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Title: Louis Spohr's Autobiography

Author: Louis Spohr

Release date: June 16, 2014 [eBook #45997]

Language: English

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LOUIS SPOHR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ***

The cover image was produced by the transcriber, and is placed in the public domain.

LOUIS SPOHR’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN.

COPYRIGHT EDITION.

LONDON:
LONGMAN, GREEN, LONGMAN, ROBERTS, & GREEN.
CASSELL AND GŒTTINGEN: GEORGE H. WIGAND.
1865.

[Pg i]

PREFACE.

In publishing an English translation of the unadorned yet highly interesting Autobiography of the celebrated Violinist and great Composer Louis Spohr, we consider we are but satisfying a natural desire on the part of his many admirers in this country to become more intimately acquainted with both the public and private life of this great musical genius—this noble, manly character, in whom were combined in so high a degree the qualities of the true artist with those of the really great-minded and thoroughly good man.

Although nearly twelve years have elapsed since Spohr’s last appearance in England, and during that time numberless foreign artists of distinction have visited us and gathered well-earned laurels and golden opinions in these islands; yet still above all Spohr shines out a star of the first magnitude, and there are no doubt thousands yet amongst us who were present at the performance of his oratorios, under his direction, at Norwich, or attended his concerts in London, and to whom this Autobiography will be of interest. We have little to say of it here—it speaks for itself. Simple and truthful throughout, it is a mirror of the mind of him who jotted down the details composing the same. Modest and unassuming at the commencement of his career, Spohr continued so till the end, notwithstanding the celebrity he achieved and the high position to which he attained. The praises showered upon him neither turned his brain nor puffed him up with pride; and he has left us an example of high morality, great amiability,[Pg ii] and bright domestic virtues, too rare alas! among artists and men of genius.

Spohr was a man devoted to his art, and although far from wealthy, often sacrificed his time—which to him, as to most of us, was money—in giving gratuitous instruction to young men of ability too poor to pay for lessons; and not unfrequently has he unhesitatingly dismissed some rich, well-paying, but dull scholar to make way for a poor but talented pupil, in hopes of thereby benefitting his art—and this was his sole reward.

Another prominent trait in Spohr’s character was his childlike simplicity, combined with never-failing good-nature and an inability to bear malice. Nor did the many unavoidable trials and vexations of a long life ever permanently disturb his good humour or sour his temper; and even gross injustice failed to do more than temporarily ruffle the calm serenity of his soul. Thus he passed through the world, an active and highly useful member of society, beloved and respected by all who knew him, till in process of time he went down to his grave full of years and honour.

As is explained in the text, the Autobiography comes to an end with the month of June 1838; but the description of the life and doings of the great master from that date till the time of his death was continued from reliable materials furnished by Mrs. Spohr and other members of the family; so that the whole forms a true account and lively picture of Spohr’s earthly career from his cradle to his grave.

With these few remarks we submit the work to the perusal and kind consideration of the gentle reader.

London, October 1864.

THE TRANSLATOR.

[Pg iii]

Chronological Index of Contents.

Vol. I.
Page
1784 to 1799. Spohr’s childhood and youth at Seesen and Brunswick.—Musical proclivities, and the instrument of his choice.—His first instructors on the violin.—First attempts at composition.—Sent by his father to Hamburg to seek his fortune.—Disappointed hopes, and return to Brunswick.—Singular interview with the Duke of Brunswick.—Appointed violinist in the court orchestra of the Duke.—Undertakes the musical education of his brother Ferdinand.—His admiration of the music of Mozart.—Disturbs the Duchess of Brunswick at her party of “ombre” with his “murderous fiddling.”1
1802. Spohr proceeds with Franz Eck to St. Petersburg.—Revisits Hamburg.—Cultivates at intervals his fondness for drawing and painting in water-colours.—His first love.—Dussek.—Spohr’s first published work, violin concerto Op. 1.—Stay at Strelitz.—Romantic adventure.—Second capture of Spohr’s heart.—Königsberg.—St. Petersburg.—Impressions, and incidents during his stay in that Capital.—Returns by sea to Germany.—Arrival at Brunswick14
1803. Appointed court musician at Brunswick62
1804. Musical tour to Leipsic, Dresden and Berlin67
1805. Appointed Concert-Master at Gotha.—Present with Prince Louis Ferdinand at the military manœuvres at Magdeburg84
[Pg iv]1806. Marriage of Spohr with Dorette Scheidler95
1807. Musical tour to Weimar, Leipsic, Dresden, Prague, Munich, Frankfort, Stuttgard and Heidelberg101
1808. Pedestrian tour through the Harz with his pupils112
Composes his opera of “Alruna”115
Congress at Erfurt117
1809. Musical tour to Leipsic, Breslau, Berlin and Hamburg128
1810. Musical festival at Frankenhausen139
Performance of the opera: “Zweikampf mit der Geliebten,” at Hamburg153
1812. Performance of the oratorio: “Das jüngste Gericht” at the Musical festival at Erfurt157
Musical tour to Leipsic, Prague and Vienna159
1813. Appointed director of the orchestra at the theatre An der Wien168
Composes his opera of “Faust”178
1814. Composes his cantata: “The Liberation of Germany”182
1815. Journey to Brünn, Breslau, Carolath.—Third musical festival at Frankenhausen203
Musical tour to Wurzburg, Nuremberg and Munich211
1816. Frankfort.—Strasbourg, &c.217
Visit to Switzerland234
Journey to Milan251
Journey to Venice270
Journey to Bologna, Florence and Rome283
1817. Departure from Rome.—Arrival at Naples325
Vol. II.
1817. Residence in Naples1
Ascends Mount Vesuvius3
Departure from Naples to Rome32
“Miserere” in the Sistine Chapel36
Departure from Rome41
Addenda in reference to the Italian journey47
Visit to Holland53
Appointed director of the orchestra at Frankfort53
1818. Composes the opera: “Zemire and Azor”58
Journey to the musical festival at Mannheim59
1819. Leaves Frankfort66
Musical tour to Berlin, Dresden, Leipsic and Cassel68
Visit to Brussels68
1820. Journey to London72
[Pg v]First concert at the Philharmonic Society82
Spohr’s concert at the New Argyll Rooms, London94
Mr. Logier’s Musical Academy98
Return to Germany102
Musical festival at Quedlinburg105
Journey to Paris by way of Frankfort and Heidelberg105
1821. Return to Gandersheim134
Concerts at Alexisbad and Pyrmont135
Removal to Dresden138
1822. Appointed director of the orchestra of the court theatre at Cassel141
1823. Institutes the Society of St. Cecilia147
Composes the opera: “Jessonda” in Cassel, where it is first performed148
1824. “Jessonda” performed in Leipsic153
1825. “Jessonda” performed in Berlin157
Composes the opera of “The Mountain Sprite” in Cassel, where it is first performed157
1826. Composes the oratorio of: “Die letzten Dinge” in Cassel, where it is first performed159
Musical festival at Düsseldorf161
1827. Composes the opera: “Pietro von Abano”163
1828. Musical festival at Halberstadt165
1829. Musical festival at Nordhausen166
1830. Composes the opera: “The Alchymist”168
1831. Celebration festival upon the occasion of the grant of a constitution to Hesse172
Celebration of Spohr’s “Silver Wedding”173
Terminates his work “The Violin School”176
1832. Composes the symphony: “Die Weihe der Töne178
Celebration of the “Golden Wedding” of Spohr’s parents180
1833. Musical festival at Halberstadt183
1834. Journey to Marienbad184
Death of Spohr’s first wife187
1835. Finishes the oratorio: “Des Heilands letzte Stunden” (Calvary) in Cassel, where it is performed for the first time188
Journey to Sandfort in Holland188
1836. Spohr’s second marriage194
Journey to Leipsic, Dresden and Saxon Switzerland195
Musical festival at Brunswick197
Millenium-jubilee at Paderborn199
1837. Projected musical festival at Cassel202
Journey to Prague204
[Pg vi]Vienna—Salzburg, &c.206
1838. Death of Theresa Spohr209
Journey to Carlsbad209
Continuation of Spohr’s Biography by his family210
1839. Composes his “Historical Symphony”215
Departure to the musical festival at Norwich215
1840. Journey to the musical festival at Aix-la-Chapelle227
Journey to Lübeck and Hamburg229
1841. Journey to Switzerland by way of Stuttgard and Hechingen232
Musical festival at Lucerne235
Composes his “Double Symphony”237
Musical performance in honour of Mozart in Cassel239
1842. Journey to Carlsbad240
1843. Invitation to Prague244
Journey to London to direct the “Fall of Babylon”249
1844. Composes the opera: “The Crusaders”257
Journey to Paris257
Journey to the musical festival at Brunswick260
1845. His opera of “The Crusaders” performed for the first time, at Cassel261
Journey to Oldenburg, Carlsbad and Berlin262
Journey to Bonn to the inauguration of the memorial erected to Beethoven270
1846. Journey to Leipsic and Carlsbad276
1847. Spohr’s twenty-fifth Anniversary as director at Cassel282
Spohr’s journey to London287
Musical performances in commemoration of the death of Mendelssohn291
1848. Festivities at Cassel293
1849. Journey to Leipsic and Carlsbad293
1850. Spohr’s fall upon the ice295
Composes his symphony “The Seasons”295
Journey to Leipsic, Breslau and Berlin296
1851. Journey to Switzerland and Italy300
Journey to Göttingen300
1852. Law-suit relative to the fine imposed upon Spohr for his absence on a journey without permission301
Journey to London to direct the performance of his opera: “Faust”302
Appointment of a second director of the orchestra, Mr. Bott at Cassel306
1853. Journey to London to direct the performance of his opera “Jessonda,” &c.308
[Pg vii]1854. Journey to Switzerland, Munich and Alexandersbad314
1855. Journey to Hannover316
Journey to Hamburg and Lübeck319
1856. Journey to Dresden, Saxon Switzerland and Prague321
Journey to the Harz321
1857. Journey to Holland323
Spohr pensioned off by the Elector of Hesse325
Breaks his arm327
1858. Journey to Magdeburg, &c.327
Journey to Bremen329
Journey in Prague to the jubilee of the conservatory329
Visit to Alexandersbad331
Journey to Wiesbaden to the musical festival of the Middle-Rhine331
Journey to Leipsic331
His Last composition334
1859. Journey to Meiningen. Spohr directs an orchestra for the last time336
Journey to Detmold338
Journey to Alexandersbad and Würzburg339
Spohr’s last illness and death341

[Pg viii]

[Pg 1]

My father, Carl Heinrich Spohr, Doctor of Medecine, afterwards Medical Councillor, was the son of a Clergyman at Woltershausen in the district of Hildesheim. He married, November 26, 1782, Ernestine Henke, daughter of the Clergyman of the Aegydian church of Brunswick, and at first resided with her parents at the parsonage[1]. I was the eldest child of this marriage, and was born April 5, 1784. Two years later, my father was transferred as district physician to Seesen. My earliest recollections reach back to that removal; for the impression made upon me by my mother’s weeping, after having taken leave of her parents, and our arrival at the simple and somewhat rustic house at Seesen, have remained with me up to the present time. I remember also the smell of the newly whitewashed walls striking me as disagreeable, and even now I still retain an uncommon acuteness and sensibility of the senses.

In Seesen were born my four brothers, and one sister. My parents were musical: my father played the flute, and my mother, a pupil of the Conductor Schwaneberger in Brunswick, played on the piano with great ability, and sang the Italian[Pg 2] bravuras of that time. As they practiced music very often in the evening, a sense and love for the art was early awakened in me. Gifted with a clear soprano voice, I at first began to sing, and already in my fourth or fifth year I was able to sing duets with my mother at our evening music. It was at this time that my father, yielding to my eagerly expressed wish, bought me a violin at the yearly fair, upon which I now played incessantly. At first I tried to pick out the melodies I had been used to sing, and was more than happy when my mother accompanied me.

Soon after, I had lessons from Herr Riemenschneider, and I still remember, that, after the first lesson, in which I had learned to play the G-sharp accord upon all four strings, in an extasy at the harmony, I hastened into the kitchen to my mother, and arpeggiod the chord to her so incessantly that she was obliged to drive me out. When I had learned the fingering of the violin from notes, I was also allowed to practise music with the others in the evening, as violinist, and there were particularly three trios by Kalkbrenner, for piano, flute and violin, which, after being studied, were executed in presence of our circle of friends.

About the year 1790 or 91 a French emigrant, named Dufour, came to Seesen. Although an amateur, only, he was an accomplished violinist and violoncellist. He settled there; and being supplied with free board by the more wealthy inhabitants, maintained himself by giving French lessons. The days on which he used to come to my parents, we always practised music, and I still remember having been moved to tears the first time I heard him play. I now gave my parents no rest until I had lessons from him.

Dufour, astonished at my rapid progress, was the first to persuade my parents to devote me entirely to music. My father, who had predestined me for the study of medecine, was from his love of music soon brought to agree to this; but he had a hard struggle with my grandfather, whose idea of a Musician was limited to that of a Tavern-fiddler who[Pg 3] played to dancers. Subsequently, after I had been so early appointed Kammermusicus[2] in Brunswick, I had the satisfaction to induce my grandfather, who loved me very much, to adopt a higher opinion respecting my chosen career as a musical artiste.

It was while I took lessons from M. Dufour, that I made my first attempts at composition, but without yet having had any instruction in harmony. They consisted in duets for two violins, and I executed them with my teacher at our musical soirées; astonishing my parents with them in the highest degree. To this day, I recollect the proud feeling of being already able to appear before the friends of the house as a composer. As a reward, I received from my parents a gala dress, consisting of a red jacket with steel buttons, yellow breeches, and laced boots with tassels; a dress for which I had long prayed in vain. The duets, which my father has carefully preserved, are indeed incorrect and childish, but possess a certain form and a flowing melody.

This first brilliant success in composition, so inspired me, that from this time I devoted nearly every hour which the school allowed me, to similar attempts: I even ventured upon a little opera, the text of which I took from “Weisse’s Kinderfreund.” It may be mentioned as characteristic, that, I began with the title-page, and first of all painted it very finely with Indian ink; then followed the overture, then a chorus, then an air, and there the work came to a standstill. As I had never yet seen an opera performed, I took the model for these musical pieces from Hiller’s operas “Die Jagd”, and “Lottchen am Hofe”, of which my mother had a pianoforte arrangement, and which she had often sung with me and my father. But I soon felt that I needed both knowledge and experience for such an undertaking, and I therefore set to work at other attempts. In this however, I had a hard struggle with my father, who strongly insisted that every work once begun should be completed before another was commenced; and only[Pg 4] because my father was convinced that I was unequal to so great a task, was an exception made on this occasion; but it was never allowed again. To this severity I owe my perseverance in working, and I have always recollected the paternal precept.

As my father liked to superintend the labours of his son, he allowed me to establish myself in his study, not being at all disturbed by the humming and whistling of the young composer. When I had written down anything wrong, which happened frequently enough, and was obliged to scratch it out, my father heard it at once, and would say half angrily: “Now the stupid boy is making windows again!”—for thus he designated the marks I made across the lines, in scratching out. I was very sensitive to this, and that is perhaps the reason why I acquired early the habit of writing off a clean score without erasing anything.

Since it was now determined, on the advice of Dufour, that I should devote myself entirely to music; Dufour insisted that I should be sent to Brunswick to enjoy the advantage of better lessons, particularly in theory. This could not take place till I was confirmed. According to a law strictly observed in the Dutchy of Brunswick, confirmation could not take place before the age of fourteen; in order therefore to lose no time, I was sent to my grandfather in the district of Hildesheim, where it was left to the decision of the clergyman as to when the children could be admitted to confirmation. Here, during the winter, I had lessons from my clever grandfather, both in religion, and other things; but music-lessons were not attended to, for neither my grandfather nor my uncles understood anything about it. I was therefore obliged to walk twice a week to Alefeld with my violin, to take lessons from the precentor there. Tedious as were these journeys, owing to the frequent severity of the winter weather, I was always pleased with them, chiefly, indeed, because I felt that I was above my teacher, and often brought him into difficulties by my fluent reading of the notes; and besides,[Pg 5] I had not unfrequently the secret triumph of seeing him brought to a standstill.

Half way to Alefeld, stood a solitary mill. I once entered there during a heavy shower of rain, and gained the good will of the miller’s wife to such a degree, that from that time I was obliged to call every day I passed by, and was treated with coffee, cakes and fruit; for which I used to improvise something upon my violin by way of thanks. I still remember having once so completely ravished her by playing Wranitzky’s variations upon “Du bist liederlich”, into which all the juggles with which Paganini afterwards enchanted the world were introduced, that she would not let me leave her during the whole day.

Soon after returning from Woltershausen, I was sent to Brunswick, where I was received into the house of the rich gingerbread-baker Michaelis, as one of his own children, and treated with kindness by all the members of the family; my father had been their physician and had cured Michaelis’ wife of a dropsy.

I commenced my musical and other studies with eagerness. I received instruction on the Violin from Kammermusicus Kunisch, a well grounded and amiable teacher, to whom I owe much. Less friendly was my instructor in harmony and counterpoint, an old organist named Hartung; and I still remember how severely he once rebuked me, when, soon after the beginning of the lessons, I showed him a composition of my own. “There is time enough for that,” said he, “you must learn something first.” But after some months he himself encouraged me to make trials in composition: he corrected me, however, so mercilessly, and scratched out so many ideas which to me appeared sublime, that I lost all desire to show him anything further. Not long afterwards, our lessons were brought to a close by the ill health of the old man; and these were the only lessons in theory, I ever had. I was now obliged to seek for instruction in theoretical works. But the reading of good scores was of special advantage to me; these I ob[Pg 6]tained from the Theatrical library through the interest of my teacher Kunisch. In this manner I soon learned to write harmony correctly; and I now ventured for the first time to appear publicly in Brunswick with a composition for the violin. This took place in the School-concert of the Katharinen-Schule, which I attended as a Secundaner. These concerts were instituted by the Prefect for the practice of the School-choir; but from several members of the Hof-Kapelle, the Town musicians, and accomplished amateurs taking part in them, they became so important, that greater works could always be executed, such as Cantatas, Symphonies, and instrumental Concertos. From this time everything was studied very exactly, and the performances, which were held in the tolerably large saloon of the head class, soon became so celebrated, that it enabled a trifling entrance money to be charged to defray the expenses. At one of these concerts I thus appeared for the first time in my native-town, and achieved so much success that I was invited to assist at the Subscription concerts at the Deutsches Haus, and received the usual remuneration. This first payment which I earned as an artist made me very happy, nor have I forgotten the proud feeling with which I announced it to my parents. I now frequently played solos at the subscription concerts, and generally some of my own compositions. I was also allowed to play in the Orchestra of the Theatre for my own practice, and, thereby, became familiar with much good music.

At this time, still possessing my clear, high soprano voice, it gave me much pleasure also to join the School chorus in its perambulations through the town. The leader, who since then has become celebrated as the Bass singer, Strohmeyer, gave the soprano solos to me very readily, from my being able to sing them without fault at sight.

My teacher Kunisch, who interested himself for me in a paternal manner, now insisted that I should take lessons of the Concert-Director Maucourt, the best violinist of the Brunswick orchestra. My father agreed readily, although it[Pg 7] was much against his grain to pay the higher charge for this instruction; and the more so, as I had been obliged to leave Michaelis’ house from his inability to give me up a special apartment, and that it was quite impossible for me to play and compose quietly in the same room with the children of the house. A further consequence of this change of dwelling was, that my father was obliged to arrange with his former aquaintances about my having free board; this was very galling to his ambitious son. Nevertheless I was treated in a friendly way by all these people, and thus the humiliating feeling of my position was soon dissipated. I now, with another Secundaner, inhabited a room in the house of the organist Bürger; here however I could practise and compose undisturbed, for our landlord, who interested himself in my musical studies, placed his music room and pianoforte at my disposal.

With M. Maucourt’s instruction, I progressed more and more towards becoming (for my age) an excellent solo player: and after the lapse of about a year, as my father was unable to defray the great expense of my living in Brunswick, on account of the growing up of his other children, he considered me to have made progress enough to enable me to try my luck in the world as a travelling “Artiste.” He determined therefore to send me first to Hamburgh, where he had acquaintances to whom he could give me letters of recommendation.

Accustomed to obey my father in everything, and well disposed to consider myself a shining light, I had no objection to this. If it appear hazardous in the extreme to send a boy of fourteen into the world, left entirely to himself, and trust everything to fortune, its explanation is to be found in the character and life-experience of my father. Bold and enterprising in the highest degree, he also had already emancipated himself in his sixteenth year. In order to escape punishment at school, he had run away from Hildesheim, and supported himself most precariously in Hamburgh, first as a teacher of languages, and afterwards, by giving lessons in the Büsching Commercial school. He then attended several Universities, struggling through[Pg 8] great privations by help of his enterprising spirit and unwearying activity; and, at last, without any help from home; after a most adventurous youth, succeeded in establishing himself in practice as a physician in Brunswick. He found it therefore very natural that his son should try the same course, although my mother shook her head thoughtfully at it. Scantily provided with money for the journey, but furnished with much good advice, I was sent by the mail to Hamburgh. Still, filled with the lively impression made upon me by the crowded Commercial City, and the ships, now seen for the first time, I went, full of hope and in high spirits, to Professor Büsching, to whom I had a letter of introduction from my father. But how soon were those hopes to be destroyed! The Professor, after he had read the letter with increasing astonishment, exclaimed: “Your father is then still, the same as ever! What madness to send a boy into the world trusting merely to good luck!” He then explained to me, that, in order to arrange a concert in Hamburgh, one must either possess a well known name, or at least, the means to bear the great expenses it would entail. But, that in summer, when all the rich people were at their country seats, such an undertaking would be quite impossible. Completely down cast by this explanation, I could not answer a single word, and was hardly able to repress my tears. I took leave in silence, and hastened to my lodging full of despair, without thinking of delivering the other letters of recommendation. Here, upon thinking over my situation, the certainty that my money would hardly suffice for a couple of days, terrified me to such a degree, that, in thought, I already saw myself in the claws of the crimps of whom my father had drawn a warning picture. I made up my mind at once, packed up my violin and other things again, sent them to Brunswick by the mail, paid my bill, and with the scanty remainder of my money, which might perhaps suffice to my subsistence, I set out on foot, on my return to Brunswick.

Some miles from the town, calmer reflection brought regret for this overhaste; but it was too late; had it not been so, I would have turned back. I said to myself that it was[Pg 9] foolish not at least to have delivered the other letters first. They might perhaps have procured for me the aquaintance of some musical person who would have appreciated my talent, and have procured some information how arrangements might have been made for a Concert. To this was added the humiliating thought that my father who had been so enterprising himself, would upbraid me as childish, cowardly and thoughtless. Thus, saddened to the depth of my soul, I wandered farther, thinking continually how I might avoid the humiliation of returning to my paternal home without having effected anything whatever.

At last, the idea struck me of addressing myself to the Duke of Brunswick, to solicit from him the means to carry on my studies. I knew that the duke had earlier played the violin himself, and I therefore hoped that he would recognise my talent. When (thought I) he has heard me play but one of my concertos, my fortune is made. With newly awakened courage I now journeyed onward, and got over the rest of the road in the most cheerful disposition of mind.

Scarcely arrived in Brunswick, I concocted a petition to the Duke, in which I laid before him my whole situation, ending with the request either for aid towards improving myself, or, for a situation in the ducal orchestra. As I knew that the Duke was in the habit of walking every morning in the park of the Palace, I sought him there with my petition in my pocket, and had the good fortune to have it accepted by him. After having glanced over it and asked me some questions about my parents and former Instructors, which I fearlessly answered, he enquired who had worded the petition. “Well, who but I myself? I need no help for that,” was my reply, half offended at the doubt as to my ability. The Duke smiled and said: “Well, come to the palace to-morrow at eleven; we will then speak further about your request.” Who so happy as I! Punctually at eleven I presented myself before the groom of the chambers and requested to be an[Pg 10]nounced to the Duke. “And who may Er[3] be?” snarled the groom to me in unfriendly tone. “I am no Er. I am here by the Duke’s command, and Er has to announce me”, was my indignant reply. The groom went to announce me, and before my excitement had subsided I was introduced. My first word to the Duke was therefore, “Your Serene Highness! your servant calls me “Er”; I must earnestly remonstrate against that.” The duke laughed aloud, and said: “Come, calm yourself; he will not do it again”. Then, after having put several questions to me to which I gave the most unembarrassed answers, he said: “I have enquired about your abilities from your last teacher Maucourt, and am now desirous to hear you play one of your own compositions; this can take place at the next concert in the apartments of the Duchess. I will have it intimated to the director Schwaneberger.”

In most happy mood I left the Palace, hastened to my lodging, and prepared myself for the concert in the most careful manner.

The Court concerts in the apartments of the duchess took place once a week, and were most disagreeable to the musicians of the Ducal Orchestra: for, according to the then prevailing custom, cards were played during the music. In order not to be disturbed, the Duchess had ordered the orchestra, always to play piano. The leader therefore left out the trumpets and kettle drums, and insisted strongly that no forte should be played in its full strength. As this was not always to be avoided in Symphonies, however softly the band might play, the Duchess ordered a thick carpet to be spread out under the orchestra, in order to deaden the sound. One heard therefore the words “I play”, “I stand” and so forth, much louder than the music.

However, the evening on which I played there for the first time, the card tables and carpet had disappeared; the[Pg 11] orchestra, informed that the Duke would be present, had well prepared themselves, and the music went on excellently. As I then still appeared without any timidity, and well knew that my whole future fate depended upon the success of that day, I played with real inspiration; and must have surpassed the expectations of the Duke, for he, even while I was playing, cried repeatedly “bravo”. After I had finished, he came to me, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “The talent is there; I will take care of you. Come to me to-morrow.” In an extasy of delight I returned to my lodging, wrote immediately to my parents of my good fortune, and could get no sleep for a long time, from excitement and joy.

The next day, the Duke said to me, “there is a place vacant in the orchestra, I will give it to you. Be diligent and behave well. If after some years you have made good progress, I will send you to some great master; for here you have no great model to follow!” This last speech filled me with astonishment, for till then I had considered the playing of my Instructor Maucourt, as the utmost that could be attained.

In this manner, in the beginning of my fifteenth year I was appointed Kammermusicus. The Rescript of my appointment which was drawn up later, is dated August 2nd, 1799. Although the salary was only 100 thalers, yet by great economy, and with the help of other trifling earnings, it sufficed to me; and I did not now need any further help from home. Nay, I was even happy enough to be enabled to render the education of the other children easier for my parents, by taking my brother Ferdinand, who was eight years younger than I, and who showed an inclination and talent for music, to live with me, and give him my assistance to become an artist.

From this time, the young Kammermusicus was in full activity. His duties consisted in playing at the Court-concerts and in the Theatre, for which latter, a French operatic and dramatic company had been engaged shortly before. I therefore became earlier acquainted with the French dramatical music than with the German; and this was not without in[Pg 12]fluence upon the tendency of my taste, and upon my compositions of that time. At last, during the two fairs, a German operatic company from Magdeburgh was also engaged, and the grandeur of Mozart’s operatic music burst upon me. Mozart now became for my life time my ideal and model. Even now I well remember the transport and dreamy enchantment with which I heard for the first time, the “Zauberflöte” and “Don Juan”; and that I had no rest until I had got the scores lent to me, and had brooded over them half the night long.

Neither did I fail to be present at all the other musical parties in the town: I was a member of all the quartetto circles. In one of these which had been formed by two of the singers of the French opera, who played the violin, I heard for the first time the quartettos of Beethoven, and from that time raved no less about them than I had before done about those of Haydn and Mozart. With such constant practice, my playing and taste could not fail to become more and more cultivated. The presence of two foreign violinists who at this time visited Brunswick, produced also a favourable influence upon me. These were Seidler, and the boy Pixis. The former impressed me by his beautiful tone and his pure playing, the latter by his execution, which for his years, was extraordinary.

I very often played in private parties, with the brothers Pixis, and in their second public concert I performed in a double concerto, by Pleyel the violinist. After such encouragement I always studied with redoubled diligence. The duke, who did not lose sight of me, had allowed me to inform him whenever I intended to execute a new composition at the Court concerts, and he was sometimes present, to the great annoyance of the duchess, who was thus disturbed in her party at Ombre. One day when the duke was not there, and for that reason nobody was listening to the music; the prohibition regarding the forte being renewed, and the dreadful carpet again spread, I tried a new concerto of my own. I can only call these performances rehearsals, because no preparation was ever made beforehand, excepting on the days upon which we knew that the[Pg 13] duke would be present. Engrossed with my work which, I heard for the first time with the orchestra, I quite forgot the prohibition, and played with all the vigour and fire of inspiration; so that I even carried away the orchestra with me. Suddenly, in the middle of the solo, my arm was seized by a lackey, who whispered to me, “Her Highness sends me to tell you that you are not to scrape away so furiously.” Enraged at this interruption I played, if possible, yet more loudly; but was afterwards obliged to put up with a rebuke from the Marshal of the Court.

The Duke, to whom I complained the next day; laughed heartily: but on this occasion he at the same time adverted to his former promise, and told me to choose a teacher at once from among the great Violinists of the day. Without hesitation I named Viotti, and the duke approved of the choice. He was immediately written to, to London, where he resided at the time. Alas! He refused the request: he wrote word that “he had become a wine merchant,”—“occupied himself but seldom with music, and therefore could not receive any pupils”[4].

Next to Viotti, Ferdinand Eck, in Paris was at that time the most celebrated violinist. He was therefore next applied to. But he also, would take no pupils. A short time before, when engaged in the Court orchestra at Munich, he had eloped with a rich countess; had married her in Switzerland, and now led an affluent life, partly in Paris, and partly upon an estate near Nancy which had been bought with the fortune of the countess. He, however, proposed his younger brother and pupil, Francis Eck, as master. As he was at that time travelling through Germany, and had appeared with great success at Berlin, he was written to; and, in case of his accepting the proposition,[Pg 14] invited to Brunswick. Eck came; played at Court, and pleased the Duke greatly. As however he was about to start for Petersburgh upon an artistic tour, I was sent with him as a pupil for a year; and it was settled that I should bear half the expenses of the journey: and that Eck, at the end of the instruction should receive a suitable reward from the Duke. A diary of this journey exists, which from some extracts may perhaps be of interest. It commences a few days before our departure (which took place April 24, 1802), in the following childish manner; notwithstanding I was already a youth of eighteen.

“The Leave-taking.”

“To the most sorrowful hours of life, belong those of leave taking from loving parents, and tried friends. Not even the prospect of an agreeable and profitable journey can brighten them; time only, and the hope of a speedy meeting again, can assuage their pain. From these also do I expect relief on recommencing my musical tour. Farewell, therefore, parents and friends! The remembrance of the many happy hours enjoyed with you will always accompany me.”

We first went to Hamburgh, where Eck intended giving concerts. I regarded this town again, from which I had fled some years ago so full of despair, with a certain degree of self-satisfaction and content.

After Eck had delivered his letters of recommendation, the lessons began. Concerning these, the following is written in my diary:

“This morning, April 30, Herr Eck commenced my lessons. But alas! how was I humiliated! I, who imagined myself one of the first virtuosi of Germany, could not play one single bar to his satisfaction; but was obliged to repeat it ten times at least, in order in some degree to gain his approbation. My bow-ing particularly displeased him, to alter which, I now also see is very necessary. At first it will of course be difficult for me; but at last, convinced of the great advantage of the change, I hope to accomplish it.”

[Pg 15]

The diary now describes everything that the travellers saw and heard. Attractive as these were to me, yet I did not neglect my musical studies for them. The forenoon, which in Hamburgh lasts till three o’clock, was devoted entirely to practising what Eck gave me. It was not long before he expressed himself favourably as to my progress. Already on May 10, I wrote:

“Herr Eck begins to be more satisfied with my playing, and was kind enough to assure me yesterday that I was now able to play the concerto I had studied under him, without fault.”

The intervals between practising, I employed in painting. From my earliest youth I had applied myself to drawing and painting in water colours, and had attained some proficiency without ever having had any good instruction. Yes, I had even hesitated for some time, as to which of the two arts, music or painting, I should choose for my profession. I now made my first attempt at portrait painting. The 12th of May I wrote:

“On Sunday I commenced a miniature which I finished this forenoon. I tried to paint myself, and am quite satisfied with the result. This, and playing on the violin have occupied me so fully, that I have not left the house for four days. I sent this picture to my parents, and then commenced painting Herr Eck, who was patient enough to sit to me.”

It is now time to mention that the young artist, from his earliest youth, was very susceptible to female beauty, and already when a boy fell in love with every beautiful woman. It is therefore not to be wondered at, that, the diary of the youth of eighteen contains many pages of the outpourings of the emotions of his heart. But there is great comicality in the earnestness with which these fleeting inclinations are spoken of.

In Hamburgh it was a Miss Lütgens, the daughter of a music master, who particularly won my heart. After a visit paid to the father, I wrote the following:

“His eldest daughter, a girl of thirteen, a very fine, innocent creature, pleased me particularly by her agreable and modest demeanour. She is very beautiful, has hair that curls[Pg 16] naturally, very lively brown eyes, and a neck of dazzling whiteness. Her father, whose hobby is counterpoint and harmony, entertained me continually with the resolution and combination of the chords; finding in me the most patient listener to his sermon, while I would much have greatly preferred to speak with his amiable daughter about the combination of hearts and lips.”

In order to a more frequent near approach, I asked permission to take her likeness, which was willingly granted. But before the sittings commenced, I was warned by Herr Eck, whom oddly enough I had made my confidant, that she was a coquette, and unworthy of my regard. At first I could not believe that a girl of thirteen could already be a coquette, but after the first sitting, I became of the same opinion, and wrote the following remarks:

“Henrietta begged me to take her portrait in the dress which she wore, assuring me that she had chosen it expressly; for her other dresses were not cut low enough, and covered her neck too much. I was astonished at her vanity, and the sight of this charming neck which otherwise would have enchanted me now saddened me; being convinced that she was already infected by the vanity and shamelessness of the Hamburgh ladies. While I painted, she chatted with her cousin, (an ugly but vain girl,) of nothing but the dress she intended wearing at the ball which was to take place on the following evening. Quite vexed, I returned home, and wished that we might now leave as soon as possible, for Hamburgh began to displease me more and more. My sociable heart, which could so willingly attach itself to any one, finds here nobody. In this girl, I thought to have found something on which to set my affections; but I see I am again deceived. I had intended making a copy of this portrait for myself; but I am still too much embittered against her to be able to do so. Neither have I now any wish to go to the ball.”

But two days afterwards I wrote, “This forenoon I worked diligently at Miss Lütgens’ portrait—and began also a copy of it for myself. After dinner I went to her..... Henrietta[Pg 17] received me with reproaches for not having been at the ball.... To-day, she was so modestly dressed, and spoke so reasonably, that I occupied myself more with her than with my painting, which was the cause of my not quite finishing it. It is really a thousand pities that this girl with so much talent and good sense, lives in such vulgar society, and is thereby led away into the follies of Hamburgh.”

With the presentation of the portrait, and our departure, which took place immediately after; this little romance, that never came to a declaration, terminates.

With respect to the point I had at that time reached in my art, and my views of the latter, my diary shews proofs at every page, of my opinion of what I heard in Hamburgh. Without doubt those judgments are pronounced with the naïve assurance that belongs to youth, and require without a doubt many modifications, if these were possible after the lapse of so long a time. The opinion about Operas, and their performance, may be well passed over, for those works have for the most part, disappeared from the repertoire, and the singers, also, have passed away.

But respecting other matters, as well as those of my Instructor, the following incidents may be mentioned.

“May 5. To-day we were invited to dinner by Herr Kiekhöver, and there met Dussek and some other musicians. This was very agreeable to me, as I had long earnestly wished to hear Dussek play. Herr Kiekhöver and his wife are very kind people, and in their house good taste is combined with splendour. The conversation at table, was almost always in French. As I am not well versed in that language I could take but little part in it. But, I took all the more in the music which followed. Herr Eck, began with a quartett of his own composition, and enchanted all the listeners. Then Herr Dussek played a sonata for the piano, of his own composition, which however did not seem to please particularly. Now followed a second quartett by Herr Eck, which so delighted Herr Dussek, that he enthusiastially embraced him. In conclusion,[Pg 18] Herr Dussek played a new quintett he had composed in Hamburgh, which was praised to the skies. However, it did not entirely please me; for, despite the numerous modulations, it became tedious towards the end, and the worst was, that it had neither form nor rhythm, and the end could quite as well have been made the beginning as not.”

At a musical party at M. Thornton’s country house, I became acquainted with Fräulein Grund, at that time the most esteemed singer of Hamburgh. My diary speaks of her with great enthusiasm. Among other remarks:

“At first, the conversation was very vapourous; for the merchants spoke of nothing but the contrary winds that prevented their ships entering the Elbe. By and by however, it became more interesting, particularly when Fräulein Grund joined in it. I had already admired her correct and polished language, and her captivating and obliging manners. But when at table, she spoke alternately French with one, and English with another, and that one gentleman informed me she spoke and wrote four languages correctly, I began to envy her, and to be ashamed that I, as a man, was so far behind this girl. She had also attained great proficiency in music, and enchanted us so much yesterday evening by her singing, that Herr Eck proposed to her to sing at his Concert, which she also promised to do. My neighbour at dinner, informed me that her father maintained his family by giving Instruction in Music, and spent a great deal upon the education of his children. In this, his eldest daughter assisted him greatly; since she not only instructed her brothers and sisters in music and languages, but also earned a considerable sum by giving lessons in the first houses in Hamburgh. I would gladly have made her acquaintance at once, but she was so surrounded by young men that I could not approach her.”

My diary mentions the following with regard to Herr Eck’s public concert in the Logensaal on the Drehbahn on the eighteenth of May:

“Herr Eck had great reason to be satisfied with the or[Pg 19]chestra, for his concerti were admirably accompanied; not so the arias of Fräulein Grund, which were somewhat difficult for the wind instruments. At the head of this well drilled orchestra, is Massoneau, well known by his charming compositions. The appearance of this man by no means indicates his great talent; for his manner of playing and his bow-ing are so bad, that one might take him for the greatest bungler—and yet he does not direct at all badly.”

Our stay at Hamburgh lasted till June 6. Herr Dussek who was commissioned to arrange the concert at a festival with which the English living in Hamburgh were about to celebrate the 4th of June, in honour of their king, engaged Herr Eck to perform a violin concerto. It was not until the rehearsal which took place on the evening of June 3, at nine o’clock, that Herr Eck discovered that the concert was to be given in the open air, which, until then, had never been mentioned. A tent had been erected, in which the orchestra, about one hundred strong, was disposed on a terrace-like platform. Herr Dussek first tried a Cantata, composed by him for the occasion, and which, had an uncommon effect upon me; for not only was it well written and thoroughly well studied, but from the accompainment of a large organ which had been erected in the back ground of the orchestra and “from its being executed in the silence of night, it partook of so solemn a character that I was quite charmed by it.”

After the Cantata, Herr Eck was to try his Concerto. But, he fearing that the damp night air would have an unfavourable effect upon his strings, and that his violin, after so powerful a volume of vocal sound, and hemmed in by the linen walls, would tell badly, had resolved not to play at all. He explained this; and at the same time reproached Herr Dussek warmly for not having told him at once, that the concert was to take place in the open air. Hereupon a sharp dispute followed, the consequence of which was that Eck left the place immediately with me, and we took no part in the festival itself.

We now went to Ludwigslust, where Eck wished to play at[Pg 20] Court. But his offer was declined; and he came also to Strelitz at an unfortunate time, for the Court was absent. Nevertheless, as it was soon expected to return, and the pleasant little town with its charming park, bounded by the lake, invited us to make a longer stay; and, as Eck foresaw that in the height of summer it would be impossible to do much in Stettin, Dantzic and Konigsberg, he made up his mind to await the return of the Court. We looked out therefore for private lodgings, and made ourselves at home there for some time.

This was the most favourable period for my studies, during the whole journey. Eck, who was now at leisure, devoted himself with great zeal to the instruction of his pupil, and initiated me in all the secrets of his art. I, for my part, urged on by youthful ambition, was indefatigable. I rose very early and practised until exhaustion obliged me to cease. But, after a short rest I began again, and in this way, sometimes brought it to ten hour’s practising a day, including the time that Eck devoted to me. In a letter from Brunswick, I had been informed that those who did not wish me well had loudly expressed themselves, that I should distinguish myself as little as all the other youths whom the duke had hitherto assisted in their studies. In order to controvert this opinion, I was determined to do my utmost, and even when my zeal sometimes flagged, the thought of my first appearance in Brunswick upon my return, animated me directly to fresh exertion.

In this manner I succeeded after a short time in acquiring such dexterity and firmness in the management of my instrument, that none of the then known Concerto-music was too difficult for me. In these exertions I was supported by sound health, and a Herculean frame.

Between whiles, I composed, painted, wrote and read; and in the later hours of the afternoons we used to make excursions into the neighbourhood. A favourite amusement of the travellers was to row across the lake, and to take supper at a farm house, situated on the opposite shore. As I was already at that time an accomplished swimmer, I often undressed during these[Pg 21] trips, and swam a while alongside the boat. The relation in which I stood to Eck, which was more that of one comrade to another than of pupil to teacher, admitted of such privileges.

At this time, I finished a violin concerto I had begun in Hamburgh, and which afterwards appeared as Op. 1 at Breitkopf & Härtel’s in Leipsic; and wrote the three violin duets Op. 3 published at Kühnel’s in the same town. While practising these duets with Eck, I became first aware that my teacher, like many violinists of the French school, was no thoroughly finished artist; for however excellently he executed his concertos, and some other compositions studied with his brother, yet he knew but little how to enter into the spirit of the works of others. A change of characters would have been very possible while playing these duets, for the scholar could have taught the master how they ought to have been executed. I became also aware from an attempt at composition made by Eck, that it was impossible for him to have composed the violin concertos and quartetts he had given out as his own productions. At a later period, also, the concertos appeared with the name of the elder Eck affixed to them, and the quartetts with that of Danzi, the leader of the Orchestra at Stutgard. Thus the four weeks, during which we waited for the arrival of the Court, passed in a very uniform way, but not fruitlessly for me, when Herr Eck fell seriously ill, and being obliged to keep his room for the first four weeks of his indisposition, I took my evening walks alone. During these walks another love affair sprang up, which is related in the diary with great earnestness and minuteness. On the eighth of July, is written:

“This afternoon, impelled by ennui, I entered a circulating library, where I selected Lafontaine’s well known novel “Quinctius Heymerom von Flaming.” I took it with me, and, leaving the town, looked for a sequestered and shady place on the shore of the lake, where I lay down and began to read. I became deeply engrossed in the story; grieved with Lissow about his Jacobine, and compared her to a lady then living, and an acquaintance of mine. Suddenly I heard footsteps[Pg 22] near me, I looked up, and two girls stood before me; one with blue eyes, fair curls, and beautiful as an angel, the other with black hair and eyes, less beautiful indeed than her companion, but still not plain. I sprang up, bowed respectfully and gazed after them for a long time. Myrrha, Herr Eck’s dog which I had taken with me, followed them, fawning upon the fair haired one incessantly, so that it did not heed my calling. I therefore followed to bring back the dog, and if possible to make the acquaintance of the girls. The fair one came to meet me, begging pardon for having kept back the dog, and asked me to promise that I would not punish it for its disobedience. With her sweet silvery voice she might have exacted yet greater promises from me; I therefore gave the desired one with pleasure. The conversation was now commenced; I continued it, and accompanied the girls on their walk. I found that the fair one was very well educated and polite. The dark one spoke too little to allow of judging of her education. We came at length to a meadow separated from our path by a broad ditch, which although shallow, was yet too wet for ladies to cross. As they expressed a desire to walk in the meadow, I offered to carry them over. At first they would not consent, but at last they allowed themselves to be persuaded. I took the fair one first, and an incomprehensible pleasure seized me when thus carrying the beautiful girl in my arms. When I had reached the most dangerous part of the ditch with her, one of her fair curls fell upon my face. This so disturbed me, that I nearly fell with my lovely burthen into the ditch. Nevertheless, I brought her happily over. She thanked me so heartily and gazed so into my face with her large blue eyes that I almost forgot to fetch the other. We now walked on across the meadow, and, at the end, to my great disappointment, found a little bridge which led us back over the ditch. This envious bridge robbed me of the pleasure of carrying once more the sweet burthen. I escorted the girls as far as the town, and then parted from them very unwillingly.—I will immediately enquire their names and station.”

[Pg 23]

Already the next day I again met my fair one. The diary relates this with comical ingenuousness:

“This evening, urged by God knows what impulse, I took the same walk as yesterday, and again laid myself down in the very place where I had been so agreeably disturbed by the girls. I began to read; but, although I was at an interesting part, yet when I had run through some pages, I had not the least idea of the contents. I now confessed to myself that I had not come here to read, but in the hope of again meeting my new acquaintance. I pocketed my book and gazed with longing looks towards the place where I had first seen them yesterday. But; after waiting in vain for two hours, I arose, vexed, and returned towards the town. Just before reaching it, at a place where two roads meet, I encountered some cows, on their way home from the meadow, which blocked up my path and obliged me to wait. But I had not stood there long, before I saw at some distance, a female figure, dressed in white, coming towards me, and which had exactly the same fine form and high bearing of her whom I had waited for with such earnest longing. As she drew nearer, I was more convinced that it must be her, and I went to meet her. I had not deceived myself—it was her! She greeted me with her graceful friendliness, enquired how I was, and told me that her friend had taken cold the evening before, and was obliged to keep her bed. I said I was sorry to hear it, and that I feared I had been the cause of the illness of her friend, in having delayed them too long in their walk. She assured me however of the contrary, and laid all the blame upon her friend herself, who had clad herself too lightly.”

“During this time the herd had passed by, and we separated. In this second conversation I have again remarked in her so much polish of manner, and so much tender feminine delicacy that I could not but infer that she had been exceedingly well educated.—But, as yet I know not who she is; though from her conversation, I am of opinion she must belong to the bourgoisie.”

[Pg 24]

These meetings were now repeated almost every evening without prior agreement, and I felt very unhappy when on one occasion I did not find my friend. I became more and more confidential with her; spoke of my parents; of my patron who provided me with the means to accompany my eminent Instructor on his travels; mentioned my works, and plans for the future; and felt myself drawn nearer to her by her friendly interest for me. I saw in her the sum of all womanly perfections, and imagined to have met her who could make the happiness of my life. When wandering hand in hand in the little wood by the lake side, I was more than once upon the point of declaring my love to her; but a timidity I could not conquer always prevented me. Respecting her own circumstances, she was very reserved, and hence I was still ignorant as to who she was. On the 24 of July I however wrote:

“At last I have learned the name of my fair one; but the enquiries made, have cost me dear! Herr Eck, who is now almost recovered and who has already taken some short walks, sent for a hair dresser. Of him, I made enquiries. He told me her name was ***, and, that she was the daughter of a groom of the chambers to the former Duke, who had died some years ago. Her mother, with whom she lived, had a small pension. To my question as to how that could enable her to dress so elegantly? his reply was: they were probably presents from Herr von *** who was very fond of her and visited her frequently. On hearing this, my agony was so great, that I nearly let fall my violin,—and scarcely had the courage to ask, whether her virtue was doubtfully spoken of. He assured me nevertheless to the contrary, and was of opinion, that Herr von ***, who had only come of age two months ago, had the intention of marrying her. He was now travelling, and would return in some weeks. I had made the acquaintance of this Herr von *** at the Inn where we dined, before his departure, and must admit that he seemed to me the most well bred young nobleman we met there. The[Pg 25] less therefore do I understand his making her presents and she accepting them; for she can hardly permit herself to hope that he will marry her. And, if so, how as a prudent girl, could she venture during his absence to take lonely walks with a young man, and sit with him in the evening before the door of the house? The affair is a riddle to me, and I am doubtful whether I shall go to her this evening or not.”

The girl’s character however did not long remain a riddle to me; for scarcely had Eck, who now again shared the evening walks, made her acquaintance, than she received his attentions in a much more friendly and forward manner than she had done mine. Eck, gallant and liberal, arranged excursion-parties to please her, into the neighbourhood; to Rheinsberg, Hohenzirze, and other places. For this, she rewarded him with the most marked attention, and had eyes for him only. I felt deeply wounded; the diary contains passionate outbursts of jealousy. Fortunately they were confined to writing, and the good understanding with my Instructor remained unshaken. The contempt I now felt for the girl helped me to conquer my passion, and I turned to my studies with renewed zeal. My diary states:

“I never remark the progress I have made in playing, more than when, from time to time, I take up some old theme and remember how I used to execute it. To-day for instance I took the Concerto I had studied in Hamburgh and found, that I now executed with the greatest ease those passages which I then could not play without a break.”

My Instructor also, did not leave me without encouragement; and when, on the 16 of August, I had played my new Concerto; to my great delight, Herr Eck said: “If every three months you progress as you have done in these, you will return to Brunswick a perfect virtuoso.”

Two days later, Aug. 18., I remained almost the whole day at home, and composed a new Adagio to my Concerto; for although I had already written three, yet none of them seemed to suit well to the other parts.

[Pg 26]

As evincing my youthful pride as a Composer, the following may here be cited:

“I was told of a popular festival which was to be arranged at Hohenzirze, August 27. the birthday of the hereditary Prince. To this festival the peasants of the neighbouring villages are invited to a dance and supper. There is also to be dancing at the castle. In answer to my question, as to where so many musicians would be found, I learned that the Janitscharen-music would play for the peasants, and the Orchestra—imagine my astonishment—for the dancing at Court! I would not believe it at first, until repeated assurances of it were made to me. But, I asked: how is it possible, that the Duke can require such a thing from the members of his Orchestra, and that they have so little feeling of honour and artistic pride as not to refuse it? The reply was: the Duke does not consider it improper for his Orchestra to play to dancers, and the majority of the members dare not disobey his commands, for if discharged from here, poor bunglers as they are, they would find it difficult to obtain places in other orchestras.”

As after the end of my unhappy love affair, my residence in Strelitz had become unbearable, I longed greatly for our departure. This however, was still delayed, for the doctor could not pronounce Herr Eck fully restored until the end of September. The unpleasantness of my position was still further heightened by the friend of my faithless one, whom at our first meeting I had named the “dark one”, turning her affection most unmistakeably towards me; an affection, which, although the girl was very pretty, I could not return. I withdrew myself from their society as much as possible; but, out of regard to my Instructor, I could not entirely refuse to share in the pleasure parties and excursions which he constantly arranged; and at these I could not avoid being the escort of the dark beauty. There are naive complaints in my diary of the embarrassments which her tenderness caused me, and more than[Pg 27] once I wished the moment of our departure to arrive, which would free me from such trials.

On the 27th Sept., came at length the moment, when we were to say farewell to our fair ones. Sophy (the dark one) had affected, or perhaps really felt, an uncommon sadness for the last three days. To-day she spoke not a word, only sighed sometimes, and, when the others in the room did not observe it, threw herself passionately upon my neck. About eight o’clock in the evening, Herr Eck and Miss *** left the room. Now for the first time the real outbreak of her tenderness took place; for after she had also sent away her brothers and sisters, she hardly let me out of her arms. I was obliged to bear with it until ten o’clock; then we took leave. The poor girl shed so many tears, that I was ashamed of my own dry eyes, and, in order not to appear quite heartless, I kissed her warmly. Sophy accompanied me to the door of the house, and pressed a paper into my hand, with the request that I would keep it as a remembrance. I hastened home, opened it, and found a letter with a gold ring containing some hair. The letter ran as follows: “Noble friend, pardon a girl whose importunity must certainly have been obvious to you. I knew that sometimes I did more than was befitting my sex. But God knows, when in your company, which was so dear to me, I could not control myself. Now also I force upon you a small token, trifling indeed, but given with the most openhearted impulse. My only wish and prayer is that you will wear it, and remember me. Ah! could this paper but tell you how highly I value having made your acquaintance, and how deeply I regret your going so far away from us! I must conclude, and in the firm hope of seeing you, my best friend, once more, I already rejoice at the day which will restore you to us again. Farewell, and may you live as well and happily as is the wish of your friend Sophy ***”

This unmerited and tender inclination may not have remained without thankful acknowledgement; for the resolution to answer the letter in a most friendly manner from Stettin,[Pg 28] is expressed in the diary. But there is nothing mentioned respecting the execution of that resolve.

We went to Danzic, via Stettin, arriving there October 2. As Eck had to deliver many letters of introduction, and had to arrange a Concert; the lessons, which till now had been given regularly, came rather to a standstill. Meanwhile, I thought, “that I made progress by only hearing Herr Eck practise.” We were constantly invited out to dinner, and for the evening; among other invitations was one to the country seat of Herr Saurmann, where from a hill behind the house, we could overlook the Baltic and a great part of the town. The view of the sea and the vessels upon it made an indiscribable impression upon me. As the day was somewhat overcast, the ships appeared to hang in the clouds, and to move slowly along with them. I could with difficulty tear myself away from the magnificent sight.

At another dinner, in Mr. Simpson’s garden, I had the honour to sit beside the hostess. She induced me to relate to her many things of my early life, namely: how I had been at first destined for the study of medecine, and then, from a passionate inclination for music, had been led to devote myself entirely to the art. She listened to me with a benevolent interest, but at the end wounded my feelings by asking whether I should not have done better to follow the profession of my father. Wholly penetrated with the dignity of my artistic career, I replied angrily: “As high as the soul is above the body, so high is he who devotes himself to the ennobling of the mind, above him who only attends to the mortal frame.”

Almost everytime that an opera was given, I went to the theatre, and did not fail to note down my remarks upon the performance, in which singers, chorus and orchestra were sharply handled.

To my great joy, Ariadne in Naxos, the celebrated melodrama of Brade, which I did not yet know, was also given. But it offended my taste, that in the comedy which followed,[Pg 29] “The peasants and lawyers”, Theseus appeared again in the character of a lawyer, and Ariadne as a humble peasant girl. “The music enchanted me although it was very badly performed. But how could it be otherwise, the score having only arrived in the morning from Königsberg, and the first and only rehearsal having been held at noon! Madame Bochmann, who played Ariadne, declaimed indeed very well, but was too ugly for the part.” A young Englishman, who sat next to me, said, that, he did not think Theseus to blame for forsaking such an Ariadne. And upon this, he related to me the following anecdote. At an amateur theatre in England, Ariadne was also given. A rather elderly and anything but beautiful lady played the part of Ariadne so excellently, that the audience broke out into applause at the end of the piece. She modestly disclaimed the applause, saying: “In order to represent Ariadne well, it was necessary to be both young and handsome.” A young man, who wished to say something clever to her, cried out: “O, Madam, you prove the contrary!”

Herr Eck’s concert on October 16. at the Theatre, went off brillantly. As I knew the pieces that my Instructor performed, very accurately, I undertook to lead them on the first violin. The musicians, who soon discovered how firm the young Conductor was, followed me willingly, thereby rendering the performance of the Solo player much easier; which he also thankfully acknowledged. Besides the three pieces played by Herr Eck, there was also a Symphony by Haydn, an Overture by Mozart, a pianoforte Concerto by Danzi, played by Herr Reichel, and two Arias of Cimarosa and Mozart sung by Fräulein Wotruba and Herr Ciliax. “The success of Herr Eck’s performances was great, and the applause enthusiastic and reiterated. I also, had never before heard him play so well in public.”

On the 20th Oct. we went on to Königsberg and remained there till Nov. 18. Eck gave two concerts which were very well attended. Being introduced into many of the first houses by letters of introduction, we were constantly invited to dinner[Pg 30] as well as to musical parties. In the house of the “Surgeon-General” Gerlach, I often practised music with Fräulein Gerlach, who was a thoroughly cultivated dilettante, and an excellent pianiste; and who also sang my new songs. Whether these had any artistic worth is now not to be ascertained, for they have been lost. I sometimes played quartetts with two Messrs. Friedländer. It was not however these quartett parties alone that attracted me to their house; Fräul. Rebecca Oppenheim, the younger sister of Madame Friedländer, had again inflamed my too susceptible heart. She was a Jewess, and the society that frequented the house consisted almost entirely of Jews only; but they were all polite and educated people. The day on which I took leave, I found Madame Friedländer and Fräul. Rebecca alone. The latter was overflowing with wit and humour, and we never ceased laughing, and jesting, although this but ill suited the purport of my visit. “It is fortunate,” says my diary, “that we leave to-morrow, for Rebecca is a dangerous girl! He who loves his freedom and his peace must fly from her, and the sooner the better.”

Before Herr Eck gave his first concert, the family Pixis arrived at Königsberg upon their return from St. Petersburgh. I immediately renewed our acquaintance. The eldest brother had in the mean time grown very tall, and his soprano voice had changed to a deep bass. But he still dressed “à l’enfant with a turn-down collar and no necktie”. They were much dissatisfied with their journey to Russia, and the father even affirmed that he was a thousand rubles out of pocket during their stay in St. Petersburgh, although he had taken with him two hundred letters of introduction.

We met at a musical party at Count Calnheim’s, where the youngest played first of all some variations on the piano with great execution and taste. The eldest then played a quartett by Krommer. But neither the composition, nor his playing pleased me. “His tones”, says a remark in my diary, “are without power, and his execution without expression. Added to this, he handled his bow so badly, that, if he does not alter this,[Pg 31] he will never become a perfect virtuoso. He holds the bow a hand’s breadth from the nut, and raises the right arm much too high. In this manner, all strength fails him in the stroke, and the shades of piano and forte vanish altogether in his playing.” After him, Herr Eck also played a quartett by Krommer. “But Heavens! what a difference was there! The transitions from forte to piano in his tones, the clearness of the passages, the tasteful fioriture by which he knew how to enhance the most common place composition, lent an irresistable charm to his playing. He gained also, the most undivided applause. Pixis then played a quartett by Tietz, the celebrated crazy violinist of St. Petersburgh, but had just as little success with it as with his former one. At last, he begged Herr Eck to play a duet by Viotti with him, in order that he might be able to say that he had played with all the great violinists of the day; for Viotti, Rode, Kreutzer, Iwanovichi, Tietz, Durand and others, had all done him that honour. In this request all the company joined, and Herr Eck was obliged to consent. Pixis played this duet best of all, although he did not bring out one of the passages as well as Herr Eck, who was not at all prepared for it.”

In the Concert also, which the brothers gave, the eldest had no success, “the passages were flat and without expression: he even played very false, and at times scraped so much as to inflict pain on the ears of the audience.... According to my idea, three years ago when I heard him for the first time in Brunswick, he played the easy Concertos of Iwanovichi and others, better than the difficult ones with which he now came forward.” Yes, I even doubted whether he ever could become a great violinist, “unless he soon got a good master, who, of all things, could give him a good style of bow-ing.”

Upon these doubtless too severe criticisms my Instructor who was a very stern judge, may certainly have had some influence. When, ten years later, I again met Pixis in Vienna, he had become a distinguished virtuoso, and as Professor at the Conservatory in Prague, he proved himself also an able teacher of the violin.

[Pg 32]

In Königsberg, I began again to paint. I made the acquaintance of a miniature painter, named Seidel, who gave me some lessons, and sat to me. The picture was very like. My diary speaks also of composing. From a remark about the polishing down of a Concerto, it is evident that at that time, I did not understand how to work of a piece; in which I afterwards succeeded so well, that, the rough draught, seldom suffered even from slight changes, and, once written in score, it was never altered afterwards.

For our journey to Memel, “we chose the road along the shore, being twelve miles (German) shorter than that across the country. In winter also, when the sand is hard frozen, it is better to drive on than the latter. Three miles from Königsberg, the road runs close to the sea, and does not leave it until you reach Memel. We travelled the whole night, and suffered much from the cold and cutting sea air. Between the fourth and fifth station we had the misfortune to have a wheel come off. We were now obliged to quit the carriage, to right it by our united strength, and secure the wheel temporarily with ropes. All this may have lasted a full half hour, and I feared I had got my fingers frostbitten; but this I happily found to be groundless. At nine o’clock we reached Memel, but were obliged to wait three whole hours until we could be carried across the harbour, because the boatmen had first to be collected from all parts of the town. Four miles farther we reached the frontiers.”

We arrived at Mittau with a large addition to our number; for Myrrha, without our remarking it, had brought forth nine pups, six living and three dead. “All, excepting two, were taken away from the poor mother.”

In the families to whom Herr Eck was recommended, we found the most hospitable welcome. We were invited to dinners, suppers, musical parties and balls; and everything was done to render our stay agreeable. In the house of a “Collegiate-Assessor”, von Berner, I played for the first time in the place and in the presence of my teacher. It happened thus; Herr Eck,[Pg 33] after having played some quartetts with great applause, was solicited to accompany a young Pianiste of 16 years of age, a Miss Brandt, who was possessed of a surprising skill, in a Sonata of Beethoven’s; but he excused himself on the plea of great fatigue. As I well knew that Eck did not dare to play any piece at sight, that he did not know, I offered to play in his stead. It is true, the Sonata was wholly unknown to me, but I trusted to my readiness in reading. I was successful; and the young Artist, in whom probably but little confidence had been felt, was overwhelmed with praise.

At the subsequent musical parties, I was now always solicited to play something; and I remember that Herr von Berner on my taking leave of him, said to me with fatherly kindness: “My young friend, you are on the right road—only keep in it! Herr Eck as a Virtuoso is certainly still above you; but you are a much better musician than he is.”

In the Governor’s house I heard a Violinist of the name of Sogeneff, who at that time was very celebrated in Russia, and a serf of Prince Subow. “He played variations of his own composition, which were immensely difficult. The composition pleased me right well, but his play, although skilful, was very raw, and offensive to the ear. Herr Eck played immediately after him, so that the difference between the two Players was very distinctly perceptible. The play of the Russian, was wild and without transition from forte to piano; that of Herr Eck firm, powerful, and still, always harmonious. We heard there, also, some Russian military singers. They were six private soldiers, some of whom sang soprano parts. They shrieked fearfully, so much so that one was almost obliged to stop ones ears. They are practised in singing by a non commissioned Officer, cane in hand. In some songs they accompanied themselves on sort of Schalmey of so piercing a tone, that I expected the ladies would have fainted away. The Melodies of the songs were not bad, but accompanied by a great deal of false harmonics.”

At a club in the house in which we lived, I was invited[Pg 34] to a card party “with three Excellencies, but was obliged to pay dearly for the great honour, for I lost more than three thalers in a few hours.”

Our departure for Riga was put off until December the second, on account of Herr Eck’s recurring indisposition. I spent my evenings at the houses of Herr von Berner and von Korf, in turn, and constantly practised with Fräulein Brandt. We played through the whole store of sonatas with violin accompaniment, and many of the masterpieces of Mozart and Beethoven were thus brought under my notice for the first time. After supper we chatted for an hour, or Frau von Korf played at chess with me, a game which from my childhood, I had been passionately fond of.

Herr von Berner, who had become attached to me, invited me to pass some months with him in the country, upon my return from Petersburgh; and then to give some Concerts about midsummer, a season in which all the Courland nobility are assembled at Mitau. It gave me great satisfaction to hear that I was considered far enough advanced to appear in public as a virtuoso. I gladly consented.

It is odd that there is nothing mentioned in my diary about the children of Herr Berner; for one of his daughters who afterwards became a pupil of Rode, and distinguished herself as a violin player, must already then have been very nearly grown up.

At last the hour of our departure came, and with a moved and grateful heart I took leave of the families who had so kindly welcomed me.

In Riga, I found a letter from Brunswick, that gave me much pleasure. I had asked permission of the Duke to dedicate my new Concerto, as my first published work, to him; and the answer written by the Lord Chamberlain von Münchhausen, brought the consent to my request. Full of impatience to see my work appear, I begged Herr Eck to write to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipsic, with whom he was in correspondance,[Pg 35] to propose the publishing of the concerto. The reply soon arrived, but was very discouraging to me.

For the consolation of the young Composer who can find no publisher for his first work, the conditions upon which the above named firm consented to undertake its publication, may be mentioned. I had myself given up all claim to payment, and only stipulated for some free copies. The firm required however that I should buy one hundred copies at half the selling-price! At first my youthful Artist-pride rebelled against such dishonourable conditions, as I deemed them. But the wish to see the publication of the concerto so expedited, that, upon our return to Brunswick, I might be able to present the Duke with a printed copy; joined to the hope that he would make me a present, assisted me to conquer my sensitiveness, and agree to the conditions. The concerto was finished in time, and when I returned, was lying ready at a Music-seller’s in Brunswick; but the package was not delivered to me before I had paid for the hundred copies.

In Riga, Herr Eck had a quarrel with the Society of Musical Dilettanti there. Being in possession of the Concert room; they required from him, as from all foreign artists, that he should first perform in their concert, for which they were ready to give him up the room and orchestra, for his own concert afterwards. Herr Eck refused to comply with these conditions and would rather give up his own concert altogether. This made the company more compliant; and they declared themselves satisfied, if he would agree to play in no other concert than theirs, after his own. He consented to this, on the condition that they would be silent about it beforehand: because he had been told that the subscribers to the dilettanti concerts would be unwilling to pay for an extra-concert, if they were sure of hearing the foreign Artist in the former. Silence, however, was not kept, and the consequence was that Herr Eck’s concert was badly attended. Angry at this, he now demanded the sum of fifty ducats for his appearance in their concert, as a remuneration for the loss which[Pg 36] their gossiping had caused him. The gentlemen directors, feeling in some degree that they had been wrong; after long debating, agreed to pay thirty ducats. Herr Eck, however, stood by his first demand. The gentlemen now threatened to make the police compel him to appear; and he was actually summoned before the Chief of the police. But he succeeded in winning him over to his cause, and the gentlemen directors were dismissed, with their charge. At last, upon the day of the concert, after the bills parading forth the name of Herr Eck, had been posted up at the corners of the streets, they vouchsafed to grant the required demand; but they were not a little surprised at the declaration of Herr Eck, that, now, after having been summoned before the police he would not play at all, not even for double the sum demanded. All their threatning and storming was of no avail; they were obliged to give their concert without him. “I was there,” says the diary, “and much enjoyed the fermentation that prevailed among the dilettanti. Nothing but Herr Eck and his refusal were spoken of; but nobody said one single word in his favour; all were too much annoyed at their disappointed expectations. The concert went off badly. A virtuoso on the flute, from Stockholm, who first played an old fashioned concerto by Devienne in place of Herr Eck, pleased as little as a dilettante from St. Petersburgh, who executed a concerto for the piano by Mozart, in a most schoolboy-like manner.”

Eck, had however won the good will of the Director of the police, by having offered to give a concert for the benefit of the Nikolai Asylum for the poor. Meirer, the Director of the Theatre, gave the house gratis, and Messeurs Arnold and Ohmann, as well as the ladies Werther and Bauser gave their vocal services. The Musical Society did all they could to put a stop to it; but in vain. “Immediately upon his appearance Herr Eck was received with the liveliest applause, which was still more increased after he had played. The proceeds, after deducting the expenses, amounted to more than a hundred ducats, which were handed over to the cashier of the Asylum;[Pg 37] but a gift of one hundred ducats from the nobility present was also made to Herr Eck, and the next morning, fifty more followed from several rich merchants, who did not wish to be behindhand in generosity.”

Among the many invitations, one is also mentioned in the diary, to the house of the rich sugar baker Klein, who “kept no less than three tutors for his children”—a German, a Frenchman and a Russian.

On the seventeenth of December we quitted Riga. In Narwa the governor, a great lover of music, who had seen from the Paderoschna, which we were obliged to deliver up at the gate of the town, to be examined, what a celebrated Artist was passing through, invited us immediately for the evening. “Our excuse, that we could not appear in our travelling clothes, was not accepted. The governor sent his state carriage, and we were carried off half by force. The embarrassment at finding ourselves all at once in the midst of a brilliant society, clad in travelling costume, very soon wore off after the friendly welcome and obliging politeness of those present, and we passed a pleasant evening. At one o’clock when the party broke up, we found our carriage with post-horses ready before the door, and set out immediately.

But, between Narwa and St. Petersburgh, one misfortune after the other occured to us. Two stations on this side of St. Petersburgh, we were persuaded to place our carriage upon a sledge. But hardly had we driven half an hour in it, when the cords with which it was fastened, broke, and we could get on no farther. The postillion was obliged to get some peasants from the neighbouring village to help us. After the job was done, they made us understand by signs that we were to pay them five rubles. Very angry at this shameful demand, we refused to give so much, but as they shewed the intention of cutting the cords with which they had bound the wheels, with their axes; and as we saw that we could not contend against the crowd of wild looking fellows who by degrees had[Pg 38] surrounded our carriage, we were obliged to comply with the demand.

“After a halt of more than an hour we were at last enabled to proceed; but it was not long before we stuck fast in the snow, and it was only by the help of several peasants whom we called to assist us, that we were able to extricate ourselves. We now found that in the deep snow, the sledge hindered more than it served us, and we had the carriage taken off. After this was done, and paid for, we were enabled to proceed; but again seven times did we stick fast, so that no less than sixteen hours were necessary to accomplish this post of three miles. As we came nearer to St. Petersburgh we found the roads better, and were also driven faster. At last, Wednesday the 22. at nine in the evening, we arrived; after being six days and five nights upon the road. The last part of the journey from Narwa to St. Petersburgh is dreadfully uniform and tiresome. The perfectly straight road cut through the fir forests, with the party coloured Werst-stones, each exactly like the other, are enough to weary the most patient! Seldom only does the endless forest open, to disclose a few buildings, or a miserable village. The houses, or rather the huts of these villages, have for the most part, one room only, with a window a foot square. In this room, men and animals live together quite peaceably. The walls consist of unhewn beams laid upon each-other, the crevices being filled up with moss. It cannot certainly be very warm in these holes; but the inhabitants do not seem to care for that; for I saw children and grown up people running about in their shirts, and barefoot in the snow. The poorer and more wretched the objects appear during the journey, the more surprising is the magnificent St. Petersburgh and its palaces..... We descended at the Hôtel de Londres, and immediately engaged a guide, without whom one cannot be here even for one day; for as soon as the stranger is shown his room, not a soul troubles himself about him any farther.”

In St. Petersburgh, I was at first quite left to myself.[Pg 39] This would therefore have been the most favorable opportunity for me to look round that splendid city. But the extreme cold, which already exceeded twenty degrees, would not permit of this. I therefore continued to work with my usual diligence, and indeed with increased zeal, for the period of Herr Eck’s instruction was more than half elapsed.—Through a member of the Imperial orchestra we were introduced into the “Citizen Club,” and there made the acquaintance of almost all the celebrated artistes and scholars then in St. Petersburgh. Among others, my diary mentions Clementi, his pupil Field, the violinist Hartmann, the first violin of the Imperial orchestra, Remi, also a member of the orchestra, Leveque, the son of the leader in Hanover, and director of an orchestra of serfs belonging the senator Teplow, Bärwald from Stockholm, the hornist Bornaus, and others.

Clementi, “a man in his best years, of an extremely lively disposition, and very engaging manners,” liked much to converse with me “(in French, which from my great practice in St. Petersburgh I soon spoke pretty fluently)” and often invited me after dinner to play at billiards. In the evening, I sometimes accompanied him to his large pianoforte warehouse, where Field was often obliged to play for hours, to display the instruments to the best advantage to the purchasers. The diary speaks with great satisfaction of the technical perfection and the “dreamy melancholy” of that young artist’s execution. I have still in recollection the figure of the pale, overgrown youth, whom I have never since seen. When Field, who had outgrown his clothes, placed himself at the piano, stretched out his arms over the keyboard, so that the sleeves shrunk up nearly to his elbows, his whole figure appeared awkward and stiff in the highest degree; but as soon as his touching instrumentation began, everything else was forgotten, and one became all ear. Unhappily, I could not express my emotion and thankfulness to the young man otherwise than by a silent pressure of the hand, for he spoke no other language, but his mother tongue.

[Pg 40]

Even at that time, many anecdotes of the remarkable avarice of the rich Clementi were related, which had greatly increased in latter years when I again met him in London. It was generally reported that Field was kept on very short allowance by his master, and was obliged to pay for the good fortune of having his instruction, with many privations. I myself experienced a little sample of Clementi’s true Italian parsimony, for one day I found teacher and pupil with up turned sleeves, engaged at the washtub, washing their stockings and other linen. They did not suffer themselves to be disturbed, and Clementi advised me to do the same, as washing in St. Petersburgh was not only very expensive, but the linen suffered greatly from the method used in washing it.

Of all the acquaintances I made in the Citizen’s Club, none were dearer to me than my young friend Remi. The diary speaks of him immediately after our first meeting, as a “polite and charming young Frenchman.” The same enthusiasm for art, the same studies and the same inclinations bound us yet closer to each-other. We met every day at dinner at the Citizen’s Club, when I was not invited out with my Instructor; and when in the evening there was no Opera or Concert in which Remi was engaged, we played duets, of which Remi possessed a great collection, till late in the night. There were many evenings in that cold winter on which the Theatre was closed; for by an ukas of the benevolent Emperor Alexander, all public amusements were forbidden when the cold should exceed seventeen degrees, in order that the coachmen and servants might not be exposed to the danger of being frozen to death. And during that winter, the cold often remained at above seventeen degrees for a fortnight together. That was a dull, monotonous time for foreigners. But foreign artistes, were still worse off, for they were unable to give their concerts. When the cold fell below seventeen degrees there were notices innumerable; but they were often obliged to be recalled on the following day. Herr Eck’s public concert was also postponed till March 6. O. S. after[Pg 41] having been announced more than once. In the mean time however, he played twice at Court at the private Concerts of the Empress, and pleased so much, particularly the second time, that the Empress had him engaged as solo player in the Imperial Orchestra at a salary of 3500 rubles.

The less frequently operas and concerts took place in the cold months of January and February, the more diligently I attended them, in order to become more nearly acquainted with the native and foreign talent. I also saw and heard Tietz the celebrated crazy violin player. He was a man of about forty years of age, with a ruddy complexion, and pleasing exterior. His appearance in no wise showed his insanity. We therefore were the more astonished when he addressed every one with the question, “My most gracious monarch, how are you?” He then related to us a long affair in which was but little evidence of sanity; complained bitterly about a malicious sorcerer, who, jealous of his violin playing had so bewitched the middle finger of his left hand that he could no longer play; but at last expressed the hope that he would still be able to conquer the spell—and so forth. On taking leave of us he fell upon his knees before Herr Eck, kissed his hand, before the latter could prevent it, and said, “My most gracious Monarch, I must do homage to thee and thine art, upon my knees!”

Four months later, in the beginning of May 1803, all St. Petersburgh rang with the sudden news that Tietz, whom the Russians in their blind patriotism regarded as the first violinist in the world, and who on account of his madness had not played for six months, had suddenly commenced again. Leveque related the nearer particulars to me. Tietz had been invited to a musical party at the Senator Teplow’s, but had refused to play in spite of all entreaty; Herr Teplow, much annoyed, sent away the orchestra saying, “Then I also will never again hear music!” This made so deep an impression upon Tietz that he said, “most gracious Monarch, have the orchestra recalled; I will play a symphony to their accompaniment.” This took place, and having once began, he played[Pg 42] quartets until two o’clock in the morning. The next day the amateurs assembled in his house and he played again. This gave me the hope of hearing him also, and on that account I hastened to him on May the second (20. April). Many amateurs were once more assembled there, who again beseiged him with requests to play; this time however in vain. He was not to be moved, and I afterwards heard that some one had been of the party whom he did not like.

On the eighteenth of May I took my new duet and my violin, and went again to Herr Tietz, whom I this time found alone. It did not require much to persuade him to play the duet; but he would not take the primo. We had hardly ended, when Herr Hirschfeld, hornist in the Imperial orchestra, and others with whom I was unacquainted, came in. Herr Tietz begged me to repeat the duet, and it appeared to please not him alone, but also the others. Herr Tietz now opened a quartet by Haydn, and required me to take the first violin. He himself took the violoncello part. As the quartet was known to me, I did not refuse. It was pretty well executed, and Herr Tietz, as well as the others present, overwhelmed me with praises. Tietz played the secondo of my duet, which is not easy, without faltering and perfectly clean, executing the cantabile passages with taste and feeling. The passages which, according to the old method, he played with rebounding bow, pleased me less.

On the 23rd May, we met Tietz at the weekly evening concert of the Senator Teplow, where a pianiste named Madame Meier appeared, and played a piano concerto of her own composition, which was not bad. Then Eck and I followed with a concerto of his brother’s, which we had been closely practising for the previous fortnight. At the beginning, I was nervous, and played the first solo not so well as at home; but it soon went on better, particularly in the last parts.

Herr Tietz now produced a concerto of his own composition, the Allegro and Rondo of which he played twice, possibly because the first time did not please him. As he never had[Pg 43] practised since his madness, it may be readily conceived that technical firmness was wanting in his play. The difficult passages also, were executed very much better the second time. Into all the three parts, he introduced cadences in the old style, improvising them; they were in themselves very pretty, but sounded quite different the second time.

The diary closes with the remark, “though Tietz indeed is not a great violinist, much less the greatest in the world as his admirers maintain, he is undoubtedly a musical genius as his compositions prove.”

The best violinist then in St. Petersburgh was, without doubt, Fränzel junior. He had just come from Moscow where he had been engaged for six concerts at three thousand rubles. His attitude in playing displeased me. The diary says:

“He holds the violin still in the old manner, on the right side of the tail piece, and must therefore play with his head bent...... To this must be added that, he raised the right arm very high, and has the bad habit of elevating his eyebrows at the expressive passages. If this is not unpleasant to the majority of the listeners it is still very disagreeable for a violinist to see...... His playing is pure and clean. In the Adagio parts, he executes many runs, shakes, and other fioriture, with a rare clearness and delicacy. As soon however as he played loud, his tone is rough and unpleasant, because he draws his bow too slowly and too near to the bridge, and leans it too much to one side. He executed the passages clearly and purely, but always with the middle of the bow, and consequently without distinction of piano and forte.”

I heard another celebrated violinist, Herr Bärwald, afterwards leader in Stockholm. As he came forward to play the concerto of Viotti (A-sharp) he was already applauded, before he had sounded a note.

This, together with his good bearing and his excellent manner of managing his bow, raised my expectation very high, and it was with the greatest impatience that I awaited the end of the Tutti. But how was I disappointed on hearing[Pg 44] the solo! His playing was indeed clean and accomplished, but still so sleeply and monotonous, the passages so flat and drawn out, that I would have much preferred the false but still fiery playing of Pixis. He introduced, and played an Adagio of his father’s composition, something better, and thus somewhat reconciled me again. After him, one Herr Palzow, a man celebrated for his theoretical knowledge, played a concerto of his own composition, on a piano with a flute attachment. Well and scientifically as the concerto was worked out, it pleased neither me nor the others listeners, on account of its length and monotony. The tones also of the strings and of the flute had together a very bad effect.

I also wrote my opinion of Fodor, the then celebrated violinist and composer. I heard him in the concert of the “Nobility’s, or Musical club,” where however everything was very unmusical; for the elite assembled there, “not to listen, but to chat and walk about in the saloon.” At first a fine symphony by Romberg, (C-sharp) was extremely well executed. Then Signor Pasco, first tenorist of the Italian theatre, sang an aria so charmingly, tastefully and tenderly, that it actually became somewhat more quiet in the saloon. Herr Fodor now followed with a concerto of his own composition, which however appeared to me worse than those I already knew. His playing also did not please me. He played indeed in a pure and rather accomplished manner, but without warmth and taste. In the passages he also played with rebounding bow, which soon became unbearable. Madame Canavassi, prima donna of the Italian opera who before had not pleased me on the stage, sung this time so beautifully, that I must confess to having wronged her.

During Lent, the Greek church allowing no theatrical representations, the Intendancy of the Court theatre gave two grand concerts weekly in the Steiner theatre, in which, only virtuosi of the Imperial orchestra performed, among whom Herr Eck was now reckoned. The best whom I had the opportunity of hearing there were the violinist Hartmann, Jerchow and[Pg 45] Remi, the violinist Delphino, the hautboyist Scherwenka, and the hornist Hirschfeld.

In the first concert, the orchestra consisted of thirty six violins, twenty bass and double set wind instruments. Besides these the choruses were supported by forty hornists from the Imperial orchestra, each of whom had only one single note to blow. They served in place of an organ, and gave the chorus, the notes of which were divided among them, great firmness and strength. In several short soli, their effect was ravishing. Before the orchestra, were the Court singers, men and boys, about fifty in number, all in red uniform embroidered with gold. After the first part of Sarti’s oratorio, Remi played a violin concerto by Alday with much success. “After the concert as we drove home, he asked me for my opinion of his playing. As truth alone should be spoken between friends I did not withold from him that: clean and pure as his playing was, I had yet missed the shades of forte and piano, expression in the cantabile, and a sufficiency of vigour in the passages. He thanked me for my candour and declared that he had been particularly embarrassed that day, at having to appear in Herr Eck’s place, the latter having previously been advertised for this concerto.”—After the second part of the oratorio, Signor Delphino played a violin concerto. As his playing was much extolled I had expected more from him. “He played without taste, and not once perfectly clean.”

The Italian singers appeared in the second concert, and the French in the third. Among the first, Signor Pasco and Madame Canavassi, already mentioned, distinguished themselves. Among the French there were only two, M. St. Leon and the celebrated Phyllis Andrieux, who could lay claim to be called singers; they had charmed all Petersburgh by their correct and pleasing singing, their skilful and graceful acting, and their personal beauty. There was especially a Polonaise with which the latter fascinated everybody, and which was always encored. The beginning of it is found in my diary as follows:

[Pg 46]

Between the first and second part of this concert, the Imperial hornists executed an ouverture by Gluck, and with a rapidity and exactness which would have been difficult for stringed instruments, how much the more so then for hornists, each of whom blew only one tone! It is hardly to be believed that they performed the most rapid passages with the greatest precision, and I could not have conceived it possible, had I not heard it with my own ears. But as may be imagined, the Adagio of the ouverture made a greater effect than the Allegro; for it always remains somewhat unnatural to execute such quick passages with these living organ pipes, and one could not help thinking of the thrashings which must have been inflicted.

These concerts, with the exception of one in which Herr Eck played and Mademoiselle Phyllis sang, were but little frequented; for which reason the managers soon discontinued them.

On the other hand a performance of Haydn’s “Seasons” which was given for the benefit of a widow’s fund, (also during Lent,) was very well attended. Baron Rall, one of the projectors invited me also to take part. I therefore shared in all the orchestra rehearsals, and in these, as well as in the performance, played with M. Leveque, the same part. The orchestra was larger than any I had yet heard. It consisted of seventy violins, thirty bass, and double set wind instruments. The whole therefore was something very grand, and my diary mentions it with delight; as also of the work itself, which I then heard for the first time, although I estimated the “Creation” yet higher!

My playing thus with Leveque, had increased our friendship, and I learned from him that, during the summer he intended to visit his parents in Hanover. We therefore agreed to make the voyage to Lübeck in the same vessel.

[Pg 47]

As my new friend now visited me oftener, I played my new violin concerto to him, and expressed my wish, to hear it with the orchestra before I sent it to the publisher. Leveque immediately offered to study it with his orchestra, took the parts with him, and invited me to a rehearsal some days later.

“I was in great agitation now that I was about to hear my own composition with full orchestra for the first time. The Tutti were well studied, and from this I could calculate how, in every part, the effect I intended would be brought out. The most of them satisfied me, some even surpassed my expectation...... But I was the less pleased with my own play. All my attention being fixed on the accompaniment, I played much worse than I did at home. I therefore begged permission of Mr. Leveque to try the concerto once more at the end of eight or ten days, when I should have received the copy; this permission he readily granted.”

The following appears later: “I got the copy of my concerto yesterday, for which I was obliged to pay eight silver rubles. I could have had six concertos copied for a like sum in Germany.”

The work was again tried from the new-copied parts. I was much calmer than the first time, and played therefore much better. It was also better accompanied than before, and therefore more effective. Leveque declared himself very well satisfied. “I therefore hastened home, packed up my concerto and took it, together with a letter, to the post. I there heard to my great amazement, that there was no parcel’s post in Russia by which one can send things out of the country, and that if I would send it as a letter I should have to pay at least fifty rubles.” I therefore took it back in order to send it by sea by the next opportunity.

I have mentioned the Imperial hornband, each member of which had only one note to play. On the twelfth of January, the Russian Newyear, upon which day the Emperor, as usual, gave a grand masquerade in the Winterpalace, for which[Pg 48] twelve thousand tickets were issued, I found the said band joined with the usual Ball-orchestra, and I heard a music such as till then I had no idea of. “The accompaniment of this hornband gave a fullness and harmony to the orchestra such as I have never heard. Several Horn-Soli, produced a most enchanting effect. It was long before I could tear myself away from this place.”

In another saloon opposite the Throne-room, the Imperial family, surrounded by the Court, were dancing. But as this part of the saloon was cut off from the rest by a wall of gigantic grenadiers with high bearskin caps, and as I, inspite of my fair allowance of inches, could not even peep over the shoulders of these giants, I was unable to see much of the Imperial state, and of the diamonds of the ladies. I therefore passed on, and entered the third and most beautiful of the saloons. It is entirely of polished marbles, the walls white, the pillars violet, and the window frames blue. The lights mirrored themselves a thousandfold in the polished stone. The whole building was lighted by twenty thousand wax tapers.

“After wandering several times through the apartments, and having gazed at all the magnificence, I tried to find Herr Eck again, he having been separated from me in the beginning of the evening. Among the twelve thousand present this was however a vain attempt. I now guessed that he had gone direct home, and not finding our servant in the place where he had been desired to wait, confirmed me still more in this idea. I therefore thought it best to proceed home, also, and hoped, thoroughly warmed as I was, to be able to go the short distance to our hotel without a cloak, although the cold had increased to twenty four degrees. But hardly had I reached the square before the Winterpalace, on the opposite side of which was our hotel, then I felt my nose and ears stiffen, and should certainly have had them frozen, although I rubbed them unceasingly, had I not been able to warm myself at a large fire in the middle of the square which had been lighted for the coachmen; before I attempted the other half of the way. Un[Pg 49]luckily, however, Herr Eck had not yet come home, and as he had the key to our apartment, and the coffeeroom was already locked, I resolved to return again. Arrived there I managed to press forward to a buffet, and warm myself with a glass of punch. While I was observing the rich gold and silver plate with which the room was decorated, Herr Eck also came to the buffet. Arm in arm we wandered through the magnificient rooms once more, and then our servant with our cloaks having once more turned up, drove off together. My friend Remi, to whom I related my adventure, blamed me much for my want of precaution.”

On the 27. Feb. the so called “mad week” came to an end. It has its name from the circumstance of the Russians allowing themselves the most boundless extravagancies as a sort of indemnification for the ensuing fast. “Not being allowed to taste either meat, milk, or butter for six weeks, they cram themselves well for the last time, and give themselves so diligently to the brandy bottle, that they do not recover their sobriety, and in this state allow themselves every possible liberty, thinking to atone fully for all in the following fast.—In all parts of the town, booths are erected, in which fruit, liquors, and comfits are sold. In others, Polichinelli, trained dogs, juggler’s tricks and other things of the kind are exhibited. The chief delight of the Russians during this week is sliding down the ice-mountains, most likely because it is such a break-neck sport. Upon the Newa, and in various other places, high scaffoldings are erected, having on one side a flight of steps by which to ascend to the top, and on the other an incline descending gradually to the ground. This incline is laid down with large slabs of ice, which are joined together in the closest manner by water poured between the interstices. Down this glass-like surface of ice, the descent is then made in little sledges shod with steel, and these are guided by means of a short staff held in each hand. Great skill is required in order to keep the middle of the incline during the extreme velocity of the des[Pg 50]cent, so as not to fall over the sides which are protected by a slight barrier only. Four drunken Russians, who had scarcely started, having come in contact with each other’s sledges and being thereby brought too near the barrier, paid dearly for their awkwardness. They fell over; two were killed upon the spot and the others were carried away with broken limbs. But this did not in the least disturb the enjoyment of the people, who pressed forward anew in crowds to the steps. On the 26, the Court drove out to the scene, and remained for a long time spectators of the neck-breaking amusement. At an evening party at Baron Rall’s, I met also the Governor of Narva, who upon our passing through that town, had had us fetched almost forcibly to his house. He enquired in a friendly manner after my health; and added “on your return through Narva you will find the Petersburgh gate open, but the opposite one closed, and then you must remain my prisoner for eight days without mercy.”

“This evening, Field played as well as Herr Eck, and in truth wonderfully. At two o’clock, the company sat down to supper, and we did not arrive home till past four o’clock.”

On the 5. April, my birth-day; Herr Eck invited me to dine at the Hôtel de Londres. Previous to this, availing ourselves of the fine weather we took a walk on the Newa, the granite-faced bank of which was the resort of the beau monde. The breaking up of the ice was impatiently looked for, and heavy bets were made respecting the day on which this would take place.—In the evening I had a great and unexpected pleasure.

Remi had again invited me to play duetts with him, and to day I was able to bring him a new one of my composition. After we had played this through for the second time, he embraced me and said: You must change violins with me, so that we may both possess a souvenir of each other! I was overcome with surprise and joy; for his violin had long pleased me better than my own. But as it was a genuine Guarneri, and at least worth as much again as[Pg 51] mine, I felt obliged to decline his offer. He, however, would hear of no refusal and said: Your violin pleases me because I have heard you play on it so frequently, and though mine is really a better one; yet you must accept it from me as a birth-day present! I could now no longer refuse, and overjoyed carried my new treasure home with me. Here I would have liked but too well to play on it all night, and feast my ears with its heavenly tones; but as Herr Eck was already gone to bed, I was obliged to let it lie quietly in its case. Sleep, however, I could not!” On the 12. April, Herr Leveque came for me to take a walk down to the Newa. “We there found half St. Petersburgh assembled, awaiting the breaking up of the ice. At length, a cannon shot from the fortress announced the long desired moment. This was also the signal for the sailors to break up the long bridge of boats which connects Wasiliostrow with this part of the city. This was effected in a few minutes. The ice could now float down unimpeded, and in a short time boats were being rowed up and down. The first of these brought over the Governor of the fortress, who accompanied by a numerous suite and by the band of the regiment, brings over a glass of the water of the Newa to the Emperor in his Palace, and receives for it a present of 1000 roubles. After this, the serf-seamen of the Crown in red uniforms row all comers to and fro across, without charge, until the communication by the bridge of boats is re-established between both sides of the town. After we had looked on all this with great interest, walking up and down for some hours, we returned home.”

On Easter-Eve, Sunday, 17. April, I was awakened by the firing of cannon, which announced the commencement of the Festival. As the night was very calm, every shot was heard in long repeated echoes, until another fell upon the ear.—On Easter Sunday the Russian greets his acquaintances with the words: “Christ is risen!” upon which the person saluted is obliged to kiss the other. One need[Pg 52] only go to the window, to see people on all sides embracing and kissing each other. It was related to me that, “the Empress Catherine was walking on the bank of the Newa one Easter Sunday accompanied by all her Court, when a dirty fellow, probably somewhat drunk, threw himself in her way with the salutation: “Christ is risen” upon which in order not to violate the holy custom, she was obliged to kiss him. But, upon a sign given by her, he was immediately seized, and had ample time afterwards in Siberia to repent of his boldness!”

A few weeks afterwards, I received a commission from Breitkopf & Härtel of Leipsic to write an article upon the state of Music in St. Petersburgh for their Journal, which was published in the course of 1803.

On the 13. May, a most original popular Festival took place. Every body who possesses either a carriage, a horse, or a sound pair of legs, betakes himself on this day through the Riga gate to the Katharinen Hof; where they stare at each other for a couple of hours and then return home. I went there with Leveque, and must confess, that the sight of the handsome equipages, of which there may have been at least two thousand, together with their fashionably dressed occupants, afforded me much amusement. Katharinen Hof is a small wood, which considering the climate looks tolerably green. From here one has a fine view of the sea. In the middle of the wood stands the Summer-Palace of Peter the Great, which together with its antique furniture is still kept up in exactly the same condition as when he lived there. It is a very poor looking place, and more like the house of a citizen than the Palace of a mighty Emperor. We returned home by another road, and saw numerous fine Villas and gardens, of which there are a great number outside this gate.

Thus amid various occupations, and short excursions to view the magnificent City, the time of our departure drew nigh. We agreed for our passage by sea with a Lubeck captain to whom for the voyage inclusive of board for[Pg 53] both of us, we paid 20 ducats. Just before we left, we were present during the celebration of another grand Festival which I have minutely described. It was the Jubilee commemorating the foundation of St. Petersburgh by Peter the Great, one hundred years since.

On the 28. May, the whole garrison assembled on the Isaak Square and was drawn up and commanded by the Emperor in person. In his suite rode the whole of the General Staff, and the Ambassadors from Foreign Courts. At ten o’clock the Empress made her appearance with the Court, occupying some twenty magnificent carriages. The State Carriage in which the Empress mother sat by the side of the Empress, was covered with gilding and richly inlaid with precious stones. On the top of the carriage was a crown of brilliants, fixed upon a purple cushion. This state carriage was drawn by eight cream coloured horses in silver harness, ornamented also with precious stones. The other Court carriages which were also very handsome, were each drawn by six horses. The Emperor rode a magnificent horse richly caparisoned, but was otherwise dressed in a very plain uniform. In his suite was a Turkish Prince who attracted the attention of all by the splendour of his dress. The hilt of his sabre was covered with diamonds, and his stirrups and spurs were of massive gold. When the cortège had arrived in front of the Isaak’s Church, the Emperor dismounted and led the Empress into the edifice, where the Te-Deum laudamus was immediately chaunted by the Singers of the Court. Unfortunately we were not successful in our effort to get into the Church, as the doors were closed immediately after the entrance of the Court. But it is very probable that even in the interior of the building little of the Music could be heard, for not only were all the bells set ringing, but salvos of artillery were fired from the fortress, and by the ships of war lying in the Newa. The Military drawn up on the Square before the Church increased the noise yet more by the fire of musketry, and the populace were not at all backward in shouting, so[Pg 54] in this manner not a single note of the Music reached us on the square. After the Service was ended, the Court proceeded on foot through two lines of soldiers to the Senate House. What ceremonies took place there, I was unable to ascertain. After the space of about half an hour, the Court resumed their places in the carriages, and the cortège returned in the same order to the palace. In the evening the City was brilliantly illuminated, and more so than I had ever yet seen. At nine o’clock, Leveque came to fetch me, and took me first of all to the Summer Garden. Dark clouds hung in the sky, and threatened to extinguish the lamps which had been but just lighted, with a heavy shower. With the now clear nights, when it keeps so light till midnight that one can read and write without a candle, this black sky was most welcome, for otherwise the illumination would have been less effective. The Garden was very brilliantly lit up. On both sides of the alleys a wooden frame work had been raised which was thickly hung with glass lamps of different colours. At the end of the Alleys, were seen brilliantly illuminated triumphal arches, in the centre of which shone the capital letters P (Peter) and A (Alexander). The whole of the Pavillions throughout the garden were also lit up in a splendid and tasteful manner.

But the Fortress presented a truly magic sight, as on leaving the Garden we came on the bank of the Newa. It swam in a very sea of fire! The granite masonry of the walls was hung with white lamps, the pillars and the cornice of the entrance gate with red, and the sentry boxes on the top of the ramparts with blue. The graceful tower of the fortress was lit up to its topmost point, and as there was no wind, there was not even one lamp that did not burn. From the place where we stood, the whole fairy like scene was again seen reflected in the Newa at our feet! It was indeed an enchanting sight! But the sky grew constantly darker and more threatening; we were therefore obliged to make haste, in order to see other parts of the city. Near the bridge,[Pg 55] which was also brilliantly illuminated, we saw a large ship hung with lamps up to the very tops of the masts, between which countless streamers were waving.

The streets which radiate from the Admiralty in the form of a fan, many of which are above two miles in length, were lit up as light as day, and presented a magnificent sight, with the merry crowds streaming through them in their gayest attire. Among the Public Buildings which were richly decorated with transparencies and devices, the Admiralty was especially conspicuous. Some private houses also, exhibited transparencies, among others that of the Grand Chamberlain Narischkin; in which, Mars, accompanied by the allegorical figures of Wisdom and Justice, crowned the letters P. and A., the first of which had beneath it the Inscription: Gloire du premier Siècle, and the last: Gloire du second Siècle!—We now followed the stream of the multitude, which pressed forward to the Summer Garden where a display of Fire Works was to take place. But we had scarcely reached the Arcades of the Winter Palace, when a sudden torrent of rain put an end at once to the splendour of the scene, and St. Petersburgh but a few minutes before brilliant as with the light of day, was shrouded in Egyptian darkness! Under the Arcades of the Square where we had taken shelter, was the only place that remained illuminated. This circumstance procured for us a curious and amusing spectacle. The mass of people all dressed in their various coloured Sunday attire, who were flying home out of the Summer Garden, were obliged to pass in review before the place where we stood, and dripping with rain they presented a comical sight enough. Some women had drawn their dresses over their heads in place of umbrellas; others, trusting to the darkness, had even taken off their shoes and stockings to save them, and waded by barefooted, not a little discomposed at being obliged to pass by a place lit up so brightly, and filled with laughing spectators. At length after about an hour, the rain ceased, and we now could also return to our homes. On the 1. June, (20. May) I packed up[Pg 56] my last things and then went to take leave of my friends and acquaintances. The parting from my kind friend Remi, was very painful, and cost us both many tears. He promised in a few years to pay me a visit in Germany. My leave taking from my Instructor to whom I owed so much, was a very sad one, and the more so, that for some time past he had again been very unwell, and I therefore feared I should never see him again!

This fear was but too well grounded; we never saw each other more! Respecting his subsequent and in part highly romantic fate, I have learned the following, but cannot pledge myself for its entire truth, since I derived it for the most part from hearsay.

At the time I left St. Petersburgh, Eck had entered upon a love affair with a daughter of a Member of the Imperial Orchestra, but without the least notion of marrying the girl. Shocked at such levity, I thought it my duty to caution the parents. I did so; but my warning was received with coldness and disbelief. Some months afterwards, when the visits of Herr Eck had suddenly ceased, the daughter confessed with tears that she had been seduced by him, and that she already felt the consequences of it. Her mother, a resolute woman, succeeded in obtaining an audience of the Emperor; threw herself at his feet, and implored the restitution of her daughter’s honour. The Emperor consented. In true Russo-Imperial style he offered Herr Eck the choice: either to marry his sweetheart within twenty four hours, or prepare for a promenade to Siberia. Herr Eck naturally chose the former. That a marriage sprung out of such circumstances would soon become a hell upon earth, may easily be imagined. Eck, whose health had been already greatly shattered by his former excesses, could not long endure the effects of the daily recurring matrimonial discords. He lost his senses, and soon became so furious, that the mother in law was again obliged to entreat the Emperor’s assistance. He granted a dissolution of the marriage; gave the wife a pension, and ordered the[Pg 57] husband to be sent under proper care to his brother, at Nancy. The selection of the man to whom the unfortunate sufferer and the sum granted by the Emperor for the journey were entrusted, was however, a very unluckly one, and failed in its object; for scarcely had he arrived in Berlin with the invalid, than he declared to the Russian Ambassor there, that the money was expended, and therefore he could accompany his charge no farther. At the same time he laid before the Ambassor an account of his expenses, according to which indeed, the sum given by the Emperor was exhausted. There were however some very extraordinary items in the account; among others, a dinner of one hundred covers, which the lunatic had ordered without the knowledge of his guardian, in one of the first Hotels in Riga, and which the latter had been obliged to pay. Whether the Ambassador remained satisfied with this account, was never known; but the Guardian disappeared all of a sudden!

In the meantime, the lunatic finding that he was no longer watched, was seized with the desire to escape. One evening, half dressed only, he succeeded in slipping out of his room unperceived; and as there was a heavy fall of snow at the time, he effected his escape unperceived through the city gate. He had already got some miles from Berlin when he was seized by some peasants, and as they believed him to be an escaped convict they brought him back bound to the city. At the Police Office, the poor half frozen fugitive was soon discovered to be a lunatic, and handed over to the Asylum for the insane. Some members of the Court Orchestra who a few years before had known and admired the unfortunate man in the height of his artistic career, became interested for him. They set on foot a subscription among their colleagues and some wealthy amateurs of the Art, and with the proceeds they sent him under the care of a trustworthy man to his brother at Nancy. The latter procured for him a becoming treatment in the Asylum at Strasbourg, where he remained for several years. His misfortune then reached[Pg 58] the ears of his former patroness the Dowager Electress of Bavaria, who sent him to a clergyman of Offenbach or somewhere near that place, who devoted himself to the cure of the insane. There, it is said, if not quite cured, he became much more composed, so that a violin could again be placed in his hands, from which it is said he drew the most touching melodies. After the death of the Electress he was then placed in the Asylum for the insane at Bamberg, where, either in 1809 or 1810, he died.

On the 2. June (21. May) at 9 in the morning, we sailed from St. Petersburgh.

“On passing a guard ship at the mouth of the Newa we were compelled to show our passports, these were returned to us without charge, which from our previous experience astonished us greatly. As the wind was against us, the sailors were obliged to row continually, this made the progress slow and at length very tedious; so that we were very glad when at last we arrived at 2 o’clock at Cronstadt. We there put up at the German eating house, the master of which had been recommended to us for his honesty. But with all that, he retained also the thorough bluntness, not to say rudeness of his class, for when we returned at 9 in the evening from a walk, and asked for supper, he replied with a true north-German accent: now is no time for eating, people go to bed now! And with that he turned his back upon us. Dumbstruck, we went up stairs, and had already made up our minds that we must go hungry to bed, when he at length had us called down to supper. At first we were much inclined to refuse it; but our hunger got the better of our sensitiveness. We went down, found a right good repast, and the host who waited upon us himself, sought to make amends for his previous rudeness by the most friendly behaviour.”

It was not until after some days that the wind became fair for the farther voyage; but very soon, and for a very long time, the “Saturn”—so our ship was called—was obliged to tack about, and on the 14 June “we were still not far distant[Pg 59] from the high land, which we had already reached on the first day.” On the second day the sea rose very high, and the passengers therefore, three women and nine men, became all sea-sick one after the other. With me it began with a head ache. “I felt my courage so depressed, that I bitterly repented to have come by sea.” But on the fourth day I got better, and in a short time, although the sea was still very rough, I felt as well as on land. It was not so with all, for the ladies and also some of the gentlemen were for a long time sick and invisible. Leveque and I amused ourselves meanwhile very well. We played duetts, read, wrote, and made sketches; walked up and down the deck and ate and drank with real appetite. In this way passed day after day. But like the others, we longed for a fair wind, “for this eternal tacking, with which one makes but little progress, is quite unbearable!”

On the 15 June, the wind grew fair; on the 16, it fell almost calm, and on the 20, we had a storm. This was so violent that the ship cracked in every timber. “I crept ill as I was, upon deck, to see the terribly grand spectacle. I got thoroughly drenched it is true, for the waves broke every moment over the deck, nor could I long endure above the piercing wind and cold. But it was worth the effort, to see how the waves like mountains, came rolling on, threatening to submerge us, how they then suddenly seized us, lifted us high in air, and then again as quickly let us plunge into a deep abyss! Although I had become somewhat accustomed to this sight by the previously experienced high sea, yet every time we made a plunge, I felt my back run cold, and should have thought we were in great danger, had I not read the contrary in the calm face of the captain. He gave his orders always with the same coolness. But it was nevertheless fearful to behold how the seamen clambered to the top of the masts, and then out upon the yards to reef the sails. Only those who have grown up amid such perils can brave unmoved the wild rage of the elements.”

[Pg 60]

On the 26 June, we arrived off Bornholm, a Danish island, on which we could perceive two small towns, several villages, and a carefully cultivated country. “The sight of the green cornfields which I had not beheld for so long a time was particularly cheering to me.” From a small neighbouring island “some peasants put off to us in a boat with some fresh meat, vegetables and milk. I was particularly pleased with the latter, for I could not at all relish the black coffee.”

“On one or two evenings, with a clear sky and calm weather, we had a sight, such as one never sees in the same grandeur upon land, namely, the sun set. It is impossible to describe the splendour of the ever changing colours, with those also of the clouds scattered over the heavens, and which were again reflected in a sea as smooth as glass; but the impression made by this heavenly sight in the solemn stillness of the evening, upon the whole ship-company assembled on the deck, will never be forgotten by me. I saw the most callous among them moved by it.”

At length on the 28 June, after a voyage of one and twenty days, the “Saturn” cast anchor in the roads of Travemünde, and on the 5. July, 1803, I was once more in my native town Brunswick, which after my long absence was now doubly dear to me. We arrived at 2 o’clock in the morning.

I alighted at the Petri Gate, crossed the Ocker in a boat, and hastened to my grandmother’s garden. But arrived there, I found both the house and garden doors locked, and as my knocking was not heard, I clambered over the garden wall, and laid myself down on the ground in an open summer house at the bottom of the garden. Fatigued by the journey I immediately fell asleep, and notwithstanding the hardness of my couch, would probably have slept on for a long time, had not my aunts in their morning walk in the garden, discovered me in my retreat. Greatly allarmed, they turned back, and told my grandmother that a strange man was lying in the summerhouse. Returning all three together, they had courage to approach nearer, recognised me, and I[Pg 61] was now awakened with joyous exclamations, embraces and kisses. For some time I could not recollect where I was; at length I recognised my dear relations, and was overjoyed to find myself among them once more, and in the home of my childhood. They had been very anxious about me, as owing to our tediously long sea passage they had received no intelligence of us for six weeks.

The first pleasing news that I heard, was, that the celebrated Rode was there, and would shortly play at Court. I therefore immediately announced my return to the Duke, in order to be permitted to attend the Court-concert.

I immediately closed my oft cited Diary, with the wish that “it might often afford me a pleasing remembrance of the agreable journey.” I was received by my Patron with the same benevolent kindness as formerly, which was manifested also, by his gift of the remainder of the sum furnished for my travelling expenses, which was by no means inconsiderable, and which upon my handing in the account and the balance, was presented to me by the Grand Chamberlain. For the dedication of my Concerto, which I had handed to the Duke on my first interview, I also received twenty Friedrichsd’or.[5]

I now burned with the desire, to appear with this Concerto before the Duke, in public, as a Violinist and Composer; to exhibit proofs of my industry, and the progress I had made. But this was not to be effected so readily, for Rode had already announced a Concert to be given in the Theatre. The idea of making my appearance so soon after that celebrated Violinist was also a source of some anxiety to me. For the more I heard him play, the more was I captivated with his playing. Yes! I had no hesitation to place Rode’s style of play (then still reflecting all the brilliancy of that of his great master Viotti,) above that of my Instructor Eck, and to apply myself sedulously to acquire it as much as possible by a careful practice of Rode’s compositions.

[Pg 62]

In this I succeeded also, by no means ill, and up to the time when I had by degrees formed a style of playing of my own, I had become the most faithful imitator of Rode among all the young violinists of that day. I succeeded more especially in executing in his style the eighth Concerto, the three first Quartetts, and the world famed Variations in G-Major; in these, both in Brunswick, and afterwards on my first grand artistic tour, I achieved great success.

Shortly after Rode’s departure, the day I had so ardently wished for arrived, on which in a Concert given by me at the Theatre, I was to exhibit the first proofs of the artistic skill I had acquired on my travels. Curiosity had assembled a numerous audience. From the ready surety with which I could play not only my own Concerti, but the other music I had practised under Eck’s direction, I might have been expected to feel no embarrassment upon my appearance. Nevertheless, I could not wholly overcome it, when I thought, that, but shortly before, in the very place where I stood, so great a Violinist had played before the same audience. But I had now to put to shame my invidious detractors, who on my setting out upon my journey had loudly asserted that the Duke would again throw away his money upon one who would prove incapable and ungrateful. I therefore summoned all my resolution, and already during the Tutti of my Concerto, I succeeded in banishing from my mind all and every thing around me, and gave myself up to my play with my whole soul. The result, also, was a success beyond all expectation; for already after the first Solo, a general applause broke forth, which increased with every succeeding one, and at the end of the Concert seemed as though it would never cease. The Duke, also, who during the intervening pause sent for the young artiste to his box, expressed to him his full satisfaction. That day, therefore, is still borne in my remembrance as one of the happiest of my life.

I was now appointed First Violin, in the place of a recently deceased “Kammermusicus” and received the additional[Pg 63] salary accruing to that post, of 200 thalers. But as on account of the three months grace allowed to his widow, this salary could not immediately commence, I was compensated by another present of twenty Friedrichsd’or.

With my salary of three hundred thalers, and my additional evenings I could at that time live quite respectably and free from care. I therefore, again took my brother Ferdinand to live with me, and devoted myself assiduously to his improvement. As I had not yet seen my parents and brothers and sister, I went to Seesen to fetch him. While there I received a visit from my fellow traveller Leveque, who was about to return to St. Petersburgh. During the eight days we were together, we played diligently, and my parents and musical friends of the little town were especially delighted with the performance of my Duetts, which we had so perfectly studied during the sea voyage.

On my return to Brunswick, I began anew my labours in composition. I first of all completed a Violin-Concerto in E-Minor, which I had commenced on the journey, but which remained unpublished, because it no longer pleased me after I had adopted Rode’s style of execution. Nevertheless I played it several times with great applause in the Winter-Concerts. At that time also, at the wish of the Violoncellist Beneke, whom I frequently met at Quartett parties, I wrote a Concertante for Violin and Violoncello with orchestral accompaniment. Neither was this work ever published, and not even included in the list of my compositions, as at the time I began to make that, I did not lay my hand on it, and indeed had wholly forgotten it. Nevertheless there must be some copy of it in existence, for I heard it once in 1817 or 1818, at a concert in Mayence given by the brothers Gans, afterwards members of the Royal Orchestra at Berlin, who played it without at the same time acknowledging it as my composition. It is true, the piece of music seemed known to me, just as though I had heard it before; but not until I had asked my neighbour for the programme of the concert, and seen my[Pg 64] name affixed to the piece, did the recollection of that production of my youth recur to my mind. I now recollect nothing more of it, than that it consisted of an Adagio and Rondo, and the last written in 6/8 time. But I can no longer remember the key.

The practise of this Concertante with Beneke may probably have given rise to the resolution we formed to make an artistic tour together, and to Paris; where I had long desired to go. The permission for this journey was readily obtained through the favour in which I stood with the Duke, and so we set out upon it in January, 1804, with the most pleasing anticipations.

We first spent some few days with my parents at Seesen, from whence we announced our coming to Göttingen, to give our first concert there. For the journey thither, we hired a carriage. Shortly before my leaving Brunswick I had had a case made more worthy of the splendid Violin I had brought from Russia, i. e. a very elegant one, and in order to protect this from all injury, I had packed it in my trunk between my linen and clothes. I therefore took care that this, which contained my whole estate, should be carefully fastened behind the carriage with cords. But, notwithstanding, I thought it necessary to look out round at it, frequently, particularly as the driver told me that but recently between Nordheim and Göttingen, several trunks had been cut down from behind carriages. As the carriage had no window at the back, this continual looking out behind was a very troublesome business, and I was therefore very glad, when towards evening we arrived between the gardens of Göttingen, and I had convinced myself for a last time that the trunk was still in its place. Delighted, that I had brought it so far in safety, I remarked to my fellow-traveller: my first care shall now be to procure a good strong chain and padlock for the better security of the trunk.

In this manner we arrived at the town gate, just as they were lighting the lamps. The carriage drew up before the[Pg 65] guardhouse. While Beneke gave our names to the sergeant, I anxiously asked one of the soldiers who stood round the carriage: is the trunk still well secured?

“There is no trunk there!” was the reply. With one bound I was out of the carriage, and rushed out through the gate with a drawn hunting knife. Had I with more reflection listened awhile, I might perhaps have been fortunate enough to hear and overtake the thieves running off by some side path. But in my blind rage, I had far overshot the place where I had last seen the trunk, and only discovered my overhaste when I found myself in the open field. Inconsolable for my loss, I turned back. While my fellow-traveller looked for the Inn, I hastened to the Police Office, and requested that an immediate search might be made in the gardenhouses outside the gate. With astonishment and vexation I was informed that the jurisdiction outside the gate belonged to Weende, and that I must address my request there. As Weende was half a league from Göttingen, I was compelled to abandon for that evening all further steps for the recovery of my things. That these would prove fruitless on the following morning, I now also felt assured; and I passed a sleepless night, in a state of mind such as in my hitherto fortunate career had been wholly unknown to me. Had I not have lost my splendid Guarneri-violin, the exponent of all the artistic excellence I had till then attained, I could have lightly borne the loss of the rest. A moderate success during the tour would soon replace them. But in this manner, without a violin, I should be compelled not only to give up the journey, but in a certain degree recommence my study anew from the very beginning.

On the following morning the Police sent to inform me that an empty trunk and a violin-case had been found in the fields behind the gardens. Full of joy I hastened thither, in the hope that the thieves might have left the violin in the case, as an object of no value to them, and as likely to lead to their discovery. But unfortunately it did not prove[Pg 66] so. The bow of the violin, only, a genuine Tourté, secured in the lid of the case, had remained undiscovered; everything else, inclusive also of a sum in gold for the expenses of the journey, had been carried off. The Music had been considered unworthy of the thieves’ notice. It was found strewed all over the field. As my manuscripts were among it, of which I had no copies, I was glad to have recovered these at least.

Without money, without clothes and linen, I was now first of all obliged to procure on credit what was most necessary, before I could give with my fellow-traveller the concert which we had already announced. In the meantime, I practised diligently upon a very good violin by Stainer which I borrowed of a student from Hanover, and thus prepared, I made my first appearance out of Brunswick as an artiste. The concert was unusually well attended. Perhaps the account of my loss had contributed to it. The Solo performances of the two artistes, as also together, in my Concertante, were received with enthusiastic applause.

This it is true was very encouraging for a further prosecution of the journey; but anxiously concerned for my reputation, I could not make up my mind to appear publicly, before I had procured a good violin of my own, and had carefully practised myself upon it.

As Beneke was unwilling to proceed further on the journey without me, we therefore returned to Brunswick. The intelligence of my loss had already become generally known there. The Duke, also, had heard of it, and in order to facilitate my purchase of a new instrument sent me again a handsome present. With the aid of that, I purchased from a Herr von Hantelmann, a distinguished amateur, the best violin in Brunswick at that time, but I soon felt, that it could not fully replace the one which I had lost.

In order to prepare myself well for a future journey, I again applied myself diligently to composition. Thus I wrote the Concerto in D-Minor which was published by Kühnel of Leipsic as (Op. 2), a Potpourri upon chosen themes (publish[Pg 67]ed also by the same, as Op. 5.) and a Concerto in A-Major which has remained in manuscript. In these, as also, in some subsequent compositions, Rode’s style is predominant, from which at a later period only, my own style and peculiar mode of execution develloped themselves.

In this manner passed the summer of 1804. In the autumn, fully prepared for a fresh Musical tour, I felt disposed to repair first to the German Capitals. I much desired also to appear once in Leipsic, which through the excellently conducted Musical Journal of Rochlitz had risen to be the Centre of Musical criticism. I therefore set out upon my second Artistic tour on the 18. October, through Leipsic and Dresden, to Berlin.

Of this journey also, a Diary exists, but which extends only to the 9. December, and then suddenly breaks off. The cause of this will be related hereafter.

I made my first stay at Halberstadt, where I gave a public Concert, and on the following day played at the house of Count Wernigerode. Among the Musical amateurs who received me in a particularly kind manner I must mention the Vicar of the Cathedral, Augustin, and the Auditor Ziegler. With the latter, who was an accomplished connoisseur of Music and an excellent pianist, I remained on terms of intimacy until his death. I received also great attention and assistance in getting up my Concert, from the there resident Musicians, the brother Organists Müller and Holzmärker, the Violinist Glöckner, with whom I played my Duetts, the Bassonist Barnbeck, and Clase, the Secretary and Musical Director of Count Wernigerode. I therefore passed many pleasant days in Halberstadt.

One afternoon, “I took a walk with Herr Holzmärker and one of his friends outside the gate of the town. We visited the Klus, a mountain on the top of which rise several isolated steep rocks, the inside of which is excavated, and which according to the legend was the work of robbers, who in former times took up their abode there. I could not[Pg 68] resist the desire to ascend one of these rocks, hazardous as was the attempt, and earnestly as my companions dissuaded me from it. I succeeded in reaching the summit without accident, and besides the pleasure I felt at having effected what few had the courage to attempt, I had that of an extensive and magnificent view. So far all went well. But when at length I wished to descend, and looked down the declivity, a sudden giddiness overcame me, and I was instantly obliged to sit down to save myself from falling over the precipice. Full ten minutes elapsed before I could summon the necessary composure to make the descent, and it is doubtful whether I should have effected it in safety, if the gentlemen below had not shouted to me, where to set my feet, which I could not see to do, having my face turned towards the rock. Trembling from the exertion and the convulsive clinging to the rock, as well as thoroughly ashamed at having disregarded the warning of the two gentlemen, I reached them at length, and returned with them to the town not a little glad to have escaped uninjured from so eminent a danger.”

On the 22. October, I gave my Concert. At the rehearsal, my Concerto in D-Minor had made a great sensation.

“Messrs. Ziegler, Müller and others declared to my great satisfaction, that they had never heard a finer Violin Concerto.”

“The Concert itself began at five o’clock. The Theatre was very empty, but the audience was composed of persons possessed of a high intelligence of Art, as I could readily see by the deep silence and sympathy with which my play was listened to.” Among other things, the following were executed: A Symphony by Haydn; my Concerto in D-Minor; a Concerto in D-Major by Kreutzer; a Polonaise by Rode from the Quartett in Es-Major. After the Concert, Count Wernigerode expressed his satisfaction to me, and invited me to a Concert at his house on the following day, in which the third Count assisted as Clarionetist in the orchestra. I played Rode’s Concerto in A-Major and his Quartett in Es-Major.

“After the Concert was over, the company surrounded[Pg 69] me and overwhelmed me with expressions of praise. I was obliged to relate to the ladies a great deal about St. Petersburgh.”

In Magdeburg, as artiste I also met with the most friendly reception. Captain von Cornberg, Major von Witzleben, Regimental Quartermaster Türpen, and Privy Counsellor Schäfer, to whom I was recommended, exerted themselves to the utmost, both to procure a numerous audience for me, and to make my stay as agreeable as possible. Already at my first Concert on the 3. November, the audience was very numerous. I played my D-Minor-Concerto, the A-Minor-Concerto of Rode, and the G-Major-variations.

“I succeeded right well in all, and the people seemed to be quite carried away by my play.”

At this time I occupied myself with the remodelling of my last Concerto but one, in E-Minor. I wrote an entirely new Adagio for it.

At a Musical party at the house of the Secretary to the Board of Finance, Feska, I heard his son play in a Quartett of his own composition.

“The Quartett,” says the Diary, “is very well worked out and evinces great talent. As a Player he pleased me less. He is certainly not wanting in mechanical skill, but in a finished and well regulated handling of the bow, and therefore in a good tone, and in clearness of the passages. Neither was his intonation always pure. Were he to study under a good master, he might become something great.”

I went frequently to parties at the houses of the Merchants Hildebrandt and Schmager, of the Criminal-Counsellor Sukrow, and the Privy Counsellor Schäfer, and “everywhere pleased much.”

“I was also invited by Türpen to an interesting Musical Soirée. I found assembled there a small but a very select company of the most zealous friends of Music in Magdeburg. I played Quartetts by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, and in conclusion the Es-Major-Quartett of Rode. I was accompa[Pg 70]nied very well in all of them, so I that could give myself entirely up to my feelings. The company seemed enchanted. Herr Türpen affirmed that I understood better than any one how to render the peculiar style of each Composer. As finale, our host played a Trio by Mozart, right well, on a very good pianoforte by Blum of Brunswick. But he has the bad habit of drawing out the “Canto” too much, by which he rather injures the expression than improves it.”

On the 10. November, I gave my second Concert, which was not quite so numerously attended as the first, and in which I executed a Symphony by Haydn and my Violin-Concerto in E-Minor, I also played a Concertante by Eck, with Feska. The remodelled E-Minor-Concerto went well. The new Adagio appeared to please very much.

Of the other circumstances that occurred while I was in Magdeburg, I will only mention a theatrical representation, the Author of the Piece having made himself a name in the theatrical world by his piquante notice “Musical Ollapodrida from Paris.” It was the first representation of “The Female Abällino” by Sievers.

“Never have I read or seen enacted a more wretched piece. It is a sorry imitation of the well known “Great Bandit,” but has neither the exciting scenes nor the clever dialogue which made that piece a favorite of the public. The chief personage Rosa Salviatti, who in order to protect her lover from a conspiracy of his uncle’s, resorts to the most romantic and absurd means, explains the reasons of her conduct in a speech that lasts at least a quarter of an hour. The public, which had already previously manifested signs of impatience, became so noisy during this discourse, that the play could scarcely be concluded. At length when the curtain fell, a general hissing and whistling broke forth. The unfortunate Author, unappreciated as he considered he had been in Brunswick, and who thought to achieve a triumph here, is said to have been present in the Theatre, but made a hasty retreat before the end of the piece.”

[Pg 71]

Respecting my stay in Halle, whither I next went, the Diary gives but very scanty information. The more I was drawn into society by an increased circle of acquaintances, the less pleasure I took as it would appear, in the previous frequent freedom of style in my remarks upon it. I may also not have had the time, as I was very careful in preparing myself for every performance whether public or private, and was constantly engaged in composing.

My two Concerts on the 21. and 23. November, were very well attended. Besides my own works, I played a Concerto of Rode, A-Minor and the G-Major variations.

“My play met with an enthusiastic reception.” The persons, who took a particular interest in me, and whom I have to thank for many pleasant hours, were the Family Garrigues, consisting of the father, mother, daughter and two sons, all of them very charming, polite people; Lafontaine and his fascinating adopted daughter; Chodowiecki, Niemeier and Loder. Among the students I made the acquaintance of some clever amateurs. One Herr Schneider played well on the piano; another, Herr Müller right well on the violin. Herr Gründler, from Trebnitz near Breslau, immediately took instruction from me on the violin.

I yet remember also the following incident: Among those who were also of assistance to me in the arrangements for my Concert was the celebrated Counterpointist Türk. He directed the Academical Concerts, one of which took place during my stay in Halle. The Opera “Titus” was given as Concert-Music. The public had been already assembled for the space of half an hour; the Orchestra had finished tuning and awaited the signal to begin. Among the Student part of the audience, great dissatisfaction had begun to shew itself at the delay in the appearance of the Singer; but when he at length made his appearance, in very unseemly dress for the occasion, in an overcoat and with dirty boots, the general disapprobation was shewn by hissing and a shuffling of the feet. The Singer, into whose hands the impatient Direc[Pg 72]tor had already thrust the notes, stepped forward and said with a contemptuous look: “If I do not please you as I am, why then I can go away again!” Hereupon he threw the notes at the feet of the Director and rushed out of the place. They ran after him to bring him back; but all in vain! I now expected that the Concert would be postponed, or at least that all those “Numbers” in which Titus has to sing, would be omitted. Nothing of the kind! The conscientious Director did not allow his auditory to go short of a single bar of the music; he knew how to help himself!

He played upon his Grand-Piano the whole Part of Titus, Recitative, Airs, and Concerted-pieces from the first note to the last! I was astounded, and knew not whether to be vexed, or to laugh at the singularly naive expedient. But it was made quite clear to me that evening, that a man may be a learned Counterpointist and yet not possess an atom of good taste!

After my arrival in Leipsic on 29. November, the Diary gives two short notices and then remains wholly silent. The first concerns a representation of the Opera by Paer: “Die Wegelagerer” (The Way-layer); the second relates to a visit to the Drapers-Hall-Concerts.

“These Concerts”, it says, “are got up by a Society of shopkeepers. But they are not Amateur-concerts; for the orchestra is alone composed of professional musicians, and is both numerous and excellent. For the Vocal part a foreign female singer is always engaged, as the Director of the Theatre does not allow his singers to appear in concerts. This year it is a Signora Alberghi from Dresden, the daughter of a Church-singer of that City. She is still very young, but has already a very good method, and a clear, melodious voice. She sang two arias with great applause. Besides that, I heard the Concert Master of the society, Herr Campagnoli, play a Concerto by Kreutzer, extremely well. His method, it is true, is of the old school; but his play is pure and finished. The Room in which these Concerts are given is[Pg 73] exceedingly handsome, and particularly favorable to the effect of the music.”

I had many difficulties to overcome for the arrangements of my concert. Engrossed in the business pursuits of this commercial city, people did not come forward to assist me with the readiness I had been hitherto accustomed to meet, and I had much to do before every obstacle was overcome. It annoyed me also that the wealthy merchants to whom I was recommended appeared as yet to know nothing of my artistic reputation, and that though politely, they received me coldly. I was therefore exceedingly desirous to be invited to some musical party, in order to attract notice to my capabilities. This wish was gratified; I received an invitation to a large evening party, with the request to perform something. I selected for the occasion, one of the finest of Beethoven’s six new Quartetts, with my performance of which I had so frequently charmed my audience in Brunswick. But already after a few bars, I remarked that those who accompanied me were as yet unacquainted with this music, and therefore unable to enter into the spirit of it. If this already annoyed me, my dissatisfaction was much more increased when I remarked that the company soon paid no more attention to my play. For by degrees, a conversation began, that soon became so general and so loud that it almost overpowered the music. I therefore rose up in the midst of my playing, before even the first Theme was concluded, and without uttering a word, hastened to replace my violin in its case. This excited a great sensation among the company, and the master of the house advanced towards me with an enquiring look. I went forward to meet him, and said aloud, so as to be heard by the company: “I have hitherto been accustomed to find my play listened to with attention. As that has not been so here, I of course thought the company would prefer that I discontinued.” The Master of the house knew not what reply to make, and retired much embarrassed. But when, after having apologised to the Musicians for breaking off so suddenly,[Pg 74] I shewed the intention to take my leave of the company, the host returned and said in a friendly tone: “If you could be persuaded to play something else for the company more adapted to their taste and capacity you will find a very attentive and grateful auditory.” I, who had already clearly comprehended, that I was most to blame for what had occurred, from my misapprehension in the choice of music for such an auditory, was glad of the opportunity to conciliate matters. I therefore willingly resumed my violin and played Rode’s Quartett in Es, which the Musicians knew and therefore well accompanied. A breathless silence now reigned, and the interest shewn in my play increased with every passage. On the conclusion of the Quartett so many flattering things were said to me of my play, that I was induced now to parade my hobby-horse the G-Major-Variations of Rode. With this I so enchanted the company that I became the object of the most flattering attention for the remainder of the evening.

This incident became the subject of conversation for many days, and was probably the cause, that the musical-amateurs whose attention had been thereby directed to me, came even to the rehearsal of my Concert in considerable number. At this, I succeeded so well in winning them over to me, by the execution of my D-Minor-Concerto, that before the evening on which my Concert was to take place they had spread a favourable account of my performances throughout the City, and thereby a more numerous audience was attracted than I had dared to hope. The élite of the musical amateurs of Leipsic and a very sympathetic public were present. I now succeeded also in awakening such an enthusiasm in my auditory, that at the conclusion of the concert I was vehemently solicited to give a second. This took place a week later, and was one of the most numerously attended that had ever been given by a foreign artiste in Leipsic. In the meanwhile, I was frequently invited to Quartett parties, at which, after I had previously practised them with those who were to accompany me, I obtained more particularly a hearing for[Pg 75] my favorites the six first of Beethoven’s Quartetts. I was the first, who played them in Leipsic, and I succeeded in obtaining a full appreciation of their excellence by my style of execution. At these Quartett parties I also first made the acquaintance of the Editor of the Musical-Journal, Councellor Rochlitz, and from that time till his death maintained the most friendly relations with him. Rochlitz wrote a notice of my concert in his paper.

As that Notice first established my reputation in Germany, and had an influence upon my career in life, it may serve as apology for my verbal citation of it in this place:

“On the 10. December, 1804, Herr Spohr gave a Concert in Leipsic, and at the solicitation of many, a second, on the 17. in both of which he afforded us a treat such as, so far as we can remember, no Violinist with the exception of Rode ever gave us. Herr Spohr may without doubt take rank among the most eminent violinists of the present day, and one would be astonished at his powers, more especially when his youth is considered, were it possible to pass from a sense of real delight to cold astonishment. He gave us a grand Concerto of his own composition (D-Minor), which was called for a second time, and another, also from his own pen (E-Minor). His Concerti, rank with the finest existing, and in particular, we know of no Violin Concerto, which can take precedence of that in D-Minor, whether as regards conception, soul and charm, or also, in respect of precision and firmness. His peculiarity inclines mostly to the grand and to a soft dreamy melancholy. And so it is with his brilliant play. Herr Spohr can execute everything; but he charms most by the former. As regards, in the first place, correctness of play in the broadest sense, it is here, as may be presupposed, as sure fundamental principle; a perfect purety, surety and precision, the most remarkable execution; every manner of bow-ing, every variety of violin-tone, the most unembarrassed ease in the management of all these, even in the most difficult passages; these constitute him one of the most accomplished virtuosi.[Pg 76] But the soul which he breathes into his play, the flights of fancy, the fire, the tenderness, the intensity of feeling, the fine taste, and lastly his insight into the spirit of the most different Compositions, and his art of rendering each in its own peculiar spirit make him a real Artiste. This last faculty we have never seen possessed in so remarkable a degree as by Herr Spohr, and more especially in his Quartett-playing. It is therefore not surprising that he should please everywhere, and scarcely leaves any other sentiment behind, than the wish to detain and to hear him always.”

I felt exceedingly happy that moment! But it was not alone the recognition of my merits as an artiste that infused a new life into my whole being: it was another, a more tender feeling. I loved and was beloved.

The day after I saw and heard Rosa Alberghi for the first time at the Draper’s Hall Concert, I paid her a visit, to invite her to take part at my concert. Both mother and daughter received me in a very friendly manner. The former, although a resident in Germany for many years, had not acquired one word of our language. As she also shook her head on my addressing her in French, I was obliged to make my wishes known to the daughter, who, educated in Dresden, spoke German fluently. She very willingly assented to my request, and forthwith chatted with me a child-like ingenuousness, as though we had long known each other. On my taking leave, Rosa asked me to come again soon. I had already gazed too deeply into her brilliant dark eyes, to let her wait long for me. And as the mother soon made me cordially welcome, I passed all my hours of leisure at their house. I accompanied Rosa in her singing practice on the piano, to the best of my ability; assisted her in the study of the Music sent to her by the Directors of the Concerts, and embellished her Arias with new ornaments, at which she always evinced a really child-like pleasure. In this manner, without our perceiving it, our relations became constantly more tender. The notes in my Diary on this subject[Pg 77] had however come to a stop, nor were they afterwards resumed. Rosa now sang in my second Concert, and as her engagement in Leipsic was drawing to a close, and that she was about to return to Dresden, she offered also to sing in my concerts there.

I now therefore, left for Dresden, furnished with high recommendations. A letter from Rosa introduced me to her father, who received me in the most friendly manner. He, with some members of the Dresden Royal Orchestra, namely the brothers Röthe assisted me in the arrangements for my concert, and thereby made an always unpleasant business much lighter for me.

Rosa returned to Dresden a few days before the concert, and sang in it with her father. The success which my play and compositions met with, was even more brilliant than in Leipsic. As there, also, I was invited on all sides to give a second concert. While I was making arrangements for this, I was advised to announce myself also at Court, as from the sensation which my Play had made, there could be no doubt of a favourable result.

But, when I was informed, that the Court-Concerts took place during Dinner and that no exception to the rule was made in favour of foreign artistes, my youthful Artistic pride kindled with indignation at the idea that my Play would be accompanied by the clatter of plates; so that I immediately declined the honour, of playing at Court.

My second Concert was extremely well attended, and the applause almost greater than at the first.

I now thought of my departure for Berlin, but could not make up my mind to it; for the parting from my beloved Rosa seemed too painful to think of. When, on a sudden, her father surprised me with a proposal which still further delayed the dreaded parting. He said, that he had long wished his daughter should appear in Berlin, and if I had no objection to give some concerts there together with her, as[Pg 78] he was himself unable to obtain leave of absence, his wife should accompany her on the journey.

To this proposal with joy I acceded and immediately began to make every preparation for our departure. As the journey by Coach, was considered too fatiguing for the ladies, we hired a carriage together. I sat opposite to my beloved one, and complained neither of the slowness of our progress nor the length of the journey. Arrived in Berlin, we found apartments all ready for us in the same house, which my former Instructor Kunisch, now a member of the Berlin Royal Orchester, had provided for us upon receipt of a letter from me announcing our coming. The latter, not a little proud to introduce the young Artiste as his former Pupil, procured for me the acquaintance of the most distinguished artistes of Berlin, and was also of great assistance to me in making arrangements for a concert, which nevertheless owing to the great number of persons then giving concerts, was obliged to be postponed for some time.

Meanwhile I delivered my letters of recommendation, and thereupon was invited to some Music parties. I first played at Prince Radziwill’s, himself well known as a distinguished Violoncellist, and talented Composer. I there met Bernhard Romberg, Möser, Seidler, Semmler, and other distinguished artistes. Romberg, then in the zenith of his fame as a Virtuoso, played one of his Quartetts with Violoncello obligato. I had never yet heard him, and I was charmed with his play. Being now solicited to play something myself, I thought that to such Artistes and Connoisseurs I could offer nothing more worthy than my favorite Quartetts of Beethoven. But again I soon remarked that, as at Leipsic, I had committed an error; for the musicians of Berlin knew as little of those Quartetts as the Leipsickers, and therefore could neither play nor appreciate them. When I had finished, they praised my play, it is true, but spoke very disparagingly of what I had performed. Romberg, even, said very bluntly: “But dear Spohr, how can you play such stuff as that?” I was now[Pg 79] quite doubtful of my own taste, when I heard one of the most famous artistes of the day express such an opinion of my favorites. Later in the evening when again asked to play, I selected as I had done in Leipsic, Rode’s Es-Major-Quartett, and was gratified by a similar favourable result in this instance.

The second Music-party, to which also my fellow-travellers were invited, was at Prince Louis Ferdinand’s of Prussia. We drove there together, and were received by the host in the most courteous manner. We there found a brilliant circle of decorated gentlemen and fashionably dressed ladies, as also the principal artistes of Berlin. I met there, also, a former acquaintance of Hamburgh, the celebrated Pianist-Virtuoso and Composer Dussek, who was now Instructor to the Prince, and resided in his house. The music commenced with a Piano-Quartett, which was executed by him with real artistic brilliancy. It was now my turn. Made wise by my recent experience, I only selected such compositions, as I could shine in as Violinist, namely: a Quartett, and the G-Major-Variations of Rode. My play met with the most enthusiastic applause, and Dussek in particular, seemed delighted with it. My loved Rosa, also won general admiration by her execution of an aria, in which she was accompained by Dussek on the piano.

After the conclusion of the music, the Prince offered his arm to one of the Ladies present, and led the company who at a sign from him had done the same, to the dining room, where a splendid supper had been laid out. Each gentleman without ceremony took his place by the side of his lady; and I by the side of my dear fellow-traveller. At first the conversation though free and unembarrassed was yet marked with decorum. But when the champagne began to circulate, many things were heard not suited for the chaste ears of an innocent girl. As soon therefore as my observation had led me to infer that the supposed distinguished ladies did not belong to the Court as I had believed, but more probably to the Ballet, I began to think of withdrawing unperceived from the company, with my fellow-traveller. I succeeded also,[Pg 80] without being remarked or prevented, in making good our retreat; and reaching my carriage, I returned with Rosa to her expecting mother. The next day I was told that the Prince’s Music-parties generally ended in similar orgies.

I still remember an other Music-party—it was at the house of the Banker Beer—where I heard for the first time, the now so celebrated Meyerbeer, play in his paternal house, then but a boy of thirteen years of age. The talented lad already then excited so much attention by his accomplished execution on the piano-forte, that his relatives and admirers regarded him with the greatest pride. It is related, that, one of these on returning from a Lecture on popular Astronomy exclaimed full of joy to the boy’s parents “Only think! our Beer has been already placed among the Constellations! The Professor shewed us a constellation, which in honour of him is called “the little Beer!”[6]

I conceived the shrewd idea of inviting the young virtuoso to perform a Solo in my Concert, this was willingly assented to by the family. As it was the boy’s first appearance in public, it drew a crowd of his admirers, and I may chiefly thank that circumstance for my concert having been one of the most numerously attended of a period that teemed with Musical performances. After overcoming numerous obstacles it eventually took place in the theatre. My playing, and the singing of my fair fellow traveller were received here as at Leipsic with great applause. Not so favorable however was the criticism that appeared in the new Musical Journal then but recently published by Reichard the Musical conductor of the Royal Orchestra. He animadverted in his own peculiar offensive manner chiefly upon my easy abandon in respect to Time.

Although I felt hurt by such an imputation, to which I[Pg 81] was not yet accustomed, I was obliged to confess that yielding to my depth of feeling, I had kept back in the Cantabile, perhaps, too much, and in the Passages and more impassioned parts carried away by my youthful fire, I had precipitated them too much. I therefore determined to correct such blemishes in my execution without diminishing its force of expression, and by unremitting attention I succeeded.

After several unavailing attempts to give a second concert in Berlin, I was compelled to abandon the idea. I therefore divided the not unconsiderable receipts of the first, with my fellow-traveller, and began to think of my return to Brunswick, as the period of my leave of absence was drawing to a close. Rosa’s mother also made preparations to return home, having failed in an endeavour to procure an engagement for her daughter at the Italian Opera in Berlin.

Rosa had daily evinced an increasing attraction towards me, and manifested her partiality without disguise. I, on the contrary, on a nearer acquaintance, was obliged to confess to myself that she was not suited for a partner in life for me, and I therefore carefully avoided being betrayed into any declaration. She was it is true, an amiable, unspoiled girl, and richly endowed by nature; but her education, apart from the polish of social forms, had been greatly neglected, and what was more especially displeasing to me, was her bigotted piety, which had once even led her to attempt the conversion of the Lutheran heretic to the only true Church of salvation. I bore the parting with tolerable self-controul; but Rosa burst into tears, and with the last embrace pressed into my hand a card with the letter R, worked upon it with her beautiful black hair, as a souvenir.

Upon my return to Brunswick, I devoted myself with renewed zeal to Composition. I wrote my H-Minor-Concerto, which was subsequently published by Simrock as Fourth Violin-Concerto. For the first time, a foreign pupil was sent to me, one Herr Grünewald from Dresden. During my stay in Brunswick, I also gave lessons to a Miss Mayer, a talented[Pg 82] young lady of sixteen, who as Violiniste gave several concerts at Brunswick with much applause; under my direction she studied my concerto in D-Minor. This pupil, after a lapse of five and twenty years, during which time I had heard nothing more of her, suddenly excited a general interest, as much on account of her fate, as of her accomplished execution on the violin.

On one of her earlier artistic-tours, when in Poland, she had there married a landed-proprietor of considerable fortune. Although then in affluent circumstances, she never neglected the further cultivation of her great talent, though only as amateur. This enabled her, after her husband had lost his whole fortune in the Polish revolution, and had become a refugee, to support herself and her daughter. As Madame Filipowicz, she again made her appearance as an artiste, in Dresden, and played there the same D-Minor-Concerto she had studied under me five and twenty years before. As she considered that she was chiefly indebted for her now increasing success to her rendering of that Concerto, she felt impelled to express her thanks to her former Instructor in a letter. It was thus I became acquainted with the above circumstances. After her artistic-tour through Germany, she settled in Paris, and at a later period in London. From both places I received several letters from her. Upon my last journey but one to London, when I had hoped to have seen her again, I was informed that she had died a few days before my arrival, and I only made the acquaintance of her daughter, and of her husband, who was a Doctor, and also a Polish refugee.

But to return to the year 1805. In the spring, I received a letter from Rosa, in which with her ingenuous simplicity she said, that, so great had her longing become to see me again, that she had prevailed on her father to make an artistic tour to Brunswick; that she would arrive in a few days, and begged me to make the preliminary arrangements for a concert. I was not best pleased with this intelligence, and[Pg 83] foresaw that great embarrassments might arise from it. I now perceived with regret that Rosa’s inclination towards me was much more earnest than I had beleived, and I reproached myself bitterly for my conduct towards her. It was also evident to me, that her father had only undertaken this journey to bring me to some declaration in respect to his daughter. I therefore looked forward to their arrival with great anxiety. But everything passed off much better than I had anticipated. Rosa’s heartfelt joy, to see me again, her lively unsuspecting simplicity, which did not permit her to feel the least doubt of a reciprocity of her feelings, assisted me to the avoidance of any explanation. Thus, after a fortnight’s stay, they left Brunswick and returned to Dresden, very satisfied with their visit, and the brilliant Concert which my assistance obtained for them; and it was arranged that I should visit them after my projected journey to Vienna, in the autumn.

As they wished to return by way of Göttingen, I gave them a letter of introduction to my parents. During a stay of several days with my parents, Rosa so won their hearts by her amiability, that with unhesitating confidence she confessed her love for their son. Concluding from this, that I returned her affection, my parents had embraced her as my betrothed. I was greatly allarmed when I learned this in a letter from my father; protested against this engagement, and assigned as ground for my refusal, Rosa’s want of education, and the difference in our religious faith. My father would not see the matter in this light, and repeatedly declared that I was a fool, to refuse so charming a girl.

In June 1805, I received a letter from Bärwolf, a Musician of the Ducal Orchestra at Gotha, who was unknown to me, that greatly influenced my destiny. Herr Bärwolf wrote to inform me of a vacancy that had taken place in the Orchestra there, by the death of the Director Ernst, and that the Intendant, Baron von Leibnitz, who had read so favorable a notice of my performances in the Leipsic Musical-Journal, was very desirous to recommend me to that post, if I would make im[Pg 84]mediate application for it. But, for this, it was required that I should repair personally to Gotha. He therefore invited me to come and play at the Concert that was to take place at Court on the 11. July, in celebration of the birth-day of the dutchess.

Extremely pleased at this, I hastened to the Duke, to request his consent to my journey. I received it, and immediately announced this at Gotha. Arrived there, Herr Bärwolf introduced me to the Intendant. The latter appeared astonished to see before him so young a man, and said with a thoughtful expression of countenance, that I appeared to him almost too young to place at the head of so many men, all older than myself. But after I had conducted two Overtures at the rehearsal, and executed my Concerto in D-Minor, the Herr Intendant, had quite changed his mind, for he requested me to conceal my real age, and to give myself out as four or five years older. I was therefore introduced to the Court as a competitor for the situation, of twenty fours years of age. But the resort to such a deceit was indeed scarcely requisite to obtain it, for on my first appearance at the Court-Concert I won the favour of the Dutchess so completely, that the other competitors were all obliged to retire. By a Decree of the 5. August, 1805, I was installed as Concert-Director to the Ducal Court of Gotha, with a salary of nearly five hundred thalers, inclusive of allowances, my service duties to commence on the 1. October.

As my leave of absence was not quite expired, by the advice of Herr Bärwolf, before returning to Brunswick, I made a little excursion to Wilhelmsthal near Eisenach, the family seat of the Court of Weimar. With the recommendation of the Dutchess of Gotha it was easy for me to obtain a hearing. I played, pleased greatly, and on leaving, received a handsome present. On my return to Gotha, I gave in haste, a Concert that had been meanwhile arranged for there, which was also attended by the Court, and then set out on my return to my native town highly gratified with the result of my journey.[Pg 85] I went by way of Seesen, and was joyfully congratulated by my parents and the friends of my family upon the new dignity conferred upon me. In order to make the rest of the journey more pleasant for me, my father lent me his saddle-horse, and thus conduced to give my hitherto prosperous journey a tragical end; for a few leagues from Brunswick, while riding homewards at a sharp trot, absorbed in deep thought upon the future, and paying but little attention to the road, the horse fell, his foot having caught in a deep rut, and threw his rider rudely to the ground. I fell over the horse’s head with my face upon a small heap of broken road-stones, before I could spread out my hands sufficiently to break my fall; my face was therefore cut in such a manner by the sharp stones, that the blood flowed profusely. In a few minutes also, the wounds became so swollen as almost to close my eyes. Half blind, and wholly unable to help myself, I stood in the road, until at length some foot-passengers came to my assistance. After they had caught my horse, they led me to the nearest village. They there procured for me a four wheeled peasant’s-cart, with straw spread out in it, upon which I was brought in the most deplorable condition to my lodgings at a late hour in the evening. A Doctor having been sent for, he ordered my face to be bathed and bound with linen-rags steeped in Goulard water, which being continued throughout the night, the swelling had so much subsided by the morning, that I could again open my eyes. After the Doctor had carefully examined my face, and allayed my anxiety respecting all further results from my fall; I soon recovered my cheerfulness of mood, and alone lamented that I could not immediately wait upon my noble Patron to solicit his permission to accept the situation of the Directorship. But as meanwhile I was not without some anxiety, lest my benefactor, to whom I was so greatly indebted, might take it ill that I could thus leave his service, I was rather pleased that my accident furnished me with an excuse to address a letter to the duke. But I had judged him wrong[Pg 86]fully; for on the following day I received the solicited permission in his own handwriting. I have carefully preserved that letter as a cherished Memorial, and cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting it here, as follows:

My dear Herr Spohr.

I have read with much interest the successful result of your performance at Wilhelmsthal and Gotha. The advantageous offer made to you at Gotha is such as your talents well merit, and as I have always taken great interest in your fortune and success, I can but congratulate you on your appointment to a position where you will undoubtedly find more opportunity for the exercise of your talent.

I remain very respectfully
your well wisher
Carl W. Ferd.

Releived now of my last anxiety, I was truly happy. But it occurred to me, that in this letter, the Duke addressed me for the first time “You”, while hitherto he had always honoured me with the benevolent, fatherly “Thou”. I nevertheless consoled myself readily with the reflexion, that the Duke might have thought it more becoming so to address a person leaving his service.

In about a fortnight or three weeks, my face was so far healed, that I could again announce myself ready to resume my orchestral duties.

Before I had done so, I received a letter from Dussek, who wrote to say that his master, Prince Louis Ferdinand, was about to proceed to the grand military manoeuvres at Magdeburg, and wished that I should be his guest during that time, in order to give my assistance at the projected Music-parties there. The Prince would himself write to the Duke to solicit the leave of absence for me. This was immediately granted. I therefore proceeded to Magdeburg, and found in the house which the Prince had taken for himself and his suite, a room also, for me. I now led an extraordinary, wild and active life, which nevertheless suited my[Pg 87] youthful taste right well for a short time. Frequently at six o’clock in the morning, were Dussek and I roused from our beds and conducted in dressing-gown and slippers to the Reception-saloon, where the Prince was already seated at the pianoforte in yet lighter costume, the heat being then very great, and indeed, generally in his shirt and drawers only. Now began the practice and rehearsal of the music that was intended to be played in the evening circles, and from the Prince’s zeal, this lasted frequently so long, that in the meantime the saloon was filled with Officers decorated, and bestarred. The costume of the Musicians contrasted then somewhat strangely with the brilliant uniforms of those who had come to pay their court to the Prince. But this did not trouble his Royal Highness in the least, neither would he leave off until everything had been practised to his satisfaction. Then we finished our toilet in all haste, snatched as hasty a breakfast, and rode off to the review. I had a horse appropriated to me from the Prince’s stud, and was permitted to ride with his suite. In this manner for a time to my great amusement, I took part in all the warlike evolutions. But, one day I found myself jammed in close to a battery, where I was obliged to endure for more than an hour a truly hellish-noise, and when in the evening at the Music party I found that I could not hear so distinctly as before, I held back from the warlike spectacle and from that time spent those hours in which the Prince did not require me, with my former acquaintances in Magdeburg. In the house of the Privy Counsellor Schäfer I met with a most friendly welcome. His daughter Jettchen, who, previously, while residing in Brunswick, in the house of her brother-in-law the Conductor Le Gaye had been an object of my admiration, was now returned to her paternal home, and here also performed the part of a kind and attentive hostess to me.

Soon, however, the Prince was recalled from his exile to Magdeburg, and dismissed by him with friendly thanks, I could now return to Brunswick. Dussek on taking leave of[Pg 88] me, told me that the Prince had intended to have made me a present, but that his purse was at so low an ebb, he must postpone it to a later and more favorable time. But that time never came; for the Prince found an early death in the following year in an action near Saalfeld. In the beginning of October, after an honourable discharge from the Duke’s service had been duly made out for me, I left my native town. On my taking leave, the Duke said to me with truly paternal benevolence, as he extended his hand to me: “should you dear Spohr find your new place unpleasant to you, you can re-enter my service at any time.”

I parted with my benefactor, deeply moved; and alas! never saw him more,—for as is well known he fell mortally wounded at the unfortunate battle of Jena, and died a fugitive in a foreign land. I mourned for him, as for a father.

Arrived in Gotha, I was introduced to the members of the Ducal Orchestra by the Intendant Baron von Leibnitz, as Concert-Director, and made acquainted with my sphere of duties. This consisted, both in winter and summer, in the arrangement of a concert at Court every week, and in practising and rehearsing the orchestra in the music chosen for the occasion. As the orchestra had no other duties beyond these concerts, I was enabled to have three or four rehearsals of each, and to practise all that was to be performed at these with the greatest precision. By my zeal, and the good-will of the members, I soon succeeded in attaining an exceeding accuracy of ensemble which was recognised by the Dutchess and some of the Musical-connoisseurs in the Court-circle, and elicited much praise.

The orchestra consisted in part of musicians of the Ducal Chamber, and in part of Court-hautboyists. It was the duty of the latter to play also during the repasts, and at Court-balls. Among the musicians of the Chamber, there was a whole bevy of solo-players. The chief were: on the violin, Madame Schlick and Messrs. Preissing and Bärwolf; on the violoncello, Messrs. Schlick, Preissing jun. and Rohde; on the[Pg 89] clarionet, bassoon and harp, Herr Backhofen; on the hautboy, Herr Hofmann; and Herr Walch on the horn.

For the vocal parts at the Court-Concerts two Court-singers Mesdames Scheidler and Reinhard were engaged. The husband of the latter accompained the vocalists on the piano-forte. Being the oldest member of the orchestra, he had warmly competed for the vacant post of Conductor; and as the Duke’s musical instructor, some regard was due to him; he also, therefore, had the title of Concert-Master conferred upon him on my appointment, and his rescript was even of anterior date to mine. For this reason he at first made some weak attempts, to assume the direction of the vocal performances. But I knew so well how to overawe him by my decisive bearing as first Violin, that he soon succumbed as willingly to my lead at the pianoforte, as at the viol, on which he performed in the instrumental music. I was also soon enabled to overcome the opposition of the Schlick family who relied on the favour of Prince Augustus, the Duke’s uncle, and then undisturbedly maintained my directorial-position.

In the introductory visits I made to the members of the orchestra I was received most cordially by the Court-singer Madame Scheidler. She introduced me to her daughter Dorette, of the age of eighteen, of whose skill upon the harp and pianoforte I had already heard much. In this charming blondine I recognised the girl whom I had seen on my first visit to Gotha, and whose pleasing form had since then frequently recurred to my memory. At the Concert which I then gave in that town, she had sat in the first row of the auditory, by the side of a female friend, who upon my appearance, astonished at so tall a figure, exclaimed rather louder than she had intended: “Just look, Dorette, what a long hop-pole!” Upon hearing this exclamation, my eye fell upon the girls, and I saw Dorette blush with embarrassment. With a similar graceful blush she now again stood before me, probably recollecting that circumstance. To put an end therefore to a situation so painful to me, I entreated her[Pg 90] to play something on the harp. Without the least affectation she complied with my wish.

When a boy, I had myself once made an attempt to learn the harp, and took lessons of one Herr Hasenbalg in Brunswick, when I soon got so far as to be able to accompany my songs. But after my voice had broken, and that for a considerable time I remained without any voice at all, the harp was neglected, and at length wholly laid aside. My predilection for that instrument had nevertheless remained the same; and I had given my attention to it sufficiently long, to know, how difficult it is, if one would play more than mere accompaniments upon it. My astonishment and delight may therefore be imagined, when I heard so young a girl execute a difficult “Fantasia” of her instructor Backofen, with the greatest confidence, and with the finest shades of expression. I was so deeply moved, that I could scarce restrain my tears. Bowing in silence, I took my leave;—but my heart remained behind! Irresistibly impelled, my visits now became frequent, and my reception more friendly every time.

I accompanied the daughter on the piano, which she played with the same excellence as the harp, assisted the mother in the practise of her songs for the Court-Concerts, and so made myself more and more necessary to the family. The first piece that I composed in Gotha, was a grand “Vocal Scena” for a soprano voice, which I dedicated to Dorette’s mother, and which she sang with great applause at one of the Court-Concerts. For myself and the daughter, I then wrote a Concerted Sonata for violin and harp, which I practised with her in the most careful manner. They were happy hours!

Thus, after my arrival, had a month passed away for me in the most agreable manner, when the Court set out for the session of Parliament at Altenburg and took the orchestra with it. Dorette also accompanied her mother thither. I offered myself to them as a travelling-companion, but unfortunately made my application too late, for they had already arranged to travel in company with Messrs. Preissing, the[Pg 91] brothers of Madame Scheidler. I was therefore obliged to seek other travelling-companions; but at every place where we stopped to take refreshment I did not fail to join immediately the Scheidler family, and always contrived to get possession of the place at table next to Dorette. These meetings after a separation of four or five hours, gave a peculiar charm to the otherwise long and tedious journey, so much so indeed, that when at length on the evening of the third day we entered the gates of Altenburg, it seemed too short to me. I was lodged in the house of Secretary Brummer who as a great lover of music had begged that I might become his guest. I met with the most friendly reception and a well furnished table. But I had previously arranged to dine always at Madame Scheidler’s, who like an active housewife had immediately established a kitchen of her own, for herself and brothers. Henceforth, treated almost like a member of the family, I had full opportunity to become more nearly acquainted with my beloved Dorette. Her father, an excellent musician, and a man of scientific attainments, had, up to his death, which had taken place two years before, devoted himself entirely to the education and improvement of this daughter. With an almost extreme severity he had compelled her not only from her earliest childhood to pursue the study of Music, but also, instructed her, in part personally, and partly through the medium of other able teachers in every branch of education suitable to a young female. She therefore spoke Italian and French with the greatest fluency and wrote her mother tongue with ease and correctness. But her brilliant execution both on the harp and pianoforte was already then despite her youth, truly remarkable! Yes, even upon the violin on which instrument her uncle Preissing gave her instruction, she had acquired so much skill, that she could play Viotti’s Duetts with me. But as I advised her to discontinue the practise of that instrument so unbecoming for females, and to devote rather her undivided study to the two others, she adopted my advice and from that moment gave it up.

[Pg 92]

Meanwhile the Court-concerts had commenced. They took place in a large saloon in the Palace, very favourable for music, and together with the Court were attended by the parliamentary Deputies and by the dignitaries of the town. The orchestra, as well as the performances both of myself and the other soloplayers met with great applause. Dorette’s Soli’s on the harp and piano made also a great sensation. In this manner the concert-days were soon looked forward to by the Altenburgers as real festival days, and the auditory encreased so much in number each time, that at length there was scarcely room for their accommodation. There were also many private Music-parties, at which I and the members of the Scheidler family never failed to be invited. One day, however, I was invited with Dorette, but without her mother, to a Fête given by the Minister von Thümmel, to the Court and its immediate circle. We were requested to reproduce my Sonata for the harp und violin, which we had already played with great success at the Court-concerts. With some timidity I ventured to ask whether I might fetch Dorette in the carriage, and felt delighted beyond measure, when her mother without hesitation gave her consent. Thus alone for the first time with the beloved girl, I felt the impulse to make a full confession of my feelings towards her; but my courage failed me, and the carriage drew up, before I had been able to utter a syllable. As I held out my hand to her to alight, I felt by the tremor of hers, how great had also been her emotion. This gave me new courage, and I had almost plumped out with my declaration of love upon the very stairs, had not the door of the Reception-saloon been thrown open at the same moment.

That evening we played with an inspiration and a sympathy of feeling that not alone carried us wholly away, but so electrified the company also, that all rose spontaneously, and gathering round us, overwhelmed us with praise. The Dutchess whispered some words in Dorette’s ear, which brought blushes to her cheek.

[Pg 93]

I interpreted them as favorable to me, and now on the drive home I at length found courage to say: “Shall we thus play together for life?” Bursting into tears, she sank into my arms; the compact for life was sealed! I led her to her mother, who joined our hands and gave us her blessing.

The next morning I announced my happiness to my parents. But before I could enjoy it without alloy, I felt compelled to write another letter, and one which was to me a most disagreable task. I felt the injustice of my conduct towards Rosa, and the necessity to ask her forgiveness. I had it is true, never made a declaration of my love to her; but it had been but too apparent in the earlier period of our acquaintance. To that was added moreover, the circumstance that, my parents had greeted her in Seesen as my betrothed. What the arguments were that I resorted to in exculpation of my injustice, I no longer remember at this distance of time. Probably I may have again adverted to the difference of religion, which could alone serve me as excuse for my withdrawal. The letter was at length finished; and with a lightened heart I took it to the post. I anxiously expected an answer; but none came. At a later period I learned that Rosa had returned to Italy with her parents who had acquired some fortune in Germany. Some years afterwards, I was told when in Dresden, that Rosa, led by her devotional turn of mind, had retired to a convent, and after the year’s novitiate had taken the veil. I never could think of that charming maiden without sentiments of the deepest sorrow!

At the dinner-table on the following day all appeared in full dress; it was to celebrate our betrothal. The news of this had soon spread through the town, and not only the members of the Ducal orchestra, but also many of the inhabitants of the place came to felicitate the engaged couple. At the next concert the same took place on the part of the Dutchess and the Court.

With the end of the year, the session of Parliament drew also to a close, and the return of the Court to Gotha was[Pg 94] already spoken of, when I solicited an eight day’s leave of absence to go to Leipsic in order to give a concert there. Preparatory to that, I had already made enquiries of my friends of the foregoing year, and received from them the most favorable assurances. My bride, and her mother accompanied me, to appear also in the same concert. This therefore offered a diversity of attraction to the public, and consequently the attendance was very numerous. I played a new Violin-Concerto in C-Major (published by Kühnel as the third) which I had begun in Gotha and finished at Altenburg. Both my playing and composition found as warm a reception as in the previous year. My bride also met with the most enthusiastic applause. She played Backhofen’s Fantasia, and with me the new Sonata. On this occasion, it was again our combined play that was considered the most brilliant performance of the evening. The mother, a singer possessed of a powerful, pleasing tone, and of a good school, executed, accompanied by her daughter, the aria of Mozart with Pianoforte obligato, as also, my new vocal-Scena, with great success.

Highly satisfied with the result of our undertaking, we returned to Altenburg, and shortly afterwards with the Court to Gotha.

Madame Scheidler resided there in a very roomy and well furnished house, of which without feeling in the least inconvenienced, she could readily give up to me an apartment or two. As she offered to take my brother Ferdinand who as my pupil lived with me, together with ourselves as boarders, nothing therefore stood in the way of my immediate marriage. The wedding was accordingly fixed for the 2. February, 1806. I hastened therefore, to procure the documents, requisite for the occasion, my certificate of baptism, and the consent of my parents. To my regret, they were unable to bring this to me in person, as my father dare not leave his patients, some of whom were dangerously ill, but they sent my brother William[7] to be a witness to my happiness.

[Pg 95]

It created no little astonishment when I produced my certificate of baptism, that instead of growing older in Gotha, I had become several years younger! But as I had already sufficiently established my authority as Concert-Director I experienced no subsequent prejudice from this discovery.

The ardently desired 2. February, dawned at length. At the request of the Dutchess who wished to be present, the marriage took place in the Palace-chapel. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony the newly married pair received the felicitations and wedding-presents of their illustrious Patroness. At home, we found assembled as wedding-guests, the two uncles Preissing and several other of the most intimate friends among the members of the Ducal orchestra, as also Cantor Schade, an old friend of the Scheidler family. After dinner many others came. Among these the playmates and school-fellows of Dorette. All brought with them their friendly gifts. Neither was she wanting who had compared me to a hop-pole, and as punishment for the unbecoming comparison, she was frequently obliged to endure a little raillery. As the weather was too unfavourable for an excursion, or promenade, music was kept up till a late hour in the evening.

In the midst of Music also, the happy pair passed the honeymoon. I began forthwith a diligent study of the harp, in order to ascertain thoroughly what was best adapted to the character of the instrument. As I was prone to a richness of modulation in my compositions, it was therefore requisite to make myself especially well acquainted with the pedals of the harp, so as to write nothing that would be impracticable for them. This could not readily occur, on account of the great accuracy with which my wife had already then mastered the whole Technics of the instrument. I therefore gave free play to my fancy, and soon succeeded in obtaining wholly new effects from the instrument.

As the Harp sounded most advantageously in combination with the singing tones of my Violin, I wrote more especially Concerted compositions for both instruments alone. At a[Pg 96] later period, it is true, I made trial, also, of two Concertanti with Orchestral accompaniment, and of a Trio for Harp, Violin and Violoncello; but as I found that every Accompaniment only disturbed our mutual and deeply felt harmony of action, I soon abandoned it.

Another attempt to obtain a greater effect, had however, a more successful result. I conceived the idea of pitching the harp half a tone lower than the violin. By so doing I gained in two ways. For, as the violin sounds most brilliantly in the cross or sharp notes, but the harp best in the B-tones or flat notes, when the fewest pedals possible are moved; I thereby obtained for both instruments the most favourable and most effective key-notes: for the violin namely, D and G; for the harp E and A-flat. A second advantage was, that, from the lower tuning of the harp, a string would less frequently break, which in public performances in very warm rooms so frequently happens to the harpist, and mars the enjoyment of the hearers. From this time therefore, I wrote all my Compositions for harp and violin in that difference of the keys.

Dorette, forcibly attracted by these new Compositions, devoted at that time her attention exclusively to the study of the harp, and soon obtained such a brilliant execution, that I felt an eager desire to exhibit this before a larger public than that of the Court-concerts of Gotha. As I beleived also, to have now perfected my own Play in a manner such as no other could readily surpass, I resolved to set out on an Artistic tour with my wife in the ensuing autumn. I had already stipulated for such a leave of absence upon receiving my appointment, and it had been acceded to in consideration of my then small salary.

Meanwhile as the autumn drew near, a twofold obstacle presented itself to the execution of my cherished projects. The war between Prussia and France threatened to break out. The Prussian army prepared for the struggle, was already assembled in the neighbourhood of Gotha, and the in[Pg 97]habitants of the Dutchy had much to endure from the billeting, and overbearing insolence of the Prussians.

Even though I might have been able to take my journey in a direction that would have carried us from the tumult of war, yet when my home was in danger of becoming the scene of conflict, I could not well leave it in such an extremity. Then, one day, with blushing cheek and beaming eyes, my little wife imparted to me that towards the end of winter she looked forward to a mother’s joys. Now, therefore, indeed it was no longer possible to think of undertaking a journey, and all hesitation on the subject was set at rest. I therefore bethought me of some engrossing work that would distract my attention as much as possible from all the anxieties of the times. I had long wished to try my hand at a Dramatic composition; but I had never yet found a favourable opportunity. Neither, indeed, did that present itself now, for Gotha possessed no Theatre. Yet, I thought; if the opera were once written, some opportunity to hear it might yet present itself. Just at that time, I received a visit from a companion of my youth Edward Henke my mother’s youngest brother, afterwards Professor of Jurisprudence at the university of Halle, who had already met with some success in lyrical compositions. I persuaded him to write the words of an opera for me. We cogitated together the subject-matter, and the scenes, of a one act Opera, to which we gave the Name of “Die Prüfung” (The Trial). Edward began forthwith the composition of the Song-parts and finished them wholly before his departure. He promised to supply the dialogue afterwards.

But before I could begin my work, the storm of war broke loose. The battle of Jena had been fought; and with that, the fate of Prussia decided. The Prussians who had lain in and around Gotha, and who but shortly before had been so-overbearing in their demeanour were now seen flying in the greatest confusion. The disorganisation of their troops was so complete, that their arms were to be found in thousands strewn over the fields near Gotha. In a walk I took[Pg 98] a few days afterwards, I found as a further gleaning, a ramrod, which I took home with me as a reminiscence of that fatal day. Suspended from a thread it gave with a clear sound the note B, once struck, and served me for many years instead of a tuning-fork when tuning the harp.

Although after the advance of the French army in pursuit, the theatre of war was soon removed farther and farther from Gotha; yet the quartering of troops upon the inhabitants was no less continuous. Fresh reinforcements of French and South-German troops were constantly moved forward in support; and a greater part of the Prussian prisoners taken at Jena, was brought through Gotha. These came in bodies of from 3 to 4000 men of all arms, frequently escorted by 40 or 50 voltigeurs, only, and were shut up in the great Church on the market place, opposite to our dwelling, with merely a few sentries mounting guard over them before the closed doors. As the nights were already very cold, the men in their thin uniforms must indeed have been nearly frozen. For that reason also they kept up a continual noise and outcry. The inhabitants of the houses in the neighbourhood, in constant dread that the prisoners from their greatly superior numbers would liberate themselves, were obliged to keep continually on the watch, and for many nights together could not retire to rest.

This, therefore, was by no means the most propitious time for me to attempt a style of composition that was quite new to me. But as my study was situated near the garden, at a distance from the noise in the streets, I soon succeeded in forgetting every thing around me, and gave myself up heart and soul to my work. In this manner, before half the winter had passed, I completed the composition of the 8 “Numbers” of the Opera, together with the Overture. The four Song-parts in these, permitted of being well rendered by the Female Court-singers and two Dillettanti whose assistance I had already obtained for the Court-concerts. I therefore had the opera written out with all despatch, practised it carefully,[Pg 99] and then played it as Concert-Music at one of the Court-concerts.

Great as at first was my satisfaction with the new work, I nevertheless soon became sensible of its deficiencies, and weak points. With every successive rehearsal these were made more clear to me, and even before its production in public took place, the Opera (with the exception of the Overture and one aria for a tenor-voice) had become distasteful to me. Even the great applause it had met with from those who executed it, and those who heard it, could not reconcile me the more to it; so that I laid it aside, and with the exception of the two “Numbers” mentioned, I never played any thing more of it in public. But with this feeling of dissatisfaction with my work I was truly unhappy; for I now thought to perceive that I had no talent for Operatic compositions. There were, however, two things which I had forgotten duly to consider; first, that I had assumed a much too elevated style, for I had put my Opera upon a par with those of Mozart, and secondly, that I was wholly wanting in the practice and experience requisite for this kind of composition. This did not occur to me till some years afterwards, and encouraged me then to make another attempt at dramatic composition.

For the present, I again devoted myself wholly to Instrumental composition; wrote the already mentioned Concertanti for Harp and Violin with full orchestra; a Fantasia (op. 35) and Variations (op. 36) for Harp-Solo; and, for myself, my Fifth Violin Concerto (op. 17. published by Nägeli of Zurich) and the Pot-Pourri (op. 22, at André’s in Offenbach).

As Dorette anticipated her confinement in the spring, it was impossible we could remain longer in the limited accommodation of her mother’s house, and we were now obliged to furnish a house of our own. This took place at Easter 1807.

Shortly after, on the 27. May, we were gladdened by the birth of a little daughter. I now had to invite the Duke as Godfather to the new-born, he having already previously offered himself for that post of honour. On the day of the[Pg 100] Christening, he made his appearance, in the full splendour of his Ducal rank, accompanied by the dignitaries of his Court and followed by the idlers of the town, who attracted by the grandeur of the rarely used state carriage and its occupants, stared with astonishment to see it draw up before my house, at the door of which I received him, and conducted him to the apartment decorated with garlands of flowers. The ceremony began, and the new-born was christened Emilie, after the Duke’s second Name, Emilius.

To my great regret, my parents could not take part in this delightful family festival. And yet, in the previous summer, when on a visit at Seesen, I had introduced my dear wife to them, and had the gratification to see not only that they soon evinced much affection for her, but the satisfaction also, that my father was obliged to admit I might not have been so happy with Rosa, even had my love for her been more lasting.

As soon as Dorette had fully regained her strength, she began anew to practise the recently finished compositions for the Harp, in order to prepare herself for our projected artistic tour. But while thus engaged, she became more and more convinced of the defects of the instrument she had hitherto used, a Strasburg pedal-harp, which she had received as a present from the Dutchess. It was therefore decided in a family consultation, to apply a small capital appertaining to her as inheritance, to the purchase of another, and a better harp. Herr Backofen, had such an instrument, a very superior one, by Nadermann of Paris, and was disposed to part with it to his pupil for a moderate price. This, therefore, was purchased. Of Dorette’s small inheritance there yet remained a few hundred thalers, to expend in the acquisition of an indispensible convenience for travelling, namely a travelling-carriage, constructed at the same time for the transport of the harp. For a considerable time I turned over in my mind the form of build best adapted to this purpose. There were two things that required especial consideration; first,[Pg 101] that it should not be too expensive, and secondly that it should be sufficiently light for one pair of post-horses. At length I hit upon the right plan. I ordered a long, but not too heavy Basket-carriage to be built, with a chaise compartment behind for the travellers. In front of this between the basket-sides, lay the box for the harp, slung by leather straps, and covered with a leather apron, which fastened by means of a bar of iron hooking into the chaise-seat in front of the occupants. Under this was a seat-box to hold the violin-case, and behind it a larger one to contain a trunk adapted to the space, in which all the other travelling requisites could be packed. In front, above the harp-box, was the raised seat for the driver. A trial trip, for which the carriage was completely packed, shewed that it fully answered the object proposed. Thus, therefore, every thing was in readiness for our artistic tour.

After a painful leave-taking of our child, of whom my mother-in-law undertook the care, we set out on our journey, in the middle of October. As I unfortunately kept no diary upon this and our subsequent journey from Gotha, I am left wholly to my somewhat faint recollections of that period, which have been but sparingly refreshed by a few notices in the Leipsic Musical-Journal. Of a diary kept by my wife at that period, but which she never let me see, I have neither been able to find anything since her death. Probably, it was destroyed by her in after years.

On the very first day, our journey began in a very ominous manner, by the overturning of our carriage at a place between Erfurt and Weimar, where there was at that time no paved high-road. Fortunately, however, neither the travellers nor their instruments were injured, we therefore considered ourselves very fortunate to have escaped with the fright only. No such accident re-occurred to us on any of our numerous journeys. In Weimar, whither we took letters of introduction from the Dutchess of Gotha, we played at Court with great applause, and received a munificent present from the Heredi[Pg 102]tary Grand Dutchess, the Princess Maria. Among the auditory at the Court-Concert were the two Poet-heros Goethe and Wieland. The latter seemed quite charmed with the play of the artiste-couple, and evinced it in his own animated and friendly manner. Goethe, also, addressed a few words of praise to us with a dignified coldness of mien.

In Leipsic, as I perceive from a notice in the Musical-Journal, we gave a concert on the 27. October. The opinion therein expressed of the compositions I played on that occasion, namely the Overture to the “Prüfung”, the Violin-Concerto in Es, the first Concertante for Harp and Violin, the Potpourri in B, and the Fantasia for the Harp, was very favorable. As regards our play, it says:

“Respecting the play of Herr Spohr, and his wife, we have already spoken in detail, and here alone add, that he has entirely corrected himself of many of the too arbitrary mannerisms (in Time, and the like) which he had acquired, and of which we had now and then complained; and, without a doubt, as regards Tone and Expression, Surety and Skill, both in Allegro and in Adagio (in the latter more especially, in our opinion) he now takes rank among the foremost of all living Violinists: and Madame Spohr, by her great skill, neatness and feeling in her play, is certain to meet with the most distinguished reception.”

Of Dresden, where we also gave a Concert and also, if I do not mistake this occasion for a later one—played at Court (though certainly not during dinner, to which neither of us would have consented) I recollect nothing more particular. But I well remember many circumstances of our stay at Prague. My fame had not yet reached there, and at first I had many difficulties to contend with. These, however, were forthwith overcome when I and my wife had played at a Soirée given by the Princess Hohenzollern, and when that lady declared herself our Patroness. We now immediately became the fashion, and the beau-monde came in crowds to the two concerts we gave in the City so famed for its cultivation of[Pg 103] Art. We had therefore full reason to be satisfied with our stay there. This is also confirmed by a notice in the Musical-Journal beginning as follows: “Among the strangers who have given concerts, the third was Herr Spohr, the celebrated Director of Concerts to the Duke of Saxe-Gotha. Herr Spohr performed on the Violin, as did his wife on the Pedal-Harp. It will be long before another artiste will have such reason to be satisfied with the reception he met here as Herr Spohr, and of a certainty every friend of Art, will acknowledge that he well deserved that distinction.”

But in the course of his notice, the Editor animadverts on several points in my Play, though this opinion would seem to have been a somewhat isolated one, as in his notice of the concert given by the brothers Pixis which immediately followed mine, he says: “his place has been assigned to him far below Spohr,” and then continues: “as but a few days before people were so charmed by the Play of the latter, and the opinion was expressed from that point of view, it may not be considered altogether fair.”

Among the friends of Art in Prague, I then made the acquaintance of a man with whom up to the time of his death I constantly remained on terms of the closest friendship. This was Herr Kleinwächter, the head of the commercial firm of Ballabene. At his house, every Sunday forenoon, a small but select circle of Professionals and lovers of Art met to play and listen to Quartett-music. Every foreign artiste sought to be introduced there, and whether violinist or violoncellist took an active part in them. I took a pleasure in playing there; for my execution and my endeavours to give each composition in its appropriate style were fully appreciated. One Sunday morning I was playing a Solo-quartett of mine (D-Minor, op. 11. published by Simrock) when the master of the house was suddenly called away; but returning after some time, announced to the company, that during the playing of the Quartett a son had been born to him! Among the congratulations of those present the wish was also expressed that this harmo[Pg 104]nious greeting of the new citizen of the world, would be of the most happy augery for his future life, and above all things might endow him with a taste for Music! With the latter, he was indeed gifted in a high degree. Louis Kleinwächter, (in compliment to me he was christened after me) though only as an amateur (his profession was the law) became a distinguished musician, as his compositions many of which have been published, sufficiently attest. Whether it was that he had been told he was born during the performance of one of Spohr’s compositions, and that, that had awakened his predeliction for them, or whether it was his diligent study of them, there never was a more enthusiastic admirer of my music than he. Whenever in the Musical Reunions of Prague, a choice was mooted of the Compositions which were to be played, he always strove for those of Spohr, and never rested until he had carried his point. For that reason, also, he soon acquired the general cognomen of “the mad Spohrist.”

It is to be regretted that this young man of whom mention will frequently be made in these pages, was snatched from his family by an early death; he died several years before his father.

From Prague, the Artiste-couple proceeded to Munich, via Ratisbonne. I no longer recollect whether I succeeded in getting up a Concert in the latter town. I could find no notice of it. And respecting Munich, in a summary notice of the Musical-Journal on the winter-season of that year, it was curtly remarked “Herr Spohr, from Gotha, gave a Concert and met here also with a warm approval.” Of our stay there I have nevertheless a tolerable clear recollection. Before we gave our concert in the City, we played at Court. When we came forward to play our Concertante for Harp and Violin, there was no stool for Dorette. King Maximilian who sat beside his Consort in the front row of the audience, observed it, and immediately brought his own gilded arm-chair surmounted with the Royal Crown, before an attendant could procure one. In his own friendly good-tempered manner he[Pg 105] insisted upon Dorette seating herself in it, and only when I explained to him that the arms of the chair would impede her playing, he consented to her taking the seat brought by the servant.

When the Concert was over, he presented us to the Queen and her Ladies of the Court, who discoursed with us in the most friendly manner. On the following day the Royal Gifts were presented to us; to me a diamond ring, to Dorette a tiara of brilliants; both of great value.

At our Public Concert, we were supported by the members of the Royal orchestra with the greatest good will. Herr Winter, the Director, led. I was delighted with the precision and spirited execution of my compositions, and thought it very natural that they should please, played in such a manner. But it was a special satisfaction to me that the Composer of the “Opferfest” (the Festival of the Sacrifice) assured me also in his candid and straight forward way, of his full approval. I went frequently to Winter’s house, and was greatly amused with his original character, which united the most singular contradictions. Of a colossal build, and gifted with the strength of a giant, Winter was withal as timid as a hare. Readily excited to the most violent rage, he nevertheless allowed himself to be led like a child. His housekeeper had soon observed this, and tyrannised over him in a cruel manner. As an example of this, he took great pleasure in dressing up the little images for the Christmas tree, on the Eve of that Festival, and would amuse himself in this way, by the hour. But ill befel him if the housekeeper caught him at it. She would then immediately drive him away from them, and call out: “Must you then be eternally at play?! Sit down directly to the Pianoforte, and get your song ready!”

The junior members of the Royal orchestra, whom he took great pleasure in having about him, and sometimes invited to dinner, teazed him in return, unceasingly. They had soon discovered that he had a great fear of Ghosts, and invented[Pg 106] all manner of tales of apparitions and ghostly narratives to frighten him. In the summer time he frequently went to a public garden outside the town, but as he was timerous in the dark, he always returned before night-fall. One day, the mischievous young folks contrived by various means to delay his return longer than usual, and it was already quite dark when he set out on his way home. As the other guests still remained quietly seated, he found the road which lay between two gloomy hedge-rows fearfully lonely. Seized with a sudden terror, he unconsciously began to run. Scarcely had he commenced, than he felt a heavy load upon his back, and he beleived that it could be nothing also but a Hobgoblin that had sprung down upon him. Hearing other footsteps behind as though running after him, he thought the Devil and all his Imps were in full chase, and he now ran still faster. Reeking with perspiration and panting for breath he at length reached the city gates; when the goblin sprung down from his back, and said in a voice that he knew: “Thank you Herr Kapellmeister, for carrying me, for I was very tired!” This speech was followed by a general titter, and he whom they had so befooled, burst into an uncontrolable rage.

From Munich, we continued our journey to Stuttgard, where we took letters of introduction to the Court. I presented these to the Court-Chamberlain, and on the following day received from him the assurance that we should be permitted to play at Court. But in the meantime I had been informed that here also cards were played during the Concerts at Court, and that little attention was paid to the Music. At Brunswick I had been already sufficiently disgusted with such a degradation of the Art, that I took the liberty to declare to the Court-Chamberlain, that I and my wife could alone appear, if the King would be graciously pleased to cease card-playing during our performance. Quite horrified at so bold a request, the Court-Chamberlain made one step backward, and exclaimed: “What? You would prescribe conditions to my gracious Master? Never should I dare make such a proposal[Pg 107] to him!” “Then must I renounce the honour of playing at Court”, was my simple reply. And on this, I took my leave.

How the Court-Chamberlain betook himself to lay so unheard of a proposition before his Sovereign, and how the latter prevailed upon himself to yield to it, I never learned. But the result was, that the Court-Chamberlain sent to inform me: “His Majesty would be graciously pleased to grant my wish; but on the condition, that the musical pieces which I and my wife would play, should follow in quick succession, so that His Majesty would not be too frequently inconvenienced.”

And so it occurred. After the Court had taken their seats at the card-table, the Concert began with an Overture, which was followed by an aria. During this, the lacqueys moved to and fro with much noise, to offer refreshments, and the card-players called out: “I play, I pass” so loud, that one could hear nothing connectedly of the music and the singing. The Court-Chamberlain now came to inform me that I should hold myself ready. Upon this, he announced to the King, that the strangers would begin their performances. Presently, His Majesty rose from his chair, and with him all the company. The servants placed two rows of stools in front of the orchestra, upon which the Court seated themselves. Our play was listened to in the greatest silence, and with interest; but no one dared utter a syllable of approval, as the King had not given the lead. The interest he took in the performances was shewn only at the close of each by a gracious nod of the head, and scarcely were they over, than all hastened back to the card-tables, and the former noise began anew.

During the remainder of the Concert, I had leisure to look about me. My attention was particularly directed to the King’s card-table, in which in order to accommodate itself better to his Majesty’s obesity, a semi-circular place had been cut out, into which the King’s belly fitted closely. The great size of the latter, and the little extent of the Kingdom, gave rise as[Pg 108] is well known to the smart caricature in which the King in his Coronation-robes, with the map of his Kingdom fastened to the button of his knee breeches, is represented as uttering the words: “I cannot see over all my States!”

As soon as the King had finished his game, and moved back his stool, the Concert was broken off in the middle of an aria by Madame Graff, so that the last notes of a cadence actually stuck in her throat. The musicians accustomed to this vandalism, packed their instruments quietly in their cases; but I was deeply exasperated at such an insult to the Art.

At that time, Würtemberg groaned under a despotism such as indeed the rest of Germany had never known. To cite only a few examples of this, it suffices to say: that rain or snow, every one who entered the Palace-Court at Stuttgard was compelled to walk hat in hand from the irongates to the portal of the palace, because his Majesty’s apartments were on that side. Every civilian was furthermore obliged by the most imperative order to take off his hat before the sentry, who was not required to salute him in return. In the theatre, it was strictly forbidden by notices to that effect, to applaud with the hands before the King had commenced. But his Majesty on account of the extreme cold of the winter sat with his hands buried in a large muff, and only took them out when his Royalty was graciously pleased to feel the want of a pinch of snuff. When that was done, it little mattered what was going on upon the stage, he then clapped his hands. Upon this the Chamberlain who stood behind the King, immediately joined in, and thereby gave notice to the loyal people, that they might also give vent to their approbation. In this manner the most interesting scenes and the best pieces of music of the opera were almost always disturbed, and interrupted by a horrid noise.

As the citizens of Stuttgard had long learned to accommodate themselves to the Royal humours, they were not a little astonished at what I had stipulated for before my appearance at the Court-concert, and had actually granted to me. This[Pg 109] made me the object of public attention, and the result was, that my concert in the town was attended by an unusually numerous auditory. The Royal orchestra gave me their support in the most friendly manner, and the Director Danzi endeavoured to facilitate the whole arrangements for me in every possible way.

Danzi was a most amiable artiste, and I felt the more inclined towards him, from finding he had the same admiration for Mozart, that I was so deeply impressed with. Mozart, and his works, were the inexhaustible subjects of our conversation, and I still possess a most cherished memorial of that time, a four-handed arrangement of Mozart’s Symphony in G-Minor, composed by Danzi, and in his own handwriting.

In Stuttgard I also first made the acquaintance of the since so greatly famed Carl Maria von Weber, with whom up to the time of his death I was always on the most friendly terms. Weber was then Secretary to one of the Princes of Würtemberg and cultivated the Art as an amateur only. This however, did not hinder him from composing with great assiduity, and I still well remember hearing at his house, as a sample of Weber’s works some “Numbers” from the Opera “Der Beherrscher der Geister.” (The Ruler of the Spirits.) But these, from being always accustomed to take Mozart as the type and rule by which to measure all dramatic works, appeared to me so unimportant and amateur-like, that I had not the most distant idea Weber would ever succeed in attracting notice with any opera.

Of the Concerts which we gave besides, in Heidelberg and Frankfort on the Mayne, before our return home, I can now speak but imperfectly from memory—I therefore give a few extracts from the notices of the Musical-Journal.

First of all speaking of Heidelberg, it says: “Eisenmenger’s violin would still have been unforgotten, had not the Heidelbergers had the pleasure in the last Concert to hear Louis Spohr play in his Rode-like style of firm, sustained and skillful bow-stroke. His wife played the harp, in a way one seldom hears[Pg 110] in Germany—with a tenderness, lightness and grace, with a confidence, strength, and expression, that are quite captivating.”

To me it seems very strange, that even at this time my play was still designated as a Rode-like style, for at that period at least I thought to have wholly laid aside his manner. Perhaps it arose merely, from the circumstance, that, on account of the easier accompaniment, I had selected a Concerto of Rode’s for execution.

Respecting the Concert in Frankfort on the 28. March, the remarks were also very eulogistic. The Frankfort Journal spoke of the “wellmerited, and distinguished applause” that we met with, and reverted to a “in many respects similar Pair, who five and twenty or thirty years before made much sensation in Mannheim, and afterwards in London—to Wilhelm Kramer, the great Violinist and his wife, the splendid Harpiste”.

On my return to Gotha I was met at some miles from the town by my pupils, some of whom had remained there during my absence, and others but shortly returned, and escorted by them as in triumph to my tastefully decorated dwelling. We there found Dorette’s parents and relatives all assembled to welcome us, and also our dear child, who under her grandmother’s excellent care was in blooming health. As on our tour we had not only earned a rich harvest of applause, but had saved a sum of money which for our circumstances was considerable, we now felt on our return to our domestic hearth right happy and free from care.

As soon as I had resumed the Direction of the Court-concerts, I felt impelled to set to work at new compositions. I first wrote a Potpourri for the violin with orchestral accompaniment (Op. 23, published by André of Offenbach) which had already suggested itself to me during the journey, and for the most part in the carriage. I was very desirous to see on paper what I there thought a very artistic combination of two Themes in one and the same; but still more desirous to hear it executed by an orchestra. This Potpourri begins[Pg 111] with a lively, and for the solo, brilliant Allegro in G-Major, connected with and passing into the Theme from the “Entführung”: “Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden” in G-Minor. After this has been varied five times alternately in the Minor and Major, it is taken up in sixth Variation by the wind-instruments, and for a time carried out in free-fugued Entries. On the return into the principal key, the first horn takes up the melody of the song in the Major and carries it out completely to the end. This is then succeeded anew in a very startling manner by the introductory Allegro of the primo, blending with it as it were in the style of a Fantasia, though it previously appeared as an independant piece of Music.

With the working of this combination at the Rehearsal, I was very satisfied; but when the Potpourri was executed at the Court-Concert, I was doomed to see my ingenious combination of the two themes was noticed by a few musicians only, and was totally lost upon the rest of the hearers.

The next that I wrote, was the Concertante for two Violins (Op. 48, published by Peters in Leipsic). I was prompted to this chiefly by the artistic genius of one of my pupils one Herr Hildebrandt of Rathenow, with whom I was very fond of playing. This young man had made so much progress under my guidance in twelve months, that he promised to become one of the first violinists of Germany. Unfortunately, at a later period, by what mischance I now no longer remember, a wound which he received in his left hand became a bar to the full development of his talent, so that he did not become so known in the Musical world, as was previously to have been expected. This pupil had acquired to such a degree his instructor’s method of execution in all its shadings, that he might have been considered a true copy of him. Our play blended therefore so intimately, that, without looking at us, no one could tell by the ear which of us played the upper or which the lower key. In this manner we had practised the new Concertante, before we executed it at the Court-concert. We achieved, also, such success with it, that the[Pg 112] Dutchess requested its repetition in the next concert, and afterwards, insisted, also, as long as Hildebrandt remained in Gotha to have it put in the programme when strangers were on visit at Court.

As my pupils at that time were of much the same age as myself, and were young people of good breeding and inspired with a love of their Art; I liked to have them about me, and took great pleasure in permitting them to accompany me in my walks and little excursions in the neighbourhood. I used then to join in all their amusements, played at ball and other games with them, and taught them to swim. Yes, perhaps I was even somewhat more en camerade with them than beseemed the dignity of the Instructor with his pupils. But my authority suffered no diminution on that account; for I knew not only how to maintain a strict discipline during the hours of tuition, but also at other times, a becoming behaviour.

In this manner, I had already made a longer excursion in the spring, to Liebenstein, and up the Inselsberg, and returned from that journey so pleased, that I longed once more to make a similar excursion to the Harz, which I so loved. Quite unexpectedly, a temporary absence of the Dutchess, through which some Court-concerts were suspended, furnished the necessary leave of absence. I therefore, immediately, proposed to my pupils, a pedestrian journey to the Harz, which they welcomed with the most joyful assent. As our absence would of a necessity extend to a fortnight, the lessons could not be suspended for so long a time without great prejudice to the pupils, and I therefore determined to continue them on the journey. For this purpose I took two violins with me, with which the orchestra-servant Schramm, yet a young man, and greatly attached to me was loaded, while we carried all the other necessaries distributed in two knapsacks, each in his turn. Before our caravan could set out, I had yet to console my wife, who could not make up her mind to so long a separation, the first since our marriage, and who shed, indeed, a torrent of tears. Not until I had promised to[Pg 113] write to her every other day, could she be somewhat pacified, and it was long before she let me from her arms. To me, also, this first separation was no less extremely painful!

How far we went the first day and where we stopped the following night, I no longer remember; but I still know well, that at every rest after dinner, I gave two of my pupils regular instruction, and required of them a punctual alternate practise of the lesson in the evening, as soon as we reached our quarters for the night. In this way, on the third or fourth day, (the heat was intense,) we arrived about a league from Nordhausen, and very tired sat down to rest ourselves under the shade of an oak by the side of a large pond, when by an unlucky accident one of our knapsacks rolled down the steep bank and fell into the water—and so far from the bank, also, that we could not reach it with our walking sticks. As the water was deep, I was soon obliged as the only practised swimmer of the party, to make up my mind to jump in and fetch it out. But before I could get my clothes off, the knapsack had taken in so much water, that it began to sink. I was therefore obliged to dive at the place where it had disappeared until I succeeded in recovering it. When I brought it to the bank, and it was opened, I found its contents so saturated with water, that we were obliged to spread them on the grass in the sun to dry them. As it was to be anticipated this would be an operation of several hours, and noon was drawing near with its attendant hunger, I resolved to take our customary dinner-rest in this place, and to send to Nordhausen to procure the necessary provisions. The purchase of these fell by lot to one of the pupils, and Schramm accompanied him to carry them. Meanwhile, I gave my two lessons unter the great oak, and those pupils who were not engaged therein, bathed themselves at a more shallow part of the pond. After the lapse of two hours, our foragers returned heavily laden, and under the shadow of the dear oak, which served us with equal hospitality as a Dining- or Concert-room, a capital-dinner was soon spread and despatched[Pg 114] in the merriest humour, and with the best appetite. Then resounded in joyous harmony the tones of four male-voices, in choice four-part glees of which we carried with us a good collection, and had also well-practised them. After this, our properties which were once more dry, were packed up, and our troop set itself again in motion.

After this merry fashion we visited every remarkable spot of the lower Harz, and then climbed the “Brocken.” When we got to the top, that which occurs to nine tenths of all travellers, befel us also; we found it envelloped in mist, and waited in vain until noon, in the hope that it would clear off and enable us to enjoy the view from the summit. We endeavoured to dispel as much of our disappointment as we could by singing, playing and looking through the pages of the many tomed “Book of the Brocken”; indeed, one of the party put our Jeremiade on this misfortune into really decent rhyme, which I immediately converted into a Canon for three voices. This was diligently practised, sung both within the “Brockenhause” and outside in the mist, and then written together with our names in the Brocken-Book, in the hope that at length the weather would clear up.[8] But in vain! We were obliged to make up our minds to continue our journey.

We now took the direction of Clausthal, and when we reached the plain, we had the mortification to see the summit of the Brocken, after we had left it about one hour, lit up with the brightest sunshine!—Arrived at Clausthal; our first care was to get rid of the unseemly growth of beard that had accrued to all during our journey, so as to reassume a somewhat more civilized appearance. We sent, therefore, for a barber, and submitted ourselves one after the other to his razor. A somewhat comical incident arose out of this operation. We had all of us more or less, a sore place under the chin from holding the violin, and I who first sat down,[Pg 115] directed the barber’s attention to this, and begged him to go over it very lightly with his razor. As the barber found a similar sore place under the chin of each that followed, his countenance assumed more and more the grotesque expression exhibited in the disposition to whistle and smile at one and the same time, murmuring every now and then something, inwardly. Upon being asked the reason, he replied with a grave look: “Gentlemen, I see very clearly that you all belong to a secret Society, and you all carry the sign. You are Freemasons, probably, and I am right glad that I know at last how that is to be discovered!” As upon this we all broke out into a loud peal of laughter, he was at first very much disconcerted, but, nevertheless, not to be shaken in his belief.

After we had descended into a mine, and visited the smelting-huts and stamping-works, we continued our journey to Seesen, by way of Wildemann. There, we were joyfully welcomed by my parents and brothers and sister as well as by the musical friends of the little town. We had music now from morning to night, and even got up a Public concert, in which all exhibited our skill to the utmost in playing and singing. The proceeds of the concert, we presented to the School for the Poor, for the purchase of new schoolbooks.

Highly pleased with our journey we returned through Göttingen and Mühlhausen to Gotha. I yet think with emotion on the intense pleasure, with which my dear little wife welcomed me home, and never did I feel more acutely, the happiness of being loved!

At this period, a young Poet, a Candidate in Theology, who was awaiting his appointment in Gotha, offered to me an Opera he had written, to set to music, and I seized this opportunity with pleasure, to try my hand, and as I hoped with more success, in dramatic composition. The Name of the Opera was “Alruna, die Eulenkönigin” (the Owlet-Queen), it was founded on a popular tradition, and in matter had much resemblance to the “Donauweibchen”, (the Danube Water-Nymph) which at that time excited general admiration.[Pg 116] I immediately commenced my work with great zeal, and finished the three Acts of the Opera before the end of the year. As some of the “Numbers” which I played at the Court-concerts found great favour, I was encouraged by this to offer my work for representation at the Court-Theatre in Weimar. I went thither in person to obtain a favourable reception of it from Herr von Goethe, the Intendant of the Theatre, and Frau von Heigendorf, the prima Donna and the mistress of the Duke. To the former I handed the Libretto, to the latter the Music of the Opera. As she found some brilliant parts for herself and her favorite Stromeyer, she promised to interest herself in getting the Opera accepted, and as I knew that this depended solely upon her, I returned to Gotha with the most sanguine hopes. Yet it required many reminiscences from me, and month after month passed away, until at length the study of the Opera was commenced. As this had now gone so far that a grand orchestral rehearsal could be effected, Frau von Heigendorf invited me to direct it. I therefore proceeded to Weimar a second time, and now in company with the author.

As I had written all manner of new things after I had completed the Opera, it had somewhat faded from my recollection, and I therefore thought I should be the better able to judge of it without partiality. Accordingly I was greatly preoccupied with the impression that it would make upon me.—The Rehearsal took place in a Saloon at the house of Frau von Heigendorf. Among the assembled Auditory, besides the Intendant Herr von Goethe, and the Musical Amateurs of the Town, Wieland was also present. The Singers had well studied their parts; and as the orchestra had already had one rehearsal, the Opera was right well executed under my direction. It gave general satisfaction, and the Composer was overwhelmed with congratulations. Herr von Goethe, also spoke in praise of it. The Author did not come off so well. Goethe found all manner of defects in the Libretto, and especially required that the dialogue which was written in Iam[Pg 117]bics should first be put into simple prose, and considerably curtailed before the Opera was performed. This requisition was particularly painful to the Author, as he prided himself not a little on his metrical dialogue. He nevertheless declared to me his readiness to undertake the required alteration, but on account of other pressing work, he could not set about it immediately. This was not displeasing to me, for with the exception of a few of the “Numbers”, my Music at the rehearsal in Weimar had not satisfied me, greatly as it had pleased there, and I was again tortured with the thought, that I had no talent for Dramatic music. For this reason the Opera became more and more indifferent to me, and I was glad to see that its representation would be delayed. At length the thought of seeing it represented and thus made public was so distasteful to me, that I withdrew the parts and score. Hence with the exception of the Overture which was published as Op. 21 by André in Offenbach, nothing else of it was engraved. But on the other hand, I was unjust towards this work; for it shews, compared with the first Opera, an unmistakably great progress in dramatic style.

In the year 1808, took place the celebrated Congress of Sovereigns, on which occasion, Napoleon entertained his friend the Emperor Alexander, and the Kings and Princes of Germany his Allies. The lovers of sights and the curious of the whole country round, poured in to behold the magnificence which was there displayed. In the company of some of my pupils I also made a pedestrian excursion to Erfurt, less to see the Great Ones of the earth, than to see and admire the great ones of the French Stage, Talma, and Mars. The Emperor had sent to Paris for his tragic performers, and every evening one of the classic works of Corneille or Racine was played. I and my companions had hoped to have been permitted to see one such representation, but unfortunately, I was informed that they took place for the Sovereigns and their suite only, and that every body else was excluded from them. I now hoped, with the assistance of the musicians, to obtain places in the orchestra; but in this I also failed, for they had been[Pg 118] strictly forbidden to take any person in with them. At length it occurred to me, that I and my three pupils, by taking the places of the same number of musicians who played between the acts, might then be enabled to remain during the performance. As we were willing to pay handsomely, and the musicians knew that their substitutes would fill their places in a satisfactory manner, they gave their consent. But, now a new difficulty presented itself: three of us only could be introduced for the violins and the bass-viol; and as neither of us played any other orchestral-instrument but those, one of us of a necessity must remain excluded. The thought then struck me, to try whether I could learn sufficient of the horn, by the evening, so as to be able to undertake the part of the second hornist. I immediately prevailed upon him whose place I wished to take, to yield his horn to me; and began my studies. At first I produced the most terrific tones from it; but after about an hour, I succeeded in bringing out the natural notes of the instrument. After dinner, while my pupils went to walk, I recommenced my studies in the house of the “Stadt-Musicus”[9] and although my lips pained me very much, yet I did not rest until I could play my horn-part, perfectly, in the certainly, very easy overture and “between acts” which were to be played in the evening.

Thus prepared, I and my pupils joined the other Musicians, and as each carried his instrument under his arm, we reached our places without opposition. We found the saloon in which the theatre had been erected, already brilliantly lit up, and filled with the numerous suite of the Sovereigns. The seats for Napoleon and his guests were close behind the orchestra. Shortly after the most able of my pupils to whom I had assigned the direction of the music, and under whose leadership I placed myself as a new fledged hornist, had tuned up the orchestra; the high personages made their appearance, and the overture began. The orchestra with their faces turned towards the stage, stood in a long row, and[Pg 119] each was strictly forbidden to turn round and look with curiosity at the Sovereigns. As I had received notice of this beforehand, I had provided myself secretly with a small looking-glass, by the help of which as soon as the music was ended, I was enabled to obtain in succession a good view of those who directed the destinies of Europe. Nevertheless, I was soon so entirely engrossed with the magnificent acting of the tragic artistes, that I abandoned my looking-glass to my pupils, and directed my whole attention to the stage.—But at every succeeding “entre-acte”, the pain of my lips increased, and at the close of the performance they had become so much swollen and so blistered, that in the evening, I could scarcely eat any supper. Even the next day, on my return to Gotha, they had a very negro-like appearance, and my young wife was not a little alarmed when she saw me; but she was yet more nettled, when in a jesting tone I said: that it was from kissing to such excess the pretty Erfurt-women! When, however, I had related to her the history of my studies on the horn, she laughed heartily at my expense.

About that time, though I do not exactly remember whether it was on that journey to Erfurt, or upon a previous one, the Emperor Napoleon slept also once in the palace at Gotha, and on that account a Court-concert had been commanded the previous evening. I and my wife had the honour to play before the allpowerful man, and he addressed a few words to us. On the following evening also, we received our share of the “Gold Napoleons” which he had left as a present to the Court-orchestra.

The Duke of Gotha was at that time high in his favour, and therefrom great advantages were expected for the Duchy. But he must have lost it afterwards by some neglect; for when the Emperor passed through on a subsequent journey, a scene occurred that filled the inhabitants of Gotha with bitter rage against the tyrant. The Emperor was expected about 11 o’clock. A breakfast had therefore been prepared in the palace at Friedrichsthal, the summer-residence of the[Pg 120] Court, and the whole Court-circle was assembled in state-costume. The posthorses ready harnessed were waiting in the palace-square, to take the Emperor immediately after breakfast upon his farther journey.—At length, the first gun of the salute resounded above on the Friedenstein, from whence every time the Emperor passed through, 101 guns were fired. Shortly afterwards, his carriage drove up. The Duke, surrounded by his Court, already stood with uncovered head at the iron gates, approached the carriage with humble demeanour, and begged that his Imperial Majesty would deign to take breakfast. An abrupt non! and the order to his Mamelucks to put to the horses, was the reply. Without condescending any further word or look to the Duke, he leaned back in the carriage and left the Prince standing at the closed door in the most painful perplexity. The Duke turned pale with inward rage to see himself so insulted in the presence of his Court and People, and yet, had not the courage to return immediately to the palace. Thus passed in a dead silence, five or six fearfully long minutes, until the horses were put to. At the first forward movement they made, the Emperor’s head was once more visible, and with a cold nod, he drove off. The Duke, as though annihilated, returned to the palace, and the citizens loudly expressed their rage, that the overbearing Corsican should have so insulted their Prince.

On the 6. November, 1808, my wife presented me with a second daughter, who was named Ida, after my wife’s step-sister Madame Hildt, who held her over the font. Her confinement passed over as lightly and happily as the former one, and during the first days the health of the invalid was excellent. This, however, induced her to leave her bed too soon, whereby she caught cold, and the sad consequences were, that she was seized with a violent nervous fever. For several days her life was in imminent danger. I left her neither by day nor night, for she would receive attention from no one but me. What I suffered at the side of her sick-bed is indiscribable! Alarmed by her fits of delirium, by the grave[Pg 121] countenance of the physician, who shunned my interrogatories, and tortured with self-reproaches for not having taken more care of her, I had not a moment’s rest during Dorette’s illness. At length the more cheerful expression of the physician’s face betokened that the danger was passed, and I, who during the last days, first became really sensible of all I possessed in my wife, and of the intense love I bore her, now felt unspeakably happy. Her recovery progressed rapidly. Yet there was great weakness still remaining, from which Dorette was not wholly releived until the spring, when by the recommendation of the Doctor I hired a house in the country with garden attached, and by that means procured her the continual enjoyment of fresh air. Strengthened by this, she then gradually began her musical studies, which for almost six months she had been obliged to discontinue. In the Catalogue of the whole of my works, which I began shortly after my appointment in Gotha and continued up to the present time, besides those Compositions already named, dating from 1808, the following are specified: Two Duetts for violin (op. 9) and one for violin and viola (op. 13), Variations for the harp and two Quartetts for stringed instruments. In Quartetts, certainly the most difficult of all compositions, I had already made a trial the year before. But with them I succeeded no better than with Song-compositions. Shortly after their completion they no longer pleased me; and for that reason I should not have published them had not my Leipsic publisher, Herr Kühnel, at whose house I played them in the autumn of 1807, retained them almost by force, and shortly afterwards published them (as op. 4). The new Quartett (op. 15) also brought out by Kühnel, pleased me it is true somewhat longer; but at a later period when I had learned to produce a better style of Quartett-composition I regretted also that I had published them. The two first Quartetts I dedicated to the Duke of Gotha, but only at his personal request; for though I felt a pleasure in dedicating my works to Artistes and amateurs of music, as a token of my respect and friendship, yet my artistic pride[Pg 122] would never permit me to dedicate them to Princes for profit’s sake, though even at their express desire.

At the time when the Duke invited me to dedicate my Compositions to him, he frequently used to send for me to converse with him upon his tastes in Art. As is well known, in spite of his peculiarities, he was a man of mind, and cultivated taste, which his published Poems and his Correspondance with Jean Paul sufficiently prove. But with the affairs of Government he did not in the least trouble himself, and left them entirely to the Privy-Counsellor von Frankenberg, who, therefore, was virtually the Regent of the land. Obliged pro forma to be present at the sittings of the Privy-Council, he invariably got tired of the subjects of discussion, and endeavoured to make them as short as possible, himself frequently, saying, in derision of his own want of interest “will not the Gentlemen of the Privy-Council soon be pleased to command what I am to command?”

At that time, perhaps incited by my Compositions for the voice, he was seized with the desire to have one of his longer poems, a kind of Cantata, set to music. He did me the honour to consult me on the subject. But as the Duke probably could not prevail on himself to let me see his limited knowledge of music, he applied to his old music-master, the Concert-Director Reinhard, to carry it out. From him at a later period, in an unguarded and confiding moment, I heard how the composition of the Cantata was brought about. The Duke, read to his master seated at the piano, a passage of the text, and explained to him his ideas respecting the style in which it should be composed. When the Duke had once heard or read the characteristics of the different tones, Reinhard was then obliged to strike several of them in sequent accords, so that he might find the right one for his text. If this was cheerful, a Major-Key was chosen, if it was mournful, a Minor-Key was selected. It happened one day that the Duke took the Major too sprightly, and the Minor was too mournful, upon this he required poor Reinhard to sound[Pg 123] the Key in half Minor. When they had agreed upon this point, the melody suited to the text was next sought for. The Duke then whistled every melody that came into his head, and left his master to choose the most suitable to the character of the words. When in this manner a few lines of the poem had been disposed of, they passed on to the next. As Reinhard could not compose, or at least not arrange the instrumentation, the plan of the Cantata thus sketched out in the Duke’s leisure-hours was handed over to the “Kammer-Musicus” Backofen to complete with score. The latter, as may readily be imagined, could make but little use of the materials given to him, and was therefore obliged to recompose as it were the Cantata anew. Possessing considerable talent for composition, he accordingly put out of hand a piece of music such as could well be listened to. The work thus completed, was now written out, carefully practised under my direction, and then produced at a Court-Concert. The Duke, though he may well have been somewhat astonished that his music sounded so well, received the congratulations and praises of the Court with a satisfied mien, praised me for having so well entered into his ideas in practising it with the orchestra, and privately sent his two fellow-workmen their gratuity. In this manner all parties were satisfied.

In the winter of 1808-9, I arranged some Subscription-Concerts in the town for the benefit of the Court-Orchestra. But as these could present nothing better than was heard at the Court-Concerts, and those were much frequented by the amateurs of music of the town, for whom a large space behind the orchestra in the Concert-saloon was set apart, these Subscription concerts met with but little support. The product therefore was so small after the deduction of the expenses, that it was not considered worth while repeating the undertaking.

At one of these Concerts, Herr Hermstedt, Director of the “Harmonic-music” to Prince Sondershausen, appeared as Clarinet player, and attracted much attention by his admirable[Pg 124] performance. He had come to Gotha to request me to write a Clarinet-concerto for him, for which the Prince upon the condition that Hermstedt should be put in possession of the manuscript, offered to pay a handsome gratuity. To this proposal I gladly assented, as from the immense execution, together with the brilliancy of tone, and purity of intonation possessed by Hermstedt, I felt at full liberty to give the reins to my fancy. After, that with Hermstedt’s assistance I had made myself somewhat acquainted with the technics of the instrument, I went zealously to work, and completed it in a few weeks. Thus originated the Concerto in E-minor, published a few years afterwards by Kühnel as op. 26, with which Hermstedt achieved so much success in his artistic tours, that it may be affirmed he is chiefly indebted to that for his fame. I took it over to him myself to Sondershausen, at the end of January, and initiated him in the way to execute it. On this occasion, I appeared also as Violinist at a concert given by Hermstedt, and played for the first time, my Concerto in G-Minor (op. 28) which I had just finished a few days before, and, also, a new Pot-pourri (op. 24).

Secretary Gerber, the author of the “Musical Lexicon”, speaks of these not only in that work, under the article “Spohr” but also in a spirited notice in the Musical-Journal, a reprint of which is to be found in number 26. of the eleventh volume. The third part of this Concerto is a Spanish Rondo, the melodies of which are not mine but genuine Spanish. I heard them from a Spanish soldier who was quartered in my house, and who sang to the guitar. I noted down what pleased me, and wove it into my Rondo. In order to give this a more Spanish character, I copied the guitar-accompaniments as I had heard them from the Spaniard, into the orchestral part. At the beginning of the same winter, I had also a visit from Reichardt, Director of the orchestra at Cassel, and then first made his personal acquaintance. Reichardt told me he was going to Vienna by the command of his Court, to engage singers for a German theatre that was about to be[Pg 125] opened at Cassel. This, proved afterwards to be false; for Reichardt was at that very time no longer in the Westphalian service. I had felt at first much annoyed by a sharp criticism of Reichardt’s upon my play, on my first appearance at Berlin; but as I soon found that it contained many truths and well founded strictures, and that it had prompted me to correct the faults it pointed out in my execution, a sentiment of gratitude had long taken the place of my former resentment. I therefore welcomed my guest with great cordiality, and immediately arranged a musical party at my house in his honour, at which I let him hear my two new and just finished Violin-Quartetts.

As at that time I knew none of Reichardt’s compositions beyond a couple of successful songs, and looked upon the famous author of the “Confidential letter from Paris” and the dreaded Critic, as a great Composer, I set much value upon his opinion, and awaited it with a feeling of acute expectancy. I therefore again felt somewhat chafed when Reichardt had various objections to make, and expressed them sans gène. But it was perhaps more the self sufficient look of infallibility with which he pronounced his judgement, that wounded me; for some time after, I was again obliged to admit to myself, that Reichardt’s observations were in many respects just. There was one remark, which I frequently called to mind in my subsequent studies. For instance, in an Adagio, from the beginning to the end, I had carried out a figure after the style of Mozart, now in one Key, and then in the other, and in my delight at this scientific interweaving, had not remarked that it at last became monotonous. But although Reichardt praised the manner in which I had carried it through, he spoke unsparingly against it, and added more over, maliciously, “You could not rest until you had worried your motive to death!”

[Pg 126]


In the spring of 1809, from the unusual expenses attendant upon my wife’s confinement and subsequent illness, as well as those incurred by the necessary removal to another house outside the town, I found myself in such straightened circumstances, that I earnestly desired to see realised the promise of an increase of salary that had been made to me on my appointment. I therefore addressed a petition to the Duke, which as he never troubled himself with administrative matters, was without effect, and probably, was laid aside unread. I was therefore advised by the Intendant, Baron von Reibnitz to make a personal application to the Privy-Counsellor von Frankenberg and deliver to him my petition for the desired increase of salary. I followed this advice, and in the afternoon of a fine spring-day, walked over to the seat of the Privy-Counsellor, distant about two miles from Gotha, on the road to Erfurt. I found him in his garden, sitting under a large lime tree, playing chess with his daughter. As I had been familiar with this game from my early youth, played it often, and was passionately fond of it; after a short salutation of the players, I immediately directed my whole attention to the game as it stood. The Privy-Counsellor observing this, had a chair placed for me close to the table, and quietly played on. When I first arrived, the game looked very threatening for the daughter, and it was not long before she was checkmated by her father. I had taken particular notice of the position of the pieces, and in so doing, a move had suggested itself to me by which the checkmate could have been prevented. I represented this, and was immediately challenged by the Privy-Counsellor, who thought himself sure of the victory, to try it. The pieces were again replaced in the position they stood when I arrived, and I now took the daughter’s game. After a few well combined moves I succeeded in extricating my King from all danger, and I then played against my opponent with such success, that he was soon obliged to confess himself beaten. The Privy-Counsellor, though somewhat nettled at his defeat, was nevertheless much[Pg 127] struck with the unexpected issue of the game. He held out his hand to me in a friendly manner and said: “You are a capital Chess-player, and must often do me the pleasure of playing with me.” This I did; and as I was world-wise enough not to win too many games, I soon got in great favour with my new patron; the result was, that a rescript, for an additional two hundred thalers to my salary was soon made out.


Towards the middle of the summer, from the constant enjoyment of fresh air, and frequent walks which were extended by degrees to little excursions into the neighbourhood; Dorette had regained her former strength and health, and again devoted herself with renewed assiduity to the study of her instrument, in order to prepare herself thoroughly for our projected second artistic-tour. As I also now became more and more acquainted with the properties of the harp, with its effects, and what my wife in particular was capable of performing with it, I at that time wrote another grand Sonata for harp and violin (op. 115 published by Schuberth in Hamburg), and took great pains to introduce into it the result of my experience. I was completely successful; the part for the harp in this Sonata was easier to play, and at the same time more brilliant than in the previous ones. Dorette therefore, practised it with special predeliction and soon played this new work with the same precision as the others.

Thus once more prepared for an Artistic tour, we began to consider in which direction it would be most advantageous to go. I had learned from a traveller just returned from Russia, that my Musical fame and that of my wife had already reached there, and that in the previous winter a visit from us had been expected. As I had reason to hope, moreover, that I should receive powerful letters of recommendation from the Court of Weimar to the Imperial Court of St. Petersburgh, the journey to Russia appeared to me to hold out the most[Pg 128] advantages. But, Dorette would not consent to so distant a journey from home, as she beleived herself unable to bear so long a separation from her children. Yet, when I represented to her, that if at any time it was our intention to go to Russia, the present was the most favourable moment, in which our children under the assiduous care of their grandmother, would miss us less than at a later period, she at length, though with a bleeding heart, consented to it. As I had foreseen that the Dutchess, also, would not consent to so long an absence as would be required for a journey to Russia, I kept secret for the present the real aim of our journey, and named Breslau as its object, for which I asked and obtained a three-month’s leave. From there, I intended to apply for an extension of leave, to proceed farther.

We set out on our journey in October, 1809; played first at Weimar, and received from the Grand-Dutchess the desired introduction to her brother, the Emperor Alexander, as also to other Russian Magnates. We then gave a Concert in Leipsic, of which the Musical-Journal contains the following short notice: “Herr Concertmeister Spohr and his wife afforded us the pleasure to hear for a whole evening, several of his newest Compositions, and himself on the Violin; as, also, his wife on the Harp. Respecting this true artiste and his talented wife we have already spoken fully and decidedly, we shall here therefore be succinct. Since we last heard them, both have made a surprising progress, not alone in their mastery and ready command of all the resources of their Art, but in their skilful application of them to the best and most effective purposes:—And if the former Compositions of this Master found both here and everywhere else the most unanimous applause, his later Compositions which we have now heard, will much less fail to do so.”

Of our Concerts in Dresden, and Bautzen, having sought in vain for a notice of them, I am unable to say more than that they took place on the 1. and 7. November, as I perceive from a memorandum of the receipts on this journey,[Pg 129] which has by chance been preserved. But of the three Concerts we gave in Breslau, on the 18. November, and the 2. and 9. December there is a notice in the Musical-Journal, which speaks in great praise of our Play, though it finds some fault with the Compositions. It says: “The opinion of our musical friends of Herr Spohr as a Composer, agrees fully with that which they previously pronounced respecting him. He is in truth a Musician of high merit. He has nevertheless a peculiarity, and one which by degrees perhaps, will lead him to uniformity in style; namely, his latest compositions, so far as we are acquainted with them are one and all of a melancholy character. Even the Pot-Pourri which he played at the close of the Concert, partook somewhat of it.”

This remark upon the melancholy character of my Compositions, which is here made for the first time, and so often repeated at a later period in criticisms upon my works, as to become regularly stereotyped, has always been a riddle for me; for, to me, my Compositions appear for the most part quite as cheerful as those of any other Composer. Those in particular which I then played in Breslau, with the exception of two subjects, were all of so lively a character, that I am still unable to understand the above remark. The two first Allegro’s alone of the Concertante in H- and G-Minor are serious, the former perhaps even somewhat mournful, but the other subjects are all of them, lively. The same may be said from beginning to end of the Concertante for two violins in A-Major, which I played with Herr Luge, and more than that, the third Thesis is even saucily playful. Neither does the Composition for the harp, nor the Overture to “Alruna” bear any trace of melancholy; how then does the Reviewer come by his remark?—Nevertheless, as something similar has been maintained respecting my Compositions even up to the present time, so that people who have not known me personally, have considered me a misanthrope, or an hypochondriac, though I am happy to say I am always of a cheerful tone of mind; there must be something in it,[Pg 130] and I think it is, that people have taken the prevailing dreaminess and sentimental character of my Compositions, and my predeliction for the Minor Keys, as outbursts of melancholy. If it is so, I am content to bear with it, though at first it always annoyed me. Of the Overture to “Alruna”, the same Breslauer critic says: “It is not free from reminiscences.” He might have said right out, it is an exact imitation of the Overture to the “Zauberflöte”; for that was the object I had in view. In my admiration of Mozart, and the feeling of wonder with which I regarded that Overture, an imitation of it seemed to me something very natural and praiseworthy, and at the time when I sought to develope my talent for Composition I had made many similar imitations of Mozart’s master pieces, and among others that of the aria full of love-complaints in Alruna, imitated from the beautiful aria of Pamina: “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden.” Although shortly after that time, I became sensible that a Composer should endeavour to be original both in the form of his musical pieces, and in the development of his musical ideas, yet I retained even up to a later period, a predeliction for that imitation of the Overture to the “Zauberflöte”, and still consider it as one of my best and most effective Instrumental-compositions. Neither is it so slavish an imitation as to contain nothing of my own invention; for instance, the striking modulations in the introductory Adagio, and the second Fugue-theme with which the second half of the Allegro begins, and, which then is so happily connected with the chief theme. The instrumentation, also, though quite in the Mozart style has nevertheless, some original characteristics.

In Breslau we met an old acquaintance from Gotha, Baron von Reibnitz, who hitherto had been Intendant of the Orchestra, but had resigned, and retired to his estate in Silesia. He was then in town for the winter months, and acquainted with all in Breslau who were fond of music, and who played, he introduced me into the Musical Circles there, and was of great assistance to me in making arrangements[Pg 131] for my concerts. In Breslau, from olden time one of the most musical Towns of Germany, there was at that moment such a succession of Concerts, that one took place almost every day in the week. As the Theatre, was open also every evening, it was therefore very difficult to fix upon a day favourable for an Extra-Concert, and almost more difficult to get together a good and numerous orchestra. The kindness of Schnabel the Leader of the Cathedral-Choir enabled me nevertheless to overcome this difficulty, for he not only procured for me a good Orchestra for each of my three Concerts, but each time undertook to conduct it. The experienced Director evinced a particular interest in my compositions, which he soon transferred to the Composer, who returned it in the most hearty manner. We became much attached to each other, and until Schnabel’s early death remained on the most intimate terms of friendship.

Shortly after my arrival in Breslau, just as I was about to write to Gotha for an extension of my leave to proceed to Russia, I received through Baron von Reibnitz a letter from the Court-Chamberlain Count Salisch in Gotha, to the following effect:

The Dutchess has with great regret received the information from Weimar, that I had the intention of proceeding to Russia and did not contemplate returning before the expiration of the year. As she would be extremely unwilling to miss my services and those of my wife at the Court-Concerts for so long a period, she therefore offered, if I would give up the journey to Russia, and return speedily to Gotha, to indemnify my wife, by procuring for her the appointment of Solo-player at the Court-Concerts, and Teacher of Music to the Princess.[10]—Scarcely had I communicated to my wife the contents of this letter, than I saw how the hope of sooner rebeholding her children brought tears of joy into her eyes.[Pg 132] This moved me so deeply, that I at once resolved to give up the journey. I therefore immediately put myself in communication with Count Salisch, the new Intendant of the Gotha Orchestra, and when he had definitively arranged the appointment of my wife with a suitable salary to commence from the 1. January 1810, I agreed on my side to return to Gotha as soon as possible. We therefore hastened our departure from Breslau to Berlin, and proceeded through Liegnitz to Glogau, where we gave two Concerts on the 13. and 18. December, that had been previously arranged for by our musical friends there, and which were very numerously attended.

Of the Concert at Glogau, I still remember a very ludicrous incident. It took place in a building which was perhaps unique of its kind; for on the basement were the Butcher’s shambles, on the first floor the Concert-Saloon, and above that the Theatre of the town. As the Saloon was very low and much overcrowded, it soon became insufferably hot. The public, therefore, soon demanded that a trap-door in the ceiling of the Saloon should be opened, which could be effected from the Pit of the Theatre overhead. Now, however, the key of the Theatre was nowhere to be found, the latter not having been used during the whole of the winter; a long pole was therefore brought with which to push up the door. At first, it would not move; but upon several men combining their strength, it sprung suddenly, open, and at the same moment let down upon the ladies sitting underneath such a shower of dust, cherry-stones, apple-peel and the like, the accumulation of years, in the pit, that not only were they completely covered, but the whole orchestra and audience envelloped in such a cloud of dust, that at first nobody could make out what it really was. When it had cleared off again, the ladies endeavoured as well as they could to free their necks and dresses from the dirt; the Musicians cleaned their instruments, and the Concert was continued.

We found Berlin very full of strangers, and in a state of festive excitement in expectation of the return of the Court,[Pg 133] which ever since the unfortunate battle of Jena had continued to reside in Königsberg. The moment was favourable for giving Concerts, and even before the arrival of the Court we had a numerous audience at our first. Of our performances, the Editor of the Musical Journal says: “Yesterday, the 4. January, the Director of Concerts in Gotha, Herr Spohr, gave a Concert at the Theatre. Of his own Compositions he played a Violin-Concerto in G-Minor, with a Spanish Rondo, a Pot-Pourri for the Violin, and with his wife an accomplished and most expressive player, a Sonata for pedal-Harp and Violin, also of his composition. The Musical Journal has already frequently spoken in praise of this talented Virtuoso, and recently also adverted to this composition. In the present instance, also, both his Compositions and his Play were highly commended. Particularly admired were the double chords, the distances, and the shakes which Herr Spohr executed with the greatest skill, and by the impassioned expression of his play, especially in the Adagio, he won every heart. We hope, to hear this estimable Artiste-Couple again next week.”

On the 10. took place the Public Entry of the returning Court. It was indeed an affecting scene, when the King seated by the side of his Wife in an open carriage, drove slowly through the crowded streets, greeted by the acclamations of thousands and by the waving of handkerchiefs from every window. The Queen seemed deeply affected; for tear after tear was seen to steal from her beautiful eyes. In the evening the City was splendidly illuminated.

On the following day, we gave our second Concert. Early in the morning we were beseiged with questions, whether the Court would be there. We could as yet afford no information on the subject; but when about noon, the Queen sent for tickets, the news of it spread through the City like wildfire, and the auditory now came in such crowds that the spacious Saloon could scarcely hold them. I played, as I see by the notice in the Musical Journal, my third Concerto in C-Major; and with my pupil Hildebrandt who was on a visit to a re[Pg 134]lation in Berlin, my Concertante in A-Major. The precision of our Duo-playing was the same as usual, and here, as in Gotha gained for us the most lively applause. But the critic, nevertheless does not appear to have been wholly of the same opinion, since he expresses himself as follows: “Both Players in the Concertante played not only together, but as one; and though this merits on the one hand praise and even elicits astonishment, yet on the other, it is somewhat uniform and monotonous; one missed and regretfully, that charm which derives from the union of things different in themselves, when through that very unison the difference is still observable—instead of being a union of accord, it was one and the same thing.”—This sounds very sensible, and yet has very little sense in it! The two Solo-voices of this Concertante are written in such a manner that their full effect is only to be attained by the closest union of play. But to achieve that in the highest degree, is possible only when both players are of the same school and have the same style of execution. In fact, it is even necessary that their Instruments should possess a like power, and as much as possible the same qualities of tone. These were all combined in my Pupil and me; hence the great effect of our Duo-playing. At a subsequent period in my travels both in Germany and abroad, I have played that Concertante with several of the most celebrated Violinists of the day, who as Virtuosi stood higher than my pupil Hildebrandt, but with them I never could attain the same effect as in my play with him, their school and mode of execution being too dissimilar from mine.

It was at first my intention to return to Gotha direct from Berlin, in order to keep my promise. But being informed by a musical friend in Hamburgh that it was then a most favourable time of the year to give Concerts, I wrote to Gotha requesting a few weeks more extension of leave, to visit Hamburgh before my return. It was granted to me.

Hamburgh was at that time in the possession of the French, who had laid a severe interdict upon all commerce[Pg 135] with England. The then even very rich merchants had therefore little to do, and the more leisure to occupy themselves with Music and Concerts. As we were now preceeded by a good artistic reputation, our first Concert, which we gave on the 8. February in the Apollo-Saloon was exceedingly well attended, and brought in at the high admission-price of one Hamburgh Species, nearly 400 thalers. Our play in that Concert having made a great sensation, the receipts increased at the second, on 21. February, to the large sum of 1015 Thalers. Between those two Concerts we gave one also at Lubeck on the 14. which we had been invited to do by the Musical amateurs of that place, and, lastly, played also at Altona in the Museum, for a moderate remuneration.

Highly gratified with the business we had done, we were now on the point of leaving; when the Secretary to the French Governor called upon us, and invited us in his name to give a third Concert, as he and his Circle had missed the opportunity of hearing us. Under the apprehension that a third would not be well attended, as I hesitated in my reply, the gentleman added, that he was charged to take two hundred tickets for the Governor and his friends. All hesitation on my part was now dismissed, and on the 3. March we gave a third Concert, which again brought a receipt of 510 thalers.

At that time, in Hamburgh, I first became personally acquaintained with Andreas Romberg and the Director of Music Schwenke. Both those celebrated Artistes received me in the most friendly manner, and rendered me every possible assistance in my concerts. Romberg took care to provide a good Orchestra and directed it himself, and Schwenke, the dreaded critic, undertook to announce the Concerts in the newspapers. As his opinion was considered the highest authority, the favourable manner in which he introduced the Artiste-Pair to the notice of the Public, and afterwards pronounced upon our performance, and upon my compositions, contributed not a little to the great success we met with in Hamburgh. Both those Artistes lived amid an agreable family circle and[Pg 136] were much pleased when I and my wife looked in upon them at tea-time. We then chatted on nothing but Music, and many were the entertaining and instructive discussions that arose. Romberg took great pleasure in reverting to his former residence in Paris, and related many piquante incidents of the musical celebrities there. Schwenke amused us highly with his witty but biting criticism, which scarcely spared any one. I might therefore well be proud that my Compositions and Play were favourably spoken of by him. The specialities touched upon by Schwenke in these discussions were very instructive for me, and I was therefore always delighted when I met him at these Music-Parties. At this time, Quartetts were much played in Hamburgh, and Romberg had studied his Quartett admirably, in which the execution of the Violincellist Prell formed a most attractive feature. It was therefore a pleasure to join them. Romberg only played particular Quartetts, and though no great Virtuoso on his instrument, executed them with skill and taste. But he only grew right warm with the subject, when he could smoke his pipe at his ease while Quartett-playing[11]. I played his favorites among the Quartetts of Mozart and Beethoven and in this instance, also, excited much sensation by my truthful rendering of the distinctive characters of each. Schwenke expressed himself thereon in the most eloquent terms. At his desire, also, I was obliged to play two of my own Quartetts. I did it unwillingly, as they no longer came up to the standard I now prescribed to myself in that kind of composition. This I expressed also without reserve; but they pleased nevertheless, and found grace even from Schwenke’s sharp criticism. Romberg was of a different opinion. He said to me with ingenuous openheartedness: “Your Quartetts will not do yet; they are far behind your Orchestral pieces!” Much as I agreed with him, yet it wounded me to hear another express that opinion. When therefore, a few[Pg 137] years afterwards I wrote some Quartetts in Vienna, which seemed to me more worthy of my other Compositions, I dedicated them to Romberg, in order to shew him that I could now write Quartetts, “which would do.”

At one of the Musical Parties where I and my wife were present, a comical misunderstanding arose which excited much laughter.

A rich Jew banker, who had heard my Quartett-playing much praised, was desirous to give his Circle a treat, and so he invited me to his house. Although, I knew that I should meet an auditory there but little able to appreciate such high class Music, I could not well refuse, as the wealthy man had taken forty tickets for each of my concerts. I therefore accepted the invitation, but on the condition that the best Artistes of Hamburgh should be invited to accompany me. This was promised, and upon my entering the brillant company I not only found Romberg was present, but saw another distinguished violinist. Just as the Quartett-playing was about to begin a fourth Violinist made his appearance with his instrument, and we now saw with astonishment that the master of the house had invited Violinists only. As a good Accountant, he knew that to play a Quartett, four persons were necessary, but not that a Violist and Violincellist should be among them. To extricate him from his perplexity, he was advised to send quickly for Herr Prell at the Theatre. But as the performances were already over there, in spite of every endeavour, neither he nor any other Violincellist could be found, and the company would have been obliged to separate without any music, had not I and my wife played one of our sonatas. If the musical knowledge of this Macenas of Art was but little, his delicacy was still less. For when I took leave of him that evening, he went to his writing table and taking out 40 Species, said as he held them out to me: “I hear, you are going to give a third Concert; send me forty more tickets; I have still, it is true, almost all the others, but will take new ones, nevertheless.” Indignant at the meanness of the rich Jew, I declined to take his money, and said:[Pg 138] “The former tickets, certainly, do not admit to the next Concert; but yours shall. You will not therefore require any new ones.” And so I left him standing embarrassed and ashamed before his company, and turned my back upon him. On the day of the Concert, nevertheless, one of the servants of the Hebrew Cresus came for the forty tickets.

Before I left Hamburgh, another offer was made to me that gave me much pleasure. The celebrated Theatrical-Manager, Actor, and Play-writer Schröder, who for nearly ten years had lived in retirement, and had then let his Theatre to other speculators, was suddenly seized with the desire to resume the management after the expiration of their lease. The Play-going public of Hamburgh were rejoiced at this, for they looked forward to see their Stage reassume the distinguished rank to which it had formerly attained under Schröder’s direction. The new management was to commence with the year 1811, and open at first with several new Plays and Operas. Schröder himself had already written a number of Plays and Comedies, for the occasion, and had procured the librettos of four Operas, for which the music was now to be composed. Three of these were already in the hands of Winter of Munich, of Andreas Romberg and Clasing the teacher of music in Hamburgh; but the fourth “Der Zweikampf mit der Geliebten” of Schink was offered to me for composition. The negotiator in this matter, was a former acquaintance of mine, Schmidt, the actor, previously on the Magdeburgh but now on the Hamburgh stage.

Little satisfied as I had hitherto been with my Dramatic labours, the desire to make another trial was by no means diminished. I therefore accepted the offer without much preliminary enquiry about the conditions, and without submitting the libretto destined for me to any proof. The conditions were nevertheless very fair. A written agreement was drawn up in which these were stipulated and signed by both parties. I undertook to deliver my composition in the spring of 1811,[Pg 139] and to go to Hamburgh in the course of the summer, to direct the three first representations of the opera.

With the prospect of a pleasant task before me, I now gladly returned to the quiet of Gotha. But I was somewhat anxious lest the Dutchess might have felt offense at our protracted absence, and I was the more confirmed in that fear when upon paying our visit of return, to the Dutchess, we were not received. We saw her therefore for the first time again at the Court-Concert. As I well knew that the surest way to make our peace with her, was to appear in this at once, I played one of my Sonatas with my wife, and afterwards the Dutchess’s favorite Variations of Rode in G-Major. This had the desired effect; for at the end of the Concert, the Dutchess advanced towards us, greeted us in the most friendly manner, and would not permit us to finish our apologies. With our mind at rest, we could now fully enjoy the happiness of being once more united to our children.

As soon as we again felt at home, I longed to commence the composition of the Opera I had brought with me. I now first saw, upon a nearer examination of the libretto, that I had not drawn a very great prize. The subject though in itself not uninteresting, had been worked out in a manner that little suited me. I felt the necessity for some alterations, and therefore applied first to Herr Schröder for permission to make them. This was readily conceded, and with the assistance of a young Poet in Gotha, I altered what did not please me, but saw later on its representation, that I ought also to have erased many other things. I was then, however, still too little experienced in Dramatic-writing.

Scarcely had I begun the Composition of the first acts of the Opera, than I was called away from it by another task. In the spring, Bischoff, the Leader of the choir at Frankenhausen, came to Gotha, and offered me the Direction of a Musical Festival, which he purposed to give in the church of his town, in the course of the summer. He had already secured the assistance of the most celebrated Singers, as well[Pg 140] as of the most distinguished members of the Court-Orchestras of the neighbouring Thuringian Capitals, and therefore had no doubt of the most brilliant success. As the junior Director of these Court-Orchestras, I felt not a little flattered at having the Leadership offered to me, and accepted it with pleasure, although I had never yet directed so large an Orchestra and Chorus company as would be there assembled. I was now obliged to lay aside for some time the work I had begun, for Hermstedt urgently besought me to write another new Clarinet-Concerto for him, to play at the Festival. Although sorry to be disturbed in my studies, I allowed myself to be persuaded, and finished it in sufficient time for Hermstedt to practise it well under my direction. This first Musical Festival at Frankenhausen, which at that time attracted great attention in the Musical World, and gave rise both on the Elbe, the Rhine, in North-Germany and Switzerland, to the institution of similar Musical Festivals, found in Herr Gerber, the author of the Musical-Lexicon, so eloquent a Commentator, that I think I cannot do better than quote in part here his notice, in the 12. Annual-Volume Nr. 47 of the Musical Journal:

“On the 20. and 21. of June, a Musical-Festival was celebrated in Frankenhausen, a Town in the Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt Circle, four leagues from Sondershausen; at which Haydn’sCreation” was performed, and a Grand Concert; a Festival as remarkable for the successful manner in which the numerous difficulties attending the arrangement of the whole had been overcome, as for the high degree of excellence exhibited in the presence of thousands, who had gathered to hear it from a distance of twenty leagues round. When it is considered that we are here speaking of a country town in Thuringia, in which the Musical-personel consisted alone of the “Stadt-Musicus” and his assistants, with the vocalists of the Choir, the possibility of accomplishing such an undertaking must excite the greatest surprise....

“The Precentor Herr Bischoff of Frankenhausen, a young,[Pg 141] active man, and an enthusiast in his love for Music, who already in 1804, with the assistance of his neighbours and a few members of the Ducal Orchestra of Gotha, under the leadership of Concert-Director Fischer of Erfurt, and Ernst of Gotha, performed “The Creation” in the principal church of that place with about eighty Singers and Instrumentalists to the great satisfaction of the hearers; felt thereby encouraged to reproduce once more that great master-piece, according to the idea of its great Composer with two hundred Singers and Instrumentalists. His purpose was long hindered by the passage to and fro of foreign troops. At length in the present apparent calm in Germany, he undertook to carry it out. With that view he had some time previously visited Weimar, Rudolstadt, Gotha and Erfurt; to several towns he sent written invitations, and as these were everywhere favourably received, early on the 19. June, 101 Singers and 106 Instrumentalists, for the most part of Thuringia, had assembled for the rehearsal, and among these, twenty Artistes from Gotha with their celebrated Director, Concert-Master Spohr.

“The Assistants were partly graduated Musicians, and Members of Orchestra, partly Dilletanti and Virtuosi of first rank, each with his own instrument, and most of them already familiar with the “Creation”....

“Of this assemblage, the following Orchestra was formed: Director, Concert-Master Spohr; Soprano-Solo, Madame Scheidler from Gotha; Tenor-Solo, “Kammer-Singer” Methfessel from Rudolstadt; Bass-Solo, “Kammer-Singer” Strohmeyer of Weimar; Organ, Director Fischer and Professor Scheibner, both of Erfurt; Pianiste, Director Krille from Stollberg; Director of the Chorus, Precentor Bischoff of Frankenhausen; Chorists, Soprani 28, Alti 20, Tenori 20, Bassi 30.”

Here follow the names of all the Musicians, and a description of the arrangement of the Orchestra. The notice then continues:

“This appropriate and excellent arrangement, by which each had sufficient room, and the Director constantly in view,[Pg 142] contributed without doubt not a little after one rehearsal only to the successful execution of so great a work of art, new to many, and exceedingly difficult, as was in particular produced on the second day:

“1) A grand new Overture for full Orchestra (with bassoons also) by Spohr. 2) A grand Italian Scena for Bass by Righini, sung by Strohmeyer. 3) A grand new Clarinet Concerto, written expressly for this Festival by Spohr, and played by Director Hermstedt. After which 4) Concert-Master Fischer played upon the full Organ an artistic Introduction to the last Chorus from Haydn’s “Seasons”. This was followed 5) by a Double-Concert for two Violins (also of Spohr’s original-Composition) played by himself and Matthäi. 6) A grand Rondo from a Concerto in D-Major by Bernard Romberg, artistically played by Dotzauer, and lastly, Beethoven’s C-Major Symphony....

“Herr Spohr’s leading with a roll of paper, without the least noise, and without the slightest contortion of countenance, might be called a graceful Leading if that word were sufficient to express the precision and influence impressed by his movements upon the whole mass, strange both to him and to itself. To this happy talent in Herr Spohr I ascribe in great part the excellence and precision—the imposing power, as well as the soft blending of this numerous Orchestra with the voices of the Singers in the execution of “The Creation.”

“The full toned yet flexible voice of Madame Scheidler, so well adapted to a large church, the expressive execution of the Art-experienced Herr Methfessel, the magnificent bass-voice of Herr Strohmeyer, indisputably the finest I ever heard, reaching from Contra D to G on the second line, .... these three Solo-Singers, in unison with so many distinguished Virtuosi leading every Voice, where each sang or played voluntarily and with pleasure, justify me in affirming that this execution of “The Creation” was the most powerful, most expressive and in a word the most successful that I had ever heard.....

“The Overture with which the Concert began on the[Pg 143] following day, belongs properly considered to the Master-pieces in modulation. Almost with every new bar, one Inganno succeeds the other, so that it may be looked upon as a connected series of studies in modulation. Probably, this restlessness, this vacillation, has reference to the character of the “Alruna” for which drama this was written. Great, however as the effect of this Overture may certainly be in a Theatre, yet as Concert-Music it did not appear to make the impression that might have been expected from its execution by so good and numerous an orchestra. This result can be explained in no other way than, in as much as continuously disappointed hopes depress the spirits and make the mind uneasy, so a music which to the end disappoints the expectations of the ear, never satisfies. A profusion of crooked and sometimes rough passages, leading to no object, to no repose, and to no further enjoyment, in which the Composer merely keeps the mind of the hearer in suspense become at length wearisome. The music of our forefathers 200 years ago, consisted of just such a profusion of crooked passages, without resting place—of numberless modulations and sustained terminals. But our worthy ancestors were as yet wanting in the flowers wherewith to embellish and make a little resting place interesting, that is: they were yet wanting in figures of Melody to entertain their hearers agreably in one Tone. But how easy would this have been to the admirable Spohr, who has so many of the beautiful flowers! The so called contrast in great Musical works is by no means to be despised; and least of all, the more it is grounded upon human perception and feeling.

“Of the effect of Herr Strohmeyer’s execution of the grand Scena of Righini, it is here unnecessary to say any thing further, since his splendid delivery has had full justice done to it above. Righini’s charming Song, and admirable instrumentation are sufficiently known. The Scena kindled the enthusiasm of the whole audience.

Spohr’s Clarinet-Concerto in E-Minor, played by Hermstedt, is indisputably one of the most perfect Artistic Works of the[Pg 144] kind. A grand and brilliant handling of the concerted instruments, combined with a most original accompaniment for the Orchestra, in which as it were each instrument even the kettle-drum, is obligato, and which for that reason requires a more than usually practised and attentive Orchestra, entitles it to be so considered. The third, Polonaise-like theme, is particularly remarkable, in which one knows not whether to admire most the brilliancy of the artistic Soli’s or the admirably elaborated Tutti’s—in the latter of which, the wind instruments seem actually to engage each other in a Thematic struggle. This artistic work is moreover conspicuous for the cheerful spirit that pervades it throughout. The admirable execution of this Concerto did great honour to the Composer, the Player and the whole Orchestra; and set thousands of hands among the audience in lively and continuous motion.

“Hereupon, Concert-Master Fischer surprised the Orchestra as well as the audience not a little, by falling in with the full Organ, in order to introduce the now ensuing chorus of the Finale, in C-Major. This novel kind of Music, of which nothing had been heard at the rehearsal, its artistic connecting of the Voices, its harmonious turns and masterly modulations made every member of the Orchestra doubly attentive. For some minutes he may have entertained the audience in this manner, when, he dwellt upon the dominant, and to keep the expectation yet more alive for the entry of the Chorus, by means of a sort of Organ-Point, formed a close at this interval. This was no sooner observed by Herr Spohr, than he lifted his roll of paper, and scarcely had the last organ-tone ceased, when the whole Orchestra fell in with the first single chord C of the Chorus; which C, the trumpets had then to sustain alone to the end of the bar. This was executed with the greatest punctuality. One of the trumpeters, only, preoccupied with the Organ play, had forgotten to change his mouth piece and so blew on in E-Minor. In an instant Herr Spohr made a motion, and nothing more of the second bar was heard from the Orchestra. Upon this Herr Fischer instantly fell in[Pg 145] again with the Organ, continued his Prelude, and this time closed in form with the dominant C-Major—just as if that occurrence had been intentionally introduced.

“As no pause whatever in the music took place, so that, except by the Orchestra, it would have been difficult for any one to have remarked this oversight, it might have been wholly concealed, were it not to be feared, that experienced Musicians might laugh at my here repeated assurances of nothing but faultless and successful performances by an Orchestra collected from twenty leagues round, after one rehearsal only, in the same manner as our present newspaper political reports are frequently ridiculed.

“After a pause of about a quarter of an hour, Herr Spohr resumed his Violin, Herr Matthäi drew nearer to him, and now those two admirable Artistes, by their perfect execution of a double Concerto of Herr Spohr afforded us the most lively enjoyment of alternating admiration, astonishment and pleasure. They seemed frequently in open feud for superiority in artistic execution, then became as it were reconciled and poured forth together the most harmonious roulades upon the listeners. The precision, and the rapidity with which they took up and combined their respective tones, was worthy of admiration. The quite original Adagio of this masterly work which now followed, commenced with a Trio for two Violincellos, impressively performed by Herren Preissing and Müller, and for a Contra-Bass, by Herr Wach of Leipsic. When these three had ended their soft melodious play, a Quadro in long drawn and tied chords, as though from a Harmonica, but somewhat deeper, was heard. It had a thrilling, and sweet effect. Everybody looked round to the Bassi and Violi, from which this heavenly harmony seemed to have in part proceeded, but every arm was still, and the bows of Herren Spohr and Matthäi moved alone. It was they alone, also, who had played that Quadro—and with a purity, that upon the taking up of the Con-sonants after releasing the ties, the ear was frequently moved with a singularly deep felt charm. After a[Pg 146] second similar Violincello-trio, the Quadro of the two Concerto-voices recommenced, and proceeded to the close. The last Thesis accorded fully with the science and beauty of the first.

“Upon this, Herr Dotzauer advanced to the front music-desk, and played, owing probably to the shortness of the remaining time, a Rondo, but a Rondo of masterly elaboration and very difficult, from a Violincello-Concerto in D-Major by Bernard Romberg, with an execution, roundness and force in the sustained passages, and with a lightness, purity, expression, and silvery tone in the melodic parts of the higher octaves, that in his performance of this Rondo alone, he displayed in the most admirable manner his great mastery of his instrument.

Beethoven’s Symphony in C-Major; indisputably his most pleasing and popular one, formed the conclusion. It could not have been executed with more grace, fire and precision. The Chorus of wind instruments in the Trio of the Minuett afforded particular enjoyment. One imagined to hear the tones of an exceedingly pure harmonica. A general and long continued applause evinced the thanks and satisfaction of the audience with the choice of the masterly compositions performed, and with the manner in which they had been executed by the assembled artists.

“Though we commenced by adverting to the difficulties which had been surmounted by the gentleman who carried out this undertaking, both in the arrangements for the mental and bodily recreation of his numerous guests, we feel it a duty to add yet something in respect to the latter, a by no means easy thing to effect in so small a town.

“The hundred Chorists were distributed among the different Inns, where they found both bed and board. The whole of the Virtuosi, Singers and Dilettanti were on the other hand received into respectable private houses. But in order to render the stay of the kind lovers of Music who had met together from such distant places, as agreable to[Pg 147] them as possible, Herr Bischoff had made a sacrifice of the flower garden immediately behind his house, and converted it into a Dining-room. The Saloon erected for this purpose was decorated with green branches the pleasing freshness of whose verdure seemed a friendly welcome to the company.

“In this Saloon, the tables were laid out, and the repasts served. It was a pleasure to behold so many worthy Artists and Lovers of Art assembled here for one and the same purpose, proceeding thence to their labour of Love, and returning therefrom to meet here anew for cheerful enjoyment, and to pay unanimous and hearty tribute to the great father Haydn, the excellent Spohr and many other first rate Artists in brimming glasses. The hilarity of the supper table was generally heightened by lively and well sung songs. Fine voices joined, and sang Quartetts and Canons; Herr Methfessel taking his guitar would entertain the company with pleasing Ballads, and touching Romances of his own Composition; by way of change, he then sang a Comic Song, or two, and exhibited his liveliness of fancy, his richness of invention, wit, and humour of expression, as well as his intimate knowledge of tone and harmony. Herr Hachmeister, the Assessor of mines from Clausthal taking then the guitar from him in turn, charmed the company with National Songs in the Thuringian dialect, replete with such wit and humour as compelled the hearer despite himself, to laugh at the cares of life.”

I and my wife, made many agreable acquaintances among the artistes and friends of Art then assembled in Frankenhausen, among others, that of Amtsrath Lüder of Catlenburg, who up to the present time has remained one of my most intimated friends. Lüder then resided in the neighbourhood of Bremen and was upon a journey of business to Berlin. On arriving at the foot of the Hartz mountains, his postillion informed him of the approaching Musical Festival in Frankenhausen and pictured to him in so attractive a shape the Musical treat that was to be expected there, that Lüder immediately made him diverge from the road, and take the direc[Pg 148]tion of Frankenhausen. Arrived there, his first care was to enquire for me, to ask permission to be present at all the rehearsals. This was not only very readily granted, but I also invited my new acquaintance whose enthusiasm for Art greatly pleased me, to join our meetings under the tent at dinner and supper. Here in the hours intervening between the rehearsals and the performances, amid artistic enjoyments seasoned with lively sallies of wit and good humour, a social intercourse sprang up so delightful, that all who shared in it will assuredly have looked back upon it with the greatest satisfaction. A small circle of similarly minded enthusiasts for Art had especially gathered round me, and we soon became so mutually attached, that after the close of the Festival it became difficult to separate, and an excursion together to the Kyffhäuser was determined upon. On this mountain-excursion which was favoured by the most beautiful weather, it was the Singer Methfessel from Rudolstadt, who more particularly kept the company in the merriest mood by his inexhaustible humour. I still remember with great pleasure an improvised Capucin-sermon which he preached from the chancel of a ruined cloister, in which he interwove in a half serious, half comical manner the chief incidents of the Musical-festival. From the summit of the Kyffhäuser, he sang also the praise of the Emperor Barbarossa, and urged him to a speedy resurrection for the final enfranchisement of Germany.[12]

[Pg 149]

Arrived again at the foot of the mountain, the new friends were reluctantly obliged to part, and each returned to his home highly gratified.

I immediately resumed the composition of my Opera, and finished it in the course of the winter of 1810-1811. Besides this, in my catalogue appears the following Works at this period: A Violin-concerto afterwards published by Peters, a Sonata for Harp and Violin (Op. 114, by Schuberth) and an Italian aria, alla Polacca, with Violin Obligato, which was never engraved. I wrote the latter at the request of Prince Frederick von Gotha, brother of the Duke, who gifted with a pleasing tenor voice, frequently sang in the Court-concerts, and much wished to have an Air with Violin accompaniment of my composition. It was frequently sung, particularly when visitors were at court.

The Prince was an amiable well meaning man, who interested himself in Music much more than his brother, and who, with the Dutchess, kept alive the interest for the Court-concerts. Unfortunately he was subject to an incurable complaint, epilepsy, with which he was seized every fourteen days, (in later years, still more frequently) which kept him down from 12 to 15 hours at a time. He was then deprived of the use of all his limbs, and the organs of speech and the muscles of his face were the only parts that remained unaffected. During these dreadful attacks he would lie in bed as motionless as a corpse; but was always pleased when any one visited him, and entertained him with conversation. From the continual recurrence of these attacks he had become so accustomed to his condition, that he could be quite cheerful during their duration. His physicians considered that a milder climate[Pg 150] would be most likely to cure him, and for that reason sent him to Italy. I met him in Rome during my tour in Italy in 1816; and mention will therefore be frequently made of him at that part of my narrative.

In the spring of 1811, the Precentor Bischoff again paid me a visit, and invited me to conduct a second grand Musical Festival which he intended giving in Frankenhausen. He also begged me to play a Violin-Concerto on the second day of the Concert, and to write a grand Symphony for the opening. Although I had not yet attempted that kind of Musical composition, I acceded with pleasure to his request.

In this manner the opportunity presented itself for another interesting task, and I immediately set about it with spirit. Although hitherto it had been usual with me to lose after a time all taste for my first essays in a new style of Composition, this Symphony was an exception to the rule, for it has pleased me even in after years. As I had previously practised it very carefully with my Orchestra, which was composed of the élite of the Frankenhausen Orchestra, although we could have but one rehearsal of it, it was nevertheless executed in an admirable manner at the Festival, and met, particularly from those who took part in it, with an enthusiastic reception. I felt highly gratified at this, more even than at the applause I gained as Solo-player. In Leipsic also, where the Symphony was executed in the Drapers’-House-Concert, it met with great approbation, as is shewn in a notice of the Musical Journal, which says: “Spohr’s new and yet unpublished Symphony excited the interest and admiration of all real lovers of music. Both in invention and elaboration, we consider it not only to surpass all that we know of the Orchestral-Music of this Master, but confess also, that for many years we have scarcely heard a new work of this kind, which possesses so much novelty and originality, without singularity and affection; so much richness and science, without artifice and bombast. We may therefore confidently predict, that when published, it will become a favorite piece with[Pg 151] every great and skilled Orchestra, and with all serious and cultivated Auditories; but it requires both.”

Besides this Symphony, I had also written for the Musical Festival at Hermstedt’s earnest solicitation, Variations for the Clarinet, with Orchestral accompaniment, upon themes from the “Opferfest” which he performed with his usual skill. This Composition, (published by Schlesinger in Berlin as Op. 80) which carries out those themes with a more artistic Fantasia-like freedom, than as Variations, were greatly admired by Musicians and connoisseurs.

On the afternoon of the second day, the Musical Festival was followed by a family fête in the house of the projector. A few weeks before, a son had been born to him, who was now christened. He had invited the whole of the assistants to be godfathers, who now in holiday attire ranged themselves round the altar at the church. I held the infant son over the baptismal font, and gave him my name “Louis”. When the clergyman put the question to me and the other godfathers, whether we would take care that the child should receive a Christian education, a solemn “Yes” from full three hundred voices echoed through the church. A Chorus executed by the singers, with Organ accompaniment, terminated the holy ceremony.

At this second Festival my gratification was still more enhanced by the presence of my parents among the auditory, and that they took a lively part in the social gaieties under the tent. The projector was no less satisfied with his speculation, and thus this Festival terminated like that of the previous year, to the satisfaction of all.

Shortly after my return, I received intelligence from Hamburgh that my Opera, which I had sent in in the spring, had been at length distributed and that its representation would take place in the first days of November. I therefore applied for a month’s leave of absence for myself and wife, and set out with her, in the middle of October, via Hanover, where I intended giving a concert. As this was the first Opera of[Pg 152] mine that was to be represented, I was in a state of great anxiety. The shock I felt may therefore be readily imagined, upon receiving a letter in Hanover from the manager Schröder, informing me that the Opera would not be produced, because the Prima Donna Madame Becker refused to take the part assigned to her, and that according to the theatrical laws she was perfectly justified in doing so.

The matter was in this wise: Previous to beginning my work, I had certainly taken pains to inquire of Herr Schwenke respecting the range of voice and the capabilities of the Hamburgh singers, and in accordance therewith, I had constructed the chief parts of the opera. But as I was without all experience in these things, I had neglected to ascertain the personal appearance of the singers, so that, for Madame Becker, a small, delicate figure, I had written the part of Donna Isabella, who seeks for her faithless lover at the Court of Princess Matilda disguised in man’s clothes, and at last challenges him to mortal combat armed cap-à-pied as a knight. So long as Madame Becker, knew no more about the Opera than her part, she was highly satisfied and began to practice with great zeal. But as soon as she had read the libretto, she declared, that she could not undertake the part, as she would make herself perfectly ridiculous. Exceedingly annoyed at my mistake I set off for Hamburgh, to remedy it wherever possible, and to induce the representation of the opera. I found old Schröder in very low spirits, and exceedingly dissatisfied with his theatrical untertaking. But he had every reason to be so. Several of the performers had failed to make their appearance, others came too late, and some had not answered the expectations entertained of them; his new Plays and Comedies had not been very successful, and empty houses had been the result. Of the four Operas which he had Music written for, two were already laid aside, because they had displeased. The one composed by Winter: “Die Pantoffeln” had lived through some few thinly attended representations; that of Clasing: “Welcher ist der Rechte?” had been withdrawn from the Repertoire[Pg 153] immediately after the first night, for in spite of the strenuous efforts of Clasing’s numerous friends it was a complete failure.

With such disappointments, it was not to be wondered that the old grumbler should be mistrustful of my Opera also, and the more so since the most favorite singer of his theatre would not lend her aid. But when he offered me payment of the sum agreed for it, and at the same time laid it aside without having given it a trial, I was much hurt and protested against it in the most positive manner. At length after much entreaty, I obtained Schröder’s consent that I should make a trial of it with another singer, who hitherto had played only in secondary characters, and practise her in the rôle refused by Madame Becker. In this singer, a Madame Lichtenheld, I found great willingness and natural capacity, and when I had simplified the most difficult bravura passages of the part to her powers of execution, I succeeded well with her. Thus at length the rehearsals could be commenced, and when Schröder had heard one, and had become convinced that Madame Lichtenheld would fill the part satisfactorily, the first representation was announced for the 15. November. My former musical acquaintances one and all, including Romberg and Prell, offered their services to me in the two representations in which I was to lead the orchestra. Hermstedt, also, who had come to Hamburgh to give a Concert with my support, joined them, and undertook the First Clarinet part, for which there were some telling Soli’s and a concerted accompaniment or a Soprano-air. With the aid of these distinguished artists the Orchestra was considerably strengthened, and as the Singers and the Chorus were likewise well practised, I was already greatly pleased with the precision with which my music was performed in the rehearsals, and therefore entertained the most lively hopes that the Opera would please. Nevertheless on the evening of the representation, it was not without fresh anxiety that I took my place at my desk, for it had come to my ears that, Clasing’s friends would evince an inimical feeling[Pg 154] towards me in revenge for the failure of his opera. But when the music had begun, I thought of that alone, and forgot every thing else around me. The applause with which the Overture was received, shewed me, nevertheless, that the unfriendly party would not make any demonstration; and so it proved. Almost every piece was applauded, and the approbation increased yet more towards the end of the opera. Upon the fall of the curtain a long sustained storm of applause was given to the composer.

I ought now to have been very happy, but was by no means so. Already at the first rehearsal some things in my music had displeased me. At every fresh rehearsal these were increased by something new, and before the actual representation, the half of my Opera had become distasteful to me. I now thought I well knew how I could have made it better, and was greatly annoyed that I had not discovered it before. Yes, indeed, had my work appeared to me in that light on my arrival at Hamburgh, I should have made no opposition to Schröder’s intention to lay it aside unperformed. But my musical friends were of a different opinion; they were exceedingly pleased with this work, and wished me every further success. Schwenke wrote a full and very laudatory criticism of the Opera, wherein he adroitly combated the well founded opinion of its opponents, that it contained many reminiscences of the Operas of Mozart, and while admitting that the form of the musical pieces as well as the whole design recalled Mozart, he assigned that, as a recommendatory feature and proof of its excellence. By this, made watchful of myself, I became sensible of the necessity to break myself of it, and think that I already fully effected it in “Faust” my next Dramatic work.

With my permission, Schwenke had some time before made a Piano-forte arrangement from the Opera, which was now published by Böhm in Hamburgh, and soon found an extensive circulation.

Of the Concert which I then gave in Hamburgh with my wife and Hermstedt, I recollect but little more than that the[Pg 155] latter created a great sensation by his highly cultivated skill. But I have a clearer recollection of another Concert in Altona, at which we and several of our Hamburgh friends assisted, and in which all manner of little misfortunes befell us, which afterwards afforded matter for much merriment.

This Concert was given by a rich Musical-amateur of Altona, who invited the assistants from Hamburgh to a luxurious dinner. After the company had been at table for two hours, and addressed themselves diligently to the champaign, they became so merry and forgetful, that nobody gave a thought to the Concert that was to follow. The terror therefore was general, when a Messenger suddenly appeared, and announced that the numerous Audience which had assembled was become impatient and demanded the opening of the concert. All now hurried to the Concert saloon; although in reality no one was any longer in a fit state to make a public appearance. It was especially remarkable that, those who were usually the most timid had now become the most courageous. The Altona dilettanti-Orchestra, who were to serve as nucleus and support to the Hamburgh Artists, were already in their places, and the Concert immediately began with an Overture by Romberg who conducted it himself. He, who was unjustly accused of taking the tempi of his Compositions too slow, hurried the Allegro of his Overture this time so much, that the poor Dilettanti could not keep up with him. Little therefore was wanting for the whole thing to break down from the very overture. My wife and I were then to follow with a Sonata for harp and violin, which as usual we were about to play without notes. Just as we had seated ourselves, and I was about to begin, my wife, who at all other times was self-possession itself, whispered anxiously to me: “For Heaven’s sake, Louis, I cannot remember which Sonata we are to play, nor how it begins!” I hummed softly in her ear the commencement of it, and restored to her the necessary calmness and self-possession. Our Play now proceeded without mishap to the end, and was received with great applause.[Pg 156] It was now Madame Becker’s turn to sing an Air, and Romberg had just led her forward to the raised platform of the Orchestra, when to the great astonishment of the public, she all at once ran off, and disappeared in the room adjoining. Dorette, allarmed lest she should have been taken suddenly ill, hastened after her. But, both shortly reappeared, and I now ascertained from my wife, that Madame Becker had found her breath too short from the effects of the dinner, and was therefore obliged to have her clothes loosened before she could sing.

Hermstedt, now followed with a difficult composition of mine. He, who always when appearing in public, went to work with the most nervous precision in every thing, emboldened now to rashness by the fumes of the champaign, had screwed on a new and untried plate to the mouthpiece of his Clarinet, and even spoke vauntingly of it to me as I mounted the platform of the orchestra. I immediately anticipated no good from it. The Solo of my composition began with a long sustained note, which Hermstedt pitched almost inaudibly, and by degrees encreased to an enormous power, with which he always produced a great sensation. This time he began also in the same way, and the public listened to the increasing volume of tone with wrapt expectancy. But just as he was about to encrease it to the highest power, the plate twisted, and gave out a mis-tone, resembling the shrill cry of a goose. The public laughed, and the now suddenly sobered Virtuoso turned deadly pale with horror. He nevertheless soon recovered himself, and executed the remainder with his usual brilliancy, so that there was no want of enthusiastic applause at the end.

But with poor Schwenke it fared worse than all. The waist-buckle of his pantaloons had given way during the dinner, without his being aware of it. When therefore he had mounted into the orchestra to take the Viol-part in a Pot-Pourri with Quartett-accompaniment which I played at the close of the Concert, shortly after he had begun to play, he[Pg 157] felt his pantaloons begin to slip with every movement he made in bow-ing. Much too conscientious a Musician, to omit a note of his part, he patiently waited for the pauses, to pull up his nethergarment again. His predicament did not long escape the notice of the public, and occasioned considerable merriment. But towards the close of the Pot-Pourri, when a 1/16 movement shook him so roughly, that the downward tendency of his pantaloons made serious progress, and threatened to exceed the limits of propriety, the public could no longer restrain itself, and broke out into a general titter. By this untoward interruption of the execution of my Solo, I was thus dragged also, into the general calamity of the day.

On my return to Gotha, I found a letter from Bischoff, in which he informed me that he had been commanded by the Governor of Erfurt to make arrangements for a grand Musical Festival there, in the ensuing summer, in celebration of the birthday of Napoleon, August 15. He had already agreed with him as to the terms, and now asked me to untertake its direction, and to write a new Oratorio for the first day. I had long desired to try for once, something in the Oratorio-style, also, and readily consented to the proposal. A young poet in Erfurt had already offered me the text of an Oratorio, in which I had found several grand passages for composition. It was called: “The last Judgement.”

I sent for the libretto, and set to work at once. But I soon felt that for the Oratorio-style I was yet too deficient in Counter-point and in Fugeing; I therefore suspended my work, in order to make the preliminary studies requisite for the subject. From one of my pupils I borrowed Marpurg’s “Art of Fuge writing” and was soon deeply and continuously engaged in the study of that work. After I had written half a dozen Fugues according to its instructions, the last of which seemed to me very successful; I resumed the composition of my Oratorio, and completed it without allowing any thing else to intervene. According to a memorandum I made, it was begun in January 1812, and finished in June. There[Pg 158] would not therefore have been sufficient time to write it out and practise it before the performance, had I not sent the two first parts of the work to Bischoff, immediately after their completion. By that means, not only could the Choruses be carefully practised in it, but I had also sufficient time to study the Orchestral-parts with my own orchestra, which was again to form the nucleus of the great Erfurt orchestra. In this manner, although the work is a very difficult one, I was enabled after one general rehearsal only, to effect a tolerably successful performance of it. One of the Solo-singers, alone, who sang the part of Satan, did not give me satisfaction. This part which was written with a powerful instrumentation, I gave by the advice of Bischoff to a village schoolmaster in the neighbourhood of Gotha, who was celebrated throughout the whole district for his colossal bass-voice. In power of voice he had indeed quite sufficient to outroar a whole Orchestra, but in science, and in Music, he could by no means execute the part in a satisfactory manner. I taught and practised him in the part myself, and took great pains to assist him a little, but without much success. For when the day of public trial came, he had totally forgotten every instruction, and admonition, and gave such loose to his barbarian voice, that he first of all frightened the auditory, and then set them in a roar of laughter.

From overstraining his voice, he moreover almost always intonated too high, and by that spoiled several of the most effective parts of the oratorio. I suffered intensely from this, and my pleasure in my composition was greatly embittered. Nevertheless it gave general satisfaction, and was most favourably spoken of in a detailed notice of the Musical Festival in one of the Thuringian newspapers. Another criticism which appeared in a South-German (if I am not mistaken a Francfort Journal) found on the other hand much to cavil with in the work, and was altogether written in a bitter and malevolent tone. For many years I suspected this malicious criticism was written by Counsellor André of Offenbach, as he[Pg 159] was present at the Festival with two of his pupils, Arnold and Aloys Schmidt. What induced me to suspect him of it, although André had expressed himself to me personally in praise of the work, I now no longer remember; and in later years when I questioned him on the subject, he assured me that he was not the author. I, myself, not only considered the work the best I had written up to that time, but I thought I had never heard any thing finer. Even to this day I like so much some of the choruses and Fuges, as well as the part of Satan, that I could almost pronounce them to be the most grand of all I ever wrote. Not so, however, with the other themes particularly with the Soli-parts of Jesus and Mary. These are wholly written in the Cantata style of that day and overladen with bravoura and ornamental passages. Shortly afterwards, also, I felt the impropriety of this style, and in later years frequently resolved to re-write those Soli parts. But when about to begin, it seemed to me as though I could no longer enter into the spirit of the subject, and so it remained undone. To publish the work as it was I could not make up my mind. Thus in later years it has lain by with out any use being made of it.

As the above mentioned Festival in honour of Napoleon’s birth-day was the last that took place in Erfurt and in Germany just before the Russian Campaign, it was considered to have been ominous, that the principal Musical piece then performed should have been “the last Judgement”.


In the Autumn of 1812 I again applied for a leave of absence for myself and wife, which after some reluctance on the part of the Dutchess was granted. We this time directed our journey to Vienna as the least disturbed by the war, and the passage of troops. Our first stay was at Leipsic, where we assisted at a Concert given by Hermstedt, and where I afterwards performed my new oratorio. Of this the Musical Journal speaks in the following manner:

[Pg 160]

“Herr Hermstedt’s Concert as regards the Compositions executed, was one of the most attractive that could be heard. With the exception of Mozart’s Overture, and the Scena by Righini, all the pieces were of the composition of Concert-Master Spohr, and with the exception of the Clarinet-Concerto, all newly written. This Concerto, the first in C-Minor, and, as a Composition, the most brilliant of all Concerti for that instrument, was again listened to with great satisfaction. A grand Sonata for Violin and Harp, played by Herr and Madame Spohr, the leading theme of which must be pronounced masterly in conception and elaboration, and the second, consisting of a delightful Pot-Pourri of happily combined and most pleasingly handled melodies from the “Zauberflöte”,—this as well as each of the other pieces were received with the warmest approbation. We heard besides another Violin-Concerto[13] played by Herr Spohr and a Pot-Pourri for the Clarinet with Orchestral accompaniment. In the former, the first Allegro, as regards composition and execution pleased us least. Here and there, it seemed to us both tricky and overladen with ornament, and considering its contents, much too long; neither was the execution of the Virtuoso every where sufficiently distinct and clear. But the Adagio, as regards composition and execution is one of the finest we ever heard on this instrument, we may even say the very finest that was ever produced by any Virtuoso.”

Of the Oratorio, also, it speaks upon the whole, favourably. It contains not only “many details that are original and attractive, some even that are really charming, but which, also, too closely crowd upon and obliterate each other. Every hearer whether he agrees or not with Spohr in his idea of an Oratorio, that is, whether he may be disposed or not to tolerate its combination of almost every kind of treatment and style, or rather, to see them replace each other in turn—yet every hearer must be impressed with a lively interest in[Pg 161] this work, and experience a real pleasure not unmingled with astonishment at several of its principal parts.”

According to a notice in the Musical Journal of the 8. November, I do not appear to have made any stay at Dresden, upon this journey. But in Prague I gave a Concert on the 12. November, and eight days after, my Oratorio at the Theatre. A very favourable notice of the former appears in the Musical Journal, which adverts especially to the “enchanting unity” of execution, from which the most perfect harmonic marriage of the two admirable artistes was to be recognised.

Of the performance of the Oratorio I alone remember that Fräulein Müller afterwards Madame Grünbaum, sang exquisitely in it, and that the work was right well received by the public.

I now hastened towards the chief object of my journey. Vienna was at that time indisputably the Capital of the Musical world. The two greatest Composers and Reformers of Musical taste, Haydn and Mozart had lived there, and there produced their Master-pieces. The generation still lived, which had seen them arise, and formed their taste in Art from them. The worthy successor of those Art-heroes, Beethoven, still resided there, and was now in the zenith of his fame, and in the full strength of his creative power. In Vienna therefore the highest standard for Art creations was set up, and to please there—was to prove one’s self a Master.

I felt my heart beat as we drove over the Danube-bridge, and thought of my approaching début. My anxiety was yet more increased by the reflexion that I should have to compete with the greatest Violinist of the day; for in Prague I had learnt that Rode had just returned from Russia, and was expected in Vienna. I still vividly recalled to mind the overpowering impression which Rode’s play had made upon me ten years before in Brunswick, and how I had striven for years to acquire his method and execution. I was now therefore anxious in the highest degree to hear him again, in order thereby to measure my own progress. My first question[Pg 162] therefore on alighting from the carriage was whether Rode had arrived, and had announced a concert. This was answered in the negative, but with the assurance that he had long been expected.

It was now therefore a matter of importance to me to be heard before Rode, and I hastened as much as possible the announcement of my concert. I succeeded also in appearing first; but Rode had arrived meanwhile, and was present at the concert. To my great surprise I felt less intimidated than inspired by that circumstance, and played as well as I could have desired. The Musical Journal spoke of my appearance before “a crowded house” in the following manner:

“On the 17. December we had the pleasure to hear and admire Herr Louis Spohr and his wife at a concert. We subscribe gladly to the favourable opinions expressed of this worthy Artiste-pair and can only add that here also every one was charmed by their masterly play. Herr Spohr played a Violin-Concerto with a Spanish Rondo and at the end a Pot-Pourri, both of his composition; with his wife, he executed one of his published Sonatas for harp and violin. The composition both of the Concerto and this Sonata are excellent, and contrasted not a little with the watery, patchwork productions with which so many practising Musicians without talent or genius for composition, make their appearance here.”

By the advice of some kind friends I relinquished my intention of giving my Oratorio at my own expense, as I had projected doing in a second Concert; since the great expenditure which a large Orchestra and a numerous Chorus would have superadded to that of an usual Concert, forbade the hope to realise any profit from the undertaking. Yet as I was very desirous to have this work heard in Vienna, for I still considered it one of the grandest of its kind, I offered to perform it for the benefit of “the Widow’s and Orphan’s Society” on the condition only, that for its production, the society would provide a well appointed orchestra supported by the most distinguished Singers and Instrumentalists in Vienna. This con[Pg 163]dition was accepted, and fully carried out by the society, which provided a personel of three hundred assistants from among the best artistes in the city. The work was carefully studied in two grand rehearsals, and on its production, was performed better than I had yet heard it. I became anew enraptured with my creation, and with me several of the assistant Musicians, among whom more especially Herr Clement the Director of the Orchestra of the “Theatre an der Wien”.

He, had so thoroughly imbibed the spirit and substance of the work, that the day after its performance he was enabled to play to me on the Piano several entire parts, note for note, with all the harmonies and orchestral figures, without ever having seen the score. But Clement possessed a musical memory such perhaps as no other artiste ever possessed. It was at that time related of him in Vienna, that after he had heard several times “the Creation” of Haydn, he had learned it so thoroughly, that with the help of the text book he was able to write a full Pianoforte arrangement of it. He shewed this to old Haydn, who was not a little alarmed at it, thinking at first that his score had either been stolen or surreptitiously copied. Upon a nearer inspection he found the Pianoforte arrangement so correct, that after Clement had looked through the original score, he adopted it for publication.

Before my Oratorio was performed, I had a quarrel with the Censorship, which nearly subverted the whole untertaking. They would not suffer the names of Mary and Jesus to be used in the list of the Dramatis-Personae of the Text-Book, nor above the words which they had to sing. But after long negotiation, upon the omission of these, the text was allowed to be printed. I could readily accede to this omission, since from the context it was easy to understand who the persons were.

Greatly as the work pleased the Musicians, and increased their opinion of my talent for composition, yet its reception by the Public was not nearly so brilliant as that which my[Pg 164] play, and my Concerted compositions had met with. It is true there was no want this time also of marked applause, but it was not so general as to attract a numerous audience to the second performance which took place three days afterwards. This second representation in Vienna was the last the work ever had; for in later years I saw too well its weak points and deficiencies ever to persuade myself to give it again in public. Of the first representation in Vienna on the 21. January the Musical Journal spoke tolerably well.

Salieri the Leader of the Imperial Orchestra had undertaken the direction of the whole; Herr Umlauf presided at the Piano, and I led the violins. The principal parts were sung by Demoiselle Klieber, Madame Anenheim, Demoiselle Flamm, Messrs. Anders, Wild, and Pfeiffer. “It is difficult” says the notice “here in Vienna to bring out an Oratorio, so as either to awaken attention to it, or to procure for the work a permanent name—here where such grand, successful masterpieces of the kind first made their appearance, which are familiar to every body and which have procured for their creators a lasting fame in the musical world. Herr Eibler already attempted to set the “Four last Things” ... to music. But his work was only twice publickly performed, because he failed in a thoroughly even and original style, and his composition would not bear comparison with the works of his great predecessors of this kind. The same may be said also of Herr Spohr’s “Last Judgement” although the composer of that work is infinitely superior in severe passages to the writer of the “Four last things.” All the chorusses and fugues in the severe style, with which one can find fault in some secondary parts only, have a real artistic merit; are worked out with great industry, and were received also with loud and general enthusiasm. The Airs, Duetts and single Song passages, depart however too much from the real Oratorio style, are too frequently repeated in the text, and approach more or less to the Italian Operatic style. Some too striking reminiscences of the “Creation” and particularly of the “Zauberflöte[Pg 165] lessen the merit of the work in respect of originality. The Chorus of Devils at the end of the first part would be more admissably in its place if introduced in a ballet. Herr August Arnold the author of the text, has also, certainly not produced a work such as might satisfy the composer for musical treatment.... The Theatre was scarcely half full. On the 24., this Oratorio was repeated before scarcely two hundred auditors. But a work of this kind should not have been brought out in such a pleasure loving City in Carnival time!”—

A fortnight after my first appearance, Rode’s Concert came in turn. Relying on his European reputation he had chosen the most spacious Concert-room in Vienna, the great “Redouten-Saal” and he found it completely filled. With almost feverish excitement I awaited the commencement of Rode’s play, which ten years before had served as my highest model. But, already, after the first Solo, it seemed to me that Rode had lost ground in that time. I now found his play cold, and full of mannerism. I missed his former boldness in conquering great difficulties, and felt particularly dissatisfied with his execution of the Cantabile. The composition as well of the new Concerto, appeared to me far behind that of the seventh in A-Minor. In his execution of the Variations in E-Major, which I had heard him play ten years before, convinced me fully, that he had greatly lost in technical precision, for he had not only simplified for himself many of the most difficult passages, but he produced also those modified passages with timidity and a degree of uncertainty. Neither did the public seem satisfied; at least he failed to rouse them to any enthusiasm. The Reviewer in the Musical Journal says, also, that Rode had “not quite” satisfied the expectation of the public. “His bow-stroke” continues the Reviewer, “is long, grand and forcible, his tone full and strong—indeed, almost too strong, cutting; he has a correct, pure intonation and is always sure in his rebounds up to the very highest notes; his double notes although occurring but seldom,[Pg 166] are good, and in Allegro he conquers great difficulties with ease: on the other hand he is wanting in that which electrifies and carries away all hearts—fire, and that winning grace which is not otherwise to be defined, that witchery of charm that ravishes the ear and inspires the soul. In Adagio, the sharpness of his tones was still more perceptible than in Allegro; the result therefore was cold. Neither did the composition awaken much interest; it was thought far fetched and mannered. It is probable the vast size of the great “Redouten-Saal” may have induced Herr Rode to bring out his tones so sharply, and thus they lost much of their sweetness.”

Eight days after Rode’s Concert I gave my second, in the small “Redouten Saal.” The Musical Journal speaks of it as follows: “Spohr shewed himself to be a great Master of violin-play. He produced a new composition in A-Major (published as the tenth), which was solemnly and slowly preceded by an introduction in A-Minor. The Adagio was in D-Major. A most charming Rondo concluded it. In the pleasing, and the tender, Spohr is indisputably the nightingale, of all living, at least, to us known, Violinplayers. It is scarcely possible to execute an Adagio with more tenderness and yet so clearly, combined with the purest good taste; added to this, he overcomes the most difficult passages in quick-time measure, and effects the greatest possible stretches with wonderful ease, to which certainly the large size of his hand may be of some advantage to him. This evening he again received a general and unanimous applause, and was repeatedly called forward, an honour—which so far as we remember,—was conferred only upon Herr Polledro. With his wife, Herr Spohr played an Allegro which she performed upon the harp, with great execution, taste and expression. We think, of all the Virtuosi whom we have heard upon that instrument none possesses so much school, and such intensity of feeling in expression, as Madame Spohr; though Demoiselle Longhi may have more power, and Demoiselle Simonin-Pollet more equality in their play.”

[Pg 167]

Speaking of Rode’s second Concert, the Musical Review says: that “with a very crowded saloon he met with much more applause than before; but in the Cantabile this time, also, he did not sufficiently satisfy the expectations of the public.”

On the 28. January I played with Seidler of Berlin in his Concert, and as a notice of it says “bore away the palm although Herr Seidler’s play was worthy of praise.”

I could thus be very satisfied with the reception I had met with in Vienna as an Artiste; for the public newspapers also awarded the palm to me. At private Parties where as the rule, I not only met the above named Violinist, but also the most distinguished of the native Violinists Herr Mayseder, and had to compete with all these, my performances met also with special acknowledgment and attention. On these occasions there was at first always a dispute who should begin, for each desired to be the last, in order to eclipse his predecessor. But, I, who always prefered playing a well combined Quartett to a Solo piece, never refused to make the beginning, and invariable succeeded in gaining the attention and sympathy of the company by my own peculiar style of reading and executing the classical quartetts. Then when the others had each paraded his hobby-horse, and I observed that the company had more liking for that sort of thing than for classical music, I brought out one of my difficult and brilliant Pot-Pourri’s, and invariably succeeded in eclipsing the success of my predecessors.

In the frequent opportunities of hearing Rode I became more and more convinced that he was no longer the perfect Violinist of earlier days. By the constant repetition of the same compositions, a mannerism had crept by degrees into his execution, that now bordered on caricature. I had the rudeness, to remark this to him, and asked him if he no longer remembered the way in which he played his compositions ten years ago. Yes! I carried my impertinence so far, as to lay the variations in G-Major before him, and said, that I would play them exactly as I had heard him play them so frequently[Pg 168] ten years before. After I had finished playing, the company broke out into a rapturous applause, and Rode, for decency’s sake was obliged to add a “bravo”; but one could plainly see that he felt offended by my indelicacy. And with good reason. I was soon ashamed of it, and advert to the circumstance now, only, to show how high an opinion I then had of myself as a Violinist.

Satisfied in the highest degree with Vienna, I now thought of proceeding farther, when quite unexpectedly I received from Count Palffy the then Proprietor of the Theatre “an der Wien” the offer of an engagement there for three years, as Leader and Director of the Orchestra. As I could not make up my mind to give up my and my wife’s permanent life engagements, I at first decidedly declined it. But when Herr Treitschke, who was the agent in the matter, offered me more than three times the salary which I and my wife together had received in Gotha; when he informed me that the Theatre “an der Wien” would soon become the first in Germany, that the Count had succeeded in engaging for it the best singers of the day, and that he now contemplated to entrust to me the formation of the Orchestra from among the first artists of Vienna, and further represented to me that in such an excellent Theatre I should have the first opportunity to cultivate my abilities and distinguish myself as a Dramatic Composer: I could no longer withstand the temptation; requested a short delay in order to consult with my wife, and promised to give a definite answer in a few days.

Of the large salary that was offered to me, and which much exceeded those of the two Leaders of the Imperial Orchestra Salieri and Weigl, I might hope to economise a third or perhaps the half. I might furthermore, from the reputation I had acquired in Vienna as an Artiste, safely reckon upon earning something considerable by Concerts, Compositions and Tuition. Besides, I was secured as regarded the future, even in case the proffered appointment should terminate at the expiration of the three years, and could then carry out[Pg 169] a favorite plan conceived from my earliest youth, of a journey to Italy, in company with my wife and children.

More than all these, however, I was disposed by my re-awakened desire to write for the stage, to accept the Count’s proposal. So, after Dorette had given her consent, although with sorrow at the now necessary separation from her mother and family, the written Contract was drawn up and signed under the direction of a Notary, a friend of ours. I bound myself therein as Director of the Orchestra to play in all grand Operas, to undertake the Violin Soli’s in Operas and Ballets, and as Conductor, to lead from the score when the other leader should be prevented doing so. From small Operas, Ballets, and the music in Plays, I was exempted. I now, conjointly with Count Palffy and my new colleague, conductor von Seifried proceeded to remodel the constitution of the orchestra. The Count was not niggardly in regard to the salaries; so I soon succeeded in procuring the services of the most talented young artistes, and to establish an ensemble that made my Orchestra not only the best in Vienna, but raised it to one of the first in all Germany.

Among the new appointed members was my brother Ferdinand, and one of the most gifted of my other pupils, Moritz Hauptmann of Dresden. He had just arrived in Vienna and desired to establish himself there. But my brother did not arrive till the spring.

I had stipulated at the same time for a month’s leave of absence in the spring, to arrange my affairs in Gotha and to fetch my children. But before that, it was necessary for me to make arrangements for another domicile, so that on my return I could commence my own housekeeping. At this time a circumstance took place that not only greatly influenced this business, but, also, my artistic labours in Vienna. Scarcely had it become known in the City that I was to remain there, when one morning a stranger of gentlemanly exterior called on me, who introduced himself as Herr von Tost, a proprietor of manufactories and a passionate lover of music. In excuse[Pg 170] for the intrusiveness of his visit he pleaded his desire to make a proposition to me. After he had seated himself, and I full of expectation had taken a chair opposite to him, he first expressed his admiration of my talent as a Composer, and then the wish that I would assign over to him for a proportionate pecuniary consideration all that I might compose or had already written in Vienna, for the term of three years, to be his sole property during that time; to give him the original scores, and to keep myself, even, no copy of them. After the lapse of three years he would return the manuscripts to me, and I should then be at liberty either to publish or to sell them. After I had pondered a moment over this strange and enigmatical proposition, I first of all asked him whether the compositions were not to be played during those three years? Hereupon, Herr von Tost replied: oh! “yes, as often as possible, but each time on my lending them for that purpose, and only in my presence.” He would not, he added prescribe the kind of compositions they should be; but he more particularly wished they should be such as would permit of being produced in Private Circles, therefore, Quartetts and Quintetts for stringed instruments and Sextetts, Octetts and Nonettes for stringed and wind instruments. I was to consider upon his proposal and fix the sum for each kind of composition. Upon this he presented me with his card and took leave of me.

My wife and I vainly endeavoured to discover the object Herr von Tost could have in making such a proposal; and I therefore resolved to ask him the question plump and plain. Before doing this I made enquiries about him, and ascertained that he was a wealthy man, the proprietor of large cloth manufactories near Znaim, was passionately fond of music, and never missed being present at every public concert. This sounded well, and I resolved to accede to the proposal. As compensation for the three years cession of my manuscripts, I fixed the amount for a Quartett at thirty Ducats, for a Quintett five and thirty, and so on progressively higher for the other kinds. When I now wished to know what Herr[Pg 171] von Tost intended doing with the works during the three years; he at first would not satisfy me, and said, that as soon as he had bound himself by writing not to publish my compositions, it could not in the least concern me: but when he perceived, that I had still some misgivings, he added: “I have two objects in view. First, I desire to be invited to the music Parties in which you will execute your compositions, and for that I must have them in my keeping; secondly, possessing such treasures of art, I hope upon my business journeys to make an extensive acquaintance among the lovers of music, which may then serve me also in my manufacturing interests!”

Although unable to understand thoroughly Herr von Tost’s speculation, I was obliged mentally to confess, that at any rate he had an exalted idea of the worth of my compositions. This was very flattering to me, and suppressed all further hesitation. As Herr von Tost had now also, nothing to object to in the price demanded, nor to the requisition for payment upon delivery of the manuscripts, the business was soon concluded by a written agreement in form.

I had brought with me to Vienna one manuscript, a Solo-Quartett for Violin, which I had finished on the journey. I was just then also engaged upon a second. I determined to finish that before leaving for Gotha, and then deliver both to Herr von Tost.

Meanwhile I had been so fortunate as to find convenient apartments in the immediate neighbourhood of the Theatre “an der Wien” on the first floor of the house of a cabinet maker. As they had been somewhat disfigured by their last occupants I had them newly painted and decorated, and was just on the point of furnishing them. I therefore delivered my two Quartetts to Herr von Tost, and demanded their price of sixty ducats, remarking at the same time that I required the money for the furnishing of my new domicile. “I will provide you with that, complete in every respect” was his reply, “and much cheaper also than if you were to buy them yourself; for I have business transactions with all those with whom[Pg 172] you will have to deal, and therefore can obtain them on lower terms than you. It will give me moreover an opportunity to collect some outstanding debts. Appoint therefore a day when I shall call for you and your wife in order that we may choose the things together.”

And so the thing was done. We first drove to the new apartments, where Herr von Tost with great tact and business knowledge sketched an estimate of all we should require. We then went from one shop and warehouse to the other, and my wife and I had continually to guard against his choosing too much, and frequently the most costly and beautiful articles. We could not however prevent him from ordering for the best room, a suite of mahagony furniture with silk coverings and curtains to match; and for the kitchen, a mass of cooking utensils, crockery and a table service more befitting a capitalist than an unpretending artiste. It was in vain that Dorette represented we should give no parties, and therefore did not require so large a table service. But he was not to be persuaded, and when I expressed the fear that the whole arrangements would be too expensive for my circumstances, he replied: “Make yourself easy, it will not cost you too much; neither shall I ask for any cash payment. By degrees you will soon square all accounts with your manuscripts.”

Nothing more was to be said against this and thus we found ourselves in possession of apartments fitted up in a style so handsome and yet tasteful, as for certain no other artist-family in the City could shew.

I now got every thing ready for my journey. My wife was invited to reside with a lady of her acquaintance, the sister of the Advocate Zizius, a great lover of music, in whose house we had frequently played, so that during my absence I could leave her without any uneasiness.

I had been informed, that a Leipsic merchant about to return home in his own carriage with extra-post-horses was desirous of meeting with a fellow-traveller; I hastened therefore to offer my company, and soon agreed with him upon[Pg 173] the terms. I now no longer recollect his name, but, that he was a well informed and agreable companion, from whom I parted in the most friendly manner. We journeyed without stopping to Prague, but remained there a whole day to rest ourselves. I spent that day very pleasantly at the house of my friend Kleinwächter. On leaving Prague we were obliged to leave the high road to Dresden, as the armies of the belligerent powers were drawn up there opposite to each other, and the bridge over the Elbe had been made impassable, the French having blown up several arches. We were therefore obliged to find a way over the Erzgebirge, where we also met with detachments of troops, by which however, we were neither stopped nor turned back. We arrived therefore without further adventure at Chemnitz. But here something befell me that filled me with such terror, that I fainted away, a circumstance which with my strong frame of body, never occured to me before or since.

We arrived at Chemnitz at noon, just as a numerous company at the hotel were about to sit down to dinner. We joined them, and I took a seat between my fellow-traveller and the hostess. While the latter was helping the soup, I like the rest of the guests proceeded to cut a slice from a large brown loaf that lay before me. I applied the knife to the loaf, but it would make no incision, from having (as afterwards appeared) come in contact with a small stone baked into the crust. This induced me to think the knife was blunt, and to increase the force of the pressure. Upon this it suddenly slipped off and glancing on to the ball of my left fore finger cut off a considerable piece of the flesh, which fell upon the plate before me. A stream of blood followed. The sight of this, or rather the thought, that now there would be an end to my violin playing, and that I should no longer be able to support myself and family, filled me with such horror that I fell insensible from my chair. When after the lapse of about ten minutes I recovered my senses, I saw the whole company in commotion and occupied with me. My first look fell upon[Pg 174] my finger, which I found wrapped round with a large piece of English plaister that the kind hostess had brought. It adhered closely in the hollow of the wound, and to my comfort I could now see that the whole ball of the finger had not been cut off, as I had at first imagined. Nevertheless almost the half of it, together with a large piece of the nail were gone. As I scarcely experienced any pain, I left the strapping undisturbed, and first applied to a surgeon on arriving at Leipsic, who also let the plaister remain, and only advised me to be careful of all ungentle contact with my finger.

Thus somewhat consoled I arrived home in Gotha. I found the Court very much annoyed about my contemplated removal to Vienna; the Dutchess was so angry that I had much difficulty to soothe her, and the more so, as I was now unable to play once more as she had so much wished, at a parting Court-Concert. My mother-in-law was also greatly grieved. I hastened therefore as much as possible to get away from all these unpleasant circumstances. A few weeks before, I had commissioned my old friend Bärwolf to dispose of the furniture and things which I did not purpose taking with me. In this he had been successful. I had therefore the reserved articles packed up, consisting chiefly of beds, looking glasses, music, clothes, linen etc., and dispatched beforehand as freight to Ratisbonne for water carriage. Eight days afterwards I followed with my brother Ferdinand, my two children and a young girl, an orphan, whom my mother-in-law had taken charge of, and brought up, and now gave to me as nursemaid for the children.

The parting with my relations and dear Gotha, was a very sorrowful one; but favoured with the most delightful weather, we soon cheered up again, and I was highly amused with the artless remarks of the children upon the numerous objects now seen by them for the first time. So we arrived very tired it is true, but very happy, in Ratisbonne. There we stopped some days, during which I made every preparation for the voyage down the Danube to Vienna. I hired at a mo[Pg 175]derate price a boat to myself, and had my packages which had already arrived as freight, put on board. The beds were unpacked, and spread out under the little wooden house on board the boat, for our repose at night. The trunks and boxes served as seats. As we purposed continuing our voyage day and night without stopping anywhere, provisions for four or five days were laid in. The boat’s company consisted besides me and mine, of the skipper, his wife who undertook the cooking, the boatman, and three trades-apprentices to whom I gave a free passage and food, for which they had agreed to lend a diligent hand at the oars.

We were in the month of May, the moon was full, and the deep blue sky was outspread over the charming country round. Spring had just decked all nature in her first dress of tender green, and the fruit trees were still laden with their beautiful blossom. The bushy banks of the majestic stream were the resort of numerous nightingales, which in bright calm nights particularly, poured forth an unceasing melody. It was indeed a delightful voyage, and I have striven continually, during my whole long life, to make it again under similar favourable circumstances; but alas! in vain.

While we were passing the celebrated Rapids and the Whirlpool, which at that time could not be effected wholly free from danger, our skipper who till then had been very jovial became all at once serious, and impressively cautioned the rowers to obey his orders with the greatest punctuality. The moment the downward rushing stream seized upon our boat, he turned pale, his wife threw herself upon her knees and howled more than spoke a prayer to the Holy Virgin. Hereupon I cautioned my brother who like me was a skillful swimmer, should any accident occur, to stand by me in saving the children. But we descended safely the shooting rapids and steered clear of the whirlpool, which is only dangerous for very small boats.

Upon the rock, which stands in the middle of the stream at the end of the rapids, and which by its throwing back the[Pg 176] waves with violence occasions the whirlpool, dwellt then an old hermit, who subsisted upon the charitable gifts of the passing travellers. He put off and rowed over to us in his little skiff, to the great delight of the children, who had never before seen a hermit, and when alongside of us he received the customary donation.

On the fourth day of our voyage we arrived towards evening at Vienna, and from afar could see Dorette in company with her hostess, awaiting our arrival at the landing place. That was a happy meeting! The luggage was taken to our new domicile the same evening, whither we moved the following day.

By the time I had arrived in Vienna, my wound was almost healed. To my surprise, and to that of the surgeon to whom I related it, under the English sticking plaister which still enveloped my finger, a new flesh had grown in the place of that which had been cut away, and had by degrees assumed the previous form and size of the ball of the finger. The piece cut out of the nail had also grown again, though but imperfectly joined to the rest of the nail, so that there yet remained a gap, which is even still visible, and shews plainly the extent of the excision. With the help of a leather finger stall I could use my finger again, and though I could not yet play a Solo, yet I could perform my duties in the orchestra.

I now led a very active and a very happy life in the enjoyment of the society of my family. The early dawn found me at the piano, or at the writing table, and every other moment of the day which my orchestral duties or the tuition of my pupils permitted was devoted to composition. Yes, my head was at that time so continually at work, that on my way to my pupils and when taking a walk I was constantly composing, and by that means acquired a readiness in working out mentally, not only long periods, but whole pieces of music so completely, that without any further labour they could be at once written off. As soon as this was done, they were[Pg 177] as though effaced from my mind, and then I had room again for new combinations. Dorette frequently chid me in our walks for this perpetual thinking, and was delighted when the prattle of the children diverted me from it. When this had once been done, I gladly gave myself up to external impressions; but I was not to be permitted to relapse into my thoughtful mood again, and Dorette with great skill knew how to prevent it.

In the first summer of our residence in Vienna, we already made ourselves well acquainted with the beautiful environs of the City, and almost every fine evening, when I was not engaged at the Theatre, we spent in the open air. Then, accompanied by the nursemaid carrying our simple evening-repast in a small basket, we used to seek out some spot from whence we could have a fine view of the country, and see the sun go down. On Sunday, also, we used to hire a fly at the “Linie”, and make farther excursions to Leopoldsberg, or to the Brühl or to Laxenburg and Baden.

But the favorite walk of the children was always to Schönbrunn to see the menagery, or to the “Dörfl” in the Prater, where they ever beheld with new transport the puppet and dog shows, and other diverting wonders. I and my wife, half children too in disposition, shared intensely in all the pleasure of our little pets. It was a lovely, joyous time! so free from care!

After my return from Gotha, my first work was the composition of “Faust.” Before my journey thither, I had had another subject in view, which Theodor Körner was to have worked out for me as an Opera. I had made the young poet’s acquaintance soon after my first arrival in Vienna; he was then already as much admired for his amiable manners as for the success of his theatrical pieces. I met him at almost every party where I played, and as Körner was very fond of music we soon took to each other. When it was decided that I should remain in Vienna, I asked Körner to write an Opera for me and proposed for subject the legend of the “Rübezahl”.[Pg 178] Körner, who had been present at both performances of the “Last Judgement”, and who had a good opinion of my talent for composition acquiesced without hesitation, and went to work with zest upon the materials proposed. But, suddenly it was reported that Körner was about to join Lützow’s light horse, and fight for the freedom of Germany. I hastened to him and endeavoured like many other of my friends to dissuade him from that intention; but without success. We soon saw him depart. It became afterwards known, that it was not alone his enthusiasm for the war of German independance, but an unfortunate and unrequited love for the handsome actress Adamberger that drove him from Vienna, and to an early death.

I thus saw my hope of an Opera-libretto from the pen of the youthful and gifted poet, destroyed, and was now obliged to look elsewhere for another. It was therefore very opportune that Herr Bernhard had offered me his version of “Faust” for composition, and we were soon agreed upon the terms. Some alterations that I had wished to have made, were completed by the author during my journey to Gotha, so that I could begin upon it immediately after my return. From the list of my Compositions, I find that I wrote that Opera in less than four months, from the end of May to the middle of September. I still remember with what enthusiasm and perseverance I worked upon it. As soon as I had completed some of the parts I hastened with them to Meyerbeer, who then resided in Vienna, and begged him to play them to me from the score, a thing in which he greatly excelled. I then undertook the Vocal parts and executed them in their different characters and voices with great enthusiasm. When my voice was not sufficiently flexible for the purpose, I helped myself by whistling, in which I was well practised. Meyerbeer took great interest in this work, which appears to have kept its ground up to the present time, as he during his direction of the Opera at Berlin put “Faust” again upon the stage, and had it studied with the greatest care.

[Pg 179]

Pixis the younger, also, who then resided with his parents in Vienna, as well as Hummel and Seyfried, shewed a great predeliction for this Opera, so that I offered it for representation at the Theatre “an der Wien” with the fairest hopes of a brilliant success. Count Palffy, with whom I was then still on good terms, accepted it immediately, and promised to distribute the characters as soon as possible and to bring it out. While engaged on the work, it is true, I had the personnel of my Theatre in my eye; and wrote the Faust for Forti, the Mephistopheles for Weinmüller, Hugo for Wild, Franz for Gottdank, Cunigunda for Madame Campi, and Rosa for Demoiselle Teiner; but nevertheless, (apart from the circumstance that I at that time especially did not yet understand how to keep myself within the bounds of the natural compass of the voice) all manner of things had escaped my pen that did not suit the above named singers, as, for instance: the long ornamental passages in the air of Hugo, for Wild, who at that time had but a limited power of execution. This at a later period was urged by the Count, when I had a disagreement with him, as an excuse for withdrawing his consent, and actually the opera was never produced while I was in Vienna. Some years afterwards, it was brought out with great success, and in more recent times was put upon the stage again with increased approbation. I, who had always felt an interest in my compositions so long only as I was engaged on them, and so to say, full of them; bore with great equanimity of mind the banishment of my score to the shelves of the library of the Theatre, and immediately set to work on new subjects. Even the pianoforte-arrangement of the opera that Pixis had taken great pleasure in preparing, I did not publish till many years afterwards at Peter’s in Leipsic.

After having finished Faust, I thought it my duty to proceed to the fulfillment of my agreement with Herr von Tost. I therefore enquired of him, what kind of composition he would now prefer. My Art-Mæcenas, reflected a while, and then said: a Nonet, concerted for the four stringed instru[Pg 180]ments, Violin, Viol, Violincello, and Double-Bass; and the five principal wind-Instruments, Flute, Oboë, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon, written in such a manner that the character of each of those instruments should be properly brought out, might be both an interesting and grateful theme; and as he did not in the least doubt that I should successfully accomplish it, he would suggest that to me as the next subject to choose. I felt attracted by the difficulty of the task, consented to it with pleasure, and commenced the work at once. This was the origin of the well known Nonet, published by Steiner in Vienna as op. 31, and which up to the present time is the only work of its kind. I completed it in a short time and delivered the score to Herr von Tost. He had it written out, and then invited the first artists in Vienna to his house, in order to study it under my direction. It was then performed at one of the first musical parties in the beginning of the winter, and met with such unanimous applause, that its repetition was frequently called for during the season. Herr von Tost would then appear each time with a music-portfolio under his arm, lay the different instrumental parts upon the music-stands himself, and when the performance was ended, lock them up again. He felt as happy at the success of the work as if he himself had been the composer. I played, also, very frequently at musical parties, the two Quartetts of which he possessed the manuscripts, and thus his desire to be invited to numerous musical parties was fully accomplished. Indeed, wherever I played, people soon became so accustomed to see Herr von Tost, also, with his portefolio of music, that he used to be invited even when I did not play any of his manuscripts.

Before the end of the year 1813, I wrote another Rondo for harp and violin for my wife and self, and a Quartett for stringed instruments for Herr von Tost. It is the one in G-Major, Op. 33 which from an oversight the publisher has marked as Nr. 2. It was nevertheless, written six months before the one in E-Major.

[Pg 181]

This Quartett was the occasion of my becoming entangled in a literary feud, which was the first and also the last that I ever engaged in about my compositions. It had met with a particularly favourable reception among the Artists and lovers of art in Vienna, and I considered it, also, and with reason, as the best I had written up to that time. It was therefore the more mortifying to me that the reviewer in a Viennese Art-journal of the day could find nothing good whatever in it. I was more particularly hurt by the malicious manner in which he spoke of the theoretical handling of the first theme, of which I was proud; and which had excited the admiration of connoisseurs. Even now, after so long a period I recollect the words, which were nearly as follow: “This eternal rechewing of the theme in every voice and key, is to me just as if one had given an order to a stupid servant, that he cannot understand, and which one is obliged to repeat to him over and over again in every possible shape of expression. The composer appears to have considered his auditors in the same light as the stupid servant.”

I soon ascertained that the anonymous reviewer was Herr von Mosel, the composer of a lyric tragedy called “Salem”, of which I certainly had said very openly: “I never heard any thing so wearisome in all my life.” This opinion had unluckily reached the ears of the writer, and had excited his gall to this degree. Herr von Tost who was more proud of my compositions, particularly those he had in his portefolio than the composer himself, would not rest until I had written a replication to the criticism. What I said in reply, particularly in defence of the treatment of my theme, I now no longer remember, but I recollect, I was prodigal in side-thrusts at “Salem”. This was pouring oil on the fire, and so a disputation ensued, which would have been continued much longer, had not the censorship put a stop to it by forbidding the Editor of the journal to insert any thing more on the subject. As such quarrels were exceedingly unpleasant to[Pg 182] me, I was very glad to be able to return to my harmless occupation of composing.

In the autumn of 1813, Dorette presented me with a son. Our joy at this increase to our family was unfortunately of short duration; for the boy soon became sickly and died, before he was three months old. His poor mother sought and found relief in her harp; she practised with me the new Rondo for my benefit-concert that was to take place in December. According to the musical journal, this concert took place in the small “Redouten-Saal”, and my brother Ferdinand made his début in a Violin Duet with me.

In the meantime, the great battle of Leipsic had been fought. The allied armies had crossed the Rhine, and it was hoped they would soon enter Paris. In Vienna great preparations were made to celebrate that entry, and the return of the Emperor and his victorious army. All the Theatres, had had incidental commemorative pieces written and composed, and the newly instituted Society of the friends of music of the Austrian Empire under the patronage of the Archduke Rudolph made preparations for a monster performance of Handel’s “Samson” in the Imperial Riding-school; for which Herr von Mosel increased the instrumentation. Other Societies undertook similar performances. This gave Herr von Tost the idea of making arrangements for a grand musical performance on the return of the Emperor, and he asked me if I would write a Cantata for the occasion, the subject of which should be the liberation of Germany. I willingly consented, but with the observation, that this subject in itself offered but few favourable passages to the composer, and that in order to obtain such, the text should be written by a good poet.

“Oh! there shall be no want of that” was the reply. “I will immediately go to Frau von Pichler, and have no doubt, that she will untertake to furnish you with the text.” And so she did. I consulted with the authoress upon the form and contents, and she then handed me a text-book, which in[Pg 183] rich variety of domestic and warlike scenes presented a succession of favourable materials for composition.

I immediately set to work upon it, and finished this Cantata, which takes two hours to perform, in less than three months, from January to the middle of March 1814, in the midst of all my other numerous occupations.

Meanwhile Herr von Tost, had engaged the four best singers in Vienna for the soli-parts, viz Mesdames Buchwieser and Milder, and Messrs. Wild and Weinmüller, and for the choruses he purposed to combine the whole of the church-choirs and the chorus-singers of the theatre. The vocal parts were written and distributed, and I had already gone several times to Madame Milder, to assist her in practising her part; when, one morning Herr von Tost rushed into my room and exclaimed in despair: “I have just now had the great Redouten-Saal refused to me for our performance, under the idle pretence that it cannot be spared on account of the preparation for the Court-festivals! It is from sheer jealousy alone of the Musical Society, who will not allow any other grand performance in the Riding-school but their own. What is to be done? Since the destruction of the Apollo Saloon, there is no locale in Vienna except the “Great Redouten-Saal” fit for such a musical performance.”

At the moment, the thought occured to me of the Circus of Herr de Bach in the Prater. We immediately drove out there, to see whether the Riding-ring in the centre of the building would afford sufficient room to hold our orchestra and the personnel of the theatre. I thought it would, and promised myself an immense effect from the disposing of the body of assistants in the centre of the building. But unfortunately, this locale also, for some reason which I no longer recollect, was not to be had, and so the whole undertaking failed, to the great grief of Herr von Tost.

This Cantata shared the same fate as “Faust.” It was first produced long after I had left Vienna. I heard it for[Pg 184] the first time in 1815 at the musical Festival at Frankenhausen, on the anniversary of the battle of Leipsic.

As with me, so it fared with Beethoven in a similar Festive composition; neither, also, was his performed at that period. It was called “Der glorreiche Augenblick[14] and was published later with altered text by Haslinger in Vienna.

While mentioning Beethoven, it occurs to me, that I have not yet adverted to my friendly relations with that great artist, and I therefore hasten to supply the deficiency.

Upon my arrival in Vienna I immediately paid a visit to Beethoven; I did not find him at home, and therefore left my card. I now hoped to meet him at some of the musical parties, to which he was frequently invited, but was soon informed that, Beethoven since his deafness had so much increased that he could no longer hear music connectedly, had withdrawn himself from all musical parties, and had become very shy of all society. I made trial therefore of another visit; but again without success. At length I met him quite unexpectedly at the eating-house where I was in the habit of going with my wife every day at the dinner hour. I had already now given concerts, and twice performed my oratorio. The Vienna papers had noticed them favourably. Beethoven had therefore heard of me when I introduced myself to him, and he received me with an unusual friendliness of manner. We sat down at the same table, and Beethoven became very chatty, which much surprised the company, as he was generally taciturn, and sat gazing listlessly before him. But it was an unpleasant task to make him hear me, and I was obliged to speak so loud as to be heard in the third room off. Beethoven now came frequently to these dining rooms, and visited me also at my house. We thus soon became well acquainted: Beethoven was a little blunt, not to say uncouth; but a truthful eye beamed from under his bushy eyebrows. After my return from Gotha I met him now and then at the[Pg 185] theatre “an der Wien”, close behind the orchestra, where Count Palffy had given him a free seat. After the opera he generally accompanied me to my house, and passed the rest of the evening with me. He could then be very friendly with Dorette and the children. He spoke of music but very seldom. When he did, his opinions were very sternly expressed, and so decided as would admit of no contradiction whatever. In the works of others, he took not the least interest; I therefore had not the courage to shew him mine. His favorite topic of conversation at that time was a sharp criticism of the management of both theatres by Prince Lobkowitz and Count Palffy. He frequently abused the latter in so loud a tone of voice, while we were yet even within the walls of his theatre, that not only the public leaving it, but the Count himself could hear it in his office. This used to embarrass me greatly, and I then always endeavoured to turn the conversation upon some other subject.

Beethoven’s rough and even repulsive manners at that time, arose partly from his deafness, which he had not learned to bear with resignation, and partly from the dilapidated condition of his pecuniary circumstances. He was a bad housekeeper, and had besides the misfortune to be plundered by those about him. He was thus frequently in want of common necessaries. In the early part of our acquaintance, I once asked him, after he had absented himself for several days from the dining rooms: “You were not ill, I hope?”—“My boot was, and as I have only one pair, I had house-arrest”, was his reply.

But some time afterwards he was extricated from this depressing position by the exertions of his friends. The proceeding was as follows:

Beethoven’s “Fidelio”, which in 1804 (or 1805) under very unfavourable circumstances, (during the occupation of Vienna by the French), had met with very little success, was now brought forward again by the director of the Kärnthnerthor-Theatre and performed for his benefit. Beethoven[Pg 186] had allowed himself to be persuaded to write a new overture for it (in E), a song for the jailor, and the grand air for Fidelio (with horns-obligati) as also to make some alterations. In this new form the Opera had now great success, and kept its place during a long succession of crowded performances. On the first night, the composer was called forward several times, and now became again the object of general attention. His friends availed themselves of this favorable opportunity to make arrangements for a concert in his behalf in the great “Redouten Saal” at which the most recent compositions of Beethoven were to be performed. All who could fiddle, blow, or sing were invited to assist, and not one of the most celebrated artists of Vienna failed to appear. I and my orchestra had of course also joined, and for the first time I saw Beethoven, direct. Although I had heard much of his leading, yet it surprised me in a high degree. Beethoven had accustomed himself to give the signs of expression to his orchestra by all manner of extraordinary motions of his body. So often as a Sforzando occured, he tore his arms which he had previously crossed upon his breast, with great vehemence asunder. At a piano, he bent himself down, and the lower, the softer he wished to have it. Then when a crescendo came, he raised himself again by degrees, and upon the commencement of the forte, sprang bolt upright. To increase the forte yet more, he would sometimes, also, join in with a shout to the orchestra, without being aware of it.

Upon my expressing my astonishment to Seyfried, at this extraordinary method of directing, he related to me a tragi-comical circumstance that had occurred at Beethoven’s last concert at the Theatre “an der Wien.”

Beethoven was playing a new Pianoforte-Concerto of his, but forgot at the first tutti, that he was a Soloplayer, and springing up, began to direct in his usual way. At the first sforzando he threw out his arms so wide asunder, that he knocked both the lights off the piano upon the ground. The audience laughed, and Beethoven was so incensed at this dis[Pg 187]turbance, that he made the orchestra cease playing, and begin anew. Seyfried, fearing, that a repetition of the accident would occur at the same passage, bade two boys of the chorus place themselves on either side of Beethoven, and hold the lights in their hands. One of the boys innocently approached nearer, and was reading also in the notes of the piano-part. When therefore the fatal sforzando came, he received from Beethoven’s out thrown right hand so smart a blow on the mouth, that the poor boy let fall the light from terror. The other boy, more cautious, had followed with anxious eyes every motion of Beethoven, and by stooping suddenly at the eventful moment he avoided the slap on the mouth. If the public were unable to restrain their laughter before, they could now much less, and broke out into a regular bacchanalian roar. Beethoven got into such a rage, that at the first chords of the solo, half a dozen strings broke. Every endeavour of the real lovers of music to restore calm and attention were for the moment fruitless. The first allegro of the Concerto was therefore lost to the public. From that fatal evening Beethoven would not give another concert.

But the one got up by his friends, was attended with the most brilliant success. The new compositions of Beethoven pleased extremely, particularly the symphony in A-Major (the seventh); the wonderful second theme was encored; and made upon me also, a deep and lasting impression. The execution was a complete masterpiece, inspite of the uncertain and frequently laughable direction of Beethoven.

It was easy to see that, the poor deaf Maestro of the Piano, could no longer hear his own music. This was particularly remarkable in a passage in the second part of the first allegro of the symphony. At that part there are two pauses in quick succession, the second of which, is pianissimo. This, Beethoven had probably overlooked, for he again began to give the time before the orchestra had executed this second pause. Without knowing it therefore, he was already from ten to twelve bars in advance of the orchestra when it began the[Pg 188] pianissimo. Beethoven, to signify this in his own way, had crept completely under the desk. Upon the now ensuing crescendo, he again made his appearance, raised himself continually more and more, and then sprang up high from the ground, when according to his calculation the moment for the forte should begin. As this did not take place, he looked around him in affright, stared with astonishment at the orchestra, that it should still be playing pianissimo, and only recovered himself, when at length the long expected forte began, and was audible to himself.

Fortunately this scene did not take place at the public performance, otherwise the audience would certainly have laughed again.

As the saloon was crowded to overflowing and the applause enthusiastic, the friends of Beethoven made arrangements for a repetition of the concert, which brought in an almost equally large amount. For some time therefore Beethoven was extricated from his pecuniary difficulties; but, arising from the same causes, these reoccurred to him more than once before his death.

Up to this period, there was no visible falling off in Beethoven’s creative powers. But as from this time, owing to his constantly increasing deafness, he could no longer hear any music, that of a necessity must have had a prejudicial influence upon his fancy. His constant endeavour to be original and to open new paths, could no longer as formerly, be preserved from error by the guidance of the ear. Was it then to be wondered at that his works became more and more eccentric, unconnected, and incomprehensible? It is true there are people, who imagine they can understand them, and in their pleasure at that, rank them far above his earlier masterpieces. But I am not of the number, and freely confess that. I have never been able to relish the last works of Beethoven. Yes! I must even reckon the much admired Ninth Symphony among them, the three first themes of which, inspite of some solitary flashes of genius, are to me[Pg 189] worse than all of the eight previous Symphonies, the fourth theme of which is in my opinion so monstrous and tasteless, and in its grasp of Schiller’s Ode so trivial, that I cannot even now understand how a genius like Beethoven’s could have written it. I find in it another proof of what I already remarked in Vienna, that Beethoven was wanting in æsthetical feeling and in a sense of the beautiful.

As at the time I made Beethoven’s acquaintance, he had already discontinued playing both in public, and at private parties; I had therefore but one opportunity to hear him, when I casually came to the rehearsal of a new Trio (D-Major ¾ time) at Beethoven’s house. It was by no means an enjoyment; for in the first place the pianoforte was woefully out of tune, which however little troubled Beethoven, since he could hear nothing of it, and, secondly, of the former so admired excellence of the virtuoso, scarcely any thing was left, in consequence of his total deafness. In the forte, the poor deaf man hammered in such a way upon the keys, that entire groups of notes were inaudible, so that one lost all intelligence of the subject unless the eye followed the score at the same time. I felt moved with the deepest sorrow at so hard a destiny. It is a sad misfortune for any one to be deaf; how then should a musician endure it without despair? Beethoven’s almost continual melancholy was no longer a riddle to me now.

The next thing I wrote after finishing the Cantata, was a Violin-quartett (the tenth, op. 30 published by Mechetti in Vienna.) Being very brilliant for the first violin, it was soon my hobby-horse, and I played it times innumerable at private parties. Then followed the Octett, in which by Herr von Tost’s wish, who then contemplated a journey to England, I took up a theme from Handel, varied, and carried it out thematically, as he was of opinion it would on that account excite great interest in that country. I also played this composition very frequently, in which besides myself the clarinetist Friedlowsky and the hornist Herbst, and[Pg 190] another whose name I now forget, found especial opportunity to distinguish themselves.

In the autumn of 1814, the crowned heads of Europe and their Ministers assembled in Vienna, and that famed Congress began, from which the German nations expected to see the fulfilment of all the promises made to them for their self devotion. A swarm of idlers and curious poured from all parts into Vienna, to be present at the splendid festivities, with which the Emperor was to entertain his guests. Before the Emperor’s return to Vienna several had already taken place, which from their magnificence yet more increased the expectation of what was to follow. At one of these I had also assisted. It was a grand serenade in the Court-Yard of the Burg Palace, and was given either to the Emperor or to Prince Schwarzenberg, I now no longer recollect which. In the centre of that not very large square, surrounded by lofty buildings a raised platform was erected for the numerous personnel of the orchestra and choruses. Upon a balcony opposite the singers, the Court and State officials were assembled. The remaining space was filled by a numerous public, to whom free admission had been allowed.

When I saw the locality, and the assembled crowd which had increased to thousands, I felt alarmed, for I had promised to perform a violin-concerto, and now feared, that my tones would be unheard, and lost in the wide surrounding space. But to withdraw now, was no longer possible, so I resigned myself to my fate. But every thing went off better than I had expected. Already during the overture I remarked that the high buildings threw back the sounds right well, and I then came forward with renewed courage. The very first tones of my solo allayed all my anxiety that the damp night air would affect my strings, for my violin sounded clear and powerful as usual. As the public also, during my play, maintained the most perfect silence, even the finest shades of my instrumentation were every where distinctly heard. The effect, therefore, was a very favorable one, and was acknowledged[Pg 191] by loud and long applause. I have never played before a more numerous nor a more sympathetic public.

Among the many strangers attracted by the Congress were several artists, who thought the opportunity a most favourable one to give concerts in Vienna. In this they very much deceived themselves. For as all the native artists gave concerts, these became so numerous and close upon each other, that it was impossible for all to be well attended! One that I and my wife gave on the 11. December was an exception to this, for it attracted a numerous and brilliant audience. I gave the overture to “Faust,” and it was received with great approbation. The reviewer of the Musical-journal says “it increased our desire to see this opera, which has now been ready a twelvemonth, brought out at last.” Several lovers of art among the ambassadors and foreign diplomatists who had heard me play for the first time at my concert, paid me a visit, and expressed the wish to hear me in a quartett. This was the cause of my giving several music-parties during the Congress, and in which I played to those lovers of art the new compositions I had written for Herr von Tost. I still recollect with great satisfaction the general delight with which those productions were received. Certainly, I was supported also, upon those occasions by the first artists in Vienna, so that as regards execution nothing more could be desired. I generally began with a Quartett, then followed with a quintett, and concluded with my octett, or nonett.

Others also besides me, gave music parties to the visitors to the Congress, among these my friend Zizius particularly distinguished himself. All the foreign artists had been introduced at his house, and at his music parties therefore, there arose frequently a spirit of rivalry between the native and foreign virtuosi. I there for the first time heard Hummel play his beautiful Septett, as well as several other of his compositions of that period. But I was mostly charmed by his improvisations in which no other Pianoforte-Virtuoso has ever yet approached him. I especially remember with great[Pg 192] pleasure one evening when he improvised in so splendid a manner as I never since heard him whether in public or in private. The company were about to break up, when some ladies, who thought it too early, entreated Hummel to play a few more walzes for them. Obliging and galant as he was to the ladies, he seated himself at the piano, and played the wished for walzes, to which the young folks in the adjoining room began to dance. I, and some other artists, attracted by his play, grouped ourselves round the instrument with our hats already in our hands, and listened attentively. Hummel no sooner observed this, than he converted his play into a free phantasia of improvisation, but which constantly preserved the walz-rhythm, so that the dancers were not disturbed. He then took from me and others who had executed their own compositions during the evening a few easily combined themes and figures, which he interwove into his walzes and varied them at every recurrence with a constantly increasing richness and piquancy of expression. Indeed, at length, he even made them serve as fuge-themes, and let loose all his science in counterpoint without disturbing the walzers in their pleasures. Then he returned to the galant style, and in conclusion passed into a bravoura, such as from him even has seldom been heard. In this finale, the themes taken up were still constantly heard, so that the whole rounded off and terminated in real artistic style. The hearers were enraptured, and praised the young ladies’ love of dancing, that had conduced to so rich a feast of artistic excellence.

Among the foreign artists who came to Vienna before and during the Congress, were also, three of my former acquaintances, Carl Maria von Weber, Hermstedt and Feska. Weber played with great success and then left for Prague, whither he was summoned to direct the opera. Hermstedt came at a time, when the concerts were so numerous, that he could not give one of his own. He played, however, with immense applause at a concert of the flutist Dressier, in which he accompanied the air with clarinet obligato in “Titus”,[Pg 193] accompanied and played a pot-pourri of mine which I wrote for him for the occasion, after a new composition for harp and violin, that had particularly pleased Hermstedt. Both compositions were afterwards published; that for the clarinet with quartett-accompaniment as op. 81 at Schlesinger’s in Berlin, and that for harp and violin as op. 118 by Schuberth in Hamburgh.

Feska, who since I had known him in Magdeburgh, had become member of the Westphalian orchestra in Cassel, and now after its dissolution had been made Concert master at Carlsruhe, had made great progress both as violinist and composer. His quartetts and quintetts, which he executed in a pure, accomplished, and tasteful manner, took greatly in Vienna, and found a ready sale among the publishers there. One of them began in one of its themes with the notes, which form the composer’s name:

This the auditors thought very pretty, and joked the other composers present, Hummel, Pixis, and me, on account of our unmusical names. This suggested the idea to me of making something musical out of my name, with the assistance of the abbreviation formerly used of the piano into po, and of a quarter rest, which when written looks like an r. It was in this form:

and I immediately took it as a theme for a new violin-quartett, which is the first of the three quartetts published in Vienna by Mechetti as op. 29 and dedicated to Andreas Romberg. When I first played it at my friend’s Zizius, it met with great applause, and the originality of the theme, with its descending, diminished Quarte, was especially praised.[Pg 194] I now called together those who had previously quizzed me for my unmusical name and shewed them, (for naturally they had not heard it) the famous thema formed out of my name. They laughed heartily at my artistic trick, and now quizzed the more both Hummel and Pixis, who with all their skill could make nothing musical out of their names.


Meanwhile many things had changed in my position at the theatre and in respect to its proprietor. I had openly broken with Count Palffy. It was brought about by the following circumstance: One evening, when I entered the orchestra I saw Herr Buchwieser, the father of the prima donna, and third orchestra director, had taken Seyfried’s seat. I observed to him that I alone was charged with the direction of the orchestra, when Seyfried was prevented coming, and I therefore requested him to leave it. This he refused to do, with the remark, that the Count himself had ordered him to direct the opera, and at the express wish of his daughter, who preferred singing under his direction. As all my expostulations were unavailing, and I considered it beneath my dignity to play the first violin under so obscure a director, I quitted the orchestra, and returned home. The next morning I sent in a written remonstrance to the Count respecting this invasion of right that had been secured to me in my engagement, and requested, that I might be exposed to no further repetition of it.

The Count, incited by the Prima Donna, who was very incensed because I would not lead under the direction of her father, answered me with rudeness instead of with the apologies I had reason to expect, and which I replied to in yet stronger terms. From that moment, the Count and his creatures studied to annoy me in every possible manner that my position exposed me to. Added to this, since Palffy had been so fortunate as to become lessee of the two Court Theatres, he put his own theatre greatly in the back-ground.[Pg 195] He took away from it the best singers, and the best part of the chorus, to incorporate them with the personnel of the Kärnthnerthor-Theatre; so that “an der Wien”, from that time, Spectacle-pieces, and low class popular operas alone, were given. As I was not bound to assist at these, I had scarcely any thing more to do at the theatre. I could therefore clearly see, that I should be discharged after the termination of my engagement.

As now, after Napoleon was vanquished and banished to Elba, a general European peace seemed in perspective, and that I greatly desired to set out as soon as possible on my long projected artistic tour through all Europe; I made a proposition to the Count to cancel our agreement on the expiration of the second year, and demanded as compensation the half of my salary for the third year, paid down in one sum. He readily consented to it, and so we parted in peace. I now hastened to make every preparation in order to be enabled to commence my journey in the spring. I contemplated first, to travel through Germany and Switzerland to Italy, whither I had long ardently desired to go. As I purposed taking my children with me, foreseeing that their mother would not be able to separate from them for so long a time without pining to death; I was first of all obliged to provide myself with a larger travelling carriage to hold us all, with the instruments. The difficulty was to build one for this purpose, sufficiently light of draught for three posthorses. I conferred upon this therefore with Herr Langhaus, the clever machinist at the theatre “an der Wien”, and afterwards director of public buildings in Berlin, who made a drawing of the design suggested in our conference, according to which the carriage should be built. It had a solid roof, upon which were packed the leather covered harp-case, and a trunk for linen. The violin-case was stowed in a boot under the coachman’s seat, so that the whole space in the interior of the vehicle remained for the travellers.

In my relations with Herr von Tost, also, a serious[Pg 196] alteration had taken place. After the settlement of our earlier account, which was effected by the delivery of the Cantata “Das befreite Deutschland” I had delivered again, four manuscripts, the octett, two quartetts and a second quintett, without receiving the agreed price. At first I had argued no ill of this delay in settlement. But when it became suddenly reported in the city, that the wealthy Herr von Tost had sustained severe losses, and was on the point of bankruptcy; that he no longer called upon me, and even failed to appear at a musical-party where I played one of his manuscripts, but sent the portfolio instead of coming; the matter looked dubious. I therefore took back to him the portfolio myself, in order if possible, to come to a clear understanding with him at the same time. I found the otherwise so jovial man very much depressed in spirits. He confessed to me his position without reserve. It was, he said, extremely painful to him, to be unable to fulfil his engagements with me; but as his plans for the future were unsettled if not quite destroyed, he would forthwith return all my manuscripts to me before the expiration of the stipulated time, so that I might sell them as soon as possible to a publisher. For the loss I might thereby sustain, he was willing to indemnify me with a bill for one hundred ducats, which as soon as his affairs had assumed a more favourable aspect, he would honourably meet. Upon this he fetched the whole of the manuscripts and handed them to me. I, who considered that Herr von Tost had amply compensated me for the short time he had them in his possession, by the costly furniture he had bought for me, and reckoned at so low an estimate, was quite satisfied with the return of my manuscripts and refused all further indemnification. However, as I perceived that Herr von Tost felt hurt by this arrangement, I took the bill, well knowing that from my contemplated departure from Vienna its early liquidation was not to be thought of.

I now sold the whole of the returned manuscripts to[Pg 197] two Vienna publishers, and from their having acquired a great celebrity by their frequent performance, I received a considerable sum for them.

At the commencement of the year 1815, I wrote another Quartett, in C-major (No. 2 of the op. 29) and a new violin Concerto (the seventh, op. 38) as also Variations, which remained unpublished, for use upon the coming journey; the two last of these compositions I played at my farewell-Concert on the 19. February 1815. Respecting this last concert I gave in Vienna, the Musical journal spoke very favourably. Of the newest violin concerto (E-minor, C-major, E-major) it says: “Very difficult for the solo player as well as for those who accompany. A splendid, perfect composition; a fine flowing cantabile; striking modulations, replete with bold canonic imitations, an ever new, charming and happily calculated instrumentation. The melting adagio is especially captivating.” In conclusion it says: “As to the merits of this masterly artist, both here and throughout Germany there is but one opinion. We yet remember with lively satisfaction the triumph, which he achieved two years ago over his rival, the great Rode. He is now about to leave us upon a grand artistic tour. He first proceeds to Prague, where his new opera “Faust” is now being studied.... May he, who by his talent and his open, manly character has left an honourable memorial of his worth in our hearts, meet always, and every where with success!”

I at that time really had the intention of going first to Prague, to be present at the production of my opera, which was being studied under Carl Maria von Weber. But I afterwards abandoned that plan. I had in fact received a letter from my former Intendant Baron von Reibnitz at Breslau, wherein in the name of a family of his acquaintance that of Prince von Caroluth, he asked me if I would feel disposed to pass the summer months with them at their seat, Caroluth, in Silesia? The Princess was very desirous, that her two daughters, one of whom played the harp, the other[Pg 198] the pianoforte, should receive instruction in music from my wife. They would endeavour to make the stay of myself and family at their charming castle as agreable as possible. He, the Baron had been invited also, and would be extremely pleased if I would accept the invitation, so that he might again pass some time with me.

As the spring and summer were any way but little favourable seasons of the year to give concerts, and that Dorette and the children anticipated much pleasure from the stay at Carolath, I readily assented. I therefore hastened the preparations for our journey, in order to avail ourselves of the opportunity to give a few concerts at Breslau and in its neighbourhood, before the fine season had set in. The next thing was to effect the sale of our furniture and household chattels, which was very speedily done, for immediately upon the announcement of the sale, a host of purchasers presented themselves. As our furniture was very elegant, and withal nearly new, the purchasers bid warmly against each other, and we therefore realised a sum far beyond our expectation. This as well as my Vienna savings, which were still in paper currency, I now took to a banker’s and changed for gold. Scarcely had I done this when all Vienna was alarmed by the intelligence that Napoleon had escaped from Elba, landed in France, and been hailed with the greatest joy. The rate of exchange fell suddenly so low, that if I had delayed the conversion of my paper into specie but one day more, I should have suffered a loss of more than fifty ducats.

When first contemplating my grand tour through Europe, the idea struck me, also, of commencing an album, in which I purposed making a collection of the compositions of all the artists whose acquaintance I might make. I began immediately with the Viennese, and received from all the resident composers of my acquaintance, short, autographic works written for the most part expressly for my album. The most valuable contribution to me, is that of Beethoven. It is a Canon for three voices to the words from Schiller’sJungfrau von[Pg 199] Orleans”: “Kurz ist der Schmerz, und ewig währt die Freude.” It is worthy of remark, in the first place, that Beethoven whose handwriting, notes as well as text, were usually almost illegible, must have written this page with particular patience; for it is unblotted from beginning to end, which is the more remarkable, since he even drew the lines without the aid of a ruler; secondly, that after the falling in of the third voice a bar is wanting, which I was obliged to complete. The pages concluded with the wish:

May you dear Spohr where ever you find real art, and real artists, think with pleasure of me, Your friend.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna March 3. 1815.

Upon all my subsequent travels I received contributions to this album, and possess therefore a highly interesting collection of short compositions from German, Italian, French, English and Dutch artists.[15]


On the eve of taking leave of Vienna, I yet think I must recall some further incidents of my stay there, which hitherto I have had no opportunity of relating. First, in respect of my orchestral duties. These were sometimes very onerous for me; the same piece being frequently represented twenty or thirty nights in succession. This happened not only with two of Mozart’s operas “Don Juan” and the “Zauberflöte”, which during my engagement were brought out with a new distribution of characters and with a very brilliant mise en scene; but, also, with a ballet, which during the Congress was repeated an innumerable number of times, and in which I had to play violin soli’s. What its name was, I no longer recollect, but that the celebrated dancers Duport, and mesdames Bigottini and Petit Aimée, whom Count Palffy had sent for from Paris, danced in it. It is true, I did not play[Pg 200] those soli’s unwillingly, upon their own account, for the audience always listened with the greatest attention, and were profuse in their applause of me; but it annoyed me that I was obliged to measure my tempi, by the steps of the dancers and that I could not lengthen at pleasure my closes and cadences, as the dancers were unable to sustain themselves so long in their groupings. This gave rise therefore to many bickerings with the ballet master, until at length I learned compliance. I endeavoured to sweeten the monotony of my duties in some degree by always enriching and ornamenting my soli performances. This I did especially with the troubadour in “John of Paris” for whom a pas de trois was introduced in that ballet. As in the opera of that name, there were three strophes, the first of which had to be executed by the horn, the second by the violincello, and the third by the violin, I at first ornamented my strophe in a very vocal style. But as I remarked, that the Prima Donna, demoiselle Buchwieser at the next representation had borne them well in mind, sang them, and obtained great applause for them, this so annoyed me, as I could not bear the singer, that I thenceforth ornamented them in a style she could not imitate with her voice.

Besides the two above mentioned operas of Mozart, I experienced a third ordeal in a new popular-opera, with music by Hummel, which by a singular chance such as will assuredly never occur again, went through a long succession of nightly representations. It was called “Princess Eselshaut” and as far as the author’s text, was so wretched a piece of patchwork, that in spite of the pretty music of which five or six of the Numbers were received with great applause, it was at the conclusion unanimously hissed. This according to Vienna custom at once consigned it to the tomb. Hummel who conducted, had, already, quite resignedly expressed himself to me, who in honour of him led as first violin. “Another pure labour in vain!” But on the following evening when another piece was to have been announced, it could not be[Pg 201] given, owing to the illness of several of the performers in the opera and play, and the manager was therefore obliged to repeat the condemned opera though at the risk of exciting an uproar in the theatre. On that evening nevertheless, just on account of the anticipated tumult, the theatre was crammed to excess, and the piece was hissed at the end of each act, and again at the conclusion. But the musical pieces met with more applause than on the first night, and at the fall of the curtain when the hissing had ceased, the composer was even called for, and greeted with vehement applause. As the indisposition of the invalids still continued, a third trial of it was obliged to be made, which went off nearly like the former one. Yet was the opposition against the piece much less, and the music obtained more friends than ever. Thus it could be continued with confidence, and on the succeeding nights it again found new friends in sufficient number. At length it became the fashion to go and hiss the piece, and praise the music. Hummel took speedy advantage of this, and published a piano-forte arrangement of the most favorite Numbers, which had a rapid sale. So it was no “labour in vain” after all, as he had feared on the first evening!

Pixis, was not so fortunate with his opera, the “Zauberspruch”. That was swamped by the badness of the libretto, nor could the music keep it above water, although it had, also, many successful “numbers.” It was the occasion for the display of a bit of real Viennese wit. A friend of the composer, not having been able to see the first representation of it, enquired of another who had been present “Well what do you think of the opera of Pixis?”—“Nix is!” was the reply.

I may here relate another of my Vienna recollections, since it is one of those which make a deep impression and therefore do not so easily fade from the memory. It was an unusually great inundation, such as occurs once only in every century, occasioned by the overflowing of the little river “die Wien” on the banks of which my house was[Pg 202] situated. On that occasion it was so great from the simultaneous overflowing of the Danube, which would not allow the waters of the “Wien” an outlet. I had not observed the commencement of the inundation, being engaged at a rehearsal at the theatre. After it was over, I found the street leading to my house already flooded, and I saw that I must use all haste to be enabled even to wade through it.

Nevertheless I first fetched my violin-case out of the orchestra, as I foresaw that, also, would be laid under water. By this time the flood had risen so high that in some places the water reached above my knees. I found my family in the greatest consternation and the other inmates of the house still more so. My landlord, the cabinet-maker, with his family, were already hurrying up past my floor to the top of the house, and endeavouring to secure a dry stowage for their effects, in the loft. He had need to hasten; for the water rose so fast, that in a few hours it almost reached to the first floor. The terrified inhabitants of the suburb had now a scene before them such as they had never before beheld. The rushing waters swept by, bearing along with them articles of every description commingled in the strangest confusion. Implements of husbandry, carts laden with hay or wood, the wreck of stalls and stabling, dead cattle, and even a cradle containing a screaming infant, which, however, was happily rescued by a boat. The owners of the houses, furnished with long poles, were exerting themselves to keep off the objects as they floated by, so that they might not damage the walls of the houses, others on the other hand provided with boat hooks, endeavoured to lay hold of the furniture and other household chattels in order to save them, and pull them up into the windows for security. Some hours afterwards, when such like articles had ceased to float past, boats made their appearance laden with provisions, which were readily bought up by the inhabitants of the flooded streets. Other boats towards evening brought the employés and men of business from the city to their dwellings, and anxiously ex[Pg 203]pecting families. As the rain also poured down in torrents, the inundation still continued at the same height, and even at night fall there was no perceptible decrease of the waters. So long as it remained light, the scene afforded great diversity of interest, but when night came it was fearful to behold. The roar of the waters, and the howling of the storm forbade all thought of repose; nor was it advisable to retire to rest, as no one knew what might yet occur. I therefore laid my children near me on my sofa with their clothes on, and as Dorette had soon fallen asleep beside them, I sat down to my work, a new song-composition, in order to resist sleep more effectually. In this I succeeded. But my zeal at composition led me several times to the piano, which the family of my landlord who passed half the night in the floor above me upon their knees in prayer, took in very great dudgeon; for on the following morning the nurse-maid informed me, that the wife had bitterly exclaimed: “That Lutheran heretic will bring yet greater misfortune upon us with his unchristian singing and playing.” But the night passed without further misfortune, and by day-break the water had greatly decreased. Nevertheless, it was evening before it had sufficiently subsided to admit of again traversing the streets on foot. But the “Theatre an der Wien” remained closed for eight days, for it required that time before all traces of the inundation could be removed.


After a sorrowful parting from dear Vienna, where we had passed so many happy days, I set out with my family upon our great journey on the 18. March, 1815. My brother Ferdinand whose engagement at the “Theatre an der Wien” was to last for another year, remained alone behind. After its expiration, he obtained an appointment in the Royal Orchestra of Berlin.

Our first resting place was at Brünn, where we gave a concert. How it succeeded, I no longer remember, but I[Pg 204] well recollect, that I was very dissatisfied with the orchestral-accompaniment. In respect to that, of course my excellent orchestra in Vienna had accustomed me to a very different style of performance.

From Brünn we went to Breslau, where in April we also gave two concerts; but they were not well attended. The unsettled state of the public mind arising from the recommencement of hostilities and from the great sacrifices entailed upon each individual by the contributions required of them, was in truth then so general, that a more unfavourable time to give concerts could not well have presented itself. But in so musical a city as Breslau, even in that period of warlike commotion, there was no dearth of zealous musical amateurs, to whom music was a necessary of life. I was therefore frequently invited to private circles, in which I had an opportunity to perform my Vienna compositions of Herr von Tost’s portfolio. They met with a brilliant reception, particularly the two Quintetts, which I was frequently obliged to repeat. At the earnest wish of my friend Schnabel, director of the Cathedral-orchestra, I wrote an Offertorium for a Solo-soprano voice and chorus, with violin obligato and orchestra, which, as is shewn by the catalogue of my compositions was performed in the Cathedral on 16. April, and where I took the violin-part. As I left behind me there the original score, and have never seen it since that time, I am unable to say whether the composition has any merit. Probably it is still to be found in the library of the cathedral.


On a fine evening in the spring, I arrived with my family at Carolath. As we had to pass over a small river near the castle, in a ferry-boat, our arrival was perceived before hand. We therefore found upon driving into the Castle-court, the whole of the Prince’s family assembled at the foot of the steps, and were welcomed by them in the most friendly manner. The prince himself led us to the apartments assigned[Pg 205] to us. After we had changed our dress we were summoned to the supper-table. The Prince, a somewhat ceremonious but friendly and well meaning man from fifty eight to sixty years of age received us at the entrance of the dining-room, and introduced us to the other guests. They consisted of the Princess his second wife, her sister, a lady passionately fond of poetry and music, his two daughters by his first marriage, amiable maidens of fifteen and seventeen years of age, and their tutor, Herr Kartscher, a young man of polished manners. The conversation at table was with the exception of the somewhat antiquated formality of the Prince, both free from restraint and lively, and convinced me that I was in a high bred circle having a sympathy for all that was beautiful. Dorette was also very pleased with the conversation of her neighbours the Prince and his sister-in-law, and the children in whom the young ladies had interested themselves in the most friendly manner, were also extremely happy. Our whole family looked forward therefore to a pleasant residence at the castle.

On the following day, the regulations were forthwith adopted for the subjects and hours of study, which with few exceptions remained unchanged during the whole time of our stay. In the forenoon, while Dorette gave instruction to the Princesses, the eldest on the harp, the youngest on the piano, I also gave the first music lessons to my children. Afterwards they were permitted to participate in the lessons given to the Princesses by their tutor, and he was so good as to adapt his instruction as much as possible to the capacities of the children. Meanwhile, my wife and I occupied ourselves with our own musical-studies, or I composed. As the members of the Prince’s family were very fond of singing, this was inducement sufficient to me to write two small books of songs, the text of which was furnished by the sister of the Princess from her large collection of poetical pieces. Among these were also some poems of Herr Kartscher. Both volumes were published by Peters of Leipsic as op. 37, and 41. When the studies of the forenoon were terminated, a careful toilette was made[Pg 206] by all, to appear at the dinner-table, as it was always the custom with the Prince’s family to dine en parure, or full dress. The remainder of the day was devoted to social intercourse and amusements. When the weather was fine, coffee was served in the castle garden, and towards evening an excursion-drive was made into the neighbouring environs. A farm belonging to the Prince was a frequent object of our visit, and either there or in the woods around it we frequently partook of a rustic supper. At other times when the weather was overcast, or that visitors came from neighbouring parts, we had music in the evening. As soon, however, as Herr von Reibnitz arrived as guest at the Castle, an attempt at Quartett music was made. The old valet of the Prince who in his younger days had played the violincello, was then summoned to produce his instrument, the schoolmaster of the village his viol, and Herr von Reibnitz took the second violin. Unfortunately I had no other Quartetts with me, than my own, which were certainly never written for such performers. The first attempt therefore was very discouraging. But as the others evinced much zeal, I was not wanting in patience and endurance; and by dint of several rehearsals I succeeded so far as to enable me to let the company hear two of my quartetts. They were not so well accustomed to enjoyments in art as not to receive their performance with great approbation. A polonaise also, which I then wrote (op. 40, published by Peters) pleased greatly, and soon became a frequently requested and favorite piece with the company, perhaps, merely, because they had seen it composed. After I and my family had passed the first two months of our residence in Carolath in this sufficiently pleasant though somewhat uniform manner, the Prince announced one day at dinner with some solemnity, that he would be obliged to leave his dear guests for one day, as it was his custom every year on the 24. June to proceed to Glogau, to be present at the Freemason’s festival of St. John. This induced me upon rising from table to make myself known to him as a brother Mason, which so agreably[Pg 207] surprised the Prince that he immediately invited me to accompany him on the journey. I have forgotten to relate that I had already become a freemason in Gotha, had there received after the expiration of a year the second degree of the order, and a year later on a journey to Berlin, the third, of master-mason. But as in Austria, freemasonry was prohibited, and that for two years and a half I had frequented no lodge, I longed to assist once more at a meeting of the brothers. The Prince’s invitation to accompany him to Glogau came therefore very opportunely. Grand preparations were forthwith made. The great travelling carriage emblazoned with the Prince’s armorial bearings was drawn out of the coach-house, and cleansed from dust; a Jäger, and another servant had squeezed himself into the state livery, and the Prince himself made his appearance for the first time in state-uniform, with his star upon his breast. We set out early on the morning of the 24. Arrived at the lodge, the Prince was received and welcomed by a deputation, and his guest, also, after having testified his prerogative, was greeted as a brother in the most friendly manner. After the meeting of the work-lodge, a splendid dinner-lodge followed, in which I joined the musical brethren, directed their singing, and myself, sang with my powerful bass voice some mason’s songs and the “Heiligen Hallen” from the “Zauberflöte.” Among the musical brothers I found several acquaintances of my earlier travels through Silesia, who eagerly sought to honour me with their attentions.

The chairman, also, welcomed the “renowned craftsman” to the circle of brothers, and thanked the Prince for having introduced him. The Prince seemed greatly pleased to find the honours paid to his guest, redound to his own, for on his return to Carolath he redoubled his already great attentions towards me and my family, so that we were even frequently embarrassed by them.

After a further highly agreable stay of from six to eight weeks, we resumed our journey through Dresden and Leipzic[Pg 208] to Gotha. Returned thither after an absence of nearly three years from her home, Dorette felt so happy, that I could not think of leaving it for some time. I therefore settled down quietly for a few months, and only made a few short excursions in the neighbourhood. The first was to my parents at Gandersheim, where my father had in the meanwhile been transferred as District-Physician, and from thence to Hanover, where I gave a concert. The second was to Frankenhausen, where Bischoff got up another musical festival.

Here begins one of my diaries which I continued without any break off up to my return from Italy. The title is “Passing Remarks, during a Musical-tour” and the work begins:

Frankenhausen, Oct. 19. 1815.

...... “In Hanover we made the interesting acquaintance of the Violinist, and the highly uninteresting one of the Man, Kiesewetter. As violinist he is distinguished for a powerful very pure, and even feeling style of play, without however as it seems to me, a true feeling for the beauties of art; as a man, he is the most inflated wind-bag, that I ever met! He conducted in our concert on the 11. October, but without certainty and foresight.

“After a pause of three years, the musicians of Thuringia have again assembled here, for the purpose of celebrating after the speedily terminated war, the now complete emancipation of Germany, upon the anniversary of the Leipsic “Battle of the Nations”, in a manner worthy of the musical science. This day, the first of the musical festival, the performance of my Cantata “Das befreite Deutschland” and the “Te Deum” of Gottfried Weber, took place. As it would not beseem me as composer to express an opinion of my own work, we will here alone speak of its performance. The solo-parts were throughout not well distributed, for which reason the arias and ensemble parts produced the least effects. But the chorus and the orchestra were excellent, and therefore the overture and collective choruses produced a great sensa[Pg 209]tion. The double chorus of the flying French and that of the pursuing Russians followed by the Prayer of thanks of the German peoples, and the concluding chorus with the fuge, pleased the most. I again experienced that in a spacious locality, and with a numerous orchestra and chorus, the most simple subjects when written in a worthy and noble style produce the greatest effects; that on the other hand, a richness of figures in the instrumentation, and a rapidly changing sequence of harmony are, there, by no means in their proper place. The Te Deum of Gottfried Weber which had been greatly extolled in favourable reviews of it in the public journals, did not quite fulfil my expectations. It betrays too much that, it was not the production of a moment of inspiration, but rather of cold speculation. The very commencement is a straining after effect, and as introduction to a Te Deum, certainly very unsuited. To what purpose the long roll of the kettle-drums that sounds like a passing peal of thunder? And then, above all, the ensuing flourish of four trumpets and sackbuts, like that with which cavalry draws up on parade?”

October, 20.

“On the second day, a miscellaneous Concert took place in the following order: A Symphony of Mozart (C-Major) executed with spirit and precision, its effect was ravishing! To-day I became convinced that in a spacious locale, and with a powerfully appointed orchestra, the four themes of the concluding fuge, at the part where they combine to form the finale, can be right well understood by a practised ear. If, hitherto, this part appeared to me more scientific than effective, I was this day convinced of my error. 2dly a violin-Concerto (E-Minor) my own. To-day, I again became convinced, that, the masses are far more taken with the skilful and brilliant execution of the virtuoso, than by the merit of the composition. All were delighted with my play, and but few adverted as well to the composition. 3dly an Italian air with chorus, by Paer, sung by Herr Strohmeyer. This[Pg 210] aria from an Oratorio called “La Religione” is written in so unecclesiastical a style, that with a change of the text it might be converted into a right good Opera buffa. During the time that the impersonation of Religion (who certainly might with much more propriety, sing soprano, instead of bass) executes the most common place operatic melodies, shakes and throat-tearing bounds, the chorus screams now and then unisono, and fortissime, Santa! Santa! between; just as a robber-band would call out to travellers the “Stand! your money or your life!” As this aria gave Herr Strohmeyer an opportunity to display his fine and powerful voice as well as his skill in its management, it was received with great applause. 4thly an Adagio and Potpourri of mine for the clarinet, played by Herr Hermstedt, likewise very favorably received. Yet I found, and several other musicians were of the same opinion, that, though Hermstedt constantly made more progress in the technics of his instrument, he did not devellope his taste in the same degree. His execution has somewhat of a mannerism that borders on caricature. 5thly a patriotic song on the melody of “God save the king” with orchestral and organ accompaniment by Methfessel. The public to whom the words had been distributed, joined in.”

Poor Bischoff did not find his account in this third Frankenhausen musical festival. The reason of the deficit in the receipts was doubtless the quartering of Russian troops in the neighbourhood, which kept both the town and country residents from attending the festival. As Bischoff was not in a position to cover this deficit from his own means, the musicians who had assisted, agreed, upon my proposition, to defray their own expenses of the journey both ways, and to collect the necessary sum by a concert to be given on their return home. To that effect I also gave one at Gotha on the 28. October, in which Andreas Romberg who since two years had been director of concerts there, supported me in the most friendly manner.

[Pg 211]

Gotha, October, 29.

My intercourse with Andreas Romberg, the educated and reflective artiste, afforded me again many hours of rich enjoyment. But I again found that he performs his compositions in an indiscribably cold and dry manner, as though he himself did not feel the beauties they contain! He played several of his Quartetts, which I had long admired, because I had frequently heard them played by others, and have myself played them; but the soul which they so plainly bespeak, and which every violinist by whom I have heard them played till now has rightly seized, seems to have remained unknown to him, for in his execution of them, no trace of it was to be discovered! It struck me as remarkable, also, that his predeliction leaned more especially to those which seemed to me the weakest. But I was yet more astonished that he often takes his tempi, according to my feeling, false, and thereby frequently spoils their effect; for I almost invariably found the Allegro’s too slow, and the Adagio’s too fast.

Meiningen, October, 31.

We gave a concert here to-day, at which the Dutchess and the whole Court were present. Herr Wassermann, one of the cleverest of my former pupils, played my Concertante with me.

Wurzburg, Nov., 10.

I made here the acquaintance of two known artistes, that of Herr Fröhlich, and of Witt. The former, Professor at the University, lectures on æsthetics and is in many respects a highly talented artist, as well as a zealous contributor to the Musical journal. As a critic he appears tolerably conscientious, but I remarked, that he also, like many other reviewers, writes opinions upon works without having the score before him. He that knows how difficult it is even with the aid of the score, to acquire a knowledge of a work from merely reading it, must be greatly astonished that these gentlemen will commit such an oversight, and merely place the separate voices side by side, and alternately cast their eyes[Pg 212] on each. In a work of many voices, the perusal of the score is not alone sufficient, to enable a correct judgement to be pronounced; it is necessary also to have heard it, and well performed too!.....

Witt is Concert-master of the formerly grand-ducal Court-orchestra, which as well as the personnel of the singers of the Castle-church, after the acquisition of the grand-duchy by Bavaria are still continued in pay as formerly, and have remained up till now at their full complement. It is kept in good play-practice, and accompanied me to my full satisfaction in the concert we gave on the 7. November. I experienced much pleasure also from the performance of one of Haydn’s masses in the Castle-church, which was excellently executed under Witt’s direction. Herr Witt let me hear on the piano, his oratorio, “Die vier Menschenalter” (“The four ages of man”). As he played badly, and if possible sung still worse, it would be premature in me, from what I heard and read after him of the score, to give an opinion of the effect the work would produce when performed. Yet it seemed to me somewhat common-place, and here and there, almost trivial. Nevertheless, the fuges and some other “Numbers” written in the severe style showed great skill in counterpoint.

Nürnberg, Nov., 16.

Music appears very little cultivated in the ancient Imperial city, for the orchestra here is remarkably bad. At our concert yesterday, there was it is true both a numerous audience and no want of applause of our performance, but every thing accompanied by the orchestra was totally spoiled by it.

To render my diary complete, I must here add that, in Nürnberg, young Molique, then about fourteen years of age introduced himself to me, and requested me to give him instruction in music during my stay in Nürnberg; this I readily assented to, for the lad already then gave evidence of very uncommon talent for his years. As Molique, since that time, by an assiduous study of my violin-compositions formed[Pg 213] himself more and more upon my model in style of play, and therefore called himself Spohr’s pupil. I have mentioned this circumstance in a supplementary manner.

Munich, Dec., 12. 1815.

Our stay here afforded us much artistic enjoyment. Already on the day after our arrival we were present at an interesting concert, the first of the twelve winter-concerts given every year by the royal orchestra upon their own account. These concerts are very numerously attended, and merit it in a high degree. The orchestra consists of the simple harmony, twelve first, twelve second-violins, eight viols, ten violincelli and six double-basses. The violins and basses are excellent, and the wind instruments, also, up to the horns. At every concert, a whole Symphony is performed; (which is the more praiseworthy, from its becoming unfortunately daily more rare, and that the public for that reason are losing more and more the taste for that noble kind of instrumental-music); then an overture, two vocal, and two concert pieces. As the Court-orchestra of Munich still maintains its ancient repute as one of the first in the world, my expectation was greatly on the stretch; yet was it far exceeded by the execution of Beethoven’s Symphony in C-Minor, with which this first concert was opened. It is scarcely possible, that it could have been performed with more spirit, more power, and at the same time with greater delicacy, as also, throughout, with a closer observance of all the shades of forte and piano! It produced therefore a greater effect, also, than I had beleived it capable of, although I had already frequently heard it, and even under the direction of the composer himself in Vienna. Nevertheless, I found no reason to retract my former opinion respecting it. Though with many individual beauties, yet it does not constitute a classical whole. For instance, the introductory theme of the very first passage is wanting in that dignity which according to my feeling the commencement of a Symphony should of a necessity possess. Setting this aside, the short and easily comprehended theme, certainly permits[Pg 214] of being carried out very thematically, and is combined also by the composer with the other principal ideas of the first subject in an ingenious and effective manner. The Adagio in as is in part very fine, yet the same passages and modulations repeat themselves much too frequently, and although always with richer ornamentation, become in the end wearisome. The Scherzo, is highly original, and of real romantic colouring, but the Trio with the noisy running bass is to my taste much too rough. The concluding passage with its unmeaning noise, is the least satisfactory; nevertheless the return to the Scherzo at this part is so happy an idea, that the composer may be envied for it. Its effect is most captivating! But what a pity that this impression is so soon obliterated by the returning noise!

In this first concert we heard also Herr Rovelli, a young and but recently engaged violinist, in a Concerto in C-Minor by Lafond which is excellent, and was executed to the satisfaction of all. This young artist, a pupil of Kreutzer, combines with the chief excellencies of the Parisian school that which is usually wanting with pupils, viz, feeling and peculiar taste. The chief points of excellence in that school consist in a careful study and development of the Technics of the instrument, in which, however, the real cultivation of art is very frequently neglected. This, nevertheless, is not the case with Herr Rovelli; for he reads well from the sheet, and knows how to accompany, as I afterwards had an opportunity of proving when playing my quartetts.

Madame Bamberger from Würzburg, of whose fine second-tenor voice and good school, I had there already heard spoken of in such praise, sang in the concert, but appeared nervous, which was probably the reason why she took breath so frequently, and rendered the tones so imperfectly.

In the second subscription-concert, we heard Herr Flad, who performed an hautboy-concerto in a very brilliant manner. He has a very fine tone, and a very tasteful execution. Herr Legrand, on the other hand, who played Romberg’s violincello-concerto[Pg 215] in E-Minor, seems to me to be already going down hill, for his play is wanting both in power of endurance, and in sure, and pure intonation. An overture from the Romeo and Juliet by Steibelt, does not reach beyond common-place.

In the third subscription-concert, my Symphony in E-Major was exceedingly well performed under the spirited yet circumspect direction of Herr Concertmaster Maralt, and made more effect here than in Frankenhausen, where I had heard it for the first time four years ago. Herr Franzl director of music, played his old violin-concerto in C-Major with Turkish-music. Its composition is in the namby-pamby taste of Pleyel’s time, and will never suit the taste of the present day. His play is just as antiquated, and retains of its former excellence nothing but its vigour, but which now carries him frequently away into an indistinctness and want of purity in intonation. Although this was the case to-day, also, yet he was applauded like mad. This might have impressed a stranger with an unfavourable opinion of the taste of the people of Munich, had it not been evident, how well a small party of his personal friends knew to carry away the public by an uproarious clapping of hands, and a vigorous shouting of bravo. Though it certainly may be conceded to an artist who excelled in former times, that he should still meet with applause in later years, yet this may readily mislead him to overstep the period when he should cease to appear in public.

In the fourth subscription-concert, I played with Herr Rovelli, my Concertante, in satisfaction of the expectation that every foreign artist who desires to be supported in his own concerts by the royal orchestra, is in duty bound to play in one of the subscription-concerts. I never heard my Concertante to better advantage. Herr Rovelli had practised his part with the greatest attention and played in a masterly manner. The accompaniment was equally good. The Adagio with the three violincelli-obligati had a particularly fine effect.

Vogler’s celebrated overture to “Castor and Pollux” did not come up with my expectations. It begins in a spirited[Pg 216] and powerful manner it is true, but becomes lame towards the end, and the commencement itself derives its effect only from the noise of the brass instruments.

On the third of December, we played before the Queen in her private apartments, where besides herself and the King, a few only of the élite of the Court were present. Both Sovereigns appeared to take great interest in our play, for they loaded us with civilities. Besides ourselves, Madame Dulcken, a distinguished artiste played also, with her daughter and pupil, a Rondeau by Steibelt for two piano-forti.

On the sixth, our public concert took place in the Redouten-saloon, which the Queen also honoured with her presence, a mark of distinction, that for many years had been shewn to no foreign artists. I derived a great satisfaction from hearing my compositions again performed with so much brilliancy.

In the Museum, I found the Musical-journal, and therein a notice of the last musical-festival at Frankenhausen, which also contains an opinion upon my Cantata: “The emancipation of Germany.” The writer adduced so many shallow and false objections to that work, that I was greatly inclined to reply to it, had I not come to the resolution since my paper-war with Mosel, never again to write an anti-criticism.

Würzburg, Dec., 26.

On our journey thither from Munich, we have given in ten days, in four different towns, four flying concerts, that we had previously made arrangements for, which were numerously attended, and returned a rich harvest; viz, on the 16. in Nuremberg, on the 18. in Erlangen, on the 22. in Bamberg, and yesterday, the first day after Christmasday, here. It was nevertheless an arduous exertion, particularly for Dorette; the continual packing up and unpacking, rehearsing and concert-giving! We will now give ourselves a little rest.—The day before yesterday, I let Herr Professor Fröhlich hear my two Vienna Quartetts, dedicated to Romberg, chiefly with the view that he might notice them in the musical-journal.[Pg 217] They went off well, and therefore did not fail to make a favourable impression upon the hearers.

Frankfurt on the Mayne, January, 14. 1816.

Our stay here was but very poor in art-enjoyments. During the whole time, not a single concert besides our own, not one musical party! While eight years ago, on our first coming here we scarcely could find time to satisfy all the invitations to musical-soireés, now, not one of the Frankfurt musical amateurs (if indeed there are any left) takes it into his head to make a single demand upon our talents.

Even the theatre offered nothing very attractive, and only one, (for us new) opera, viz, “Carlo Fioras” by Fränzl, was performed.—Madame Graff in this opera, and as the countess, in the “Marriage of Figaro” proved herself a singer of an excellent school, gifted with feeling and taste. The remaining personnel of vocalists is of no importance, but the orchestra excellent, and worthy of its ancient repute.

On the twelfth, we gave a concert at the Red-House. Madame Graff sang brilliantly the grand scena from “Faust.” The orchestra accompanied with predeliction, and the greatest precision.

We passed a day rich in music at the house of André, in Offenbach. I found him mounted upon a new hobby, which he rode with yet greater self satisfaction than his former ones. It was called “declamation!” He is firmly convinced, and affirms it also with honest openheartedness, that with the exception of himself, no composer, from Mozart to Bornhard has understood how to declaim a song properly, and to set it to music as it ought to be. He has therefore taken compassion of that neglected art-orphan, and written a number of pattern-songs! He had heard of my new songs and urged me to sing them. But already at the second, he found a reason to return to his own. Fräulein von Goldner his pupil, sang them, and really in a most charming manner. It is not to be denied, that she declaims correctly, and has given a reading to several of them both new and interesting in its kind. When executed besides[Pg 218] in so masterly a manner as they are by Fräulein von Goldner, the effect is certainly very great. I readily admitted this, but did not conceal from him at the same time what I thought objectionable therein: which is principally, that he has frequently sacrificed both form, rhythm, and melody to the right declamation. In order to avoid the fault of many song-composers, who restrict themselves too stringently to the rhythm of the poem, he has fallen into the opposite extreme. In order to give every syllable its proper duration and accent, he frequently changes the time in many of these songs, and thereby destroys the rhythm as well as the melody. Thus, the hearer cannot follow, and feels dissatisfied. I had further to object, that, the piano accompaniment to most of these songs is too much obligato, and distracts the attention from the song. Some sound like independant piano-fantasia’s, to which the song has been adapted. The selfsatisfaction with which André gave us these songs to hear, was quite unbearable. For instance, he took an old song of Schulze: “O selig, wer liebt” sang it burlesqued to make it appear ridiculous, and then requested Fraulein von Goldner to execute his own on the same text. “Aha!” said every one of the company, “You shew us the shadow first, that the light may have the greater effect afterwards!” This ill treatment of an old meritorious composer annoyed me so much, that I could not refrain from saying:

“Dear André, you seem to forget, that it does not redound to the credit of your song, that it should require a piece of buffoonery to introduce it; that this song of Schulze was composed upwards of five and twenty years ago, when the notions of song-composition were very different from what they now are; that the melody, which appears antiquated to us, was new at that time, and that you in the end have made no happy selection for your purpose, since this song with all its simplicity of form and melody is nevertheless correctly declaimed, and in the repetition of the: “O selig, wer liebt” at the end of every strophe, has some depth of feeling in it,[Pg 219] whereas it is very problematical whether our songs will impart so much pleasure after a lapse of five and twenty years, as this song is still capable of doing when it is well sung.”

André seemed somewhat ashamed, and from that moment evinced much more discretion. I was now desirous to gratify his wish to hear some of my Vienna Quartetts and Quintetts; but the accompaniment was so bad, that I soon relinquished it, and gave no more than the first.

After dinner, Herr Aloys Schmitt gave us a Fantasia upon the piano “A sea voyage with a storm”. Although this trivial style of thing first introduced by Wölffl, was not bad, yet from so clever a virtuoso on the piano I should have expected to hear something more refined and solid.

In the evening, André took us to Herr Ewald, a great lover of music, at whose house the Offenbach Singing-academy had assembled to let him hear three compositions which they had practised with great care. It was called “Die drei Worte” (The three Words) of Schiller, set to music by Aloys Schmitt, a patriotic chorus by André, and “Die Bürgschaft” (The pledge) by Schiller, also composed by Aloys Schmitt, all with piano-forte accompaniment. The chorus numbered about forty eight voices, and the performance succeeded well. The only regret was, that the locality was not more spacious. The music to the “Drei Worte” pleased me very much. It evinced a great talent for that kind of lyrical composition. The poem is also right well adapted to it. The second; “Die Bürgschaft” is less so. In this, the composer distributes the persons represented as speaking, among the several solo-voices; but it sounds very strange to hear these sing what the poet relates. The chorus has its share in the text distributed in the same arbitrary manner. It is nevertheless not to be denied, that several of their entreés have an extraordinary effect, as for instance, where it says: “Und unendlicher Regen giesset herab”. “And neverceasing rain pours down”, and later, where the exhausted wanderer hears the murmering of a spring of water. The whole poem throughout is conceived and rendered with much[Pg 220] fancy, yet the music suffers from a want of form through the frequent change of the tempi and measure. The repetition of single words which of themselves express no meaning is very much to be reprehended, and sometimes sounds truly comical. The four handed piano-forte-accompaniment is so rich in ornamentation, passages and modulations, that with very little modification it would not require to be rewritten for the orchestra. André’s chorus was not distinguished by any thing remarkable. At the conclusion, Herr Hasemann of the Frankfurt orchestra, who as violincellist accompanied me in my Quartett in the morning much better than any of the others, astonished us with his skill on the bass-sackbut! He played variations on the well known song: “Mich fliehen alle Freuden” (All pleasures depart from me). But it makes an unpleasant impression upon a hearer of taste, when an instrument is constrained to produce what is neither natural to, nor consistant with its character.

Darmstadt, 9. Febr.

Constrained to nearly a month’s stay by the illness of my good Dorette, I have had ample time to inform myself on the state of music here. Little satisfactory can be said of it. The Grand-Duke is certainly very fond of music, and spends considerable sums of money upon it; but this love of it is one sided, egotistical, and is limited solely to Theatrical music. He takes a pleasure for instance in enacting the Director of music, and Manager, in the Opera-rehearsals; he therefore not only directs the orchestra from a desk in the theatre, but directs also every thing upon the stage. As he considers himself incapable of error in both capacities, nor will allow either the director of the orchestra, or the stage manager to gainsay his regulations in the least, as a matter of course many mistakes occur. For, although of all Grand-Dukes he may be the best director of an opera, that does not make him a good one! He clearly proves this in his selection of the works which he allows to be performed in his theatre. As he has so liberally endowed the theatre that the[Pg 221] management has no need to study the taste of the public for the sake of the receipts, they might therefore procure a Repertoire of really good and meritorious works, if he would only allow them the choice. But this he reserves to himself, and therefore not only much of what is given is of mediocrity merely, but many excellent works are wholly excluded, such as the operas of Cherubini, because the Grand-Duke cannot bear them. He may by chance let “Den Wasserträger,” (the Watercarrier) pass, but only the first act of it. Neither do the operas of Mozart seem to please him any better; for when a few days ago the turn came again for “Don Juan”, after nothing else had been given for thirty consecutive nights but Poissl’s “Athalia”, and that the orchestra relieved from the distressing wearisomeness with which that opera had overcome them, executed the first finale with great spirit, the Grand-Duke turning to the director of the orchestra, said: “After Poissl’s opera there’s no relishing “Don Juan!”

Considering the large salaries paid by the Grand-Duke, the personnel of solo-singers might be a much better one, with a few exceptions, than it really is; but it is maintained, that he only wishes for middling talents, so that they may yield more willingly to his regulations. The chorus (thirty females and thirty men) is very excellent. The orchestra is also very numerous, and comprises several very good artists among its members; but there is also a good deal of ordinary talent among them. The Grand-Duke may claim some credit for their ensemble, and particularly in the pianissimo; but as regards pure intonation, and clearness of expression, there is yet much to be desired. No orchestra in the world is so harrassed as this is; for the whole of the members without exception, must attend every blessed evening in the theatre, from 6 to 9 or 10 o’clock. Every Sunday, there is opera; on two other days in each week a play; and on the four remaining days the Grand-Duke has his opera-rehearsals. These never fail unless he is prevented by illness. Then no operas are given. A short time ago he was obliged to keep[Pg 222] his room for several weeks with a bad leg; during this time no rehearsal dare be held, nor any opera performed. He seemed to beleive, or wished others to beleive that without him, nothing could be studied.

It is a singular sight, to see the old gentleman already grown quite crooked, seated at the desk in uniform with his star on his breast, giving the time; ordering the chorus and the “statists” to recollect this thing or the other, or calling out piano or forte to the orchestra. If he but understood all this, there would be no better director of an opera; for he has not only great zeal and perseverance, but from his station also, as Grand-Duke, the necessary authority. But his knowledge of scores extends no farther than at most to enable him to read after the violin-voice, and as he once played the violin when a young man, he continually harrasses the poor violinists with his reminiscenses, without making things any better! On the other hand, the singers may sing as false or with as little taste as they choose, or the wind-instruments may be one beat before or behind,—and he does not observe it!

It is just the same with his arrangements on the stage; but there the manager can yet come in unobserved to the rescue, while the director of the orchestra is not permitted the slightest reproval of any error that may occur. That the operas, therefore, despite the numerous rehearsals should come off badly, and invariably worse the more rehearsals that have been held, is sufficiently accounted for above, so that in the end both singers and orchestra become incapable of more attention from sheer exhaustion and disgust. This was the case with the opera “Athalie” of Poissl, which during our stay was rehearsed every evening when no performance took place, and in which on its representation at last, after thirty stage-rehearsals, faults still occured, both on the stage and in the orchestra. Of the music of this opera but little can be said in praise. It is too common-place, and the same kind of thing too frequently heard before. Several of the musical[Pg 223] pieces are imitations of the most admired pieces of Mozart and Cherubini, yet without producing any other effect than recalling them to mind: so for instance, the procession of Priests, with its single strokes of the kettle-drum, is exactly like that in the “Zauberflöte” (the Magic Flute) during the “fire and water ordeal.” In the same manner also, the concluding Allegro of the first act, which contains striking reminiscences from the finale of “Don Juan,” and so forth. The first act is besides extremely tedious, from the circumstance that so many slow tempi and prayers succeed each other so closely, so that in point of fact, the opera has neither life nor action.

The Grand-Duke, who considers the music of this opera very fine, perhaps merely, because it was written by a Baron, had the vexation to find that the public considered it very wearisome, which was even loudly expressed close to the box of the Grand-duke. This so much enraged him, that he said in a loud voice: “All those who do not comprehend this splendid opera should have the doors of the theatre closed against them!” If what people say here, is true, that he compels the servants of his Court and officers, to frequent the theatre, by deducting without any ceremony the amount of the subscription for the entrée to the theatre from their salaries, he might readily carry out his threat by releasing them from this soccage!

As the Grand-Duke refused to us the assistance of the orchestra for a public concert, because as he expressed in his reply to my request, he could not spare it from the theatre on any evening, we were on the point of leaving without having played in Darmstadt, when the directors of the Cassino proposed to us to appear in their locale, for which they offered us a sum of twenty carolins.[16] This offer we accepted. I played with Dorette a sonata, and two concert-pieces with pianoforte accompaniment; and Dorette concluded[Pg 224] with the Fantasia in C-Minor. We met with a very sympathising audience. The violinists of the orchestra, who much desired to hear me, and Herr Backhofen the former instructor of my wife who would have been greatly interested in her present artistic skill, were however, not permitted to be of the auditory; for the Grand-Duke had said on the previous evening in the theatre: “Let me find nobody absent himself to-morrow evening!”

Heidelberg, February, 11.

Notwithstanding the extreme cold that set in last night, we this afternoon climbed the castle-hill, to behold once more the magnificent ruins of the castle. I was pleased to find that since the last eight years it has not been allowed to fall into further decay, and that much more care is taken to preserve the ruins in their present condition. The view over the town towards Mannheim, and into the valley of the Neckar, is even in winter, beautiful in the extreme!

Carlsruhe, February, 26.

Our stay here was made very agreable, from our meeting with old acquaintances. It afforded us also some art-enjoyments. It is true we did not hear any good orchestral-music; for the orchestra here, although latterly several distinguished artists have been engaged, is still very middling. A few good members cannot cloak the weak points of the rest. On the other hand, we heard two good female singers, Demoiselle Bahrenfels and Madame Gervais. On the 21., when we played in the private apartments of the Grand-Dutchess, the former sang an aria; and a few days before, the soprano-soli in Romberg’sGlocke” (the “Bell”) which was right well performed by a society of dilettanti in the museum. Demoiselle Bahrenfels has a fine voice, good taste and great ease of execution, but overloads her singing too much with ornamentation. Madame Gervais, who is also a distinguished actress, I heard in Weigl’s pretty opera: “Adrian van Ostade” in which she sang a Cavatina in a very brilliant manner. We then heard her sing in our concert on the 24. the grand scena from “Faust” with[Pg 225] universal applause. She has also a fine voice, is of a good school, has feeling, and great execution, but embellishes also too much at the wrong place, and now and then sings out of tune....

I frequently played my Quartetts and Quintetts; twice at Herr von Eichthal’s and once at Messrs. Freidorf’s and Brandt’s. I was excellently accompanied in them by Messrs. Fesca, Viala, Bönlein, and von Dusch. Fesca played also a new Quintett of his composition, which had many new and beautiful points in it. In the last passage there was nevertheless something far-fetched.

Strasburg, March, 6.

I must first speak of that which strikes the eye of the traveller even before he has crossed the Rhine,—I mean the Cathedral! Far beyond Kehl we saw its colossal and yet graceful form towering high into the air. It has been so often and so well described (and poetically also in Baggesen’s travels) that I shall not attempt it. But I must say, that nothing I had ever seen before, awakened in me so much the sentiment of the sublime, and the holy, as that wonderful structure! What stateliness of form, what elegance, what richness of decoration, and what imposing grandeur are here united! All that the Iconaclausts damaged during the time of the revolution has again been restored, and the new statues that have been placed in the room of those which were destroyed have more artistic merit than such of the old ones as were then spared. The building is very carefully kept in repair throughout, and 20,000 francs annually are set apart for the external repairs alone. Such care is nevertheless doubly necessary with this structure, on account of its delicacy of ornamentation, as the slightest damage would readily entail a greater and more dangerous one; for the gigantic tower has no foundation wall running round its base but is built upon piles, between which deep in the ground below flows a navigable canal. Half way up, where the structure separates into two halves, one of which unfortuna[Pg 226]tely, is finished only, every part throughout is so, aërial, so elegant, and permits the eye to see through it so completely, that here, where when one pillar is the support of the other, the least damage, if not immediately re-established, might readily entail the falling in of the whole tower.

After we had sufficiently satisfied our feeling of admiration of the bold, gigantic structure; the telegraph which extends its arms upon the roof of the Cathedral attracted our attention. At that moment the telegraph was being worked, and we were greatly amused with the ease and rapidity of its movements. As we were desirous to understand the mechanism, we ascended to it, but only reached it just as it had ceased, and we alone saw the Despatch about to be transmitted, in the curious characters still standing wet upon the paper. I was desirous to know whether these characters of which there might be about twenty four at the utmost, represented the letters of the alphabet, or separate words, or whole sentences, and I put a few questions to the telegraphist upon the subject. He, however, gave me but little information, either because he durst not, or did not know himself, which is the most probable, as the director alone is allowed to possess the key to the characters. According to him, each sign or character expresses a word. But this is very improbable, as it would be impossible to communicate with sufficient clearness with four and twenty words, even supposing the intervening missing words might be for the most part guessed at. On the other hand, that the meaning of one or more of the signs must have been known to him, was evident from the circumstance, that in order to shew us the mechanism, he gave the signe d’attention, by which was asked, whether in the course of the day another Despatch was to be expected, and if each telegraphist was to remain at his post. This sign was immediately taken up by the next telegraph, as we could see through the telescope affixed to the wall, and then also by the next one, although it could be seen less distinctly. After a lapse of 7 or 8 minutes the reply came back from[Pg 227] Paris: “Every body must remain at his post.” This sign was immediately taken up also by our telegraph, and then all were again at rest. The mechanism is very simple. Three large wheels in the telegrapher’s room, over which run cords of twisted copperwire set the three limbs of the telegraph in motion. Smaller wheels, affixed to the larger ones set in motion a smaller telegraph in the interior of the room, by which the mechanist sees whether the signs have been correctly made above, on the roof. A third moderately sized telegraph outside of the room, directed towards the residence of the director, serves to impart to him the signs coming from Paris. The whole contrivance is very ingenious and does credit to man’s creative mind. The telegraphists have a very onerous duty. From the first dawn of day-light to night fall, they must be at their posts. The slightest negligence is immediately punished with dismissal from the service.

In Strasburg I made the acquaintance of three distinguished artistes and of several passionate lovers of music. The former were: Herr Spindler, director of the Cathedral Orchestra, the successor of Pleyel, who previously held that appointment, Herr Berg, pianiste and composer, and Herr Kuttner also a pianiste and a singer. Of Spindler’s Ecclesiastical-compositions a Requiem is very much praised; of his dramatic works an Opera: “The Orphan Asylum.” Spindler sent the score and the libretto of this opera, which was also his property to the directors of the Vienna Court-theatre. It was not accepted and returned under the pretence, that the song-parts would not suit the operatic-personnel there. But a copy was thievishly taken of the libretto, and Weigl then composed music for it also. As shortly before, his “Schweizerfamilie” had been very successful, this new work soon became popular at all the theatres in Germany, while Spindler’s composition up to the present time has only been heard in Strasburg. For this dishonest transaction he nevertheless obtained some slight satisfaction, for when Weigl’s composition was given here last year by a German operatic-company, it pleased[Pg 228] infinitely less than his. Spindler is a well educated and extremely modest artiste. Among the ardent lovers of music the Advocate Lobstein ranks first. He is Director of a well assorted Amateur-Concert-society; the numerous Orchestra of which consists for the most part of dilettanti, and they do not give badly such compositions, as are not too difficult and which they have sufficiently rehearsed. As in France since the Revolution a law is still enforced, which requires that every person who gives a Concert, if he publicly announces it by bills, and takes money, shall pay over one fifth of the receipts to the Directors of the Theatre of the town; Herr Lobstein made the proposal to me to give a Concert in the same place and on the same day as the Amateur-Concert-Society, by which means I avoided the impost. The Concert was announced privately only, but was nevertheless so well attended that above one hundred persons were unable to find further room in the by no means small saloon. This as well as the enthusiastic reception that our play met with, induced me to give a second and a public Concert after having come to an understanding with the manager of the theatre to pay over a fixed impost of eighty francs; but it was not so numerously attended as the first, probably owing to the price of admission being raised to three francs. The Orchestra was the same in both, half composed of dilettanti and half of skilled musicians; the string-instruments tolerably good, the wind-instruments for the most part bad. As the latter have a good deal to do in my compositions, they therefore got sadly mishandled. My Quartetts and Quintetts which I frequently played at private parties, were on the other hand very well accompanied. Upon these occasions Messrs. Baxmann (first Violincellist of the theatrical Orchestra) and Nani (Violinist) especially distinguished themselves. Although the Strasburghers are much behind the inhabitants of the larger towns of Germany in the cultivation of music, and know little or nothing of our newest music and its spirit, they yet appear to relish well my compositions. My stay here therefore served to make my compo[Pg 229]sitions in demand, few of which only were known here, and they were now frequently written for to the music sellers.

While we were in Strasburg Messrs. Berg and Kuttner gave together a public Concert, in which both shewed themselves good pianistes, and Herr Berg a talented composer. He gave an Overture, a Pianoforte Concerto and variations for two Piano’s. The allegro of the overture pleased me especially, on account of its natural flow and the manner in which the theme is carried out. But Herr Berg is not free from the complaint common to all modern composers, who are always striving after effects, and in so doing miss the carrying out of their ideas.

We went a few times to the theatre, and with the exception of the Prima Donna Madame Dufay, found the Opera very bad, but the Comedy and Vaudeville excellent. I became again convinced, how greatly the French excel the Germans in the two last kinds of entertainment. The company here, which is generally considered but very middling, perform nevertheless their Comedies with roundness, and life like truth, such as is seldom seen on the stage of the best theatres in Germany.

Münster, near Colmar, March, 26.

For the last fortnight nearly we are here in a small manufacturing town in the Vosges mountains, on a visit to a wealthy manufacturer Jacques Hartmann. Our host, who is an ardent lover of music, was informed by Herr Kapellmeister Brandt of Carlsruhe, that we should pass through Colmar on our journey. He had ascertained from Strasburg the day on which we should pass through; he therefore way laid us and with friendly force compelled us to follow him to his house at Münster. Arrived there at nightfall, we were welcomed by his family in the most hearty manner, and conducted immediately through the garden to a brilliantly lighted Concert-Room, which was decorated all round with the names of our great Composers, among which probably from to-day mine also has found a humble place. The Orchestra of Herr Hartmann[Pg 230] was already in their places and received us upon our entry with a by no means ill executed Overture. The Orchestra consists of Herr Hartmann’s family, and in part of some of the employés, musicians and workmen employed in his Cotton-manufactury. As he as much as possible engages those only who are musical, he has succeeded in getting together an almost completely appointed Orchestra, which executes in a very decent manner compositions that are not too difficult and which it has diligently practised.[17] Herr Hartmann himself is a virtuoso on the bassoon and has a fine tone and much skill. His sister and his daughter play the pianoforte. The latter a child, eight years of age is the star of this Dilettanti orchestra. She already plays very difficult compositions with wonderful facility and precision. But more than this, her fine musical ear surprised me, with which (though at a distance from the Piano) she distinguishes the intervals of the most complicated discordant accords that can be struck for her, and will name consecutively the tones of which they consist. Of this child for a certainty if properly guided will one day be made a distinguished artiste.[18] After the family[Pg 231] had exhibited their capabilities, we let them hear one of our Duetts and found a very grateful and enthusiastic auditory.

Herr Hartmann does not readily permit a Musician of note to pass through Alsace without calling on him and therefore has already seen many of them under his roof; among others, Rudolpho, Kreutzer, Durand, Turner, Bärmann and the brothers Schunke. And for a certainty all must have been as satisfied with their stay in his house as we were; for a more agreable host, and one more desirous to please than Herr Hartmann could not readily be found. Of the two first mentioned artistes he related the following, which is sufficiently characteristic. Kreutzer gave a Concert at the theatre in Strasburg, which was very fully attended. After the first part, he went and took the receipts, and lost them at Roulette in the refreshment room to the last sous. He was now called for the second part of the Concert, and was obliged to earn wherewith to supply what he had already lost. Durand did still worse! Herr Hartmann had got up a Concert for him at Mühlhausen and accompanied him thither. Durand immediately forgot himself in a beerhouse, and it was a difficult matter to get him away from it to hold the rehearsal. At this he missed his bow, which he had forgotten at Colmar. He declared that he must fetch it, otherwise he would not be able to play in the evening. Herr Hartmann gave him his carriage and urged him to return as soon as possible. The hour of the Concert was fast approaching, but Durand had not yet come back. The public had assembled, the Musicians were tuning up,—but the Concert-giver was still wanting! After waiting for half an hour, as the auditory had become very restless, Herr Hartmann had the Overture played. But as Durand had not yet made his appearance, he was obliged to come forward and explain the absence of the Concert-giver. Exceedingly displeased at this, the public left the Concert-room. Late in the evening the coachman returned without the vainly expected musician, and informed his master that he had sought for him for several hours in all the Coffee-houses[Pg 232] and taverns at Colmar but in vain, and that at length he had found him in a beerhouse where in company with other jovial guests he had totally forgotten the concert.

Three days ago, we gave a Concert in Colmar which was very fully attended, and which Herr Hartmann had previously solicited his there resident musical friends to make arrangements for. As the Orchestra which was almost wholly composed of dilettanti was very bad; I was compelled to renounce playing any of my own compositions and chose some of easier accompaniment by Rode and Kreutzer. After the Sonata which I played with my wife, a crown of laurel was thrown to us from a box to which was attached the following poem:

Couple savant dans l’art heureux
Qui fit placer au rang des Dieux
L’antique Chantre de la Grèce.
D’un instrument melodieux,
Et de la harpe enchanteresse
Quand les accords delicieux.
Nous causent une double ivresse,
Faut-il, que les tristes apprêts
D’un depart qui nous désespère,
Mêlent d’inutiles regrets
Aux charmes que votre Art opère!
Ah! près de nous il faut rester!
Quelle raison pour s’en défendre?
A nos voeux, si Spohr veut se rendre,
Il pourra, j’ose l’attester,
Se lasser de nous enchanter,
Jamais nous lasser de l’entendre.
Par E. C. (outerèt), habitant de Colmar.

In the second part of the Concert Herr Hartmann played also some variations for the bassoon by Brandt. He seemed very nervous, but played nevertheless right well. The receipts were very considerable for so small a town. The day after the Concert we dined at General Frimont’s, Commander of the Austrian troops in Alsace. We found our host an extremely amiable and jovial man. By his love of justice, his strict discipline and agreable manners, he has acquired in a high[Pg 233] degree the esteem of the inhabitants of Colmar.—In the evening we returned here.

Yesterday I received information from the Director of music Tollmann, in Basel, to whom Herr Hartmann had previously announced our arrival, that he had made arrangements for a Concert for us on next Sunday the 31. We must therefore take leave of our kind host and his family. But we have been obliged to promise to come once again if possible during the summer.

Herr Hartmann conducted us several times over the Cotton factory. It is very extensive and produces goods which in respect of taste in the designs greatly excel the English. It gives employment to upwards of one thousand persons, and among these to artists of great talent as Draughtsmen and Engravers on copper. Cotton prints of all kinds are made, common ones by hand-press, the finer sorts by Roll-press, with furniture prints as well as carpets ornamented with large and small designs. The latter are chiefly made for the East Indian and China markets. On the copper-plates for these kinds, artists often work for several years together. The designs are for the most part copies of celebrated pictures. The mechanism by which the copper-plates are printed off upon stuffs is a secret in the possession of the Hartmann-manufactory, which is not shewn to strangers. We were made an exception to the rule. An ingenious machine for rubbing colours was also invented here, and is as yet the only one of the kind. Alsace which is so rich in manufactories, is very discontented with the new government, which does nothing for the encouragement of industry as did the exiled Emperor, to whom the people are devotedly attached. This may be readily imagined when we consider, that in the palmy days of the Empire, the manufactories in this part were in an extremely flourishing condition, which arose in a great measure from the exclusion of English manufactures from the Continent by the celebrated Berlin decrees. But now again when the whole of Europe is inundated with English goods, the facto[Pg 234]ries here are obliged to restrict their labours considerably. People express here without reserve their discontent with the present government, and say quite openly, that the favourable opportunity is only waited for to shake off the present yoke once more. It is true, also, that many things that tended greatly to the public good, such as canal and road making, the distribution of prizes for encouragement of Industry, Art-institutions etc. such for example as the Conservatory of Music in Paris, have been in part suppressed or greatly limited, as hateful reminiscences of the Revolution and of the Empire. All this had made much bad blood, and rendered the new Government extremely hated. People will therefore be by no means displeased, should the report be verified, that Alsace is to be ceded to Austria.

Basel, April, 2.

Herr Tollmann, a good Violinist and Director and at the same time the most obliging man and most willing to render a service I ever met, had already with the assistance of the Union-society of Music here, prepared every thing for our concert. Nothing remained to be done but to obtain the permission of the Head Burgomaster to raise the price of admission to half a laub-thaler. This was immediately granted. Herr Tollmann introduced me to the Directors of the society, whom I found both agreable and well bred people. They completely disproved in their persons the report which prevails in Alsace, that the Baseler is cold and uncourteous, and usually cuts short the visits of strangers at the street door. I was received with politeness by all whom I visited, and even with distinction. As the Orchestra, with the exception of four or five artistes was composed of Dilettanti merely, the accompaniment of my Solo-pieces, particularly by the wind-instruments was fearful. How poor Tollmann is to be pitied, to be obliged to hear such music all the year round! And yet, he says, the Orchestras in the other towns of Switzerland are still worse. If that is the case, then indeed Music is in a more pitiable[Pg 235] condition in Switzerland than in Alsace. The good folks here are enraptured still with compositions such as in Germany even in Pleyel’s time were considered intolerable. Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven are scarcely known by name to the majority. But they are fond of music, and the best of all is, they are easily pleased; for badly executed as all the orchestral passages were in our Concert the people were nevertheless content, and considered that on this occasion the Orchestra had particularly distinguished itself. Even a Bravoura air which was awfully tortured by a Dilettant, they found delicious. The expenses being slight, the receipts were somewhat considerable.

Zürich, April, 10.

On the road from Basel to this place, like all other travellers coming from Germany, we had ample proof that though one travels with more comfort in Switzerland, yet is as expensive again as there. At every inn here, even in the smallest villages, one finds a complete and well dressed dinner or supper, but the price all through Switzerland is half a Laub-thaler a head. All other necessaries are equally good, but also very dear. The expense of travelling is almost still worse. With the exception of the short distance from Basel to Zurich, there is no extra-post in all Switzerland, and one is therefore obliged to travel either by the Diligence or with hired horses. Both are very dear. The price for a pair of hired horses per day is three laub-thaler, and their days for return are also charged for.

There is here also an “Union-society of Music.” These societies in the Swiss towns are a great boon to the travelling artiste, for they very willingly undertake all the arrangements for his concert. Ours took place already on the fourth day after our arrival. We had nothing more to do but to play. The accompaniment certainly was again very bad and I suffered the more from it, by allowing myself to be persuaded to select a Concert of my own compositions. At the rehearsal, by dint of innumerable repetitions of the most difficult[Pg 236] parts, I at length succeeded in making them sound like music; but in the evening the orchestra got so frightened that it upset every thing again! Fortunately, the auditory did not appear to notice anything of it, for they evinced the greatest satisfaction with every thing they heard.

The receipts were yet greater than at Basel. There are two artistes living here who are also known in Germany. One of them, Herr Nägeli, is the proprietor of a music-shop, and the composer of the song sung throughout Germany: “Freut euch des Lebens” (Life let us cherish) he has also since made a name for himself by his Singing Instructions on the Pestalozzian system. He may have great merit as a Theorist and musical Composer but in the practical part of the science of music and in the development of taste, he does not appear to have effected much; for of three of his pupils whom he introduced to us as his best, one sang an Aria, and the other two executed a Duett in our Concert, with a bad method, and without taste.

The other artiste is Herr Liste, who is considered here a first rate pianiste and Instructor, he is known by some compositions for the piano. He shewed me some Glees and Quartetts for male voices, which pleased me much for their melody, harmony and induction of the voices.

Zurich is most charmingly situated. From our room, at the Inn “zum Raben” (The Raven) we have a view over great part of the lake. The arrival and departure of boats and other craft give great life to this part of the town.

Bern, April 20.

With most beautiful weather we had an extremely pleasant journey thither. From the summit of a high hill about a league from here, we saw for the first time since we entered Switzerland the whole magnificient chain of the Alps quite distinctly, and in all its grandeur. We hailed the sight with joy! How we long to approach yet nearer to those mountains!

[Pg 237]

The musical society of Bern undertook also with zeal the preparations for our Concert, and relieved me of all trouble in the matter. The attendance here likewise, was more numerous than had ever before been known at the Concert of a foreign artist. The receipts however, on account of the here customary low price of admission, were not so great as at Zurich. The Orchestra here is if possible still worse than in Basel and Zurich, and the public with the exception of very few yet more uncultivated. At the head of the Orchestra is a brother of Carl Maria von Weber, who, as I am told, is a good theorist. As a Violinist and Director he is very weak. Among the dilettanti and members of the Society of music Professors Meissner and Jahn, and the Burgomaster Hermann are particularly distinguished for their cultivated taste for the science of music. The former is Director of the society, and a very good violinist.

As the season is already too far advanced, to give further Concerts in the other towns of Switzerland, we intend giving up our journey there for the present, and at once set ourselves down to rest in some beautiful part of the Bernese Oberland, of which Dorette has such urgent need for the full re-establishment of her health. Our acquaintances here recommend to us a village in the neigbourhood of Thun. Yesterday, accompanied by Edward[19] we drove out there, and found every thing so much in accordance with our wishes, that we resolved to remove thither on the next day. The name of the village is Thierachern, and it lies in one of the most beautiful spots that we had yet beheld. At the Inn we hired two rooms, for which together with a coach house for our carriage, and breakfast and dinner daily, we agreed to pay the host two Carolines per week. We are all longing to settle in this paradise, and looking forward to the enjoyment of its rural repose. I think especially to avail myself of it to write some[Pg 238] new Violin compositions, with very simple and easy accompaniments for Italy, as from all accounts the Orchestras there are worse than those of the provincial towns in France. Edward has promised to visit us frequently, and then join us in excursions into the beautiful environs.

Bern, the handsomest of all the towns of Switzerland that we had yet seen, is situated upon an eminence of moderate height in the centre of a somewhat long and narrow valley. The Aar, a rapid, clear mountain stream, flows round three sides of it. The mountains which surround it are not so high as to impede the view of the Alps from the town. From the Platform in particular, a spacious quadrangular bulwark near the principal church, planted with chesnut trees and furnished with benches, the view is extensive, and charmingly beautiful. On leaning over the wall which surrounds this platform on the south side, the foaming Aar is seen deep below rushing between the rocks, above this in the middleground, smiling meadows, hills covered with woods, and villages thickly surrounded with fruit trees, and in the back ground the majestic Alpine chain with its summits covered with eternal snow! The Bernese are not a little proud of this spot; and the first question they put to a stranger is usually: “Have you been on the platform?”

The houses of the town are all of them massively built, and have open Arcades running the length of the street, under which one is able to traverse the whole town dry footed in wet weather. Under these Arcades are the warehouses and shops of the merchants and trades-people.

Thierachern, April, 26.

We have been here three days in our beautiful little village, and are inhaling in full draughts the breath of the first spring days in this indiscribably charming place. We have no thought of work as yet, for early every morning we feel impelled to hasten out into the fresh air. We have already wandered a full mile in different directions round our little vil[Pg 239]lage, and always discovered new beauties. The situation of our dwelling is beautiful beyond conception; it stands upon a hill from which one has a view of the country on every side. Our rooms open upon a long balcony which extends the whole breadth of the house, and is covered in by the eaves of the main roof. These open galleries, which almost all the houses have, are called “Lauben”.[20] From this laube, where in the hitherto fine weather we breakfast every morning, we have a most extensive view over wood and meadow, as far as Thun, and its ancient castle; then upon the right across the lake as far as the chain of the Alps, with the white peaks of the Jungfrau, the Eiger, and Schreckhorn. Still farther again to the right, the eye rests upon green copse-covered hills, and villages embosomed amid orchards, and beyond these upon the fearful rocky ridges of the Riesen, as far as the Stockhorn. Almost every day these mountains present aspects different from those of the previous one. Sometimes the foremost mountains are covered with dense masses of clouds, and the hinder ones appear majestically above them at an altitude, such as one can scarce believe possible for any thing firm to exist; at others the farmost mountains stand out clear and distinct; and the highest peaks alone are shrouded in clouds. But in the evening, shortly after sun set, the sight of these snow covered mountains is quite entrancing to behold. When the valley is wholly wrapped in gloom, and the lights from Thun are seen reflected upon the lake, the mountain peaks are still resplendent with the most beautiful rosy light, which when the darkness encreases changes into as beautiful a blue. It is a spectacle from which it is difficult to tear one’s self away!

May, 16.

We have now begun to divide our time between pleasure and work. In the forenoon, while I compose, Dorette gives the children instruction in arithmetic, writing, geography etc.:[Pg 240] in the afternoon I teach them the Piano and singing. Then away we sally out into the free air. If the weather permits an extended excursion, we take our frugal evening repast in some “Küher’s” (so the shepherds are called here) and do not return till late in the evening. Should the weather be uncertain, we go provided with umbrellas, at least as far as Thun, to enquire after letters from home; procure some amusement for rainy days from the lending-library, and purchase our little necessaries. The daily exercise in the beautiful pure balmy air strengthens our bodies, enlivens our spirits and makes us joyous and happy. In such a disposition of mind, one works easily and quickly, and several compositions lie already completed before me, namely a Violin Concerto in the shape of a Vocal-scena and a Duett for two violins.

I must not forget to mention a musical Natural-curiosity which we remarked in our walks. There is a Cuckoo here which does not sing its name like ours in a terza, but adds another “koo” between, and which may be expressed as follows:

Whether this is a different kind from ours, I have not been able to ascertain, but, that every year in this part, such Cuckookoos are heard.

Something also, I have here remarked, which has still more interested me as a musician. The serving boy belonging to our house and some maidens of the neighbourhood who hold their Singing-Academy before our window every Sunday evening, intonate in their songs just like the notes from a tin instrument when unassisted by the stopping of the finger, i, e, the Terza somewhat too high, the Quarta still higher and the little Septime considerably too low. From this it is evident, that this intonation is natural to the human ear, if it is not accustomed from early youth to the attemperated system of tones. These nature-singers would sound as false to our tone-scale,[Pg 241] as we to theirs. But it is nevertheless specially remarkable, and almost disquieting, that in order to attain our present richness of harmony, we have been obliged to deviate from the Tone-scale given to us by nature. For without our attemperated Tone-system we should be confined to the nearest tones, and obliged to renounce the enharmonical changes which are the haut goût of modern harmony. And yet by this deviation from nature, it seems to me that music is alone elevated to a real Science, while all other arts, must be content to copy Nature, and even when they would idealise, still imitate nature in all individualities. The songs of these Nature-singers have a great deal of originality, and when I have learned to understand better the dialect of these parts, which has much resemblance to the Allemanic, I will endeavour to note down some of them.

June, 4.

Yesterday we returned from the first more distant excursion which the fine weather tempted us to undertake, and enjoyed ourselves exceedingly. We went to Kandersteg, a small village high up in the mountains, distant from here between seven or eight leagues. I had hired for this purpose our host’s one horse “Rietwägeli” and drove myself. The map was again our guide. Our road lay at first along the right bank of the lake of Thun as far as Spiez. Behind Gwatt we crossed the Kander over a wooden bridge, which in a single arch of most ingenious construction spans high and boldly the broad and rushing stream. About a hundred years ago the course of the Kander was turned into the lake, by which means the beautiful valley from Glutsch to Thierachern which lay waste and uncultivated every spring owing to the inundations, was converted into fine meadows and fruitful fields. But this must have been a giant-labour, for it was found necessary to pierce a high mountain for the purpose. From the centre of the bridge one looks down from a dizzy height upon the foaming Kander in its passage over the rocks, and at the same time[Pg 242] upon the lowering banks on either side. From Spiez the road turns to the right round the majestic Riesen, and leads through a fruitful and highly cultivated valley to Frutigen, a cheerful little place. Here a second valley opens, out of which the Kander issues. In this gloomy, fearful rocky vale, which is frequently scarce broad enough for the bed of the river and the road, the ascent now begins. On both sides, rocks of stupendous height, and which in many places hang so much over the road as to make it quite dark, and fearful to behold. Added to that, the roar of the onward rolling Kander over its rocky bed, and the numerous waterfalls which on both sides of the glen precipitate themselves frequently from a height of more than a hundred feet. As we by degrees ascended higher with every step, we receded as it were more and more back into the season of Spring. The cherry trees, which at Thierachern had already bloomed a month ago, were here only in their first bloom. But higher, all fruit trees ceased, and after we had crossed the last steep mountain of the Kandersteg we saw nothing but a few thinly scattered fir trees. The village, consisting of small wooden huts, unsurrounded by gardens and trees, lying wide apart from each other between masses of rock, presents a cheerless aspect. The snow which lies here for nine weary months, was scarcely melted, and the meadows upon which lean looking cattle sought a scanty fodder, still wore the sickly yellow hue of the winter season. Upon all the lofty peaks which tower on either side of the valley of Kandersteg, lay still a deep mantle of snow, from which innumerable small rivulets had their rise, and leaped foaming down. From this part, the road still ascends for three leagues more to Gemmi, and then descends precipitously to the Leuker Baths, whose hot springs are greatly frequented in the autumn. As the made road ceases at Kandersteg, the visitors to the Baths, who are bad pedestrians, are obliged to be carried on there by bearers, or upon mules, and with this arduous occupation the majority of the inhabitants of the little village eke out a scanty subsistance.

[Pg 243]

We slept at Kandersteg, and returned on the following day. It was an agreable feeling to return by degrees as it were from winter once more into the spring and summer.

July, 1.

A few days ago I sent five new works to Herr Peters at Leipsic to be engraved. They were two collections of Songs, three Duetts for two Violins, the seventh Violin Concerto and a grand Polonaise for Violin and Orchestra, work 37-41. The Duetts and one of the Songs are new; the other Songs which I wrote the previous summer at Carolath, I have partly rewritten and newly instrumentated the Polonaise.

After mature consideration we have resolved to make the journey to Italy without our carriage, as one travels there more economically and safely by Vetturino. The chief reason for this decision was the fear that the renewed exertion upon the instrument which so much affects the nerves might again shake the health of my good Dorette, and embitter both for her and us the long anticipated enjoyment of the delightful journey. As therefore we were going to leave the harp and a part of our luggage behind with our host, until our return, we should not require the carriage, and save at the same time the long circuitous route by the highroad to the lake of Geneva, and through the whole length of the valley of the Valais. That Dorette however, as artiste, should not wholly sink into inactivity, I shall write several things in part anew, for Violin and Pianoforte, and re-arrange some from former things, which we can then play both in private circles and in public in Italy, where it is even said there is great difficulty in meeting with a good Quartett accompaniment. In the way of preparation for our next winter journey, I may also mention an improvement I have made upon my newly acquired violin. By a variety of experiments with voice and bridge, I have at length so far succeeded as to make it speak as softly with the Quinte which was hitherto hard and brittle, as with the other strings. The change in the instrument has not been[Pg 244] without effect on the style of the new Violin-compositions, as also upon my method of execution! So certain it is, that, the instrument exercises an influence upon the method of the player in the same manner as does the voice upon that of the singer. As one endeavours to conceal the weak points of the instrument, and to bring out its good qualities, one plays more especially what the instruments renders with the most ease, and in this manner the whole method of play becomes by degrees subordinate and appropriate to the peculiarity of the instrument. One may therefore not only recognise the peculiarities of a Virtuoso by his compositions, but those also of his instrument.

August, 1.

We have again made some farther excursions in the neighbourhood. First of all, a fortnight ago we went to Bern, to repay the solicited visit to Professor Jahn, who accompained by his wife and Edward had several times visited us. We passed a most delightful day with our Bernese friends. For the last month we had been in hopes of settled weather, in order to make an excursion on the lake; but with the wet-cold weather of this summer we have as yet not had three wholly bright days in succession. At length it appeared as though it would be finer! The mountains, which for a long time we had not seen wholly unshrouded, stood out on Friday evening in all their majestic distinctness. On Saturday the horizon remained quite clear. As the height of the barometer now also indicated settled fair weather, we resolved to set out on our journey early the following morning. On our awaking, a bright clear sky filled us with the most agreable expectations, and we got into our Rietwägeli amid the joyous exclamations of the children. At Thun I hired an extra-boat which carried us over the whole length of the lake. This voyage in the beautiful calm Sabbath morning gave us the most inexpressible delight. The sail so over the green, clear bosom of the lake, and along its banks clothed in the richest verdure, the majestic chain of the Alps in the back ground, whose[Pg 245] snow covered peaks mirrored themselves in trembling outlines in the fathomless depth of the lake, the solemn tolling of the bells calling to Divine worship, every thing was entrancing, and inspired as with a sense of the purest joy. At Neuhaus, where we landed after a three hour’s sail, we were pounced upon immediately by one of the drivers of the carriages plying there for hire. We permitted him drive us to Lauterbrunn. The road leads through the little, poverty stricken town of Untersee, round the base of a projecting mountain into a deep valley, resembling that from Frutigen to Kandersteg, but not quite so wild and barren. Almost at the extremity of this valley, after it has gradually become somewhat higher, lies Lauterbrunn. As soon as we had turned the base of the last projecting wall of rock, the Staubach lay before us in all its grandeur. The water precipitates itself down from an immense height upon a perpendicular wall of rock, and scatters itself so completely into a vapoury spray, that one would almost imagine it a cloud of the finest dust rather than water. Every thing around this wonder of nature is worthy of it. In the back ground of the valley, barriers of rock, over which also, leap numerous small streams of water; above them a glacier of a greenish hue, and near that, stretching far away, the Wengern Alps, above which the Jungfrau towering majestically over all. Upon our arrival, we were so fortunate as to be still enabled to behold the whole grandeur of this sublime scene under favour of the most beautiful weather. But shortly afterwards, to our regret, the sky became obscured, and while we were taking dinner at the inn, hail and rain poured down in torrents. Towards evening it again cleared up a little. We hastened therefore to take a walk through the village in the direction of the waterfall, but found that our previous point of view from the side, was far more favorable than close in front of it. We were exceedingly annoyed by the pertinaceous solicitations of beggars on every kind of plea. One offered small pieces of quartz or minerals, and another cristals for sale. Two grown up maidens had posted themselves on the road[Pg 246] and howled a Duett, for which they expected to be remunerated. We were however soon driven back into the inn by the recommencing rain, from the windows of which we enjoyed a third view of the waterfall from another aspect.

August, 12.

We are just returned from Freiburg, where we went to hear the Swiss Musical festival. Herr Nägeli, the President of the Swiss Society of Music, had in Zurich previously invited me to it, and offered me its direction, which I willingly accepted. But he had not then bethought him that the statutes of the Society expressly forbid that a foreign and non-member of the Union should direct the concerts. We received therefore from the Director of the Society (who here in Switzerland is not the same who directs the music, but he who conducts the correspondance, provides the locale, superintends the erection of the orchestral platform and the printing of the tickets of admission) a friendly invitation it is true, to be present at the Festival, but not a word was said about the direction of the orchestra. Instead of that, he begged me to assist with the violin. But as I had always replied both by word of mouth and writing in the affirmative, whenever questioned whether I would direct the Musical Festival this year, and that this had been more widely circulated, I could not now well undertake a subordinate rôle at the Festival. I therefore excused myself from assisting at it, but wrote to say that we would attend the Festival as hearers. On the 6th, with clear favourable weather we drove to Freiburg in our Rietwägeli. Upon our arrival, although I had declined to assist at the Festival, we were lodged in a private house just the same as the members of the society, and found there tickets for admission to all the rehearsals and performances as also to a dress ball, with text books of the “Schöpfung” (Creation) in French and German, and for myself also an invitation to the sittings of the Society.... As the weather was very fine, we resolved upon a walk with the children to the ce[Pg 247]lebrated Hermitage, three miles distant from Freiburg, situated in a narrow wild rocky valley on the banks of the Saane. This was the habitation of a pious Recluse who many years ago had hewn it in the sandstone rock in this secluded part of the country. It now consists, after having been enlarged by his son and successor, of a Chapel with a bell tower 86 feet in height, hewn out of the rock, five or six rooms, a kitchen with a chimney of the same height as the tower, and several passages of intercommunication. The whole of this space, the architectural proportions of which are very pleasing, is gained by boring and excavating the gigantic perpendicular rock, and has no where not even in the window spaces any supports of masonry. One is filled with wonder not only at the immense patience and perseverance of the two architects, but with admiration also at their skill and sentiment for beauty of proportion.

The chapel is still very prettily decorated, and the bells in the tower are still sometimes rung to summon the pious of the neighbourhood to mass. The remaining apartments were taken possession of by a peasant-family after the death of the last Recluse and therein they possess a commodious and healthy dwelling at all seasons of the year.

We dined at an inn in the immediate neighbourhood and returned to Freiburg in the evening. There we were informed, that during our absence a deputation of the Musical Society had called at our house, to announce to me, that on the following morning at their second sitting, I was to be nominated honorary member. At the same time, the gentlemen had again begged that I would lead with the violin. I was very glad that my absence had exonerated me of the unpleasant obligation to give a refusal. In order not to be taken by storm, I slipped secretly into the Church and concealed behind a pillar, listened to the rehearsal. It went very badly, and I was therefore very pleased that I was not of the party. After the first part was over, I was obliged to retire in order not to be seen.

[Pg 248]

When I appeared the next morning at the sitting, I was received with applause. The President announced to me, that the members present had unanimously elected me honorary member of the Society, adding thereto many things very flattering to me and made honourable allusion to our musical Festival at Frankenhausen. I returned thanks to him and the Society in a few words, and then seated myself in the place assigned to me. They were then engaged in the choice of a President and of the other Officials for the next year, and after some debates nominated Zurich as the place of meeting for the next assembly.

At three o’clock in the afternoon the performance of the “Creation” took place. The locale was exceedingly favourable for music, and the orchestra very well placed, but unfortunately, on the opposite side to the Organ, so that of this no use could be made. The assistant personnel, which on former occasions was at least estimated at three hundred and fifty persons, amounted this time scarcely to two hundred, and as the larger half formed the chorus, the orchestra was relatively to the strength of the chorus much too weak, so that it was frequently not heard at all. As it was also very bad besides, the Chaos, and the accompanied Recitative in particular, went awfully bad. The Violinists intonated unbearably false, and the wind instrumentalists, particularly the Hornists, and trumpets, brought out tones sometimes which excited general laughter. Tollmann directed with firmness and foresight, but unhappily took several tempi totally false, almost all the airs too slow and the chorus too fast. His greatest mistake was in the chorus after the Chaos: “Und der Geist Gottes etc.” (And the spirit of the Lord etc.) which he gave just like an Allegro. The chorus had been well practised and sang powerfully and purely. It consisted chiefly of German singers. Among the Solo-singers there were however two from French Switzerland who sang in their mother tongue which sounded droll enough, particularly in the Duett between Adam and Eve in which the latter replied in French to the tender breathings[Pg 249] of her German Adam. To the auditors at Freiburg this appeared however in no wise strange, as their town forms, the frontier boundary of both languages, and on one side of the Saane they preach in French, on the other in German. Hence all the inhabitants understand and speak both languages.—The part of Eve was sung by Madame Segni from Lausanne, who has a very fine voice, but unhappily also for a German ear, an unbearable style of execution. Among the German singers were also good voices. The assembled public applauded the music in a very lukewarm manner, and there was not a spark of the enthusiasm that inspired us so much in Frankenhausen.

On the 9th, the rehearsal for the Concert took place. As it had been previously the intention to give it in a smaller saloon, but it was found insufficient for the accommodation of the audience present, there was a want of written voices for the whole of the orchestra. It was therefore much less numerously appointed than the day before, and its want of purety, and stupidity were still more obvious to the ear. But how could it be otherwise with an Orchestra composed wholly of dilettanti and particularly of Swiss dilettanti? The easiest passages were obliged to be repeated from six to eight times before they went even tolerably. I was astonished all along with the indefatigable patience of the worthy Tollmann, but who nevertheless, it must be confessed, was born with every qualification for the Director of an Orchestra of Swiss dilettanti.—At three o’clock this remarkable concert began at once in an ear-rending manner with the Overture to Gluck’s “Iphigenia.” The trumpets were pitched a quarter of a tone too high, and notwithstanding the weakness of the orchestra were blown with the utmost strength of lungs. Had the Overture only lasted a little longer the greater part of the auditory would now already have run out of the church. Then followed a long succession of dilettanti, partly Singers, partly Instrumentalists with their Solo-pieces. Some of them were very good, for instance a gentleman from Iverdun distinguished[Pg 250] himself by the ease and good taste with which he executed a Harp-concerto by Bochsa. Madame Segni also, the “Eve” of the day before, sang this time in Italian and right well. A gentleman, whose name is as little known to me as those of the other performers, for no programme was distributed, played variations upon a clarinet, in tone and form similar to the Basset-horn, with much skill and beauty of tone. In the second part of the Concert, which we did not stop to hear, for we were now satiated to nausea, we were informed that a Clergyman of Lucern and the worthy Tollmann executed a Violin-Rondo in a very effective manner. We regretted that we were not aware that the latter was going to play, otherwise we would have remained to the end. Such were the productions of the Swiss Society of Music so highly spoken of in Germany. Director Conradin Kreutzer of Stuttgard and his wife, a native of Zürich, whose acquaintance we made here, sat near us during the performances, and we were pleased to be enabled to interchange our opinions upon what we heard. But we were obliged to keep a constant guard upon our looks and gestures, fore we were continually watched by those sitting round us, who sought to read in our faces the impression their music made upon us. When we were asked also for our opinion, which was not unfrequently, and always with a sentiment of national pride, we carefully kept in the mean between truth and flattery, and by that means successfully extricated ourselves without giving offence.

Kreutzer told me in confidence that, he would not return to Stuttgard because the despotism there had become thoroughly insufferable.[21] My former Viennese acquaintance Romberg and Kraft were just in the same position; they also longed to get away and made application for other appointments.—We passed the greater part of the time while at Freiburg in the society of Kreutzer and his wife. We dined and supped[Pg 251] together, and during the continuous fine weather made frequent promenades into the charming surrounding country. It is true the Society had a place of meeting at the “Schützenhouse”, where most of the members dined; but as women were not admitted, because there were several unmarried Clergymen in the society, we did not pay a single visit to that place. But I heard that there was a total absence of that sociability and cheerfulness which gave such a zest to our meals at Frankenhausen.—The ball which took place in the same locality, had neither any attraction for us, as none of us danced. We sat therefore meanwhile, in confidential discourse at the tea-table, and amused ourselves with the relation of past incidents of our lives and experience. Kreutzer in reality had come with the sole view to give a concert upon his own account at the conclusion of the musical festival, as he had been told in Zurich that this year the Society would only give one performance. He seemed to think that I had the same intention, for he proposed that we should make common cause and give one together. But I had never thought of giving a concert here, and had not even brought my violin. His concert however never took place, for the Society gave a second, and thus we had no opportunity of hearing the play and compositions of this famous artist.

On the 10. early in the morning we left Freiburg, spent the afternoon and evening very pleasantly in Bern in the society of Edward and Jahn, and returned here at 11 in the forenoon.


Journey to Milan.

In Edward’s company, who was desirous to avail himself of his vacation to make a little excursion into North-Italy, we set out upon our journey on Sunday the 2d September. At one o’clock we arrived at Kandersteg, where I immediately[Pg 252] hired four horses with as many guides, to carry us over the Gemmi. On three of them, rode Dorette, Emilie and Ida, the fourth carried our luggage. Edward and I preferred to do it on foot. Three quarters of a league on this side of Kandersteg, the ascent begins and continues tolerably steep for a good 2½ leagues. The road then leads round the Gemmihorn for some distance upon a level, till at a distance of ¾ of a league from Schwaribach it ascends again.—The weather had up till now been very favorable; but here a hail storm over took us which soon changed to rain and wetted us completely through. As it was already tolerably late besides, and we had still the greatest and most difficult part of the way before us, the guides easily persuaded us to put up for the night in Schwaribach. The inn here is a mere rude blockhouse, and has nothing in common with the hotels in the Swiss vallies, that one should be made to pay here equally their exorbitant overcharges. But as one of the two habitable rooms was wholly given up to us, and that besides a bundle of clean straw for us men, we found there a large bed for Dorette and the children, we passed the night nevertheless in tolerable comfort. We could certainly not help feeling a shudder of horror when we called to mind previous to going to sleep, that the midnight murder in Werner’s “Twenty fourth of February” was enacted here.[22]

During the night, snow had fallen, and it was bitter cold upon our setting out next morning. I therefore sent back three of the horses, and let Dorette and the children walk also, more especially as the descent to the Leuker Bad cannot be made on horseback. At Schwaribach all vegetation ceases, and even the beautiful Alpine rose is not to be found. The road has again a very steep ascent as far as the Daubensee (then half covered with ice) along which it runs for the distance of half a league through a barren valley, in which[Pg 253] seemed to reign the stillness of the grave; to the last ascent, which as it leads through snow and icefields was the most toilsome ascent of all. Arrived at the top, to our disappointment we were favoured with one look alone into the abyss opening beneath us; for in a few minutes we were envelloped in a mist, which scarcely permitted us to see a few paces before us. We were now compelled to follow blindly the pack-horse and its guide, and to keep quite close together. The road led precipitously down between fissures in the rocks and sometimes even between perpendicular walls of rock in which a small path had been cleared by blasting. At the part where it runs, the horse’s neck projects over the abyss, and the guide is obliged to hold him up by a rope secured to the load on his back, or even by holding on to his tail with all his might. At this place the view down into the depth which had been concealed from us by the thick fog, makes the head so giddy, that many invalids who wish to go to the Leuker Bad have not the courage to make the descent, and prefer, after having had the object of their journey under their very eyes, to take the immensely circuitous route of nearly twenty leagues by way of Bern, Freiburg, Lausanne and through the Valais.

After we had continued descending for more than an hour without finding any other vegetation than here and there a violet blooming in the clefts of the rocks, we came suddenly to a region where the mist ceased, and we were now favoured with a most unexpected and charming view far away down upon the Leuker Bad beneath us. At this place we rested ourselves for a moment, to recover a little from the highly fatiguing exertions of the steep descent. But it required many such resting places before we reached the bath, at 11 o’clock. The children only, were not fatigued, and were always in advance of us.

While we refreshed ourselves in the large and well appointed inn, I sent for fresh horses, and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, animated with new spirits we continued our journey, Edward and I on foot, Dorette and the children on horseback.[Pg 254] Previous to leaving, we inspected the sulphur-spring which rises out of the earth at boiling heat, in front of the inn.

At Leuk it was not possible to procure any vehicle for the farther journey. We were therefore obliged to pass the night in the miserable inn to which our guides brought us. On Friday the 4th, at an early hour in the morning, we continued our journey to Brieg in two one-horse vehicles, and arrived there at noon. The valley of the Valais is very narrow and little cultivated. We saw numerous marshy meadows, and but few maize and potatoe fields. At Brieg commences Napoleon’s famed Simplon-road, a gigantic work, which cannot be enough admired. We here hired a two-horse vehicle to take us to Domo d’Ossola. The road is so ingeniously carried in and out of the mountain ravines, that it never rises more than five inches in six feet, so that heavy loaded waggons can descend without using the drag-shoe. Especially remarkable are several colossal bridges, which are thrown across deep glens and clefts in the rocks, and those parts of the road which have been bored through the rocks by blasting, and resemble subterraneous galleries. One of these is so long, that it is but imperfectly lighted by the light admitted on both sides. At the distance of every league, one finds a house to afford shelter on the sudden coming on of stormy weather. In the third of these houses is the post-house, the sixth the custom-house, where we were obliged to pay a few laubthaler for roadway duty. Considerable as this tax is, it is still insufficient to keep the road in good repair, and it is greatly feared that it will by degrees fall into ruin. Nevertheless what one hears of this decay in foreign countries is without foundation, for with the exception of some of the barriers which had been carried away by avalanches and not yet reconstructed, we found it in good condition. Upon the highest part of it, the construction of a gigantic house has been begun, in which if it were finished, a corps of 4000 troops would be able to pass the night. But since the fall of Napoleon, its construction has been stayed, and it will now soon fall into decay. The Simp[Pg 255]lon pass is certainly not so high as that over the Gemmi, but here also all vegetation ceases, and even in the village of Simpeln where we slept, we found it very wintery.

Wednesday the 5th, September 1816, was the happy day on which the realisation of the wish of my early childhood, to behold the land “where the citrons bloom” was at length to be fulfilled. After we had travelled for two leagues more in continual descent, we came to the frontier of Lombardy and soon found ourselves transported into the midst of the South. Now we beheld woods of the sweet chesnut, and in gardens, figs, almonds and magnificent festoons of the vine, trained from one tree to another, and pendant with masses of the finest grapes. At every step as we descended, the warmth increased; at first agreably, but, soon quite oppressively. At noon we arrived at Domo d’Ossola, a small but pretty town. Here in the Hotel of the Capello verde we were for the first time imposed upon in real Italian style, and impressed with the necessity of the caution, to agree always before hand with the hotelkeeper on the charges for the accommodation. After dinner we travelled as far as Laveno, which lies close to the shore of the beautiful Lago Maggiore, and opposite to its celebrated islands. Here although we had agreed before hand on the charges for our nights accommodation, we paid as we were afterwards informed too much by half. On the 6th, early in the morning, we visited the so oft-times enthusiastially described Borromean islands, Isola Madre and Isola bella. Like many others whose expectations have been unduly raised by the too lavish praises of enthusiastic travellers of particular localities, they did not come up with our too sanguine expectations. We were most pleased with the Isola Madre, where for the first time we beheld with admiration the vigorous vegetation of the South, in the ancient and majestic laurel, citron, pomgranite and fig-trees, with other shrubs and plants of southern growth. Though of necessity these plants must here also, as with us be protected in winter, to secure them from the frost, yet their growth is so much more vigorous, and the[Pg 256] fruits are much larger and more juicy than those of our greenhouses. On Isola Bella, there is a large but as yet not wholly finished palace, which contains some fine apartments, in which are several fine pictures, but the building is already going to decay. The remaining space on the island comprises the celebrated garden, which rises in ten terraces from the shore of the lake. The inside is supported by masonry which rises in progressively higher arches from terrace to terrace. The plan of the garden is gigantic, but in a bad old french style. The numerous wretched statues in the alleys and on the steps of the terraces are particularly repulsive and offensive to the eye. The terraces are ornamented with beds of flowers and numerous yet more southern products, which in the winter time are put under cover under the arches. All were in most beautiful flower, and diffused unknown sweets around us. From the summit of the garden site, a most charming view is obtained of the opposite side of the lake, towards Palanza, Intra, Laveno, and the beautiful outline of mountains which bound the sight. Far as the eye could reach, all was canopied by a sky of the purest and deepest blue, and lit up with such a flood of sun light that the most distant objects could be clearly distinguished. This, and the mild balsamic air made us especially feel that we had entered a southern climate. Before we left the Islands, the gardener conducted us to an historical curiosity, to the name of Napoleon cut by himself in the bark of a laurel tree, shortly before the battle of Marengo.

The same boat that brought us to the Islands, took us six leagues farther to the little town of Sesto Calende, at the extremity of the lake. On this excursion we again had many a fine view of the beautiful banks of the lake. Belgirate, Arona, and the colossal statue of St. Carlo Borromeo, were seen to great advantage. At Sesto Calende, we already found the dirt and smell peculiar to Italian towns, and that of an Oil-boilery, so offensive to a German palate. On the 7th we performed the last days journey to Milan in the vehicle of a[Pg 257] Milanese driver, through a flat and uninteresting country, and put up at a Pensione Suizzera which was recommended to us for its German cleanliness.

Milan, Sept. 9.

The first of the remarkable things in Milan which we visited yesterday, was the cathedral. This beautiful building upon which the labour of nearly five centuries has been almost uninterruptedly devoted, and which nevertheless is as yet unfinished, approaches most nearly in style and architecture to the cathedral of Strasburg, but in form is nevertheless very different from the latter. It is in the form of a lengthened cross; at the place where the two lines meet, stands the high-altar, and above that, the span of the majestic dome, upon which the pretty tower in the form of a pyramid is built, the top of which is surmounted by the colossal statue in bronze of the holy Virgin. Innumerable other pierced gothic pyramids ornamented with niches and statues rest in part upon the pillars of the external walls, and in part on the marble-slabbed roof, increasing in height more and more the nearer they approach to the tower. On the pinnacle of each stands the statue of some Saint. The whole structure, from the ground to the highest point, is of white, polished marble, quarried at Baveno on the Lago Maggiore, and brought thither by the Ticino-Canal. During Napoleon’s rule, the work was prosecuted with great zeal and not only was the façade of the chief entrance completed (which had been carried out only to the top of the door) but all the pyramids also, upon the external walls. At first sight, and seen from below, the building now seems finished; but upon ascending the roof, and the tower, one sees how much yet remains to be done.

The pillars and niches are in the Gothic, the doors and windows in the Roman style, and the statues are clothed after the Greek manner. All the sculptured works, of which in small and large statues, in high- and low-reliefs, in arabesques and other ornaments there are an immense quantity in this splen[Pg 258]did building are from the chisel of celebrated masters, and it seems to me that, the modern works excel even the ancient in beauty and correctness.

The Interior of the church is by reason of the painted windows somewhat dark, but on that account and from the imposing grandeur and height, is the more fitted to raise religious feelings. Among the numerous statues in the interior of the cathedral, that of Carlo Borromeo is the most esteemed. Its great merit as a work of art is considered to lie in the anatomical correctness displayed by the sculptor in the deliniation of all the muscles, tendons, veins and prominent joints. From the gallery of the tower one has an extensive view, bounded on the north by the Swiss Alps, and on the south by the Apenines.

In the evening we went to the theatre della Scala, where was given “la statua di bronza”, a semiseria-opera by Soliva, a young composer and pupil of the conservatory here. Upon our entrance, we were surprised at the size and beauty of the house. It is built after the model of the St. Carlo-theatre at Naples, the largest in Italy, and contains a spacious pit and six tiers of boxes one above the other, but will not hold much over 3000 people, so much space having been wasted in the manner of its distribution. The price of admission is the same to every part of the house, viz, two Lire di Milano. The orchestra is very numerous; four and twenty violins, eight counterbasses, the same number of violincellos, all the customary wind instruments, trumpets, bass-horn, turkish music etc. and yet with all, not numerous enough for the size of the locale. The performance very much surpassed my expectation; it was pure, vigorous, precise, and withall very calm. Signor Rolla an artiste known also in foreign countries by his compositions, directed as first violin. There is no other directing whether at the piano, or from the desk with the baton, than his, but merely a prompter with the score before him, who gives the text to the singers, and if necessary, the time to the choruses. The composition of the opera is more in the Ger[Pg 259]man than the Italian style, and one could hear very plainly that the young artist had taken our German composers, particularly Mozart, much more for his models, than his own countrymen. The orchestral parts are not so subdued as is usual in Italian operas, but are rendered in a very prominent manner, and sometimes even so much so as to cloak the singing. It is therefore astonishing that this opera has pleased so much, as this genre is never much liked. The well studied pièces d’ensemble and the finale have certainly not been the reasons for the success of the opera, but a few little unimportant cantabili’s which were well executed by the singers. These alone also, were the points listened to with attention. During the powerful overture, several very expressive accompanied recitatives, and all the pièces d’ensemble, the audience made so much noise that one could scarcely hear the music. In most of the boxes, the occupants played at cards, and all over the house, people conversed aloud. Nothing more insufferable can be imagined for a stranger who is desirous to listen with attention, than this vile noise. On the other hand, from such persons as have perhaps seen the same opera thirty or forty times, and who come to the theatre only for the sake of the society, no attention is to be expected, and it is a great condescension if they only listen quietly to some “numbers”. At the same time, I can imagine no task more ungrateful than to write for such a public, and one is surprised that good composers will submit to it. After the first act of the opera, a grand serious ballet was given, which from the skill of several of the dancers male and female, and the splendour of the decorations and costumes, presented a very imposing dramatic spectacle. As it lasted nearly an hour, the auditory had forgotten the first half of the opera. After the second act of the opera, another, but a comic-ballet, not much shorter, was produced, so that the whole of the performances lasted from eight o’clock to midnight. What work for the poor musicians!

[Pg 260]

September, 14.

Last evening we went to a concert, given by Ferlendis of Venice, a Professore di Oboa. His composition and play were alike pitiable. It is impossible to imagine a worse Tone and a greater want of Taste in the execution of the passages and of the cantabile, than this Professor di Oboa displayed. In Germany he would most certainly have been hissed off; here of a necessity, he was applauded as a matter of course by the Free-tickets. In the second part, Luigi Beloli played a Horn-Concerto of his own composition. This it is true did not exceed the line of mediocrity, but the execution was very superior. Beloni has a very beautiful tone, much skill and a cultivated taste. In order that the horrid Oboe should not obliterate the last more pleasing impression, we would not stop to hear the remainder of the concert.

September, 16.

That the Italians are a very musical nation may be judged from the fact that their beggars always solicit alms either singing or playing. Here are parties of four or five such musicians, who play of an evening in front of the Cafés, a by no means intolerable music, usually accompanied by a finely dressed female vocalist, who afterwards collects the money; sometimes they consist of three singers who with guitar accompaniment execute Trios and short Canons very efficiently; at others, blind fiddlers, flute players or singers who either without accompaniment, or who accompany themselves on the tambourine, seek their fortune singly; and even those who hawk things about for sale, offer their wares singing. Yesterday we came upon a comical fellow of this kind. He had manufactured for himself a remarkable instrument out of a whip-handle, from one end of which to the other he had stretched a single string. On the top, this cord was passed through a ball of paste, from the aperture of which rose a large bouquet of artificial flowers by way of ornament. In the right hand he carried a violin-bow, with which he produced the single tone which his instrument was capable of. The remarkable[Pg 261] talent of this artist consisted there-in, that on a constantly repeated melody, for the fundamental tone of which his instrument furnished the Quinte, and which therefore never concluded in the Tonica, but always in the dominant, he improvisated the politest compliments to all who passed, or who sat before their doors; for these, the persons flattered, seldom refused a gift of money, which he collected in his hat, but without interrupting his song. In this style of recitative singing, in which his instrument fulfilled the duty of the orchestra, he would now praise the shape, now the dress of the passers by, and one could see by the self-satisfied smiles and generosity of the persons bepraised, that he well knew how to touch them on the weak side.

This afternoon we went to another concert, given by the Società del Giardino. The two Mesdames Marcolini and Fabré sang a duett of Rossini’s. The former is celebrated throughout Italy as an contralto, her voice is fine, and she has great execution; but she almost always sings too low, by which in my opinion her singing was much injured. Signora Fabré is the Prima donna of the great theatre whose high notes are particularly fine, and her method of execution cultivated. Although both singers stand equally high in regard to voice and skill, yet here also the soprano bore away the palm from the contralto, just as a bass-viol can never please by the side of a violin. In the second part were sung also, a duett of Paccini, a Cavatina by Bonfichi, and a Rondo by Paer. All alike, the humorous or the serious, were sung in the same manner and with the same ornamental trimmings which have been heard a thousand times. The compositions were almost all insipid and without intimate connection, and the singing frequently disturbed or cloaked by meaningless figures of instrumentation.

September, 17.

We have just seen the Mosaic-Manufactory here. The most important work is a copy in mosaic of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last supper” on which the artist has been uninterruptedly engaged for twelve years; it is of the same size as the[Pg 262] original, (the figures of the size of life). It is divided into twelve pieces, each of which is about three ells in length and of the same breadth. All the pieces are now finished, but only some have as yet been polished, these (from the ceiling part only) have a bright polish, those containing the figures were somewhat matt in the colours, at least as compared to the good copy of the picture from which it had been worked; but perhaps it will gain yet more life when the polishing has been completed. Bonaparte had given the order for this work, which will now be finished at the expense of the Emperor of Austria. As eight ducats a day are paid to the workmen, it already costs in wages for labour 34,960 ducats. Besides this herculean labour we saw several mosaics in the establishment, of exceeding beauty, exhibited for sale.

September, 17.

To-day we were present at the concert at the Conservatory of music, for which Count Saurau had presented us with tickets.

What I could ascertain respecting the interior administration of the Conservatory is as follows: The Professors, of whom four teach singing, one the violin, one the violincello, one counterbass, and some others the wind instruments, are appointed by and receive their salaries from the government, which pays also for the board and lodging of twelve pupils, six boys and six girls. All the other pupils some of whom live at the Conservatory, and some attend only at the hours of tuition, are required to pay for every thing. The Milanese are said to be very much opposed to the Institution; at the present time also, there are scarcely thirty pupils.

September, 22.

To-day I paid a momentary visit to a kind of Practising-Concert where the dilettanti of this place, perform Symphonies under Rolla’s direction, and in particular of the German masters. The string-instruments are chiefly played by dilettanti, the wind instruments by players from the della Scala[Pg 263] theatre. When I arrived, they had already given the old symphony in D major of Mozart, and some overtures by Italian masters, and were just then engaged practising one of the grand Symphonies of Haydn (B major). It was played with tolerable accuracy, but without piano and forte, and for the most part crude. Nevertheless, the Institution which is moreover the only one of the kind in Italy, is a very praiseworthy one, since it enables the lovers of music here to become acquainted with our magnificent Instrumental-compositions. If I do not mistake, this weekly Practice-Concert takes place in the house of Signor Motto, who is said to have a fine collection of first class violins. But there are a great many fine violins here. A Signor Caroli has two very fine Stradivari’s; Rolla has one also of great beauty; a Count Gozio de Solence has in his numerous collection of fine violins among several others by Amati, Guarneri and Guardagnini, four Stradivari’s also, which have never been played upon, and which although very old look as though they had only just been made. Two of these violins are the production of the last year of that artist, 1773, when he was an old man of ninety three years of age. But it is immediately perceptible on the violin that it was cut by the tremulous hands of an infirm old man; the other two are however of the best days of the artist, from 1743 and 1744, and of great beauty. The tone is full and strong, but still new and woody, and to become fine, they must be played upon for ten years at least.

September, 28.

Last evening we gave our concert in the della Scala theatre. The orchestra kept its usual place, but the female singers, and Dorette and I, for our performances, took our places under the Proscenium, between the curtain which remained down, and the orchestra. The house although favourable for music, requires nevertheless on account of its immense size, a very powerful tone, and a grand but simple style of play. It is also very difficult in a place where people are always accustomed to hear voices only, to satisfy the ear with the tone[Pg 264] of a violin. This consideration, and the uncertainty whether my method of play and my compositions would please the Italians, made me somewhat nervous on this my first début in a country where I was as yet unknown; but as I soon observed after the first few bars, that my play was listened to with attention, this fear soon left me, and I then played without any embarrassment. I had also the satisfaction to see that in the new concerto I had written in Switzerland, which was in the form of a Vocal-Scena, I had very happily hit upon the taste of the Italians, and that all the cantabile parts in particular were received with great enthusiasm. Gratifying and encouraging as this noisy approbation may be to the Solo-player, it is nevertheless exceedingly annoying to the composer. By it, all connexion is completely disturbed, the tutti so industriously worked out, are wholly unheeded, and people hear the Solo-player begin again in another tone without any one knowing how the orchestra has modulated with it.—Besides the Concerto, I played with Dorette the new Pot-pourris for piano and violin, and another with orchestral accompaniment. The latter, at the general request, I was obliged to repeat. The orchestra, the same that played in the opera, accompanied me with great attention and interest. Rolla, in particular, took great pains. My overture to “Alruna” was played at the beginning of the second part with great power it is true, but not without fault. The orchestra is accustomed to too many rehearsals, to be able to execute any thing free from fault after one rehearsal only. Madame Castiglioni, a Contre-Altiste engaged as a supplementary vocalist at the next carnival in Venice, sang an aria in the second part, with a fine voice and a good school, and was rewarded with a general applause. It had cost me infinite trouble to procure these two song-pieces; for the singers of the great theatre some of whom would have been very pleased to sing, could not get permission from the Impressario, and all the other singers of note who lived here, had already either signed engagements, or did not dare to appear at the Scala. The Impressario at[Pg 265] first demanded the fifth part of the receipts for the grant of the theatre, but by the intercession of the governor Count Saurau, this tax was remitted in my favour.

After the concert, I was solicited on all sides to give another; but as next Friday, the only free day in each week, is the Emperor’s Name-day, on which the governor gives a grand fête, and we have no desire to prolong our stay another fortnight, I shall rather defer this second concert till my return, and proceed forthwith to Venice. The first concert moreover, has but little more than paid the expenses, which amounted to fifty ducats.

A few days ago we visited the Picture Gallery in the Arena; the locale is the finest we ever beheld. It consists of three large saloons, which receive the light from above, of a long gallery, and two cabinets. In the gallery are the pictures al fresco collected from the churches in Milan, from the walls of which they have been taken with the plaster on which they were painted, and here let into the walls again. Among them are some of high artistic worth, of which copies and engravings have already been made. In the saloons, the paintings are chronologically arranged, and the name of the master given under each. In the first saloon are those of the earlier period, in the middle are those of the later, and in the third those of the modern school. Yet as far as I know there are no works of any living artists hung up. In the Cabinets, the smaller paintings are exhibited. The most precious of all, a Raphael, which although of his earlier days when he still painted in the style of his master, is nevertheless of infinite beauty. It is the betrothal of the Holy Virgin with Joseph. In the centre stands the Rabbi who in a grave and dignified posture pronounces his blessing; on his left is Joseph, a manly figure with dark hair and beard, placing with a kindly expression the ring upon the finger of the Virgin, who upon the right, softly blushes in all the graceful sweetness of maiden modesty. Among the other figures, a youth is also conspicuous, who breaks a stick against his knee. Artists admire[Pg 266] greatly the foreshortening of the inclined posture. At first sight the sharp outline of the figures strikes one as unpleasing; but after one has become somewhat used to it by a longer contemplation, one is irresistibly fascinated with the elevated expression both of countenance and position. In this as in all Raphael’s pictures the hands and feet are of exceeding beauty.

Venice, October, 5.

On Monday the 30th September we set out upon our journey thither in company with two amiable Polish Counts, whose acquaintance we had made in Milan, and of a painter who had just returned from a tour in Sicily. For myself and family I had hired a Vetturino as far as Padua, for seven louisd’or, for which price it was also agreed he was to pay for our supper and beds....

The road to Brescia presents very little variety. Brescia is an ancient town, in which there is very little worth seeing; but it is situated in a charming locality on the slope of a mountain covered with vineyards and countryhouses. We took a walk through the town, in which we saw nothing remarkable except a vine that covered the fronts of five houses up to their roofs, and was every where loaded with clusters of the finest grapes. One of the Poles, Count Zozymola, had meanwhile paid a visit to Signora Mulonatti, one of the most celebrated Contre-Altistes of the day, whose acquaintance he had made in Florence, where a few months previously she had sung. She is now reposing from the fatigues of the last months in the society of her Cavaliere serrente, a Count Secchi who has a fine house in Brescia, and a still finer estate in the neighbourhood. During the Carnival she will again make her appearance here in Venice, at a salary of 10,000 francs and a benefit. Her admirer, a man of large fortune and extensive knowledge has devoted his whole life to his Donna, while his two elder brothers have greatly distinguished themselves as Generals in the French Army. For the last ten years he has accompanied her every where she has sung, manages her affairs, and de[Pg 267]votes himself to all her caprices. His sole somewhat earnest occupation is to write her memoirs i, e, her triumphs over other singers, and her love adventures. Once a year she furnishes him with the written data for the latter, which are the originals of the love-letters received, and although he is very jealous, she nevertheless prevails on the good natured fool to copy those letters himself, and introduce them with their respective explanations in her history. She has a husband as well, and two children by him, of whom she is said to be very fond. This husband plays a thoroughly pitiful part; he always keeps a certain distance, and awaits every look and beck of his ruling mistress. Up to the present time Count Secchi has seen neither Rome nor Naples, because his lady has not yet sung in those Cities, and she would not readily grant him permission to go there without her.

Between Brescia and Verona, the road passes along the Lago de Garda, whose beautiful wooded shores studded with country seats and enclosed by mountains, present the most beautiful views, which richly repaid us for the uniformity of the previous days journies. At the farthest end of the lake and half in the water, lies Peschiera, a small mean-looking town containing but few houses, but with extensive fortifications. From thence to Verona, the road is again very uninteresting. Upon our arrival, we learned that a female Pianiste and Harpiste of note from Naples was to give a Concert in the theatre, and we proposed to ourselves to go there. Through the slowness of the waiters who brought our supper an hour later than we had ordered it, we were however prevented going. We went nevertheless, at eleven o’clock at night by a beautiful moonlight to see the Coliseum, of all the monuments of Roman greatness, the one which is in the best state of preservation.... We ascended to the topmost benches, which equal in height the loftiest buildings of the town; from thence we had a splendid view over the whole colossal structure. We pictured to ourselves the immense mass of stone filled with the Romans of old—how they cheered the victors in[Pg 268] the Arena beneath,—and then lost ourselves in the contemplation of the perishableness of all human greatness, and in comparisons between that vigorous people of yore and the present inhabitants of this beautiful land.

On one side of the Oval, the prisons are still to be seen where the malefactors were confined who were to be thrown to the wild beasts. The arrangement is still existing also, by means of which in a few minutes the circus could be laid under water for naval fights and boat races. During the visit of the Austrian Emperor, the people were treated with a resuscitation of the ancient horse and foot races. We had seen something similar in Milan of which I had forgotten to speak.

Napoleon has erected in the Foro Buonoparte, a Circus in the Roman Style, whose exterior consists also of a wall having passages for ascent; but the benches in the interior are of turf only. Of these there are about twelve, but from 25- to 30,000 people find nevertheless room sufficient. On one side of the breadth, stands a handsome building with a fine colonnade looking into the interior, from which stone benches run the whole breadth of the building down to the circus. In this modern Arena, which can also be laid under water, the people were treated at the time of the coronation of Napoleon, as king of Italy, with a free admission to a rechauffé of the ancient Roman games. A third but smaller edition, on payment, took place the day before our departure.

First of all, eighteen runners in Roman costume made their appearance, who upon a signal from the trumpets ran forward in a seemingly encumbered manner to the goal. The victor received a flag, from the top of which was suspended a wreath of laurel. The two next best after him, were also presented with tokens of triumph. Twelve horsemen now advanced to compete in speed. Several fell from their horses at the first start, and all of them rode so badly that they excited nothing but laughter and compassion. After the winners had been again rewarded, came the Chariot Race, which however presented both a new and interesting sight. The six charioteers were mounted on small two-wheeled Roman cha[Pg 269]riots such as one sees upon old coins, and on a given signal to start, lashed their horses, of which there were two to every chariot into a full gallop; at the extremity of the course, one of them in turning fell twice, horses and all, but without taking any harm. The others drove round the course three times, and the victors were again presented with their rewards. Now commenced the grand Triumphal-procession. From thirty to forty Hautboyists in the Roman costume with Turkish music!—playing a March from the Opera “John of Paris” opened the spectacle. Then came the Runners carrying spears; and at length a large Roman triumphal chariot drawn by four oxen, with the whole of the victors. The handsomely decorated oxen had been harnessed in pairs in the Roman manner; but the poor animals had not been accustomed to that sort of thing, and they would not move an inch; so that it was at length found necessary to yoke them in the same manner as they were used to, in their dung carts, and when this was done they went off in style. Behind them came the unsuccessful riders and charioteers who closed the procession.

The costume of all these people and animals was well chosen, and had one not seen round the Circus the modern beau monde, with now and then among the runners a three cornered hat, the wearer of which kept order in the games, and, not have heard the Turkish music playing the march from “Aline”, one might indeed for a moment have fancied, to see beneath one the old Romans of yore. But these soldiers and hackney carriage drivers were so sparing of their miserable horses, and at the same time so clumsy, that they soon dissipated every deception.

On the 3rd early in the morning we parted from our agreable fellow travellers, who now proceeded on their farther journey by another road through the Tyrol to Munich. We slept in Vicenza, a filthy dirty place. Our windows looked out upon a lonely street, in which heaps of dirt of the most disgusting kind infected the air in an unbearable manner. But one meets with the same kind of thing here even in the[Pg 270] largest Cities, and in the most magnificent squares. If one ascends a retired flight of steps, often of the finest marble, at the grandest palaces, it behoves one to keep in the centre, to avoid contamination, and even the Cathedral of Milan is unapproachable on many sides for the high heaps of filth. This exceeding dirtiness, in which the Italians surpass almost all other nations, prevails also in most of the apartments and kitchens. I thought to myself that a Dutchman would go out of his senses here!

On the 4th at noon, we arrived at the ancient, unsightly Padua, where we stopped till eight o’clock in the evening. We then continued our journey by water in the Canal-Diligence. On getting into the bark, deceived by the uncertain moonlight I missed my footing, and fell into the water; but in my fall I fortunately caught hold of the gunwale of the bark, and was immediately pulled on board again. With the exception of the fright and the trouble of changing my clothes I experienced no unpleasant consequences from this fall. The bark is very conveniently fitted up for the accommodation of from twenty four to thirty persons, and towed by a horse at full trot, goes very fast. The last half of the Canal is thickly dotted on both sides with beautiful country seats and gardens, which at this period are inhabited by the wealthy Venetians. The Palace of the former Viceroy, in which the governor Count Goes resides during the fine season, is particularly remarkable. We much regretted passing this beautiful part of the country in the night, but even by moonlight the view presented is magnificent. At five o’clock in the morning, when all Venice was yet asleep, we arrived, and alighted at the Albergo della Scala.

Venice, October, 10.

Little as Venice upon the whole, has come up with my expectations, yet I was the more surprised by the beauty of some parts of the city. The Piazza San Marco, is particularly imposing. The thousand-year old church of St. Mark, built in the oriental style, with its five cupolas, its innume[Pg 271]rable statues and magnificent mosaic-pictures with their resplendent gold ground; the colossal Bell tower with its pyramid which serves as a beacon to the mariner far away on the Adriatic sea, the three grand buildings almost in the same style of architecture which enclose the square upon three sides; the busy life under the Arcades, the rich shops of the traders and the tastefully decorated coffee-houses, in and in front of which from eight o’clock in the morning till far into the night the fashionable idle world of both sexes may be seen collected: the mingled vociferations of the numerous vendors of refreshments, and of the criers who read aloud the proclamations of the government, or announce the pieces to be performed in the evening at the different Theatres—all these together form so varied a picture, that a stranger finds subject therein for a whole week’s entertainment.

If one then proceeds to the second square which abuts on the first near the church, enclosed on the east side by the former palace of the Doges, and on the west by the prolongation of one of the three large buildings adverted to; a new spectacle quite different from the former one presents itself. Before you, the harbour dotted with gondolas, barks and trading ships of all sizes; on the left the quay bordered with magnificent buildings and churches extending as far as the giardino publico. Opposite, situated upon a small island, a monastery in whose handsome church the last Pope was elected, and to the right on the other side of the grand canal the church of San Giorgia maggiore with its majestic dome, surrounded by other beautiful buildings. When the eye has feasted itself on these objects, it is attracted by the nearer surroundings; by the motley crowd of human beings upon the high-arched stone bridges leading over the numerous canals which from this spot intersect the City; by the loading and unloading of the larger ships, the embarking of the fashionable and unfashionable world in gondolas and barks for pleasure-excursions, or journeys of business; by the singular forms of the fish and shell-fish exposed here for sale, and the[Pg 272] other numerous striking objects peculiar to a sea-port. Having seen all this, one returns gladly to the square of St. Mark, and there finds new subjects for admiration. Upon contemplating the church more attentively, the four gigantic bronze horses over the chief entry first attract the eye, less by their artistic worth, for they are not of the finest proportions, than on account of their antiquity and their various fortunes. Carried off by the Venetians on the taking of Constantinople, they were placed as war-trophies over the chief entrance of the church of St. Mark, and there remained undisturbed until the French after the conquest of Italy took them to Paris. From thence with all the other treasures of art carried from Italy, they were again brought back after the capture of Paris by the allies, and reinstated in their old place amid the exultations of all Venice. Besides these horses, there are many other memorials of the triumphs of the Venetians in the church of St. Mark. Statues, bas-reliefs, arabesques, columns and capitals from Greece, Egypt and the Barbary States, and it is subject of astonishment in this building, that, though comprising so many objects executed in the most different styles of Art, it presents nevertheless a whole of such harmonious beauty. In front of the church, stand three lofty red painted masts, which on Festival days are decorated with long silken streamers reaching to the ground, and their cast bronze foot-sockets are ornamented with fine bas-reliefs.

On the second square, close to the water, stand two colossal pillars of Egyptian granite, each pillar hewn in one single block. One supports a winged lion in brass, which was also carried to Paris, the other, the patron Saint, the holy Theodorus upon a crocodile.

The interior of the church of St. Mark, is not less beautiful than the exterior. Walls, niches, and domes are entirely covered with Mosaic-pictures, among which it is true some are of little artistic worth; but in the most of them, the composition, drawing, and colouring are very fine, and all have a pure gold ground which in spite of its great age still shines[Pg 273] as though it were new. Here, however, one is soon surrounded by whole rows of mendicants, who plead hunger so piteously and look so disgusting, that one is glad to make one’s escape from them with the sacrifice of a few copper coins. In fact one cannot pass through any part of the city at any time without being addressed by beggars, and it is said as many as 25,000 here suffer from hunger. At this period, it is true, the poor subsist very cheaply on cooked, or rather roasted, pumpkins, which are sold at the corner of every street, and of which a piece as big as the hand costs but a centisimo.

On leaving the Square, one finds but little to divert attention, for in Venice people neither ride nor drive, the streets being so narrow that frequently two persons cannot walk side by side. In the busiest part of the city not far from the Ponte Rialto, the crowd is so great that one has a difficulty to work one’s way through it. From the dirty habits of the Italians, who throw every sort of refuse into the canals, and from the pestilential smell of half-putrid fish and muscles, together with the disagreeable effluvia from the workshops of most of the artizans, it is very natural to suppose that in these narrow streets, the whole year long, one cannot once breathe a pure air.

Here gondolas take the place of vehicles, and are to be had at a very cheap rate. They all have an awning of black cloth, which gives them a mournful appearance. At the time of the Republic such luxury prevailed in the decoration of the gondolas, that the government found it necessary to establish the present mode of covering. The gondoliers are very expert in rowing and steering, and however great may be the throng on the canals, they pass each other with great swiftness, without coming in collision. When one hires two of them, the speed is equal to that of a horse in full trot. As the houses have, besides the front entry towards the water, a side door or exit upon the street, one can go, it is true, everywhere by land; but on account of the bridges one is[Pg 274] obliged to make so many turnings, that one can get to the required place as quickly again by water.

October 12.

By the most beautiful weather we to-day enjoyed the singularly splendid view from the tower of St. Mark, which is ascended very conveniently by a spiral ascent without steps. The view is truly enchanting! On one side one sees over the extensive mass of houses to the mainland, in the distance the snow-covered mountains of the Friaul; on the other side the harbour with its varied and busy life, the Islands covered with handsome churches and buildings; and in the back-ground the open sea. I do not remember having ever seen so beautiful a view from any tower, not even from that of St. Michael’s at Hamburg.

At 4 o’clock we visited the church of the Foundling, where a mass was being performed by the female foundlings. The orchestra and choir were composed entirely of young girls; an old instructress of music gave the time, another accompanied on the organ. There was more to be seen than to be heard, for the composition and execution were execrable. The girls playing the violin, flute, and horns, looked strange enough; the contra-bassist was unfortunately not to be seen, being hidden behind the trellis. There were some good voices among them, and one quite remarkable, which sang up to g on the fourth leger line (g3); but the style of singing of all was horrid.

We have made the acquaintance of several lovers of music, the two Counts Tomasini, and Signors Contin, Filigran, and several others whose names I do not know. The two former are assisting me greatly in making arrangements for my Concert, and if at the present bad time of the year for business, when every body of note is in the country, I should have a tolerable Concert, I shall have them to thank for it.

To-day we had a visit from a German musician, Herr Aiblinger, from Munich, and a pupil of Winter, who has been residing in Venice for the last sixteen years. He is a pianist[Pg 275] and composer, and seems to possess much real taste for his art. At least he complained to us, with a most piteous face, that in this country it was impossible for him to keep pace with his German brothers in art, because he had scarcely ever the good fortune to hear a German work of any note, and that with his enthusiasm for music, his heart was fit to break; that his circumstances bound him to a city where, for sixteen years, he had heard every year the same things over again, while the Germans, in the meantime, had witnessed the production of so many classic works. I afterwards saw some of his productions, and it is much to be regretted that he has been confined in this Siberia of art. In order to give me an idea how little art and artists were esteemed, even by gentlemen who wished to pass for Mæcenas’s, he related to me an anecdote of what occurred to Bärmann of Munich, who was here last winter with Demoiselle Harles. Count Herizo, a very rich nobleman, who, during the winter, gives a concert at his house every week, to which he frequently invites as many as two hundred persons, besought Bärmann, through a third party, to play at one of them. The latter had himself already announced a public concert, and presuming that it would be greatly to his disadvantage if he played elsewhere before, he declined the invitation, but promised to play after his own concert. On the same day, however, Count Herizo gave one of his customary grand concerts in which “the Creation” was performed, I believe for the first time in Venice; and Bärmann had so thin an attendance, that to cover the expenses of the concert he was obliged to add forty francs from his own pocket. Nevertheless a week afterwards, Count Herizo repeated his invitation to Bärmann, who now, however, demanded a gratification of twelve Louisd’or. After much debate this was at length agreed to. But Bärmann shortly after was apprised that it was intended to play off a hoax upon him. To avoid this he wrote anew to decline the invitation, and went on a pleasure excursion with Harles to the mainland. Upon his return, a friend of Count Herizo’s came to[Pg 276] inquire of him the reason why he would not play, and on being told, he assured him upon his honour that nothing of the kind was intended, and that Bärmann had not the least to fear; upon which the latter gave his promise to appear at the next concert. He was very politely received by Count Herizo, and the music began. After the space of an hour, when six pieces had been performed, Bärmann was curious to know when his turn would come; he therefore asked the loan of a programme from his neighbour, and found at the end of the whole of the pieces of music, which at least would last two hours more, the following words: “If time will permit, Herr Bärmann will also perform a concerto on the clarinet.” His rage may be imagined. Count Herizo is reported then to have said to him at the end of the concert, in a loud tone of voice: “We have no time to hear you this evening, but we shall perhaps another time!” and in this manner he was cheated of his pecuniary gratification. Bärmann immediately slunk out, but in so doing was so unfortunate as to mistake the way, and instead of taking the passage leading out upon the street, plumped right into the canal. Fortunately the gondoliers plying near the spot came to his assistance, and soon pulled him out. Half-perished with cold, and highly exasperated, he returned home. Next morning he was summoned before the police by Count Herizo. The director of police, after the matter had been explained to him by Bärmann, had nevertheless courage sufficient to justify Bärmann, and to point out to Count Herizo the rudeness of his conduct. Under such circumstances, however, Bärmann thought it advisable to hasten his departure, especially as a suspicious-looking fellow had been making inquiries about the hours of his going out of evenings. Fräulein Harles, also, came badly off. In the first opera she gave tolerable satisfaction, and fault was found only with her bad accent; but on the first representation of the second opera, she was so disconcerted, in her very first scene, by the loud talking, coughing, and laughing of the audience, that she ran off the stage in the middle of her aria, and fell down behind the scenes like[Pg 277] one dead. She was seized with an inflammation of the throat, and, during the whole winter, was unable to sing any thing else but the speaking recitatives. All pièces d’ensemble and both finales were sung without her, and yet, as she could find no substitute, she was obliged to appear before the public every evening. The managers deserve praise, for they played her no underhand tricks, but paid her according to the agreement made.

October 15.

There are two kinds of dilettanti-concerts given here. One takes place every fortnight at the Fenice theatre, under the direction of Count Tomasini. At the one at which I was present Teresa Sessi, who was formerly engaged at Vienna, sang two airs, a duet, and a quartet, with much applause, in her old style, which is neither better nor worse. Besides her, a dilettante attracted the attention of the auditory by singing several buffo things in the genuine Italian caricature style. All the rest, particularly the composition and execution of the ouvertures, was, as is usual in Italy, exceedingly bad.

The other is a sort of practice concerts, and takes place once a week, under the direction of Signor Contin. With the exception of some of the wind instruments and of the bass-viols, the orchestra is wholly composed of dilettanti, and the pieces performed consist mostly of symphonies and overtures by German masters. But a proper study of these works is quite out of the question, and it is considered matter of gratulation if they are got through without coming to a stillstand. On the day I was present, a very old symphony of Krommer’s was performed first, which was followed by the one in E flat major by Andrew Romberg.

For the finale I was solicited to direct Beethoven’s second symphony in D major, which I could not refuse. But I had a rare job with the orchestra, for they were accustomed to quite other tempi than I took, and seemed not at all to understand that there are shades of forte and piano in music, for all worked with bow and breath as hard and incessantly[Pg 278] as they could, and my ears rang the whole night with the infernal noise. But these practice concerts are nevertheless so far good that they afford the lovers of music in Venice the opportunity of hearing several of our classical instrumental compositions, such as the overtures to “Don Juan” and the “Zauberflöte,” which they had not hitherto been acquainted with; and, though but imperfectly, they learn to feel that the Germans are immensely superior to them in that kind of composition. Indeed they say so themselves, but they do not thoroughly believe it, and only acknowledge it, in order to be enabled to boast with more freedom of their superiority in song and vocal compositions (!!). The self-satisfaction of the Italians, despite their poverty of fancy is in fact unbearable; whenever I executed in their presence any of my things, they thought they could pay me no higher compliment than when they assured me they were quite Italian in taste and style.

October 16.

To-day in the forenoon, in company with three Silesians, we went to the ancient palace of the Doges. The so-called golden stair case was the first thing that attracted our attention. It is outside the building as far as the first floor, is of the finest marble, and ornamented with colossal statues of beautiful proportions. Up to the second and third stories it is in the interior of the building, and there is richly decorated on the sides with marble bas-reliefs, on the ceiling with gilt mouldings and small fresco-paintings, and with very fine statues in the niches. We then saw an extensive suite of salons and apartments, which were truly grand in decoration, the walls and the ceilings are painted in oil by the best masters, and here and there at intervals are the richest and most beautiful sculptured ornaments I ever beheld. The subjects of these pictures are almost exclusively incidents in the history of Venice; Doges returning thanks to the Holy Virgin for victories achieved, or the surrender of the keys of some one of the fortresses besieged by the Venetians, etc. etc. Despite the want of[Pg 279] good taste in the bringing together, in these paintings, of heavenly and earthly personages, the execution and grouping of each, particularly in those by Paul Veronese, is exceedingly fine. Altogether in my opinion, there is no kind of decoration so befitting and worthy of a princely palace as this, in which the deeds of the nation are immortalized at the same time with the name of the most skilful national artist. In the present day how little feeling exists for this kind of patriotism! Where up to the present day is there to be seen any painting illustrating the modern deeds of heroism of the Germans, executed by the order of a Sovereign? And yet how greatly the artists of the present day are in want of such encouragement and support! And I am here speaking of painters and sculptors only; poets and musicians ought also to have been invited to immortalize the deeds of the German people.

We came at last to the great library, which contains also a perfect treasure of paintings and antique statues. From the gallery of this hall one has a charming view of the harbour.—In order to be enabled to make a comparison between the style of decorating palaces in former time with the modern method, we visited the apartments in the government building fitted up by order of the former Viceroy. We found them pretty and convenient, it is true; but what a difference between the earnest splendour of that ancient palace and the tasteless ornamentation of the new! Instead of the marble bas-reliefs and the rich gilt mouldings and ornaments of the latter, here we found slovenly painted arabesques by the hands of unknown daubers, and the walls hung with silk tapestry or figured paper instead of the pictures of famous masters.

October 17.

Yesterday Paganini returned here again from Trieste, and therefore, as it would appear, has at once abandoned his project of going to Vienna. He called on me this morning, and so I have at length made the personal acquaintance of this wonderful man, of whom since I have been in Italy I have[Pg 280] heard some story or other every day. No instrumentalist ever charmed the Italians so much as he, and although they are not very fond of instrumental concerts, yet he gave more than a dozen concerts in Milan and five here. On making nearer enquiry, what it is that he in reality fascinates his auditory with, one hears from the non-musical portion the most exaggerated encomiums—that he is a complete wizard, and brings tones from his violin which were never heard before from that instrument. Connoisseurs, on the other hand, say that it cannot be denied he certainly possesses a great dexterity with the left hand, in double-chords and in passages of every kind, but that the very thing by which he fascinates the crowd debases him to a mere charlatan, and does not compensate for that in which he is utterly wanting—a grand tone, a long bow-stroke, and a tasteful execution. But that by which he captivates the Italian public and which has acquired for him the name of the “Inimitable,” which is even placed under his portraits, consists, on a nearer enquiry, in a succession of feats which, in the dark times of good taste, the once so famous Scheller performed in the small towns and some capitals of Germany, and which at that time equally excited the admiration of our countrymen, viz, in the flageolet tones; in variations upon one string, in which for the purpose of imposing more upon the audience, he takes off the other three strings of the violin; in a peculiar kind of pizzicato, produced with the left hand without the help of the right or of the bow; and in many tones quite unnatural to the violin, such as the bassoon tone, the voice of an old woman, etc. etc.—As I never heard the wonderful Scheller, whose saying was: “One God! one Scheller!” I should much like to hear Paganini play in his peculiar manner, and the more so, because I presume that so admired an artist must possess some more real merits than those adverted to.

The origin of his present skill as a virtuoso is said to have been a four years incarceration, to which he was condemned, for strangling his wife in a fit of violent rage. Such, at least, is the public report in Milan and here also. As from a wholly ne[Pg 281]glected education he could amuse himself neither with writing nor reading, he cheered the ennui of the tedious hours of his existence in the invention and practise of all the tricks of art with which he now astonishes all Italy. By his disobliging and rude behaviour he has made enemies of several of the lovers of music here, and they, after I have played any thing before them at my lodgings, extol me upon every opportunity at Paganini’s expense, in order to annoy him, which is not only very unjust, since between two artists of such entirely different style no parallel can be drawn; but is also disadvantageous to me, because it makes all Paganini’s admirers and partizans my enemies. His opponents have inserted a letter in the journals, in which they say that my play recalls to them the style of their veteran violinists, Pugnani and Tartini, whose grand and dignified manner of handling the violin has become wholly lost in Italy, and had been compelled to make room for the petty and childish manner of their virtuosi of the present day; while the Germans and French had understood how to adapt that noble and simple method of play to the taste of modern times. This letter, which appeared in to-day’s paper without my knowledge, will certainly do me rather harm than good with the public, for the Venetians are firmly persuaded that it is impossible to come up to Paganini, much less to surpass him.

October 19.

Our concert took place yesterday, and was better attended than I had expected, since all who have the means to go into the country, or who are not tied to the city by very urgent business, are away, and of all my letters of recommendation the only one I have been yet able to deliver is the one to the governor Count Goes. Neither is it worth the trouble, to bring letters of introduction to Italians, for they are of no manner of use. A cold offer of their services, which they do not intend to give, is all that one gets from them. But I must return to the concert. It took place in the St. Luca theatre, which, next to the Fenice, is the largest and handsomest in[Pg 282] Venice. The proprietor, Signor Vendremi, let me have it on the condition that I should relinquish to him two-thirds of the sale of the boxes which were not private property. There exists, namely, a curious custom in Italy, which is, that certain boxes are sold to private individuals for as long as the house stands, whereby the proprietor of the house abandons all right to them. But these proprietors of boxes must pay the price for admission at the entrance the same as everybody else. This is the same for every part of the house, and always a very low one; with the boxes which remain in the hands of the proprietor of the theatre rare bargains are sometimes driven, and on the performance of very attractive pieces they are frequently paid as high as several carolini. Yesterday very little was taken for the boxes, so that signor Vendremi did not profit much. From the coldness of the public at the commencement of my play, I immediately observed that there was a prejudice against me; but by degrees it subsided, and towards the close of the concert the applause was so unanimous, that I was twice called for. All that I afterwards played now found a much more ready reception, and the clapping of hands was as boisterous as in Milan.

To-day there has also appeared in the paper a very favorable report upon yesterday’s concert, in which it says, in reference to the letter adverted to, that it is unjust and partial to endeavour to praise one style at the expense of another, and that there should be no monopoly of any one genre in art: in which report, however, it also says of me, among other things, “that I unite the Italian sweetness with all the depth of study peculiar to our nation, and that I must be acknowledged to take rank among the first of living violinists—encomiums therefore, such as might content the vainest artist.”

October 20.

Paganini called upon me early this morning to compliment me upon the concert. I very urgently solicited him to play something, and several musical friends who were at my place[Pg 283] united their entreaties to mine. But he very bluntly refused, and excused himself on account of a fall, the effects of which he still felt in the arms. Afterwards, when we were alone, and I again besought him, he said, his style of play was calculated for the great public only, and with them never failed in its effect; and that if he was to play anything to me, he must play in a different manner, and for that he was at the moment by no means in the humour; but that we should probably meet in Rome or Naples, and then he would not put me off with a refusal. I shall therefore leave this place in all probability without hearing the wonderful man.

This morning, on going out, we had the wholly unexpected pleasure of meeting Meyerbeer and all his family. He is now returned from a tour through Sicily to meet his parents here, who have not seen him for five years: he will then turn back through Florence and Rome to Naples, to be present at the opening of the new theatre of St. Carlo. It was a real enjoyment to me to be able once more to converse with a well-educated German artist on subjects of art. His brother gave me the gratifying information that my opera “Faust” had been performed in Prague. On their journey through they were present at a rehearsal of it. I now look forward with hope to more detailed information respecting its representation.

At the theatre St. Moise we were present at the first performance of the old opera “Don Papirio,” which had been studied with great attention by the vocalists and the orchestra. The prima donna, Madame Marchesini, already somewhat passée, distinguished herself greatly on that evening by good execution and clever acting. The buffo singer, whose name I do not remember, was also very excellent.

Bologna, October 25.

Late on Monday evening we left Venice by the “mail boat.” As the wind was very favorable, we performed the first part of the journey by water, as far as where the canal falls into the Lagunes, very quickly. Twice, for a short distance,[Pg 284] we crossed a part of the open sea, that is the great and lesser harbour of Chiozza, where the motion of our bark was so violent from the roughness of the sea, that Dorette and the children were regularly sea-sick. I only escaped this affliction by seating myself on the deck in the fresh air. When we had run into the canal, and afterwards into the Po, where the boat was towed by horses, it went slowly and quietly enough, so that I soon went to fetch up the patients. As I am told here, that the rich people of the town are still in the country, and that even at the most favorable season of the year concerts scarcely cover their expenses, we shall abandon the idea of giving one here, and continue our journey to Florence to-morrow morning by vetturino.

Florence, October 28.

The journey here over the Apennines, with very fine weather, was exceedingly pleasant. The mountains, though of a considerable height, are wooded almost to their summits, and the trees and bushes, were now rich with the most beautiful colours of their autumnal garb. The valley in which Florence lies presents a highly charming prospect. When one looks down upon the beautiful gardens and country seats, one seems to be entering a very Paradise.

November 2.

Florence does not quite come up to the expectations one forms of it from the description of over-enthusiastic travellers. Dresden is called the German Florence, but is not much honoured by the parallel. The situation of Dresden, as well as the city itself, are incomparably finer. The Arno is a dirty, mean-looking river, and is not in the least to be compared with the majestic Elbe. The four bridges which lead over it and connect the two parts of the town are certainly good and substantial, but not so long or so elegant as that of Dresden. Neither has Florence such fine buildings nor such handsome squares as Dresden, and excels it alone in its treasures of art of every kind. Of these there are so many[Pg 285] here, that one can scarcely find time to see them all. On the square in front of the ancient palace stand several groups of colossal statues in marble and bronze of the most celebrated of the old masters, which make of this square, otherwise so irregular and unattractive, one of the most interesting in the world for connoisseurs in art. A group in marble, representing the rape of a Sabine, especially charmed us. From this square it is not far to the cathedral, a gigantic building with a cupola, which in circumference and height is said to be little inferior to St. Peter’s at Rome. The exterior is somewhat too party-coloured and not very tasteful; the walls are inlaid with tables of marble of different colours, which present a variety of patterns. Near the church stands a very lofty square clock-tower, which is ornamented in the same manner. Belonging thereto, although isolated from it, is also a christening chapel built in the same style, and also with a tolerably high dome. Here are the celebrated gates of bronze, of which Michael Angelo said they were worthy to stand at the entrance to the abode of the blessed, as they were too beautiful for any earthly building. There are three of them, two of which are executed and ornamented in the same style. But the single one is by far the handsomest and has far larger bas-reliefs than the other two. In the whole world is not to be seen any thing more beautiful in the grouping, drawing, perspective, softness and purity of the work than these bas-reliefs.

In another church we saw a succession of tombs, among which those of Michael Angelo, Nardini, and Alfieri interested us greatly. On the tomb of the former is his bust, executed with his own hand, and three female figures (by one of his pupils) personifying the three arts in which he excelled: architecture, painting, and sculpture, mourning for his loss. What however does it not confer upon the artists who merited such memorials of their worth, and upon their contemporaries also who raised them to them! Where can one find anything of[Pg 286] the kind in Germany? Where have Mozart and Haydn the memorials to their honour? In Vienna no one even knows where they are buried.

November 5.

On the day we arrived, and almost every evening since, we have been to the theatre in the Via della Pergola. They are now giving an opera of Rossini’s, “L’Italiana in Algeri,” and a grand ballet. Rossini is now the favorite composer of the Italians, and several of his operas, “Tancredi,” “Il Turco in Italia,” and the above-named, are performed with great applause in almost every town in Italy. I was therefore glad, after having heard his compositions so frequently and highly praised in Milan and Venice, to hear something of his myself. This opera has, however, not wholly satisfied my expectations; in the first place it is wanting, like all Italian music, in purity of style, characteristic proprieties in the personages, and judicious calculation of the length or shortness of the music for the scene. These indispensable qualities of an opera to which we would give the appellation classic, I had however not expected, as we do not at all miss them in an Italian opera. One is accustomed to have the same person sing alternately in the tragic and comic style, and to hear from a peasant girl the same pompous vocal ornamentation as from a queen or a heroine, and to hear one of the persons performing sing alone, for a quarter of an hour at a time, in situations of the most impassioned kind, while the others walk about in the back-ground, or partly behind the scenes, and chat and laugh with their acquaintances. But I did indeed expect qualities which should distinguish Rossini’s work above that of his colleagues—novelty of ideas, for instance; purity of harmony, etc.; but of all these I found but little. What the Italians consider new in Rossini’s operas is not new to us; for they consist of ideas and modulations for the most part long since known in Germany; for instance the appoggiatura in[Pg 287] the bass at the beginning of the much-admired duett in the first act:

which the musicians in Florence boasted of to me as something quite new, and discovered by Rossini. In Milan, where I heard the same duet at a concert, it was probably found too hard, and the fifth and sixth measures were thus changed:

Or the following modulation, also, at the finale of the first act:

[Pg 288]

Purity of harmony is not to be found in him any more than in any other modern Italian composer; and I have heard many sequences of quints like the following:

But in attention to the rhythm and in the complete use he makes of the orchestra, he distinguishes himself above his countrymen.

The instrumentation, however, as compared with ours, first introduced by Mozart, is still very meagre, and the Italians in that still cling too much to the old. The viols and bassoons almost always go through the whole opera col Basso, and the clarinets and hautboys in Unisono. As in most Italian operas with from six to eight contra-basses there is only one violincello, and usually not even a good one, they as yet know nothing here of the (since Mozart’s day) frequent use of the violincello for middle voices, which, skilfully brought in, has such a splendid effect; and they are far behind the Germans in the knowledge of how to get the best effect from the wind instruments. But what surprised me most, was to hear sometimes in these operas a very uneven cantabile, while a flowing and for the voice grateful and well arranged cantabile is the only praise-worthy quality of the modern Italian operatic music, and must compensate for all the deficiencies and faults. The two following passages struck me most; the first in an aria of the prima donna, the second, in the first finale, where it frequently recurs:

[Pg 289]

Both these passages are not only unsingable but exceedingly insipid, and the second especially, from the somewhat slow movement and its frequent recurrence, is wholly unbearable.

Among the singers in this opera, Madame Georgi, the prima donna, is the only remarkable one. She has a full, powerful voice of rare compass, from
to
Her part is written for a contralto, and she can therefore exhibit her high notes in the fiorituri only; if she possesses equal power in the low notes a deep soprano part would suit her much better. Like almost every singer we have yet heard in Italy she has the vice of ornamenting too much, and does not know how to derive all the advantage she might from her splendid voice. One hears very plainly, moreover, that she does not draw in the least upon her own spontaneous feeling and taste, but everything has been studied; so that her fiorituri, which are repeated every evening, note for note, become so wearisome that one cannot hear her again without repugnance. She was formerly a dillettante, and only now sings in the third theatre; but nevertheless she is already an excellent actress.

The ballet, which is given every evening between the two[Pg 290] acts of the opera, is the most splendid of any I have ever yet seen. I think it is called “The Destruction of the Western Empire,” and is especially remarkable for the constant introduction of great masses of persons on the stage in full activity who form the boldest and most surprising groups. It has been studied with extraordinary correctness, and is performed every evening with the same precision. At the end a cavalry engagement was represented, which however always looks somewhat stiff and awkward.

November, 8.

Last evening our concert took place in the theatre della Pergola. The Grand-duke, to whom I brought a letter from his brother Rudolph, and who has received me several times very graciously at his residence, honoured it with his presence, accompanied by his whole family. The small though select auditory was very animated, and after having greeted the Grand-duke with the usual recognitions, were not restrained from a loud expression of applause of my performances. The music had a very good effect in the spacious and sonorous theatre; but the accompaniment was not of the best.—To-day I have received a great number of invitations to give a second concert next week, from which I am promised a better result. I shall make the venture, although the Grand-duke, who goes to-morrow to Pisa to meet his brother Rainer, will not be here. Yesterday’s concert, exclusive of the Archduke’s present to me, did not bring in more than the evening’s expenses, which were, as they always are, very considerable; the price of admission being only three paoli, and all disposition over the sale of a single box being again denied me. A very favorable notice of my concert appeared this afternoon in the newspaper.

November, 12.

As we have now been several times to the picture-gallery, and attentively observed all that it contains, I will commit[Pg 291] to paper a few words, not upon the truly splendid works of art which it contains, for they have already been frequently and well described, but also the expression of the impression which they made upon me. I must first of all give due praise to the admirable custom, one by no means usual in Italy, of admitting the public to the gallery free. At the entrance one finds a notice in four or five languages, that the guardians of the gallery are forbidden under the penalty of the loss of their situation, to take the smallest present. Though perhaps they may not altogether adhere too strictly to this injunction, one is at least fully secured from the importunate begging, with which one is everywhere pursued in Italy, and in this place, made sacred by art, gives oneself peacefully up to the enjoyment.

To assist my memory hereafter I have sketched a plan of the gallery and marked the position where the works of art stand which made the greatest impression upon me. As I never make use either of a guide or a book to find the objects worthy of observation in a city (I am averse to all dictation as what I should admire, and never permit myself to be deprived of the pleasure of finding for myself the works of art in a gallery which are known to me by reputation), therefore it is very possible that I have erred in many instances. On the first day I looked for a long time and with attention at the works of art which are in the gallery proper, before the apartments were opened in which the most choice are situated. I am even now glad I did so, as afterwards, when I had seen the most perfect specimens of art, I could never again remain for any length of time with the works exhibited in the gallery. One exception to this was the group of the Laocoon, which I always contemplated with renewed admiration. When the sanctuary of art was thrown open we first beheld the celebrated Medicean Venus, whose perfect and surpassingly beautiful form is yet more thrown out by the large curtain of red-velvet suspended behind her. In the same rotunda with her are the greatest master-pieces ever produced[Pg 292] by the chisel and by the brush: the Apollo del Belvedere[23] and Raphael’s St. John. To contemplate and admire in these three works of art the highest ideal of human beauty is an enjoyment quite peculiar in its kind. After reiterated contemplation and long hesitation I gave the palm for beauty to the St. John. Any thing more charming and at the same time more noble than the whole form of this Youth cannot be imagined by the most lively fancy. What may have contributed somewhat to this decision on my part is the circumstance that the Apollo as well as the Venus are of a three-quarter-life size, a proportion which seems to be not quite happily chosen, as the figures being so nearly the real size of life, always appear to be wanting in something, which, if they were smaller, would not be the case. The Apollo has nevertheless a rather too feminine beauty, which not I alone, but my wife also and several other persons present remarked. In this apartment are numerous other master-pieces, among which a head by Raphael, the Venus of Titian; and a group of gladiators in marble, excited most our admiration. Of the pictures arranged according to the schools in the side apartments, the head of a female, by Carlo Dolce, pleased me most; but one soon returns again to the gems of the whole collection. On the other side of the building, in two apartments, is the collection of Bronzes, among which the celebrated flying Mercury excites the most admiration. In another saloon is a collection of Niobes, among which are some beautiful works of art. Besides these we saw innumerable portraits of celebrated masters, for the most part painted by themselves.

November 13.

Behind the residence of the Grand-duke is a large garden called, I know not why, Boboli. It is open to all on Sundays and Fridays. Last Sunday we went there for the second time, and afterwards heard mass in the Court-chapel. The[Pg 293] Grand-duke, who has a collection of between three and four-hundred masses of celebrated masters of every period, had given out upon this occasion one of Michael Haydn’s for performance; it was executed with tolerable precision, but it was found necessary to play a very simple solo for the tenor-trumpet upon the viol. The musicians asked me afterwards whether we had players on the trumpet in Germany who could execute such soli as that!

Upon our way back our hired lacquey pointed out to us the covered passage leading from the Grand-ducal residence to the water side, which passes through several streets at a considerable height, and after being carried across the river Arno over one of the bridges, and through a few more streets, abuts at the government buildings in which the gallery is also situated. This gallery, which is at least a quarter of an hour’s walk in length, is used by the Grand-duke when in wet weather he attends the sittings of the privy council.

November 15.

Our concert yesterday was not better attended than the first and therefore brought in nothing. I am now convinced that an instrumental-musician, even under the most favourable circumstances, can earn nothing in Florence; for in the first place the Italians esteem and like instrumental music too little, and in the second the price of admission is much too low in proportion to the considerable expenses. I must here observe, as somewhat worthy of note, that one part of the orchestra, namely, all the violinists, took no payment, which for people who must live from their daily earnings, and for Italians who, wherever possible, extort three times the price of every thing, is certainly very astonishing. For the rest, my play was received with still greater applause yesterday than the first time. Madame Georgi sang exceedingly well the admired cavatina (sung everywhere in Italy) in Rossini’s “Tancredi,” with the following theme:

[Pg 294]

It was again to be deplored, that upon the return to the theme she overwhelmed it with so much ornamentation that one could recognise nothing of the original song. Signor Sbigoli, first tenor at the Pergolo theatre, who had also given his assistance at the first concert, again sang two airs in a good style, and with much exertion, but with little voice. He, like the singers in Venice and Milan who sang at my concerts, required payment, but was satisfied with the very moderate sum of a carolin for each concert.

This afternoon we, for a last excursion, strolled out to the Porta Romana, to see the fresco-painting, so celebrated from the circumstance which gave rise to it, and which adorns a small mean-looking house there. The following is related concerning it: The Medici had sent to Rome for the most famed masters of that time, to paint, I believe, the chapel al fresco. The Florentine painters first became informed of this upon the day previous to the arrival of the strangers, and jealous of the preference which they had attained, they resolved at least to shew them, that they were quite as well able to execute the work, which they were sent for to perform. They combined their abilities therefore, and in one night, by the light of torches, painted this large fresco-picture, of which it is true but few traces now remain, but which sufficiently attest the excellence of the work. As the house on which this painting is executed, is so situated that it must attract the immediate attention of all persons entering at this gate, the foreign artists immediately observed the work, which had been completed but a few hours before, and as modesty was not then so rare among artists as it is in the present day, they immediately turned back, and sent word to the Medici, that they could not understand why they had been written for, since Florence produced artists who could execute so admirable a work of art in the space of a single night, as they[Pg 295] had beheld. As a matter of course the work was then given to the Florentines for execution.

We have fixed our departure for to-morrow. Some things of note, such for example as the tomb of the Medici, which we have not yet been able to see, we must defer until our return journey.

Rome, November 22.

We arrived at length last night, after a long and tedious journey, in the former capital of the world. The journey was rendered tedious, first by the slowness of our vetturino, the driver of which had taken up, besides ourselves, who had hired the interior of his vehicle for twelve Louisd’or (inclusive of night lodgings and supper), three other travellers in the so-called cabriolet, and therefore could only drive at a walking pace, secondly, by reason of the raw weather and the cold, which for Italy was very great, and against which so little shelter is found at the inns where we stopped for the night, where the windows and doors are always open a good hand’s breadth, the floors of stone, and the generally very lofty rooms not to be warmed by a chimney fire; thirdly, from the uninteresting and barren country through which the road passes. One has the choice of two roads. The one longer, but more interesting, by way of Perugia, a journey of seven days; the other through Sienna of six days. We took the latter. As far as Sienna it is not without interest, and it is a clean and a pretty town, which has moreover the reputation that the purest Italian is spoken there. But from there the road runs through numerous barren stretches of country. Neither houses nor trees are to be seen, and now and then only the melancholy testimonials of Roman justice, that is, high posts from which are suspended the arms and legs of bandits and murderers. How in a country whose soil yields without manure two harvests, one of corn and the other of maize, men should be compelled by hunger to subsist by robberies, is to me incomprehensible: but so it is. So long as corn is in abundance, all the roads are safe, but[Pg 296] when hunger pinches, the sternest severity is unavailing. During the rule of the French knives were forbidden to be carried on the person on pain of the galleys; if any one drew a knife upon an opponent he was treated as a murderer and hung without mercy. By such measures the public security was soon re-established and for a long time one heard of no more assassinations. Now, though certainly those regulations still exist, they are not rigorously carried out: the previous insecurity prevails anew, and it is not safe to venture alone into the more lonely streets of the city.

Before we could drive to an inn, we were obliged to proceed to the custom-house, where our trunks and other luggage were inspected in the closest manner. For my violon, although it is an old one and for my own use, I was obliged to pay a duty of seven Paoli.

December 5.

[Pg 297]

This is the first music we heard in Rome, and since then have heard it so frequently, that I have been enabled to write it down easily. During the time of Advent, when all public music is forbidden, the theatres closed, and a real deathlike stillness prevails, whole troops of virtuosi on the bagpipe come from the Neapolitan territory, who play first before the pictures of the Virgin and Saints, and then collect in the houses and in the streets a viaticum, or travelling penny. They generally go in pairs, one playing the bagpipe and the other the shepherds-pipe. The music of all, with a few unimportant deviations, is the same, and is said to have its origin in a very ancient sacred melody; but from the way in which these people now play it, it sounds profane enough. Heard at a certain distance it nevertheless does not sound badly; the one who plays the bagpipe produces an effect somewhat as though three clarinets were blown, he of the shepherds-pipe a sound like that of a coarse powerful hautboy. The purity of the notes of the bag-pipe and shepherds-pipe is very striking. Wherever one now goes, be the part of the city which it may, one hears the above music.

Last Sunday Prince Frederick of Gotha took me to the famous Sestine Chapel, where I for the first time saw the Pope, surrounded by all the Cardinals in their fullest ecclesiastical splendour, and heard his celebrated singers of the choir. Whether it is that I am differently organized from other travellers, or that my expectations are always too exalted from the perusal of books of travel, neither the music, the place, nor the ecclesiastical ceremony pleased me, or impressed me with awe. The singers of the choir were about thirty in[Pg 298] number, who comported themselves in a somewhat off-hand and uncouth manner. The soprani, for the most part old men, frequently sang false, and altogether the intonation was anything but pure. They commenced with melodies for two voices of very ancient date, which were declaimed by the singers rather than sung. Then followed some things for four voices, written in a condensed style, and arranged for the voices to fall in like in a catch. The composition of these seemed to me very dignified, in the genuine old ecclesiastical style, and well calculated for the place. The execution was correct, it is true, but, as we have said, too coarse, and not better than most of our German choristers could have sung the same kind of thing. Three and four-voiced soli interchanged alternately with the choir; sometimes one heard also the crescendo effected by the gradual and successive entry of the voices, and the diminuendo produced by the inverse process, which in the celebrated Miserere on Good Fridays is said to have so charming an effect. It had also a good effect to-day, but this can be equally obtained from any well-practised choir. The place is indeed extremely favorable to simple slow church music, as it is very sonorous and the voices blend well with one another; but I know several churches in Germany—for instance the castle chapel at Würzburg and the catholic church at Dresden—where music sounds even better. I became also, convinced anew, that vocal and instrumental music combined have a much finer effect than vocal music alone, which, after all is always somewhat monotonous, and, on account of its restricted limits, becomes tedious. But in the papal chapel there is never any instrumental music, being contrary to ecclesiastical etiquette. Lastly, as far as regards the ceremonies, which, according to the accounts of travellers, are on Good Friday of so elevating a character, and increase immensely the effects of the music, this was by no means the case on Sunday; on the contrary, many things took place which could not but appear ridiculous to an unprejudiced spectator; for instance, the frequently repeated removal, as though at the word of[Pg 299] command, of the little red caps of the cardinals, the clumsy awkwardness of several of their attendants when carrying after them their long violet-coloured trains, and on handing to them and again taking off their caps, etc. I also felt indignant when I saw that the priests who read the mass, and the preacher, before he ascended the pulpit, threw themselves upon their knees before the Pope and kissed his red slipper; and how every time previous thereto two assistants fell upon one knee, spread out his capacious mantel and lifted his sacerdotal frock to enable him to raise his foot for them to kiss. Neither did any of his assistants hand any thing to him, not even his pocket handkerchief, without previously kneeling before him. What is this but a degradation of humanity?

The celebrated “Last Judgement” of Michael Angelo, and all the other fresco-paintings which decorate the chapel, have greatly suffered and are much blackened with smoke. But one can still see sufficient of the former, which covers the whole wall behind the altar, to admire the grandeur of the composition and the masterly touch of the artist in the execution.

After the mass the sacrament was presented to the Pope and all the Cardinals in the Pauline Chapel, which, illuminated by innumerable tapers, presented when first seen an imposing spectacle. As we got there first, we heard the chaunt of the choristers who walked at the head of the procession, approach by degrees nearer and nearer, which produced a fine crescendo. A silent prayer, during which all present remained kneeling, here closed the ceremony.

In Rome there are two private musical réunions: one, a kind of singing academy, takes place every Thursday at the house of its institutor, Sirletti, a teacher of singing and of the piano-forte. From thirty to five-and-thirty singers, mostly dilettanti, meet here, some of whom have very fine voices, as, for example, Madame Vera (née Häser) and the tenor, Signor Moncade. Up till now we have been there twice. The first day, in compliment to us Germans, they gave Mozart’s Requiem, and that very powerfully and purely;[Pg 300] all the soli and the quartet were especially well sung. Madame Vera with her splendid sonorous organ, her firm intonation, and her fine management of the voice, sang her part in an irreproachable manner. The grand and very difficult fugue was in particular sung purely and well. The only disturbing influence upon the execution, which otherwise would have afforded us great enjoyment, was signor Sirletti’s pianoforte accompaniment from the score. It is true we ought not to have expected better; for where should an Italian teacher of singing and pianoforte get a knowledge of harmony sufficient to read and play correctly a score of Mozart’s? But as his deep (!) knowledge of harmony had been greatly extolled to me previously, I had certainly expected something better. He struck some such barbarous harmonies at times, that, could Mozart have heard him, he would have turned round in his grave. After the Requiem they sang a piece of Händel’s hitherto unknown to me, and, for the finale, the Halleluja; the latter in particular was powerfully and purely sung.

On the previous Thursday they had sung some of Marcello’s Psalms, for two and three voices. These Psalms, which the Italians consider classic master-pieces, and of which some years since a fine edition was published with long commentaries on the particular beauties of each Psalm, pleased me very well, but I did not find anything so very particular in them; on the contrary, I am persuaded, although I am not very familiar with the German works in this style, that we have compositions of the kind by Bach and others which are greatly superior to them. They appear to me, particularly in the form, to have been carelessly constructed, they deviate frequently for a length of time from the chief key, and then close immediately after the return to the tonic in a very unsatisfactory manner. Those for three voices begin generally with soprano and tenor, and the bass first enters with the repeat; but this third voice was never essential, and always sounded like an orchestral fundamental bass; there were however some among them in which the voices took up their parts as in a canon,[Pg 301] and these were very remarkable. Nevertheless, on the whole, the part-writing and modulation were very monotonous, and the same intrate and appoggiaturas recurred in all. Signor Sirletti’s accompaniment was again also very disturbing in these Psalms, and particularly unpleasant to me was an impurity of some of the full chords, which in these simple three-voiced things was still more out of place. With that, like all Italians whom I have yet heard accompany, he has the execrable fashion practice of doubling the bass notes with the right hand, which with some accords, for instance 6/5 accords, sounds quite unbearable with the leading tone. That moreover, by this method octaves must arise in the solution, does not appear to trouble the Signori, nor are their ears offended by it. To me it was also exceedingly displeasing that some Germans who were present seemed so much delighted. What is the meaning of these grimaces? The Italians really might be induced to believe that we have never heard any thing so good in Germany. When will Germans cease to be the blind admirers and the apes of foreigners!

The other private musical réunion takes place every Monday, at the home of Signor Ruffini, the proprietor of the great manufactory of strings for instruments. Here operas are executed also by dilettanti as concert music, before an auditory of from 200 to 250 persons. The singers stand upon a slightly raised platform, and the orchestra, consisting of four violins, viol, violincello, double bass, two clarinets, two horns, and a bassoon, is disposed round them in a semi-circle on the level floor. Last Monday, when Prince Frederick took us there, an old opera buffo of Paisiello was given. The selection was certainly not the best concert music. The music of a comic opera can alone be produced with the desired effect upon the stage, combined with the proper action which belongs to it; but apart from that, this one appeared to me somewhat insipid. The execution both on the part of the singers and the orchestra, was equally bad; Signor Moncade, with his splendid tenor voice, was the only one worthy of remark. Between the two acts[Pg 302] a dilettante executed the first Allegro of a clarinet concerto with much ability and a tolerably good tone, but without the least taste. He was another illustration of a remark I have already made, that Italian virtuosi and dilettanti direct their whole attention to the acquirement of mechanical skill, but as far as regards a tasteful style of execution, they form themselves very little after the good models which their best singers might be to them; while our German instrumentalists generally possess a very cultivated style and much feeling, which, without taking pattern of any one, they must find in themselves.

December 7.

As Rome, like other Italian cities, offers us no great musical treats (and even less than usual, at the present moment, as all the theatres are closed), we must, like all other travellers, content ourselves with the creations of architecture, painting, and sculpture of the former flourishing period of Italian art. Of these certainly there is a wealth such as is not to be found in any other city in the world. Wherever one goes—in the streets, in the squares, palaces, churches, and gardens—one sees everywhere columns, obelisks, statues, bas-reliefs and paintings. We first strolled through all the streets, in order to familiarise ourselves with the remains of ancient Roman architecture. The venerable Pantheon, the Forum Romanum with its triumphal arches and columns, and particularly the Colosseum, filled us with wonder and admiration. We then ascended the Capitol, saw the Tarpeian rock and a thousand other places and objects made interesting by Roman history.

On the following day we visited the immortal Michael Angelo’s master-piece, the church of St. Peter. Several travellers whose expectations of this gigantic structure from their point of view had not been satisfied, had much depressed mine, and from that circumstance perhaps it made a powerful impression upon me. The open space before the church, with the semi-circular colonnades, the obelisk and the two stupendous fountains are of themselves of imposing grandeur. But[Pg 303] on entering the interior of the church, one is seized with wonder and admiration at the magnificence of the decorations. Without being overloaded, it contains such wealth in mosaic pictures, statues, and bas-reliefs, that it would occupy weeks to examine all the separate works of art. As all these things are in the most harmonious relation and proportion to each other, and are as colossal as the whole structure itself, one is greatly deceived at first in regard to the size of the church. But upon contemplating more nearly the separate objects, one finds, for instance, that the little angels which hold the basins for holy-water, when seen closer, are taller than the tallest Prussian grenadier; and one finds the assertions of the architects who have taken all the dimensions of the building, more creditable, that, for instance, the cathedral of Strasburg could conveniently stand under the dome without the top of the tower reaching higher than into the lantern. But it is necessary to ascend into the interior of the lantern itself to convince oneself of the correctness of the other calculations, viz., that the pen of St. Peter is eight feet long, that four men abreast can conveniently walk round upon the cornice, etc. etc.

From the church we went to the museum of the Vatican. The riches it contains in treasures of art and antiquities, and the size and splendour of the place, surpass even the most exalted expectations. One first enters a long gallery on both sides of which the walls are encrusted with ancient Roman inscriptions and sepulchral stones, which had but little interest for us. We then came into a second gallery, in which are statues, busts, and fragments of sculpture innumerable. We then entered the famed Belvedere, where all round a circular open court, in the centre of which is a fountain, a number of niches, apartments, and saloons contain the most precious works of ancient and modern art. We first saw in one of the niches the celebrated Apollo of Belvedere, whose form is still considered the beau ideal of manly vigour and beauty. By a mistake for which I may be readily pardoned, since as I have said I never make use either of a guide or book, I had taken the[Pg 304] somewhat feminine figure in the gallery at Florence for the universally admired Apollo of Belvedere. That statue, which is also of extreme artistic beauty, is, as I am now informed called the Apollino. In a second niche we saw the celebrated group of Laokoon and his sons; in a third, three master-pieces of Canova, a Perseus and two Roman gladiators. The Perseus is a wonderfully beautiful figure, but evidently imitated from the Apollo; for the head as well as the position of the body and of the mantle are strikingly similar. One of the gladiators is said to resemble more an English prize-fighter than a Roman gladiator; at least such is the opinion of the pupils and partisans of Thorwaldsen, who cannot forgive Canova his certainly very blamable vanity, that he should have placed his work, the only one of a modern in a museum of antiques. Nevertheless, if one judges without reference to persons, it must be admitted that in Perseus he has produced a splendid work of art, and that there are hundreds of antiquities in the museum which are not equal to it in artistic beauty.

In one apartment there is a great number of animals, single and in groups, in marble and other yet more costly and rare varieties of stone, of the most perfect execution. I could not give the preference to any one of them without disparaging the others. In other apartments are vases of immense size, of Egyptian granite and porphyry, cups, fountains and sarcophages with bas-reliefs, arabesques and other ornaments, as well as statues of all sizes. A two-wheeled Roman chariot, such as were used in chariot races, with two incomparably beautiful horses, greatly pleased us. The magnificence of the saloons, rotundi, apartments, and staircases exceeds anything we have ever seen. The floor consists almost wholly of ancient mosaics, and the ceilings are decorated with the most splendid fresco-paintings.

From the Belvedere two handsome staircases then lead one story higher up to a long gallery. One then enters an apartment in which the tapestries are hung which were worked after the drawings of Raphael. As is natural to suppose, not[Pg 305] only the colours are said to be bad, as is usual with all tapestries, but the drawing is also defective, so that connoisseurs in art esteem them but little. In the composition and throughout the grouping, nevertheless, the spirit of Raphael is visible.

Now come the celebrated “Stanzi” of Raphael, which are considered by painters and connoisseurs in art as the most costly and beautiful, not only in Rome, but in the whole world. One of these apartments he finished entirely himself; in the others only some of the figures are of his execution; the rest were painted by his pupils and friends after his drawings and under his eye. The paintings are in much better preservation than those in the Sixtine chapel and, with the care which is now taken of them, they may for centuries to come attract the admiration of connoisseurs. It is nevertheless a sad reflection that some of the most precious things produced by the genius and pencil of Raphael are here adherent to the walls, and must perish with them. It is therefore fortunate that these paintings have been and are so frequently copied and engraved, that something of them will yet remain when the originals shall be no more. But this must not be permitted to be done in the way resorted to by the young Parisian academicians, who stick their tracing paper upon the paintings with wax or even fasten it on with nails, in order to copy the contours, by which proceeding a quantity of the lime cement has already crumbled away from one of the walls. An iron rail is now put up round the apartments, so that one can no longer approach close to the walls. The passages from these apartments lead to the “Logge” of Raphael, by which is understood the arched galleries outside the buildings. Those decorated by that master himself are now enclosed by glazed windows to shield them from the destructive effects of the weather, the rest are open. In these “logge” there are but four small paintings from his own hand; all the rest are painted by others after his drawings. In a niche at the end of the gallery stands a bust of Raphael, which is said, however, to be but an indifferent likeness of him.

[Pg 306]

December 9.

On a second visit which we made yesterday to the museum, we saw the room containing the celebrated oil paintings of Raphael. The finest of them is without a doubt the Transfiguration, respecting which so much has been written, and disputed. Connoisseurs of art are not agreed as to whether the composition is correct or defective. Some maintain that it consists of two separate groups which do not harmonise with each other in the least; others, on the contrary, say that every part is in the most perfect and beautiful accord. Without troubling ourself with the contentions of the æsthetics, which was renewed by two persons in our presence, we gave ourselves up to the enjoyment of its contemplation. It is extremely interesting to see here three paintings of Raphael of different periods of his life in close proximity to each other. The eldest, or that of his youthful days, hangs by the side of one by his master Perugino, and is painted wholly in his style, with the same hardness of outline and the same formal, almost symmetrical grouping. The one of the middle period (a Madonna with the child, and some others figures, resembling very much the painting at Dresden in the grouping) evinces his own genius enfranchised from the form of his teacher. In the third, the “Transfiguration,” his last important work, we see the fully developed artist.

December 12.

As we live in a couple of rooms which cannot be heated, we have suffered somewhat from cold the last eight days, on account of the Tramontana, or north wind, which has not ceased to blow all that time; but although we have had hoar-frost a few times in Rome, we have had no ice yet, neither has it snowed. When we rose this morning, we found that the outside of our window was dim with moisture, and on opening it a warm moist air blew in; while the weathercocks informed us that the Sirocco (south wind) was blowing. It now soon became overcast, and this afternoon it is raining. Generally, how[Pg 307]ever, the Tramontana brings bright settled weather. As Rome is very damp and dirty, one soon longs for the return of that wind, and is better content with a little cold than with the unwholesome moisture. In the spring of the year especially, when it begins to grow warm, this moisture is said to be quite unbearable, and to engender dangerous fevers, particularly on the other side of the Tiber, in the neighbourhood of the Vatican, where many a stranger, who has taken up his residence there on account of the cheaper rate of the lodging, has found a grave. In the summer months especially Rome must be very unhealthy, the air being charged with the exhalations from the dead bodies, which, according to ancient custom, are here all deposited in the vaults of the churches. Every time one of these vaults is opened, which takes place almost every day, a stench rushes out which penetrates into the interior of the very palaces of the living. At the time of the domination of the French the dead were buried outside the city, but no sooner was the papal rule restored, than that wholesome regulation was discontinued. No corpse is permitted to remain unburied longer than twenty-four hours, and accordingly the body of any one deceased is laid upon a bier, some eight or ten hours only after the breath is out of it, and carried with uncovered head, breast, and feet, in broad daylight, through the street to the church, and set down before the altar, when if the estate is sufficient to pay the expenses, a mass for the dead is read, and the body is thrown uncoffined through one of the openings of the vaults. That many only apparently dead are in this manner buried with the rest, may be readily imagined; and a few years ago such a case actually occured. A poor man, who a few hours after his apparent death had been thrown into the vault, was aroused by the fall and passed two fearful days among the half-decomposed bodies, when fortunately the chief entrance to the vault was opened in order to clear it out, and the poor fellow was rescued and is still living.

In no city in the world, I think, is the contrast so striking between the most luxurious splendour and the most abject[Pg 308] misery as here. On the marble steps of the palaces, among the statues for which thousands have been paid, near the altars of the churches which are laden with golden ornaments and utensils—everywhere, in fact, one sees half-starved mendicants lying, who moan for bread, and gnaw the stumps of cabbages or the peel of lemons, which they have picked out of the gutter. At first I thought this a trick merely to excite the compassion of strangers; but I became convinced afterwards that many of the poor must for days subsist on such horrid food, or perish with hunger. The Romans are accustomed to see this misery from their youth, and seldom give alms (except they drop it into the begging-box of some well-fed monk collecting for his monastery), and strangers soon become hardened to pity, when they find that as soon as they have given something to one beggar, they are immediately surrounded by twenty others. It is true there are many among them who beg from sheer idleness, but there are many also who are quite unable to work for a livelihood. In this respect also I admire my native country, where every pauper has at least potatoes and bread, and a case of one dying of starvation in the midst of his richer fellowmen is wholly unheard of.

December 19.

Last evening our concert took place. As I had been refused permission to give a public concert in the theatre during Advent, I was obliged to make arrangements to give it at a private house, without any public announcement. Prince Piombino granted me an apartment for the purpose in the Ruspoli palace, and Count Apponyi, the Austrian ambassador, procured for me a considerable number of subscribers; so that this was the first concert in Italy that brought me a somewhat considerable profit. The price of admission was one Piaster (nearly a Laubthaler). The orchestra, composed of the best musicians of Rome, was nevertheless the worst of all that had yet accompanied me in Italy. The ignorance, want of taste, and stupid arrogance of these people beggars all de[Pg 309]scription. Of nuances in piano and forte they know absolutely nothing. One might let that pass, but each individual makes just what ornamentation comes into his head and double strokes with almost every tone, so that the ensemble resembles more the noise of an orchestra tuning up than harmonious music. I certainly forbade several times every note which did not stand in the score; but ornamentation has become so much a second nature to them, that they cannot desist from it. The first hornist, for instance, blew once in the Tutti, instead of the simple cadence,
the following
The Clarinets blew perhaps at the same time
instead of
and now if one imagines the figured passages for the violins, which the composer has prescribed, some conception may be formed of the bewildering noise which such an orchestra gives you for music. With that, the musicians have so little musical taste, and are so unskilled in note-reading, that we nearly broke down twice. Here also, my concerto in the form of a vocal-scene pleased most, and I gained far more applause for the way in which I played the song parts, than for the mastery of very great difficulties. A tenor belonging to the papal orchestra, the permission for whose co-operation I had obtained with great difficulty, sang a duet with Mademoiselle Funk of Dresden, and a very beautiful air of Rossini, the best of that composer which I had yet heard.

[Pg 310]

December 20.

Last evening I was present at a small private musical performance at the house of Count Apponyi. There was much good vocal music with piano accompaniment. The best were a duet from a “Passione” by Paisiello, most charmingly sung by Madame Häser and the Countess Apponyi; an aria by Zingarelli with chorus, written for Madame Häser and executed by her in the most finished manner; a duett of Rossini’s, sung by Countess and Signor Moncade. Madame Häser sang with a feeling and a purity such as I never heard her display before. Her magnificent sonorous voice, which in a room with much reverberation sounds almost too sharp, particularly in the higher tones, had a fine effect yesterday in an apartment where the tapestry and carpeting deadened the sound. She has at command every nuance of tone, from the most tender breathings to the greatest fullness of power, and she knows how to avail herself of it in a masterly manner. She has lost, it is true, the brilliant fluency of voice which was formerly so much admired in Dresden, but she retains still enough of it to enable her to give every vocal ornamentation with ease and elegance. The only thing I miss in her singing is the shake, which in the present day is so much neglected. Moncade is a singer with a fine chest voice, and a tasteful though not a very feeling execution. Besides them, Prince Frederick of Gotha sang an air, and a bass singer a couple of Buffi.

I have again been twice to Sirletti’s music parties. A week ago some parts of the Requiem were repeated and the Halleluja; but the rest of the evening was wholly devoted to Marcello’s Psalms. With regard to the latter, I find my former opinion still more confirmed. In the fine edition of these Psalms, there is also a biography of Marcello, in which the reason is given for his relinquishing theatrical compositions, to which alone he had previously devoted himself, and taking all at once to sacred music. On visiting a church in a retired part of Venice, he had the misfortune to fall through a badly covered opening into one of the subterranean dead-vaults, and[Pg 311] remained there a long time before his cries for assistance were heard. This accident induced so serious a tone of mind, that ever after he would write nothing but sacred music.

I have again been to Ruffini’s music parties also, and heard a tragic opera by a young and early deceased composer, who had much native talent but evinced also a complete deficiency of study. The singer showed to more advantage in this opera than in the one they gave previously; but the orchestra was just as unbearable. I sat next to the formerly so celebrated singer Crescentini (but, who is said to have now wholly lost his voice, although he is scarcely fifty years of age), and I had the satisfaction to find that his opinion upon the present state of music in Italy agreed in every respect with mine. His conversation evinced the highly cultivated artiste, free from the trammels of prejudice. He deplored that at the present day the good school of vocal music, the only one in which Italians had distinguished themselves, had become more and more rare every day, and upon his last return to Italy (I think he had been in Paris) he had found so frivolous and bad a taste, that it no longer bore the least trace of the former simple yet noble style of his time. To him, also, who had heard much good music in Germany and France, the insipidity and incorrectness of modern Italian music are abominations.

December 23.

Now that the festival of Christmas is approaching, begging, with which one is plagued here at all times, will be carried on on a large scale. Wherever you go, you are greeted with the cry of “Pleasant holidays!” and you are then expected to pull out your purse. This system of begging occurs, it is true, in Germany at New Year, but is by no means so general as here. For instance, the servants of all the nobility and gentry at whose houses have shewn yourself, if but once, come to beg of you; and indeed at other times as well, foreigners are laid under contribution by them. If you have paid the master a[Pg 312] visit, the servant comes the next day and asks you for a present. As one cannot give less than three Paoli, it becomes a dear amusement to deliver many letters of introduction here. The poor devils are certainly very badly paid, and must resort to such a system of begging if they would not starve.

Yesterday Meyerbeer and his mother arrived here. He received a letter in Florence from Carl M. von Weber, and read to me from it the gratifying intelligence that my Opera “Faust” had already been twice performed at Prague with marked approbation.

December 25.

Last evening we were present at a service in the Sixtine chapel preparatory to the approaching high festival. I had anticipated something very effective but I found myself very much mistaken. The illumination was by no means effective, for the chapel was soon so filled with the smoke of the tapers that you could not see distinctly ten paces before you. Instead of the four-voice Psalmody which I had hoped for, the singers of the choir recited merely a rather long Litany of prayers in unison, without any melody, something as the following:

To listen to this for almost half an hour without interruption was the greatest musical penitence that I ever endured. At length, in the midst of a silent prayer, we were refreshed by a four-voiced solo, in which the splendid soprano-voice before alluded to was again remarkable. But immediately after this, the monotonous chaunt was again resumed, and now we thought it preferable to work our way through the compact crowd at the expense of great exertion rather than to endure it any longer.

This morning early we at length saw the head of the catholic church in the highest ecclesiastical pomp perform[Pg 313] mass in the church of St. Peter. The high altar under the dome, divested of its habitual covering, was radiant with gold and precious stones; the clergy and cardinals, habited in their richest gold-embroidered stuffs, the body-guard in their splendid uniform, the Swiss guard in their bright polished old German armour, in a word all converted with the pope contributed to render this service the most splendid spectacle ever performed in a church. For more than a theatrical spectacle it was not to the surrounding crowd: not a sign of emotion or spiritual elevation was to be seen among the many thousand spectators! The appearance of a spectacle got up for amusement was more especially given to it by the circumstance that for the accommodation of the high personages who were present—the king of Spain, the queen of Etruria, the princes of Prussia, Gotha and others—a sumptuously decorated box had been erected, and, that upon the amphitheatre the fashionable world of Rome was present in full dress. A singular contrast with this splendour was presented by the rags and dirt of the riff-raff of the Roman populace who had pressed to the very step of the high altar. As the “service” became tediously long, and what the singers sang was neither very interesting, nor could be heard distinctly for the noise in the church, we preferred to take a walk, as the weather was so mild and bright, but returned in sufficient time to the church to see the procession, which forms the close to the whole performance.

In front moved a detachment of the body-guard, behind these the Cardinal’s hat was carried upon a sword; then came the Cardinals, and lastly the Pope seated upon a richly decorated sedan or throne borne by eight priests; on either side of him two large fans of white ostrich feathers; then all the clergy, and lastly the remainder of the body-guard and Swiss guards. During the procession, the Pope, a venerable old man of 75, on whose pale and interesting face the exhausting influence of frequent fast and of the long fatiguing service were very distinctly visible, bestowed with a feeble motion of the hand his blessing[Pg 314] upon the people. But the latter shewed during this no sign of devotion; not a knee was bent; there was laughing and loud talking during the whole service. The procession passed out through a side chapel into the Vatican. The immense size of the church could be first rightly seen to-day, from the mass of human beings which it held. It was full half an hour before they could make their exit through three large doors.

December 27.

Yesterday, at last the theatres were once more opened, after being closed six months. At the Argentino theatre, the largest and handsomest, Rossini’s “Tancredi” was performed, at the theatre Valle, a new Opera buffa by Signor Pietro Romano, called “Il Quiproquo.” As “Tancredi” is an old opera, the first night of which is not more interesting than the succeeding ones, Meyerbeer easily persuaded me to go with him to the Valle theatre, while my wife and the children, with Madame Beer, went to the Argentino theatre. Before the opera a farce in prose was given, imitated from our German “Proberollen.” Then came the first act of the opera, the text of which we soon recognised as an adaptation of the “Nouveau Seigneur de Village.” The subject, though spun out somewhat too much, was neither so stupid nor so wearisome as those of most Italian operas. But so much the more insipid and common-place is the music. Signor Romano has taken the now so much admired Rossini as his model, and so closely imitated him, or rather copied him outright, that the pit called out every moment “Bravo Rossini!” With that his music is so incorrect, that an ear accustomed to a pure harmony cannot hear it without disgust. Nevertheless that was no injury to it here, but much more so its want of fire and noise, the last of which the Italians are as fond of as the French and Germans. Once only, after a duet, the pit called out the encouraging and joyful “Bravo Maestro!” for which he immediately made a most profound bow. All the rest was listened to with coldness, and at the conclusion of the opera neither approval[Pg 315] nor displeasure was expressed. The singers were by no means sure of their parts, and were continually making mistakes. Madame Georgi, the prima donna, who in the previous carnival had been the favorite of the public, did not please much yesterday, and had the annoyance of seeing the seconda donna, who certainly did not sing badly, called forward after her aria in the second act, an honour which had not fallen to her lot all the evening. She shewed her displeasure at this by singing the rest of her part with the utmost indifference and with half-voice only, by which however she injured the last finale very much, and was perhaps the cause of the opera’s going off so coldly, and of the report which prevails in the town to-day, that she had not given satisfaction. The orchestra, composed for the most part of the professors (!) who had played at my concert, played crudely, incorrectly and without any sort of difference between piano and forte.

This morning there was another private music party at Count Apponyi’s. Nothing else scarcely was sung but things from Rossini’s operas, of which a terzette, from “Elisabetha,” if I am not mistaken, pleased me most, on account of the excellent treatment of the voices. The more I hear of Rossini’s compositions, the more I am disposed to join in part with the general opinion, which pronounces him the most distinguished of modern Italian composers, and as a reformer of the taste in operatic style. Mayer may nevertheless with propriety be excepted, who has, if not so much imagination as Rossini, yet, certainly, more knowledge and æsthetic feeling. That the latter is wanting in knowledge of harmony, delineation of character, sense of the difference between the serious and comic style, and of propriety, I observed already in Florence, after hearing the “Italiana in Algeria.” Rossini, however, has devised some quite new things, although they are not necessarily good because they are new: for instance his “flowery song,” as Meyerbeer very characteristically calls it, which in reality is nothing more than that the passages hitherto sung on[Pg 316] one vowel are sung with a series of syllables, as in an aria in the “Italiana”:

or in a duet between a tenor and a bass in the same opera, where the part for the second voice is very unsingable and more like an orchestral bass than a singing bass:[24]

Every time such little tricky passages occur, and are well executed by the singers, as to-day by Moncade especially, the auditory breaks out into an ecstasy of applause which causes Italian music to degenerate more and more into a mere tickling of the ears and both singers and composer; become every day less capable in use of working upon the feelings; so that I may say without exaggeration, that of all the compositions we have yet heard in Italy, I have not experienced the least emotion, with the exception of one or two passages in the “Testa di bronzo”; and of all the singers we have yet heard,[Pg 317] Madame Häser alone, in a duet from the old “Passione” of Paisiello moved me for a few seconds.

Likewise new, and first introduced by Rossini, is the way in which the speaking passages in the Opera buffa, hitherto usually written in one tone, or at least at very close intervals only, and formerly always given legato, are provided with syllables, as for instance in the beginning of the above duet:

Well known as this commencement is (it resembles the beginning of a finale in a quartett of Haydn in E flat-major):

yet his method of giving it with the different syllables of the text in this manner is quite new; but whether good or not, is still the question; to me it always sounded as though travestied, as if, for instance, a song which admits of a feeling execution were executed upon a singing instrument and for fun’s sake so caricatured that it excited laughter instead of emotion. At any rate no instrumentalist of taste would play the above song staccato.

The following and similar crescendo passages are also peculiar to Rossini, they appear in almost all his musical pieces, and the Italian public are thrown into ecstasies by them; for instance, in the overture to the “Italiana.”

[Pg 318]

In this manner it continues for a while, until at length at the strongest forte, the public break out into a furious clapping of hands and shouts of “Bravo!” In fact it can so little resist such a crescendo, that even the luckless imitators of Rossini, like Signor Romano in the opera last night, understood how to draw down a storm of applause by it. That such passages are frequently very incorrect and offensive from the passing notes occurring in them, it is not necessary for me to remark; even in the celebrated cavatina from “Tancredi,” so enthusisiastically admired throughout Italy, and which was also sung to-day, there are in the very first bars the most hideous-sounding octaves, between the bass and the second hautboy, that I ever heard.

[Pg 319]

The first result of my judgment of Rossini is, therefore, that he is by no means wanting in invention and genius and with those qualifications had he been scientifically educated, and led to the only right way by Mozart’s classical masterpieces, he might readily have become one of the most distinguished composers of vocal-music of our day, but, as he now writes, he will not raise Italian music, but much rather lower it. In order to be new, Rossini departs more and more from the simple and grand style of song of former days, and does not reflect that in so doing he wholly robs the voice of its charm and advantages, and actually debases it, when he forces it to execute passages and fioritures, which every petty instrumentalist can produce much purer, and especially much more connected, because he has no need to express a syllable every time on the third or fourth note. With his “flowery song,” however much it may please, he is therefore in a fair way to make a clearance of all real song which is already now very scarce in Italy, and in which the despicable horde of Imitators, who here as well as in Germany pursue their pitiful calling, are doing their best to assist him.

December 29.

Last evening I went with Meyerbeer to hear “Tancredi” at the Argentino theatre. I never witnessed a more wretched performance. The singers, with the exception of Paris the elder, are very mediocre; the prima donna, the younger Paris, is yet quite a beginner, the basso was frightful, the orchestra worse than in the smallest provincial town in Germany, and in a word, it is an assemblage of folks such as had all Italy[Pg 320] been ransacked for the purpose, it would have been difficult to find worse. God help the composer whose work falls into such hands! They disfigured it in such a manner that one can no longer recognise it. The only one person who distinguished herself, was the elder Paris, who, in the part of “Tancredi,” displayed a powerful, healthy contralto voice and a cultivated execution. It would be unjust after such a representation to pass judgment upon the opera, and the more so, as several passages were omitted and others substituted. The ballet which was given between the acts, was quite of a piece with the rest: a serious ballet executed by a number of grotesque dancers! But among these were some men, who made themselves remarkable by the power, and agility and by springs of all kinds.

During the last week we have again seen many interesting things; the museum of the Capitol, in which the dying gladiator and several Egyptian statues pleased me most—the latter less remarkable for artistic beauty than for singularity; the picture gallery in the Doria palace, which contains among many other remarkable pictures, four beautiful landscapes by Claude Lorrain; another gallery in the Colonna palace, in which hangs an extremely beautiful head of Raphael; the handsome and richly decorated churches of Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Giovanni in Laterano, &c. From the portal of the latter one has an extensive view in the direction of Albano, which with the ancient aqueducts, which the eye can follow for miles, and other remains of ancient Roman architecture, possesses much romantic interest.

On Sunday evening, the weather being very clear, we ascended the dome of St. Peter’s church. The ascent is at first by a footway of a spiral form without steps as far as the roof of the church. Arrived there once fancies one’sself again in the streets of a town, for the ground is paved, and a number of houses, some of which are inhabited, together with numerous small and large cupolas, prevent a view into the distance. But if you walk up to the gigantic statues over the[Pg 321] portal of the church, you then see at how great a height you are standing. The pavement of the square in front of the church looks like a minute mosaic, and the people little puppets creeping about upon it. On looking up to the dome from here, it looks like an enormous isolated building; from the first interior gallery one has also to mount to a considerable height before one arrives at the second, where the first swell of the dome begins. The view from these galleries, particularly from the second, down into the church is quite sui generis, and makes one positively shudder. The hundred lamps which burn right under the dome at the entrance of the subterranean chapel, seem to mingle as in one flame, and the human beings below appear like moving black spots. From the second gallery one then ascends between the inner and exterior dome by wooden steps up to the lantern, from which one has again a view down into the church that makes the head turn. From here a flight of winding stone steps once more leads up into a tolerably large chamber situated in the top of the lantern, and thence at length ascending an iron ladder, one passes through the shaft to the ball, which is large enough to contain from twelve to sixteen persons.

The foolhardy can ascend yet higher, by a ladder outside the ball, up into the cross, but we were quite satisfied with having been as high as the ball. The view from the external galleries is magnificent and varied beyond description. Below, proud Rome with its inummerable palaces, ruins, columns and obelisks; around it the villas.

In the distance the mountain near Tivoli and Albano, above which are seen the peaks of snow-covered mountains, and far away on the west the Mediterranean, which at the time of the day we ascended the dome looked like a fiery stripe in the distant sky. After we had long enjoyed this entrancing view, we descended and found that two hours had passed very rapidly in the ascent of the dome.

We also went up the high column on the Piazza Colonna, and from its summit, which rises high above all the houses,[Pg 322] enjoyed one of the finest views of Rome and its immediate environs.

December 30.

I have acquired the conviction that the Italians, even in modern times, are not wanting in natural abilities for the study of the fine arts, and indeed, that on the whole they surpass therein the northern nations. Almost all their singers have a happy ear for intonation, and the faculty of immediately seizing and repeating a melody once heard; although but very few of them, even among the theatrical singers possess what we call music, and most of them scarcely even know their notes. At the last musical party at Apponyi’s there was a Canon of Cherubini’s to be sung, in which Moncade who, as I had been told, is one of the singers who cannot read music, although formerly a theatrical singer, was solicited to take a part. As he willingly assented to sing something that he did not know, I immediately thought that in his case at least what I had heard was untrue. The Countess first sang the slow melody consisting of eight bars and Moncade repeated it note for note with all the little ornaments which she had added. But when his part began, he could get no farther: nevertheless, he did not permit himself to be disconcerted, but sang away by ear, which certainly sometimes did not sound much like music by Cherubini. When, however, the third singer, who also had no music before him, began, after his first simple entry in the second part, also to compose, such confusion and discord arose that they were obliged to leave off. Both singers declared very ingenuously that they had hoped, they would have accomplished it; like the Englishman who, when he was asked if he played the violin, replied: “It is possible, but I have never yet tried.”

Among the lower uneducated classes of the people, a remarkable genius for painting is by no means rare here, which is awakened by the early contemplation of the public works of art. In this manner the attention of the painters here has been attracted for the last year and more by the extraordinary[Pg 323] artistic talent of a lad in the streets. This boy, without ever having had the least instruction, draws large historical sketches in charcoal upon the white walls of the houses, and there is scarcely a street in which some of his artistic work is not to be seen.

Sometimes he chooses for his subject a Madonna, or some legend, at others a Roman triumph. But in no one instance has he ever copied from any existing subject, or even repeated himself; his fancy constantly creates something new. Some of these sketches excite the greatest astonishment by the richness of the composition, comprising frequently more than thirty or forty figures, and by the correctness of the drawing. The most remarkable to me is the certainty with which he throws off and depicts his ideas. You see no double stroke in the contours—nothing wiped out—everything stands there at once clear and prominent. When he draws he is always surrounded by a crowd of people, who look on with gratification at the skill he displays; but he is so deeply engrossed with his work, that he heeds neither the surrounding spectators nor their remarks. I have been told that Canova took this lad, with the view of developing his talent; but that regular kind of life did not all please him, and he soon ran away.

January 1. 1817.

The new year has begun very unpleasantly for us. This morning Emily was taken suddenly ill. The doctor thinks she will have the scarlet fever; should that be the case, we shall be obliged to postpone our departure for Naples, which we had fixed for the 7th, for at least a fortnight. Added to the annoyance of remaining here yet longer without any object and in anxiety, is that of being compelled to see our fellow-countrymen with whom we had contemplated making the journey together depart alone, and that also of missing the opening of the St. Carlo theatre at Naples, which is to take place on the 12th. To console ourselves for the latter we shall meanwhile hear the new opera of Rossini, which he is writing for the[Pg 324] Valle theatre, and the début of Madame Schönberger at the Argentino.

January 3.

Not only Emily, but Ida also has caught the scarlet fever, and now for a certainty we shall not be able to leave before the 20th. Both children were very ill for some days, and my good Dorette has been extremely alarmed and anxious. I have kept up my spirits and amused myself in inventing some puzzle-canons and have now began to write a new solo-quartett.

I should so much have liked to make Rossini’s acquaintance; but before he has finished his opera this is quite out of the question. The impressario, in whose house he lives, neither permits him to go out nor to receive visits, so that he may not neglect his work. Should his opera not be brought out before our departure, I shall probably not be able to see him.

January 18.

The children have recovered sooner than we had anticipated, and we have fixed to leave for Naples the day after to-morrow.

Last Thursday I went again to Sirletti’s, and yesterday to the morning concert at Count Apponyi’s; at neither place, however, was any thing played worth particular notice, with the exception of a fine quartett by Mayer and a duet from a comic opera of Fioravanti. Mayer is remarkable for scrupulously correct harmony, regularity of rhythm and a good treatment of the voices in part compositions, and surpasses therein all modern Italians. The duet out of Fioravanti more particularly interested me from the circumstance that it is also adorned with the modern so-called “flowery song,” from which I find that Rossini is neither the first nor only one who makes use of it. I begin moreover to judge him more favourably, as long as he does not venture beyond the limits of comic opera, and when his music is as gracefully executed as by the Countess Apponyi and Moncade.

[Pg 325]


On the 20th January we left Rome. The Campagna di Roma is as little cultivated on this side as on the other; the road as far as Albano derives nevertheless much interest from the many antiquities seen on the way. The numerous remains of three or four old Roman acqueducts give a particularly romantic aspect to the country round. One of the acqueducts, which was less injured, has been repared in later times, and still serves to supply Rome with water upon this side.

While our vetturino was baiting his horses at Albano, I ascended the mountain upon which the lake of Albano is situated. The view across it towards Rome is exceedingly beautiful. Below at one’s feet is seen the lake with its high precipitous banks thickly covered with trees and underwood; upon the right a long building, the use of which I do not know; to the left, upon the high steep bank, Castel Gandolfo, and in the extreme distance the mass of houses of Rome. The form of the lake and of its high precipitous banks indicates plainly that it has been formed by the falling in of a burnt-out crater.

The road from Albano to the little dirty town of Velletri, where we took up our first night-quarters, presents a great variety of scenery.

On the second day we crossed the Pontine marshes, which extend from Velletri to Terracina, a distance of four and twenty Italian miles. We did not find them so desolate and barren as we expected, for one has always a sight of the mountains on the left, and here and there of even a few patches of cultivated land. The numerous herds of oxen, buffaloes, swine, and in the dry parts, of sheep also, give some life to the uniformity of the level. But houses are of rare occurrence, and the inhabitants have always a pale unhealthy appearance. In the heat of summer the exhalations from the marshes are very dangerous, even to travellers who do but cross them, particularly if they abandon themselves to sleep, to which one is greatly induced by the uniformity of the road. Only last summer a young lady who could not resist the disposition to sleep inhaled death here,[Pg 326] and was carried off by a malignant fever three days after her arrival in Naples. Such cases are not unfrequent in summer.

At Torre a tri ponti, a solitary hostelry, all the inmates of which looked as if they had just risen from their graves, we dined, and had very excellent meat, and roast ducks and geese, of which there are swarms in the uncultivated parts of the marshes.

Terracina, where we arrived at night-fall is most charmingly situated. The town stands upon a wild rocky eminence, but we stopped below at a very excellent inn close to the sea. From our windows we had a view of the sea, and on the following morning enjoyed the magnificent sight of the rising sun. Close below our windows, the waves broke with considerable noise, although during the previous day the wind had not been high. The air was as mild as after a warm summer’s day in Germany, and in the evening late we saw the fishermen launch their barks through the surf by moonlight, to cast their nets.

On the next morning we had to pass through the most dangerous part of the whole journey, from being the most infested with banditti. This part is between Terracina and Fondi, where the road lies through a thinly inhabited country and almost always between masses of low bushes in which the scoundrels easily conceal themselves, and can shoot down travellers and their escort from an ambuscade without being perceived. It is here where the most robberies are perpetrated, and but recently only some travellers were again attacked. But the government has at length taken earnest measures to suppress this. We found several hundred peasants employed in cutting down all the bushes on both sides of the road and burning them; and we met several strong detachments of soldiers, sent out to hunt up the banditti in their fastnesses. From twenty to thirty have already been brought in and hung up with little ceremony. On this side of the Neapolitan frontiers we met a picquet of soldiers at intervals of every quarter of an hour, which bivouacked on the side of the road and sent out patrols during the night.

[Pg 327]

At Fondi, a poor dirty looking hole, where we were almost torn to pieces by beggars, we saw the first gardens of lemons, pomegranates and oranges. We took a walk through the town and were delighted with the sight of the splendid trees, which were loaded with the finest fruit. In the gardens and in the market we saw fine fresh vegetables, such as cauliflowers, savoy-cabbages, carrots, &c. But at noon the heat was so great, that we were obliged to seek the shade.

We passed the night at Molo di Gaëta, also a small town situate close to the sea. From the windows of our inn in the evening we saw the fishermen put out to sea by torchlight to fish. Between Molo and Santa Agata we saw a great number of evergreen shrubs and plants, which do not grow even in the north of Italy, and upon the rocks several kinds of aloes, such as we grow in greenhouses. Several other shrubs which are also indigenous with us were already in their first leaf. On the road-side the air was perfumed by the violets, and the fields with the blossoms of the beans.

Capua, where we passed the last night of our journey, is a handsome town with fine buildings. We supped in the evening with two Austrian officers, who told us among other things, that they did not bury people in Capua, but threw them down a hole about a mile from the town, which was unfathomly deep, but was believed to have a communication with the sea, as after some lapse of time one could hear the bodies of those who were thrown down fall into the water.

The road from Capua to Naples is the most uninteresting of the whole journey. Nothing else is to be seen on either side of the road but high mulberry trees and pendant vines, both now without leaves. At two o’clock in the afternoon we at length arrived at the long-wished for Naples, and found a lodging which had been already engaged and prepared for us by one of our fellow-countrymen.

End of the First Volume.

[Pg 328]

[Pg 1] Naples, January 1.

Naples, although not remarkable for beautiful architecture, is, from its situation and many peculiarities, one of the most beautiful cities of the world. On coming from Rome, one certainly misses the grander taste in architecture and other works of decorative art formed upon and refined by the study of the antique, which for ages has rendered that city the most interesting of all others to the architect, the sculptor and the painter; but one is compensated for that in Naples by other advantages that Rome has not. To an inhabitant of northern lands, the city presents from its amphitheatrical position a most imposing spectacle, and with its flat roofs covered with party-coloured and lacquered tiles, its cupolas and towers, it has a very novel and oriental appearance. It is moreover one of the most lively cities of the world, at least one of the most noisy; for although Vienna and Hamburg, the two most populous cities that I have yet seen, may have proportionately as many inhabitants as Naples, yet the latter, partly from its southern liveliness, and partly from the circumstance that here all classes idle away more time in the streets than they work at home, is much more animated than those cities. The noise in the streets is positively great beyond description, and until one has become somewhat accustomed to it, one is completely deafened by it. All the mechanics pursue their calling in the streets: blacksmiths, locksmiths, copper-smiths, car[Pg 2]penters, tailors and shoemakers—all alike sit in front of their houses variously intermingled, and work. Added to that the rattling of the carts and vehicles, which in the principal streets almost always move on two lines, the wild cries of itinerant vendors, always endeavouring to undersell each other, and lastly the animated language and gestures of those who meet, or converse in the streets, who to a German seem as though they were in violent dispute, although they are perhaps merely talking of the weather or some unimportant piece of news or town gossip. But more striking than in any other city of the world is the contrast between the luxury in the equipages and dress of the higher classes, and the dirt and nakedness of the lower ones, particularly of the so-called Lazzaroni. Of these whole families are to be seen lying in the streets in the midst of the beau monde, looking for vermin upon their half-naked bodies. A more disgusting sight I never beheld! And yet before Murat’s time, who made soldiers of all the able-bodied Lazzaroni, these vagabonds were far more numerous.

February 3.

Yesterday we made our first excursion. In company with our Silesian fellow-countrymen, Herren von Raumer, von Lattorf, Hagen and Kruse, we first drove out to Portici to see the museum. Here, in a suite of apartments, are preserved the paintings and interior-decorations found in Herculaneum and Pompeii, from whence they have been taken from the walls with the plaster, and are here hung up in frames with glass doors. Of the greater part of them the colours are in excellent preservation, especially a very fine red. The room or interior decorations, consisting of arabesques, small landscapes, and the figures of animals, are almost all well painted. The larger historical paintings taken from temples and public buildings have great artistic merit, and are remarkable both for drawing and colour. Some of these are in a wonderful state of preservation, and appear as though they had been painted[Pg 3] but recently. Besides these paintings, there is in another room a collection of a variety of metal utensils, a helmet, and some vases in pottery, with different kinds of grain, partly burnt by the glowing ashes, such as wheat, barley, Indian corn, beans, &c. &c. These different kinds of grain are readily recognised, and we found them quite similar to our own in size and form. All the other antiquities which were formerly preserved here have been transferred to Naples, and it is intended to transfer the paintings there also.

As the weather was extremely fine, we felt a great disposition to make the ascent of mount Vesuvius without loss of time. But as it was almost impossible for women and children to climb the last steep ascent, Dorette and the children returned to Naples, accompanied by Herr Kruse. We others hired some asses for the journey and return, at the extremely low charge of four Carlini (about 15½d.), and set out at 12 o’clock at noon. At first the road lies through vineyards for about the distance of an hour and a half’s journey, and with but a gentle ascent only; but the road begins already to be difficult, being very uneven and stony. We saw several vineyards enclosed with large bush-aloes instead of hedges. After the lapse of an hour and a half we came to a plain which spread away before us like a desolate waste, as far as the proper base of the volcano. Not a vestige of vegetation met the eye; on every side nothing but masses of lava piled upon each other! Our path now turned leftward across the plain towards a mountain ridge, which rises like an island out of the midst of this fearful wilderness. On this stands the so-called hermitage, a building of two stories high, where we refreshed ourselves with bread, wine, cheese and fruits, and enjoyed the fine and now tolerably extensive view. After a short rest, in company with ten Englishmen whom we met here, we resumed the road, which still continues to run over the summit of the ridge as far as the crater. This part of the way is the least difficult, leading for some distance through bushes of sweet chesnuts, the plain covered with black lava[Pg 4] stretching away before the eye. After half an hour’s progress we reached the steepest part of the ridge, at the foot of which we were obliged to leave the asses. Now began the difficult part of our work. Treading upon deep ashes without solid bottom, at every footstep one slips back so far, that one has often scarcely advanced an inch; and the mountain is here so steep, that one is obliged to use the hands as well for progression. Fortunately a ridge of solid lava extends downwards almost from the whole height, and rises like a ridge of rock from out of the ashes. When one has reached this, the toil is less, as the ground beneath has again become firm. But were one obliged, as at first, to wade always through the ashes, it would require a whole day to make the ascent of this height alone. Nevertheless it took a good hour to accomplish it, although we set out from our resting place with recruited strength, and with the hope of soon reaching the summit. On reaching the top, we saw again a small plain before us, from which in several places between the lava-rocks a white sulphurous steam ascended. The ground here was more or less hot and our footsteps produced a hollow sound. After we had passed rapidly over this we had to climb another though a lower height, and then beheld at a moderate distance before us the two craters, which were now vomiting fire. We sat down upon the ground between the lava-rocks and found ourselves as though sitting in a heated stove, for a great heat rose from the earth, which was nevertheless very agreeable to us. After we had rested here some time, some one of the company asked whether one could not ascend between the two cones close to the brink of the crater? All the guides replied in the negative, and assured us it was very dangerous to approach it nearer. We saw sufficiently well ourselves that it would be impossible to ascend direct from the place where we stood, as we should have run the risk of being stifled with the smoke of the crater upon our left. But it seemed to us that a way might possibly be found round the left side of one crater, from which we could ascend on the[Pg 5] windward side of the other; so we immediately proceeded to make the trial together; after some objections our guides followed also. We had scarcely proceeded a distance of two hundred paces, when one of the craters with a fearful report threw out a quantity of red-hot stones, some of which fell at no great distance from us. This soon brought the whole party to a standstill; but after some little hesitation the foremost proceeded onward and the rest of us followed. In this manner, after a toilsome passage, we reached the rear of the left-hand crater, and then began to ascend the cone. But this was the most laborious task of the whole day, for we had now to climb a very steep incline up to our knees in ashes. Nevertheless, after great exertion we reached the summit and stood on the narrow edge of the crater, which, in the form of a funnel, is about two hundred feet in diameter at the upper part of the opening. After we had taken breath here awhile, and contemplated the eruptions of the other crater, which lay before us to leeward, the one close to which we were standing, became suddenly quite clear of smoke, and we could look down into the awful abyss. We there saw large cavernous fissures between the masses of rock forming the neck of the funnel, out of which flames burst at intervals; but as these were immediately followed by smoke, this sight was of short continuance only. One of the Englishmen of our party took it into his head, at a moment when the smoke of the crater upon the brink of which we were standing was somewhat less, to run across even to the other, in order to look down into it. But scarcely had he reached the brink, when an eruption, though fortunately not a very strong one, took place, from which he had barely time to save himself, and rush back again to us. At the same moment a third crater behind us began to make a noise, and it was now indeed high time that we should make our retreat. Though it was ashes merely that it threw up, yet by the timely fear with which it filled us, it was our saviour from utter destruction; for scarcely had we reached our old halting-place than the hitherto very quiet crater on the[Pg 6] brink of which we had stood, threw out such a mass of red hot stones, exactly in the direction of the place where we had stood, that we should all have been struck down and overwhelmed by them had we stopped there five minutes longer. After our daring party had recovered from the terror which had seized upon all, we were compelled to avow our extreme rashness in having ventured to ascend so high despite the warnings of our guides.

We now once more bivouaked upon our warm place, and recruited our spirits with the provisions we had brought with us. But with night drawing on, far away from every living creature, and surrounded on all sides by desolation, it was a fearful reflexion to think that we sat here suspended as it were over a sea of fire, upon a perhaps not very thick crust, which sooner or later might give way beneath us. Several of our party made the observation, that it was indeed a mad piece of folly to have risked life upon chances so eminently possible, for the mere gratification of an idle curiosity. But these reflexions nevertheless did not prevent us from enjoying with much relish the eggs our guides had brought with them and cooked in the hot ashes, and which we washed down with a draught of delicious Lacrymæ Christi.

We here awaited the approach of night; saw the sun sink below the sea, and the full moon rise behind the craters, her yellow light forming a beautiful contrast with the red flames that issued from them. On our right we saw at the same time the reflexion from the burning lava which poured from an opening in the side of the mountain, which however it was impossible to approach without the greatest danger.

About seven o’clock we set out upon our return, which at first, from our being obliged to descend on the shaded side of the mountain was on account of the darkness both very difficult and dangerous. But when we arrived at the precipitous places, our guides led back us by another way, where we slid down with giant steps over deep ashes. Below we found our asses, upon which we rode to Portici by a magni[Pg 7]ficent moonlight. At ten o’clock at night we arrived once more at Naples, highly gratified with the extremely interesting day’s adventures.

February 7.

During the constant fine spring weather we daily take a walk to see the immediate environs of the city. The favorite walk of the children is to the quay, on which is the light-house, partly because the busy life in the port itself, as well as the sight of the different kinds of vessels, from the ship of war mounting a hundred guns down to the fisherman’s boat, affords them immense pleasure, and partly because the way leading to it presents the most lively picture of the habits and occupations of the lower classes. From the St. Carlo theatre to the harbour there is, next to the Toledo-street, always the greatest crowd; at a short distance from which are all the small hole-and-corner theatres, where performances take place all the day long and where, upon a platform outside, a couple of fiddlers and a merry-Andrew constantly invite the passers-by to enter. Between these are the booths of the itinerant vendors, who, perched upon a table, recommend their medicaments to their numerous listeners and purchasers. Upon the quay, where there is no noise from the carts and carriages, the puppet-show players pitch their portative theatres, and the Improvisatori entertain the Neapolitans with the heroic feats of their ancestors. Sometimes one of these reads aloud to his auditory and then explains what he has been reading. But here also swarm the most impudent and disgusting beggars, and the most expert pick-pockets; so that one cannot be too careful how one gets mixed up with them. On my first walks into that quarter I lost my pocket handkerchief each time. If one waits here till the evening the Vesuvius, with its red fire, presents a singular and magnificent contrast with the white lights of the Pharos.

The Royal garden on the Chiaja is also another very interesting walk. It extends for a considerable length close to the[Pg 8] sea, and consists of three very broad alleys with small flower-beds laid out in the English style. It is ornamented with several fine statues and groups in marble; in the centre stands the celebrated Farnesian Bull, a splendid antique by a Greek master; on both sides are several fine copies of ancient works of art, such as that of the Apollo of Belvedere, the rape of the Sabines, &c. &c. From eleven in the forenoon on fine days, the beau monde assembles here to look and to be looked at. If one proceeds still farther along the Chiaja, one soon comes to the road that leads through the Grotto of Pausilippo to Puzzuoli. This long gallery, extending at least for a thousand paces right through a mountain of considerable height, is very remarkable of its kind, for the galleries cut through the rocks in the road over the Simplon are but child’s play compared to this work. The entrance on this side between towering rocks is exceedingly romantic; at a great distance off the noise of the carriages driving through resembles thunder, and it is said that at night, when all is quiet here, the sound of the vehicles in the streets of Naples, is echoed through this rocky gallery like that of distant thunder. The interior is lighted day and night with numerous lamps. At the entrance and in the middle are little chapels, at which the passengers are solicited for alms. Above the entrance high up on the rocks, a small grotto is pointed out, where the immortal poet Virgil lies buried.

A few days ago we visited also Fort St. Elmo, from which one has an extensive view over the whole city and of the expansive bay.

February 12.

Last evening we returned from a delightful excursion to the islands. On Sunday at noon, in company with our three Silesian countryman, we went across to Ischia in a hired boat. We were at first obliged to sail round the promontary of Pausilippo: Nisida and Procida lay quite close to us, Cape Micen somewhat in the background, and Ischia at a greater distance,[Pg 9] in a direct line before us. These islands and promontories with their steep, and towering rocks close to the sea, and the rich fertility of their interior, present every moment and on every side on which they are beheld new aspects of varying interest, now of a beautiful and now of a bolder and grander character. Procida, in particular, one of the most populated spots of the whole world, presents a magnificent view from the sea, the whole island having the appearance of a large city. As the wind blew tolerably fresh and against us, night came on before we could reach Ischia. But the beauty of the evening would not permit us to regret our having been delayed. The stars shone with a brightness such as in Germany at least they are never seen to shine with; and Venus in particular was resplendent with so clear a light that its beams were reflected in the sea like those of the moon, and one could plainly discern a shadow from any intervening object. The sea, also, at every stroke of the oar shone as with the light of myriads of glowworms. About eight o’clock we at length landed at the north shore of the island and found a comfortable night-lodging in the handsome house of a clergyman.

On the next morning we soon set out upon our way to see the interior of the island and to ascend the Epomeo. As at Ischia there are neither vehicles nor roads to travel on, we all mounted upon asses, which carried us more conveniently and safely over the rocky and uneven ground. After passing through several level tracts in the highest cultivation we came to the small but lively town of Ischia, on the sea-shore, and onward to the foot of the Epomeo between vineyards to the opposite side of the mountain, where it is more convenient to climb. After we had ascended about half-way by very bad roads, we halted for an hour to rest and refresh the animals, and then completed the other still more toilsome part of the ascent. Meanwhile the sky had unfortunately become overcast with clouds, and upon reaching the summit of the mountain we were enveloped in a thick mist. We then entered a hermitage of some size, consisting of several rooms and[Pg 10] passages, and of a chapel. It resembles that at Freiburg in Switzerland, and like that also is hewn out of the solid rock, by two industrians recluses. We waited here some time in the hope that the weather would clear up, and several times also we had a glimpse between the clouds over the level parts of the island, which lay like a map outspread in the distance before us; but Naples, Capri, and Sorrento were veiled from our sight. We were at length obliged to set out on our way once more, without having had the pleasure of enjoying the fine view from here, which is perhaps one of the finest in the world, and had already considered our toilsome journey as a labour in vain, when on a sudden, after we had descended somewhat lower and stood under the stratum of clouds, the magnificent view of the whole of the islands, promontories and bay, with Vesuvius smoking in the background, displayed itself to our enraptured eyes. Long we stood lost in admiration of the singular beauty of the scene, and at length, when the setting sun gave token of departure, we returned by the shortest but steepest road, where we could make no use of the asses, to our quarter of the previous night. The Epomeo, which 450 years ago was a volcano, exhibits on this side, which is much more wild and barren than the other, numerous traces of former eruptions. The road led now almost continually over weather-worn lava. Upon the rocks we saw at very frequent intervals the stock-gilliflower in bloom, which here and in the neighbourhood of Naples grows wild. On the way-side violets and other plants, several of which are not indigenous with us, were in full flower, and in the gardens, the almond tree. At length we came to a place where there are warm baths, which in summer are much frequented by the Neapolitans. At the house of our host we found a plentifully spread table awaiting us, which after all the fatigue of the day was exceedingly acceptable. A fiery white Ischian wine of the year 1811 we found especially agreeable to the palate.

We re-embarked the next morning at eight o’clock and landed first at Cape Micenus, where we visited the large sub[Pg 11]terranean reservoirs of soft water from which the Roman fleets were supplied, and the cento camere of Nero, which were probably prisons for the detention of prisoners of war. We then sailed right across the bay to Puzzuoli, and there made another pilgrimage to some antiquities. On running into the harbour we sailed past the still standing piers and arches of the bridge of Caligula, which that Emperor designed throwing across the bay. Although built of bricks merely, such is the excellence of the cement used in their construction, that their remains, after the lapse of so many centuries, still bid defiance to the unceasing action of the waves.

Our cicerone led us first to the Solfatara, a round level field-like space enclosed on all sides with rocks, apparently a crater which at some remote period had fallen in. The subterranean fire still burns beneath, nevertheless, for in many places smoke issues out of the earth, and as on Mount Vesuvius, deposits sulphur. At those places the ground is burning hot, and the foot-tread sounds hollow. Our guide flung a large stone upon the ground, which made it vibrate for a considerable distance round us, and produced a very loud, hollow sound. Thence we proceeded to another subterranean reservoir of water similar to that at Cape Micenus; inspected the ruins of an amphitheatre and several temples, and at last reached the most interesting antiquity in the whole neighbourhood—the ruins of the temple of Serapis, close to the sea-shore. So much has been written respecting all these antiquities, that it would be superfluous to dwell upon them here, but the remains of the temple of Serapis are so remarkable, and afford such evidence of its former size and grandeur that to see them alone amply repays a journey here. Towards the evening we drove back to Naples through the grotto of Pausilippo.

February 15.

As I have now been several times to the St. Carlo theatre, I can with confidence put my judgment to paper respecting it. On the first visit I experienced the same feeling as in the church[Pg 12] of St. Peter: it did not appear to me so large as it really is, and it was not until I had been frequently told that it is four feet wider and I know not how many longer than the theatre at Milan, that I could believe it. But when the curtain drew up and I could compare the size of the human beings with the painted objects of the decorations, I readily observed that here also I had been deceived by the correct proportions of each gigantic object. Here for the first time the horses introduced on the stage did not appear out of proportion with the rest, and the people one saw at the extreme depth of the theatre, were still in just proportion with objects which surrounded them. For ballet and pantomine I know of no better adapted locality, and military evolutions of infantry and cavalry, battles, storms at sea, and such things can be produced without falling into the ridiculous and the paltry; but for operas the house is too large. Although the singers, Madame Colbran and Signori Nozzari, Benedetti, and others, have very powerful voices, yet one hears only the highest notes given out with the full strain of the voice; but all tender pathos in song is wholly lost. This is said not to have been the case before the fire, and the theatre was then quite as sonorous as Della Scala at Milan. This prejudicial change is ascribed to three causes first, the proscenium has been widened by several feet; secondly, the ceiling is not so concave as formerly; and thirdly, the high projecting decorations in stucco obstruct the sound and do not send it back. If the house was in reality so sonorous formerly, then they have greatly deadened that faculty in the new building, and they would do very wisely to eject (the sooner the better) all the unnecessary trumpery of ornament and gildings, which besides is exceedingly heavy and not in the best taste, and so regain the former advantages.

The first opera I saw was “Gabriele de Vergi,” by Count Caraffa, who formerly was a dilettant merely, but now as a younger son without means, is become an artiste, and as such strives to earn a subsistence. The opera pleased me very much, but without being altogether particularly attractive for me. The[Pg 13] style is even and dignified, but the orchestra is too much overladen, and the voice parts are too much obscured. The execution was very precise, both on the part of the singers and of the orchestra. The latter, under the correct and spirited but somewhat too loud direction of Signor Festa, had studied it well, but were somewhat wanting in nuances of piano and forte; the wind instruments in particular are always too loud in the piano. Of the singers nothing further can be said than that they have good and powerful voices. Whether they have a good execution cannot be ascertained in this theatre; for one hears them either singing at the top of their voices, or one cannot hear them at all. After the opera Duport’s ballet of “Cinderella” was given, the decorations, costumes, &c., of which were of a very expensive character. Besides Duport and his wife, the dancer Vestris attracted much notice. The music was nearly the same as that we heard in Vienna in that ballet; a polonaise newly introduced by Count Gallenberg, the ballet-composer here, pleased greatly from its originality and sweetness.

Another opera, also by a dilettant, Signor Carlo Saccenti, was given a week ago, after a three months’ study and rehearsal. The king, who is a great patron of the composer, had fixed on it for the opening of the San Carlo theatre, and Mayer, who had been sent for here by the impresario, to write a new opera for the occasion, was obliged to keep his back. But as it was afterwards found that it would be impossible to be perfect in it by the day appointed for the opening, Mayer was permitted to write a Cantata in all haste, with which on the 12th January the theatre was at length opened. This cantata, though written with great despatch, is said nevertheless, according to the opinion of connoisseurs to contain a good deal of fine music; but as the text or subject was the burning of the theatre, one little calculated for composition, it could not well have been other than a somewhat tame production. Nor could it be expected, with the little attention given to it by the public, more occupied with the brilliant illumination of the house and the splendour and Spanish etiquette which the[Pg 14] court displayed at the opening of the theatre, that the reception given by the public to the cantata should have been other than a very cold one. Nevertheless, it was not properly speaking a failure. After this had been brought out, the study of Saccenti’s opera was again resumed. All that reached the public concerning these rehearsals was very unfavourable. His friends said he had composed a work which from its originality and excellence would produce a complete reform in operatic compositions: the singers and musicians, on the other hand, said that in all their lives they had never sung or played anything more villanous, tedious and incorrect than that unfortunate opera. The impartial conjectured that, as is usual with such conflicting opinions, the truth would lie in the mean; but I soon satisfied myself, after a few rehearsals which I attended, that the musicians were perfectly right in the judgment they had formed of it. It would indeed be scarcely possible to put together a more outrageous piece of music, even if one strove expressly, and with the greatest industry to act contrary to all the most approved rules of rhythm, structure of the periods, harmony and instrumentation. There was no trace of song or sensible carrying out of an idea; every third bar was something else, with the most incorrect modulations. In the very beginning of the introduction three ugly quints follow each other in quick succession. One of the musicians from recollection said that the composer justified it very ingeniously with the example of the English sailor who was brought before a magistrate for having married three wives, but whom the law could not reach as it forbade bigamy only, and made no mention of trigamy; in the same manner, said the composer, it is forbidden to have two quints in succession, but by having three the penalty contemplated by the law was evaded.

After rehearsals innumerable, the representation took place in the presence of the court and with a crowded house. Notwithstanding the here prevailing formal Spanish etiquette, which commands that the curtain shall be drawn up immediately the king enters the box and which constrains the poor[Pg 15] singers to exhibit themselves on the stage during the whole duration of the overture, without being able to move in the spirit of the characters they impersonate; and which moreover forbids every demonstration of applause or of disapprobation; despite this constraint, which impedes free judgment, the opera was hissed in optima forma. On the following night it had the same fate, without a single friend of the composer’s daring to clap a hand. With this second representation, at which I was present, the opera was for ever consigned to the tomb. It is called “Aganadeca;” its author is Signor Vincenzio de Ritis. The subject, from Ossian, is said not to be without merit, and it is regretted that it did not fall into the hands of a better composer. The latter, however is not sensible of his own deficiency; he ascribes its failure to the little musical judgment of the Neapolitan public, and intends sending his work to Germany. May Apollo and the muses bestow their blessings upon it!

February 20.

The Carneval came to a close yesterday, and the fasts have begun. After the noise of the last day of the carneval, the quiet which has now succeeded does one really good, although the evenings are somewhat dull, as all the theatres are closed for four days. At the St. Carlo theatre instead of the customary oratorios this year operas will be given as usual, but without ballets, which are wholly forbidden at this season. At the Fiorentino theatre we saw an opera of Guglielmi (son), “Paolo e Virgina,” which met with some success. But the music of the third act is quite Italian for insipidity, in which Paul, during a storm at sea, sings an air in the usual form, and with the usual insipid intermediate acting, exhausting himself in shakes and passages, when he would act much more sensibly if he hastened to the assistance of his loved one. This sea-storm without an appropriate music was therefore the most ridiculous thing I ever saw at a theatre, and solicited no sympathy for the whole affair from the spectators. It is true the machinery also at this theatre was most mean and childish.[Pg 16] Among the singers Mesdames Chabran and Canonici distinguished themselves greatly. The former has a fine soprano voice, great ease of execution and a good school; the latter the same qualifications with a powerful contralto voice. They had particularly well studied their duets. In this theatre we found for the first time in Italy, with a full house and a frequently repeated performance, a quiet and sympathetic audience. The house is roomy and prettily decorated, but the stage very small and narrow.

I had expected the end of the carneval to have been far more gay than I found it. The whole amusement consisted in the crowding together of half Naples, masked and unmasked, in vehicles and on foot in the street of Toledo, where they moved up and down and pelted each other with little balls of gypsum. The masks of the carriages were provided for the purpose with whole baskets full of these little bullets, and with shovels, so as to enable them to throw them up to the balconies. They carried tin shields on the left arm, with which to ward off the missiles of other maskers. As these were frequently of a tolerable size and were thrown with full force, the fun frequently proved somewhat rough for those persons who were not masked, and many a lady must doubtless have taken home with her a few blue marks on her neck and arm. Nevertheless all was borne with good humour and without dispute, as the liberty conferred by the mask serves to excuse all impoliteness. The masqued balls at the San Carlo theatre are said to have been somewhat wearisome affairs; although there was no want of masks in character, yet there was very little wit and ability to personate the characters in accordance with the costume and manners of the period.

February 26.

I have been twice to the conservatory of music. The first time I was present at a practice concert of the pupils, in which several overtures, or first themes of symphony composed by one of them, who at the same is first violin also, were tried.[Pg 17] They were not devoid of fancy, but in form and instrumentation complete imitations of the overtures of Rossini, which certainly are not calculated to serve as models. The execution was but tolerable; the young folks, particularly the violinists, have no school at all; they know neither how they should hold the violin nor the bow, and play neither purely nor distinctly. Nor can it be otherwise with the bad instruction they receive. Festa, the only violinist here of a good school, is not employed in the conservatory of music. It is highly reprehensible that the young people are permitted to give their practise-concerts without the superintendence and guidance of their instructors; their first violin and director, who is himself still a pupil, is wholly wanting in self possession and judgment. He bungles the allegro tempi in such a manner that all distinctness is out of the question. Among the wind instruments, a hornist, a lad of eleven years of age, is very remarkable. On the occasion of the second concert at which I was present, two singers made their appearance, who had neither good voices nor a good method. All that I have yet heard, is far inferior to what the Milan musical students can perform. Signor Zingarelli, director of the conservatory here, and teacher of the theory of music and singing may possess many qualifications as a composer of operas; but it is generally said that since his appointment the conservatory has very much declined. That he at least does not know how an orchestra should be conducted or a symphony executed, he proves by allowing so quietly these things to take place in his presence. Of the merits of our German composers he has some very erroneous notions. One day, when I paid him a visit, he spoke for a long time of Haydn and other of our composers with great respect, but without even once mentioning Mozart; I therefore turned the conversation upon the latter, upon which he said: “Yes, he also was not deficient in talent, but he lived too short a time to cultivate it in a proper manner; if he could only have continued to study ten years longer, he would then have been able to write something good.”!

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March 3.

An opera has been again put on the stage written by Mayer several years ago. It is called “Cora” and is founded on the same subject as Kotzebue’sSonnenjungfrau” (Virgin of the Sun). There are certainly some fine passages in the music, but taken as a whole it has not satisfied my expectations of Mayer’s music. He is after all deeply tinctured with the Italian manner and almost wholly an apostate from the German. His method of carrying out the vocalisation and his instrumentation are thoroughly Italian. This certainly is not to be wondered at, for since the age of fourteen he has lived in Italy, and never wrote for any other than Italian audiences. I think, that apart from his natural talent, he has raised himself above the others alone by having always endeavoured to procure all the best German works, which he studied, and made use of, the latter indeed sometimes a little too much. Throughout Italy, and here in particular, he is very much admired and liked: he merits it also in every respect, and as a man is ever the upright, smooth-spoken unassuming German. He is much attached to his fatherland, and seems only to regret that it was not his fate to pursue his career as a composer in Germany. In Bergamo, where he is director of the orchestra, he now only desires to live in retirement, and write solely for his church. He assured me that nothing but the honour of writing for the reopening of the San Carlo theatre could have induced him to leave his retreat once more, but that the opera “La vendetta di Junone,” which he had now completed, should certainly be his last work for the theatre. In “Cora” the favorite piece with the public is the finale, consisting of a theme in three variations in the old style of Pleyel; one of the singers sings the theme, Davide the first variation in quavers, then Nozzari the second in triplets, and in conclusion la Colbran the third in semiquavers. As it is well sung, it greatly pleases the public, and critics therefore must be silent.

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March 6.

Last evening Signor Pio Chianchettino gave a concert in the Fondo theatre. He is a nephew and pupil of Dussek, and played two concertos of that master in his manner. Although his play was pure, distinct and even full of expression, yet here again, as every-where else, the piano-forte as concert-instrument proved itself insufficient to awaken the enthusiasm of an audience; and the more so is this the greater the size of the place. For that reason also upon this occasion, the song-pieces pleased far more than the concertos, although no one could find fault with his play. I myself felt this also; for although I am very fond of the piano, when a composer rich in ideas improvises upon it, yet as concert-instrument I am wholly unmoved by it; and a piano-forte-concerto in my opinion is only effective when written like those of Mozart, in which the piano is not much more thought of than any other orchestral instrument. The singers, Madame Chabran and the Signori Davide, Nozzari and Benedetti, all distinguished themselves, and were loudly applauded. One becomes more sensible of their merits when one hears them in a smaller place than the San Carlo theatre. Davide and Nozzari may be called almost perfect singers, they both have very fine voices; the former a very high tenor, the latter a high baritone, remarkable fluency of execution and much true expression. Benedetti has a very fine bass voice, but sings rather coldly.

March 7.

We have again taken some rather more distant and highly interesting walks. The object of one was the Camaldula convent, which is situated upon a hill above two hours’ drive from the centre of the city. We rode as far as the foot of the mountain, where as the carriage road terminated, we were obliged to make the ascent on foot. The view from the convent garden is perhaps one of the most extensive and beautiful in the world. On one side are seen Ischia, Capri, Procida, Nisida and the promontories which we had visited in our previous[Pg 20] excursion, accompanied by the blue mirror of the sea; on the opposite side Capua, Caserta, and in the back-ground the snow-covered mountains; on the side of Naples a part of the city itself, the whole bay with the opposite coast, and on the left the smoke-emitting Vesuvius; lastly, on the fourth side, the shores and salient promontories near Gaëta, as far as Terracina. As the weather was very propitious for us, this was one of the most magnificent days we ever passed in the enjoyment of the beauties of nature. The monks, some of whom we caught sight of, did not appear in the same humour as we were; for they all wore a gloomy aspect.

We took a shorter but not less interesting walk on the new road to Rome, which was begun under Murat, but has remained unfinished since his dethronement. It leads over a mountain from which one has the most admirable view of the city, and it is much to be regretted that it is not complete; for then the traveller would be able to form a more worthy conception of the city before his entry into Naples, while now by the old road, which winds through a narrow mountain ravine, he sees nothing of Naples until he has entered the most dirty and least attractive part of the city; which leaves him long in doubt whether he actually is in the world-famed Naples.

We passed a very pleasant day at the villa of the banker Heigelin, which is situated also upon a mountain near the Strada Nuova, whence one has a beautiful view. Old Heigelin, an amiable, open-hearted German, has ornamented this place of his own creation with so many fine things, such as grottoes, ruins, temples, fountains, &c. &c., that it would be actually impossible to crowd any thing more together in so small a space. Although perhaps the whole is somewhat frivolous as regards the manner in which it is laid out, it has nevertheless many individual things worthy of attention. For us Northerns, for instance, the vast number of exotic plants, which were for the most part in full bloom, were objects of great interest.

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March 11.

Last evening our concert took place. As the impressario of the court theatres, Barbaja, an extremely selfish man, asked me too much money for the hire of the theatres, for the Fondo for instance 100 Neapolitan ducats and for the San Carlo 200 even, I adopted his proposal rather to give my concert in the assembly-room of the San Carlo theatre, which he offered me lit up for nothing. This apparently disinterested offer was nevertheless calculated also for his advantage, for the assembly-room and the adjoining rooms were the places for the hazard-tables, which he had rented, and to which by means of my concert he hoped to attract the most fashionable and wealthiest company of the city. This use of my concert, which could in no way prejudice me, I could readily allow him. As the saloon is not very spacious, I fixed the price of admission, as at Rome, at one piaster, and although I had not a more numerous, yet I had a more susceptible public than there. Encouraged by this and supported most efficiently by the very accurate accompaniment under Festa’s direction, as well as by the room itself, which was so advantageous for my instrument, I played better than I had done in many other towns in Italy. Besides my compositions a duet by Mayer and a terzet of Cherubini were sung by Signore Davide, Nozzari and Benedetti. Even during the evening I was solicited on all sides to give a second concert in the theatre.

March 18.

This morning early we visited the “Studii,” i. e. the building in which the treasures of art from Pompeii and Herculaneum are preserved, together with the collections previously made of statues and paintings. The library is situated also in the same building. As it is impossible to see all in one day, we chose for to-day the statues and the library. Among the former are some very celebrated statues from the Farnese collection, of which numerous excellent casts have been made, and two equestrian statues found in Pompeii, of great ar[Pg 22]tistic worth. In one room are two glazed cases, full of antique bronzes, also from Pompeii and Herculaneum, consisting of lamps, small penates and all kinds of domestic utensils. These things, as well as the statues in marble are in the most perfect preservation, and appear scarcely so many days old as they are years; but every thing of iron is much eaten by rust, as for instance the handles and rings of various vessels of bronze.

The library is contained in a fine handsome and spacious apartment and several adjoining rooms. On the floor of the grand room the line of the meridian is drawn, on which, through a small hole pierced in the wall for that purpose, the sun’s rays fall at noon. When a person claps his hands at a particular spot in this apartment, an echo repeats it more than thirty times in rapid succession. This arises probably from the position of the window-recesses, which are high up, near the ceiling.

Lastly we visited the room where the rolls of papyrus are preserved and unrolled. They have all the appearance of charcoal, and one might mistake them for that, were it not that one can easily distinguish the edges of the leaves. A manuscript fully unrolled, mounted upon linen, framed and glazed, hangs against the wall. As the paper is burnt quite black the letters are scarcely to be distinguished, and one cannot but admire the patience, the penetration, and the knowledge of languages of those who have known how to unravel its sense. It is a treatise on music: each side is divided into three columns. In the first is seen an engraved, accurate copy of the unrolled papyrus, with all its defects, and rents; in the second, the contents in modern Greek characters, in which the letters and words that are wanting in the original are filled in with red letters, and in the third, a Latin translation. They are now unrolling another manuscript, but do not appear to be hurrying themselves much, for we found one person only thus occupied. The method pursued is a very simple one. Small strips of fine parchment are stuck with gum close to each other or rather somewhat lapping over each other, upon the charred rolls, after[Pg 23] which the paper is gradually and carefully released and removed. The process is of a necessity a slow one, but considerably more might have been unrolled by this time. If these precious remains of ancient learning were in the possession of a German sovereign, they would all have been deciphered long since.

March 22.

As I did not like the trouble of making the arrangement for a second concert, I readily accepted the proposal of the impressario to play twice at the San Carlo theatre between the acts of the opera for the sum of 300 ducats. This I did the evening before last for the first time. I was very much afraid that the violin would not fill the immense house, but I was soon set at rest on that point on being told at the rehearsal that every note was distinctly heard in the most distant parts of the house. But of a necessity nevertheless I was obliged to forego every finer nuance in my play. Although the house was very full, yet the greatest silence prevailed whilst I was playing, and after the second piece of music I was called forward.

Last evening I played at the Casino mobile, in a very fine saloon, my concerto in the form of a scena, and a pot-pourri with pianoforte accompaniment. As the room is very favourable for music, both of these had a very sensible effect upon the audience. The remainder of the concert, consisting of symphonies and pièces d’harmonie, was not of importance.

I forgot to mention a concert given by Signora Paravicini at which we were present, at the Teatro nuovo, on Wednesday last. She played, between the acts of a comedy, the first violin-concerto of Rode in D minor, a pot-pourri by Kreutzer, and at the end an Adagio and Rondo of the same composer. I have been accustomed to hear my instrument ill used by women, but I never saw it used so badly as by Signora Paravicini. I was the more surprised at this, as she has acquired some fame, and has a vast deal of pretension; as an instance of this, she told people here that she had heard Rode in Vienna, but that he had excited no other sentiment in her[Pg 24] than pity. Her turn had now come to excite pity if one can feel it at all for arrogance and unskilfulness. She has a very excellent violin, a Stradivari, and in the cantabile draws from it a tolerable tone; but that is her only merit. In other respects she plays in bad taste, with a profusion of meaningless ornamentations, and the passages indistinctly: her intonation is not pure and her bow stroke extremely bungling. The applause was very lukewarm and was elicited only when Prince Leopold her patron began to clap his hands. Much more interesting than Paravicini’s play, was the comedy, which was capitally performed. Signor de Marini played remarkably well, and he is altogether one of the best actors of the day. The theatre, certainly, is smaller than the Fiorentino and Fondo, but quite as pretty.

At private-parties I have played my quartetts and quintetts a few times, which were exceedingly well accompanied by Messieurs Dauner and son, the young and talented violinist Onario, whom I have practised in some of my things, and by the accomplished violoncellist Fenzi, who lived formerly in Cassel. They afforded great pleasure, and Mayer assured me he had never enjoyed a greater musical treat. On the second occasion we played them at the house of Lady Douglas, who herself plays the piano very well and is said to have sung exceedingly well some years ago. She and her husband are the first English in whom I have found a real taste for music.

March 23.

On looking through this diary I observe that I have forgotten to mention the performance of two masses given at the expense of Prince Esterhazy of Vienna. The first by old Umlauf of Vienna, was remarkable for nothing in particular; but the second by Haydn, in D minor, which was performed with great solemnity and military pomp on the emperor’s birthday, afforded much gratification. Mesdames Chabran and Canonici, and Signori Nozzari and Benedetti sang the solo parts very beautifully; the chorus and orchestra were also admirable.[Pg 25] Unfortunately, at the express desire of the Prince, almost all the tempi were taken too quick, and thereby much spoiled.

Milan, April 22.

Prevented from writing by the great press of business in the last days of our residence in Naples, and the hurry of our return journey, which was almost unbroken by a day of rest, I have got greatly in arrears, and have therefore much to fetch up, even respecting Naples.

Mayer’s new opera was at length brought out a fortnight before Easter, after it had been once more re-christened, but it was a total failure, so that it lived through two and a half representations only, and probably is for ever at rest. On the third evening, in fact, the first act alone was given, with one act of Paer’s “Sargino.” Both the subject and the music of Mayer’s opera are equally uninteresting and tedious. The latter especially is wanting in life and spirit; it is so common-place and so spun out, that one can hardly hear it without falling asleep. This actually occurred to me, to Count Gallenberg, and to several others, at the grand rehearsal. Mayer seems to have exhausted himself, which is no wonder with the enormous quantity of operas which he has written. It is certainly high time for him to retire as a composer of operas, that he may not entirely forfeit the repute he had acquired, and he would have done well if he had not accepted the last invitation to Naples. The evening after the first representation of his opera he set out on his return to Bergamo.

About this time the arrival of Madame Catalani set all the lovers of music in Naples in great commotion. She immediately took advantage of this enthusiasm and announced a few days afterwards a concert in the Fiorentino theatre, the prices of admission being seven-fold the usual ones. On the day before the concert, it was with difficulty that I got two pit tickets, and that because I had previously bespoken them, at 22 Carlini each. Never perhaps were the expectations of an audience at a higher pitch of tension, than were those of[Pg 26] the Neapolitan public on that evening. My wife and I, who for years had longed to hear this celebrated singer, could scarcely repress our impatience for the moment of her appearance. At length she did appear, and a deathlike silence pervaded the whole house. She came forward with a cold and pretentious air, and saluted neither the Court nor the public, which created an obvious unpleasant sensation. Perhaps she had expected to have been received with a burst of applause, which however is not the custom in Naples, and this perhaps put her out of humour. But when after her first song she was greeted with a storm of applause, she became more friendly, and remained so for the rest of the evening. She sang four times, two airs by Pucitta, Ombra adorata of Zingarelli (or, as the Neapolitans insist, of Crescentini, whose name also was down on the bills) and variations on the thousand times varied “Nel cor non più mi sento.” The airs by Pucitta were extremely poor; the famed Ombra adorata can only be considered fine, when all thoughts of the text are banished from the mind; the variations were common place, but become piquante from her manner of execution. She pleased us greatly, by the constantly pure intonation and the perfect finish with which she executes every kind of vocal ornamentation and of passages, and by her quite peculiar and characteristic style of singing; but she does not come up to that ideal of a perfectly accomplished singer, which we had expected to find her. Her voice which has the extensive range of
to
is both full and powerful in the low and middle notes, but the transition to the voce di testa at
very observable, and from three to four notes in that region are much weaker, than the deeper and highest; for which reason she gives all[Pg 27] passages which occur in those notes, with half-voice, only in order to conceal the inequality. Her voice is wanting also in the youthful freshness, which, however, in a female singer of forty years of age, is not to be wondered at. Her shake is wonderfully beautiful; and equally pure whether in the half or whole notes. A peculiar style of run through the half notes, properly speaking the enharmonic scales, since every note was produced twice, is greatly admired as something quite her own. To me, nevertheless, it was more remarkable than beautiful; for it sounded to me like the howling of the storm in the chimney. Another kind of vocal ornamentation, which in itself is common enough, she gives, however, in a manner that imparts great charm to it. It would be expressed in notes somewhat in this manner:
but at the same time it must be observed, that she took breath at every sixteenth-pause, which gave to this part a very impassioned character. Among the variations was one with syncopated notes, which from her peculiar style of execution derives also a very characteristic and interesting charm; and another in triplets legato she gives in perfection. But what I most missed in her singing, was soul. She sings recitative without expression—I might say with carelessness, and in Adagio she remains cold. Neither were we even once deeply moved, but experienced merely that sense of pleasure one always feels when one sees and hears mechanical difficulties overcome with ease. This, also, was the sentiment of all those who sat in our immediate neighbourhood. Some unpleasant and prejudicial habits, which she is not likely now to correct, I must yet advert to. To these belong firstly, that in certain passages, particularly those which she gives with force, every note is delivered with a sort of see-saw movement of the lower jaw, as[Pg 28] in mastication, so that a dumb person, if he saw her sing, would have no great difficulty in distinguishing crochets from quavers and up and down running passages from one another. In the shake, more especially, the movement of the lower jaw by which every note might be counted, is very striking and disfiguring. Secondly, in impassioned passages her whole body partakes of a southern but highly unbecoming mobility, from which a deaf man would likewise of a certainty easily guess the subject.

A few days afterwards we heard her again in the rehearsal to her second concert, in which she sang five times, and exhibited the same qualifications, but also impressed no one at any time by a show of feeling in her execution. She seemed to me much less pretentious here and more amiable; and she was very polite to the orchestra and the persons who had gathered to hear her, so that I can readily believe what I was told—that her pretentious air when appearing in public, arose more from embarrassement than pride, and was assumed by her to conceal her fears. A young man who stood behind the side-scenes during her concert assured me, that upon first stepping forward on the stage she trembled in every limb, and could scarcely breathe for nervousness. It is said that here in Milan she did not give general satisfaction; and her last concerts were much less numerously attended than the first. One part of the public was in favour of Grassini, whom we have now heard here also, but of whom I shall speak later. The admirers of the latter had played Catalani a malicious trick by distributing for sale at the entrance of the theatre at her first concert an Italian translation of the unfavourable opinions respecting her that had appeared in the Hamburg and Leipsic musical journals. Catalani, herself, expecting to find in it a sonnet or something of the kind in her praise, purchased a copy.

The day after Catalani’s first concert in Naples took place, Rossini’s “Elisabetta” was given at the San Carlo theatre, in which Colbran played the first part. As every body knew that it was her intention to compete with Catalani, the house[Pg 29] was more than usually crowded, both by partizans and antagonists of Colbran. The latter on the previous evening called Catalani’s concert the exequies of Colbran, and people were therefore extremely curious to learn what would be the result of the evening. Immediately upon her appearance she was received with a concert of hisses, but simultaneously also with vehement applause. As, however, this time she really sang and played exceedingly well, the applauders increased in number and the hissers grew less, so that at last she was called forward almost unanimously by the audience. She is far behind Catalani in voice and every mechanical point of excellence, but she sings with true feeling and plays with considerable passion. The composition of this opera is one of Rossini’s best, but with all the merits, it has also all the weak points of the others.—In the theatre, a ridiculous trait of pretentious magnanimity on the part of Catalani furnished subject of amusement. A few evenings before, when she first went to the theatre, she sent her secretary behind the scenes to express to Colbran and the other singers that “she was perfectly satisfied with their performances.”

Freiburg in Breisgau, June 20. 1817.

Previous to our leaving Naples, we devoted one whole day more to a visit to Pompeii. We were so fortunate as to have a clear and tolerably warm day, a real wonder throughout the whole of the month of March! While from the middle of January to the end of February the weather was almost without interruption the most beautiful spring weather, with the beginning of March winter suddenly returned. A cold and stormy rain fell in the vallies, and snow in the mountains to such a depth, that they were no longer accessible. On Vesuvius it was said to be from three to four feet deep. But March is generally very cold and the real winter month of the Neapolitans.

The ruins of Pompeii, which from having lain covered for nearly 2000 years with a light crust of dry ashes, are in far[Pg 30] better preservation than all the remains of that period which have been exposed to the air, made a deep and really solemn impression upon us. The ruins of the Colosseum and other ancient buildings in Rome, impress one with an idea of the artistic taste, the wealth, and love of grandeur of the ancients; but here the sight of simple small private dwelling-houses, which are as entire as on the day of the fearful catastrophe, makes one acquainted with the habits and ways of their civic life, and, by ocular evidence, with many customs unknown to our mode of living, and described to us by ancient writers.

On entering one of these houses, which may have belonged to a well-to-do individual in the middle class of society, one finds a row of small, neat rooms all painted al fresco, like the paintings cut out of the walls from Herculaneum, which are preserved at Portici. These chambers have rarely any window, and but one door to admit light and air, which opens upon a court yard, round which runs a covered gallery. In the centre of the court is a fountain, near this a circular marble table round which stand marble benches to recline upon at meal time, furnished with a somewhat higher projection to support the elbows; and on one side of the court is one or more tastefully decorated baths. All these houses had but one floor or story and were much smaller than our dwelling houses. It is greatly to be regretted that the domestic utensils which were found there could not be left in their place! One would then have had a perfect conception of the habits and mode of life of the former inhabitants of this remarkable city. The pavement of the streets is still in the same condition as it then was, and the impression of the wheels of the vehicles as also of the feet of the foot-passengers are still to be seen in the streets. Over the shops one still sees expressed in Greek characters painted on walls, the wares which were sold in each, and at the corner of a street an advertisement of that period. In the shops where oil was sold huge earthen-ware jars, let into the masonry of the front wall, are still to be seen, from which that[Pg 31] article was dipped out for sale. In many cellars in good preservation, similar tall jars, but with very narrow necks are to be seen, in which wine was kept. In one of these cellars the skeleton of a woman was found, and so completely imbedded in the ashes, that the form of her body could be distinguished as in a mould. A part of this form in which the impress of her breast is left, is preserved at Portici. In her hand was found a large leathern bag with coins in it.

The street which is in the best preservation is the street of the tombs, in which on both sides scarcely any thing is to be seen but tombs, some of which are built in the Egyptian pyramidal-form, and others in the Roman style. In these tombs, urns have been found in which the ashes and bones of the burned dead were preserved. The inscriptions upon these tombs are sometimes Greek, sometimes Latin, and begin very frequently with the exclamation: “Siste viator!” “Stop passer-by!” &c., which mode of arresting the attention of the way farer here in a frequented and busy street was much more in place than it is in our generally very retired churchyards, in which it has been imitated in a somewhat inappropriate manner.

The public buildings, theatres, temples, &c., which attract attention in Pompeii, are certainly neither so vast nor so grand and beautiful as those of Rome, Puzzuoli and other places; but they nevertheless exceed in importance everything that a modern provincial town can offer to the visitor. Where, for instance, would one find in any of these, a vast circus for public games, and two large theatres! Of the latter, one was roofed over, and served probably for the performance of comedies; the other, with a stage, an orchestra, and a circular, very lofty amphitheatre gives us an idea of the sort of place in which the Roman actors, provided with a mask to increase the volume of sound, performed their tragedies before an audience of from 10,000 to 15,000 spectators. But the temples also, the finest of which is now being dug out of the ashes, afford ocular[Pg 32] demonstration of the love of grandeur and of the good taste of the ancients in architecture.

The vineyards and cultivated land which lie above the yet unexcavated part of the city, have been already long purchased by the former king of Naples; hence if the work had been carried on with energy, which, however, is not to be expected from the present government, which prosecutes all such things very indolently, the whole of this highly interesting city would be laid bare in a few years, and from the high ground which surrounds it might all be surveyed at one glance. At present the different parts which have been excavated are still separated from each other by long strips of land under cultivation, which one is obliged to ascend like so many hills; and one is greatly surprised after having traversed one of this sort of fields to see beneath one another part of the city, which contrasts so strangely with the vines, trees, fields and peasant’s huts upon the high ground.

The day before our departure from Naples we once more paid a visit to the Studii, and inspected the large collection of Etrurian vases of every imaginable form. We were greatly pleased also, with the fine collection of paintings, among which the pictures by Raphael recently brought back from Sicily were special objects of our admiration.

On the 29th March we set out on our return journey to Rome. The morning of our leaving was very stormy and unpleasant for me; for in the first place I had a dispute with the vetturino, who wanted to thrust a fifth person into the interior of the vehicle, in the shape of a dirty and ill-smelling Capucin friar, till at length after much desultory disputation we consented to his being accommodated in the cabriolet, and as a further incident of annoyance, my family was at first not permitted to pass out of the gate, because they had not been mentioned in the new Neapolitan passports which it is requisite to take upon leaving the country. It was in vain that I shewed my old passport, in which my wife and children were mentioned; and it was not until I had pledged my word to go back and[Pg 33] procure another passport that I was allowed to move from the spot. I therefore went back to the minister, while my wife and children proceeded without further hindrance on their way. Arrived at the minister’s, I there found all still buried in sleep; but with fair words and that which with Italians is far more effectual, money, I at length succeeded in procuring a new passport. Furnished with this I jumped into a hired carriage, and drove with all speed to overtake my family, which I did about half-way to Capua and thus relieved them of a great anxiety respecting me. Among the annoyances with which travellers in Italy are almost worried to death, is the excessive strictness in regard to passports, which is frequently carried to a ridiculous extreme. We subsequently saw an instance in which a traveller who had already got beyond Parma on the Lombard frontier was sent all the way back to Leghorn because his passport had not been signed by the Austrian consul at that place.

In a second vehicle which accompanied us travelled an Englishman, who was possessed of an extraordinary skill in taking the fine views in a few minutes. For this purpose he made use of a machine which transmitted the landscape on a reduced scale to the paper. Between Velletri and Albano, where we went part of the way on foot in order better to enjoy the magnificent landscape and the mild air, we saw the whole method of his proceeding, which afforded infinite pleasure to the children. He shewed us afterwards his collection of views, of which he had upwards of two hundred of Naples and its neighbourhood alone. He gave me his address: Major Cockburn, Woolwich, nine miles from London.

Our re-entry into Rome filled us anew with wonder and admiration of the remains of the old Roman architecture, which we had not seen for three months. We were much amused also with the simple remarks of the Capucin friar, whose first visit this was to the mainland, and who was totally inexperienced in every thing. Apart from his dirt, he was really a good-tempered, simple sort of man, and quite endurable. He[Pg 34] was full of restless impatience to see the pope officiate. How various are the wishes and inclinations of men! He perhaps felt as we did the day before the concert given by the celebrated Catalani! I wish with all my heart that he may return to his convent, better satisfied then we returned home from that concert.

With great difficulty we procured a miserable apartment in a private house, for which nevertheless we were obliged to pay half a piaster per diem. Strangers from every part of Italy had poured into Rome to be present during the Holy Week, in addition to whom also, pilgrims, and the devout gathered together from all parts of the world, were now here to receive remission of their sins. The streets were thronged to that degree that we were frequently obliged to pull up as we drove through.

Our apartments had a look-out upon the Tiber from a wooden balcony; from here we could follow the course of the Tiber from the Porta Romana to the bridge in front of the castle of St. Angelo. The stillness of the quarter of the city beyond the Tiber, lit up by the ruddy evening sky and the moonlight, contrasted in a remarkable manner with the dense throng which poured to and fro across the bridge and then disappeared in the streets leading from the castle of St. Angelo to the church of St. Peter. High above all the houses and palaces which lay between us and the church of St. Peter, rose the latter, proudly and majestically, filling us with wonder and admiration of its gigantic proportions. Tired as we were, it was long before we could tear ourselves away from this magnificent sight, and we remained till a late hour in the mild evening air upon our balcony. When we at length lay down to rest, we called to each other once more: “To-morrow, to-morrow, then we shall hear the famous Miserere!”

[Pg 35]

Aix la Chapelle, Aug. 10. 1817.

Here at length, I find once more a few moments leisure to continue my narrative of our return journey from Italy.

On the 3rd April we at last heard the-long-wished-for Miserere in the Sixtine chapel. We had been told that females were admitted by tickets, and that men were required to appear in shoes. But a ticket for Dorette was now not to be had, and I was therefore obliged to make up my mind to go alone. But when I recognised among the Swiss guard at the entrance of the church one whom I knew and whose good will I had won upon a former occasion by a present for accompanying us up to the dome of St. Peter’s church; I enquired of him whether he could not assist to procure me an admission into the chapel for my wife without a ticket; and upon his assurance that he would do his best, I hastened home to fetch her. After some discussion with the other Swiss guards we were so fortunate as to be admitted, although several English ladies of rank who came unprovided with tickets were refused admittance and turned back. The Swiss cannot bear the English nor the French, and favour the Germans upon such occasions much more, particularly if one can talk to them in a few words of “Schwizerdütsch.”

We yet arrived in good time, and only regretted that we were not allowed to remain together, so as to interchange at the moment the impression which the music would make upon us.

Before the commencement of the singing, nineteen psalms were chaunted alternately by high and low voices, in the same manner unisono, and in the form of prayer, as we had already found so tedious at Christmas; and we had to bear with the last eight or nine of these: after every one, which lasted for five long minutes, one of the tapers is extinguished that burns upon a gigantic pyramidal-shaped candelabra in front of the high altar. How one wishes that the last of them also was extinguished! At length the wished-for moment comes, and by degrees a silence ensues which not a little increases the expectation of that which now follows. To this sentiment[Pg 36] of expectation, the solemn twilight which now prevails in the church faintly illumined with the last gleam of the rosy tints of evening, and the repose felt at length by the ear after the hoarse bellowing of the psalms may be ascribed the delicious impression that I experienced from the first long-drawn chord of C flat, and which seemed to me like music from another world. But one was too soon reminded that it was an earthly music that fell upon the ear, and one indeed sung by Italians; for immediately after the second bar, the ear was rent by a horrid succession of quints! The theme was doubtless after this manner:

but was given by the singers in the following barbarous manner:

I could not have believed even my own ears, much more those of others, that they sing in such wise in the Sixtine chapel, had I not heard it subsequently repeated. Is this perhaps the mysterious method of executing these old compositions, of which it is related that it is known alone to this choir, and has been handed down traditionally? Impossible! Modern Italians only can sing in so barbarous a style, who may perhaps possess a feeling for melody, but who in all that is called harmony are grossly ignorant.

[Pg 37]

When however this first Miserere had been endured, I was soon attracted by something else. These simple sequences of harmony, consisting almost wholly of triads, this mixing and sustaining of the voices, at one time increasing to the most tumultuous forte, at another dying away into the softest pianissimo; the continual and lengthened sustaining of single tones to a degree attainable only by the lungs of a castrated person, and then especially the soft introduction of a chord, while that of other voices is still faintly sustained, give to this music, in spite of all its deficiencies, something so peculiar, that one feels irresistibly attracted by it. I can now therefore readily understand that in former times, when the choir was much better, this must have made an immense impression upon foreigners who had never heard pure vocal music and the voices of castrated persons. It might even now be made most charmingly effective, if the singers of the choir had only a director of more extensive knowledge. But as it is, they do not generally sing even with purity.

On this first day, two compositions of Allegri and Baini were given, and each of them repeated once. Between each of these ten not very long divisions a prayer was recited in a low tone by the cardinals, bishops, and other clergy, which from its resemblance to the roll of distant thunder had a good effect. At the conclusion of the ceremony however, the servants, scraping and treading upon the foot-boards, made a very unpleasant noise for musical ears, which greatly disturbed and then obliterated the impression made by the music, to which one would willingly have abandoned oneself a little longer. This noise they tell me is to represent an earthquake!

On the second evening I managed things in such a manner as to arrive at the chapel just at the commencement of the real singing, and on the extinguishing of the last taper. The crowd was so great, that I was obliged to remain standing some time at the entrance surrounded by Englishmen, who during the whole time of the music spoke to each other in a very loud tone of voice, and would not even allow themselves to be[Pg 38] restrained from it by any signs to keep silence. Besides this, the singers sang much more carelessly than the day before, and frequently very false, so that I was very glad when the earthquake came to put an end to the ceremony. Three new compositions were added to the two of yesterday, for which reason each required to be sung but once. In other respects everything was exactly the same as the first time.

At a later period I had an opportunity of seeing the Miserere collection published by Kühnel of Leipsic, but did not find a single one of those which we heard in Rome. The library of the Sixtine chapel must however be so rich in such compositions, that they are enabled to select different ones for many years in succession.

Both evenings after the Miserere we saw the illumination of the cross in the church of St. Peter. Upon entering by the grand entrance, whence one sees the illuminated cross at the farthest distance, it makes an imposing impression, but so soon as one approaches nearer, it loses greatly. The effect would be far greater if all the other lights in the church were extinguished. But as it is, not only hundreds of lamps burn round the entrance to the subterranean chapel, but innumerable other lights besides in every part of the church. The brilliant illumination in the cross casts therefore no prominent shadow. The Pantheon was also illuminated this evening, which must have had a magnificent effect. Unfortunately we arrived just as the lights were being extinguished.

On the previous evening prince Frederick took me to a party, at which the fiftieth psalm, or the Miserere of Marcello, was exceedingly well sung by dilettanti. But as the orchestral accompaniment was, as is usual in Rome, very bad, and the composition throughout monotonous, I soon got tired of it and was glad when it came to an end.

On Saturday forenoon we took a long walk to St. Paul to see the magnificent ancient pillars in that otherwise very ugly church. On our way back, we saw the pyramid of Cestius and the so-called mount of pot-sherds. At noon we met at the eating-house[Pg 39] at the sign of “The Ermine” a German drawer, Herr Rösel, who easily persuaded us to take another walk in his company. He first pointed out to us an arched, old Roman subterranean canal, the Cloaca maxima, I think; we then went to a small, insignificant church, but which contains many fine antiquities, in order to see the divine service of the Greek church, which is celebrated on this day only; but the crowd was so great, that we could not obtain an entrance. Upon this we went to see the temple of Vesta, and lastly ascended the mount Aventino, where our companion led us before the door of a garden and shewed us through the key-hole one of the most startling sights imaginable. Through a long arched gallery overgrown with wild shrubs and verdure the dome of the church of St. Peters is seen magnificently lit up and gilded by the rays of the setting sun. We had then the door of the garden opened for us, in order to admire closely, a very large and beautiful palm tree which was just then in full bloom.

On the following morning the ringing of bells and salves of artillery from the castle of St. Angelo reminded us that it was Easter Sunday, and of the necessity of a speedy toilet if we would not lose the sight of the great ceremony in the church of St. Peter’s. But the fearful crush of the crowd upon the bridge almost compelled us to turn back. Completely carried along by the throng, we at length arrived on the other side of the Tiber, and then hastened to get into a less crowded side street, which also led to the grand square in front of the church. We there found many thousand persons assembled, and among them many pilgrims, with their hats ornamented with shells collected from every quarter of the world, who were impatiently awaiting the moment when the Holy father should give his benediction from the balcony. But some time was to elapse before that would take place, and we therefore first took a turn through the church, where we found every part decorated just the same as at Christmas, and as we could hope to see very little of the ceremony, we preferred taking a walk in the open air as the weather was so fine. We got back again[Pg 40] about 12 o’clock, and found the populace still in a state of acute suspense. The balcony over the grand entrance to the church was decorated with crimson velvet, and to shield it from the rays of the sun a gigantic tent was stretched over it. In the gallery above the pillars on the left-hand side a box had been erected for the accommodation of the most distinguished foreign visitors. A number of pages bearing tapers first made their appearance on the balcony, then followed the cardinals, and lastly the Pope, borne upon a sedan, and having on each side of him the white fans of ostrich feathers. As soon as he appeared, all the people fell upon their knees and a solemn stillness took the place of the wild tumult which had previously prevailed. There was something exceedingly imposing in the reverential awe impressed by this moment upon the feelings. The pale old man then arose, and with a slow and dignified movement of the hands, blessed the assembled multitude. In the mean-time, two folded papers were thrown down from the balcony, one of which, as I was told, contained the damnation of all heretics, and the other the papal indulgence for all good believers then present. The damnatory-bull did not however reach the ground, but flew driven by the wind into a window that stood open, while the bull of indulgence was caught by the people who struggled for its possession.

On our way to the eating-house, we were joined by Herr Kelle of Stuttgard, whose acquaintance we had previously made in Dresden. He asked us among other things whether we were satisfied with our tour in Italy and with what we had seen. Upon which I complained that we had found many things which did not realise the expectation that had been raised in our minds by previous travellers. He found that very natural, and considered that it arose from the circumstance that not one of the travellers upon his return would confess, that he also had been made an April-fool of by his predecessors. It reminds me, he continued, of the well-known anecdote of a man who advertised that he had a horse in his stable which had its head where other horses had their tails. But the curious who went[Pg 41] to see it found nothing more than a horse fastened to the crib by the tail, yet took good care to conceal it from the others who were waiting outside the door—because they were ashamed. The application of the story is easy!

After dinner we took another walk in the villa Borghese, and then made our preparations for our departure, which was fixed for the next morning.

In company of two persons from Stuttgard and one from Munich, with whom we had collectively hired a vetturino, we this time performed the far more interesting return-journey by the way of Perugia to Florence, in six days. On the evening of the second day we arrived at Terni, and hastened before the sun had set, to visit the celebrated waterfall, about two hours’ walk from that place. We proceeded as far as the foot of the mountain and then hired some asses already saddled for the purpose in the very romantically situated village, to which half Terni attracted by the mildness of the Sunday evening had repaired as a pleasant promenade. These soon and safely carried us up the ascent to the waterfall. The view from the mountain, before one turns into the valley into which the waterfall precipitates itself, is very varied and charming. The scene then, as one approaches nearer to it, becomes more and more wild and romantic. As the sun was now about to set, we did not tarry long but made all possible haste to reach the waterfall before nightfall, in part to see the imposing spectacle in a proper light, and partly for security’s sake, as the country hereabouts has not a very good reputation. With the last declining rays of the sun we reached the rock which rises out of the dark foaming abyss opposite the fall, and where for the convenience of visitors a pavillon furnished with benches has been erected. The view of the majestic spectacle from this point of sight is beyond the power of language to describe. We were all riveted as it were to the spot with admiration and wonder. Certainly at no former period of my life did any of the beauties of nature, not even the first sight of the Alps, make so deep an impression upon[Pg 42] me. After we had stood here for full ten minutes and fully feasted our eyes with the magnificent sight, we returned to Terni without accident, on one of the mildest and finest evenings of spring, exceedingly delighted with our charming excursion.

On the fourth day of the journey it became suddenly very cold, so much so that towards evening snow even began to fall, and lay upon the ground till the morning. But when we entered the deep valley in which Florence lies, we found everything in bloom.

We remained one day only in Florence, which we nevertheless turned to good account. In the forenoon we visited the cathedral, the baptistery and the Boboli gardens. Unfortunately, as it was a holiday, we could not get admittance to see the tomb of the Medici and the Pitti Palace. In the afternoon we took a walk to the Cascini.

Next morning, the 14th April, we resumed our journey, to Bologna without our previous companions, who remained some time longer in Florence. We found a great deal of snow in the Apennines, and once more got into complete winter. In dismal Bologna we stopped one day only. The host of the “Pellegrino” had made out a somewhat shamefully long bill against us, in abatement of which I resorted to a means I had frequently put in practice; that is, I deducted a third from the account, which after some discursive wrangling, he was obliged to submit to. Subsequently I always resorted to this expedient, and found it answer better than the previous plan of pre-arrangement, which I had hitherto followed, but in which after all I always found that I was cheated.

We now proceeded by way of Modena, Reggio, Parma and Piacenza, to Milan. As we did not stop long any where, I can say nothing more of those cities than that we everywhere found similar crowds of ragged beggars, the same system of cheating among the hotel keepers, and the same dirt. On the market place of Piacenza, we saw the two gigantic bronze statues. Whether they have any artistic merit, I cannot take[Pg 43] upon me to say, as we saw them only in the evening twilight.

In Milan we put up at the Pension Suisse, which I recommend to all travellers for cleanliness and cheapness. We were again struck on our first going out by the magnificence and beauty of the exterior of the cathedral. It is without doubt the finest building that we ever saw, more noble and richer than the façade of the church of St. Peter’s.

The celebrated Grassini, to the imitation of whose singing Rode is said to be indebted for his peculiar method of play, which differs from the school of Viotti, had announced six representations in the theatre della Scala. As they were however but thinly attended, three only took place, at the last of which we were present. It consisted of unconnected scenas from “the Horatii and Curatii” of Cimarosa, and some other airs, among which also Ombra adorata. Grassini, who in the flower of her age was without doubt a distinguished vocalist, is now somewhat passée. In that however which time could not steal from her she still stands alone; that is, she has a good style, and plays and sings with much intensity of feeling—in truth with far more feeling and expression than Catalani, but she is nevertheless greatly behind the latter in brilliancy of execution and as regards voice.—Hence whenever the production of a brilliant effect alone, was the desideratum, she did not altogether give satisfaction, but in impassioned recitative she charmed the audience by her truthful force of expression.

I found this time also, the della Scala theatre admirably adapted to give effect to music. I know of no place in which the voices as well as the orchestra sound so grandly, and so distinctly at the same time; it is therefore immeasurably preferable in an acoustic point of view to the San Carlo theatre.

As upon our first appearance at the theatre our speculation had been so unprofitable, we tried this time the music hall of the conservatorium, fixed the price of entrance at three francs, and on account of the theatre gave our concert in the[Pg 44] forenoon. Whether attributable to the unusual hour or to the already too advanced season of the year—suffice to say, it was again very thinly attended, and did not return much more than the expenses.

In the company of two Englishmen, the younger of whom was tolerably amiable, we set out from Milan on the 2nd of May, slept in Arona, and on the following morning were anew enraptured by the heavenly scenery round the Lago maggiore, which we now again found in the garb of spring, and arrived towards evening at the village of Simplon, at the foot of the Simplon pass. Here, upon taking leave of Italy, we were again cheated in real Italian style, being compelled, for instance, to pay two francs for each cup of coffee.

The next morning we commenced the at this season of the year somewhat difficult journey over the mountain pass, and reached the snow region one hour after leaving Simplon. Here it was necessary to take the carriage to pieces; the body was placed upon one sledge, the wheels upon another, and our luggage upon a third; and in this manner the caravan proceeded with several additional horses at a slow rate. In the higher regions of the pass, where the snow remained hard, there were not many stoppages, but further down, where the warmth was already considerable, and the snow not very deep, we came every moment to a standstill. Sometimes the horses sank in up to their bellies, at others the carriage would get jammed fast between walls of snow as high as a house, when it became necessary to clear a passage for it; and then again the road had to be cleared of the fallen avalanches that encumbered it and obstructed our progress. We therefore went on before, and arrived two hours earlier at the fourth refuge station, wet through up to the knees, it is true. At this place the snow had disappeared, and here we refreshed ourselves with a simple breakfast, and rested from the fatigues of our toilsome promenade. We heard many avalanches come thundering down, and were in constant fear that it might fare with us as with some travellers who had passed the day before. These, arrived near to one of[Pg 45] the galleries pierced through the rock, saw a fearful avalanche sweeping down upon them, and had but just time sufficient to take refuge in the gallery. To their horror, however, they found both exits had been blocked up by the snow, so that for three fearfully anxious hours they were shut in, until the inspector of the road had worked his way through to them.

When at length the carriage arrived, we drove on to Brieg, where we passed the third night, and for the first time again heard our mother-tongue spoken, which sounded right welcome to our ears. Our fourth day’s journey brought us to Sion, where French is spoken. In the Valais we found the spring much less forward than on the other side. Here, the cherry-trees were scarcely in bloom, while in Lombardy and on the Lago maggiore they had long passed their bloom. We thus once more found ourselves in spring, in which we had constantly been since the beginning of February.

On our fifth day’s journey we came to the celebrated Pissevache, which is close to the road. But our expectations were not altogether satisfied; for in comparison with the waterfall at Terni, this looked very insignificant in our eyes. We slept at Bex, a charmingly situated little village, which the inhabitants call not without reason un paradis terrestre. The inn here may compete with the largest hotels of many capitals.

On the sixth day we travelled continuously along the lake of Geneva through Vevay to Lausanne. This place, so much lauded, and also much resorted to in summer by the English, is not so beautiful as I expected. The views on the lake of Thun, and still more on the lake of Zurich, are far more varied; but all the Swiss lakes are in my opinion far behind the Lago maggiore. On the seventh day we arrived at length at Geneva.


In consequence of a severe cold I was confined for some days to my bed. During this time Herr Dupont and the Rev. Pastor Gerlach, with some other musical friends, took some pains[Pg 46] to make arrangements for a concert. But it was easy to see beforehand that it would not be a very brilliant affair, for in part the prevailing distress and dearness of provision were still too great; and partly because several concerts had taken place shortly before for the benefit of the poor. The season was also too far advanced, and the majority of the wealthy families had already retired to their country-seats. In fact it did not much more than cover the expenses. We also permitted ourselves to be persuaded to play at Herr Piclet Rochemont’s and Herr Dupont’s private parties; and the very numerous company assembled at both their tea-parties then thought it no longer worth while coming to our concert. The brothers Bohrer, who had been there a month before we came, did not meet with better success. Taken as a whole the Genevese have very little taste for art, and are always speculating how they can best squeeze the numerous foreigners who reside there summer and winter. At any rate they know very little of German art and German artists, and do not know our classical composers even by name. The foreign language, and the long French rule to which they were subjected, explains all this sufficiently.

Of all towns of Switzerland Geneva may boast the greatest number of distinguished artists, but who here, as almost everywhere else, are split into two or more parties, and live a regular cat-and-dog life among themselves. Of these the brothers Hensel and Wolf and Herr Berger (properly Münzberger) are the most prominent. I was so fortunate as to bring these gentlemen together at my concert, who otherwise never played together, and had thus for a Swiss town a really good orchestra. The Rev. Pastor Gerlach received us in the most friendly manner, and rendered us even many obliging services; he even gave up to us the Lutheran church for our concert, in which music has a very good effect. Without that we should been compelled to give it in the dark and cheerless theatre, which would have occasioned considerable expense (300 Francs).

In Geneva I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting once[Pg 47] more my old teacher Kunisch of Brunswick. This worthy man had experienced every possible caprice of fortune. When a young man he was a first-rate hornist, but from its inducing at last a spitting of blood, he was obliged to abandon that instrument to save his life. By the most untiring application he then in three years attained to a considerable skill on the violin, and subsequently procured an appointment as first violin at the national theatre in Berlin. When after the battle of Jena the Prussian court was obliged to fly from Berlin and the royal orchestra was dispersed, he was driven from Berlin by the intrigues of Herr Schick, who much wanted to obtain his place. He then first went to Switzerland, when already advanced in years he learned the French language, and, afterwards went to Lyons, where he again procured an appointment as first violin at the theatre. Well pleased with his situation here, he had just begun to feel comfortably settled down, when by an unluckly fall he dislocated his left hand, which soon became perfectly rigid, so that he could no longer play the violin, and consequently was obliged to give up his situation. He was now for a third time compelled to learn another instrument, and thenceforth earned a scanty subsistence as a teacher of the piano-forte. He was exceedingly pleased to meet me again, and seemed very proud to be able to call me his pupil.


Upon perusing the here intercalated diary of the Italian journey I miss some incidents which even now (in 1847) are so vividly impressed on my memory that I cannot forbear appending them here in continuation.

Mention has already been made of the circumstance that I had alone to thank the exertions of the Austrian ambassador Count Apponyi for being enabled to give a concert in Rome during Advent, at which time all public music is forbidden. Count Apponyi undertook to represent my request for permission to the governor of Rome, but advised me nevertheless not to wait for the reply, but to make arrangements as quickly as possible[Pg 48] for the concert, while he would procure for me the necessary subscribers. I went to work immediately, but found my efforts impeded by very considerable difficulties. The salon in the Ruspoli Palace, which Count Apponyi had procured for me, was like every other part of that fine uninhabited building, in a very ruinous condition. It was necessary to re-glaze the windows in many places, to fill up the holes in the marble pavement with bricks, and to hire the necessary furniture, chandeliers, seats, music desks, &c. &c. But it was first of all especially necessary to cleanse the palace, from the entrance to the saloon, from the filth with which the esplanade and the handsome flight of marble steps ornamented with statues were filled in such a manner, that whole cart-loads of it required to be carried away. I was also first obliged to find one by one singers and musicians in the immense city, and to engage them for my concert, all of which occupied a great deal of time. Until the day of the concert, and even on that itself till the evening, I was in continual anxiety lest a refusal of my request should arrive and overthrow every thing I had done. But the police were so humane, that they did not forward this to me till the day after the concert when I had already in hand a satisfactory return in the shape of receipts. I was hereby relieved of great uneasiness and one which until then had greatly embittered my stay in Rome. My travelling funds had come to so low an ebb, from the hitherto scanty receipts from my concerts in Italy, that I saw with alarm they would in no manner suffice for an extension of our journey to Naples, and scarcely even for a direct return to Germany. To be so near to Naples, the most desired object of the whole journey, and now to turn back—that was a reflexion too fearful for me to bear with calmness! I therefore conceived the idea of applying to the Beer family, which had meanwhile arrived from Venice, for a loan. Intimate as was my friendship with the son Meyer Beer (afterwards Meyerbeer) I could nevertheless not overcome my reluctance to express my wish on the subject, and applied therefore in preference to a rich friend of mine in Alsace, who[Pg 49] however, as it frequently happens with such applications, paid no attention to it. But now, thanks to the handsome receipts which my concert had brought in, all prospect of pecuniary want was dissipated, and I could venture upon the further journey to Naples without anxiety. This was nevertheless delayed by the illness of my children till the latter end of January; and as Dorette, wholly occupied with attending to them, could now no longer accompany me in my excursions, I kept frequent company with the Beer family, and they having arrived later, I could now serve them as Cicerone. Of an evening, when the light no longer permitted anything more to be seen (for the theatres were still closed during Advent), the three sons accompanied me sometimes to my lodgings, and we then shortened the long evenings with a game at whist. As it was at that time, however, very cold in Rome, and there was no means of heating my room, we used to set ourselves down in my enormous bed with our backs turned to the four cardinal points, with the leaf of a table between us, and in that manner played our rubber in comfortable warmth and in the best humour.

Of my stay in Naples, the following incident is to be added.

On the day of my first concert, I received in the green-room of the San Carlo theatre, a visit from the celebrated singer Crescentini, whom I had already become acquainted with in Rome. After he had said many very complimentary things relative to my play and my compositions, he made the following proposition to me. The present director, Zingarelli, who, with his religious turn of mind, was very unremitting in praying with his pupils, but who practised them in music very little, was to be pensioned off, and he, Crescentini was applying for the appointment. But as he understood nothing of instrumental music, the Neapolitan minister contemplated appointing a second director for that, and had thought of me, as my play and my compositions had quite enchanted him at my concert on the previous day. If therefore I felt disposed to make an application for the place, I was to accompany him imme[Pg 50]diately to the minister, where further proposals would be made to me. This took place. I returned to Dorette highly satisfied with the propositions of the minister, and we were not a little pleased at the thoughts of taking up our home in such a paradise as Naples. But week after week passed away, without any further communication from the minister, and we learned from Crescentini that the whole project had been abandoned by reason of the expense it would entail. We dared not therefore delay any longer the period of our departure, for I again found that my treasury was so decreased by our numerous excursions in the environs of Naples, which we had made in the company of our Silesian friends, and of which I was always obliged to bear half the expenses, that my means would scarcely suffice for the return journey to Switzerland.

This calculation proved indeed but too correct; for on our arrival at Geneva, my funds were completely exhausted. As my concert there also brought in but very little, and I knew beforehand that with the then (in the spring of 1817) prevailing famine in Switzerland, but very little was to be earned in the other Swiss towns, I for the first time in my life experienced the bitter anxiety arising from a want of the means of subsistence. It is true we possessed some valuables which had been presented to us at several courts; but the bare thought of being obliged to sell or to pledge these, was still much too painful to our feelings. Necessity, however, compelled us to do so. I was just on the point of looking for a place where money was advanced upon pledges, when Dorette suggested that it would be preferable to reveal our position to the most friendly of all our acquaintances there, the Pastor Gerlach, and offered to go to him herself, as I had not the courage to do so. She took with her her handsomest ornament, a diadem of brilliants, a present from the Queen of Bavaria, and proceeded to the reverend gentleman’s house. Never in all my life did I pass such painful moments as those which elapsed during her absence. At length, after a seemingly never-ending half hour, she returned, and brought back the pledge—but with[Pg 51] it the sum necessary for the prosecution of our further journey. She was still in a state of excitement from a fright she had experienced there. While, with the greatest embarrassment and with faltering lips, she disclosed to the Pastor our momentary necessities, and made a request for a loan upon the pledge she proferred, he had suddenly burst into a loud fit of laughter and vanished into an adjoining room. But before she had time to reflect upon the meaning of this outburst of hilarity, which seemed to her so greatly out of place, he returned bringing the required sum, and said to her in the kindest manner: “I am delighted that the worthy pair of artists have afforded me so great a pleasure as to render them a service; but how could you think that a clergyman would lend upon pledges like a jew?”

Thus, then, our immediate wants were relieved and we could resume our journey. We now first went to Thierachern to fetch our carriage and the harp, which we had left there the previous autumn. As Dorette required a little time to get her hand again into play upon her instrument, and we did not moreover require to hurry, as the favorable period for concert-giving was passed, we stayed there a fortnight, practised again each forenoon our duets for harp and violin, and in the afternoons, favoured by the most beautiful spring weather, visited once more all our former favorite spots. At length, however, we were obliged to make up our minds to leave the paradise of Thierachern and proceed further upon our artistic tour. In Switzerland we met with very little success, for the permission to give public concerts was everywhere refused on account of the prevailing famine, and it was permitted in Zurich only because we there offered to hand over a part of the proceeds to the poor. I there played for the first time since my return to Germany my vocal scena and a solo-quartet (Op. 43) that I had begun in Italy and finished in Thierachern; both compositions were received with very great applause. But with that I was obliged to content myself; for the receipts from this concert were far below those of the previous year. I could not therefore[Pg 52] keep my promise as to time, in the repayment of the sum borrowed in Geneva, which gave me much uneasiness. But the Pastor Gerlach, upon my communicating to him the reason, in excuse for my failure, returned the most satisfactory reply, and I could thus proceed on my journey with a mind more at ease.

But even in Germany also, where we gave concerts in Freiburg, Carlsruhe, Wiesbaden, Ems, and Aix-la-Chapelle, the receipts were but middling, on account of the generally prevailing distress, so that they scarcely covered our travelling expenses; and not until we reached the last-named town, where our play produced a great sensation and enabled us to give three very numerously attended concerts, did sufficient remain to enable us to liquidate my debt to Gerlach.

From Naples to Aix-la-chapelle we had now travelled for four months continually in the direction from south to north, without stopping very long anywhere. We had therefore found everywhere beyond and on this side of the Alps, the trees in bloom, and thus enjoyed an extension of the spring season in a degree such as it has never since been our lot to know. At Aix-la-Chapelle we arrived in the height of summer, and in the middle of the bathing season. For our farther journey to Holland this was the most unfavourable time for concert-giving, and I therefore resolved to stop some weeks in Aix-la-Chapelle. We had there become acquainted with several zealous musical amateurs, at whose houses music parties were frequently given. I had also found some good quartet-accompaniers with whom I practised my Vienna quartets and quintets; and as they were greatly admired by all who heard them, I gave them frequently.

We thus passed the time of our stay in Aix-la-Chapelle in a very pleasant manner, equally divided between work and pleasure. The instruction of the children, which indeed had never entirely ceased during the whole journey, for we used to give them instruction even in the carriage as we travelled along, was now resumed with more earnestness and regularity.[Pg 53] I also began to compose again, and wrote there the first number of my four-voice songs for men’s voices (Op. 44) of which Gœthe’sDem Schnee, dem Regen” became afterwards a favorite table song.

Towards autumn we continued our journey to Holland, and on our way thither first gave some concerts at Cologne and Dusseldorf which were very well attended. Thence we proceeded to Cleves, where we made the acquaintance of the notary, Mr. Thomae, a zealous friend of art and a distinguished dilettante, who played several instruments. In his house we had music very frequently, and the two families, inclusive of the children, soon became so attached that they formed a life-enduring friendship. Through this circumstance our stay in Cleves became so attractive that we took leave of the friendly little town and its charming environs with much reluctance.

The fame of the Spohr artist-couple had however not yet reached Holland, and we were therefore first obliged to break ground there. In this however we soon succeeded. In that wealthy land, favourably disposed towards German art and German artists, we made a great sensation, and consequent thereon also a flourishing business. We had already played at Rotterdam and the Hague, and had just arrived at Amsterdam, where we had also already made our appearance in Felix meritis and had afterwards given a concert upon our own account, when I received a letter from Mr. Ihlée, director of the theatre at Frankfort on the Main, in which, on the part of the shareholders of that theatre, he offered me the appointment of director of the opera and music, and in case of my acceptance thereof, added the request that I would enter upon it with all possible despatch. The terms, it is true, were not so brilliant as those of my Vienna appointment, but sufficient nevertheless to maintain a family. Certainly I should have liked to have continued my artistic tour, in which I took great pleasure, at least till the spring; but they were very pressing in Frankfort, and Dorette longed once more for domestic repose. I therefore consented without further hesitation and set[Pg 54] out immediately upon the return journey. At Cleves, where we alighted at the friendly house of the Thomae family, we were forced, despite the pressing urgency to accelerate our journey, to stop a few days. Although it was now mid-winter, every thing was again done to make our stay agreeable. Music parties, sledge excursions and other amusements succeeded each other alternately. On the evening before our departure, as we sat at the supper-table, cracking nuts and thinking regretfully of the approaching parting, my friend Thomae made the proposal that the Spohr family, as a memorial of their presence there, should plant one of the nuts in the garden. This proposition was received with general acclamation. Upon a spade being brought, both families, wrapped in warm cloaks, repaired in procession to the garden, in the very centre of which, after I had cleared away the snow, I dug a hole, in which the children planted the nut. In the following spring the appearance of the germ above ground was announced to us at Frankfort. This, carefully protected by a circular fence, grew by degrees to a fine tree, and even now (1852) the Thomae family, as one of the sons not long since informed me, thinks with pleasurable feelings of that evening and the absent friends.

In Frankfort I was received by the shareholders of the theatre and by the whole company of the theatre and orchestra in the most friendly manner. A dinner was given in my honour in the saloon of the “Weidenbusch,” at which the usual toasts were given and speeches made in due form. The orchestra, which, under the able direction of its previous leader Mr. Schmitt, had acquired the reputation of being one of the best in Germany, I found somewhat deteriorated, from his long illness. But as a ready disposition was shewn by all to meet my wishes and arrangements, and as they soon accustomed themselves to my method of directing, the former ensemble was soon re-established. My predecessor had led with the violin, and by the wish of the singers I began also in the same manner, indicating the time with the bow, and keeping[Pg 55] the violin ready at hand, in order to assist with that when necessary. But I soon accustomed them to so precise a practise of their parts that such assistance as that was soon no longer necessary. I now laid the violin aside and directed in the French style, with the bâton.

The routine of business on the Frankfort stage was at that time as follows: the managers chosen by the shareholders, met every week the technical directors (Mr. Ihlée for the drama and I for the opera) at a sitting at which the programme for the week was agreed upon and everything concerning the management arranged. The præses, or senior of this directory, was a merchant of the name of Leers, who liked the office and therefore always managed to be re-elected. In the course of time he had acquired a certain tact in the routine of managing the theatre, and spoke usually therefore in a very decided tone. His whole endeavour was directed to economy, in order to diminish the yearly recurring deficit of from 14 to 17,000 florins, which the shareholders were obliged to cover. He liked best the singers, performers and musicians, who engaged at the lowest salaries, and in the choice of the operas and plays which were to be given he always decided upon those which would entail the least expense. Ihlée and I had also an especial interest in getting rid of the deficit, as we had a share in any overplus secured to us by agreement: but we thought this would be much more surely attained if an endeavour was made to raise the character of the theatre by engaging distinguished talent and the representation of classical works. We were therefore frequently in opposition to Mr. Leers and his colleagues, and one of them only, Mr. Clement Brentano, entertained the same opinion as ourselves. But he seldom succeeded in obtaining the victory for it, as it was always his custom to defend it merely with light sallies of wit and sarcasm. The animosity which sprung out of this difference of opinion between Mr. Leers and myself was not perceptible, however, till a later period, for at first we agreed very well. It was therefore not[Pg 56] very difficult for me to obtain the consent of the managers to bring out my opera “Faust.” I was very desirous of at length hearing this work, which I had written five years before at Vienna, and I hastened all the preparations as much as possible. As there was no baritone among the singers of the theatre who could satisfactorily take the part of Faust, I was obliged to give it to the tenor, Mr. Schelble, afterwards the founder and director of the society of St. Cecilia, who possessed in his mezzo-tenore, the necessary compass as also the requisite skill in execution. After the rehearsals had commenced, Schelble expressed the wish that I would write another air for him which would shew his voice off to more advantage than those which were in the opera. As I found a suitable place for its introduction immediately after the duet at the commencement, and Mr. George Döring (hautboy of the orchestra and subsequently a much admired romance writer) furnished me with appropriate words for it, I was very pleased to be enabled to satisfy Schelble’s wish. This air: “Liebe ist die zarte Blüthe” (Love is the tender blossom), which was afterwards so frequently sung at concerts, and innumerable times in London by Pischek, is therefore the first thing I composed in Frankfort. Meanwhile the study of the opera had proceeded so well that it could be announced and performed for the first time in March (1818). At first, it is true, it pleased the great majority less than the connoisseurs, but with each representation gained more admirers; so that from that time it has remained almost constantly in the repertorium of the Frankfort stage, and has been studied anew after short intervals.

This success encouraged me to new dramatic compositions. I therefore looked about me for the materials for a work of the kind, and found one that suited me in Appel’s book of ghost stories, in the tale called “Der schwarze Jäger” (the black huntsman). Döring, with whom I spoke upon the subject, offered to work it out as an opera. We devised together a plot which differed chiefly from Kind’s text-book (which was at that time as yet unknown to us) in this, that we retained[Pg 57] the tragical conclusion of the story. As soon as Döring had written the first scenes, I immediately set about the composition. The introduction was already for the most part sketched out, when the celebrated tragedian Madame Schröder, and her daughter, the afterwards more celebrated Schröder-Devrient, came to Frankfort, and during her visit saw the work I was engaged upon on the piano. They then informed that C. M. von Weber was composing music for the same subject as an opera, and had already finished the first act. This induced me to lay my work aside, as I had reason to fear Weber would come forward with his opera much earlier than I. As it afterwards proved, however, such was not the case; for the “Freischütz” appeared first in 1820, and my opera “Zelmira and Azor,” which I began almost a year later, was already given on the 4th April 1819. Nevertheless I have not regretted that I abandoned the materials of Appel’s story, for with my music, which is not adapted to please the multitude and excite the popular enthusiasm, I should never have met with the unexampled success that the “Freischütz” met with.

As I was now again obliged to look about me for a libretto, I began meanwhile to write quartets. The chief reason for this was the solicitation of some lovers of that kind of music to institute public-quartet performances, which had not hitherto been given in Frankfort. At these I wished also to be enabled to bring forward some new compositions, and for that purpose I wrote in the course of the summer the three quartets (Op. 45). When I played the first of these at a musical soirée at Schelble’s, Jean Paul was one of the audience. He appeared to interest himself very much for this new composition and ascribed to it a highly poetical signification, of which while composing it I certainly never thought, but which recurred in a very striking manner to my mind at every subsequent performance of the quartet.

On the 29th July 1818 my family was again increased by the birth of a little daughter, who was christened by the name of Theresa after her godmother Mrs. Thomae of Cleves, and[Pg 58] was held over the font by my friend Speyer. Dorette now felt very happy at having a permanent-dwelling place, so as to be able to devote herself wholly to the care of the new visitor.

In the autumn began the first set of the public quartets in the little saloon of the “Rothes Haus.” The assistants were: second violin the concertmaster Mr. Hofmann, viol Mr. Bayer, violoncello Mr. Hasemann, at that time bass-trumpet of the orchestra, and afterwards first violincellist of the Cassel orchestra. I brought forward some quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and some of my own, which we had practised in the most careful manner in two rehearsals. They made therefore a great sensation by the precision of their execution, and were so well received that in the course of the winter another set could be given.

In September 1818 I began also the composition of the new opera. Mr. Ihlée had proposed as subject the text of the formerly very much admired opera “La Belle et la Bête,” by Gretry. As this at that time had wholly disappeared from the German repertory, and was wholly unknown to the younger generation, I readily assented to the proposition; for from my earliest youth I had a predeliction for this tale, and even remembered an air of Gretry’s opera, that namely of Zelmira with the echo, which as a boy I had frequently heard my mother sing, and also sung myself. Herr Ihlée offered to alter the text to the style of the modern opera, which, as he well understood stage business, he did greatly to my satisfaction.—At that time Rossini’s music became then first known in Germany, and “Tancred” in particular brought down a very storm of applause in Frankfort. Almost at every sitting of the theatre I was obliged to hear from Mr. Leers the words: “That is an opera that pleases and attracts the public, you must bring out more of that kind!”—Little as I was an admirer of Rossini’s music, as the severe criticism thereof in the diary of the Italian journey shews, yet the applause which “Tancred” had met with in Frankfort was not wholly without influence on the style of my new opera. I was further[Pg 59]more induced to this by the considerable power of execution possessed by four singers (Miss Friedel, the sisters Campagnoli, and Mr. Schelble) who were at my command. This explains why the music to “Zelmira and Azor” has so much colouring and vocal ornamentation in the parts sustained by the three sisters, and that of Azor. The opera was studied most attentively by the singers and the orchestra, and met with great success at the very first representation, indeed a more general one than “Faust,” which however, at a later period, both in Frankfort and the rest of Germany, reassumed the place in public estimation which its real merits as an opera more properly justified.

During the course of the winter I gave another concert with my wife, for which I had written a new sonata for harp and violin. As, since I had once more a fixed residence, pupils again presented themselves, both native and foreign, I was overburdened with work the whole winter. When spring at length came I was therefore very desirous of a little rest and I was well pleased when four of my earlier musical friends of Rudolstadt, Messrs. von Holleben, Müller, Sommer and Methfessel, came to Frankfort and urged me to accompany them to Mannheim, where a musical festival was to take place. I managed to get leave of absence for eight days, and joined the party. From Darmstadt, where the charming mountain-road begins, we went on foot to Heidelberg, and carried our necessary luggage in knapsacks, on our backs. Three of the Rudolstädter, Müller, Sommer and von Holleben, who were first-rate harmonists, had strapped their horns upon their knapsacks, and Methfessel, who accompanied our four-part songs with the guitar, carried his instrument slung by a band over his shoulders. In this manner our travelling-party, notwithstanding their respectable exterior, had completely the appearance of an itinerant music-band, and as, in high and jocund spirits, we always entered all the villages and small towns either playing or singing, we had always a long train of jovial listeners, and numerous applications to “strike up,” which, to the great regret of the[Pg 60] applicants, were of course not complied with. We made short stages, and ascended the ruins of several castles which lay near our road. There we partook of the meal brought with us from the neighbouring inn and seasoned it with horn-music, song and mirthful jest. On the third day we arrived at Heidelberg, where we visited the castle. A flourish of horns soon brought a number of hearers around us, who were highly delighted with our four-part songs and Methfessel’s comic lyrics. As we had inscribed our names in the visitors’ book, it soon became known in the town that I and some musical friends were on our way to the festival at Mannheim, and in the evening a deputation from the Heidelberg musical society made its appearance at our inn with an invitation to make the passage to Mannheim the next morning on board the society’s vessel. We consented with very great pleasure.

This voyage was the most brilliant episode in the whole journey. When I and my companions set foot on board the vessel, which was dressed out with festoons of flowers up to the top of the mast, we were welcomed in the most friendly manner by the already assembled male and female singers, with a choral-song. While the boat was passing directly afterwards between high rocky banks on either side, which threw back the echo, the Rudolstädter first returned the compliment with their horns, which had a fine effect there. Then followed our songs, and Methfessel again distinguished himself in particular by the execution of his humorous songs, which he accompanied in a masterly manner on the guitar. These put the whole company in the merriest mood. As we drew near the end of our journey we were met and welcomed by the Mannheim musical society on board several boats decorated with flags and flowers. My presence on board the Heidelberg boat was already known. The committee of the festival therefore saluted me and my companions, and presented us with tickets of admission to the rehearsals and performances. To me even apartments were offered in a private house, which I was however obliged to decline, as it would separate me from[Pg 61] my companions. As soon as we had landed, therefore, we sought for an inn. Unfortunately, however, we found it already so full of visitors that we were obliged all five to accommodate ourselves in one room, and the next day the crowd of applicants for lodging was so great that we had great difficulty in protecting our room from the invasion of yet more guests. In the evening, since, as may be readily supposed, beds were not to be had, we lay down contented beside each other on some clean straw, nor was our good humour in the least disturbed thereby.

As regards the musical performances, I now only recollect that I and my companions, who, together with me, had assisted at the festival at Frankenhausen, were not so satisfied with the effect of the music here as there, which can alone be accounted for by the circumstance that the performance at Frankenhausen took place in the church, a place sonorous and well adapted on account of its excellent acoustic qualities, while at Mannheim they were given in the theatre.

On the third day we set out upon our return journey. As the road from Mannheim to Mayence would have been too uninteresting to travel on foot, we hired a boat with two vigorous rowers, and went by water. But in this way also the journey was rather tedious. We had, moreover, passed the previous night at a ball, and felt very tired; it was therefore no wonder that we sought to make up for the lost night’s rest, and passed the greater part of the time in sleep. On our arrival at Mayence we nevertheless met with a little adventure which put us in the merriest mood during the last hours of our being together. Evening was drawing in when, after our landing, we proceeded to look for the best inn in the town. Just as we were about to enter it, in the already described dress of travelling musicians, the host, who was looking out of the window, called out to us in an angry tone of voice: “Be off with you! we don’t take in such people as you!” This style of address amused me amazingly, as I had frequently joked my companions upon their dress, and laughing, I called out to[Pg 62] Mr. von Holleben: “High warden of forests, did you hear that? they will not take us in here; we must look for another inn!” But the host, startled at hearing my friend addressed by such a grand title, darted down-stairs in a minute and made his appearance immediately in the street, and with bows innumerable entreated the gentlemen to walk in and graciously pardon his silly mistake! As we followed him into the house and were all ushered by him into the well-lighted dining room, his embarrassment was ludicrous in the extreme: our highly respectable appearance seemed now to allay all his fears, when the unlucky horns strapped upon the knapsacks, and Methfessel’s guitar suspended from his neck, excited new doubts as to whether we were guests worthy of entertainement in his house. But when we ordered three rooms with wax lights (which latter I purposely mentioned), five beds and a good supper, all uttered in the curt imperative tone of persons of importance, his last lingering scruples vanished, and his whole demeanour became thenceforth cringingly servile. This specimen of the mean vulgarity of innkeeper-nature amused us long, and was subject of mirth up to the last moment of our being together. The next morning, as my leave of absence was expired, I returned to Frankfort and the Rudolstädter continued their journey down the Rhine, as they had proposed.

As I entered my house, the children ran joyfully to meet me, but my wife, who had been in very low spirits at our parting the week before, was now suffering extremely from the shock sustained from a fright. In order that the reader may understand the cause of this, I must advert to some previous incidents that had occurred while in Frankfort.

In the latter part of the autumn of 1818 Turner, a player on the hautboy, came to Frankfort. I had previously known him in Brunswick, where we were both members of the orchestra. Already at that time Turner distinguished himself greatly by his skill upon that instrument, as also by his talent for composition. Upon his subsequent travels, particularly while in Vienna, where he lived some time, he had acquired[Pg 63] the reputation of being the first of living hautboyists. At the same time, however, many strange stories were current of his residence there; of a liaison with a lady of rank, whom he afterwards accused of having given him poison in a cup of coffee. A criminal inquiry was instituted, whereat it was elicited that he had periodical fits of insanity, at which times he was possessed with the fixed idea of being poisoned. These relations concerning him, which passed from mouth to mouth, imparted to him a certain interest, and his concerts were on that account most numerously attended. I found him on his arrival in Frankfort—for he immediately paid me a visit—more earnest and reserved, it is true, than when I was previously acquainted with him in Brunswick, but otherwise remarked nothing whatever peculiar in him. As his play pleased very much, and as I knew moreover that his orchestral skill was very great, and as from George Döring’s retirement from the orchestra (he had now thought of devoting himself entirely to authorship), a vacancy had occurred for a hautboy player—I proposed at the next sitting of the theatrical committee that Turner should be engaged as first hautboy. The salary he asked was not unusually high, and therefore the proposition met with no opposition, even Mr. Leers himself making no objection. Turner took his place therefore in the orchestra, and proved a real acquisition by the tasteful execution of his soli and by his fine tone. After some time, however, a remarkable melancholy was observed in him, which gradually increased so much, that at length not a word above a whisper was to be got from him. Nevertheless he always performed his orchestral duties with punctuality, so that I hoped these periods of sadness would pass off without further results. Soon however they assumed the character of complete aberration of mind, in which the fixed idea of the Vienna poisoning again evinced itself. It was now full time to remove him from the orchestra, to prevent the possibility of some unpleasant occurrence. Döring, a near relation of Turner’s, undertook to provide for him and get him cured, and engaged also to temporarily[Pg 64] fill his place. The malady now soon increased with such violence, that it was necessary to have him constantly watched by keepers. One evening, nevertheless, he succeeded in escaping from them scarcely half-clothed. During a violent snow-storm he wandered about in the open fields half the night, nor did he return home till towards morning, covered with a thick crust of snow and ice. As he had immediately gone to bed in this condition, the doctor found him in the morning bathed in perspiration and in a violent fever. This perhaps, however, brought about a crisis, for from that day he got better, and he was soon enabled to resume his duties in the orchestra with fully restored sanity of mind. I remarked, nevertheless, that for about eight days in every month, and always with the moon’s increase, he was visited by a slight return of his melancholy madness, which announced itself beforehand by a fixed look and a certain feverish restlessness. I then, with Döring’s assistance, managed to keep him away from the orchestra for a few days, until his more cheerful look bespoke anew his recovery. In this manner Turner performed his duties up to the summer and it was hoped that by degrees he would also be cured of these slighter attacks also. In the latter part of this time he again, as formerly, called upon me now and then, and even spent the evening with me, and demeaned himself in a friendly manner towards my wife, and shewed much interest in the children. When therefore I went to Mannheim with my Rudolstädt friends, it did not at first appear at all strange to Dorette to see him walk one morning into the room; but as, without any salutation or uttering a word, he sat down opposite to her and gazed upon her with his eyes fixed, she began to feel uneasy, and was at length seized with fear. As she was quite alone with him (the children being at school) she was about to call in a needlewoman, who was sewing in the adjoining room; but scarcely had she risen than he also sprang up and clasped her in his arms. With a shriek of terror she tore herself from his grasp, rushed into the adjoining room, the door of which the sempstress had then[Pg 65] just opened, and she succeeded in closing and bolting the door before Turner could follow her. There was, however, unfortunately no further issue from this room, and the two terrified women found themselves besieged by the madman. His endeavours to force the lock they met by pressing against the door with their whole weight, and all the strength which terror imparted to them; and succeeded, for after a few vain efforts he abandoned his purpose, ran down the stairs and out of the house. Dorette now felt about to faint, was obliged to send for the doctor, and kept her bed for some days. After my return, her pleasure thereat and the assurance of again being under my protection, soon restored her, and thus this circumstance was fortunately attended by no worse results. For the unfortunate young man this last violent outbreak of his malady entailed his discharge by the directors of the theatre. After again recovering, he went to Holland, and at first gave there several concerts in which he was greatly applauded, and which were also very remunerative; but upon a fresh attack was put into a mad house, where he soon afterwards died. The world lost in him a very great musical genius, the full development of which was barred by the sad affliction that befel him.

Meanwhile the acrimony of feeling that existed between Mr. Leers and myself became constantly more apparent, and a sitting of the directors seldom passed over without a regular dispute. He asserted that I required too much time for the study and production of new pieces because I was too fastidious in the matter. He expressed the opinion, that a new opera ought to be studied every fortnight, or at least an old one completed in those parts that required to be newly filled up. In vain I represented to him, that it was impossible for an opera that was carelessly studied to go off well, and therefore that it never could give satisfaction; that once brought into discredit, it would draw no audience, and then the time and money expended upon it would be sheer waste. With this self-willed, obstinate man, who, moreover, before[Pg 66] my appointment had never met with any opposition in the management, every sensible representation was ineffectual; and as I would not allow any opera to be brought out until it had been studied thoroughly as far as the means and strength of the company allowed, our contest never ceased. This, together with an intimation made by Mr. Leers at a general meeting of the shareholders, “that for their theatre they did not require a musical artist of eminence, but merely a good indefatigable workman, who would devote his whole time and energies to the theatre,” induced me to give in my resignation at the next meeting of the committee, to date from the end of September (1819). The news of this soon spread through the town, and excited general regret among the lovers of music. Börne, in his journal “The Balance” gave expression to his sentiments on the subject, and indeed in a by no means gentle manner towards the theatrical-committee of management. I left Frankfort with a light heart, for my summons to that town had only been an interruption to the gratification of my love of travelling; but my good wife was very grieved at it—she who looked forward to the consequent separation from the children, as these, from requiring now a regular school education, could no longer be taken with us on our artistic tours. But I consoled her nevertheless with the promise that she should always pass the summer months with her children, and only travel with me during a period of from four to five months in the winter. Before my departure from Frankfort I had accepted an engagement from the Philharmonic Society of London for the next season of the sitting of Parliament, which engagement was offered me by Ferdinand Ries, the celebrated pianist and composer, in the name of the society. This had been instituted but a few years before by from twelve to sixteen of the most eminent musical artists in London: Clementi, the two Cramers, Moscheles, Ries, Potter, Smart, and others, with the object of giving every year eight grand concerts during the season. Notwithstanding the very high price of admission, the number of subscribers was so[Pg 67] great, that many hundreds of those who had inscribed their names could not obtain seats at the commencement of the season, and could obtain them only by degrees in the course of the summer. The funds of the society were therefore so great, that they could not only engage the first artists and singers in London for the soli in their concerts, but the most reputed musicians on the Continent.—In this manner I was also engaged for the season of 1820, and for a considerable remuneration, which secured to me the expenses of the journey thither and return, and the expenses of a four months’ residence in London, I undertook the performance of a fourfold duty. I was required, namely, to direct some of the eight concerts, to play soli in some, to assist in all of them as orchestra violinist, and lastly to leave in the hands of the society as their own property one of my orchestral compositions. At the same time a benefit concert was also insured to me in the rooms of the society, with the joint assistance of the orchestra. Although my wife was not included in this engagement, yet I could not make up my mind to leave her behind me for four long months. It was therefore resolved, on consulting with my family, that my wife should accompany me and make her appearance as artiste in London at least in my own concerts. As the season commenced in the middle of February, and therefore the sea-passage would be made at the roughest time of the year, we resolved, in order to shorten it as much as possible, to go by way of Calais; and in order to be enabled to give concerts on the journey in the Belgian and French towns, to set out six or eight weeks earlier. We first proceeded to Gandersheim to my parents, who had undertaken the care and education of the children during the winter, and then set out upon an artistic tour to Hamburg, where we gave two concerts with very great success. I played there, before highly respectable audiences, my new quartets, which had been previously published there: they were exceedingly well accompanied, and as violinist upon those occasions I made the most sensation with[Pg 68] my two solo-quartets. I played likewise a few times the two quintets, and I found the passion for this kind of music to be greater here than anywhere else, except perhaps in Vienna. In the catalogue of my compositions, Goethe’s ballad “Wenn die Reben blühen” is enumerated as composed by me in Hamburg, but I do not now recollect the reason of its being so designated.

We then proceeded to Berlin, Dresden, Leipsic, Cassel, and other places, in all of which we gave concerts, but respecting all of them I now no longer remember anything particular. Of our performances in Berlin one of the newspapers gave a most favourable notice.

In Brussels we found another travelling artist-couple who, like ourselves, gave performances on the harp and violin. They were Monsieur Alexandre Boucher and wife from Paris. I had already heard a good deal about him and was therefore very desirous of making his personal acquaintance. Boucher had the reputation of being a distinguished violinist, but a great charlatan also. He bore a striking resemblance to Napoleon, both in the features of his face and in his figure, and did his best to turn this resemblance to account. He had acquired by study the deportment of the exiled emperor, his way of wearing his hat, and of taking a pinch of snuff with the greatest possible exactitude. When on his artistic tours he arrived in a town where he was unknown, he immediately presented himself with these acquired arts on the public promenade or in the theatre, in order to attract the notice of the public and to be talked about; he even endeavoured to spread the report that he was persecuted by the present sovereign and driven from France on account of his resemblance to Napoleon, because it brought back the recollection of the beloved exile to the mind of the people. In Lille, at least, as I there afterwards learned, he had announced his concert in the following manner: “Une malheureuse ressemblance me force de m’expatrier; je donnerai donc, avant de quitter ma belle patrie, un concert d’adieux,” etc. That an[Pg 69]nouncement had contained also some similar charlatanerie, as follows: “Je jouerai ce fameux concerto de Viotti en mi-mineur, dont l’éxécution à Paris m’a gagné le surnom: l’Alexandre des violons.”

I was just on the point of calling upon Monsieur Boucher, when he anticipated me by paying me a visit. He offered in a most friendly manner to assist me in the arrangements for my concert, and shewed himself in every respect, deduction made of his self-glorification, a very amiable man. He introduced us to several families who were lovers of music, who then by inviting us to their musical parties, procured for us the opportunity of hearing the Boucher-couple. Both shewed in their joint performances great skill; but all the compositions they played were poor and barren, and of those of Monsieur Boucher himself I no longer recollect anything. At first Monsieur Boucher played a quartet of Haydn, but introduced so many irrelevant and tasteless ornaments, that it was impossible for me to feel any pleasure in it. The manner in which Boucher allowed himself to be waited upon by his wife on these occasions was remarkable. When he had taken his seat at the quartet desk, she would ask him for the key of the violin-case, open it, bring him his violin, then the bow, which she had previously resined; she then laid the music before him and lastly seated herself near him, to turn over the pages. When we were then invited to play, the whole of this process was inverted; for I not only fetched my own instrument, but took my wife’s harp out of the case also, led her to the seat where she was to play and then tuned up, all of which in the previous performance had been the business of Madame Boucher. But I took upon me the tuning of the harp upon every appearance in public, not only to save my wife the trouble, but also to bring the instrument to a perfectly pure and tempered pitch, which, as is well known, is not so easy a matter. We played one of our brillant duets, and met with great applause. Boucher in particular seemed charmed with my play, and he may perhaps have meant it[Pg 70] with some sincerity; for in a letter of recommendation which he gave me to Baron d’Assignies in Lille, and which the latter shewed to me as a curiosity, after describing the characteristics of my play; he said: “Enfin, si je suis, comme on le prétend, le Napoléon des violons, Mr. Spohr est bien le Moreau!

My concert took place in the new large theatre and met with marked approbation; but the receipts, after deduction of the very considerable expenses, were but small, for our fame had not yet reached Brussels. It is true we were invited by lovers of music and the public journals to give a second concert; but as a favourable day did not immediately offer, and our stay at the chief hotel where we had stopped was very expensive, we preferred setting out immediately on our journey to Lille.

Arrived there, my first visit was to Monsieur Vogel, who had been mentioned to me as the best violinist in the town and as director of the dilettanti-concerts. I did not find him at home, but Madame Vogel, who received me in a very cordial manner. When I told her my name, her face became animated, and she anxiously inquired whether I was the composer of the nonette, the theme of which she sang to me. As I smiling replied yes, with an outburst of French vivacity she threw her arms round my neck, and exclaimed: “Oh how delighted my husband well be, car il est fou de votre Nonetto!” I had scarcely returned to the inn, when Monsieur Vogel appeared with a countenance lit up with pleasure, and welcomed me with the warmth of an old friend. In the house of this amiable couple we passed some very happy hours, and gave a concert in the saloon of the dilettanti society, the arrangements for which were made by Monsieur Vogel, the whole of the members of the society being desirous to hear the composer of the so frequently performed nonette play in person. The joint play of my wife and self was especially received with such enthusiastic acclamation, that the day was immediately fixed for a second concert. Some lovers of music from the neighbouring town of Douay, who had come over to the con[Pg 71]cert, invited us in the name of the musical society of that place to give a concert in Douay also, and insured to us the sale of 400 tickets at five francs each. I had therefore the finest prospect of carrying from Lille plenty of money, when an unexpected occurrence quashed all my hopes. The carriage was already packed and we were on the point of starting for Douay, when the report was spread in the town that the telegraph had just announced from Paris the assassination of the Duke de Berri. It was not long before placards were posted at the corners of the streets by order of the mayoralty, announcing officially this mournful intelligence to the inhabitants of Lille. As all concert-giving was now necessarily suspended throughout France, but the period of my engagement in London not yet arrived, I was easily induced by Messrs. Vogel, d’Assignies, and other lovers of music, to remain yet longer in Lille. Private musical parties now took place almost daily, and I had thus an opportunity of performing all my quartets, quintets, and compositions for the harp to this circle of enthusiastic lovers of music. I found on these occasions a very sympathetic and graceful auditory, and therefore still recall with infinite pleasure the remembrance of those musical soirées. At these many other interesting things were related to me concerning Boucher. Among others, upon one occasion, in the midst of his play, when according to his idea something had gone wrong, he suddenly ceased playing, and without paying any regard to those who accompanied him, he again repeated the unlucky passage, addressing himself aloud with the words: “Cela n’a pas réussi; allons, Boucher, encore une fois!” The termination of his second and last concert was also of a highly comic character. As his concluding subject he played a rondo of his own composition which had at the end an impromptu cadence. At the rehearsal he had begged the gentlemen dilettanti to fall in right vigorously with their final tutti immediately after the shake of his cadence, and added that he would give them the signal by stamping with his foot. In the evening, when this concluding piece began,[Pg 72] it was already very late, and the dilettanti were growing impatient to get home to supper. But when the cadence in which Boucher as usual exhibited all his artistic tours de force seemed never likely to end, some of the gentlemen put their instruments into their cases and slipped out. This was so infectious, that in a few minutes the whole orchestra had disappeared. Boucher, who in the enthusiasm of his play had observed nothing of this, lifted his foot already at the commencement of his concluding shake, in order to draw the attention of the orchestra beforehand to the agreed signal. When he had now concluded the shake he was fully satisfied of what would follow, namely the most vigorous entry of the orchestra and the burst of applause it was to bring down from the enraptured audience. His astonishment may therefore be imagined when all that fell upon his ear was the loud stamp of his own foot. Horrified he stared aghast around him, and beheld all the music desks abandoned. But the public, who had already prepared themselves to see this moment arrive, burst out into an uproarious laughter, in which Boucher, with the best stomach he could, was obliged to join.

The time for our departure for London had now arrived. As I was desirous of purchasing in London a new Erard harp with the improved double movement for my wife, we left the old instrument in the care of Monsieur Vogel. The family were very pleased at this, as they now reckoned with certainty upon seeing us again on our return journey.

Arrived in Calais, I immediately went to the packet-boat office to take our berth for the passage. Thence I took a walk to the port, to look at the vessel in which we were to sail in the afternoon. As I now, however, remarked that the sea, even in the inside of the harbour, was very rough, and ran so high outside that the waves broke high over the pier head, I lost all inclination to cross with the sea so stormy, and hastened back to the office, to have the berths taken transferred for the following day. In the afternoon while taking a walk in the town I took good care not to take my wife near[Pg 73] the sea, so that, dreading the passage as she already did, she might not observe how rough it was. The thoughts of being obliged to cross at so stormy a season of the year with my delicate and nervous wife disturbed my rest throughout the night; as soon as day broke I hastened therefore again down to the harbour to see whether the storm had not abated. It appeared to me to have done so, and I therefore fetched Dorette, brought her on board, and advised her to lie down in the cabin. A good-natured German who served as seaman on board this English packet-boat, promised me to take every care of her and bring her all she might require. This enabled me to go upon deck, where in the open air I hoped to be somewhat enabled to resist sea-sickness. Meanwhile the preparations were made for departure, and the vessel was towed out with long ropes close along the left-hand side jetty of the harbour by from sixty to eighty men. Scarcely, however, had she reached this, when a gigantic wave seized her and in a moment hurled her to the opposite side of the harbour, so that she was almost thrown against the extreme point of the right-hand pier. Immediately upon this the waves broke over the deck, and the hatches and cabin doors were obliged to be closed. Of all the passengers I was the only one who remained on deck, and had seated myself on a bench near the mast, round the foot of which was piled a high coil of cable. Here I hoped to be protected from the water that poured in torrents over the deck; but the waves soon broke in over the bows to such a height, that to prevent being completely drenched by them I was compelled to stand up upon the bench. I had not done this many times, before I found my strength fail me to repeat it; and in a short time therefore in spite of my thick cloak I found myself wet through to the skin, which made my already wretched condition but more distressing. In addition to this I was then seized with such violent cramp in the stomach from the straining which follows when the stomach has nothing more to yield, that I thought I should expire under it. Fortunately, however, favoured by the storm, the passage[Pg 74] was an unusually quick one. Nevertheless, the three hours of its duration seemed to me an eternity;—at length we arrived at Dover, but another misfortune awaited us here; for on account of the tide being at ebb, we could not enter the harbour, and were constrained to disembark the passengers in open boats in the offing. For this purpose as soon as we had cast anchor, the boats were lowered, and we were called to get into them to be put on shore in the harbour. I now saw my suffering fellow-passengers come from below, pale and trembling like ghosts from the grave, and it was very evident that they had not fared better in the cabin than I upon deck. At length, supported by the kind sailor, my poor wife appeared also, in a most suffering condition. I was just about to hasten to her, when a young and beautiful girl, whom I had already remarked, it is true, when we came on board, but who then did not think me worthy of a look, suddenly threw her arms round my neck, and without uttering a word, clung close to me. I readily guessed the motive of this extraordinary conduct. The poor, terrified creature had been a joint spectator of the manner in which the first passengers had been put on board the boat, and how when it had been lifted by the still surging waves as high as the deck of the vessel, it then sank as it were into an abyss, and was again lifted up, which was the moment seized by the sailors to thrust another passenger or pitch another object of luggage into it. This rough method of proceeding had so terrified her, that she left the arm of the female who accompanied her, and clung to me, whom she may have considered the strongest of the passengers. There was no time for explanation; I bore her therefore in my arms into the boat, and then hastened back to my wife, to put her also into it. Scarcely had I effected this without accident, when the still terrified fair one clung close to me anew, and indeed so as to excite Dorette’s extreme surprise. But the danger of the passage was too absorbing to permit of any remark on the subject, and upon landing the young girl had scarcely felt the firm ground under her feet than she left hold[Pg 75] of me without a word of thanks, and taking the arm of her companion walked away. That she was some young lady of rank accompanied by her governess, may be readily imagined from this truly English behaviour.

Arrived at the inn, I exchanged my thoroughly wet clothes for dry ones, and having satisfied our re-awakened appetite at the table d’hôte, and gained strength for the further journey, we immediately took places in the coach, which was to leave in the afternoon for London. The greater part of this journey was made at night, and when on the following morning we were set down in the yard of the coach-office with our luggage, I found myself in very great difficulty. In spite of every endeavour, I could not succeed in finding any one either there or in the office to whom I could explain myself, for I knew not a word of English, and none of all whom I addressed, understood either German or French. Nothing therefore remained for me but to hunt up some interpreter in the public street while my wife watched the luggage. But it was yet early in the morning, and I saw therefore none but people of the lower class, from whom I could hope nothing. At length a better dressed man approached, whom I first addressed in German, then, as he shook his head, expressed to him my wants in French; but the man shrugged his shoulders and went on his way. A second person, however, who had witnessed this scene, approached me, and asked me in good French what it was I wanted? He was one who hired himself out as day-interpreter, and out-door servant at hotels, and at my request immediately fetched a hackney-coach for me, to drive to Mr. Ries, whose address I fortunately remembered. We were now soon taken to the lodgings that had been engaged for us, where we could at length repose from the fatigues of our voyage and night journey.

The next morning, on which a meeting of the directors of the Philharmonic society was to assemble, I was to be introduced to them by Mr. Ries. I therefore made a careful toilette, and expressly for the occasion put on a bright red Turkish shawl-pattern waistcoat forming part of my ward-robe,[Pg 76] and which was considered on the Continent as a most elegant article and of the newest fashion. Scarcely had I appeared in it in the street than I attracted the general attention of all who passed. The grown-up people contented themselves with gazing at me with looks of surprise, and then passed on their way; but the young urchins of the street, were loud in their remarks, which unfortunately I did not understand, and therefore could not imagine what it was in me that so much displeased them. By degrees, however, they formed a regular tail behind me, which grew constantly louder in speech and more and more unruly. A passer-by addressed me and probably gave me some explanation of its meaning; but as it was in English, I could derive no benefit from it. Fortunately Mr. Ries’ house was not very distant, and I reached it shortly after. His wife, a young amiable English woman, and who spoke French fluently, now soon solved for me the problem of my adventure. The death of George III. had but recently taken place and a general mourning had been officially ordered, and according to English custom no person durst appear in public otherwise than in a black suit. In all other respects it is true my dress was black, and therefore in accordance with the requisition, but the unfortunate red waistcoat contrasted with it but the more prominently. Mrs. Ries observed to me that I had doubtless to thank my imposing height and my earnest expression of countenance for having escaped from the rude licence of the boys in the street, and from their resort to its more open exhibition of pelting me with mud. In order to avoid all further offence, Ries then first drove with me to my lodgings, in order to exchange my red waistcoat for a black one.

After I had been welcomed in a friendly manner by the directors of the Philharmonic Society, some of whom spoke German and others French, a council was held respecting the programme of the first concert. At this I was required to play solo twice and to lead as first violin. To this I replied that I was quite ready to perform the first, but must beg that I might be permitted to lead in one of the subsequent[Pg 77] concerts, as my solo play would appear to less advantage if both were required of me on one and the same evening. Clear as this was acknowledged to be by some of the gentlemen who were themselves solo-players, yet it gave rise at first to a long and earnest discussion, as it was contrary to the custom of the society, but at length it was complied with. Still greater subject of offence, however, was my request to be permitted on this my first appearance to play my own compositions only. The Philharmonic Society, in order to exclude from their programmes all shallow and worthless virtuosi-concerti, had laid down the law, that with the exception of the pianoforte concerti of Mozart and Beethoven no similar musical pieces should be played, and that solo players had only to perform that which they should select. Nevertheless, after Ries had continued the discussion in English, and therefore unintelligibly to me, and represented to the gentlemen that my violin-concerts in Germany would therefore become excluded by their bann, they at length yielded in this also. I therefore at the first Philharmonic concert, came forward with my cantabile scena, and in the second part with a solo quartet in E major, and met with great and general applause. As a composer it afforded me an especial gratification that the whole of the directors now shared the opinion of Mr. Ries, and as a violinist the greatest pleasure, that old Viotti, who had always been my pattern, and was to have been my instructor in my youth, was among the auditory and spoke to me in great praise of my play. As I had thus so successfully passed through the ordeal of my first appearance in London, I devoted the next day to the delivery of my letters of recommendation. Not knowing a word of English this was for me by no means a pleasant business, and brought me into frequent perplexity. Not having been told that in London people announced themselves by knocking at the street doors, and gentlemen always by giving a succession of loud rapid knocks; I, in German fashion, rang very gently at the bell, which is done in London only by those who have business with the kitchen, and I[Pg 78] could not imagine why the servants who opened the door always looked at me with an expression of astonishment, and could not at all imagine that I wished my name to be announced to their masters. As those also for whom my visit was intended frequently understood as little as their servants either German or French, the most perplexing scenes were of frequent occurrence. I was however exceedingly amused by one at Rothschild’s, to whom I brought a letter of recommendation from his brother at Frankfort, and a letter of credit from Speyer. After Rothschild had taken both letters from me and glanced hastily over them, he said to me in a more subdued tone of voice: “I have just read (pointing to the “Times”) that you managed your business very efficiently. But I understand nothing of music; this is my music (slapping his purse), they understand that on the exchange!” Upon which, with a nod of the head, he terminated the audience.—But just as I had reached the door, he called after me: “You can come and dine with me, too, out at my country-house!” A few days afterwards also Madame Rothschild invited me to dinner; but I did not go, although she repeated the invitation. Nevertheless, the letter of recommendation to Rothschild was not wholly useless, for he took a whole box at my benefit concert.

As immediately on our arrival in London I was obliged to prepare for my appearance in public; and my wife was engrossed with our domestic arrangements, we had unfortunately delayed writing to apprise my parents at Gandersheim of our safe arrival, by which the old folks were thrown into a state of alarm from which they did not recover for a long time. The vessel in which we had designed to cross the channel on the day of our arrival in Calais, and for which I had at first paid the passage money, and had the tickets transferred for the next day’s packet, on account of the roughness of the weather, had been driven completely down channel and was given up for lost, until it at length turned up again somewhere on the coast of Spain. A French newspaper had cited[Pg 79] our names among the passengers on board. What therefore could be natural, than that the French papers should collectively announce: “The artist-couple Spohr and wife have perished on the passage to England.” This was soon copied into German papers, and to wit into the country paper taken in by my parents. Unfortunately, this first fell into the hands of my mother, who was already in a state of anxiety from the long delay of letters from England. A shriek of anguish and an immediate fainting of it were the result of this. The whole family was thrown into confusion, and when at length my mother recovered her senses, there began a general outburst of tears and mourning. My sister first recovered some calmness of mind, and urged as subject of hope and consideration how frequently newspaper reports were wholly false. She also entreated that no one should speak on the subject in the presence of my children, who were now seen returning from school, which request was faithfully promised. But my mother could not refrain from embracing those she believed to be now orphans with more than usual tenderness. This circumstance, together with the yet swollen eyes of the mourners, excited no small astonishment in the children, and when no reply was made to the inquiries they made respecting these incidents, and no one would sit down to supper, they also began to weep, without knowing wherefore.

At length the arrival of the postman put an end to this painful scene. All sprang up delighted, with the expectation of a letter from England. But the joy was but of short duration, for when they recognised the “Frankfort” post-mark and Speyer’s hand writing on the address, they now indeed believed that they were about to read nothing else than the corroboration of the sad newspaper report. No one, therefore, had the courage to open the letter, until at length my sister summoned the resolution. Scarcely had she glanced her eyes over a few words than she exclaimed with joy: “They have arrived safe,” and then handed the letter to my father, who read it aloud to them with great emotion. Speyer informed[Pg 80] them that he had just received the announcement from the house of Rothschild in London, that they had there made me a payment of money, and that therefore the newspaper report of the loss of Herr Spohr and his wife was unfounded, which he had therewith immediately communicated to allay all their alarm. A general exclamation of joy was now uttered by all, and the previously neglected evening meal was turned into a very feast of delight. Immediately after supper my father seated himself at his writing table, to thank Mr. Speyer for his kind attention, and to give the editor of the country paper a sound rating for having thrown a family into such grief by the heedless insertion of an unauthenticated report in his columns.

The following day my letter arrived also from London, and increased yet more by its good intelligence the joy of my family.

At the house of Mr. Ries I had made the acquaintance of Mr. Erard, the head of the London firm Erard Brothers, and accompanied by my wife had already visited his show rooms of finished harps. We could not however immediately make up our minds in the choice of one, as Dorette wished first to try which size would suit her best, and in particular whether she could be able to accustom herself to the new mechanism. Mr. Erard removed all hesitation from her mind in that respect, by kindly offering to lend her a harp for trial and choice, during our stay in London, which if it did not suit her, she could change for another or wholly return. This offer she thankfully accepted, and began immediately to practise on the new instrument; but at first she could not well succeed upon it. The new harp, though of the smallest pattern, was nevertheless considerably larger, as well as much more strongly strung, than her own, and therefore required a greater exertion of strength, and it was very difficult for her to acquire a mastery of the new mechanism à double movement, from being accustomed from her childhood to the single movement. She therefore soon felt convinced that it would require several months’ practice on this harp before[Pg 81] she could play upon it in public, and I accordingly resolved to allow her to appear once only, at my benefit-concert, in order that she might give an additional attraction to it. Meanwhile my turn had come to direct one of the Philharmonic concerts, and I had created no less sensation than with my solo play. It was at that time still the custom there that when symphonies and overtures were performed, the pianist had the score before him, not exactly to conduct from it, but only to read after and to play in with the orchestra at pleasure, which when it was heard, had a very bad effect. The real conductor was the first violin, who gave the tempi, and now and then when the orchestra began to falter gave the beat with the bow of his violin. So numerous an orchestra, standing so far apart from each other as that of the Philharmonic, could not possibly go exactly together, and in spite of the excellence of the individual members, the ensemble was much worse than we are accustomed to in Germany. I had therefore resolved when my turn came to direct, to make an attempt to remedy this defective system. Fortunately at the morning rehearsal on the day when I was to conduct the concert, Mr. Ries took the place at the Piano, and he readily assented to give up the score to me and to remain wholly excluded from all participation in the performance. I then took my stand with the score at a separate music desk in front of the orchestra, drew my directing baton from my coat pocket and gave the signal to begin. Quite alarmed at such a novel procedure, some of the directors would have protested against it; but when I besought them to grant me at least one trial, they became pacified. The symphonies and overtures that were to be rehearsed were well known to me, and in Germany I had already directed at their performance. I therefore could not only give the tempi in a very decisive manner, but indicated also to the wind instruments and horns all their entries, which ensured to them a confidence such as hitherto they had not known there. I also took the liberty, when the execution did not satisfy me, to stop, and in a very polite but earnest[Pg 82] manner to remark upon the manner of execution, which remarks Mr. Ries at my request interpreted to the orchestra. Incited thereby to more than usual attention, and conducted with certainty by the visible manner of giving the time, they played with a spirit and a correctness such as till then they had never been heard to play with. Surprised and inspired by this result the orchestra immediately after the first part of the symphony, expressed aloud its collective assent to the new mode of conducting, and thereby overruled all further opposition on the part of the directors. In the vocal pieces also, the conducting of which I assumed at the request of Mr. Ries, particularly in the recitative, the leading with the baton, after I had explained the meaning of my movements, was completely successful, and the singers repeatedly expressed to me their satisfaction for the precision with which the orchestra now followed them.

The result in the evening was still more brillant than I could have hoped for. It is true, the audience were at first startled by the novelty, and were seen whispering together; but when the music began and the orchestra executed the well-known symphony with unusual power and precision, the general approbation was shewn immediately on the conclusion of the first part by a long-sustained clapping of hands. The triumph of the baton as a time-giver was decisive, and no one was seen any more seated at the piano during the performance of symphonies and overtures. On this evening also the concert overture which I had composed before I left Frankfort was given for the first time. As it pleased very much the Philharmonic society accepted it as the composition which according to my contract I was to leave in their hands. I kept no copy of it and soon forgot it entirely, so that a few years afterwards when preparing a thematic catalogue of my compositions I could not recal to mind the beginning of it, for which reason the theme of it is wholly wanting in the text.

During the delivery of my letters of introduction in London, as also upon many other occasions, I had so much felt[Pg 83] the want of some one to serve me as interpreter that I was continually making inquiries for a person to accompany me who could speak German and English. At length Mr. Ries bethought him of an old servant of the deceased Salomon[25] of the name of Johanning, who would be competent to fill that office. It is true, that he had retired from service, and as heir to his late master had bought a small country-house in the neighbourhood of London. Mr. Ries hoped nevertheless that the yet vigorous old man would consent to take the situation, for which purpose he sent for him to town, and the offer on my part was made to him. When he learned that it was to enter the service of a German and a musician, and furthermore of a violinist, as his deceased master had been, he immediately expressed his readiness, and even left it to my option what remuneration I should give him at the close of the season. Thenceforth he came every morning into town, and having first interpreted the wishes of my wife to the landlady respecting the dinner, he then accompanied me on my rounds of business. From his long residence in London, however, he had forgotten a great deal of his German, and his English doubtless was not very classic; for in his interpreting frequent misunderstandings would take place. When I had thus presented the remainder of my letters of introduction with less difficulty than before, I again found time and leisure for new compositions. I first wrote a symphony (the second D flat, Op. 49) and played it for the first time at one of the Philharmonic concerts, which I had to conduct, April 10. 1820. At its rehearsal, it met with very great approbation both from the orchestra and the numerous persons who were present; but in the evening it was received with real enthusiasm. I had in part to thank the numerous and particularly excellent stringed instruments of the[Pg 84] orchestra for this brillant success, and in this composition I had given them a special opportunity of exhibiting their skill in playing with purity and precision of ensemble. In fact, as regards the stringed instruments, I have never since heard that symphony given with so much effect as on that evening. The next morning all the London newspapers contained reports respecting the new symphony that had been composed in their town, and vied with each other in their praise of it. Similar favourable notices of my play upon every occasion of my appearance soon spread my fame throughout the town, and pupils readily presented themselves to receive instruction from me on the violin, as well as ladies who were desirous of being accompanied on the piano. As all expressed their willingness to pay a guinea for each hour’s instruction, I readily accepted their offers, as I considered that I owed it to my family to turn the good fortune I had met with in London as a musician to my pecuniary advantage. In this manner, after having first devoted a few hours to composition at home or to music with my wife, I was running or driving about all day in huge London, and frequently right weary of it; for the greater part of my pupils had neither talent nor application, and took lessons of me merely to be enabled to say that they were pupils of Spohr. I nevertheless call to mind with some pleasure several originals who amused me with their singularities, and therewith somewhat relieved the bitter trouble I had with them. One was an old general on half-pay, but who always made his appearance in full uniform, decorated with all his orders, and with the extreme of high military bearing. He, as an exception, came always to my house, but, nevertheless, required to play for three quarters of an hour only, as according to the custom there deduction was made of the quarter of an hour for the drive. He came every morning, Sundays excepted, in his old state carriage, precisely at 12 o’clock, ordered one of his belaced and powdered footmen to bring up his violin-case, and after a dumb greeting sat himself down immediately to his music desk. But previous to that he took out[Pg 85] his watch to see at what o’clock the lesson would commence, and then set it down close to him. He would bring easy duets with him, chiefly of Pleyel, in which I played second violin. Although there were many things in his play that indicated the unpractised pupil, I soon saw that it would not be wise to point them out to him; I contented myself therefore with accommodating my tones as much as possible to those of the old gentleman, and so we played one duet after the other in the best concord. As soon, however, as we had played the three quarters of an hour, the general would stop, though in the middle of the piece, take from his waistcoat pocket a one-pound note in which a shilling was wrapped up, and put it upon the table. He would then take up his watch, and take leave in the same taciturn manner as he had entered.

The other original was an old lady whom I accompanied on the piano. She was a passionate admirer of Beethoven, against which I had nothing to say, but she had the whim, moreover, never to play any other music than that of her favorite. She had all Beethoven’s pianoforte-compositions, as also his orchestral works arranged for the piano. Her apartment was also hung with every portrait of him that she had been able to procure. As many of these differed greatly in resemblance to each other, she urged me to inform her which most resembled him of the whole. She possessed also some relics of him which had been brought to her from Vienna by English travellers, among others a button of his dressing-gown and a piece of music paper with some note marks and ink-blots from his hand. When I apprized her that I had lived for some time on terms of great intimacy with him, I rose greatly in her estimation, and she had then so much to ask that on some days we never played at all. She spoke French with tolerably fluency, and could even bring out a few words of German. Her pianoforte play was not at all bad, so that I was rather pleased to play the sonatas for piano and violin. But when she subsequently produced the trios also, and played with me without violoncello, and then even the piano concertos,[Pg 86] in which, with the exception of first orchestral-violin, which I played, all else was wanting, it became very clear to me that her enthusiasm for Beethoven was nothing but affectation, and that she had not the least perception of the excellence of his compositions.

I became acquainted with a third singular character in the following manner. One morning a servant in livery brought a letter to me, which my old Johanning translated in the following manner: “Mr. Spohr is requested to call at the house of the undersigned, at 4 o’clock precisely.” As I did not know the name appended to the note, nor could ascertain from the servant the purpose for which my attendance was requested, I replied thereto in an equally laconic manner: “At the hour indicated I am engaged and cannot come.” The next morning the servant reappeared with a second much more polite note: “Mr. Spohr is requested to honour the undersigned with a visit, and to appoint the time himself.” At the same time the servant had been ordered to offer his master’s carriage, and as I had been meanwhile informed that the writer was a celebrated physician, who frequently attended concerts, and interested himself especially in violin music, I no longer hesitated to go, but indicated the appointed hour to the servant and was duly fetched in the doctor’s carriage. An amiable old gentlemen with snow white hair received me at the foot of the stairs, but we now discovered to our mutual regret that we could not make ourselves intelligible to each other, for he spoke neither German nor French. We stood opposite to each other in great embarassment, until he took me by the arm and led me into a spacious room on the walls of which a number of violins were hung. Others had been taken from their cases and placed upon tables. The doctor handed a bow to me and pointed to the instruments. I now comprehended that I was to give my opinion of the respective merits of the violins, and immediately began to try them and to arrange them in order according to their worth. This was no easy work to do; for there were a great number of them, and the old gentleman brought them all in succession, with[Pg 87]out omitting one. When at length, after the lapse of about an hour, I had found the best six of them, and still played on these alternately to discover the very best of them, I observed that the doctor eyed one of them with looks of particular fondness, and his face lit up with pleasure every time I struck the strings. I therefore readily gave the kind old gentleman the satisfaction of indicating that instrument as the matador of the whole collection. Quite delighted with this announcement, he now brought a viola d’amour, and began to play a fantasia on this long-unused instrument. I listened to him with pleasure, as I had not heard the instrument before and the doctor played by no means ill. Thus terminated the interview to the satisfaction of both, and I had taken up my hat, to take my leave of him when the old gentleman, with a kindly expression of countenance and several low bows, handed to me a five-pound note. Astonished at this, I looked at the note and the donor, and at first knew not what he meant; when it struck me that he intended it as a remuneration for my testing his violins, and shaking my head with a smile, I laid the note on the table, pressed the doctor’s hand with warmth, and hastened down stairs. He followed me out into the street, assisted me into the carriage and then spoke some words with evident emotion to his coachman. This had made so much impression on the coachman, that he immediately told it to old Johanning, who had come with the carriage, to open the door. He had said to him: “You are driving there a German who is a perfect gentleman; and I expect you will take him home to his house with the greatest care.”—A few months afterwards, when I gave my benefit concert, the doctor sent for a ticket and forwarded to me at the same time a ten-pound note.

Meanwhile my wife had by unflagging industry acquired great proficiency on the new harp, but in doing so—on account of the greater stretch of arm it required and the stronger tension of the strings—she had exerted herself over much and now suffered greatly from the exhaustion it had induced. From[Pg 88] former experience I had learned that nothing so quickly imparted fresh strength to her nerves as the frequent enjoyment of fresh air. I therefore availed myself of every moment of sunshine in the first days of spring to take gentle walks into Regent’s Park, which was very near to our dwelling in Charlotte Street. On Sundays, when all music ceases in London, and when even without fear of giving offence we could not play in our own apartments, we used to make more distant excursions to Hampstead, and to the other parks. Our companion and guide was alternately the younger Ries and an old amiable man of the name of Stumpf, an instrument maker. I soon had the gratification of seeing my wife regain fresh strength and spirits from the mild influence of the English spring, but I adhered strictly to my previous resolution that she should appear once only at my own concert, and declined with firmness several offers that were made to her. But as for myself, I played at all concerts where they were willing to pay the price I asked, and as this according to English notions was not excessively high, I was in frequent requisition, and saw my name announced on almost all the concert-programmes of the season. But I never could make up my mind to play for remuneration at private parties, for the manner in which musicians were then treated there, was to me most unbecoming and degrading. They were not admitted to join the company, but were shewn into an adjoining room, where they had to wait until the moment arrived when they were summoned to the apartments where the company was assembled before whom they were to play; their performance over, they had to leave the room again immediately. My wife and I were ourselves once eyewitnesses of this contemptuous treatment of the first and most eminent artists in London. We had received letters of introduction to the king’s brothers the Dukes of Sussex and Clarence, and as the latter was married to a German, a Princess of Meiningen, I paid them a visit accompanied by my wife. The Ducal couple received us in a very kind manner and invited us to a musical party they were to give in a few[Pg 89] days and at which we were also asked to assist. I then thought in what way I could best extricate myself from this disgusting exclusion from the company, and resolved if I could not succeed to return home immediately. When therefore we entered the palace, and a lacquey was on the point of opening the door of the room where the other musicians were assembled, I told Johanning to deliver my violin case to him, and with my wife on my arm, immediately ascended the staircase before the lacquey had time to recover from his astonishment. Arrived at the door of the apartments where the company were assembled, I announced my name to the footman in waiting, and as he hesitated to open the door I evinced an intention of opening it myself. Upon this the lacquey instantly threw open the door and called out the names of the new-comers. The Duchess, alive to German usages, rose immediately from her seat, advanced a few steps to meet my wife, and led her into the circle of ladies. The Duke welcomed me also with a few friendly words and introduced me to the gentlemen around him. I now thought I had successfully achieved all; but I soon observed that the servants notwithstanding not did consider me as properly belonging to the company, for they always passed me by with the tea-tray and other refreshments, without offering me any. At length the Duke may also have remarked this; for I saw him whisper a few words in the ear of the steward of the household. After this the refreshments were also presented to me. When the concert was to commence the steward of the household sent a servant to summon the invited artists in the order in which their names appeared on the programme. They hereupon entered the apartment with their sheet of music or instrument in hand, saluted the company with a profound bow, and began their performances. They were the élite of the most distinguished singers and musicians in London, and the execution of their respective pieces was almost without exception charmingly beautiful. This, however, did not appear to be felt by the noble and fashionable auditory; for they did not cease their[Pg 90] conversation one moment. Once only when a very favorite female singer entered the room they became somewhat more silent, and a few subdued bravas were heard, for which she immediately returned thanks with profound curtsies. I was exceedingly annoyed by this derogation of art and still more so with the artists who submitted to be so treated, and I had a great mind not to play at all. When the turn came to me, therefore, I purposely hesitated so long till the Duke, probably at a sign made to him by his wife, invited me himself to play. I then requested one of the servants to bring up my violin case, and I then began to play the piece I had proposed to myself without making the customary bows to the company. All these circumstances excited no doubt the attention of the company, for during the whole time of my performance the greatest stillness pervaded the apartment. When I had concluded the ducal pair and their guests applauded. Now also I first expressed my thanks by making a bow. Shortly afterwards the concert terminated, and the musicians retired. If our having constituted ourselves part of the company had furnished matter of surprise, this was still more increased when they saw that we stopped there also to supper, and during the supper were treated with great attention by the ducal hosts. The circumstance to which we doubtless owed this distinction—one so unheard-of and repugnant to all English notions of that day—was the fact that the Duchess had known us while yet living in her paternal house, and had there witnessed the friendly reception which, at the time when we lived at Gotha, we had frequently met with at the court of Meiningen. The Duke of Sussex, to whom I had brought a letter of recommendation from the Duke of Cambridge, then regent of Hanover, received me also with great distinction and conversed with me a good deal. During a conversation we had upon the subject of English national songs, the Duke even sent for his guitar and sang to me some English and Irish national songs, which afterwards suggested to me the idea of working up some of the most popular of these[Pg 91] as a pot-pourri for my instrument, and of introducing the same at my concert.[26] When the company broke up, which was not till long after midnight, we returned home greatly pleased with the result of our daring and with the victory we had gained over the prejudices of London society.

Among those who solicited me to play solo at their concerts was Sir George Smart, one of the directors of the Philharmonic Society. During the season he gave a succession of subscription concerts which he called “sacred concerts,” in which nevertheless a great deal of the music was “worldly” also. I played at two of them, in return for which Sir George undertook the arrangements for my benefit-concert—a by no means light task even for a native well versed in the matter, and which if I had undertaken in person would perhaps have occupied six weeks of my time, which I could employ in a much more advantageous manner. My concert took place on the 18th. June, and was one of the most brillant and well attended of the whole season. Almost every person to whom we had brought letters of recommendation—and among them also the Dukes of Sussex and Clarence—had taken either boxes or reserved seats, and several of those wealthy personages had forwarded considerable sums for them.

A great number of the subscribers to the Philharmonic Society also retained their seats, and as the lowest price for a ticket was half a guinea, and the room held nearly a thousand people, the receipts were very considerable. I derived a great additional advantage from the circumstance, that the expenses which otherwise in London are enormously high, were greatly reduced on this occasion by the refusal of several of the members of the orchestra to receive any gratuity, from a friendly feeling towards me, and from the agreement previously entered into by me with the Philharmonic Society, that the use of the rooms should cost me nothing. On the other hand,[Pg 92] however, I had to pay all the singers, and I yet well remember that I was obliged to pay Mrs. Salmon, the then most popular female vocalist in London, and without whose presence my concert would have been considered not sufficiently attractive, the sum of thirty pounds sterling for a single song; and she made it a further condition of agreement, that she should not sing until towards the end of the concert, as she had first to sing at a concert in the city, six miles off. I must here mention also a singular custom which prevailed at all concerts in London at that time, which now, however, like many other strange practices of that period, has been discontinued. Namely, it was required that the party giving the concert should provide the auditory with refreshments during the pause between the first and second parts of the concert. These were accordingly supplied at a buffet in an adjoining room, and one was obliged to agree beforehand with the confectioner upon the sum for their purveyance, which at my concert was undertaken for ten pounds sterling. If the company consisted for the most part of persons of rank and fashion, with whom it was not usual to take any refreshments, the confectioner used to make a good thing of it, but if it was a very numerous and mixed company, and the heat very great, he might frequently be a loser. But he never did a better stroke of business than at my concert.

This took place on the very day that Queen Charlotte of England made her entry into London on her return from Italy, to make her defence before Parliament against the charge of infidelity brought against her by her husband. All London was divided into two parties, the larger of which, composed of the middle and lower classes, was on the side of the Queen. The town was in the greatest commotion, and it was a very fortunate thing for me that I had already disposed of the whole of the tickets for my concert, as otherwise by this unfavourable circumstance I might have incurred a very great loss. The bills announcing my concert, posted at the corners of the[Pg 93] streets, were quickly pasted over and covered with large placards in which in the name of the people a general illumination of the town was called for to celebrate the day; and Johanning brought me word that the populace threatened to smash the windows in every house, where this call was not complied with. As at that time the police force as well as the few military were not sufficiently numerous to protect the royal palaces from the threatened excesses of the populace, the partisans of the king, who were wholly unable to repress the tumult, were compelled to abide the worst, and contented themselves with making the best use of the short notice given by having their windows nailed up with boards, in order to save their costly mirrors and furniture. In this manner during the whole of the day the sound of the carpenter’s hammer was everywhere heard, particularly in Portland Place, close adjoining where many of the nobility resided, and these preparations of defence were subjects of great derision and amusement to the young vagabonds of the street. While we were rehearsing at home the pieces to be performed in the evening, the people poured in crowds through the streets to meet the Queen upon her entry. As this took place in the direction of the city, it became perfectly quiet towards evening at the West-end. We found therefore, as we drove at half-past eight o’clock to the concert-rooms, the streets almost less thronged than usual, and met with no obstacle on our way. But we remarked everywhere active preparations for the illumination, in order that the sovereign will of the people might be immediately complied with. My wife, who was somewhat nervous respecting her first public appearance with the new harp, was in great trepidation as to what might occur from this excitement of the populace, and I was greatly afraid that the agitation in which I saw her would be prejudicial both to her play and to her health. I therefore endeavoured to soothe her by argument and persuasion, in which I happily succeeded. The concert-room filled by degrees with a numerous auditory and the concert began. I am able to give here the entire[Pg 94] programme, as Sir G. Smart upon my last visit to London (in the year 1852) made me a present of a copy of that which was handed at the time to the audience upon their entry into the rooms. It runs as follows:

NEW ARGYLL ROOMS.

MR. SPOHR’S CONCERT.

Thursday, June 18th. 1820.


PART I.
Grand Sinfonia (M. S.)Spohr.
Air, Mr. T. Welch, “Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries”Haendel.
Grand Duetto (M. S.), Harp and Violin, Mad. Spohr and Mr. SpohrSpohr.
Aria, Miss Goodall, “Una voce al cor mi parla.” Clarinet obligato, Mr. WillmanPær.
Sestetto for Pianoforte, two Violins, Viola, Violincello and Contrabasso, Messrs.: Ries, Watts, Wagstaff, R. Ashley, Lindley and DragonettiRies.
Irish Melodies (M. S.), with Variations for the Violin, Mr. Spohr (composed expressly for this occasion)Spohr.
PART II.
Nonotto for Violin, Viola, Violincello, Contrabasso, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon, Messrs. Spohr, Lindley, Dragonetti, Ireland, Griesbach, Willman, Arnull and HolmesSpohr.
Scena, Mrs. SalmonFellon, la pena avraiRossini.
Rondo for the Violin, Mr. SpohrSpohr.
Aria, Mr. Vaughan “Rendi’l serenoHaendel.
OvertureSpohr.

Leader of the BandMr. Spohr.
At the PianoforteSir George Smart.

The new symphony, though already known to the orchestra, was again carefully rehearsed through with them, and was ex[Pg 95]ecuted in a masterly manner, and it met with a more lively applause, if possible, than on its first performance. While the air that followed was being sung I tuned my wife’s harp for her in the adjoining room and spoke some words of encouragement to her. I then led her into the concert-room and we took our places to begin the duet. Silent expectation pervaded the whole auditory, and our first tones were eagerly awaited, when suddenly a fearful noise was heard in the street, which was immediately followed by a volley of paving stones against the unilluminated windows of the adjoining room. Terrified at the noise of the breaking glass of the windows and chandeliers, the ladies sprang up from their seats, and a scene of indescribable confusion and alarm ensued. In order to prevent a second, volly of missiles, the gas lights in the adjoining apartment were speedily lighted, and we were not a little gratified to find that the mob after giving another uproarious cheer at the success of their demonstration went on their way, and thus by degrees the previous quiet was restored. But it was some time before the public resumed their places in the room and became so far tranquillized that we could at length begin. I was not a little fearful that the fright and the long pause would make my wife still more nervous and I listened therefore to her first accords in the greatest anxiety; but when I heard these resound with their usual power I became immediately tranquillized, and gave my attention wholly to the unity and ensemble of our play. This, which in Germany had always pleased so much, did not fail to make its effect upon an English audience also; the applause, indeed, increased with every theme of the duet, and at its conclusion seemed as though it never would cease. As we retired highly gratified with this success, we neither of us thought that it was the last time, that Dorette would play on the harp. But of that hereafter!

As regards the other items of the programme in which I took part, I was particularly pleased with the good reception which the nonette met with. I had already played it[Pg 96] with the same artists at one of the Philharmonic concerts, and was invited on many sides to repeat it at my concert. The accuracy of our ensemble was this time more complete, and therefore it could not fail in its effect. The Irish melodies were generally well received. Thus, in spite of the disturbing intermezzo, the concert terminated to the general satisfaction of all. The interval after the first part and the promenade in the adjoining saloon were this time entirely prevented by the damage which it had sustained; the confectioner told me that, having had no demand for his refreshments, he was the ten pound in pocket, although he had had some things smashed on the buffet by the volley of stones. When at length, exceedingly fatigued, we got into our carriage, we were not able to drive straight home, as the mob in the neighbourhood of Portland Place still had it all their own way. The coachman was therefore obliged to take all manner of circuitous turnings, and it was past one in the morning when we at length drove up to our own door. With the exception of our floor we found the whole house lit up, and the landlady was awaiting our return in the greatest anxiety, in order to light up our windows also. And indeed it was high time; for the mob were heard approaching. But as in obedience to their sovereign will they found the whole of Charlotte-street brilliantly illuminated, they passed on without committing any excesses. But it was not safe to extinguish the lights, and not until the lapse of several hours, when the town had become quite quiet, did we at length get the rest we so much needed.


Now comes a sorrowful period in my life, on which I now still think with grief. My wife felt so ill from the effects of the great exertions she had made in acquiring the mastery of the new harp and the alternate impressions upon her nervous system on the evening of the concert, that I was greatly afraid she was about to have a third attack of nervous fever.[Pg 97] It was therefore high time to come to some firm resolve as regarded her future well-being. Already after her second attack in Darmstadt, when she had become fully restored to health, I had endeavoured to persuade her to abandon her nerve-destroying instrument, but when I saw how much this proposition distressed her, I again immediately relinquished it. She was too much heart and soul the artiste, and had acquired too great a love for the instrument to which she owed so many triumphs, to be able to give it up readily; and it had always been a source of happiness to her to think that she could assist with her talent towards the maintenance of our family. But now, that she was but too convinced that her physical powers were not sufficient to conquer the new instrument, and a return to the old one would not satisfy her after having made herself intimately acquainted with the advantages of the new one in tone and mechanism, it became much easier for me to win her over to my way of thinking, particularly when I represented to her that as the artiste she could still be known, and in future appear at my concerts as pianiste, for which she had all the necessary qualifications. This tranquillized her very much, although she was obliged to admit to herself, that she would never be able to achieve upon the pianoforte the same success as on the harp, upon which in Germany at least she had not her equal. I moreover promised her, that in order to give her performances the charm of novelty, I would write some brilliant concert themes, and as it was very important for me to try my hand also at pianoforte compositions, I immediately set to work and finished before leaving London the first subject of the piano-quintet Op. 52. In order to remove the harp wholly from her sight, I sent it to Mr. Erard. When I informed him that my wife was compelled to abandon the harp entirely on account of the weak state of her health, he took it back very willingly, and refused a compensation for the use made of it up to that time. In a most gallant manner he said, the instrument had now acquired a real value, from having been played upon[Pg 98] by so celebrated an artiste, and that too at her last public performance.

I now again took daily walks into the country with my wife and had soon the pleasure of seeing that she was gradually recovering her strength. The thought that she would soon see her children again contributed no doubt in a very great measure towards this improvement. I also longed to be home again with my family, and immediately the last Philharmonic concert was over, I made preparations for leaving.

I must here by way of appendix speak of the musical institution of Mr. Logier, which I visited several times with great interest, and respecting which I sent the following report to the Leipsic Musical Journal of August 1820: “Mr. Logier, a German by birth, but resident for the last fifteen years in England, gives instruction in pianoforte-play and in harmony upon a method of his own invention, in which he permits all the children, frequently as many as thirty or forty, to play at the same time. For this purpose he has written three volumes of studies, which are all grounded upon perfectly simple themes, and progress by degrees to the most difficult ones. While beginners play the theme, the more advanced pupils practise themselves at the same time in more or less difficult variations: one might imagine that from this manner of proceeding great confusion must ensue, out of which the teacher would be able to distinguish very little; but as the children who play these studies, sit near each other, one hears, according to whichever part of the room one may be in, either one or the other of the studies very distinctly. The teacher also frequently makes half of the pupils, at times all but one, cease playing, in order to ascertain their progress individually. In the last lessons he makes use of his chiroplast, a machine by means of which the children get accustomed to a good position of the arms and hands, and which so soon as they have progressed so far as to know the notes and keys, is removed first from one hand and then from the other, and then for the first time they put their fingers to the keys and learn[Pg 99] to play scales; but all this, in the respective studies, with all the children at once, and always in the strictest time. When they have then progressed to a new lesson they do not of course succeed in bringing out more than a few notes of each bar, in the quick movement which they hear being played near or around them; but they soon overcome more and more of them, and in a shorter time than might well be believed, the new lesson is played as well as the previous one. But what is most remarkable in Mr. Logier’s method of teaching is, that, with the very first lessons in pianoforte playing he teaches his pupils harmony at the same time. How he does this, I do not know; and that is his secret, for which each of the teachers in England who give instruction on his system pay him one hundred guineas. The results of this method with his pupils are nevertheless wonderful; for children between the ages of seven and ten years solve the most difficult problems. I wrote down on the board a triad, and denoted the key in which they were to modulate it: one of the littlest girls immediately ran to the board, and after very little reflection wrote first the bass, and then the upper notes. I frequently repeated this test, and indeed with the addition of all manners of difficulties: I extended it to the most divergent keys in which enharmonic changes were required, yet they never became embarrassed. If one could not succeed, another immediately came forward, whose bass perhaps was corrected by a third; and for everything they did they were obliged to assign the reason to the teacher. At length I wrote upon the table a simple treble—the first that came into my head—and told each of them to put the other three voices to it, each upon her own slate. At the same time I said to them that the solution of the theme which the teacher and I should consider the best, I would inscribe in my musical album as a souvenir of their performance. All were now full of life and activity, and in a few minutes one of the littlest of the girls, who had already distinguished herself by her play and in working out the first problems, brought me her slate[Pg 100] to inspect, but in her haste she had omitted an octave in the third bar between the bass and one of the middle voices. No sooner had I pointed it out to her, than blushing and with tears in her eyes she took back the slate and rapidly corrected her error. As in her performance the bass was indisputably the best of all, the teacher wrote it in my album, and I subjoin it here with diplomatic accuracy.

The resolutions of the other children were more or less good, but all of them correct, and mostly written out in four different keys. Each also played her own immediately without any embarrassment on the pianoforte and without “fault,” &c.”

Upon my announcing our approaching departure to my old Johanning, tears came into the eyes of the kind and affectionate old man. He had become so fond of us that he would have even refused all remuneration for the services he had rendered us, and positively objected to take the sum I had reserved for him. But upon my insisting on his taking it he complied, on the condition that I would not refuse him a favour he wished to ask of me. I asked him what it was, and he did not keep me long in suspense, but stammered out in an embarrassed manner the request that I and my wife would do him the honour to take our dinner, the day before our departure, at his house. When we consented thereto without hesitation, his whole countenance immediately brightened up, and he could not find words to express sufficiently his gra[Pg 101]titude. On the appointed day he made his appearance dressed as I had never yet seen him, in a full-dress suit of his deceased master’s, with hair powdered, and in white silk stockings, and at our door stood a hackney carriage for four persons, which was to take us to his country house, and in which a musician whom he had also invited, and whose acquaintance we had already made, and who was the most intimate friend of his late master, was already seated. When we had got in, Johanning refused to take the fourth seat, saying that it would be unbecoming of him to do so, although I pointed out to him that he was now no longer my servant, but for this day my host and entertainer. But he was not to be persuaded, and took his usual place by the side of the coachman. On the way there our companion related to us many particulars highly creditable to Johanning—how he had shewn the most ardent attachment and fidelity to his master, and after his death had applied the greater part of the money he had left him, to the erection of a memorial to his master in Westminster Abbey, so that we felt penetrated with the highest respect for our recent servant. Upon our arrival he opened the carriage door and led us into his house. The property consisted of a small house with a small garden attached, and everywhere the greatest neatness and cleanliness. He led the way up one flight of stairs to his reception room, and did not fail to show us immediately the bell-pull near the mantle-piece, to which he forthwith gave a tug, although he kept no servant whom he could summon with it, since he and his wife were their own servants. We then took a turn through the little garden and then entered the parlour, where the table was laid for three persons. Johanning again refused to take a seat near us at table, and this time for the cogent reason that we should then have had no one to wait upon us. Upon this he brought up the dinner and as master of the house waited upon his guests, during which occupation his whole countenance wore an expression of the greatest pleasure. The dinner was exceedingly well dressed and served up on an elegant china dinner-service[Pg 102] which had belonged to his master, and the excellent Rhenish wine which he placed before us was no doubt derived also from the same source. The dessert, strawberries and cherries, was the produce of his little garden, and this he did not fail to announce to his guests.—When dinner was over he led the way once more to his drawing-room, where we found Mrs. Johanning, who till then had been engaged in the kitchen in dressing and sending up the dinner, in full Sunday attire. There at length, though only after repeated pressing, the worthy old couple allowed themselves to be persuaded to take seats at the table, on which coffee had already been placed. Johanning was now in the height of happiness, and interpreted with no little satisfaction to his wife the praises which we had expressed and still reiterated of the admirable manner in which we had been entertained. Towards evening the coach again drove up to the door to take us back to town. But Johanning could not be deterred from resuming his old place by the side of the coachman, to accompany us home, and open the carriage door. In fact, even on the next morning he presented himself again, in order to be of assistance at our departure. At the coach-office we found also several friends and acquaintance waiting to bid us farewell.


We returned again by way of Dover and Calais, in order to take our own carriage which we had left at Lille. Our passage across this time was a very calm one and the weather fine, so that not any of the passengers were sea-sick. Between Calais and Lille the diligence stopped at a so charming place to dine that even now, after so long a time, I recollect it with a feeling of pleasure. It was at the small town of Cassel, which is situated upon a high isolated conical hill that rises in the midst of an extensive plain. The weather being fine, dinner had been laid for the travellers in the garden of the inn under a bower of vines, and during the repast, from[Pg 103] this pleasant, cool situation we enjoyed an extensive view over the beautiful country round. In Lille we again spent some pleasant days in the society of the Vogel family and other of our friends there, and then without longer stay set out in our own carriage upon our further journey.

As a natural consequence of the painful ordeal of grief through which my parents had passed on our account, and after the first long separation from our children, our reception this time in Gandersheim was beyond measure one of heartfelt joy, and after our protracted exertions and fatigue we now indeed felt once more happy and freed from care in the calm repose of the country. This was just the time for me to set myself to new labours, and I there first completed the quintet for pianoforte, flute, clarinet, horn and double-bass which I had begun in London, and in which I proposed that my wife should make her appearance in the world of art as a pianiste on our projected winter tour. Indeed, it was high time to occupy her in its artistic study; for as she now felt quite re-established in health, she had the greatest desire to resume her harp. With the assistance of the new quintet, however, and supported by the medical counsel of my father, I soon succeeded in dissuading her from it. She therefore devoted her attention to the pianoforte with the greatest zeal, and in a short time had the gratification of finding she had reacquired her former technical skill upon that instrument. After the lapse of a few weeks she succeeded therefore in executing the new and difficult concert-piece to her and my satisfaction.

About this time we had a visit from two musical Hamburg friends, Messrs. Fritz Schwenke and Wilhelm Grund, the latter of whom brought his younger brother Edward with him, who was already a good violinist, to become my pupil. With the assistance of these three I now gave our musical friends of Gandersheim a quartet-party such as they had never heard before nor have since. In order to have my new quintet heard upon this occasion also, I quickly rewrote the accompaniment[Pg 104] of the four wind-instruments, for a stringed-quartet, and in this shape was highly pleased with its effect, as also with the brilliant play of my wife. From the great success this had met with, she felt much encouraged in her new studies and consoled in some measure for her relinquishment of the harp. To provide her still with new materials for practice, I rewrote also two former harp-compositions for the piano, a pot-pourri and a rondo with violin, which appeared later as Op. 50 and 51. We practised these together also with the greatest care, and they were destined for performance at private parties on our next winter tour. After the departure of the Hamburg visitors I commenced the instruction of my new pupil. By his talent and amiability he soon won the esteem of the whole Spohr family, from the old grandfather down to little Theresa, whom he always called in pure Hamburg dialect: “Du säute Deren.” As he played well on the piano, he undertook the musical instruction of Emilia and Ida, and young as he was, he knew how to keep them assiduous to their studies. Himself as violinist he soon made so much progress, that I practised him in and played with him the three extremely difficult violin-duets which I wrote in Switzerland (Op. 39) and for which I had never yet been able to meet with a fellow-player. By the accurate, pure and spirited execution of this almost always four-voiced duets we made a great sensation, and musical amateurs from the whole country round came to hear us play them. We played one of them also with great success at a concert in Hildesheim, given there by the director of music Bischoff, the same who undertook the Frankenhaus musical festivals. Towards autumn, just as I had begun to compose a new violin concerto (the 9th. D-minor. Op. 55, published by André of Offenbach) for the winter journey, I received an invitation from music-director Rose in Quedlinburg to conduct a musical festival which he was about to hold there. I very gladly accepted it, and made all haste to complete my concerto so as to be able to perform it there for the first time. While practising it I received great assistance from[Pg 105] Edward Grund, who was able to accompany through the score on the piano, an assistance, which I had never before experienced.

The musical festival took place on the 13th. and 14th. October 1820, and went off to the full satisfaction of the originator and the numerous auditory. Upon my proposition, Schneider’s “Last Judgement” was given on the first day, at which the composer himself was present. On the second day, among other things my London symphony was performed, and, as well as my new violin concerto, was received with great approbation. I met in Quedlinburg many of my former friends and acquaintances from Sondershausen, Gotha, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Halberstadt and Brunswick, and passed several delightful days with them. After our return from this pleasant excursion, upon which my parents and Edward Grund, as well as my wife, had accompained me, it became full time to set out upon our winter tour, the terminus of which was to be Paris. A new parting from the children, my parents, and the pleasant society of Gandersheim, was therefore necessary; and Edward Grund returned to Hamburg with the intention of coming again in the spring to prosecute his studies under my guidance.

We took Frankfort, Heidelberg, Carlsruhe and Strasburg on our way to Paris, and gave concerts in all those towns. In Frankfort, where we lived in the house of my friend Speyer, we still found a lively remembrance of our artistic talents; our concert in the salon of the “Weidenbusch” was crowded to overflowing, although the room could easily accommodate eight hundred persons. My new violin concerto, excellently accompanied, made a great sensation; Councillor André himself, who previously had always some fault to find with my compositions, seemed quite satisfied with my new work; for he repeatedly requested me, after the rehearsal even, to let him have the publishing of it. Although I declined this most positively, as I was bound by a promise to my then publisher Peters of Leipsic, to let him have all my new manuscripts, yet[Pg 106] in the evening at the concert André again pressed me, and so pertinaciously, that to get rid of him, and to prepare quietly for my solo-play, I at last called out to him “Yes.” This precipitancy however cost me dear, for although I immediately informed Peters of all the circumstances, in order to exculpate myself with him, I was compelled to endure many bitter reproaches for my excessive pliancy towards Mr. André. The new piano quintet with wind-instrument accompaniment, which was now also performed, made likewise a great sensation, and Dorette’s purity of piano-forte play, of which until then the friends of music in Frankfort had known nothing, was greeted with the loudest applause. I was more particularly pleased with this result, as of all others it was calculated to console my wife for the abandonment of her harp.

Of the other towns between Frankfort and Paris, and of the concerts given there I have forgotten everything; I must however advert to the acquaintance I made of Councillor Thibaut at Heidelberg on this occasion. That celebrated jurist conducted a choral society that he had instituted; but excluding all modern church music, he permitted ancient Italian music only to be sung, of which he had made a rich and rare collection. Until then I knew nothing more of this music than what I had heard in the Sixtine chapel at Rome, and was therefore very thankful to the Councillor for the permission he gave me to be present at the rehearsals of his society, at which I became better acquainted with several of those old works, which were carefully practised by them. Thibaut’s opinion that this music alone represented the true ecclesiastical style, and surpassed all that had ever been written since, I cannot coincide with, for to me Mozart’s requiem, incomplete as it passed from the hands of that master, who died during its composition, is alone worth more than all I ever heard of earlier church music; nevertheless, the simple-grandiose style of those works made then a great impression on me, and I begged permission to study their scores through. After some hesitation my wish was granted in such wise that I was[Pg 107] permitted to visit Thibaut’s music-room at particular hours, and to go through the works on the piano, but was not permitted to take any home with me. I took daily advantage of this favour, and by that means made myself intimately acquainted with the vocal method and harmonic sequence of the old masters. While so engaged I was seized with the desire of trying for once an ecclesiastic piece alla Capella for several voices, and in the following summer I carried out my idea at Gandersheim with the composition of the mass for ten voices, Op. 54. I certainly did not strive to imitate the simple treble movements of the old masters; but on the contrary I did a good deal towards carrying out the rich modulation of the later Mozart method.

Respecting our stay in Paris I published at the time “Four letters to a Friend” in the Leipsic Musical Journal of 1821, which I here append.

FIRST LETTER.

Paris, December 15. 1820.

I trust, my dear friend, that you will give me credit for writing to you so soon on the eighth day after our arrival, at a time when so many novelties crowd upon my notice, that I find it difficult to collect my thoughts. But for my own sake I must not permit the materials to grow upon me too much, otherwise I shall be wholly unable to deal with them in their due order.

With a beating heart I drove through the Barrière of Paris. The thought, that I should at length have the pleasure of making the personal acquaintance of the artists whose works had inspired me in my early childhood, excited the emotion which I then felt. In fancy I reverted to the days of my boyhood, in which Cherubini was my idol, whose works I had had an earlier opportunity of becoming acquainted with in Brunswick, at the then permanent French theatre there, than even the works of Mozart; I vividly recollected the evening when the “Deux Journées” was performed for the first[Pg 108] time—how, intoxicated with delight and the powerful impression that work had made upon me, I asked on that very evening to have the score given to me, and sat over it the whole night; and that it was that opera chiefly that gave me the first impulse to composition. The author, and many other men whose works had had the most decided influence on my development as a composer and violinist, I was now soon to behold.

We had therefore scarcely got under cover, when I made it my first business to pay a visit to those artists. I was received by all in a friendly manner, and relations of friendship soon sprang up between me and several of them.

I was told of Cherubini, that he was at first very reserved toward strangers, repulsive even; I did not find him so. He received me, without any letter of introduction, in the most friendly manner, and invited me to repeat my visit as often as I pleased.

On the evening of our arrival Kreutzer took us to the grand opera, where a ballet of his, with pretty characteristic music: “Le carnaval de Venise,” was performed. It is observable in the singers and dancers of the grand opera, that they have been accustomed to move in a more spacious place; in this one, where the space is much more confined as compared with the opera house that has been abandoned, they appear in a much too sharp relief. Several grand operas, those of Gluck’s for instance, can no longer be represented at all, there being not even the necessary room for the whole orchestra. For this reason every one looks forward with hope for the early completion of the new opera house; but actively as they are working upon it, that will not be ready before the middle of next summer. Before the ballet the opera: “Le Devin du village,” the words and music by Rousseau, was given. Is it a subject for praise or blame, that the French, notwithstanding the many excellent things with which their operatic repertoire has been enriched during the last twenty years, still give the oldest things of all? And is it indeed a proof of an advanced cultivated taste for art, when one sees them give[Pg 109] as enthusiastic a reception (if not more so) to the oldest operas of Grétry with their poverty of harmony and incorrectness, as to the master pieces of Cherubini and Méhul? I think not! How long have not the operas of Hiller and Dittersdorf and others of those days, disappeared from our repertoire, although these are far to be preferred for their real musical worth to the greater part of Grétry’s. But on the other hand it is certainly very discouraging, that with us the new only, however poor and defective, finds a ready reception, and many excellent things of older date are set aside for them and forgotten. Nevertheless it must be said to the honour of the taste for art of the Germans, that Mozart’s operas at least are the exception, and for the last thirty years have constantly been produced in all the theatres of Germany, which is a proof that the German people are at length impressed with the inimitable perfection of those master-pieces, and are not to be deceived on this head, however extensively the sweet musical poison may spread which flows in upon us so profusely from beyond the Alps.

The orchestra of the grand opera, as compared with the other orchestras, reckons among its members the most celebrated and distinguished artistes, but in ensemble is said to be behind the Italian opera. I cannot yet judge how far that may be correct, as I have only heard the latter as yet. In Kreutzer’s ballet, which was played by the orchestra with the greatest precision, I was greatly pleased with a hautboy solo, which was executed in a masterly manner by Mr. Voigt. This artist has succeeded in giving to his instrument a perfect uniformity of tone and intonation throughout the whole range from C to the high F, an accomplishment which almost all hautboy players have failed in attaining. His execution is moreover full of grace and good taste.

For some days past I have been less edified at the grand opera than I was the first time. “Les mystères d’Isis” was performed. Too well indeed are justified the complaints of the admirers of Mozart of the disfigurement of the beautiful[Pg 110]Zauberflöte” in this piece of workmanship, which the French themselves re-christened on its appearance “Les Misères d’ici”! One must blush that it should have been Germans, who so sinned against the immortal master. Everything but the overture has been meddled with; all else has been thrown into confusion, been changed and mutilated. The opera begins with the concluding chorus of the Zauberflöte; then comes the march in Titus, and then in succession some fragmentary piece from other operas of Mozart, and even a little bit of a symphony of Haydn; then between these recitatives of Mr. Lachnitz’ own manufacture. But worse than all this is, that the transposers have applied a serious text to many cheerful and even comic passages of the Zauberflöte, by which the music of those passages becomes a parody of the text and of the situation. In this manner, for instance, Papagena sings the characteristic air of the Moor: “Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden,” &c.; and the pretty terzet of the three boys: “Seid uns zum zweitenmal willkommen,” &c., is sung by the three ladies. Of the duet: “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen,” &c., a terzet has been made, and so on. Worse than all, however, they have taken the liberty of making alterations in the score: for example, in the air: “In diesen heil’gen Hallen,” at the words: “So wandelt er an Freundes Hand,” the imitating bass

is entirely left out, which is here indispensably necessary, not alone to the harmony, but because it expresses the act of wandering in so characteristic a manner, and the bass sound the B only a few times instead. You may therefore readily imagine how insipid and meagre this passage now sounds, which in Germany is so frequently admired. Moreover, in the terzet of the three females, where Mozart strengthens and supports the third voice with the violins only, the transposers have added both violoncello and double-bass; so that at these[Pg 111] tender passages, which are for three voices only, the bass lies in three different octaves, which to a cultivated ear is unbearable. Similar offences are of frequent occurrence. We must nevertheless do the French the justice to say, that they have always highly disapproved of this vandalic mutilation of a great master-piece (the extent of which from their ignorance of the original is yet not known to them); but how is it, that the “Mystères” have nevertheless kept their place undisturbed in the repertoire for the last eighteen or twenty years?—and here where the public moreover, as I see every day, rule so despotically in the theatre, and manage to have everything their own way!—

To me, as a German, the performance was not satisfactory. Even the overture was not executed so well as it should have been by so excellent a union of first-rate musicians. It was taken too quick, and still more hurried at the close, so that the violins instead of playing semiquavers could only play quavers. The singers of the grand opera, whose great merits may perhaps lie in declamatory song, are little qualified to render the soft airs of the Zauberflöte in a satisfactory manner. They sing them with a blunt roughness that deprives them of all tenderness. The getting-up in scenery, dresses and dancing is respectable, but not so handsome as I had expected.—Yesterday we went for the first time to the grand opera, and saw “Clari,” a grand ballet in three acts, the music by Kreutzer. Little as I like ballets, and little, in my opinion as pantomime merits the aid of the resources of art, as these are lavished on it here, I nevertheless do not deny that the Parisian ballet may sometimes afford agreeable amusement, until one becomes wearied with the monotony of the mimic movements, and of the yet greater sameness of the dances. But with all the perfection with which it is given here, pantomime, from the poverty of its signs, which always require a printed explanation of their meaning, is, as compared to recitative drama, a mere outline by the side of a finished drawing.[Pg 112] However it may be embellished with golden ornament and decorated surroundings, as is the ballet here by magnificence of costume and decorations, it gives the outline only, and the life is wanting. In the same manner I may compare the drama to the opera—as a drawing by the side of the painting. From song, the poem receives its first colouring, and by it only, and the powerful aid of harmony, does it succeed in giving expression to the indefinable and merely imagined emotions of the soul which language must be content alone to hint at. The music to “Clari” is a great success, and in the second and third act especially the effect is most captivating. It facilitates greatly the comprehension of the subject by a correct delineation of the passions, and contains a treasury of pretty melodies which one regrets do not form part of an opera. Mademoiselle Bigottini played the chief character, and evinced a deep study of mime and action in her play. That in very impassioned situations she carried the expression of her features to the borders of grimace, may perhaps be imputed to the circumstance that hitherto she has always appeared in a spacious place, where on account of the distance it was requisite to give strong play to the features. Perhaps as a German this is my fancy only, for the applause was never more tumultuous than when (to my feeling) she overstepped the bounds of the beautiful and graceful.

Before the ballet, the one-act opera “Le rossignol” was given; from which Weigl took the subject of his German opera of “Nachtigall und Rabe.” The music of the French opera is of no account, and interested me only through the masterly execution of a flauto-solo by Mr. Tulou. It is impossible to hear a finer tone than that Mr. Tulou draws from his instrument. Since I heard him, it appears to me no longer so inappropriate, when our poets compare the pleasing sound of a fine voice to the tones of a flute.

[Pg 113]

SECOND LETTER.

Paris, December 31. 1820.

Since the despatch of my first letter, a fortnight has elapsed, replete with enjoyment, and since then we have both seen and heard much that is beautiful; but for the present I must content myself with writing to you upon that which most nearly concerns my art. I have now made my appearance before musicians and dilettanti, connoisseurs and a lay public, as violinist and composer, first at Mr. Baudiot’s, primo violoncellist of the royal orchestra, on the day after at Kreutzer’s, and since then at three private parties. At the soirées of the two first the company consisted almost wholly of musicians; at Kreutzer’s, in particular, almost all the first composers and violinists of Paris were present. I gave several of my quartets and quintets, and on the second day my nonet. The composers present expressed themselves to me in very laudatory terms upon the composition, and the violinists upon my play. Of the latter, Viotti, both the Kreutzers, Baillot, Lafont, Habeneck, Fontaine, Guerin, and several others whose names are not so well known in Germany, were present; and you may imagine that it was then highly necessary that I should collect my faculties, to do credit to my countrymen. The wind-instrument parts in my nonet were played by the five artists of whose masterly execution of Reicha’s quintets you will have so frequently read in accounts from Paris. I had the pleasure of hearing them play two of those quintets, but shall reserve to myself all detailed observations thereon till I shall have heard some more of them. At the request of all the musicians present my nonet was played again the same evening; and if the readiness with which the assistant players read à prima vista that difficult piece of music had surprised me, I was still more gratified, upon its repetition, by the manner in which they now entered into the spirit of the composition and re-executed it.

The young pianist Herz, of whom you have also doubtless read in the Parisian musical miscellanies, played twice[Pg 114] on that evening, at first his own variations on the theme from the “Schweizerfamilie,” and then Moscheles’ well-known variations on Alexander’s march. The extraordinary execution of this young man is the astonishment of everybody; but with him, as with all the young artists here whom I have yet heard, it seems to me that his technical cultivation is in advance of that of his mind; otherwise, in a company composed of artists only, he would surely have given something different and more intellectual than the break-neck tricks of art he exhibited. But it is very singular, how all here, young and old, strive only to shine by mechanical execution, and individuals in whom perhaps the germ of something better lies, devote whole years and every energy to the study and practice of one single piece of music, frequently of the most worthless kind, in order to create a sensation with it before the public. That the mind remains torpid under such circumstances and that such people never become much better than musical automatons may be readily imagined.

Hence one seldom or never hears in the musical réunions here an earnest, well-digested piece of music, such as a quartet or quintet of our great masters; every one produces his show-piece; you hear nothing but airs variés, rondos favoris, nocturnes, and the like trifles, and from the singers romances and little duets; and however incorrect and insipid all this may be, it never fails to produce an effect, if it is executed right smoothly and sweetly. Poor in such pretty trifles, with my earnest German music I am ill at ease in such musical parties, and feel frequently like a man who speaks to people who do not understand his language; for when the praise of any such auditors extends even sometimes from my play to the composition itself, I cannot feel gratified by it, since immediately afterwards he bestows the same admiration upon the most trifling things. One blushes to be praised by such connoisseurs. It is just the same at the theatres: the masses, the leaders of the fashion here, know not positively how to distinguish the worst from the best; they hear “Le[Pg 115] Jugement de Midas” with the same rapture that they hear “Les deux Journées” or “Joseph.” It requires no long residence here, to adopt the frequently expressed opinion, that the French are not a musical nation.

The artists themselves here are of this opinion, and frequently reply, when I speak of Germany in this respect: “Yes, music is loved and understood there, but not here.” In this manner may be explained how good music wedded to a wretched theatrical piece, falls to the ground, and wretched music united to a good pièce de théâtre, may be highly successful.

This has deprived me of all desire to write for any of the theatres here, as I had previously much wished to do; for apart from the fact that I should have to begin de novo, like a young composer—since, with the exception of some of my violin pieces, they know little or nothing of my compositions—and further that I should have to work my way through a thousand cabals, which would rise up against me as a foreigner with fearful violence before I could get my work performed, so that at the end I should find, although I might have written good music, its success would be uncertain, as that depends, as I have said, almost wholly on the theatrical piece. This may be seen from the notices in the journals here upon recent operas, in which whole columns are devoted to a critique of the text, and the music is dismissed with a passing notice of a few words only.

Were it not so lucrative to write for the theatres in Paris, there would have been long since no good composer willing to do so. But from the considerable gain which a successful opera brings in during one’s whole life-time, new works are produced almost every day; authors and composers turn their mind constantly to the creation of new effects, but do not neglect at the same time, to ply the public for months together in the journals, and provide the necessary number of paid claqueurs in the pit on the evening of the performance, in order to ensure a brilliant reception for their work and[Pg 116] thereby an ultimate rich harvest from its frequent repetition. If only half as much were to be gained by an opera in Germany, we should soon be equally rich in good composers for the theatre as we now are in instrumental composers, and we should have no further need to introduce foreign pieces upon our stage, for the most part unworthy of the artistic culture of Germans.

After a residence of now three weeks it may be well imagined that we have repeatedly visited all the theatres. I am the more pleased at this as the circle of my acquaintance has become larger, and my engagements both for the morning and evening have so much increased that for the next fortnight we shall be able to devote but few evenings to the theatre.

Of the Théâtre français, the Odéon, and the four lesser theatres, I shall say nothing; as in a musical point of view they offer nothing worthy of notice. In the two first they give nothing but entr’actes, and in the four others almost nothing else but vaudevilles. That this last kind of theatrical pieces, which, thanks to Apollo and the muses, has hitherto been transplanted into no other country, is so much liked here that four theatres give almost nothing else, is the most striking proof that the French are not musical; for the sacred art cannot be more abused anywhere than in these kind of songs, which are neither sung nor spoken, but rattled out in intervals, and which are in most striking anomaly with the melodies, and the accompanying harmony. All Frenchmen of taste are agreed that the vaudeville, which formerly was given in one theatre only, has by its increase deteriorated more and more the taste for true music, and therefore had a prejudicial effect upon art here. We have been to each of these theatres once, to hear the celebrated comedians Brunet, Pothier and Perlet, but are not likely to go a second time, for the enjoyment one derives from the wit and inexhaustible humour of those performers is too dearly purchased by hearing such wretched music. I was particularly struck by the[Pg 117] skill with which the orchestra in those theatres follow the singers, who do not in the least adhere to the time, or the notes. But this is, also, their chief merit, for in other respects they are but middling musicians.

We have been frequently to the Italian opera, and much enjoyed ourselves there. Last evening we saw “Don Juan” there, at last, after it had been frequently announced. The house was again, as upon the previous performances, filled to overflowing, and hundreds of people could find no room, even half an hour before the curtain drew up. I was disposed to believe that the Parisians had at length understood the classical beauty of this work, and that they flocked always in greater numbers to enjoy it; but I soon relinquished that opinion when I saw that the finest parts of the opera—the first duet, the quartet, the grand septet, and several other things—passed off without making any impression upon them, and two subjects only received a storm of applause, which was given rather to the singers than to the composer.

These two subjects, which were each respectively encored, were the duet between Don Juan and Zerline: “Reich mir die Hand mein Leben” etc., and the air of Don Juan: “Treibt der Champagner” etc.; the first, because Signor Garcia, not having depth of voice sufficient, transposes it to B flat, and the last even a whole tone higher, to C. Madame Fodor-Mainville, who well knew that the song-pieces of Zerlina would please the Parisians more than all the rest of the opera, chose very wisely that part, and the result shewed that she had calculated rightly. What would she care, were the characters of the opera wholly transposed, so long as she meets with a storm of applause. The real connoisseur can only consent to this when he dismisses from his mind that she personates the role of a peasant girl, and when he wholly sets aside the true intention of the subject represented; for she decorates the simple songs of her part with a number of high-flown embellishments which, splendidly though she may execute them, are here wholly out of place; first because they do not at all[Pg 118] belong to Mozart’s music, and secondly, because they are wholly incompatible with the character. With deduction of this, it certainly affords an unusual enjoyment to hear this part, which in Germany is usually played by a third-rate singer, impersonated by a first-rate one, and so distinguished a vocalist. Signor Garcia, as Don Juan, uses also too much ornamentation. Where this is only moderately admissable, he comes out with a fioritura a yard long; and these are most out of place in the serenade, where the supposed mandoline accompaniment forbids the most simple ornament. Nevertheless he gives full latitude in it to his fancy, and in order to do this more conveniently, he takes the tempo very slow. On the other hand, however, he sings his song incomparably “Treibt der Champagner” etc., and I acknowledge that I never heard that air so well sung. The pliability of the Italian tongue is of great use to him in this, and instead of losing his breath in it, as is usual with our German singers, his vocal power increases to the end.

The other parts are sung more or less well, but none of them badly, and one must gratefully acknowledge that each does his best to do honour to the work. One may also be very satisfied with the performance, when one loses sight of the claims one is justified in making upon so celebrated a combination of artists. But to a German it soon becomes very evident that these singers, who execute Italian music only, and that of Rossini especially, in the highest perfection, cannot give the music of Mozart with the same excellence; the difference of style is far too great. The effeminate, sweet execution which accords so well with the former, obliterates too much the energetic character which distinguishes Don Juan above all other of Mozart’s operas.

The orchestra, which the Parisians always pronounce the first in the world, made some mistakes. Twice for instance the wind instruments were very obviously at fault, and they wavered several times so much, that the conductor was obliged to beat the time for them. I became confirmed but the[Pg 119] more strongly in my opinion, that a theatrical orchestra, however excellent it may be, on account of the great distance of the extreme ends, should not be conducted otherwise than by a continual beating of the time, and, that to mark the time constantly by motions of the body, and the violin, like Mr. Grasset does, is of no use. In other respects this orchestra is justly famed for the discretion with which it accompanies the singer, and in that might serve as a model for the other Parisian as well as many German orchestras.

The choruses are also excellent, and the effect particularly powerful and grand at the concluding allegro of the first finale. But why here, as well as almost everywhere else, is this allegro taken so unreasonably quick? Do then the conductors wholly forget, that by so doing they decrease instead of increasing the power, and that the triplet movement of the violins which must first give life and motion to the whole, cannot be brought out clearly and forcibly in a movement of such exaggerated rapidity, and instead of hearing the living whole, it becomes a mere skeleton sketch without fillings in?!

When one hears so beautiful a piece of music lose its effect by incorrectness of time, one wishes again that the marking of the tempi was finally and universally established either on Mälzel’s or Weber’s method, or still better upon both at the same time. But then of course orchestral conductors must follow them conscientiously, and not as now, follow their own fancy merely.

THIRD LETTER.

Paris, January 12. 1821.

With a mind greatly relieved, I write to announce to you, my dear friend, that I have made my public début and with success. It is always a hazardous undertaking for a foreign violinist to make a public appearance in Paris, as the Parisians are possessed with the notion that they have the finest violinists in the world, and consider it almost in the[Pg 120] light of arrogant presumption when a foreign considers he has talent sufficient to challenge a comparison with them.

I may therefore well be a little proud of the brilliant reception I met with the day before yesterday, and the more so that, with the exception of a dozen persons, the auditory was personally unknown to me, and there were none among them who had been admitted with free tickets in purchase of their service as claqueurs. But I had prepared myself very carefully for the occasion, and was properly supported by the careful accompaniment of Mr. Habeneck. I was, however, not in the least nervous, which is sometimes the case with me when I appear for the first time in a strange country, and which occurred to me the year before in London. The reason why I did not feel so in this instance, was doubtless, that here I had already played before all the most distinguished musicians, previous to my appearing in public; but in London eight days only after our arrival, without having been previously heard by any person, I was constrained to appear at the philharmonic concert.

Before I enter into any details of the concert, I must first relate how I came to give it. It is at all times a tedious business to make arrangements for a concert in any town, but in Paris, which is so extensive, where so many theatres are daily open, where there is so much competition and so many obstacles to overcome, it is indeed a Herculean task. I think also that this is the reason why so many artists who come to Paris, decline giving a public concert, which, besides being attended with the enormous expense of nearly 3000 francs, is always an undertaking of great risk. If these matters have been extremely unpleasant to me in other places, you may readily imagine how I feared to attempt them here. In order to get over the difficulty, I bethought myself of making a proposition to the directors of the grand opera, to divide with me the expenses and the receipts of an evening entertainment of which the first half should consist of a concert and the second of a ballet. Contrary to the expectation[Pg 121] of all those to whom I had spoken on the subject, this proposition was acceded to.

The consent of the minister was however so long delayed, that the concert could not be announced till three days before it took place, and although the house was well filled, yet I ascribe to this delay that it was not so crowded as I had expected so novel and, from its novelty, so attractive an arrangement would have been for the Parisians. The half which came to my share, after deduction of the expenses, was therefore, as you may imagine, not very considerable: but as I had not calculated upon making much pecuniary gain in Paris, I do not regret this arrangement at all, as it saved me an immense deal of trouble, and yet gave me an opportunity of making my appearance in public. Of my own compositions I gave: the overture to “Alruna,” the newest violin concerto, and the potpourri on the duet from “Don Juan.” Between these a cavatine of Rossini’s was sung by Mademoiselle Cinte, and a duet, also of the same master, by Messrs. Bordogni and Levasseur. At the rehearsal the overture was repeated three times, and in the evening therefore, although it did not go off quite so well as the last time at the rehearsal, the public nevertheless could not refuse their applause of its execution. In the concerto, as well as in the potpourri, some of the wind instruments failed twice, from a negligence in observing the pauses, which seems somewhat usual with the French, but fortunately it was not much disparaged by it. The satisfaction of the audience was unmistakably expressed by loud applause and cries of Bravo! To-day, however, the criticism of the majority of the journals is not so favourable. I must solve this riddle for you. Previous to every first appearance in public, whether of a foreigner or a native, these gentlemen of the press are accustomed to receive a visit from him, to solicit a favourable judgment, and to present them most obsequiously with a few free admission tickets. Foreign artists, to escape these unpleasant visits, sometimes forward their solicitations in writing only, and the free admissions at[Pg 122] the same time; or, as is of frequent occurrence, induce some family to whom they have brought letters of introduction, to invite the gentlemen of the press to dinner, when a more convenient opportunity is offered to give them to understand what is desirable to have said of them both before and after the concert. This may perhaps occur now and then in Germany; but I do not think, that newspaper critics can be anywhere so venal as here. I have been told that the first artists of the Théatre français, Mlle. Mars, and even Talma, pay annually considerable sums to the journals, in order to keep those gentlemen constantly in good humour, and that the latter, whenever they wish to extricate themselves from any pecuniary embarrassment, find no method so sure as to attack some esteemed artist until he submits to a tribute of money. How the opinions of a press that are so purchasable, are at all respected, I cannot understand. Suffice however to say, I did not pay any of these supplicatory visits, for I considered them unworthy of a German artist, and thought that the worst that could happen would be, that the journalists would not take any notice at all of my concert. But as these have each a free pass to every performance at the grand opera, I found I was mistaken. They all speak of it; some with unqualified praise, but the majority with a But, by which the praise is more than sufficiently diminished. In all these notices, however, French vanity speaks with the utmost self-assurance. They all begin by extolling their own artists, and their artistic culture, above all other nations; they think that the country that produced Messrs. Baillot, Lafont and Habeneck, need envy no other its violinists; and whenever the play of a foreigner has been received here with enthusiasm, it is nothing more than a proof of the great hospitality which the French in particular shew towards foreigners. Apart from this vanity the notices are very contradictory: The “Quotidienne” says, for instance: “Mr. Spohr aborde, avec une incroyable audace, les plus grandes difficultés, et l’on ne sait ce qui étonne le plus, ou son audace ou la sureté avec laquelle il[Pg 123] exécute ces difficultés.” In the “Journal des Débats,” on the other hand: “Le concert exécuté par Mr. Spohr n’est point surchargé de difficultés,” etc. These gentlemen differ also in opinion respecting the merits or demerits of my compositions. The majority think them good, but without saying why; but “Le Courier des Spectacles,” which altogether speaks most disparagingly of me, says: “C’est une espèce de pacotille d’harmonie et d’enharmonie germaniques que Mr. Spohr apporte, en contrebande, de je ne sais quelle contrée d’Allemagne.” But Rossini is his man, of whom he says further on: “Cet Orphée moderne a défrayé de chant le concert de Mr. Spohr, et il lui suffit pour cela de prêter une petite aria et un petit duo bouffo.” But as a violinist I found more grace in his eyes; he says for instance: “Mr. Spohr comme exécutant est un homme de mérite; il a deux qualités rares et précieuses, la pureté et la justesse,” but then winds up his phrase like a true Frenchman: “s’il reste quelque temps à Paris, il pourra perfectionner son goût et retourner ensuite former celui des bons Allemands.” If the good man only knew what the “bons Allemands” think of the musical taste of the French?!

This ridiculous vanity in the Parisians is shewn also in their conversation. When one or other of their musicians plays anything, they immediately ask: “Well, can you boast of anything like that in Germany?” Or when they introduce to you one of their distinguished artists, they do not call him the first in Paris, but at once the first in the world, although no nation knows less what other countries possess, than they do, in their—for their vanity’s sake most fortunate—ignorance.

You are doubtless astonished that I have as yet said nothing of the music of the royal chapel; but I delayed doing so intentionally, until I had first heard some of Cherubini’s masses. Lesueur and Cherubini, the two directors of the music of the royal chapel, assume the duties of their office every three months alternately; our arrival took place during the time of Lesueur’s directorship, and Cherubini’s did not begin till the first of January. But the musical directors of the[Pg 124] royal chapel do not conduct the music themselves, and preside only in their court uniform at the head of the vocal personnel, without taking any active part in the performance. The director de facto is Plantade; Kreutzer leading player of the first violin, and Baillot of the second. The orchestra is composed of the first artists in Paris, the chorus is powerful and good. Every mass is rehearsed once or twice, and under Plantade’s sure and spirited direction, every thing goes exceedingly well.

Although previously prepared by Mr. Sievers’ account, I was very far from expecting to hear music here of the style we call church-music in Germany; yet I was greatly taken by surprise by the brilliant theatrical style of a mass by Plantade, which I heard on my first visit to the chapel on the 17th of last month. There is not the least trace of the ecclesiastical style, not a vestige of the canonical management of the voices, and still less of a fugue. But apart from this, there were very pretty ideas, and much good instrumentation, which would be quite in place in a comic opera. The concluding allegro, probably upon the words: Dona nobis pacem (for I am not certain, since the French pronounce Latin in a manner very unintelligible to a German ear) was so completely in the style of the finale to an opera (like those usually with three or four times increased tempo) that at the end, forgetting completely where I was, I expected to see the curtain fall, and to hear the public applaud.

At midnight, on the 24th December, we heard a so-called “Messe de minuit” of Lesueur’s composition. First of all we were obliged to endure a great trial of our patience, in which during two somewhat tedious hours, from ten to twelve o’clock, we heard nothing but psalms, sung off in the most monotonous manner, and interrupted at intervals with barbarous peals of organ-play. At length, at midnight, the mass began. Again the same frivolous theatrical style as in that of Plantade, but which at the solemn midnight hour was still more insufferable. But what most surprised me,[Pg 125] particularly from Lesueur, who is reputed here a first-rate harmonist, and was educated, if I am not mistaken, for a teacher of harmony at the Conservatoire, there was not even a four-part management of the voices! Though at times it may be effective in an opera, when writing only a two-part vocal distribution, to let the soprani go in octaves with the tenors, and the alti with the bass, partly with a view to facilitate the execution of the generally bad theatrical choruses, and partly to obtain by that means more material power; yet to me it seems quite barbarous to introduce this in the church, and I should therefore like to know what Mr. Lesueur, who must certainly be an artist of reflective powers, means by it. In the place of the offertory, variations by Nadermann for the harp, horn and violoncello were thrust in, executed by the composer and Mrs. Dauprat and Baudiot. You who know, that in Germany a serious symphony even appeared to me too mundane at this part, may therefore readily imagine what an unpleasant impression these frivolous, French variations on the harp must have made upon me in a mass at midnight; and yet I saw the people present in earnest prayer. How is it possible for them to feel a religious sentiment with such trivial music! This must be either a matter of no importance to them, or they know how to close their ears effectually; otherwise, like myself, they would of a certainty be reminded of the ballet at the grand opera, in which those three instruments are heard in a like manner in the most voluptuous dances. Although the harp in ancient times was the favorite instrument of a pious king, it should for all that be banished from the church, because it is wholly unfit for the severe style which is the only one suitable for that edifice.

But will you believe it, when I assure you that even the worthy master Cherubini himself, has allowed himself to be led away by this bad example, and his masses exhibit in many places a theatrical style. It is true that he makes amends for it in those places with superior music, full of effect;[Pg 126] but who can enjoy it, if he cannot wholly forget the place in which he hears it?

It would he less regrettable that Cherubini also should deviate from the true ecclesiastical style, if in some individual parts he did not shew in what a dignified manner he can move in it. Several separate subjects in his masses—particularly the scientifically conducted fugues, and above all his Pater noster up to the profane conclusion—afford the grandest proofs of this. But when one has once overcome the inclination to feel annoyed at this frequent, extremely digressive style, one feels then the highest enjoyment of art. By richness of invention, well-chosen, and frequently quite novel sequences of harmony, and a sagacious use of the material resources of art, directed by the experience of many years, he knows how to produce such powerful effects, that, carried away by them in spite of oneself, one soon forgets all pedantic cavil to give oneself wholly up to one’s feelings, and to enjoyment. What would not this man have contributed to art, if instead of writing for Frenchmen, he had always written for Germans!—

FOURTH LETTER.

Paris, January 30. 1821.

The two months which I had allotted to our stay in Paris are drawing to a close. As I do not know whether circumstances may even permit us to come here again, we are exerting ourselves to find all the remarkable things we have not yet seen, and make daily excursions in Paris and into its environs. In order to devote my time wholly to this, I have given up the idea I had conceived of giving another soirée before our departure, and for which I had already made some arrangements. The fortnight which I should have been obliged to devote solely to that object, I can now therefore pass more pleasantly, and in greater freedom. I gave up with much more repugnance my project to give a second[Pg 127] public concert, since, from the reception given to the first, I had good ground to expect a successful result. But during this month there was not a day to be found favorable for such a purpose; for on a week day the administration will not give up the theatre, as there is either a grand or an Italian opera, and of the three yet remaining Sundays, the first was too near, the second, as the anniversary of the death of Louis XVI., not to be had, and the third, already pre-engaged by Mr. Lafont for a concert. To extend our stay over the middle of next month, we have no desire, for we are heartily tired of the noisy life and ceaseless night-disturbance here, and ardently long for a quiet place of residence.

On the other hand I have latterly played more frequently at private parties, and seen with pleasure that my compositions, upon every repetition, have been received with greater enthusiasm, especially by musicians. This has been particularly the case with a new quintet for pianoforte, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon, which I have written for my wife, and in which, since by the advice of the physician, she has abandoned the harp, she has appeared several times. The chief object of my coming here, to make myself personally known to the most distinguished artists here, and to become more nearly acquainted with them, I have thus fully effected; and I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the sympathy and kindness which the greater part of them have evinced towards me. They repeatedly endeavoured to persuade me to make a longer stay, and should I feel disposed to give a second concert, they would not only take all the trouble of the arrangements for it off my hands, but promised to get together for me the best orchestra in Paris, without the cost to me of a single sou. Although I am not likely to avail myself of this offer, yet it was very gratifying to me.

Another no less important object of my coming here has also been achieved; I have had opportunities of hearing the most celebrated violinists of, and at present in Paris. Baillot gave a soirée at his house for me, at my request; I heard Lafont[Pg 128] at his own concert; and the younger Kreutzer and Habeneck at morning concerts which were arranged expressly for the purpose. Should you wish to know which of these four Violinists has best pleased me, then without hesitation, in point of execution, I say, Lafont. In his play he combines beauty of tone, the greatest purity, power, and grace; and he would be a perfect violinist, if, with these qualifications, he possessed depth of feeling, and had not accustomed himself to the habit peculiar to the French school, of laying too much stress upon the last note of a phrase. But feeling, without which a man can neither conceive nor execute a good adagio, appears with him, as with almost all Frenchmen, to be wholly wanting; for although he dresses up his slow movements with many elegant and pretty ornaments, yet he still remains somewhat cold. The adagio appears altogether to be considered here, both by artists and the public, as the least important part of a concerto, and is only retained perhaps because it separates both the quick subjects and increases their effect.

To this indifference for it—as indeed the general insensibility of the French for everything that works upon the feelings—I ascribe also, that my adagio and the manner in which I played, made less impression here than the brilliant allegro subjects. Accustomed to the special applause which my manner of playing it had received from Germans, Italians, Dutch, and English, I at first felt hurt to see it thought so little of by the French. But since I have observed how seldom their artists give them an earnest adagio, and how little their taste for it is awakened, I became pacified on that subject. The practice of giving emphasis to the last note of a period, by an increased pressure and a rapid upward stroke of the bow, even when that note falls on a part where the time is bad, is more or less common to all French violinists, but with none so prominent as Lafont. To me it is incomprehensible how this unnatural accentuation has arisen, which sounds exactly as though a speaker endeavoured to intonate[Pg 129] the short final syllable of a word with particular force. If when executing a musical piece the cantabile of the human voice had always been kept in view as model (which in my opinion should be done by every instrumentalist) such errors would never have become confirmed habits. But the Parisians are so accustomed to this unnatural custom, that a foreigner who does not play in the same bizzarre manner, appears to them much too plain, or, as Mr. Sievers expresses it, “much too straightforward.”

That Lafont’s excellence restricts itself always to but a few pieces at once, and that he practises the same concerto by the year together before he plays it in public, is well known. Since I have heard the perfect execution which he attains by this means, I certainly will not cavil with this application of all his powers to the one object; but I could not imitate him, and cannot even understand how one can bring one’s-self to practise the same piece of music for four or five hours daily, but still less how it is to be done without eventually losing every vestige of real art, in such a mechanical mode of proceeding.

Baillot is, in the technical scope of his play, almost as perfect, and his diversity of manner, shews that he is so, without resorting to the same desperate means. Besides his own compositions, he plays almost all those of ancient and modern times. On one and the same evening he gave us a quintet of Bocherini, a quartet of Haydn, and three of his own compositions—a concerto, an air varié, and a rondo. He played all these things with the most perfect purity, and with the expression which is peculiar to his manner. His expression, nevertheless, seemed to me more artificial than natural, and indeed his whole execution, from the too salient evidence of the means by which he gives that expression, has the appearance of mannerism. His bow-stroke is skilful, and rich in shades of expression, but not so free as Lafont’s, and therefore his tone is not so beautiful as that of the latter, and the mechanical process of the up and down stroke of the bow is too[Pg 130] audible. His compositions are distinguished above almost all those of any other Parisian violinist by their correctness; neither can they be denied a certain originality; but being somewhat artificial, mannered, and out of date in style, the hearer remains cold and without a sense of emotion. You know that he frequently plays and takes great pleasure in Boccherini’s quintets. I was desirous of hearing him in these quintets, with about a dozen of which I am acquainted, in order to see whether from the manner in which he executes them he could succeed in making one forget the poverty of the compositions. But well as they were given by him, the frequent childishness of the melodies, and the poverty of the harmonies (almost always three-voiced only) were no less unpleasing to me, than in all those I had heard before. One can hardly understand how a cultivated artist like Baillot, to whom our treasures in compositions of this kind are known, can bring himself to play those quintets still, whose worth consists only in the regard had to the period and circumstances under which they were written. But that they are here listened to with as much pleasure as a quintet of Mozart, is another proof that Parisians cannot distinguish the good from the bad, and are at least half a century behind in art.

I heard Habeneck play two airs variés of his composition. He is a brilliant violinist and plays much with great rapidity and ease. His tone and his bow-stroke are somewhat coarse.

Kreutzer junior, the brother and pupil of the elder, played to me a new, very brilliant and graceful trio of his brother’s composition. The manner in which he executed it reminded me somewhat of the style of the elder one, and satisfied me that they are the purest players of all the Parisian violinists. Young Kreutzer is wanting in physical power, he is somewhat ill, and dare not play sometimes for months together. His tone therefore is weak, but in other respects his play is pure, spirited and full of expression.

Two days ago I heard two more quite new quintets of Reicha, which he wrote for the morning-concerts of the five[Pg 131] previously named artists. They were played at a rehearsal, which appears to me to have been given solely for the purpose of fishing for more subscribers to the morning-concerts, among the numerous persons who were invited. At least a list of them was handed round. It is sad to see what means artists here are obliged to resort to, in order to procure support for their undertakings. While the Parisians press eagerly forward to every sensual enjoyment, they must be almost dragged to intellectual ones.—I found the composition of these two new quintets, like those I had previously heard at Kreutzer’s, rich in interesting sequences of harmony, correct throughout in the management of the voices, and full of effect in the use made of the tone and character of the different wind-instruments, but on the other hand, frequently defective in the form. Mr. Reicha is not economical enough of his ideas, and at the very commencement of his pieces he frequently gives from four to five themes, each of which concludes in the tonic. Were he less rich, he would be richer. His periods also are frequently badly connected and sound as though he had written one yesterday and the other to-day. Yet the minuets and scherzi, as short pieces, are less open to this objection, and some of them are real masterpieces in form and contents. A German soundness of science and capacity are the greatest ornaments of this master. The execution in the rapid subjects was again wonderfully correct, but somewhat less so in the slow ones.

I do not think I have yet spoken to you of the Feydeau. We have been less frequently to that theatre than to the other operatic theatres, because it so happened that on those evenings when we were at liberty pieces were generally performed that did not much interest us. Yet we were present at the first representation of Méhul’s “Joseph,” which, after a long repose was again put on the stage. The public however, did not seem very grateful for this to the directors of the theatre, for they gave it but a cold reception. In support of my assertion that the French take an interest only in the piece,[Pg 132] and know little how to appreciate the excellence of the music, I may adduce, that the tirades in the dialogue were far more applauded than the song parts. The singers succeeded in obtaining applause only when, in the superabundance of an artificial feeling, instead of singing, they began to sob. At the pieces of the opera—for instance, at the first chorus of the brothers—there was not a hand stirred. Many of the tempi were taken quite different from those in Germany, but not to the advantage of the music; for instance, the fine morning-hymn of the Israelites, behind the scenes, was taken so quick, that it lost all its solemnity. A screaming violin, also, that supported the soprani was far too prematurely loud. The orchestra played well, and was particularly remarkable for a delicate piano.

Moscheles has been here a month. He makes a great sensation with his extremely brilliant play, and wins the admiration both of artists and dilettanti, the former by his execution of his richly intellectual compositions, and the latter by his free fantasias, in which, as far as his Germanism permits him, he accommodates himself to the Parisian taste. The brothers Bohrer have also returned to-day from a tour in the provinces, but will remain here a few days only, and then leave on a new tour viâ Munich to Vienna. I regret that I shall not have an opportunity of hearing these artists, whom I have not met for ten years. They wanted to persuade me to accompany them from here upon a tour in the southern provinces, where they assure me some money is to be made. But I have not the least inclination to go. The bad orchestras in the provincial towns, the bad taste and the unpleasant negociations to lessen the amount to be given up to the theatre and the poor of the towns, would make a journey of the kind too disagreeable to me. In a few days we shall return to Germany by way of Nancy and Strasbourg, and therefore shall soon greet you again in dear Fatherland.

Till then farewell!

[Pg 133]


To these letters regarding my sojourn in Paris, I have yet to add some few things from recollection. From the frequent opportunities I had of playing before Cherubini at private parties, I conceived a very ardent desire to have all my quartets and quintets so far as I thought them worthy of it, heard by that by me highly esteemed master, and to introduce them by degrees to his notice, in order to ask his opinion of them. But in this I succeeded with very few only, for when Cherubini had heard the first quartet (it was Nr. 1 of the Op. 45 written at Frankfort), and I was on the point of producing a second, he protested against it, and said: “Your music, and indeed the form and style of this kind of music, is yet so foreign to me, that I cannot find myself immediately at home with it, nor follow it properly; I would therefore much prefer that you repeated the quartet you have just played!” I was very much astonished at this remark, and did not understand it until I afterwards ascertained that Cherubini was quite unacquainted with the German masterpieces of this kind of Mozart and Beethoven—and at the utmost had once heard a quartet by Haydn at Baillot’s soirées. As the other persons present coincided with Cherubini’s wish, I consented the more readily, as in the first execution of it, some things had not gone altogether well. He now spoke very favourably of my composition, praised its form, its thematic working out, the rich change in the harmonies, and particularly the fugato in the last subject. But as there were still many things not quite clear to him in the music, he begged me to repeat it a second time, when we should next meet. I hoped he would think nothing more about it, and therefore at the next music party brought forward another quartet. Before I could begin, however, Cherubini renewed his request, and I was therefore obliged to play the same quartet a third time. The same thing occurred also with Nr. 2 of Op. 45, excepting that he spoke of it with more decisive praise, and said of the adagio: “It is the finest I ever heard.” He was equally pleased with my pianofo