Beethoven: Impressions by His Contemporaries compiles remembrances of the great composer by his friends, teachers and fellow artists. The collection, now in public domain, presents “a remarkably full and convincing picture of Beethoven and his time.” To honor the worldwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, here’s one of the volume’s many vignettes.
Beethoven’s respect for Carl Maria von Weber as a composer did not approach his admiration for Luigi Cherubini, but the sensational success of Der Freischütz led him to change his opinion of Weber. When the latter went to Vienna to attend the rehearsals and the first performance there of his opera Euryanthe on Oct. 25, 1823, Beethoven relayed through Julius Benedict to Weber an invitation to call on him at Baden, where he was spending the early autumn. Of course, Weber accepted the invitation and wrote to his wife about his visit:
I was very tired, but yesterday evening had to go out again at 6 o’clock because the excursion to Baden had been agreed upon for 7:30. It took place, the party including Haslinger, Piringer and Benedict; unfortunately, however, it rained heavily. The main thing was to see Beethoven.
The latter received me with the most touching affection; he embraced me at least six or seven times in the heartiest fashion and finally, full of enthusiasm, cried: “Yes, you are a devil of a fellow, a fine fellow!”
We spent the noon hour together, very merrily and happily. This rough man actually paid court to me, served me at table as carefully as though I were his lady, etc. In short, this day always will remain a most remarkable one for me, as for all who shared in it. It gave me quite a special exaltation to see myself overwhelmed with such affectionate attention by this great spirit.