Beethoven  the  German


Of  National  Folly  by  “Shrewd  Heads”  in  Matters  of  Art

Public  Letter

to  the  editors  of  the  Frankfurter  Allgemeine  Zeitung

July 24, 2003


Gentlemen ,


Erich Wagner, for long years combative promoter of the press at the post Bonn as corset of the middle-classed newspaper-makers, summed up his professional life with “The paper from yesterday cannot be from yesterday at all”. Analogue virtually to the “title pages” of your house.

Thus neither forgotten nor forgiven should be Gerhard R. Koch’s prelude of May 12, 2003, to the coming sale of the duplicate of the manuscript of Beethoven’s Ninth from the possession of the Schott publishing house in Mayence at Sotheby’s in London. In which he then spins on the golden thread of the sellout of national cultural assets again and again opportune in your paper, too, and called for the legislator. So that this adds a further strangulation to the daily new afflictions on behalf of individual basic liberties.

For it does not matter that by rights the manuscript, if original or, as even here, only duplicate (sic!), should have adorned the list of national cultural assets since long. For this list, as far as it prohibitively regiments the change of ownership out of the country, is just for itself alone a menetekel, a mast of usurpation, a sad testimony of cultural ignorance that treats the shins of the freedom of art.

For art is a synonym for freedom. For the freedom of the individual. First of all that of the creator through whose heart’s blood it flows. But not less that of the collector whose soul it is. Created for its own sake, either if for delight or with pains, but never under the premise of small-minded national border stink. Rather for all and everyone as an offer to approach it, to try to fathom it, to love it and to own it.

« At first I was utterly horrified by such a foolish act …

The idea to keep something is quite nice.

But on the other hand it is utterly out of fashion,

a world which becomes ever more multi-cultural and anti-national,

that suddenly one thinks one can save that.

Just now we do the utter opposite,

we receive millions of others and slowly give up ourselves.

So, this for once is the first contradiction.

And then the idea

that then commissions come and jugde this,

this is good and this can stay: that is nonsense! »

Gerhard Richter

on the Act for the Protection of Cultural Assets in an interview with Stefan Koldehoff

Collectors only buy Entertainment Nonsense anymore

Deutschlandfunk, 25 December 2015

You do not get tired to intone the Song of Songs of globalization, to accompany emphatically the progress of a Europe without borders as such, topical to the above, e.g., to confirm to the stockholders of WELLA the best possible realization of their high carat shares as emanation of their basic right as owners, but if the owner of intellectual securities wants to claim such for himself, too, you help the old, evil smack “foreign country” from the rag-bag of most wretched memory back into the broad daylight of the celebrated New World Order as soon as there is only the possibility that the borders yet torn down could not be respected in practice.

A self-exposing intellectual evidence of incapacity of all those knights bearing the flags of the globalization and of a competition without borders. For their posts are of yore. Provoking the great Lichtwark’s hundred years old and here adjusted question “How does it look like in the souls and thus in the (intellectual) dwellings of our (opinion makers)”.

You shake a private owner whose family has carefully kept a trophy through umpteen generations and now wants, completely legitimately, to part from it and call for the same government that only recently presented as donation to a foreign country a trophy of quite different a caliber, the Waldseemüller map as one top item of just that Red List of National Cultural Assets you call in, under evasion of its codex. Justified by raison d’état? Where wars of all ages carried on for just that have always destroyed as, at best, emanation of human insufficiency more irretrievable cultural assets of all nations than eons of private collectors ever could by neglect!

With “sold abroad” you touch xenophobe instincts otherwise denounced so emphatically and at the same time celebrate the Getty Foundation which gives its rescuing hand of restorers beyond borders to collections whose public owners are either not capable or not willing to return the shine to immortal works of art. Not asking for government and obliged ones, but only for the work and only following the motto Do it now.

Have you never been pained by these fractions in your thinking and writing? And therefore stirred up? Even deprived of your sleep? Confessing to yourself that also in cultural property freedom is indivisible? That not the place of art and literature is important, but only that they exist? Even accepting that temporarily not accessible to Tom, Dick and Harry? For, as once a writer noted all too true for a dealer, at the end everything comes into public hands. Purchased here, donated there out of public spirit. Inseparably linked to the latter, however, as essence the awareness of ensured freedom to be able to decide oneself some day what and where happens to what had been “the greatest joy in life” (Richard + Mathilde Schwerdt née von Brentano). And with just this joy a quite different aspect steps into the limelight. That of the public benefit of a collector of whatever dimension beyond his very own hobby-horse. A human inspired with joy means multiplied productive power. For

“ Joy  commands  the  hardy  mainspring / Of  the  universe  eterne .

Joy , oh  joy  the  wheel  is  driving / Which  the  worlds’  great  clock  doth  turn ”

(Schiller, An Ode to Joy).

It is not least and quite essentially the compulsorily lacking of just this stimulus due to the over-regulation on all levels that troubles Germany that much since years and lets creatives raise the stars and stripes as symbol of what in Weimar Goethe saw as more promising compared with “our continent the old” and in Vienna 1820 has let the educationist Blöchlinger saying to Beethoven downright prophetically

“ It seems to me we Europeans go backwards, and America will raise to culture. At least the current relation is not qualified to battle against the American’s legal demands for independence ”

(Kerst, Die Erinnerungen an Beethoven, 1913, vol. II, page 312).

But  back  to  the  start .

To the duplicate of the Ninth together with the final chorus of joy you wished to see on Germany’s Red List of its National Cultural Assets. Struck with the blindness of the zealot!

Just with the Choral you sharpen your pen to the writing versus England! For dedication to Frederick William III of Prussia here, first night in Vienna in 1824 there, the London Philharmonics have the right to regard it as “composed expressly” for themselves (“for this society”, so the programme to its first performance March 21, 1825, based upon Beethoven’s autograph address on the copy of the score he sent to London “Große Sinfonie geschrieben für die Philharmonische Gesellschaft in London von Ludwig van Beethoven”).

The latter had asked the master for a new symphony November 10, 1822, for what he was already prepared and had written to Ries in this regard already April 6 that year. December 20 he accepted the order. “This has become the Ninth Symphony” at which he resumed to work in the second half of that year. And “This symphony he sent to London” (Nef, Die neun Sinfonien Beethovens, 1928, p. 256 f.). Against which – so the same place footnote p. 257 – after Riemann (Mannheimer Veröffentlichungen) neither its designation as “Sinfonie allemande” would testify as this “a typical designation for German symphonies going abroad”. And, carrying on, Schmitz concludes (Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft III, p. 511) that Beethoven “may have added the chorus final in view of the taste of the English for vocal music and chorus effects”. As everybody knows the master finally was not truly satisfied with this solution.

And legal titles of general nature? The birth in Bonn where only the grandfather moved in from Belgium, from where the master himself already departed as 22-year-old to never return? Don’t deceive yourself. If you want to chain up Beethoven, not afraid of his frightened laughter, locally at all, then, please, at Austria’s chain. With that, that is Vienna, he is inevitably inseparably joined. With which latter he quarreled, which he never left again though. Where his fame raised, his genius ruled and tens of thousands escorted him to the Währinger graveyard. If on a Red List at all, than on that of Austria. The master would have sent to packing the one as the other anyway. For

“ Rousseau grew on French soil indeed, but belongs, as every great mind,

to  none  and  every  nation , id  est  the  world ”

(Christoph Kuffner, playwright friendly with Beethoven, in the master’s 61st conversation book of April 1826 on which Schindler later noted in front “Interesting talk. Beethoven called it (even later) ‘very instructive’”).

Accordingly Grillparzer’s funeral oration :

“ … he kept a human heart to all men , a fatherly to his folks ,

goods  and  blood  to  the  whole  world . ”

Analogue to the final chorus

“ this  kiss  throughout  the  world . ”

Should nevertheless one nation claim a special right by virtue of the master’s affection and own action, then the English. It may be quoted:

“ ‘The gentlemen (a circle of musicians and literati at the inn The Golden Lamb in Vienna) claim that the English neither know to make good music nor can esteem it’, (the violinist) Mayseder replied (to Beethoven’s question what it were about), ‘but I disagree’. Beethoven said sarcastically: ‘The English have ordered several compositions for their concerts and offered me fine royalties, the German, with exception of the Viennese, begin only now to perform me, and the French find my music unplayable; thus it is obvious the English do understand nothing of music, don’t they? Haha!’ ”

(from the memory of the “Beethoven dervish” Dr. Becher, communicated in Kerst, op. cit., vol. I, page 88, and here inserted subsequently).

“ He lead us to his splendid fortepiano, with the exaltation that the Philharmonic Society in London had presented himself with it. This were an honorable people which not only knew to esteem art, but also to reward – and yet alone allows the freedom of speech and writing, even against the king and the most powerful ministers, that no censors and customs officers (do you hear it in Frankfort?!) hinder. – He scolded himself a fool that he had not accepted the invitation of the English friends of art, for loyalty to Vienna where art is carried on insanely as a fashion without to understand true art, nor to esteem, or to reward. – ‘Sometimes I let fall,’ he added, ‘a hearty, free word; for this I am considered mad’”

(the Bremen educationist W. Chr. Müller October 26, 1820, on his visit at Beethoven, as above, I, 261).

“ Moscheles could not assure me enough, in redundancy indeed, how much you are admired in all England, and he did not dare to come to London without being able to say the English he had seen you well ”

(Schindler end of 1823 in the conversation books, communicated same place, II, 284).

“ Truly splendidly among these instruments stood the artist’s grand piano, a gift from his high-minded admirers in England, engraved in its sides in gilt writing I viewed the names of the greatest artists giving this sound device besides the common meaning a historical one … ”

(the Rhenish writer Zuccalmaglio on his visit to Beethoven 1824 in Baden near Vienna, communicated same place, II, 82).

“ Beethoven … had an exaggerated opinion on London and its highly educated inhabitants: – ‘England ranks high in culture. In London every man knows something and knows it well, but the Viennese, he knows to talk about eating and drinking and sings and strums music of little importance currently, or which he fabricated himself … Yes, yes, so it is.’ – Now it was about the praise of the English who appreciate everything that is stout, fine and well … ‘Yes, in England, where one still has a sense for the great also compositions of content are, as I have heard, performed deservingly. I have to go to London, too …’ ”

(the London harp manufacturer Stumpff who deeply delighted the master even on his death bed with Haendel’s works on his visit 1824, communicated same place, II, 87-95).

“ … where the giant of the living composers … stays during the summer months. The people seem surprised that we took so much trouble (to see him); for as inexplicable it may appear to those indeed who have any knowledge of music or the taste for it: in  Vienna  his  rule  is  over , except for the hearts of few chosen whom I have, said aside, not met yet though … ”

(an Englishwoman in a letter of October 1825, published in the London magazine Harmonicon, December 1825, pp. 222 f.).

“ From (March) 24 towards evening till the last breath (on the 26th, a quarter before six PM) he was nearly constantly in delirio. But still in the dreadful fight between life and death he did not forget the good deed of the Philharmonic Society if he only had a lucid interval, and praised the English nation which always confessed so much attention to him ”

(Schindler on April 4, 1827, to Moscheles in London to whose intermediary the known generous gesture of the Philharmonic Society is owed, that made up twice what had to be paid as royalties for the Choral two years before, see Nef p. 257).

“ Beethoven … had asked both the Philharmonic Society in London and Moscheles who was in England then to arrange a concert on his behalf. The Society was generous enough to send 100 £ immediately what moved Beethoven deeply. His friend Rau tells:

‘ It was heart-rending to see him, folding his hands, being all tears of joy and gratefulness. ’

Caused by his joyful emotion one of his wounds opened during the night (what made him cheerful the next day as being freed of new water). He intended to dictate a letter to the ‘magnanimous Englishmen’ participating at his sad fate. He promised a work to the Philharmonic Society, his tenth symphony, an overture, or what else they might wish. ‘I commit myself to extend my warmest thanks to the Society’ … ”

(Rolland, Ludwig van Beethoven, 1918, pp. 128 ff.).

When these facts became known one entered the same unctuous foreigner circles at home which 180 years later are no lesser familiar to you, gentlemen, see at the outset. On this Schindler continues in aforementioned letter:

“ And now the Viennese cry and write loud and publicly he did not need the help of a foreign nation and so on, but do not consider … Shortly, dear friend, I and Mr. Privy Councillor von Breuning request of you urgently that if this abominable arguing spreads till England, to do it for the sake of Beethoven’s manes and make the letters you have on this publicly known in one of the most-read German papers, e.g. ‘Allgemeine Zeitung’ in Augsburg (as, too, Beethoven’s “preferred reading”, Kerst II, 50 f.), … for that one may set these scribblers here right.

The Philharmonic Society has the honor to have buried this great man by its money for without this we could not have done it decently. All cried: ‘What shame for Austria! This one should not tolerate, all will contribute to it’, alone it remained with crying. The musical society decided the day after the funeral – – – to have a requiem held for him, and this is all … ”.

If the latter has really happened so is in this context less important than the xenophobia belonging to the context here.

Sure, Schindler is not considered the reliable source in literature anymore since long. Especially in regard of the English donation Rau (tutor and assistant in the house of the involved Vienna banker Eskeles) has reported to Moscheles the day after Beethoven’s death that the 100 £ found still untouched had to be “deposited with the magistrate until the more precise disposition of the Philharmonic Society”, that he could not have “allowed (especially) the funeral costs from this money … without the consent of the society”. So in Kerst II, p. 226. Analogous to von Seyfried who explains in the here present autograph manuscript of his “Biographical Notes” on Ludwig van Beethoven from 1831 as the second earliest more extensive communications –  and  only  in  these , thus not in the print version of 1832 as appendix to the “Studien im Generalbasse” – after figuring out the confirmed more favorable assets: “For this reason the aid of (not mentioned) Pound Sterling generously sent from England has been returned with thanks by the executor Mr. Privy Councillor von Breuning. ”

« I am glad

that the Mona Lisa hangs in Paris,

not in Italy!

That really is wonderful!

To hang there, as the pride of the Italians! »

Gerhard Richter

in an interview with Stefan Koldehoff

Collectors only buy Entertainment Nonsense anymore

Deutschlandfunk, 25 December 2015

As relativization of the conditions in Vienna Kerst accepts (op. cit. II, 224) Moscheles’ note on Rau’s letter of March 17 confirming the receipt of the money, too, namely “I have many proofs what sympathy Beethoven’s perilous state has raised in Vienna then, and that many of his admirers would have hurried to him with help and consolation if his seclusion would not have impeded the access to him or his closest company”. Analogously generally in Nef, op. cit., p. IV: “… to come to a more just opinion on the contemporaries whom have been defamed a lot while one should rather pay tribute to them for the enthusiastic reception they showed for the compositions offering surprise over surprise.”

Decisive in the context here, however, the master’s above and at least subjectively correct rating of his Vienna surroundings, and that one of the most moving moments in his life belongs inseparably to England. Towards which he felt bound both artistically and socially most strongly and which to visit he had in mind quite definitely still in 1824/25 after he already had realized a “Too late” before. And the suspicion of an intimate friend as the tenor Ludwig Cramolini remains that Beethoven would have “finally come into one grave with five or six others like Mozart (and Schiller)” if “my friend Jenger, Franzl Schubert, Baron Breuning” had not procured for him “an extra grave” (Kerst, op. cit., II, 236).

And how about literature ?

The  biography which is the lifework of an American. And Nef’s thought opus of 1928

“ … is strangely enough the first one in German language (mind you, only 1928!). In English, in Italian, in French language there are extensive studies in thick volumes, in German small tiny booklets only, usually just meant for the needs of concert-goers … ”

(Nef, op. cit., p. III).

After all this now you, gentlemen, come and confiscate Beethoven for Germany of which to think rather sentimentally the Rhine at Bonn and early friendships were sufficient for him, apart from this his publishers there, just Schott in Mayence, too, though without binding himself exclusively to these. Besides those in Vienna he equally had such in Paris and London. And the one who paid best got it. And thus many a things came to Vienna’s ears via “foreign country” only. And not different naturally also handleable works of art must be allowed to vagabond beyond borders.

For just as little a newspaper “is not from yesterday”, so little for art the much ado about globalization is only a matter of today. Not alone that artists do not think in borders and work for such, no, already hundreds of years before Beethoven they did not write on globalization, however, they lived it. Travelling from country to country, from court to court, following their customers and striving to find new ones. And if Beethoven could be reduced to one point, then to that of freedom. And in this Schindler surely is to be followed (Kerst, op. cit., I, 273):

“ Absolute freedom in doings to each and every side … solely confined by the moral law – in this consisted the maxim of this exceptional character. ”

Electrifying in Fidelio: To freedom , to freedom … . No, the London sale – Ludwig van would have liked it.

With the disregard deserved by you in this matter




Postscriptum :

And how it’s to be read in the FAZ – so at September 6, 2003 in Clementine Kügler’s survey on Spain’s auctions of the first half-year – does another State the same?

“ The bitter smack of this (Goya) success for the market lies in the export ban the Spanish State … had placed: It discourages the international customers and keeps the prices lower. ”

Look at. It claims even the refusal. But at the hammer price, mind you!

“ The method you describe sounds excellent. Please proceed … ”

(Mr. J. R. C., September 16, 2003)