 symphonies by Joseph Haydn and six pieces by Mozart Beethoven’s first three symphonies were published here as score editions for the first time, a score type that would not be common on the Continent until the 1820s. The first edition in voices, published in 1804 by a Vienna publisher, served as master. Probably, Beethoven did not know anything about this edition and did not receive any remuneration. Neither was it Beethoven who dedicated the composition to Prince-Regent George of England but the publishers.
The displayed catalogue excerpt shows that the London music publishing house Preston also edited a number of reprints besides the folk song adaptations published by George Thomson.
Between 1808 and 1820 the London publisher Monzani & Hill edited a monumental full edition of Beethoven’s piano and piano chamber music compositions – enough sheet music to fill 75 volumes. All publications were reprints. Of booklet 27 only one single copy remains, kept at the Beethoven-Haus for a few years. It contains the variations in G Major WoO 77 that were first published by a Vienna publisher in 1800.
Thomas Broadwood, the most productive piano manufacturer of that time in London, gave Beethoven a piano forte in 1817. For this purpose he had invited five of the most important London musicians to his shop to choose a suitable instrument for the cherished master. Above the company label on the front edge of the pin block the following text can be read: “Hoc Instrumentum est Thomae Broadwood (Londrini) donum propter ingenium illustrissime Beethoven.” [This instrument is a proper gift from Thomas Broadwood of London to the great Beethoven.] Next to it Friedrich Kalbrenner, Ferdinand Ries, Johann Baptist Cramer, Jacques-Godefroi Ferrari and Charles Knyvett signed the instrument. Many years later the Vienna music publisher Carl Anton Spina gave the piano to Franz Liszt who then dedicated it to the Hungarian National Museum. The displayed instrument, constructed in the same way, is owned by the Beethoven-Haus.
Broadwood notified Beethoven in early January 1818 that the instrument had been dispatched on December 27th. Beethoven immediately contacted Count Moritz Lichnowsky and asked him to speak with the finance minister on his behalf so that he would be allowed to obtain the instrument free of custom fees and other charges. As can be seen from the article published in the Vienna newspaper on June 8th Beethoven’s wish was granted: “Mister Ludwig van Beethoven, cherished not only in Austria but also abroad for his great musical genius, received a rare and precious piano forte from a London admirer as a gift, delivered to Vienna free of charge. With particular generosity the court chamber of the dual monarchy dispensed with custom fees that are usually applied to foreign musical instruments, and hence proved in a way pleasant for the arts that one strives to encourage such seldom merits of genius by humane appreciation.”
Beethoven effusively thanked the authorities for the “honourable gift”: “I will regard it as an altar on which I will offer to god Apollo my most beautiful sacrifices of spirit.”
The Philharmonic Society
The Ninth Symphony
The Philharmonic Society, founded in London in 1813, became Beethoven’s most important institutional partner in England. The mission of the society, mostly based on private initiative, was to hold concerts on the highest professional level. Many people of importance to Beethoven held relevant positions: The often mentioned musicians Sir George Smart and Ferdinand Ries belonged to the group of directors, and piano and cello player as well as composer Neate was one of the founding fathers. The first concerts each had a composition of Beethoven as the core. In most cases this was a symphony or other composition such as the popular septet op. 20 or the quintet op. 29. The mixed concert programme typical of that time also featured compositions by Cherubini, Mozart, Haydn and Boccherini. In 1815 the Philharmonic Society bought three pieces from the work series Beethoven had offered to Smart and Salomon for publication in England: The overtures for “The ruins of Athens” (“Die Ruinen von Athen”) op. 113 and “King Stephan” (“König Stephan”) op. 117 and the “Name Day Overture” (“Zur Namensfeier”) op. 115. In the same year Neate stayed in Vienna where he visited Beethoven. When he left for London in February 1816 he took several compositions to present them in the concerts of the Philharmonic Society and/or offer them to London publishers. Beethoven also hoped for a beneficiary concert to his avail. Unfortunately, he was disappointed and felt betrayed after he had not heard anything from Neate for months but had read about a successful performance of his symphony in London in the press. It cannot be said for sure if the symphony presented was indeed the new Seventh Symphony or the often performed Fifth Symphony.
In the following year the Philharmonic Society invited Beethoven to London. “We would like to have you with us here in London next winter”, wrote Ferdinand Ries on June 9th, 1817. The flattering introduction reads as follows: “The Philharmonic Society where your compositions are preferred to any other wishes to give you proof of its admiration and gratitude for the many wonderful moments we were able to enjoy thanks to your exceptional compositions of genius.” The society was willing to pay Beethoven 300 guineas for a season-long stay in London and for the compositions of two symphonies that should then be the property of the Society. During his stay he would be able to give other concerts on his own which would be a nice source of additional income. Beethoven requested an additional minimum remuneration of 100 guineas to cover his travel costs that might be higher because of a necessary travel companion. The Society refused his request and the journey never took place, certainly also due to Beethoven’s bad state of health and the concerns for his nephew.
Still, Beethoven intended to visit England and told Ries in 1822 in a letter: “I am still playing with the thought to come to London, if only my health permitting; possibly next spring?” On this occasion he also asked Ries the following: “What remuneration would the Harmonic Society give me for a great symphony?” Ries forwarded the composer’s inquiry and in the first session of the season in 1823 the directors decided in favour of Beethoven:
“10. November 1822
Resolved that an offer of £ 50 be made to Beethoven for a M[anu].S[cript].Sym[phony]. He having permission to dispose of it at the expiration of Eighteen Months after the receipt of it. It being a proviso that it shall arrive during the Month of March next.”
According to the minutes a remuneration of £ 50 was offered to Beethoven for a new and yet unprinted symphony, given that the manuscript would be received in the month of March. Beethoven would then (as opposed to the offer of 1817) have the full rights of the composition after 18 months. Ries informed Beethoven of the decision five days later.
In early 1823 the Philharmonic Society also bought the overture “Consecration of the house” (“Die Weihe des Hauses”) op. 124 for £ 25. A copy was delivered by the London envoy secretary Caspar Bauer. In the end of February he notified Neate to send the symphony the same way as soon as he would receive the remuneration. At that time op. 125 had only been sketched and composed partially. Apart from that Beethoven expressed his hope to be able to visit London next year when he felt better: “England I would like to see and all the wonderful artists there. For me it would be of favourable as I can never achieve anything in Germany.”
The completion of the symphony was delayed. In several letters from 1823 to Ries Beethoven over and over again gave new excuses. In the beginning of September he promised messenger Franz Christian Kirchhoffer, employee at the Vienna bank Hofmann & Goldstein, to deliver the manuscript within the next two weeks. As can be seen from the receipt, Kirchhoffer had to wait for almost another eight months.
Neate confirmed receipt of the score eight moths later on December 20th, 1824. The copy corrected by Beethoven bears the following title written by the composer: “Great symphony written for the Philharmonic Society in London.- by Ludwig van Beethoven First movement”. The final part shows the handwritten German original text. An English and (incomplete, partially free) Italian translation was added in London. Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” was performed in this language, particularly suitable for singing.
Charles Neate once more invited Beethoven to London for the season of 1825 to conduct the first performance of the Ninth Symphony. For a remuneration of 300 guineas he should bring two new compositions, another symphony and a concert to first performance. Apart from that he would be able to give a concert for his own benefit. Obviously, the scope of Beethoven’s impaired hearing was unknown in London. Beethoven asked for the remuneration to be increased by 100 guineas, a request that was refused. However, Neate is sure that Beethoven will be completely content with his stay in England. Like before Beethoven did not undertake the journey. With the letter the composer enclosed a list of mistakes concerning the Ninth Symphony drawn up by a copyist but pointed out that these mistakes were found in other copies and needed not necessarily show up in the London copy, too. Later, Neate said that the London copy was flawless.
At the first attempt the Philharmonic Society did not manage to perform the composition in a way that met its requirements. The extremely popular double-bass player Domenico Dragonetti was scheduled for the bass recitatives as a solo player for which he requested an additional remuneration. The Society refused this. In a letter to the secretary he wrote that he even would have requested the double had he known the score before. A public rehearsal on February 1st first became a musical and then a press catastrophe and significantly influenced the review of the regular performance on March 21st, 1825. For the critics the piece was too long and too difficult. Sir George Smart, a conscientious conductor and artist, had explicitly asked the directors of the Philharmonic Society to delay the presentation until it was clear if Beethoven came to London to “partake in the performance” (as it was wisely described during the Vienna first performance) despite his hearing impairment that might be underestimated in London and until questions had been answered such as the right time for the bass recitatives in the fourth movement. Urged by Beethoven’s Vienna friends and as opposed to the agreement with the Philharmonic Society the symphony had already been presented for the first time almost a year earlier in Vienna on May 7th, 1824, and had been met with great success. As late as ten years after the English first performance the composition gained success in London. The Academy presented the choir finale separately at the Hanover Square Rooms; this time with an English translation by conductor Charles Lucas. Now the audience understood the meaning. Another two years later the Philharmonic Society also managed to hold a successful presentation under Ignaz Moscheles that then led to the suggestion to perform the composition every year with a choir of 1,000 members and an orchestra of 500 musicians as apotheosis and great European freemason anthem. In 1927 the suggestion was carried out, even if in a different way. The Strasbourg Council of Ministers of the European Community chose a part of the choir finale in a plain instrumental version as European anthem.
Half a year after the presentation Sir George Smart travelled to Vienna and met Beethoven several times in Vienna and Baden.
On the occasion of a final visit on September 16th Smart gave the admired composer a diamond pin. In gratitude Beethoven composed the canon “Ars longa, vita brevis” WoO 192. Smart later noted in his diary “as quickly as his feather pen was willing to write, within about two minutes”. The dedication written by Beethoven reads: “Geschrieben am 16ten September 1825 in Baden, als mich mein lieber talentvoller Musikkünstler u. Freund Smart (aus England) allhier besuchte. Ludwig van Beethoven” (“Written in Baden on September 16th, 1825 when my dear and talented music artist and friend Smart (from England) visited me here. Ludwig van Beethoven”).
The money gift
In February 1827 the already fatally ill Beethoven contacted his old acquaintance Ignaz Moscheles to ask for financial help. George Smart and Johann Andreas Stumpff received similar letters. In earlier years the Philharmonic Society had been in correspondence with Beethoven several times concerning a concert for his own avail. Now Beethoven, who had already been unable to work for months, felt himself in the situation to ask for such a concert. As weak as he was, he had to dictate the letter. Only the signature later cut out by Moscheles was written by his hand.
In 1808 piano player, composer and conductor Ignaz Moscheles, originally from Prague, came to Vienna. Until 1820 he was part of Beethoven’s circle of acquaintance. From the early 1820s until 1846 Moscheles lived in London but remained in written contact with Beethoven.
Thuringian harp manufacturer Johann Andreas Stumpff was a fervent admirer of Beethoven. In the autumn of 1824 he had visited Beethoven in Baden and remembered the visit in a preserved draft for a letter: “Still my loving heart is grateful for the fortuity that led me to lovely Baden and see face to face the most favourite of the muses and creator of the most eminent melodies ever created by the human spirit and who so kindly received me with such generosity that I will strive to earn all my life long.” In the following year he particularly pleased the “greatest living musician Luis v. Beethoven” with the gift of a 42-volume full edition of the works by Georg Friedrich Händel.
After Beethoven’s letter for help arrived in London the board of the Philharmonic Society immediately held a session and granted the composer’s wish. The generous sum of £ 100 was quickly sent to Vienna. It was a noble deed by the Society for which Beethoven had not always been a reliable partner but still a highly appreciated artist. The day Beethoven was buried, which he, of course, did not know yet, Moscheles revealed to the Society the content of the letter his friend Sebastian Rau had written him. In the letter Rau described the tremendous joy Beethoven had expressed when he brought him the money gift the Society had sent. In fact, it was Beethoven’s last great feeling of joy and it also improved the state of his health for a short time.
On March 28th Sebastian Rau informed London of Beethoven’s death. To Moscheles he wrote: “Beethoven is gone, he died on March 26th in the evening between 5 and 6 o’clock, bitterly struggling with death and in terrible suffering. But he had lost consciousness the day before.” Vienna piano manufacturer Johann Baptist Streicher sent a letter with the same date and similar content to Johann Andreas Stumpff. In 1822 Streicher had undertaken a long study journey and had become friends with Stumpff in London.
Josef Teltscher obviously visited Beethoven several times in March 1827 to draw him. According to the reports of Anselm Hüttenbrenner and Johann Baptist Jenger it is quite certain that he was also present in Beethoven’s living room in the afternoon of March 26th when the composer died. From the way Beethoven is drawn it can be assumed that he was still alive, yet unconscious, when Teltscher drew him.
Already as a young man did Joseph Joachim begin his musical studies in Vienna with Joseph Böhm (1795-1876), who still had known Ludwig van Beethoven in person and participated, among others, in the first performance of the Ninth Symphony. Through his teacher Joachim hence had a link to the authentic interpretation of the compositions by his admired composer. In 1844, at an age of only 13 years, he had his first public appearance as a solo player in the violin concert under Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. His performance was widely acclaimed. Since then he was regarded as THE interpreter of this composition for which he also composed two cadenzas of his own. Later Joachim became the grey eminence of the German musical life and was, amongst others, honorary president of the Beethoven-Haus. In this position he initiated the Bonn chamber music festival tradition. It was him and his quartet who made Beethoven’s late string quartets known to the general public by interpretations his contemporaries considered unrivalled.
Karl Halle, born in Halle/Westphalia, was quite an influential figure for the English musical life of the 19th century. He early settled in London and presented Beethoven’s piano sonatas first in concerts held at home, then in public concerts. In Manchester he later founded an orchestra named after him that became known for exemplary performances.
Before the Beethoven monument at the Münsterplatz in Bonn was officially unveiled in a ceremony on August 12th, 1845 the honorary guests, among them Queen Victoria of England, her prince consort Albert, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and Franz Liszt, signed the deed of foundation. Also the members of the committee signed the document. Like it is written in the document itself, two originals were drawn up, and having been signed, each original was enclosed in a leaden capsule and immured at the foot of the monument. However, no such a capsule with certificate was found when the monument’s base was opened in the 1970s during construction works for the parking garage under the Münsterplatz and the immured documents were brought to the city archive for safekeeping.
When the Queen visited Germany the Illustrated London News published an article with pictures of the most important sights, among them the Bonn Beethoven monument, a map of the river Rhine and genre scenes of the journey. The same newspaper also published the original of the displayed wood engraving for the first time. The reproduction is the cover page of a dinner menu card German Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on July 3rd, 1986 at the Brühl Castle.