A Fruitful Age of Musical Translations
 “Beethoven’s Vienna” (1792–1827) is seen today as the seat of high-classical culture, which gave us the idea that musical works demand fidelity to the original in performance and study. Today Beethoven’s symphonies are often taken as touchstones in the development of this composer- and score-centric understanding of the musical work.
But, as recent scholars have started to show, this dominant conception of Viennese music in fact emerged gradually; only slowly did it eclipse the more various approaches to musical works and musicality prevalent in Beethoven’s era and before. In fact, the production and public performance of symphonies fluctuated in prominence in this era; but chamber music flourished throughout, especially chamber arrangements of large-scale music. So while nineteenth-century composers, publishers, and writers started to promote the ideal of the symphony as an untouchable masterpiece, domestic arrangements supported diverse, domestic, and “hands-on” cultivation and dissemination of these same works across a much wider audience. Beethoven himself referred to his era as a “fruitful age of [musical] translations” (“fruchtbaren Zeitalter—der Uebe[r]setzungen”). Exploring the culture of musical arrangements in Beethoven’s Vienna, we can start to place women, popular culture, and domestic music-making back into the history of the classical symphony.
This essay works towards this goal, with the telling case study of Beethoven’s 1816–17 collaboration with the Viennese publisher Sigmund Anton Steiner. In 1816, Beethoven and Steiner agreed on a publishing contract that was at the time unique in the history of music publication. They decided to issue three of Beethoven’s newest orchestral works—
Wellington’s Victory, and the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, opp. 91–93—in arrangements for various combinations of chamber group, simultaneously, and concurrent with the original orchestral edition, which was issued in parts and full score. In total, seven versions were published at once of the symphonies, and eight of Wellington’s Victory. The arrangements ranged from solo piano to wind nonet ( Harmonie); and Wellington’s Victory was also released in a version for a nine-part ensemble of “Turkish” instruments. (The full advertisement is given in the appendix.)
Publishers since the late eighteenth century had done a roaring trade in arrangements for chamber arrangements of “public” music, notably operas, but also selected symphonies.
But up to 1816 no publisher had issued such comprehensive sets of different arrangements of the same work. Also significant here, and moving well outside publication “business as usual,” was the issuing of complete scores. This was not the first time that Beethoven’s symphonies had been issued in full score from the outset (see opp. 85 and 86); but the continuation of this practice demonstrates the evolving conception of the musical work, encouraging silent score study over “hands-on” reception. Perhaps more important to Steiner’s buyers, though, was the decision to publish manifold arrangements concurrently. This enterprise was partly a matter of economic sense, an extension of the strategy Beethoven had begun around 1810, and undertaken by Haydn and others before 1800, to publish works simultaneously in one or two countries so as to overcome the lack of an international copyright and to prevent or circumvent pirate publishers and arrangers cashing in themselves. But this strategy also shows comprehensiveness, musically and socially—a desire to disseminate the work in multiple forms; in various spaces of musical activity; and for diverse end users, notably including women.
In what follows I discuss how and why this particular enterprise came about, and how it represents circumstances of the time. I then consider how, why, and to whom Steiner marketed the new musical wares. And I set this joint venture within a larger context, to suggest how the study of musical arrangements offers us a unique window on the development of Viennese musical culture in the early nineteenth century, especially as it concerns women.
Beethoven and Steiner’s Team
Regarding this larger context, it should first be noted that Beethoven and Steiner’s publication agreement of 1816 was as much motivated by immediate biographical and financial circumstances as it was by broader musical, social, or legal considerations. The fact is that in 1816 Beethoven owed Steiner money. Beethoven had granted a substantial loan of money to his brother Kaspar Karl in 1813, and in December that year he applied to Steiner to borrow the full amount, on the agreement that he would reimburse Steiner if he himself had not been reimbursed by September 1814. In fact, Kaspar Karl did not repay Beethoven by this stage, and Steiner acted astutely to ensure repayment. Kaspar Karl’s wife, Johanna, was the named guarantor of the debt, so Steiner placed a lien on the part of the house that Johanna owned. Not until March 1818 is there a letter from Johanna to Steiner suggesting that the loan had finally been repaid.
Thus the publication of Wellington’s Victory and the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies coincided with a family financial crisis, which Beethoven’s alliance with Steiner helped to alleviate.
The fact that Steiner displaced the Leipzig publisher Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf as Beethoven’s main publisher at this time is very likely tied up with the above-mentioned financial matters, as well as publishing preferences (the recent business relationship with Breitkopf had ended in dissatisfaction on Beethoven’s part). In 1810, tensions had already developed between Steiner’s firm and Beethoven: a plan for a complete Beethoven edition, which Steiner drew up with other firms that year, had not proved feasible, much to Beethoven’s disappointment.
But Steiner developed a cordial and at times spirited relationship with Beethoven. Steiner was, moreover, so successful as a Viennese businessman that he was able to lend Beethoven money with a healthy interest rate in the 1810s, and was remarkably lenient about repayment. Music publishing was a speculative business in early nineteenth-century Vienna. Small businesses arose, but quickly disappeared unless the manager kept a close eye on the market’s changing composition, tastes, and demands. But Steiner made several smart moves. He had taken over the Chemische Druckerey of Alois Senefelder, who innovated with lithography in music publishing, becoming licensed as a music publisher in 1806. He then developed a partnership with Tobias Haslinger in 1815, forming “S. A. Steiner & Co.” Haslinger came with excellent market knowledge, having worked in several bookshops in Linz and Vienna, and had started to self-publish his own compositions. He contributed entrepreneurial skills to Steiner and Co., especially concerning Beethoven.
 Beethoven very likely did
not choose Steiner’s firm on grounds of the quality or accuracy of their publications, even though the advertisement of the 1816 arrangements venture might lead us to believe otherwise. The correspondence shows, for example, that Beethoven was dissatisfied with Steiner’s first edition of his String Quartet in F minor, op. 95, published in December 1816. In a letter of that month to Steiner, Beethoven bemoaned the lack of attention to requested corrections: “It was agreed that in all the finished copies of the quartet the mistakes were to be corrected. Nevertheless the Adjutant [Beethoven’s nickname for Haslinger] has been shameless enough to sell these without corrections.” A considerable number of textual variants exist between early editions of op. 95, some printed, some handwritten. The problem of determining their authority, and thus establishing the priority of the various early editions, persists today. Not all of the parts were amended uniformly in subsequent printings. The various early Steiner editions of op. 95 repeatedly fail to reflect readings in the autograph at numerous important points.
Regarding the Seventh Symphony, published around the same time as op. 92, he wrote to Steiner: “neither the engraved parts nor the score are faultless. In the copies that are already completed the mistakes have to be corrected with Indian ink; and Schlemmer [Wenzl Schlemmer, Beethoven’s preferred copyist] can be brought in for that purpose.”
Jonathan Del Mar finds that the fifty-two corrections in the second printing of the orchestral parts of the Seventh Symphony are mostly carried out correctly; but that the several hundred changes carried out in the second printing of the original score edition of the work are much more problematic. A reviewer of Haslinger’s revised and much improved edition of Steiner’s print of the Eighth Symphony from 1837 recalled the original lithographic score print with marked dislike: “It still pains the eyes when we remember the disgusting, dirty, indistinct stone impression [the original edition of 1817]!—But now it has turned out differently.”
Steiner claimed that his various editions of opp. 91–93 were issued “for the removal of all illegal and incorrect arrangements” (see the appendix). But this assertion would have been difficult to substantiate, even though Beethoven approved of these arrangements in a way that he would not have approved arrangements made without his knowledge. Not only are inaccuracies rife in Steiner’s prints, but there was no law prohibiting others from making arrangements. Of course, readers of the advertisement who did not have deeper knowledge of the firm, points of comparison, or the benefit of hindsight would have been none the wiser. What we can take from this advertisement is that Steiner considered fidelity to the original—including here “correct,” composer-sanctioned arrangements—as an attractive feature to the buyer. Reference back to the authority of the original text was becoming popular with publishers of the era. For example, the Offenbach publisher Johann Anton André had used it on the title page of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major K. 467 (1800), among others, which is apparently “produced according to the author’s original manuscript” (“faite d’après le manuscript original de l’auteur”). But with Steiner this stated adherence to the original did not equate to what we today call “Urtext” editions: each of the Steiner editions contained musical texts that differed, and sometimes quite radically, from the original works.
Publishing with Steiner did, however, offer Beethoven some benefits that were neither financial nor directly related to the musical text. In particular, Steiner’s music shop, among others, served as an unofficial meeting place for the profession, allowing musicians to exchange recommendations, opinions, and knowledge, as well as music.
Steiner had the advantage of being a local publisher, and his centrally-located shop in Paternostergässchen (today Graben no. 21) was a hub of cultural activity, a popular meeting place for local musicians and international visitors who came in search of them. For example, the conductor and music entrepreneur George Smart, who was a promotor of Beethoven’s symphonies in London, visited Steiner’s shop immediately and then several times during his visit to Vienna in 1825. So although Steiner’s team was not the best proof-readers, it was a good choice because of the firm’s international networks and thorough knowledge of the local market.
Most importantly, for the success of this particular enterprise, Steiner had an ideal team of musicians to help produce the “right” kind of arrangements for the Viennese market. These musicians would understand the musical product that they were working with, know the kinds of chamber ensembles that would be popular for the arrangements, and be able to produce arrangements that were playable by amateurs. The arrangements themselves are mostly anonymous, but we can speculate as to which members of the Steiner team carried out which editions. Haslinger was himself a talented composer. His orchestral works included, for example,
Europe’s Victory Celebration for Wind Orchestra ( Europas Siegesfeier für Blasorchester), in the same vein as Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory; and he wrote chamber works for various ensembles and several works for solo piano, mostly addressed to the amateur. So, for example, he would have been well able to produce piano reductions for two and four hands of symphonic works. Indeed, the team was particularly good at producing piano arrangements, which were the most popular kinds of arrangements in the day. Pianist, composer, and publisher Anton Diabelli, who was hired as a proof-reader, made many arrangements. He produced the 1808 and 1810 Steiner piano duo editions of Beethoven’s Second Symphony, then made piano reductions for two and four hands of the Seventh Symphony for Steiner. Wenzel Sedlák probably produced the 1816 nonet ( Harmonie) edition of the Seventh Symphony. He was a Bohemian arranger and clarinetist, who was engaged by Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein, as Kapellmeister and clarinetist from 1812 to 1835. He is remembered most for his transcriptions of opera and ballet scores for Harmonie; the most important of them is Fidelio (Artaria, 1814), which Beethoven himself authorized and may have supervised.
 In his advertisement for the series of Beethoven editions and arrangements, Steiner claimed that all were “accomplished under the direct supervision of their creator Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven” (see the appendix). The idea of “direct supervision” needs to be treated with caution, and is impossible to prove; but the chosen arrangers were probably known to Beethoven, very likely to have been sanctioned by him, and possibly also supervised by him, since they were local. This situation was not unusual: composers of the day were not necessarily opposed to having their own work arranged by others. One sees from Haydn’s correspondence with Artaria regarding the proofs of the
Seven Last Words, for instance, that he was concerned with the idiomatic nicety of an arrangement, but was prepared to give the actual task of arranging to a musician he could trust. But Beethoven, among others, was strongly opposed to unauthorized arrangements of his music, issuing public protests in a vain attempt to stem their flow. Persuadi ng the Market: T he Advertisement
Arrangements were lucrative, especially piano-based arrangements. In 1825, a friend reported in Beethoven’s conversation book that Breitkopf and Härtel had “become rich” (“reich geworden”) through the composer’s Second Symphony. “It appeared in all forms at the same time,” the writer claimed, “and on the first day the stock of 2,000 copies for pianoforte four hands was snapped up.”
Figure 1 shows the distribution of first editions of arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies across the nineteenth century. This graph reveals that the early decades, in particular, were a high point in the production of varied chamber arrangements of these works. Here “piano arrangement” includes two-hand, four-hand, and eight-hand piano, and “piano chamber arrangement” includes piano with other instruments, as in the piano trio. So the graph hints at but does not show the full extent of the popularity of the piano as an instrument for arrangement. So, too, this graph reveals only the tip of a much larger mountain of nineteenth-century Beethoven symphony arrangements. Each of the first editions represented in the graph could, and likely would, have been reprinted, copied, and re-released by other publishers, or adapted by other arrangers and re-printed. Such practices were widespread. After all, there was no fully and widely successful establishment of authors’ intellectual property until Joseph Kohler’s . Das Autorrecht, ein zivilistische Abhandlung (1880) Figure 1: Bar graph showing the distribution of 174 first edition chamber arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies from the era 1801–1900, by type
There is much more to say about figure 1.
Suffice it to say here that the Steiner/Beethoven publication plan came at a key moment: arrangements were especially popular in Vienna in the 1810s and 1820s, around and after the Congress of Vienna. Historians of early nineteenth-century Viennese music have emphasized public-sphere musical activities: the formation of the classical canon of music and the emergence of concert life. But this emphasis on the public sphere is particularly unrepresentative of Vienna c. 1800, where large public assemblies including symphony concerts could be regarded with suspicion and were often difficult to mount. Instead, Viennese music-making flourished in the home both before and after the Napoleonic wars, in the social isolation caused by invasion, surveillance, censorship, and a cholera epidemic (1831). And much of this Viennese domestic music consisted of arrangements—of operas, ballets, concertos, etc.—although scholars of chamber music focus almost exclusively on original compositions. Arrangements offered amateurs agency in terms of education, entertainment, and sociability in the home, and a bridge to public music-making, when and where it existed. This was particularly valuable to female amateurs, who otherwise had little say or share in the public spheres of composition, criticism, and orchestral performance.
In many ways, then, the time and place were right for Beethoven and Steiner’s venture. But economic instability persisted into the early 1820s in Vienna: inflation reached a new height in 1817, following two bad harvests, and many food prices doubled or even tripled. Sheet music was desirable and useful, becoming more readily available with new printing technologies; but it was still a luxury item. Beethoven and Steiner would need to work carefully to market their new products. Beethoven needed to improve his liquidity and to optimize what was always to be a key source of income aside from his annuity: publishing fees. But Steiner could afford to take some calculated risks. In the case of Beethoven’s music, and especially his orchestral music, the main risk was not so much competition (pirate editions), but the nature of the product itself. Beethoven’s orchestral music, in its original form at least, was designed for a niche market, who would appreciate complex music that was both difficult to play and challenging to listen to.
Wellington’s Victory was something of an exception here, enjoying immediate popularity although it would later fall into disrepute (as early as 1825, with Gottfried Weber’s vicious attack) and become something of an embarrassment to Beethoven scholars with its overt political program. But in 1810s Vienna the victory theme was calculated to please, as was the exotic, Turkish element. The title page of Steiner’s piano trio version of Wellington’s Victory helped broker the work to the audience, an enticing engraving of a battle scene, which perhaps encouraged buyers to turn the page and “take part” in the fray, from the safety and comfort of the drawing room (see figure 2). The first performance of the work, in 1813, received some rave reviews, including one in which the reviewer held up the work as music to be celebrated and canonized along with Beethoven’s previous symphonies—which seems also to be Steiner’s view. The reviewer in question seeks to move away from the typical emphasis on contemporaneity in musical taste, drawing instead on a concept of “classicism” that was gradually developing with respect to the instrumental music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven:
The classicism of the symphonies of Hrn. v. Beethoven, the greatest instrumental composer of our time, is acknowledged. This newest one [
Wellington’s Victory] attracts no less admiration for the ingenious author than the older ones, perhaps it is even to be preferred. Figure 2: Title page from the piano part in the 1816 piano trio arrangement of Wellington’s Victory, issued by S. A. Steiner & Co.; by courtesy of Beethoven-Haus Bonn
 But in general reviewers of Beethoven’s symphonies from the
Eroica onwards tended to emphasize difficulties for the performers and listeners in the latest works, wishing that Beethoven would stay with the model of the earlier symphonies (and that of Haydn and Mozart). An 1827 reviewer of a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony was troubled by the length and complexity of the work, as was typical:
What can the reviewer say about this musical monster?—There can be no doubt that
Beethoven possessed a great talent or genius. The reviewer himself heard his earlier works, written in Mozart’s spirit, with as much pleasure as admiration. But what has become of the good man in later times? Has he not become quite mad…? The present symphony is a proof of it. It consists of four movements, each of which is almost ¼ of an hour…and is a true quodlibet of tragic, comic, serious, and trivial ideas, which jump from hundreds to thousands without any connection, repeat themselves to weariness, and almost burst the eardrum by the excessive noise. How is it possible to find pleasure in such a rhapsody?
The use of the word “rhapsody” here is telling—it resurfaces in Beethoven reviews in this era as a form of praise (when the reviewer appreciates the originality of the work and celebrates the freedom of the listener to create meaning) and blame (when the critic expects a traditional model and finds Beethoven’s innovations wanting on grounds of unity).
A close reading of Steiner’s advertisement (see the appendix) shows that the publisher felt the need to make a case for Beethoven and his orchestral music, repeating ideas about original genius that are found in some but not all reviews of the time. Steiner persuades cleverly, enticing and flattering the reader into buying and trying: he finds that “everyone well informed in the field of musical art” will recognize the hallmarks of Beethoven’s style in these works. As with the idea of accuracy or fidelity to the original, this claim needs to be tested with regard to the arrangements that were actually produced—to what extent did they capture what contemporaries considered to be essential features of the original works? Timbre, for instance, largely gets lost in translation. And what sort of listening did they encourage? As we shall see, the answers to such questions depended on the genre of arrangement, and the intended end users.
In the advertisement Steiner also appeals to the reader’s interest in, and perhaps memory of, public-sphere performances of Beethoven’s symphonies, some of which took place two to three years before these arrangements were published. In the case of the Eighth Symphony, the premier was a striking but not especially auspicious occasion for the composer. It was first performed February 27, 1814, at a concert in the Redoutensaal, and the Seventh Symphony (which had been premiered two months earlier) was also played. The Leipzig
Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung reports a lukewarm response at the Viennese premier: “the applause [the Eighth Symphony] received was not accompanied by that enthusiasm which distinguishes a work which gives universal delight; in short—as the Italians say—it did not create a furor.” Such criticism displeased Beethoven, but did not deter Steiner in wording his advertisement. He goes on to give a brief synopsis of the symphonies’ main characteristics, siding with those (comparatively few) contemporary critics who used the word “fantasy” as a term of praise with regard to Beethoven’s instrumental music.
But Steiner’s main sales point is yet to come: performing these arrangements in the privacy and comfort of one’s own home permits repeated listening. And lucidity of part-writing will apparently become evident on repetition of the work. Implicit in Steiner’s comments is that this publication allows the reinforcement of meaning that comes through actually playing and reading the music as one listens. This private performance and listening allow one’s imagination to free wheel—perhaps at times reinforcing impressions from an orchestral concert, perhaps at times suggesting the outlines of larger work and allowing the imagination to fill in the gaps. In this way, Steiner’s advertisement points to a central function of arrangements in this era: not only did they provide entertainment and sociability in the home and an attractively-packaged reminder of public life in an era in which access to public concerts was limited, they would also play a key role in male and female
Bildung through music-making, educating and edifying at one and the same time.
Looking through Steiner’s sales catalogues during the years 1812–16, one finds that this emphasis on
Bildung is part of his larger program as a publisher, and probably a key factor in his success. One sees a tendency to publish works with a didactic purpose, aimed at the dilettante, especially of piano works. Titles such as “Very Easy and Pleasant Sonatinas for Very Little Players” (“Sehr leichter und angenehmer Sonatinen für ganz kleine Spieler”) show this emphasis on the novice. Music intended for women’s performance is also well represented, with a considerable number of pieces for voice, piano, and guitar—all associated with women. Leonhard von Call’s works for guitar appear frequently, for instance. Otherwise, the composers of chamber music represented include those who frequented Steiner’s shop and other well-known composers of chamber music of the day, such as Diabelli, Adalbert Gyrowetz, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Franz Krommer, Joseph Mayseder, and George Onslow. The Viennese flavor of the catalogue comes across in the works, a treatise, and exercises for the Csakan, a duct flute, extremely popular with the Viennese amateur musicians. But the instrument best represented in this catalogue, by far, is the piano.
Steiner, like the other Viennese publishers of the day (Artaria, Diabelli, Franz Anton Hoffmeister, and Johann Traeg, for example), was geared towards the amateur, opera-loving, piano-playing market. Within the arrangements category there are many from operas, including Singspiele, with a preference for small chamber arrangements such as voice accompanied by piano, or guitar and voice. Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies were the only symphonies to appear in Steiner’s catalogue in the period.
So it is small wonder, with this new musical product, that he paid particular attention to choosing the most popular media for arrangement. Meeting the Market: T he Arrangements
 The list of arrangements that Steiner issued for opp. 91–93 shows that he privileged piano chamber arrangements in his Beethoven arrangement series. He included the most popular type of arrangement altogether in the nineteenth century, the four-hand piano duet, as well as transcriptions for solo piano and a piano trio. All of these arrangements would have been accessible to women, whereas the other arrangements that Steiner produced were largely not. Women were scarce among performers of stringed instruments in Vienna in the early nineteenth century. Writing on the state of music and musicians in Vienna in 1808, Ignaz von Mosel lists only one female violinist, under “Dilettanten” (amateurs), and, not surprisingly, no female cellists. The amateur string-playing tradition was strong in early nineteenth-century Vienna, but amateur keyboard playing was also flourishing, among women as well as men. Mosel notes: “an excellent [female] keyboard player is to be found in almost every distinguished family” (“fast in jeder angesehenen Familie, wenigstens Eine vorzügliche Clavierspielerinn anzutreffen ist.”).
Amateur female pianists of the time included Caroline Pichler (1769–1843), a Viennese historical novelist, who was musical and owed a fine “organisirtes Fortepiano”—a hybrid instrument that could be used either as a piano or as a positive organ. We know that Pichler played four-hand piano arrangements with Viennese blind piano virtuosa Maria Theresia von Paradies (1759–1824). Viennese intellectuals Fanny von Arnstein and her daughter Henriette von Pereira-Arnstein were both talented pianists, who hosted important salons in Vienna in and after Beethoven’s time. Arrangements would have been performed by men and women in contexts that range from their large semi-private salons to private family groups.
Mixed ensembles like the piano trio allowed for gender mixing in private and semi-private music performance. A fascinating engraving from Vienna in 1793 by Johann Sollerer (see figure 3) shows a sextet of five male musicians seated around a woman at a fortepiano, possibly playing an arrangement of Mozart’s
Le nozze di Figaro (a popular arrangement in publishing catalogues such as those of Steiner and Traeg). Figure 3: “Chamber music,” colored etching by Clemens Kohl after Johann Sollerer, Vienna 1793, showing a sextet of five male musicians seated around a woman at a fortepiano; © Sammlungen der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, shelfmark Bi 1815
The piano arrangements often make room for a certain amount of leadership from the piano, whose roles include setting the tempo, giving other timing cues, and delivering crucial melodic and harmonic material. Example 1 shows how the piano leads off with the English drums and trumpets in Steiner’s piano trio version of
Wellington’s Victory, thereafter producing the entire orchestral texture in “Rule Britannia”: Example 1: Excerpt from the piano part in the piano trio arrangement of Wellington’s Victory, op. 91, opening and “Rûle Britannia” (S. A. Steiner & Co., 1816)
It may come as a surprise to see that Steiner included a string quintet rather than a string quartet in his list of arrangements. The string quartet was, after all, one of the most popular genres of the day, as witnessed by Viennese publishing catalogues. It was the test piece for compositional skill, so many Viennese composers of the day turned their hand to this genre. But perhaps for that very reason it was not among Steiner’s top choices. Steiner was focused, after all, on making this music accessible to the amateur. String quartets were fast becoming associated with the public sphere: with challenging compositions like Beethoven’s quartets; and with professional, public performances like that of the Schuppanzigh quartet. Quintets, and not just string quintets, were a highly popular choice for arrangements of orchestral music at this time for several reasons. First, they could more easily translate dense orchestral textures, which now included obbligato wind parts and textural interplay between winds and strings—a notable hallmark of Beethoven’s symphonies. But they also simply provided more fun for more people.
The string quintet was in fact often considered equivalent to the string quartet in the early nineteenth century, or even as an improved version of it. Wilhelm Conrad Petiscus, writing in the
Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1810) on the virtues of string quartets, extolled the viola quintet’s greater resources:
With good reason one selects for a good quartet the four well-known string instruments, which, on account of their uniformity of timbre, are most capable of the most perfect unity. Quintets, in which the added second viola increases the power and variety of the composition,
belong to this genre.
Probably for this reason—the added inner voice—Steiner chose viola quintets for his set of Beethoven arrangements. Viola quintets also permit pairings of upper- and mid-register instruments, which can be useful for representing Beethoven’s orchestral textures. Other writers of the time considered string quintets by Mozart and others under the heading “Quartettmusik” in order to draw attention to and praise the genre, especially regarding the sharing of musical material between the parts. This sharing was considered an essential feature of good chamber music and a good arrangement, in that it allowed every player to enjoy the musical interactions.
The opening of the Seventh Symphony provides an example of the way arrangements of orchestral music could foster interaction. Beethoven showcases the obbligato winds in the opening, the four-note motif being passed down from oboe to clarinets to horns. In Steiner’s string quintet version, the theme gets passed down from first violin to each inner voice in turn; then clarinet and bassoon pairings are represented by the paired violas:
Example 2: Beethoven, Symphony No. 7, op. 92, movement 1, bars 1–15, arranged for string quintet (S. A. Steiner & Co., 1816)
Elsewhere, in Steiner’s arrangement of the Eighth Symphony, the comparative homogeneity of timbre afforded by a string ensemble allows for the effective translation of homorhythmic textures (example 3). In each of these passages the performers must listen carefully to each other, at times adding nuances of dynamics and articulation that were not marked in the original parts. Such chamber-musical interaction fosters attentive listening and group coordination skills.
Example 3: Beethoven, Symphony No. 8, op. 93, movement 2, Allegretto scherzando, bars 69–81, arranged for string quintet (S. A. Steiner & Co., 1817)
 For male amateur string players this kind of music-making could function as a useful training ground for more public performance of orchestral music, which, when it did occur in Vienna at this time, was often amateur and ad hoc. The Viennese banker and talented amateur violinist Joseph von Würth, for example, gave semi-public concerts of orchestral music in his residence in this era, avoiding the more difficult works like
Eroica. But in the main this string chamber music in this era functioned to provide upper- and middle-class male amateurs with an enjoyable and sociable leisure-time activity in an era when large groups of men, including those assembled for the performance of large-scale works, came under close scrutiny.
String quartet and quintet arrangements could also form the foundation of larger, mixed-gender arrangements, especially where an accompaniment was needed for an amateur production of a large vocal work but a small orchestra was not feasible. The memoirs of Leopold von Sonnleithner (1797–1873), an amateur bass singer, mention such occasions in Vienna in the early decades of the nineteenth century.
A long-time family friend, Wilhelm Böcking, recalled Sonnleithner’s youthful engagement with quartet arrangements, which soon expanded in scope:
In the autumn of 1813, together with several school friends, he organized Sunday quartet exercises in his father’s house, which were diligently continued in the following years. The quartet arrangements of the overtures and symphonies, as well as entire operas and oratorios, which were very popular at that time, were soon also used and gave rise to multiple instrumentation of the voices, and to the addition of the double bass, a flute, and French horns (ad libitum).
At these musical gatherings of from four to forty people, women participated in performances of musical arrangements mainly as singers and pianists.
As to performing orchestral music in arrangement for quartet or quintet, there was such a degree of overlap between these genres at this time that the phenomenon can be regarded as commonplace. In his 1799 publishing catalogue, under viola quintets, Traeg lists three sets (fifteen works in total) of arrangements of symphonies, labelled “Quintetti Sinfonien,” including works by Haydn (6), Mozart (6), and Pleyel (3). The Haydn works are the first six London symphonies, nos. 93–98. In Traeg’s section on symphonies, meanwhile, which is also a category of “Cammer-Music” (chamber music), he lists numerous quartets that can be performed as symphonies, including thirty-one works labelled “Quartet Sinfon.,” by C. P. E. Bach, Johann Anton Kobrich, Georg Matthias Monn, and Ignaz Jakob Holzbauer. There is also one cross-reference in this section, under C. P. E. Bach, where one reads: “NB. Vierstimmige Sinfonien von C. P. E. Bach sind unter den Quartetten à 2 Violini Viola e Basso zu finden” (“NB: four-part symphonies by C. P. E. Bach are to be found under quartets for two violins, viola, and bass”).
The Steiner arrangements for wind ensemble also serve to muddy any tidy division between public and private music in Vienna at this time. The popularity of such arrangements (which are numerous in Traeg’s catalogue, for instance) can be understood as a function of the abundance of military wind band players at the time. In the late eighteenth century, a
Harmonie band could provide dinner music in the homes of the wealthy, as depicted in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, where the band plays arrangements of popular Viennese operas of the day (by Giuseppe Sarti, Martín y Soler, and Mozart himself) while Don Giovanni and Leporello await the arrival of the Commendatore. In the early nineteenth century, providing Harmonie arrangements for one’s dinner guests was a way of emulating the upper classes; but it was also a popular masculine leisure activity. As noted, the arrangement for Turkish music speaks to the social and political climate of the time, in which German cultural values and a sense of place were being established by reference to the exotic other, especially in opera. “Turkish” music was regularly imported into the home via opera arrangements, popular rondos alla Turca, and the Janissary pedals that featured on several piano models of the time.
So Steiner was covering the market well in terms of fields of domestic musical activity. And his choices of genres for the arrangements can be set in the larger context of arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies in the nineteenth century. But as the graph (figure 1) indicates, from the second decade of the nineteenth century—that is, from the time of the Steiner arrangements—arrangements solely for piano were clearly taking over the field; whereas in the first decade the more varied chamber groupings were more popular. Of the thirty chamber arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies published and included in this data set for the period 1811–20, most involve the piano, alone or in some kind of chamber ensemble. Steiner’s decision to favor arrangements involving the piano was good market timing. These arrangements may well have acted as a catalyst for the flourishing of such arrangements in the following decade.
Score- Centric or Performer-Centric Musical Works ?
Beethoven and Steiner’s 1816–17 publication enterprise points to the persistence of a performer-centric view of musical works, even in the era that is claimed to represent the rise of the “musical work concept.”
This can perhaps best be illustrated by reference to the eight different versions of Wellington’s Victory Steiner released in 1816. On the one hand, there are six different arrangements, which clearly took up the lion’s share of Steiner’s efforts. For these he had to select suitable types of arrangement, find suitable arrangers, and deal with different formats of publication. In the end he released chamber music in which performers and listeners are granted considerable agency in creating the final product.
 At the very beginning of Steiner’s string quintet arrangement of
Wellington’s Victory, for instance, it is uncertain whether the parts indicated for drums and trumpets should be played or whether they are perhaps only to be imagined; they are, after all, printed in smaller notes (example 4 shows the first violin; the same notation is found in the other parts). In the orchestral parts of the original work, one sees the same small notes in some of the parts that are tacet (example 5 shows the first violin, for example). Perhaps the quintet arrangement conceptually represents the entire work, but its string parts are to be considered tacet with regard to the passages for drums and trumpets? However, one cannot be sure that this interpretation is correct, since the drums of Steiner’s Turkish music arrangement are notated with small notes and yet would presumably have been played. Also, in Steiner’s piano trio arrangement of the work, the piano takes on the role of the drums and trumpets while the violin and cello are silent (see example 1). It therefore seems likely that the drums and trumpets indicated in the string quintet arrangement should likewise be performed in some way, not only at the start of the work where they represent the English drums and English trumpets, but also when they return (before m. 31) to represent the French drums and French trumpets, and in a later passage (before m. 74) as well. Example 4: Excerpt from the first violin in the 1816 quintet arrangement of Wellington’s Victory, issued by S. A. Steiner & Co. Example 5: Excerpt from first violin part in the 1816 orchestral parts for Wellington’s Victory, issued by S. A. Steiner & Co.
If the drum and trumpet parts are to be played, which instruments should play them? There is no single “right” answer to this question, which was undoubtedly left up to the performers of the time. But clues are provided in the quintet version in the first and second violin parts, mm. 74 and 76, respectively. In the former case, the Steiner edition has a footnoted reference to the French cannon markings while in the latter case there is a footnoted reference to the English cannon markings. Thus, at the beginning of the quintet version of the work, in order to preserve the association of France with the first violin and England with the second violin, a logical solution would be to have the second viola and second violin playing, respectively, the English drum and English trumpet parts, followed by the first viola and first violin playing, respectively, the French drum and French trumpet parts.
As to the cannon markers seen in Steiner’s full score, these are found in the first violin and second violin parts of the quintet arrangement, respectively, again without specific instructions as to how they are to be performed. The fact that they are notated in different parts for the different sides suggests that they are to be performed. In Steiner’s full score the “cannon fire” is to be performed by two bass drums, according to the prefatory note. So it may also be an option to include percussionists for the quintet version as well, reading over performers’ shoulders. If so, the percussion instruments selected to represent the cannons would need to be appropriate for a chamber setting. Small (toy) drums or cymbals were popular as novelty instruments in domestic music at this time. Percussion instruments were surprisingly common in domestic music-making in the early nineteenth century—notably among female performers.
Women’s agency in this music, then, might have extended to adding percussion to arrangements of military music, leading from the piano and in general performing music that was otherwise largely taboo.
Beethoven and Steiner’s plan for opp. 91–93 did not yet represent score-centric thinking: this much is clear from Steiner’s sales advertisement. It is striking that he did not use the word “arrangements” (
Bearbeitungen) in the first part of his advertisement, but rather alternative words for “arranged”: eingerichtet and arrangiert. Instead he refers to his arrangements simply as “editions” ( Ausgaben) when listing them alongside the score and orchestral parts (see the appendix). By choosing this terminology he was conferring a sense of importance on them, marketing them as products on a par with the orchestral parts and score in terms of authority, priority, and quality, rather than as lesser derivatives. Only at the end of the advertisement, talking about pirate editions, does he refer to “arrangements.” Otherwise, his avoidance of the term Bearbeitungen, and the emphasis on his editions’ lawfully procurement under the auspices of the composer, Steiner attempted to hammer home the quality and priority of his editions, at a time when the word “arrangement” ( Bearbeitung) was also being used in the German press to mean a low-quality fake. His new Beethoven editions were not to be mistaken for the Bearbeitungen offered by the pirates.
On the other hand, Beethoven and Steiner’s decision to publish a score was a move in a direction that would ultimately downgrade arrangements to a clearly secondary status. The publication and priority of scores would also detract from the agency of amateurs—male and female alike—the sense in which they, as performers, were co-creators of the musical work and its meanings. Beethoven’s symphonies were gradually being taken out of the hands of amateur performers, except for amateur pianists who enjoyed a late nineteenth-century flurry of piano transcriptions. The musical score would become the new take-home version of the work—and Steiner was leading the way. In 1802–3, Pleyel had put forward his
Bibliotheque musicale en partition, which was the first series of study scores, published in octavo format. And the London publishers Cianchetti and Sperati undertook chamber music score editions of works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in 1807–9. But Steiner’s scores of Wellington’s Victory and the Seventh Symphony in 1816 were the first more systematic attempt with Beethoven scores. Scores for Beethoven’s earlier symphonies would only appear after many transcriptions and several years (eight years after the First Symphony; fifteen years after the Fourth Symphony; and seventeen years after the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies).
 Carl Friedrich Pohl noted that the connoisseurs were reading miniature scores at concerts in the early nineteenth century.
Berlioz reports the same from France in the 1830s, and London connoisseurs were bringing their scores to concerts of Beethoven quartets in the 1840s. Steiner’s issuing of scores as well as piano transcriptions indicates a new perception of their separate functions: now the piano reduction could become a piece of chamber music for hands-on experience and study of the work, while also providing a compact overview and the most economical form of rehearsal accompaniment. Scores, meanwhile, were printed partly for use by conductors, as works because more complex, performance became more often public and professional, and concomitant demands for fidelity to the original ( Werktreue) became more prominent.
The publication of scores at this time was also linked to new ideas about copyright protection: publishing a score was one way that a publisher might assert the work (and especially its “full and complete” version) as their property. Publishing scores was a smart move on Steiner and Beethoven’s part: there was little chance that the pirates would reproduce such an expensive product, so their “authoritative edition” would exist in a unique form. However, it was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that the score would become the ultimate touchstone for the work. In the complex social, musical, and economic climate of early nineteenth century Vienna, Steiner & Co. and Beethoven were ahead of the market.
Appendix Pränumerations-Anzeige auf zwey neue grosse Sinfonien (in A. und F. dur) von Ludwig van Beethoven, welche im Kunst- und Musik-Verlag der Unterzeichneten, in unten bemerkten Ausgaben erscheinen werden.
Der Name des genialischen Herrn van Beethoven’s bürgt gewissermassen schon für den hohen Werth der hier angekündigten zwey neuen grossen Sinfonien desselben. Aber auch ohne Vorsetzung seines Namens würde jeder im Gebiete der Tonkunst Eingeweihte, den Schöpfer dieser Meisterwerke nicht verkennen. Denn so wie Herr van Beethoven anerkannt der grösste Compositeur unserer Zeit ist, eben so gehören auch diese Sinfonien – welche hier in Wien bey den zum Besten wohlthätiger Zwecke veranstalteten Concerten unter eigener Leitung dieses berühmten Compositeur mit ausserordentlichem Beyfall ausgeführt wurden – unter die gelungensten Schöpfungen seines ideenreichen tiefbegründeten Genies.
Originalität ist ihr Hauptcharakter, und der systematische Wechsel von blühender Harmonie, von Zartgefühl und Kraft, Lieblichkeit und kühnen ergreifenden Modulationen, herzlichen Melodien und frappanten Tonfällen, stämpelt sie zu
grossen Kunstwerken. Oft staunt selbst das geübte Ohr bey den tiefen Mysterien ihrer seltsamen Fantasien, doch enthusiastische Begeisterung ergreift es, wenn bey wiederholtem Hören der Tonsatz kristallrein in himmlischer Klarheit sich entfaltet.
Um nun alle Freunde der Tonkunst in dem [recte: den] Genusse dieser herrlichen Kunstwerke, – welche wir käuflich als Eigenthum an uns gebracht – zu setzen, haben wir uns entschlossen, eben solche Ausgaben, wie bey dem bereits in unserm Verlage erschienenen mit dem seltensten Beyfall aufgenommenen Meisterwerke Beethovens, betitelt:
Wellingtons Sieg – zu veranstalten, nämlich:
Pränumerations-Preis in W. W.
Vollständige Partitur fl. 25
Vollständiges grosses Orchester in Auflagstimmen fl. 30
In Harmonie für 9 Stimmen fl. 20
In Quintett für 2 Violinen, 2 Violen und Violonzello fl. 10
In Trio für das Piano-Forte, mit Violin und Violonzello fl. 10
Für das Pianoforte auf 4 Hände fl. 10
Für das Piano-Forte
allein fl. 6
Sämmtlich diese Ausgaben werden unter der unmittelbaren Revision ihres Schöpfers Herrn Ludwig van Beethoven, vollendet. – Wir werden keine Kosten sparen, um selbe dem innern Werthe angemessen auch in Aeussern schön und korrekt auszustellen, daher auch Strich, Papier und Druck derselbe wie bey der Ausgabe von Wellingtons Sieg seyn wird.
Zur Beseitigung aller unrechtmässigen und unrichtigen Bearbeitungen werden wir alle diese obangeführten Bearbeitungen an ein und demselben Tag ausgeben.
Da die Grösse der Sinfonien vielleicht an Stärke der Bogenzahl verschieden seyn dürfte, so können wir vor der Hand, für die zweyte Sinfonie die jedoch von der erstern unzertrennlich ist, in voraus keinen Preiss bestimmen, nur so viel bemerken wir, dass dieser Pränumerations-Preis, der Billigkeit gemäss, in wesentlichen von keiner grossen Differenz seyn wird. – Die Pränumeration bleibt bis zur Erscheinung der ersten Sinfonie offen, nachher tritt der erhöhte Ladenpreis ein.
Die P. T. Herrn Musikfreunde, welche sich mit Einsendung des Pränumerations Betrages bey Zeiten – auf ein oder die andere Ausgabe – direkte an uns oder an die Ihnen nächstgelegenen Musikhandlungen des Inn- und Auslandes wenden, erhalten Exemplarien von den besten erstern Abdrücken. Bey Empfang der ersten Sinfonie, wird sogleich auf die zweyte vorausbezahlt.
Ungeachtet seit längerer Zeit bereits an dem Stiche der Werke gearbeitet wird, so können wir doch gegenwärtig noch nicht den Tag der Erscheinung bestimmen, welchen wir nachträglich durch die öffentlichen Zeitungen bekannt machen werden.
Wien im Februar 1816.
S. A. Steiner und Comp.
k. k. privil. Kunsthändler und Innhaber der privil. Chemie-Druckerey
am Graben Nro. 612.
Subscription advertisement for two new great symphonies (in A and F major) by Ludwig van Beethoven, which will be published by the Kunst- und Musik-Verlag of the undersigned, in the editions noted below.
The name of the ingenious Ludwig van Beethoven as it were guarantees the high value of the two grand symphonies announced here. But even without mentioning his name, everyone well informed in the field of musical art would recognize the creator of these masterworks. Just as Mr. van Beethoven is acknowledged to be the greatest composer of our times, these symphonies—which were performed here in Vienna under the direction of this famous composer to the benefit of charity with extraordinary acclaim—belong to the most successful creations of his profound, fecund genius.
Their main characteristic is originality, and the systematic alternation of flourishing harmony, of sensitivity and power, loveliness and audacious and captivating modulations, affectionate melodies, and striking accents, marks them as
great artworks. Often even the expert ear is astonished by the profound mysteries of their peculiar fantasies, but [the expert ear] is seized by enthusiastic exaltation when, hearing them repeatedly, the part writing unfolds in heavenly lucidity.
To make these magnificent artworks—of which we have bought the rights—available to all enthusiasts of music, we have decided to provide the same editions as with the masterwork
Wellington’s Victory, published by us and received with unusual acclaim, that is: Subscription price in Viennese currency the complete score fl. 25
the complete grand orchestra in parts fl. 30
for wind ensemble in 9 parts f. 20
for quintet of 2 violins, 2 violas and violoncello fl. 10
for piano trio with violin and violoncello fl. 10
for pianoforte with 4 hands fl. 10
for the pianoforte
alone fl. 6
All of these editions will be accomplished under the direct supervision of their creator Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven.—
We will spare no expense in order to present them in a beautiful and correct manner, appropriate to their intrinsic value, and therefore, line, paper, and printing will be the same as in the edition of Wellington’s Victory.
In order to eliminate all unlawful and inaccurate arrangements, we will issue all the above-mentioned arrangements all on the same day.
Since the size of the symphonies might differ in the number of sheets, we cannot determine a price in advance for the second symphony, which is, however, inseparable from the first, except to note that this subscription price, in fairness, will not differ greatly in essentials.—The subscription remains open until the publication of the first symphony, after which the increased retail price will apply.
The P. T. [most likely “Pränumerations Teilnehmer” and thus “(male) subscribers”] music lovers who send in the subscription fee at any time—for one or the other edition—directly to us or to the music shops nearest to you locally and abroad, will receive copies of the best first prints. Upon receipt of the first symphony, advance payment will be made immediately for the second.
Although work on the engraving of the works has been in progress for some time, we are not yet able to determine the date of publication, which we will subsequently announce in the public newspapers.
Vienna, February 1816.
S. A. Steiner and Comp.
k. k. privil. Kunsthändler und Innhaber der privil. Chemie-Druckerey
am Graben Nro. 612.
Cover picture: portrait of Sigmund Anton Steiner, lithography by Josef Teltscher (1826); by courtesy of Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Bildarchiv Austria .