Music Composers

Beethoven-Part 4

by Arthur S. Garbett

He was a fine teacher, but hated teaching, often ignoring the pupils he accepted. Carl Czerny, who received a few irregular lessons from him, says he insisted on scale playing, and used Emanuel Bach's instruction book. for young Gerhard von Breuning, in 1826, he recommended Clementi's studies. He taught a legato touch, making more frequent use of the thumb than was common at that time. His desire was to counteract the "staccato" touch of Mozart's day, which had been necessary for the harpsichord instruments but was not suited to that still rather novel instrument, the pianoforte. As a student  it was a different matter. Beethoven never quit studying. He studied the piano and violin in his youth, and throughout his life made a thorough investigation of all the instruments of the orchestra. He studied composition with Haydn; and, when Haydn proved lax, went to Schenk and Albrechtsberger and Salieri, making his own extremely individual application of all they taught him, sorely to their bewilderment. To his honor be it said he never confused extemporization with composition. Many musicians have testified to his ability in the former; yet he labored often for years over a single theme, writing and rewriting the melody, but working on many compositions simultaneously. Some fifty large mote-books, in which he jotted down his ideas, have been carefully preserved. On his death-bed he rejoiced at receiving a complete set of Handel's works. "Handel is the best and greatest composer of them all" he exclaimed. "I can still learn from him. Bring the books here". He also lamented that death should claim him when he was on the threshold of greater things. Students who think they will be successful because music "comes easy" to them are respectfully recommended to study the life of Beethoven. Music "came easy" to Beethoven, goodness knows, but he never left off working on that account.

The Etude Magazine June 1921





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