by Theodore Albrecht
*A fully footnoted version of this article may be found in The Horn Call: pdf Volume XXIX, No. 3, May 1999
Premiere performances of soon-to-be-recognized masterpieces often gather about them a body of legend colored by hindsight and more than a little wishful thinking. After its first performance on May 7, 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony soon became the subject of many such reminiscences and reports.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the fourth horn solo in the third movement of the Ninth had developed its own lore. As Richard Hofmann recounted in his 1893 Praktische Instrumentationslehre:
Oral tradition has it that at the time of Beethoven, Levi, a fourth horn player in Vienna, possessed a recently discovered ventil-horn; on the ground [basis] of this discovery it was imagined that all horn passages could be played with equal quality of tone. Probably for this reason Beethoven (who could scarcely have heard it himself in his ... later works) wrote the difficult passage for the 4th horn in E-flat. The whole part lies badly for the player, and in view of the tone there seems no doubt that the second half of the solo is better on the E horn...
Contributing to the lore in a different way, in 1900, Baker's new Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (certainly drawing upon earlier lexica) listed hornist Eduard Constantin Lewy, his younger brother Joseph Rudolph (also a hornist), and several other family members. According to Baker, Eduard Constantin supposedly went to Vienna in 1822, summoned by Conradin Kreutzer, who had been appointed Kapellmeister of the Court Opera at the Kärntnertor Theater there.
In a 1925 Musical Times article, W.F.H. Blandford explained that the so-called "fourth" horn was merely the low voice in a second, differently-crooked pair of horns employed in the third movement. He also demonstrated (some years before the current early music revival) that nothing in the solo itself was beyond the capability of a reasonably accomplished hand hornist whose specialty was low horn. As for Lewy's role, Blandford reiterated the best of what was then known about the hornist's life, noting that until further evidence came to light, no conclusions were possible. While occasionally incorporating earlier sources of varying reliability, most authors since Blandford have essentially cited his observations with little further commentary. It seems the time is ripe for a new investigation into Lewy's life, career, and his first years in Vienna, including his relationship with Beethoven.
Eduard Constantin Lewy's Early Life
Eduard (apparently né Elias or Élie ) Constantin Lewy was born at Saint-Avold (in the Moselle Département) on March 3, 1796. He received his first musical instruction from his father Élie Lewy (for whom he was apparently named), a violoncellist who had been a Kammermusikus (chamber musician) in the service of the Duke of Deux Ponts [Zweibrücken], a cousin of Carl Theodor, the Elector of Mannheim. Virtually nothing is known about the elder Élie's origins, but the family was Jewish; whether they came from France, Germany, Bohemia, or elsewhere is likewise uncertain, but they were probably part of that generation of Jews who, much like the older Moses Mendelssohn in Berlin, found liberation from Medieval restrictions through the Enlightenment. Judging from the known birth years of his two sons, Élie Lewy may have been born around 1765-1770.
By 1802, the family must have moved further southwest, to Nancy, where his younger brother Joseph-Rodolphe (also destined to become a famous hornist) was born on April 2. Through the protection of the French General Michéle, Eduard Constantin was sent, at the age of 14, to the Conservatoire in Paris, where he received training on the horn, which he chose as his principal instrument. His teacher there was the German hornist Heinrich Domnich (1767-1844), who had lived in Paris since 1783. He also seems to have studied, at least occasionally, with Frédéric Duvernoy (1765-1838). Additionally, Lewy was a proficient violin and violoncello player, and for this reason was attracted into many quartet groups. In 1812, he entered military service (presumably as a bandsman) and, with the Old Guard, participated in campaigns until the Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815). At the beginning of the Restoration, King Louis XVIII named him Regiment Band Director and "Trumpet Major." Later he left the service and made musical tours through France and Switzerland, settling in Basel in 1817.
When reporting a concert by Basel's orchestra under Alexander Uber in the fall of 1818, an unsigned but garrulous Basel correspondent for Leipzig's Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung wrote: "We heard with pleasure a very diligent, talented hornist, Herr Lewy [play] a pleasing, well-crafted concerto by Duvernoy. We reserve for ourselves a more detailed judgment of him, if only he gives us the occasion to become further acquainted with him."
The meeting of the Schweizerische Musikgesellschaft held in Basel in June, 1820, included two concerts; the first appears to have consisted of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, performed by a large orchestra, and Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten with an equally large chorus. At the second concert, as reported in the AmZ, "Herr Elias Levi [sic] also earned justified approbation through his skill on the horn, which he handled with the greatest delicacy and clarity."
While in Basel, Lewy married Jeanette Weiler, and his eldest child Charles (later called Carl) appears to have born in Lausanne in early 1823. There can be little doubt that Conradin Kreutzer, who reportedly met Lewy in Basel and appreciated his talent, called him to Vienna to assume the position of solo horn in the Imperial Opera at the Kärntnertor Theater. But, since most sources relate that this move took place in 1822, and one would hope that Lewy was in Switzerland for at least part of 1823 when son Carl seems to have been born, the chronology obviously needs some re-examination.
Kreutzer's Appointment in Vienna
If the circumstances and dates of Eduard Constantin Lewy's appointment to the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra are in any way a result of Conradin Kreutzer's appointment as Kapellmeister there, we must determine a more precise record of Kreutzer's early activities in Vienna than has heretofore been available. Born in Messkirch, Baden, in 1780, Kreutzer led a peripatetic life, seldom spending more than a few years in any one place, and often touring even while holding a specific appointment. He spent ca. 1800-1804 in Switzerland, and then in 1804 went to Vienna, where he met Haydn and was probably a student of Albrechtsberger. From 1810, Kreutzer toured Germany and Switzerland, and was appointed Kapellmeister in Stuttgart in July, 1812, holding the post until 1816. He then worked in Schaffhausen before being appointed Kapellmeister to Prince Karl Egon von Fürstenberg in Donaueschingen from 1818 until 1822. Kreutzer assumed this position with the understanding that it was far from centers of musical activity and that he could supplement his activity there by touring.
In 1821, Kreutzer received a six-month leave (and more), which he used for tours to Vienna and Switzerland. It is likely that he met Lewy during this time. On Easter Monday in April, 1822, Kreutzer (noted as "Prince Fürstenberg's concertmaster and Kapellmeister from Donaueschingen") gave a concert at noon in Vienna's Landständischer Saal. The program consisted entirely of his own compositions, including Variations for two horns, which the Viennese correspondent of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung termed "very difficult and not very grateful."
Kreutzer returned briefly to Donaueschingen, but immediately received a longer leave to return to Vienna to prepare the production of his upcoming opera Libussa, with a tour around Germany along the way. Libussa proved enormously successful at its first performance on December 4, 1822, although at a repeat performance under Kreutzer's direction on January 2, 1823, the house was "hardly half full." Kreutzer supplied music for benefit concerts in the Kärntnertor Theater on February 12 and 15, 1823, without any title noted in the AmZ's report. Similarly, a report of another benefit concert, held at the Theater on March 30, at which Kreutzer performed, notes him simply as Kapellmeister, but with no further details. On May 22, 1823, however, Kreutzer, now identified as "Kapellmeister in the Imperial Royal Theater next to the Kärntnertor," gave a morning concert at the Augarten Hall, including his own Phantasie and Rondeau de Chasse on the Panmelodicon, with two obbligato horns.
Thus Kreutzer's appointment at the Kärntnertor Theater followed Libussa, but was probably not effective until March or even May, 1823. Under such circumstances, he probably would not have been in a position to recommend or make new orchestral appointments — including Eduard Constantin Lewy — much before Summer, 1823.
Hornists in Vienna at the End of 1822
Before discussing Eduard Constantin Lewy's arrival in Vienna, a survey of the hornists professionally active in the Habsburg capital immediately beforehand might prove profitable. At the end of 1822, at just about the time that Kreutzer premiered his Libussa, the Kärntnertor Theater's horn section consisted (alphabetically, here and below) of Camilla Bellonci, Friedrich Hradetzky, Johann Janatka, and [Joseph] Kail. The suburban Theater an der Wien (privately owned) was the only other Viennese stage to employ four horns on a regular basis: Benedict Fuchs, Michael Herbst, [Joseph] Kowalowsky, and [Michael] Sack. Joseph Bauchinger and Philipp Schmidt played at the Court's Burg Theater (which mostly produced spoken plays, including many with music); Franz Kankora and one Zelenka at the newly-refurbished Josephstadt Theater; and Aloys Grohowsky and Ignatz Hirtl at the decidedly popular Lepoldstadt Theater. Camilla Bellonci and Friedrich Hradetzky (both of the Kärntnertor Theater), along with the veteran Willibald Lotter (or Lother, 1762-1844), played in the Imperial Hofkapelle (Court Chapel). In addition, trumpeter Joseph Weidinger as well as violinist and trumpeter Martin Vökel were also active as hornists during this period.
Among the hornists at the Kärntnertor Theater, Friedrich Hradetzky (ca. 1772-1846) was probably senior-most, but was seemingly also a low horn player. As a young man, he had come to Vienna from Bohemia. By 1796, he had substituted in the Court/National Theater orchestra, but when low hornist Jakob Eisen died on April 10 of that year, Johann Hörmann (ca. 1748-1816) was hired instead. The absence of Hradetzky's name from Court Opera Orchestra lists until ca. 1808, along with his continuing activity in these years, suggests that he may have found additional employment at the Theater an der Wien. On April 30, 1809, at a colleague's benefit concert in the Kleiner Redoutensaal, Hradetzky played Beethoven's Horn Sonata, Op. 17, with Carl Czerny at the piano. He also performed, probably as low hornist to Joseph Kowalowsky's high, on the December, 1813-February, 1814, premieres of Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8, along with Wellington's Victory. With the death of Johann Hörmann in 1816, Hradetzky received the additional appointment as hornist in the Imperial Hofkapelle. When Hradetzky gave a concert in the Kleiner Redoutensaal for his own benefit on April 12, 1818, he included Carl Czerny playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 on his program. The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung noted "his masterful handling of the horn," and Beethoven's biographer Anton Schindler, doubtless reflecting the composer's own opinion, called him "the great horn player Hradetzky."
Joseph Kail (Kayl/Khayl) seems to have been principal hornist at the Kärntnertor Theater in 1822. Born at Gottesgab, Bohemia, in 1795, Kail studied at the Prague Conservatory and became first horn at Pest in 1819. While in Vienna, from 1822, he worked with Uhlmann and the Kerners on the development of the valve. In 1825, Kail returned to Prague as first horn of the Landesständisches Theater.
The other high hornist in the Kärntnertor Theater orchestra was Johann Janatka or Janaka (1800-after 1832), who had been a fellow-pupil with Kail in Prague, and who came to his post in Vienna in 1822. In 1828, he succeeded Michael Herbst as first horn at the Theater an der Wien, but returned to Prague in 1832.
By process of elimination, and because he seemingly substituted for Hradetzky in the Hofkapelle, Camilla Bellonci must have been the Kärntnertor Theater's other low hornist in 1822. Born in Italy and trained in France and Germany, he was employed in the opera orchestra in Vienna in 1808. On March 25, 1818, at a concert in the Kärntnertor Theater to benefit the Fund for the Poor (a program including Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, "performed in a very mediocre way"), Bellonci and Max Joseph Leidesdorf performed "Variations" for piano and horn, which, along with some vocal pieces, "received the greatest applause."
Viennese Concerts Featuring Horns in 1823
During this era, the horn was a prominent solo instrument in Viennese concerts, most of which were potpourri affairs consisting of virtuoso vocal and instrumental solos or ensembles, usually with an overture or two, and sometimes with a symphony of greater or lesser substance. One typical grand Akademie (concert) in the Kärntnertor Theater, on February 12, 1823, was sponsored by the Society of Noblewomen for the Promotion of Charitable Purposes. The thirteen works on the concert included Beethoven's Egmont Overture, a vocal quartet and a chorus by Kreutzer, and Variations for Horn, composed and played by Michael Herbst. Another concert for the Beneficial Institutions, held in the Kärntnertor Theater on Pfingsten (Whit Sunday), May 18, included an unattributed "Jäger-Chor," accompanied by six horns, performed by students of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde's Conservatory, presumably under Herbst's directorship.
The Augarten, an expansive formal garden at the north end of suburban Leopoldstadt, was the site of many of Vienna's summer concerts, held outside the hall if weather permitted, inside if not. At the Augarten Hall's morning concert of May 22, 1823, Conradin Kreutzer programmed seven items, including his own Phantasie and Rondeau de Chasse on the Panmelodicon with two obbligato horns. Another summer concert, at the Josephstadt Theater on August 19, included the overtures to Méhul's Le jeune Henri and Weber's Der Freischütz.
In none of the above reports after February, and especially for the August 19 concert, at which the Josephstadt Theater's customary pair of horns must have been augmented to a quartet, is there any mention of the hornists' names. Frequently, newly-arrived or high-profile artists are mentioned in reports of these concerts, so this lack suggests that "customary" personnel, whether regularly-employed or free-lance, made up the horn sections and pool of soloists that were heard. If a potential star such as Eduard Constantin Lewy had been in Vienna for much of the year, he probably would have merited some mention. As it stands, there is none.
But an ominous cloud appeared on the horizon. The Italian impresario Domenico Barbaja (ca. 1778-1841) had leased the Kärntnertor Theater from the Imperial Court late in 1821, and soon issued termination notices to many members of the company, as well as reductions in salary to many others. On April 13, 1822, Barbaja began a Rossini festival of six extraordinarily successful productions, with the Italian composer himself present. Many Viennese, including Beethoven and his circle, regarded the popular "Rossini fever" with some alarm, from both artistic and economic viewpoints. It is possible that the production of Kreutzer's Libussa in December, 1822, and the subsequent appointment of Kreutzer to a Kapellmeister's post was calculated to dispel some concern among the Viennese. By June, 1823, there was talk of dividing the Theater an der Wien's company, so that the operatic wing would move to the Kärntnertor Theater, and by July, the rumor was that the move would be accomplished within the next five months. Morale in the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra began to decline. On May 18, 1823, principal contrabassist Anton Grams, long a unifying force in its musicality, died at the age of 70. Players who could sought more secure employment elsewhere, especially at the Court-operated Burg Theater, only a few blocks distant and still within the city's walls. As the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung's reporter unflatteringly opined: "The old and well-established reputation of this orchestra ... became a farce."
Lewy's Earliest Performances in Vienna
Among the first musicians to breathe new life into the orchestra were Eduard Constantin Lewy and the bassoonist Theobald von Hürth. While Hürth arrived in Vienna on November 23, 1823, Lewy's exact date of arrival remains unknown. Their first recorded public performance, however, was a brief Akademie before a performance of the ballet Der Pilger at the Kärntnertor Theater on January 23, 1824. The program, presumably conducted by Conradin Kreutzer, consisted of the following pieces:
Beethoven, Overture to Prometheus
[Luigi] Belloli, Concertino for horn, performed by Herr Lewy
[Carl] Bärmann, Allegro from a Bassoon Concerto, played by Herr Hürth
Rossini, Aria [unidentified], sung by Madame [Theresia] Grünbaum
Kreutzer, Concertante for Bassoon and Horn, performed by Messrs. Hürth and Lewy
Doubtless the benefit concert was meant to welcome the newly-appointed or soon-to-be-appointed colleagues. Writing shortly afterwards, the Viennese correspondent for Leipzig's Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung noted their status: "They are said already to have been engaged for service in the Theater." In a report that did not appear until two months later, and which may have tacitly interpolated later developments, the local Wiener Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (and presumably its editor Friedrich August Kanne) commented: "These two artists ... have come to Vienna from Switzerland. ... Both are already engaged as members of the excellent orchestra of the Kärntnertor Theater and therefore remain within our walls."
Thus, both Lewy and Hürth must have arrived in Vienna very late in 1823; were probably engaged for the Kärntnertor Theater orchestra by January 23, 1824; and were publicly recognized as official orchestra members by March 24. Moreover, Kreutzer's Concertante, doubtless written especially for the new arrivals, supports the suggestion that the Kapellmeister was indeed instrumental in their engagement and that he had known them earlier from his own travels in Switzerland.
A word about Hürth is appropriate here. Born in Landau on December 5, 1795, Hürth was appointed chamber musician to the Grand Duke of Hesse and first bassoonist at the Court Theater in Mainz (probably when the court was re-established in 1816 after the Napoleonic wars) and, in 1818, set out on a tour of the principal cities on the Continent. In February and March, 1820, he performed in Berlin with great success. Later in March or in April, he appeared in Weimar and, sometime during the 1821-22 season, played a concert in Zürich. Thus, Hürth and Lewy were both active in Switzerland at the same time, and under these circumstances were ultimately recruited for Vienna by Conradin Kreutzer after he himself toured there. In 1839, Hürth replaced August Mittag as professor of bassoon at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde's Conservatory and, in 1840, inherited Franz Höllmayer's position as a bassoonist in the Hofkapelle. He died on March 9, 1858.
The critics were uniformly enthusiastic about Lewy and Hürth's concert of January 23, 1824. The correspondent for the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung wrote that they were "two admirable artists; the hornist especially possesses significant dexterity" and, after lamenting the Kärntnertor Theater orchestra's recent decline, added, "the entry of new, proficient members is all the more to be wished." The Wiener AmZ was more detailed in certain aspects of its commentary, declaring that the Beethoven overture was "played by the orchestra with great precision." Regarding the hornist, it opined somewhat vaguely: "Despite the fact that his embouchure appeared somewhat impeded and that his disposition did not appear to be entirely favorable, Herr Lewy solved the difficulties given to him with all ease and bravura, and received well-earned approbation from those present." As for bassoonist Hürth, "he possesses ease and bravura in the high and low [registers] and, at the same time, plays a very pleasant dolce in expressive passages, a great advantage in the case of this instrument." Summing up, the Wiener AmZ wrote: "Both guests greatly distinguished themselves and were given the appreciation they deserved," but included a strange caveat: "We are convinced that these two artists ... need to orient themselves only a little to the taste prevalent here, and they will surely know how to make demands upon the public's interest in an even more brilliant manner."
Soon Lewy and Hürth found themselves becoming part of Vienna's musical establishment, including participation on the frequent benefit concerts. On April 18, 1824, the Kärntnertor Theater hosted an Akademie to benefit the Charitable Institutions. Among the twelve selections that made up the program, accompanied by orchestra, was the Concertante for bassoon and horn by Kreutzer, a repeat of the duo's performance of January 23. Its many other participants included the singers Theresia Grünbaum, Caroline Unger, and Henriette Sontag. Indeed, Unger and Sontag would be among the soloists at the premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony less than three weeks later.
Beethoven's Progress on the Ninth
Although Beethoven had long thought about, and even jotted down, thematic material that he would later use in the Ninth Symphony (and had reportedly set Schiller's "An die Freude" even before leaving Bonn in 1792), he did not engage in extensive sketching for it until the Missa solemnis was completed, probably by late December, 1822, and certainly by the third week in January, 1823. Some preliminary sketches for all four movements of the work, probably dating from the period between late September and December, 1822, and various sketchbooks show continuing work on all movements through 1823. Most of the third movement seems to have been composed between April and August of that year.
Not only is the exact progress and chronology of these sketches uncertain, but it is complicated by the fact that we do not know exactly when Beethoven began filling his 404-page working copy of the score, and to what extent it took place simultaneously with the advanced sketches. In this autograph, the extensive fourth horn solo occurs on 206-218, with the exposed scale passage on 209, thus just over halfway through the physical score itself. Beethoven's sometime secretary Anton Schindler provides a clue to the score's chronology:
The master did not return to Vienna [from his summer lodgings in Baden] until ... the end of October. ... The new symphony was finished up to the fourth movement; that is, he had it all in his head and the main ideas were fixed in the sketchbooks. Contrary to his usual method of working, he frequently put the music aside, especially the fourth movement, for he could not decide which verses to choose from Schiller's ode An die Freude. ... In February of the following year, 1824, this colossal creation was finished down to the last detail.
I suspect that a significant portion of the symphony, probably the first movement at least, was in score before Beethoven came back to Vienna, but even if Schindler's account is entirely accurate, the third movement must have been fully scored by early to mid-December, 1823.
Thus, the third movement was probably well envisioned by March, 1823, with most of the sketching finished by around mid-August. If those sketches were transformed into full score by December, virtually the entire composition of the third movement--with its fourth horn solo--must have been finished before Lewy arrived in Vienna.
Prelude and a Premiere
The events within Beethoven's circle leading to the premiere of the Ninth Symphony on May 7, 1824, have been related many times, with most accounts describing the composer as indecisive, procrastinating, unreasonable, and downright ill-tempered. In light of the foregoing discussion, however, a few aspects might profitably be recounted and re-evaluated. Beethoven's secretary-turned-biographer Schindler indicates that the composer, alarmed at the "widespread decadence" in Vienna's musical life caused by the recent prevalence of Italian opera, turned to Count Carl Friedrich Moritz Paul von Brühl, Intendant of the Court Theaters in Berlin, to see if the Missa solemnis and Ninth Symphony might be premiered successfully there. When word that Berlin was indeed interested in the prospect circulated around town, thirty-odd "friends of music" signed a flowery petition asking Beethoven to hold the first performances of these works in Vienna, and delivered it to the composer on February 26, 1824. Flattered, Beethoven agreed and met regularly with his own circle of friends and advisors, including Schindler, violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, and the music-loving Count Moritz Lichnowsky. Early in their discussion of possibilities, Count Ferdinand Palffy, owner of the Theater an der Wien, offered the theater and its personnel at an attractive price.
Doubtless knowing the reputed decline of the Kärntnertor Theater orchestra (a factor that Schindler never mentions in his biography), Beethoven initially welcomed the idea, but wanted Schuppanzigh to serve as concertmaster, rather than the Theater an der Wien's regular principal, Franz Clement. While Palffy seems to have been willing to allow such a substitution, the orchestra itself was not. Moreover, a March 8 entry by Schindler in the conversation book notes that Palffy was in financial trouble and, as of March 6, had not paid the orchestra their salaries. The conversation books also indicate that by mid-March, Beethoven's own preference was for the Grosser Redoutensaal, the large ballroom of the Imperial palace complex that had been the location for three out of the four concerts of December, 1813-February, 1814, that featured the successful first performances of Wellington's Victory as well as Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8. For the concert of February 27, 1814, whose payroll survives, Beethoven had had an orchestra of 18 first violins, 18 seconds, 14 violas, 12 violoncellos and 7 contrabasses. With winds doubled and possibly tripled, the orchestra had numbered at least 108, and perhaps as high as 123 players, sixty of whom were made up of personnel selected from virtually all of Vienna's theaters, supplemented by four or five dozen of the city's best amateurs. These and similar concerts during the Congress of Vienna were surely events to which Beethoven looked as his models for the premiere of the Ninth Symphony and Missa solemnis, although Schindler never mentions such a consideration. Lichnowsky argued that a smaller orchestra in the Theater an der Wien was more effective than a larger ensemble at the Redoutensaal, adding, "It is right to double the orchestra, but superfluous to hire more people than are necessary." Probably in response to these and similar arguments, by the second week in April, Beethoven conceived of holding the concert in the Landständischer Saal, a smaller hall used by the Lower Austrian Provincial Assembly, where he could likewise put together an orchestra made up of his own chosen personnel, with Schuppanzigh as concertmaster, as he had done in 1813-1814. We know that Beethoven was thinking in this direction (although Schindler never tells us, nor did Thayer ever perceive it from the evidence), because the composer himself jotted into his conversation book the name of Joseph Dobihal, a military band director who had played clarinet in the 1813-1814 concerts. As has come down to posterity, however, Beethoven's circle thought the composer unreasonable, and (with politics at the Theater an der Wien at an impasse) Schindler proceeded with negotiations for the Kärntnertor Theater, essentially reaching an agreement with its manager, Louis Antoine Duport, by April 24. Always happy to bring negative or gossipy news, Schindler meanwhile attended a rehearsal for the April 18 benefit concert at the Kärntnertor Theater and reported to Beethoven that in the Fidelio Overture, "the new hornists made some serious mistakes."
While the Kärntnertor Theater's chorus began rehearsing for Beethoven's May 7 Akademie as early as April 28, the first rehearsal using portions of the orchestra was held in the Landständischer Saal from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 2, and included the strings from the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the winds from the Kärntnertor Theater, the chorus from the Gesellschaft and the four vocal soloists. Beethoven did not attend, but had dinner afterwards in a restaurant with Schindler and Schuppanzigh. In addition to tales of mishaps during the rehearsal ("The wind section from the Theater is most miserable"), Schindler reported to Beethoven that the bassoonist and first hornist wished to pay their compliments to the composer. Not long afterwards, the pair, seemingly accompanied by Prince Liechtenstein's wind ensemble director, the clarinettist Wenzel Sedlak, must have entered the restaurant. Encountering Beethoven's group, the musicians either said little or were able to make themselves understood readily, creating no conversation book entries of their own. After they departed, Beethoven probably asked, "Who were they, again?" to which Schuppanzigh replied in writing: "It was Hürth and Lewy; both have only recently been called here from Switzerland." The Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra and chorus rehearsed in separate rooms on May 3, followed by a combined rehearsal on May 5 and the dress rehearsal on May 6.
Beethoven's concert at the Kärntnertor Theater on the evening of Friday, May 7, 1824, included the Consecration of the House Overture; the Kyrie, Credo, and Agnus Dei from the Missa solemnis; and of course the Ninth Symphony. Eduard Constantin Lewy, whom it appears Beethoven had met for the first time less than a week before, was principal high hornist at this performance. Among the low hornists, Friedrich Hradetzky (unless he was among the wind players whom Schindler had termed "miserable") probably had his choice of parts and probably played the so-called "fourth horn" solo in the third movement of the symphony. If Lewy did play the solo, as oral tradition claims, it would have been because Hradetzky or someone like him had deferred to the new principal hornist. The remainder of the Kärntnertor quartet took the other parts, very possibly doubled in tutti sections by two additional pairs of high and low horns. No known record survives to identify those horn players, but Beethoven would surely have been aware of Herbst and Kowalowsky at the Theater an der Wien; the latter had played on his 1814 concert.
As many first-hand accounts attest, the May 7 Akademie was a success. With a repeat performance distinctly possible, Beethoven wrote a thank-you note to the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra, probably on May 9: "I am obliged to thank most sincerely all those who showed me so much love and cooperation at my Akademie. Since I have been invited to give it one more time, I am convinced that I shall not commit an error ... if I request all of the participants once more to take part and to ennoble my work by their assistance." Beethoven had originally hoped to hold the repeat concert on the next Friday, May 14, but was ultimately postponed until Sunday, May 23, this time in the Grosser Redoutensaal, with a brush-up rehearsal on Friday, May 21. But the concert season had passed, and most of Beethoven's potential financial backers had left the walled confines of Vienna for their summer residences in the country. Moreover, the day was warm and sunny, and so Beethoven's box-office receipts were disappointing. Nonetheless, by all accounts, the performance itself remained an artistic success.
Lewy's Activities in Vienna,1824-1825
On May 9, 1824, two days after Beethoven's first Akademie, Friedrich Wranitzky, a violoncellist of the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra, gave a concert for his own benefit in the Kleiner Redoutensaal. The program included Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio, Bernhard Romberg's Cello Concerto in F-sharp minor, a vocal quartet by Schubert, Bravura Variations for piano played by Leopoldine Blahetka, and Variations for two horns by Conradin Kreutzer, performed by Lewy and his 13-year-old student Robert Leser. While there is no record that Beethoven attended the concert, Schubert--younger and more eager to hear his works performed in public--most surely would have. In his five or six months in Vienna, Lewy seems to have established himself as a teacher of sorts.
Lewy must also have sensed an appreciation for his artistry in his new hometown, because, within a few months, on November 21 (now listed as "first hornist of the I. R. Court Opera Orchestra"), he gave his own benefit concert in the Landständischer Saal. His program consisted of Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio; Carl Maria von Weber's notoriously difficult Concertino for horn, "played with great virtuosity;" a Pacini aria with obbligato violin, sung by Henriette Sonntag, accompanied by violinist Joseph Mayseder; [Conradin] Kreutzer's Variations for horn ("execution very fine"); Friedrich Kalkbrenner's Rondo brillante, played by young Antonia Oster; and concluding with Friedrich Dionys Weber's Quartet for horns, played by Lewy "and three of his colleagues." The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung commented further: "As a finale after hearing so many brilliant works, this simple piece was not advantageously placed; nonetheless it gave great pleasure to the connoisseurs of art."
Shortly afterward, Vienna received a visit from Gottfried Schunke, principal hornist of the Royal Württemberg Theater and Orchestra in Stuttgart. With his two sons, pianist Ludwig (13 years old) and hornist Ernst (12 years), Schunke gave a concert in the Landständischer Saal on December 5, 1824. The program included a horn concerto by Dupuy (Gottfried); Hummel's Piano Concerto in A minor (Ludwig); Variations on "God Save the King" for two horns (Gottfried and Ernst); and an Andantino and Polonaise for two horns (Gottfried and Ernst). Although the performance was sparsely attended, we may assume that Lewy was present, because his younger brother Joseph Rudolph was a colleague of Schunke's at Stuttgart. Indeed, the Schunkes' visit to Vienna, as well as brother Joseph Rudolph's position in the southwest German city, may have prompted Eduard Constantin's journey there early in 1826. But of that, more later.
A survey in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of musical activity at the Kärntnertor Theater for the year 1824 provides an idea of the schedules that Lewy and his colleagues must have followed. Among the 311 subscription and 29 benefit performances were 64 repertory performances of over ten German operas, 129 of over twenty Italian operas, and 152 of over fifteen ballets.
Lewy's schedule early in 1825 must have been similarly busy with benefit and privately-sponsored concerts, in addition to rehearsals and performances at the Court Opera. On January 23, he participated in a concert given by the young pianist Antonia Oster in the Landständischer Saal, playing an Introduction and Variations for horn (and, presumably, piano) by Franz Lachner. On February 2, in the Kleiner Redoutensaal, Conradin Kreutzer organized an Akademie to benefit suffering families. The program featured six of his own compositions, including the Concertant-Duo for two pianos, accompanied by horn and bassoon, performed by Leopoldine Blahetka and Kreutzer (pianists), Lewy and Theobald Hürth; and the Introduction and Rondeau à la chasse for Panmelodicon and two horns, performed by Kreutzer with Lewy and his student Robert Leser. Another Akademie, this time in the Kärntnertor Theater to benefit the public Charitable Institutions, on April 3, consisted of eleven works, including the Variations for two horns [by Kreutzer], again performed by Lewy and Leser.
Starting on March 13, 1825, however, the Kärntnertor Theater's operatic playbills frequently began to read "zum letztenmal" ("for the last time"): impresario Domenico Barbaja's contract was about to expire and had not been re-negotiated with Vienna's imperial officials. Barbaja already had made plans to take several of his principal singers with him to the San Carlo Opera in Naples. Before his departure, he organized a concert on March 26 as a benefit for the members of the ballet, chorus and orchestra. After a few farewell concerts by the stars of Barbaja's troupe, the Kärntnertor Theater closed its doors.
It is uncertain how Lewy and his colleagues survived the months that followed; probably they gave lessons and "gigged" around the city--activities that would have left little or no documentary evidence. When the Bohemian pianist Wenzel Wilhelm Würfel began a prolonged stay in Vienna in the spring of 1825, he held his April 24 concert at the hall of piano maker Johann Andreas Streicher in the fashionable suburb of Landstrasse, rather than in any of the halls within the city's walls. Among the six works on Würfel's program was Lachner's Variations on a Swiss Song for piano and horn played by Würfel and Lewy. Even though the Court Opera was inactive, Lewy's reputation remained undiminished. When the British conductor Sir George Smart visited Vienna from September 4 to 20, 1825, he noted in his journal: "Those who are accounted highest in talent on their respective instruments are ... Horns, Lewy and Herbst."
In October, 1825, reports circulated around Vienna that a new contract had been signed with Barbaja, and that the Kärntnertor Theater would reopen in six weeks, but by November, negotiations reached an impasse, with no resolution in sight. As the Viennese music publisher Tobias Haslinger wrote to composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel, then in Weimar, on November 10: "We are still without opera, and musical life is in a miserable state. The nobility does absolutely nothing for it anymore. An endless Lamento could be wailed about it."
With his family growing--daughter Melanie had probably been born in late 1823 or more likely early 1824, and son Gustav sometime in 1825-1826--Lewy organized another concert of his own, on December 8, 1825, in the Kleiner Redoutensaal. The program and the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung correspondent's commentary merits extensive quotation:
[Franz] Lachner, Symphony (first [movement,] Allegro): "This young artist [organist at the Evangelical Church] is traveling the correct path and with steadfast diligence should surely reach a rewarding goal."
B[enedikt] Randhartinger, Adagio and Rondo for horn: "played with great mastery by the concert-giver."
Carl Maria von Weber, Agathe's Scene from Der Freischütz: "applause-worthily sung by Fräulein Franchetti."
[Joseph] Mayseder, Trio for harp, violin and horn: "performed by Messrs. Hailingmayer, Moritz Wehle and the concert-giver. A very pleasant piece, in which the triumvirate worked together with virtuosity."
[Rossini,] Aria from The Barber of Seville: "sung by Mlle. Heckermann: great applause."
Rossini, Duet from Torvaldo e Dorlisca: "performed by Fräulein Franchetti and Herr Krow."
F. Lachner, Variations for piano and horn: "played with the concert-giver by Fräulein Salomon. Whether the two players found too little opportunity for distinction, or whether those assembled already felt themselves satiated--but enough; this [last] was the single piece that transpired without effect and did not enjoy even the slightest expression of approbation."
While such criticism as the Lachner Variations suffered was not rare in the AmZ's columns, one is surprised to find it applied to a Lewy performance, and especially to a work that he had seemingly performed at least twice before. With excerpts from Weber's Freischütz and two Rossini operas on the program, Lewy (like most concert givers of his time) hoped to attract the widest possible audience. Randhartinger and Mayseder were both local composers, and probably wrote the works presented here for the occasion, or at least for Lewy himself. These works all earned at least a positive nod, as did Lachner's symphonic movement. The pacing of the program however, beginning with full orchestra and ending with an accompanied solo, seems strange. I suspect that Lewy placed the Lachner Variations last because he might have played them on a newly-invented valved instrument. The AmZ's reporter does not mention a valved horn, but his disapproval may be evidence of resistance against valved instruments that would continue in some circles for the next half-century. Whether used at his December 8 concert or not, the Viennese valved horn was about to be inextricably linked with Eduard Constantin Lewy, and indeed with his brother Joseph Rudolph as well.
Lewy's Tour with the Viennese Valved Horn, Early 1826
On December 16, 1825, the young oboist Jacob Uhlmann (a pupil of Joseph Sellner at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde's Conservatory) gave a farewell concert in the Gesellschaft's hall, before leaving Vienna for Stuttgart, where he had been appointed to the Royal Württemberg Hofkapelle. His teacher Joseph Sellner was also principal oboist at the Theater an der Wien, and the presence of violinist-conductor Franz Clement and bassoonist Wenzel Soika on his concert also indicate a strong connection to that suburban theater. Moreover, he was the son of Tobias Uhlmann, second oboist at the Theater an der Wien and a well-established musical instrument maker in Vienna; indeed Tobias' instrument shop was associated with new developments in the valved horn. Since 1823, however, while still a student, Jacob had been engaged as "solo oboist" in the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra, probably playing along side or substituting for principal oboist Joseph Khayll, whose health may already have been in decline. Thus Jacob Uhlmann, a member of a family experimenting with valved horns, played in the same orchestra as hornist Eduard Constantin Lewy for at least Lewy's first fifteen months in Vienna; and now Uhlmann was moving to Stuttgart, where Lewy's younger brother Joseph was a member of the horn section.
As noted earlier, Joseph-Rodolphe (later Germanised to Joseph Rudolph) Lewy had been born in Nancy in 1802. Although he initially studied with Eduard Constantin, he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire under Duvernoy. At an early date (presumably by ca. 1818), Eduard Constantin influenced the orchestral authorities in Basel to appoint Joseph Rudolph as a violist and hornist. He seemingly joined the Royal Hofkapelle in Stuttgart in 1819, upon recommendation of the new Kapellmeister Peter von Lindpaintner, and had spent seven years there by 1826. In summarizing the concerts of the Stuttgart Hofkapelle during the first half of 1825, the AmZ's correspondent noted that "Levy [sic] gladdened us with ... a Phantasie by [Conradin] Kreutzer," a work that brother Eduard Constantin could easily have sent him from Vienna.
With musical life in Vienna at a low point and with their colleague Jacob Uhlmann newly installed in Stuttgart, several of the city's musicians, including Eduard Constantin Lewy, made individual tours westward early in 1826. Lewy's exact itinerary is unclear, but he must have made a fairly direct line for Stuttgart and a reunion with his brother Joseph. There, clearly identified as "first hornist of the I[mperial] R[oyal] Opera in Vienna," Eduard Constantin Lewy
performed Variations by Lachner on the newly-invented Viennese chromatic horn; and then, with his brother, who was at that time still a member of the Hofkapelle here [Stuttgart], a Concertante by Täglichsbeck for two horns; and, at the conclusion of the concert, Variations composed for the two Lewys by [Stuttgart concertmaster] Pechatschek. The fine playing of both artists won them well-deserved approbation.
As noted above, several other Viennese artists appeared on tour in Stuttgart in these "extra concerts." Joseph Merk, the Kärntnertor Theater's principal violoncellist and Professor at the Conservatory in Vienna, presented a program on which "Herr Uhlmann, newly engaged member of the Royal Hofkapelle [in Stuttgart] played Variations on the oboe by C[onradin] Kreutzer . . . . As a favor to the concert-giver, Herr [Anton] Haizinger [of the Theater an der Wien] sang an aria by Rossini that was new to us."
Similarly, Eduard Constantin Lewy made one and possibly two stops at Strasbourg, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the first months of 1826. As reported to the AmZ,
Herr Levy [sic], hornist from Vienna, was heard on a valved horn [Klappen-Horn] in two evening entertainments. In his embouchure he combined high and low [ranges] with equal strength; the previously dull [dumpf] or muted [gestopft] are equally natural in strength. His skill is extraordinary; nevertheless, we missed good taste in his execution and complete clarity in his passage work.
If Eduard Constantin Lewy had not already experimented with the valved horn (which he probably had) by the time of his December 8, 1825, concert in Vienna, the Stuttgart and Strasbourg guest appearances provide us with his first documented public performances on the instrument. Joseph Rudolph is not specifically mentioned in connection with the valved horn here, but the associations with his brother and the new oboist Uhlmann lead to the inescapable conclusion that he, too, was beginning to explore the valve's capabilities.
Meanwhile in Vienna, negotiations were under way to re-open the Kärntnertor Theater. In December, 1825, officials projected that new German operas would resume in March, 1826, with Barbaja and his Italian company returning in the fall. It was probably with these projections in mind that Lewy and his colleagues departed on tours elsewhere: "Everyone has scattered to the four winds," lamented the AmZ's reporter. Finally, in March, 1826, Barbaja signed a three-year contract: German operas would begin on April 20, and Italian in the fall. If he had not returned to Vienna by this time, Lewy now cast his eye eastward and, significantly, brought brother Joseph Rudolph back with him from Stuttgart.
The Lewy Brothers in Vienna
On March 9, 1826, at age 58, Emperor Franz fell gravely ill, and declined so badly from March 13 to 14 that he received the Last Rites. For three days, the 14th, 15th, and 16th, "all the theaters remained closed, and high-born and low, rich and poor streamed into the churches to pray for the preservation of the Emperor's life." The crisis passed: on Saturday, March 18, a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Emperor's recovery was celebrated in St. Stephan's Cathedral. Nearly a month later, on April 16, an Akademie whose proceeds went to an unspecified "beneficial purpose" was held in the Grosser Redoutensaal to celebrate the Emperor's recovery. The concert opened with a cantata Des Volkes Wunsch (The People's Wish), with text by Ignaz Castelli and music by Joseph Weigl, doubtless written for the occasion. Among the other half dozen works was a "Concertante for two Waldhorns, performed by the Lewy brothers." Although the AmZ's reporter did not identify the composer, Täglichsbeck seems most likely, since the Lewys had recently played such a work in Stuttgart. In any case, this concert represents the first documented performance in Vienna by Joseph Rudolph Lewy and provides a firm date by which Eduard Constantin had returned from his tour.
Eventually, on April 29, after a year of darkness, the Kärntnertor Theater reopened with Weigl's Die Jugend Peters des Grossen, which had originated in 1814, during the Congress of Vienna. May 6 witnessed a revival of Weber's Der Freischütz; May 18, Rossini's Tancredi; June 3, Rossini's La gazza ladra; and June 13, Mozart's Don Giovanni, all presumably given in the German language. Eduard Constantin had surely returned to his old position, and it seems likely that Joseph Rudolph joined him in the pit either at the theater's reopening or shortly thereafter. By December 3, 1826, when the brothers gave a concert for their own benefit before a ballet performance, they were both surely members of the orchestra. Their program opened with an Overture [Rosamunde] by Schubert that received mixed reviews. A concerto for two horns by [Philipp Jakob] Riotte and Variations for two horns by [Marcus, a.k.a. Maximilian Joseph] Leidesdorf "were delicately and beautifully executed by the artistic pair of brothers; if there had been fewer difficulties, the compositions would have found even more favor." One can only speculate whether these "difficulties" might have been due to valved horns and the AmZ reporter's possible reluctance to accept them.
Nonetheless, both Lewy brothers were now established in Vienna. Joseph Rudolph would become the hornist most closely associated with Schubert in the composer's remaining two years, and one of the primary forces in valved horn technique and performance in nineteenth-century Germany.
* * *
Thus, in an attempt to clear up decades of confusion and misinformation, we have seen that Eduard Constantin Lewy was, in fact, almost surely invited to Vienna by Conradin Kreutzer, but probably did not arrive from Switzerland until ca. November, 1823, when his close colleague, bassoonist Theobald Hürth, also arrived to help rejuvenate the Kärntnertor Theater's orchestra. Not only did Beethoven not write the low hand-horn solo in the Ninth Symphony for Lewy, but it appears he did not even meet the hornist until a few days before the Symphony's May 7, 1824, premiere. As a high hornist, Lewy would not have been the obvious member of the Theater's orchestra to have played the solo, which more likely would have fallen to the senior low hornist Friedrich Hradetzky. Nonetheless, when combined with Lewy's documented proficiency in the low register as well as the high, the nineteenth-century oral tradition that he played the fourth horn solo remains strong and cannot entirely be discounted. That he or anyone else played the passage on an experimental valved horn in 1824, however, remains highly unlikely. Although Lewy may have played a valved horn in public in Vienna as early as December 8, 1825, his first documented performance on such an instrument dates from his tour to Stuttgart and Strasbourg early in 1826.
After the Kärntnertor Theater reopened in April, 1826, Eduard Constantin Lewy played there honorably, often on the valved horn, until his death from tuberculosis on June 3, 1846. By that time, both he and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony had become the stuff from which legends would be made.
A Summer, 1998, travel grant from Kent State University's Research Council made possible the present research. I would also like to express my gratitude to Othmar Barnert (Theater-Sammlung, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek), Karl Misar (Handschriften-Sammlung, Stadt- und Landes-Bibliothek), Dr. Rita Steblin, Michael Lorenz, the staff of the Stadt- und Landes-Archiv, and Dr. Otto Biba (Director, Archiv, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde), all of Vienna, as well as to Dr. Irving Godt (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and, of course, Carol Padgham Albrecht (University of Idaho) for their assistance and encouragement.
Similarly, I would like to dedicate this article to George Yaeger (former principal hornist and associate conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, as well as music director of the Abilene Philharmonic) and to Shelley Marshall Manley (principal hornist of the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City).
A preliminary version of this material was presented to the Allegheny Chapter, American Musicological Society, Fall, 1997, assisted by hornist Jason Allison (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)