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Portrait of Beethoven holding the score of the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stieler

Last night, I watched a video on YouTube.  It was about Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica.  As the Eroica premièred unofficially in a stately Vienna home, Beethoven was told that he could not marry the lady he loved because she had a title and he did not.  If she married Beethoven, her four children would be taken away from her.  (Just before the News, there is a link to that video.  It has Spanish subtitles.)

As I have written regarding Castiglione’s Cortegiano, the courtier, and l’honnête homme, there is an aristocracy above aristocracy: the aristocracy of manners, of the soul, and of the mind.  But his genius could not give Beethoven the right to marry the woman he loved and who loved him.  She would lose her children.  How can good mothers and fathers accept to be separated from their children?

Mid-way through the video, Haydn arrives.  Beethoven had been his student shortly.  Haydn spent a lifetime at Eszterháza, the Hungarian castle of the Esterházy family.  Never was a musician given the tools and facilities Haydn received from his employer.  But he was otherwise to know and to keep his place.

To their credit, I should mention that the Estherházy family provided Haydn with a generous pension.  But only in Paris and London, London in particular, did he find the appreciation he deserved.  A musician and impresario by the name of Johann Peter Salomon had convinced him to travel to France and Britain.

Unfortunately, he and Salomon, who both protected Mozart, were in London when Mozart died, which explains, to a considerable extent, why Mozart did not get a proper burial.  Mozart and his wife knew nothing about money.

Again, to their credit, after the Eroica, the Emperor’s family, the Hapsburgs, acted as did the Esterházy family, but more generously.  They provided Beethoven with a pension he would receive until his death.  Nothing was demanded of him in return.  He was not even asked to compose, but he did.  However, when he composed the Ninth Symphony, he was completely deaf and had long lived in isolation because it was painful for him to be in the company of persons he could not hear.  He had loved walking in the countryside listening to birds sing.

Link to Video
Eroica (please click on Eroica to see the video)
The Montreal Gazette: http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html
The National Post: http://www.nationalpost.com/index.html
The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/
Le Monde diplomatique: http://mondediplo.com/ EN
CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/
CTV News: http://www.ctvnews.ca/
Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/
Le Monde: http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/
Le Devoir: http://www.ledevoir.com/
La Presse: http://www.lapresse.ca/
Die Welt: http://www.welt.de/
© Micheline Walker
11 July 2012

Britannica on L’Honnête Homme

“Partly because of the influence of the salons and partly as a result of disillusionment at the failure of the Fronde, the heroic ideal was gradually replaced in the 1650s by the concept of honnêteté. The word does not connote “honesty” in its modern sense but refers rather to an ideal aristocratic moral and social mode of behaviour, a sincere refinement of tastes and manners. Unlike the aspirant after gloire (“glory”), the honnête homme (“gentleman”) cultivated the social graces and valued the pleasures of social intercourse. A cultured amateur, modest and self-effacing, he took as his … (100 of 42863 words)”[i]

[i] William Driver Howarth and Jennifer Birkett, “French literature,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 11 Jul. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/219228/French-literature>.