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Beethoven   By:

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BEETHOVEN

A Character Study together with Wagner's Indebtedness to Beethoven

by

GEORGE ALEXANDER FISCHER

Es kann die Spur von meinen Erdentagen Nicht in Aeonen untergehn.

GOETHE.

New York Dodd, Mead and Company The Trow Press, New York

1905

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN]

TO THE MEMORY OF My father

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. Early Promise II. The Morning of Life III. The New Path IV. Heroic Symphony V. Fidelio VI. The Eternal Feminine VII. Victory from Defeat VIII. Meeting with Goethe IX. Optimistic Trend X. At the Zenith of His Fame XI. Methods of Composition XII. Sense of Humor XIII. Missa Solemnis XIV. Ninth Symphony XV. Capacity for Friendship XVI. The Day's Trials XVII. Last Quartets XVIII. In the Shadows XIX. Life's Purport

WAGNER'S INDEBTEDNESS TO BEETHOVEN

INDEX

CHAPTER I

EARLY PROMISE

God acts upon earth only by means of superior chosen men. HERDER: Ideas Toward a History of Mankind .

As life broadens with advancing culture, and people are able to appropriate to themselves more of the various forms of art, the artist himself attains to greater power, his abilities increase in direct ratio with the progress in culture made by the people and their ability to comprehend him. When one side or phase of an art comes to be received, new and more difficult problems are invariably presented, the elucidation of which can only be effected by a higher development of the faculties. There is never an approach to equilibrium between the artist and his public. As it advances in knowledge of his art, he maintains the want of balance, the disproportion that always exists between the genius and the ordinary man, by rising ever to greater heights.

If Bach is the mathematician of music, as has been asserted, Beethoven is its philosopher. In his work the philosophic spirit comes to the fore. To the genius of the musician is added in Beethoven a wide mental grasp, an altruistic spirit, that seeks to help humanity on the upward path. He addresses the intellect of mankind.

Up to Beethoven's time musicians in general (Bach is always an exception) performed their work without the aid of an intellect for the most part; they worked by intuition. In everything outside their art they were like children. Beethoven was the first one having the independence to think for himself the first to have ideas on subjects unconnected with his art. He it was who established the dignity of the artist over that of the simply well born. His entire life was a protest against the pretensions of birth over mind. His predecessors, to a great extent subjugated by their social superiors, sought only to please. Nothing further was expected of them. This mental attitude is apparent in their work. The language of the courtier is usually polished, but will never have the virility that characterizes the speech of the free man.

As with all valuable things, however, Beethoven's music is not to be enjoyed for nothing. We must on our side contribute something to the enterprise, something more than simply buying a ticket to the performance. We must study his work in the right spirit, and place ourselves in a receptive attitude when listening to it to understand his message. Often metaphysical, particularly in the work of his later years, his meaning will be revealed only when we devote to it earnest and sympathetic study. No other composer demands so much of one; no other rewards the student so richly for the effort required. The making a fact the subject of thought vitalizes it. It is as if the master had said to the aspirant: "I will admit you into the ranks of my disciples, but you must first prove yourself worthy." An initiation is necessary; somewhat of the intense mental activity which characterized Beethoven in the composition of his works is required of the student also... Continue reading book >>




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