KUHLAU Frederich Daniel Rodolphe
Born at Velzen in Hanover on the 11th December, 1786-he died in Copenhagen on the 12th of March, 1832. A few years before the French Revolution brought its thorough restructuring of European society in the Nineteenth Century, Friedrich Daniel Rudolph Kuhlau was born in the little town of Uelzen in North Germany, halfway between Hamburg and Hanover, on September 11, 1786. He belonged to one of many families of musicians in those days. His father, grandfather, and uncle were all military musicians (oboists), and the last-mentioned later became organist in Ålborg in Denmark. We know very little about Kuhlau`s childhood and youth. The family, with three sons and two daughters, was poor, and the career of the father caused many relocations to other North German towns. When Kuhlau was about seven years old the family settled in Lüneburg, and it was here in the beginning of 1796 that he met with an accident, a fall in the slippery street at wintertime by which he lost his right eye. The most common version of how this happened is that broken pieces from a bottle he carried with him in order to buy something for his mother came into the eye, another is that he fell while carrying the choral book to the organist of the town in whose church he was singing and whose favorite he was. During a long time in bed, a piano was placed nearby, and this promoted an interest in music that may have been there before according to the version of singing in the church and his telling his older sister Amalie that he was then copying out some beautiful, new arias for her. When asked if the accident was not a great misfortune, he answered: "No, that was good, otherwise I would not have been a musician." He seemed never to have received a systematic basic education, let alone a higher one. The organist in Lüneburg gave him some piano teaching and his father perhaps a few lessons in flute playing. Of the years 1796 to 1800 we are without any information on his life. Perhaps the boy left home to make his own living, his father complaining of the many boys being at home and making nothing. In the summer of 1800, he is known to have been as a pupil in a grammar school in Altona where he participated in the town`s musical life, and in the beginning of the following year he was among the pupils of the Katharineum-gymnasium of Braunschweig. Here he passed a concluding examination of the highest class in April 1802 when he was 15 and a half years old. However, he never received a thorough music education, and on the whole, he must be considered a self-taught person. As early as in 1802, Kuhlau sent compositions (songs with piano accompaniment) to the publishing house of Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, but they were refused. Musical life in Braunschweig was declining, both the school concerts of the Katherineum and the opera activities of the town, which were directed by Frenchmen whose repertoire consisted mainly of Italian and French operas, particularly by Cherubini, Boieldieu, and Paer, but also by Gluck and Mozart. Altogether, the environmental conditions for his musical development in his early years seem to have been far from ideal. In Braunschweig, Kuhlau met another composer who would later be one of the leading musicians in Germany: Louis Spohr. With Spohr he corresponded a little but did not seem to have been in closer contact. He may also have made the acquaintance of the piano composer and virtuoso, Jan Ladislav Dussek, living in Braunschweig from 1802 to the beginning of 1803. Both musicians were known to be in Hamburg in 1804, where they also could have met. It was Hamburg that became Kuhlau`s longest place of residence before he went to Denmark. In 1802 or 1803 he came with his parents - his father having retired as an oboist - to this North German musical metropolis that could offer everything he could wish in the way of concerts and opera. Kuhlau learned more about music than his later instruction from Schwenke could give him by attending many performances of the best music of the day, such as big choral works, solo concertos as well as Italian, French and German operas and singspiele at the two theaters of the city. In the beginning, he had financial difficulty as a poor piano teacher, but after a concert tour to Bremen (where his brother Andreas was living) together with a singer, his circumstances began to improve. In 1804, Kuhlau appeared in public as pianist and composer at no less than three concerts. These were later followed by many others: a total of nine to ten concerts in the following six years that he lived in Hamburg. Of his own compositions, he performed mostly piano variations, such as (the now lost) Auf Hamburgs Wohlergehn (On Hamburg`s Welfare). In 1804, he also had his first compositions published. These were songs and small piano works, and from 1806 new compositions of songs, flute, and piano music (rondos and variations) were published with regularity. The following year he was described as "already well-known for his previous compositions," and in 1810, larger works with opus numbers were published.About 1806, Kuhlau received more systematic teaching in music theory from C.F.G. Schwencke, who, as a pupil of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and J.P. Kirnberger and successor of the former as Stadtkantor and Musikdirektor of Hamburg, was a learned musician and a well-known and much feared critic. In the beginning, he rejected all of Kuhlau`s compositions, but his deep theoretical insight and extensive knowledge of the music of earlier times from Bach and Handel to Mozart surely had a lasting influence on Kuhlau, who subsequently developed consummate skills in counterpoint and musical craftsmanship. However, Kuhlau only characterized his apprenticeship with Schwencke as "some instruction in Generalbas (theory of harmony)." Kuhlau`s youth was spent in a very politically turbulent time. In 1806, Hamburg was occupied by French troops, and after four hard years for the inhabitants with unemployment and a gradual channeling of the city`s financial resources to France, Hamburg was eventually annexed into the French empire. This occurred by the end of 1810 as part of the continental blockade against England. For the young men of the city, this meant conscription by force into the French army. In spite of his handicap, with only one eye, Kuhlau must have felt threatened and planned an escape to Denmark. He called it a "concert tour." However, since it took place just at this time, it was certainly an excuse to leave a place in which he felt insecure. The exact dates of Kuhlau`s departure from Hamburg and his arrival in Copenhagen, through Slesvig-Holstein where he was recommended by the Court to the Queen of Denmark, are not known. From various sources, however, one can conclude that this must have taken place in November of 1810. For the sake of security, he is said to have arrived under the moniker "Kasper Meier" and to have first lived at the famous "Round Tower" of Copenhagen. But both these things, as with so many of the anecdotes about his life, are without documentation. He appeared for the first time publicly before a Danish audience at The Royal Theater on January 23, 1811, where he played his Piano Concerto in C Major, Op.7 (already composed and performed in Hamburg and now dedicated to the other leading Danish composer at that time, Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse) and a Musical Painting: The Storm on the Sea with the sections: 1) The Quiet Sea, 2) The Storm approaches, 3) The Full Outbreak, 4) It Weakens and the Sky Clears Up, 5) The Merry Sailors Sing a Song and Variations on this Song. One would have liked to hear this interesting piano piece, typical of the period, but it was never printed, and it is not extant.Another three concerts followed the same year, one at Court where the Queen afterwards asked him if he would like a cup of tea, to which he answered frankly, but not very properly: "Thank you very much, but I would rather like a glass of schnapps." He repeated his C Major concerto and played Beethoven, then rather unknown in Denmark, and whose Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 had been the direct and nearly too obvious model for Kuhlau`s own concerto. He also played some piano variations and a "Big Scene from Ossian`s Comala," both lost, which unfortunately was also the case with a new Piano Concerto in F minor. According to what was said by Kuhlau`s contemporaries, the lost concerto was a much more personal work than the first one. He also made himself known by some newly published piano works and songs with piano accompaniments, and he was invited to the leading circles, for instance at the mansion of "Sophienholm," belonging to the merchant, Constantin Brun, which was located north of Copenhagen. The wife of this influential man was the then famous author, Friederikke Brun, and their pretty daughter, Ida, an equally well-known singer, dancer, and performer of popular tableaus, representing human feelings or famous persons.But Kuhlau did not succeed in finding permanent employment in Denmark in spite of various applications: among them one as piano teacher at the theater. Not until 1813 was he appointed Royal Chamber Musician (Kammermusikus), but even this was without salary. At the same time he also obtained Danish citizenship, but he continued for some years thereafter to subsist by giving private piano and singing lessons, and he earned a small income as correspondent in Denmark for the German musical periodical, Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. For it he wrote articles on the musical scene of the times in Denmark, its musical institutions, and composers (the contents of which were rather negative except for his high praise of Weyse as an improviser on the piano and as an opera composer). Weyse also admired Kuhlau, whom he characterized as one of those few artists who, together with Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Gluck, Schulz (and Weyse), followed the rule: "aspire first to the emotion, then the effect will follow on its own." The journal published a number of Kuhlau`s popular riddle canons and its publishing house, Breitkopf & Härtel, published most of Kuhlau`s compositions at that time. Kuhlau next made two attempts to make himself known to a greater public: first with a Cantata which was only performed two times in 1814 and 1816 and failed completely, and then with an opera which succeeded eminently. The cantata was on a most famous poem: Schiller`s An die Freude which Kuhlau was not the first composer to set to music and, as is well known, neither was he the last to do so. The music is only extant in a very fragmentary form (vocal parts for solo and choir but without any orchestral parts), and unfortunately a reconstruction of it is therefore impossible. Opera has long been one of the surest pathways to fame in music history. And so it was with Kuhlau`s dramatic début - apart from a little-known and now lost attempt in his youth in Hamburg The Triumph of Amor - the opera Røverborgen (The Robbers` Castle), like all his other operas, was a singspiel with spoken dialogue. The libretto was written by the well known Danish poet Adam Oehlenschlaeger who relates: At that time Weyse wanted again to compose an opera and the wonderful Kuhlau, still only known for his instrumental music, also asked me to write one. I considered what was best suited to the genius of both men. Kuhlau seemed more lively and impressive to me. In the music of Weyse a certain deep, faint fantasy had always delighted me with its sweet dreams. I wrote "The Robbers` Castle" for the first and "Ludlam`s Cave" for the second. The premiere of Røverborgen took place at The Royal Theatre on May 26, 1814. It not only meant a breakthrough for the composer, but it was also understood as a renewal of the traditional Danish opera repertoire. Its enormous success was undiminished for a long time, and the opera was performed nearly every year in Kuhlau`s lifetime. With its ninety-one performances up to 1879, it was second only to Elverhøj, Kuhlau`s most often performed dramatic work. The success of Røverborgen did not at all mean an improvement of the composer`s financial circumstances, and this continued to be his greatest problem throughout his whole life. And this was especially true at this particular time, since around 1814 Kuhlau`s personal responsibilities grew to include the support of his parents and his younger sister, Magdalene, who had moved to Denmark to live with him. They probably fled from Hamburg among many thousands of other poor people who were forced by the French government to leave the town. The household in Copenhagen was, for a short period later on, increased by a cousin, the cellist Søren Kuhlau, a female cousin, and a nephew, the pianist Georg Friedrich Kuhlau, a son of his brother Gottfried, who later moved to Calcutta, India where he became music director. Kuhlau was very fond of traveling, and during his residence in Denmark he made seven journeys abroad in all. In the beginning, they were primarily intended as concert tours, but later on they became a sort of study tours or sheer pleasure trips. Perhaps to find money for his enlarged household, he went on a concert tour to Sweden together with a German horn player, Johann Christoph Schuncke, in 1815. They gave two concerts in Stockholm, and Kuhlau performed his two piano concertos and some piano variations on popular tunes (Op.12 and Op. 14). They probably also visited other Swedish towns. Little profit was made from the tour, but on their journey home, around July 1, all of it was lost since Kuhlau`s suitcase was stolen. The following year, Kuhlau went to Hamburg with one of his pupils to perform a new series of concerts, but primarily to have Røverborgen performed. This took place in April and May of 1816. And the opera, which Kuhlau himself conducted, was a great success thanks to the many talented singers of the Hamburg Opera. One of these, the coloratura soprano, Minna Becker, followed Kuhlau back to Copenhagen where she appeared in several concerts. At the last of these, she gave the first performance of a lyric-dramatic scene Eurydice in Tartarus, which Kuhlau had written especially for her. That same summer, there seemed to be a solution to his financial problems when he was appointed singing teacher at The Royal Theatre to an annual salary of 500 rix-dollars. But Kuhlau was a bad teacher with a strong dislike of "giving lessons" which "disturbed him all too much in his musical ideas," and there were also some disagreements with the conductor, Claus Schall, newly appointed after the death of F.L.A. Kunzen. So Kuhlau gave up the job after a year. Schall was known for his many ballets, a genre which has always been popular in Denmark, and though he was certainly not a great composer, Kuhlau exaggerated when he said of him: "He cannot put eight bars after another in the right way". Classes in Generalbas (figured bass) in the winter of 1817-1818 also were of a shorter duration than originally planned. The individual lessons he gave (often for free) to some of the composers (Fröhlich, Gebauer, Horneman) and musicians of the next generation only seemed of interest to him when the pupils were particularly gifted. In April of 1818, Kuhlau at last had a salary of 300 rix-dollars a year for his job as Kammermusikus, which had previously only been an honorary appointment. For this salary, it was his duty to play the piano at Court and to compose every year (from 1821, reduced to every two years) an occasional composition, most often a Cantata for the Court or an opera for The Royal Theatre. This seemed advantageous for him, but it proved not to be so, since his output to the music publishers in Germany and Denmark was greatly reduced during the time it took him to compose such music (about half a year). He could not produce what was his chief source of income: the many easy-to-play instrumental compositions in demand, such as sonatinas, rondos, and variations for piano, as well as the large amount of music for one or more flutes in which he soon became a specialist.In January of 1817, Kuhlau`s second opera, Trylleharpen (The Magic Harp), was first performed, and this event proved to be one of the most famous events in the history of Danish theater. It was a colossal fiasco due to a long and complicated literary controversy between two prominent Danish writers, Oehlenschläger and Jens Baggesen (the author of the opera`s libretto). Or rather it was a conflict between the two authors` fanatic fans. To understand this tragic-comic affair, one must bear in mind the political state of Denmark at that time: the country was governed by the autocratic King Frederik IV, who tolerated no democratic expressions of opinion whatever, in speech or in writing. The Royal Theatre was a "lightning rod" for such "impertinent tendencies" of which the Trylleharpen case is an example.Another failure of this year, albeit for different reasons, was his Cantata for the celebration of 300 years of the Reformation. Weyse also wrote a Reformation Cantata, and these two works brought about "a musical trial of strength" between the two composers within an area that was new to both of them: the large-scale religious cantata. The result of the contest was an signal victory for Weyse, and Kuhlau`s Reformation Cantata proved to be a great disappointment to his many admirers.The reception of Kuhlau`s dramatic works always went to extremes. They tended to be either great successes or equally great failures. Trylleharpen was only performed three times: January 30 and 31, 1817 and February 24, 1819. The opera`s failure was yet another blow to Kuhlau`s finances, causing him to move with his great family outside the ramparts of the old town center where the rent was lower. At this time he was composing his third opera, Elisa. The libretto, written by the poet and clergyman, Caspar Johannes Boye, (who later would provide Kuhlau with another two works for the stage) was totally undramatic. The text caused the opera to have only one performance more than Trylleharpen. This was just as great a failure for Kuhlau, although it may have been more unnoticed by the public.Like so many opera composers of his age, Kuhlau constantly searched for good librettos. Shortly after the premiere of Trylleharpen, he had begun an opera entitled Alfred, the text of which was by Kotzebue. It remained a fragment, and so too did Aandsprøven, eller Krigseventyret (The Mental Trial, or The War Adventure), which he was commissioned to compose after Elisa. This work was never finished because he couldn`t confer with the librettist, Laurids Kruse, who had moved to Germany since his composition had begun. Elisa had been the object of a rather sharp review wherein Kuhlau was urged to study the best French and Italian operas. So in February of 1821, Kuhlau sent two petitions to the King. In one he applied for permission to go abroad for two years, primarily to Italy in order to study opera, and in the other, he begged for a reduction of his work as Kammermusikus to deliver an opera to the theatre only every two years. Both petitions were granted.In March of 1821, Kuhlau set out on this journey abroad which, although not lasting two years, would become his longest (ten months in all). He passed through Hamburg and stayed for some time in Leipzig, where he lived at the home of his brother, Andreas, who was the owner there of a big tobacco factory. Kuhlau also visited for the first time his publisher, G.C. Härtel. From Leipzig, he went to Vienna where he stayed for four months, but he never went to Italy (probably for want of money), and he made his homeward journey through Munich, Leipzig, and Hamburg. From Vienna, he gave the following account in a letter home:Vienna is as merry as its inhabitants. Everybody here seems only to live in order to enjoy life. Nature and art in fact here offer so many multifarious pleasures that one really does not know which one to choose. Besides so many other public places of entertainment, there are five theaters here which play every evening...The acting is altogether very fine here. I go to it more than to the opera, because here, too, Rossini`s unclean spirit is ruling the theater... Apart from this, I live here a very pleasant life. In the morning, I compose; in the afternoon, I go for a walk or visit the remarkable things in Vienna. And in the evening, I go to the theater, which always gives me the greatest pleasure. I have not made the acquaintance of many persons except the greatest artists, and I also avoid it on purpose, because I must always be very hard-working in order to afford the considerable traveling expenses. They would only disturb me in my work... I hope in the future to be able to live more comfortably than before, because the personal acquaintances I have made with several music publishers may enable me to give up my teaching entirely and to live only from the income of my compositions. Kuhlau left Vienna in October and spent some time in Munich and Leipzig where, for the first time, a work by him (the Overture to Trylleharpen) was performed at a Gewandthaus concert. In Hamburg, he met the horn player from St.Petersburg, Joseph Gugel, and his fourteen-year-old son (also a horn player) with whom he returned to Denmark via Kiel. After having spent Christmas in Slesvig-Holstein, they gave a joint concert on January 2, 1822 in Odense. Here Kuhlau negotiated an arrangement with a German theatre company to compose incidental music to the epic Biblical play, Moses, by E.A. Klingemann. which was performed there the following December. The music, consisting of songs choruses and marches, is lost. At this time, Kuhlau also composed his Concertino for Two French Horns, Op.45 for Gugel and his son. It should have been published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, but because of disagreements about his music and his journalism, he broke with the publishing house and had his compositions published by other German, Danish, and later on also French and English companies. A turning point in Kuhlau`s dramatic music was his great Romantic opera, Lulu. The libretto was written by the customs official, translator, and minor poet, C.C.F. Güntelberg, and was based on the story Lulu or the Magic Flute taken from C.M. Wieland`s collection of fairy tales Dschinnistan, which was also the major source of Schikaneder`s and Mozart`s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Kuhlau undertook a small journey to Germany from April until June of 1823, because of a family matter. He worked very hard on this opera, and it took him over a year to compose it. This was due, in part, because he had discussions with the librettist and demanded many changes in the text. The premiere took place in October 1824, and Lulu was as great a success as Røverborgen had been previously. It was performed thirty-two times, and only went out of the repertoire in 1838 because the leading female singer who created the role of Sidi gave it up. Kuhlau always had a knack for influencing invitations from noble patrons to open their manor houses to him. And as a well-deserved vacation following his work on Lulu, he took a small trip to Sweden to visit a baron, whereupon he was inducted as a member of the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Later on he spent a holiday in another baron`s mansion North of Copenhagen, together with a pupil and his nephew Georg who was by then a well-trained as a pianist. But Kuhlau`s most famous journey was to Vienna in the summer of 1825, where he met one of his greatest role models, Ludwig van Beethoven. Their meeting took place on September 2 in Baden, South of Vienna, where Beethoven was then living, and it must have been one of the greatest experiences of Kuhlau`s life. A contemporary account of the event and Beethoven`s conversation notebooks tell of an animated men`s party which included Beethoven`s righthand man, Ignaz von Seyfried, the music publisher, Tobias Haslinger, the oboist, Joseph Sellner, the piano manufacturer, Conrad Graf, the violinist, Karl Holz, Kuhlau, and later on some other persons. The group took a walk in the mountains, followed by a dinner party at an inn, and then socializing at Beethoven`s house. Here they talked about what was going on in Vienna in the field of music, concert life, composers, politics, publication practices and newly published works, and especially the conversation was full of jokes, witty remarks, and erotic references. They also exchanged musical canons. Beethoven composed a drinking canon on Kuhlau`s name with the text: Kühl, nicht lau (Cool, not lukewarm) of which he sent an improved version the next day with the following words:Baden, 3 September, 1825 I must confess that the champagne got too much into my head last night, and has once more shown me that it rather confuses my wits than assists them; for though it is usually easy enough for me to give an answer on the spot, I declare I do not in the least recollect what I wrote last night. Think sometimes of your most faithful, BEETHOVEN Some other anecdotal information from Beethoven`s conversation notebooks refers to Kuhlau`s ability to work very fast (with some flute duets to Haslinger) and relate his heavy drinking of Austrian wines. He told the music publisher, Moritz Schlesinger, who later came to visit him that after the party he "didn`t know how he managed to come home and get in bed." Kuhlau may have been present at the event which took place on the afternoon of September 9 at the Inn, Zum wilden Mann (At the Wild Man`s), in Vienna. It must have been the artistic climax of his journey. On this day was arranged a private first performance of Beethoven`s String Quartet in A minor, Op.132. He left Vienna at the end of September with a portrait Beethoven had given to him with the dedication: "To my friend Kuhlau from L. van Beethoven." Upon his return to Copenhagen, he was commissioned to compose incidental music to Boye`s Romantic play, William Shakespeare, which premiered the following spring. The work was a success which lasted a long time. This was not in the least due to Kuhlau`s impressive, poetic music, which consisted of various choruses of fairies and the superb, Beethoven-inspired overture. A week after the play`s premiere, Kuhlau made an important decision. In order to have a lower rent, he moved with his family, that is his old parents and perhaps also the nephew Georg, outside the town to a little village (now a suburb) called Lyngby, situated 12 kilometers North of the center of Copenhagen. It was a charming place in rural surroundings where many of the rich had their summer houses, but for Kuhlau it became a permanent residence, where "the rustic tranquility suits me very well for the great deal of work I have to do." He socialized with many people in Lyngby and the surrounding countryside, and he also played the piano for Crown Prince Christian VIII at his palace, the nearby Sorgenfri, but he was "ill at ease when he went there, but happy when it was over." Also in Lyngby, Johanne Luise Heiberg, who later became the most famous Danish actress of the Nineteenth Century, then only a young girl, gave the following portrait of Kuhlau: Also the composer Kuhlau I met here for the first time. He made a good impression on me once I reconciled myself to the fact that he had only one eye; but this one was so beautiful that one must mourn that there were not two in the otherwise well-shaped face. He was jovial, straightforward and had such a good-natured air that even I entered into pleasantries with him. He and Wexschall [a violinist in whose house in Lyngby the incident took place] chatted far into the night. As is well known Kuhlau was fond of wine, and in the course of their conversation, they were drinking to such a degree that when Kuhlau at last left, it was obvious that the good musician had been drinking more than was good...The day after the brilliant Kuhlau came again and entering the room he went up to Mrs Wexschall, kissed her hand and sang: "Wer niemals einen Rausch gehabt, der ist kein braver Mann!" (Who never has been drunk, is not an honest man), an aria from Wenzel Müller`s singspiel, "Das neue Sonntagskind" (1793). Several persons mentioned a hogshead (240 liters) of red wine that his closest friend, the piano manufacturer, G.D. Hashagen, had installed for him in the basement of his house in Lyngby.In 1827, his duties as a composer called once more. Kuhlau was composing a new opera for the theater, Hugo og Adelheid (Hugo and Adelheid), another undramatic libretto by C.J.Boye. It opened in October of the same year, but in spite of Kuhlau`s fine music, the weak plot and no doubt also a strong disapproval from the Court on seeing a knight (Hugo) accused of burglary, caused the opera to fail after only five performances.The following summer, Kuhlau went on a journey to Sweden and Norway. The reason of this trip seems to have been an invitation from a wealthy man in Gothenburg to whose daugther Kuhlau had dedicated his Variations, Op. 91, on and old Swedish folksong with a hint that such an invitation would be welcomed. Kuhlau also visited another Swedish family and his former pupil, the pianist and composer, Carl Schwarz. The journey was also meant as a concert tour (his last one). He performed a concert with one of his piano concertos, some piano variations (probably Op.91), one of his piano quartets (probably the popular one in A major, Op.50), and his Fantasy, Op. 25 on Swedish songs and dances. Then he went to Christiania, Norway (now Oslo) where he likely repeated his concert repertoire from Gothenburg. On his return to that city, he performed a second concert "to comply with a wish expressed by several musical friends" which included one of his piano concertos, the Variations, Op.91, a piano sonata together with another person (either for four hands or with violin?) and his piano Variations on an Italian Song, Op.54. He returned to Copenhagen in June, the trip having lasted only a month.A week after his return from Sweden, the seeds of his enduring fame were laid. On the occasion of the approaching marriage between King Frederik`s daughter, Vilhelmine, and Crown Prince Frederik VII, the theater was instructed to see to arrange a festive gala performance "of appropriate splendor, but without allusion to the ceremony." Oehlenschläger, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, and Boye were asked to submit drafts of a libretto. Heiberg won the day with his Elverhøj (The Elf Hill), a Romantic play, based on old Danish legends and ballads. The music was based on old Danish folk songs, and Kuhlau`s work arranging these and composing his own music was made "in great haste" from the end of July to the end of September. A few days after the royal wedding, Kuhlau was appointed professor with a raise from 300 to 600 rix-dollars, and in the midst of the festive atmosphere reigning in the city, the premiere of Elverhøj was anticipated with great excitement. It took place at The Royal Theater on November 6, 1828. The singspiel was cast with the leading actors of the theater, and its success was tremendous, both for Heiberg as well as for Kuhlau. In the years that followed, Elverhøj became an icon of Danish culture that neither Kuhlau nor his contemporaries had never dreamed of. Kuhlau composed the most famous tune of Elverhøj, later adopted as one of the two National Anthems of Denmark, King Christian Stood by the Lofty Mast, a song about the Renaissance King`s conquest in battle that easily evokes a feeling of national pride. The tune is an old melody of supposed international origin, the many arrangements of which Kuhlau`s was the last and final. Despite his augmented income as a professor, Kuhlau nevertheless suffered from financial problems. His chief source of income was still his instrumental music sent to German and French publishing houses: that is, piano and flute music. The public tastes for music in both these genres was very great, and such compositions now in the form of more entertaining, small works were in great demand. Kuhlau complained that not even reasonably important artistic compositions could be sold any more, and that one publisher even demanded that he change one of his Rondos by extending it, making him heave this deep sigh: "How can one set such limits to one`s imagination: that the commissioned piece of music should contain a certain number of pages, not more and not less?" There were hard demands placed on the newly appointed professor at the height of his artistic career. In the summer of 1829, Kuhlau went with Hashagen on his last journey abroad. First, he traveled to Berlin where he remained for a month. He went to the theater every day, and saw a magnificent staging of Spontini`s latest opera, Agnes von Hohenstaufen, and he "lived on the fat of the land." From there he went to Leipzig where he visited his brother, Andreas, and the music publisher, C.G. Böhme (C.F. Peters Verlag), at whose country house his Quartet for Four Flutes, Op.103 was first performed. And it was Böhme who seems to have been the first to encourage him to write string quartets. On his way home he stopped off in Hamburg to discuss with a musical friend the possibility of performing Lulu there, but Kuhlau was all too reserved and impractical to carry out such an undertaking. From Kiel he took the new steamship, Caledonia, to Copenhagen, where he arrived on the last day of August after a journey of three months. That autumn, one of the greatest concert seasons ever culminated when one of the greatest piano virtuosos of that time, the Bohemian pianist and composer, Ignaz Moscheles, visited Copenhagen. He met both Weyse and Kuhlau at a musical soirée, held at the home of the wealthy wine merchant and patron of the arts, Christian Waagepetersen. Here Kuhlau performed his third Piano Quartet, Op.108. Moscheles considered it to have been on a large scale and finely worked out, but not without reminiscences (he very likely thought of Mozart`s piano quartet in the same key). A visit to The Royal Theatre to a performance of Elverhøj, however, made him give the music his most unreserved approval, and at his concerts thereafter, he improvised some variations on the tune of "King Christian" and later wrote some music with other folk songs from Elverhøj. But otherwise, he most often socialized with Weyse, whom he thought the more interesting of the two, because of his deep cultural knowledge. Kuhlau attended one of Moscheles` concerts about which he became ecstatic, and he later corresponded a little with him. Kuhlau enjoyed Moscheles` enthusiasm for his overture to William Shakespeare, but of a proposed performance in London of the whole play, nothing materialized. In 1830, it was again incumbent upon Kuhlau to compose something for The Royal Theater. After negotiations about an opera to Hans Christian Andersen`s first libretto, The Raven (after a play by Gozzi), which Kuhlau had turned down, he accepted the proposition of composing incidental music to Oehlenschläger`s comedy, Trillingbrødrene fra Damask (The Triplet Brothers from Damascus). It was an oriental piece with music full of "Turkish" effects, but it only obtained three performances that autumn. Kuhlau`s last years were filled with a series of tragic events following one after the other: sorrows with illnesses, worries, bereavements in the family, and accidents. In 1830, he lost both his parents, the father in January and the mother in November. He always had felt a strong affection for them, especially his mother. He stayed with his mother that summer, although he had a great desire and was tentatively obligated with Böhme for a trip to Leipzig. "A sad year for me! Two funerals - that is indeed hard - and moreover, I am now ill myself. I suffer so much from rheumatism in my legs that I must always stay indoors, and I am in great pain. Now I am very happy that Male is with us". Malie was his eldest sister, Amalie, who had come up from Germany to help with the housekeeping. But the hardest blow, both physically and mentally, he received on February 5,1831 when the house in which he had rented an apartment burned to the ground. In this fire he lost nearly all his household effects. His sister, Amalie, gives a realistic eye witness description of the events in a letter to Andreas Kuhlau written from the hospital on March 12, 1831: Unfortunately I cannot write anything happy from us. We spent this winter in a very sad manner. Fritz [Kuhlau`s nickname in the family] was suffering already for a long time from severe coughing and rheumatism. After the death of our dear mother, this complaint worsened to the point that he could no longer leave the house.The 5th of February was a very unhappy day for us; on this day a fire broke out at five o`clock in the evening in the house of our neighbor. As the wind was blowing very strongly, and the houses in Lyngby are thatched, it only took a quarter of an hour before our house, too, was in bright flames. In the short time available to us, not much could be salvaged, and Fritz`s losses, chiefly consisting of his music, cannot be estimated. We stood for a long time in the street in snow and cold with the horrifying sight in front of us. Since several inhabitants of Lyngby offered to house us, we went to a good friend where we stayed until Fritz had rented a new home. But not until now did things become really bad for Fritz. Affected by fear and cold, he got chest cramps [angina pectoris] to such a great degree that he was hovering between life and death. It was always worse in the night. He felt more and more weak, and no medicine any longer took effect. So on March 8, Fritz decided to go to the Frederiks Hospital in Copenhagen. Here he is in the hands of the most famous doctors of Copenhagen, and during the time he has been here he has been getting much better... You must excuse that Fritz has not written. His eye is so affected by the illness that he still must not strain it. During the three months at the hospital, Weyse and others proved themselves to be true friends. Together with The Students` Association, they had arranged a concert at the Court Theater from which Kuhlau was given the box-office receipts. He was discharged from the hospital and felt "completely recovered but rather weak," and together with his sister, he returned to Lyngby where he set to work again on composing, among other things the six planned string quartets commissioned by Waagepetersen. By the end of October, he moved with Amalie to Copenhagen where they rented an apartment in Nyhavn (New Harbor), in the center of the town. He only had time to complete the first of the six string quartets, and he was full of optimism to the end. But a strong relapse occurred, and "after an illness of fourteen days and a hard fight" Kuhlau died on March 12, 1832. The funeral took place a week later at the German St. Petri Church from which the coffin was moved the following year to Assistens Cemetery where it still can be seen. For a long time, the story circulated that Kuhlau had put aside "a lot of excellent compositions to be published in his old age to make his future secure," but this was not true, unfortunately, and he denied it himself in a letter written two years before the fire. Among the few manuscripts that survived the fire, were the music of Trylleharpen and Trillingbrødrene, a Funeral Cantata (from 1818, but now lost), and some other chamber and piano works. Contemporaries of Kuhlau characterized him as a sympathetic, merry, good-natured and kind man, ready to help when asked, especially toward younger musicians seeking his advice and guidance. He was also something of a Bohemian who enjoyed life, loving wine and tobacco. But on the other hand, he was very shy with women. One could get the impression that except for his great musical knowledge, he was an ordinary man, without greater comprehension. Oehlenschläger very categorically stated: "He was a beautiful man with flowering cheeks. He neither occupied himself with foreign languages nor with scholarship; he drank his glass of wine, smoked his pipe of tobacco, was a learned musician, and composed lovely music". That Kuhlau felt outside the intellectual life of Copenhagen could have been due to his feeling like a German and his sticking to the German language in spite of his many years in Denmark. And though he did understand Danish very well when spoken by others, "He never learned to speak Danish, and I have never heard him say one word in Danish," one person said. Another contemporary stated: "It was the greatest amusement of his friends when they could use his good humor to force him speak Danish." He did not feel at home in fashionable social circles, as it appears from what was told by the composer, J.P.E. Hartmann: "As it always had been his custom, Kuhlau mostly kept to the common people and was sitting, enveloped in a tobacco cloud between two blacksmiths. After all there was some music making and Kuhlau played some of his variations for piano duet together with his nephew Georg." From another party: "Kuhlau was there and happened to be placed in the middle of the floor when we had some food, swinging with a plate with some open sandwiches and a glass of red wine. That was not his cup of tea, you know. My father happened to be by the side of Kuhlau who whispered to him: "Let us go! To Hagen (a wine merchant) to drink a glass of wine; it is not at all late." But Kuhlau was far from an ordinary man. His letters, although mostly about musical matters, reveal both a cultured and a vibrant person, and his enormous circle of acquaintances in Denmark, where he came into contact with the leading figures of the period, and with others abroad as well, shows him as a thoroughly sociable man who moved with the times. He was, however, in the exterior modest and somewhat shy, especially with people he did not know. "He never spoke much; what he said he pronounced very fast, and he formed his remarks and opinions in very short sentences." His reserve also applied to his own music to its promotion of which he didn`t know how to be "pushy." At one of the first performances of Lulu, the audience asked for Kuhlau to take a curtain call after the quartet of the second act, but he shyly cowered. When one of the friends jumped up and cried: "Kuhlau is sitting here!" he cowered still more, muttering: "You are crazy!" His letters also reveal an artist knowing his own worth, but also his own limitations. When somebody once noticed that Kuhlau might have been willing to destroy all of his compositions to have in return composed the opera, Der Freischütz, he said: "There is something in what you say". Altogether Kuhlau appears with many of the character traits of a typical Romantic artist. He loved nature very much and "took many walks with his dog, "Presto." He was rather otherworldly, "often very absent-minded when spoken to, and he was absorbed in his musical ideas." A curious character trait was his extreme meticulousness: an order and and a system in everything, in his person (well-groomed), in his compositions, in everything concerning the business side of his artistic activity, and in his way of working: "He worked from 8:00 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon when he had lunch. He then had a little nap and often worked until supper." "Everything went punctually: he got up punctually, took walks punctually, and went up and down the garden paths a certain number of times, making marks with his walking stick to see how often he had walked there." He was very industrious and worked "incredibly fast." Kuhlau made an invaluable contribution as a pedagogue with his numerous sonatinas and other piano works. The sonatinas, in particular, are masterful creations that all developing piano students study before taking on the more technically demanding sonatas of Beethoven and others. While it is true that he may have composed these primarily to make money from their publication, they remain among some of the finest examples of the sonatina genre penned by any composer, and his more technically demanding sonatas (true major works) have undeservedly been neglected in our present time. These pieces contain scale and arpeggio passages that require considerable dexterity of students, and it may be said they rank with the sonatinas of Clementi, Diabelli, and Beethoven as the finest examples of this form in the early Nineteenth Century. As Weitzmann said, "they are always written in a serious and noble style." While it may be arguable that Friedrich Kuhlau was the "Sultan of the Classical Sonatina," it is unquestionable that he was widely called "The Beethoven of the Flute." His many works for flute solo with piano and flute ensembles are a mainstay in the musical literature of the Classical period for that instrument. Kuhlau also taught a number of young composers, and his long-lasting influence on Danish music was considerable.
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