May 02, 2007

Beethoven needs curtains


All would go well now if we had only a curtain, without it the Aria will be a failure. I only heard this to-day from S., and it vexes me much: a curtain of any kind will do, even a bed-curtain, or merely a kind of gauze screen, which could be instantly removed. There must be something; for the Aria is in the dramatic style, and better adapted for the stage than for effect in a concert-room. Without a curtain, or something of the sort, the Aria will be devoid of all meaning, and ruined! ruined! ruined!! Devil take it all! The Court will probably be present. Baron Schweitzer requested me earnestly to make the application myself. Archduke Carl granted me an audience and promised to come. The Empress neither promised nor refused.

A hanging curtain!!!! or the Aria and I will both be hanged to-morrow. Farewell! I embrace you as cordially on this new year as in the old one. With or without a curtain! Your

A letter to Beethoven's longtime Viennese acquaintance Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanovecz, on the eve of the mammoth December 22, 1808 benefit concert at the Theater an der Wien which saw the premieres of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Choral Fantasy. (The piece in question here is the concert aria Ah! perfido.)

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