According to a footnote in a treatise on music aesthetics of 1856, Beethoven claimed to have had in mind the scene in the burial vault in Romeo and Juliet when he composed the Adagio of op. 18, no. 1. The Shakespeare connection has persisted because, as scholars since Nottebohm have noticed, it is supported by four (French-language) inscriptions in Beethoven's sketches. We ought to ask, however, Which version of the vault scene—that is, which Romeo and Juliet? As a consequence of eighteenth-century practices of theatrical adaptation, the play was available in various forms. Among contemporary French sources, Steibelt's opera (1793) may be ruled out as a model. Jean-François Ducis's adaptation (1772) shows striking concordances with the sketchbook inscriptions, but we have no direct evidence that Beethoven knew it. He arguably knew three different stage versions—all unlikely models: Weiße's bourgeois tragedy (1767) rejected Shakespeare's ending; Gotter and Benda's singspiel rendition (1776) ended happily; and Zingarelli's tragedia per musica (1796) had the title characters sing a final duet in E-flat major, despite the tragic circumstances. Among the available translations, Beethoven acquired Eschenburg's Romeo und Julia (1779 or earlier), but probably not before composing his quartet. However, the appearance in Berlin of A. W. Schlegel's translation of the vault scene coincided with Beethoven's arrival there in May 1796. This masterful poetical translation may have planted the idea realized in the Adagio of op. 18, no. 1. We know (from a letter of 1810) how highly Beethoven regarded Schlegel's translation, Schindler's assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.

Twenty-nine years after Beethoven's death, in 1856, a philologist specializing in Baltic languages published a short treatise on musical expression in Dorpat (now Tartu, Estonia). The philologist in question, Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann, was arguing for the power of music to evoke in listeners precisely the images that the composer intended. In support of his assertion, Wiedemann offered an anecdote (tucked modestly into a footnote) involving Ludwig van Beethoven and Karl Amenda (1771–1836), a violin-playing theologian and pastor from Courland (the western third of Latvia) who, for some eighteen months in 1798–99, had been one of Beethoven's closest friends in Vienna. According to the anecdote, “the late Provost A.” (that is, Amenda) had met with Beethoven after the composition of the latter's “familiar string quartet in F major.”1 Beethoven had played “the glorious Adagio” in D minor (the slow movement) and had then asked his friend what thoughts had come to mind. “For me, came the reply, it portrayed the parting of two lovers.—Right, Beethoven answered, I was thinking as I wrote of the scene in the burial vault from Romeo and Juliet.”2 Four years after the publication of Wiedemann's treatise, Wilhelm von Lenz reproduced the story in Beethoven: Eine Kunst-Studie. As a child of Riga, Lenz took a regional interest in Wiedemann's little tract, whose author he praised as “the great linguist and friend of art, appointed to the St. Petersburg Academy.”3 A dozen years later again, in 1872, Alexander Wheelock Thayer quoted Lenz in Volume 2 of his Beethoven biography.4 Subsequent editions of both Lenz and Thayer established the anecdote as part of the literature on Beethoven.5 

Despite Bernd Edelmann's assurance that one could not ask for more reliable witnesses than a philologist and a theologian,6 the passage of time (in this case, fifty-seven years between the subject of the anecdote and its retelling in print) does have effects on the memory quite independent of one's chosen career. Thus the transmission of this story might strike us as tenuous, were it not for certain inscriptions in Beethoven's sketches. For whatever reason, the inscriptions are in French, but they render plausible a connection to the well-known play. In 1879 or shortly thereafter, Gustav Nottebohm spotted the phrase “les derniers soupirs” (the final sighs) on page 9 of the sketchbook now known as Grasnick 2, and on that basis gave the anecdote guarded credence.7 Almost a century later, musicologist and librarian Wilhelm Virneisel produced a facsimile and transcription of Grasnick 2 showing further apposite inscriptions on page 8. These inscriptions are harder to read, but Virneisel plausibly reconstructed them as “il prend le tombeau” (he lays hold of the tomb), “dese[s]poir” (despair), and “il se tue” (he kills himself).8 Not surprisingly, the urge to derive detailed programs from these inscriptions has proven as irresistible as Wiedemann's anecdote, the most exuberant attempts being those by Owen Jander (1988) and Myron Schwager (1989).9 A consensus seems to have emerged among musicologists (and musicians) as to the extramusical resonance of the movement; there is less agreement about what to do with it. For William Kinderman, the association with Romeo and Juliet enhances our understanding of other works by Beethoven related in key and mood—specifically, the Largo e mesto of the Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3. Lewis Lockwood follows Edelmann in hearing the primary and secondary themes in the quartet movement as the “two conflicting principles of Romeo's despair and Juliet's beauty”; nonetheless, “Beethoven, not wanting to be literal, destroyed all traces of any such program in the finished work.”10 Curiously enough, Arnold Schering, prone as he was to Shakespearean decodings of Beethoven's instrumental works, denied op. 18, no. 1, a place among his supposed “Shakespeare quartets.” Precisely because the Adagio struck Schering as “an ideal dialogue” and a “meshing together of two voices,” it could not be regarded as “authentic Romeo-music, because such a dialogue does not take place at this juncture in Shakespeare: Romeo dies before Juliet awakes.”11 The assumption underlying Schering's reasoning prompts a question that no one seems yet to have asked about Beethoven's putative dramatic model: Which version of the vault scene—that is, which Romeo and Juliet? The answer to this question is anything but obvious.

In the preface to his 1972 edition of Romeo and Juliet, J. A. Bryant wrote of the “mutilated versions that Restoration and eighteenth-century audiences knew.” Only in 1845 did sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman “finally [bring] a version approaching Shakespeare's original back to the stage”—and that was in London!12 Given the freewheeling practices of theatrical adaptation in the eighteenth century, it should not surprise us that the story was available to Beethoven in a variety of forms in as many as three languages other than English. Before simply pointing to act 5, scene 3, of Shakespeare's play, we ought to ponder those forms and their diversity.13 In deference to the language of the inscriptions, we shall review three French sources. Then, after reflecting on what Shakespeare represented to German-speaking readers and theatergoers in the last three decades of the eighteenth century, we shall consider three specific stage versions of the play that Beethoven certainly or arguably knew. One of these was a prose adaptation that explicitly rejected the model of Shakespeare. One was a singspiel that Beethoven performed as many as three times while a court musician in Bonn. A third was a tragedia per musica (in Italian) that Beethoven probably saw in Vienna in 1797. We must also consider the German translations of the play that were available to him. Finally, we shall consider afresh some biographical circumstances relevant to a Shakespearean conception of the slow movement of op. 18, no. 1. We must begin, however, with Beethoven's sketches, because they impose some useful constraints on the search for dramatic models.

Inspiration or Narrative Program?

In his attempt to expound Beethoven's supposed program, Myron Schwager argued that the inscription “il se tue” should have read “elle se tue,” because (in his view) Juliet is the one taking her life at that point in the Adagio.14 The remark is a telling example of our readiness, once we have a compelling story line, to change the documentary facts to fit it. What Beethoven's sketches support is not so much a narrative spanning the whole movement as a set of striking images translated into music that wound up at the movement's end. On pages 8–9 of Grasnick 2 Beethoven was working on what would become his coda—clarifying his musical destination, as it were, before fashioning the movement proper.15 Nottebohm's transcription of the inscription and sketch that he noticed on page 9 of Grasnick 2, staves 1–2, is reproduced in Example 1. Despite referring to the sketch as “not used” (“Eine nicht benutzte Skizze”),16 Nottebohm located it accurately enough in terms of the finished piece. Given the repeated notes in the inner parts and the contour of the cadential gesture (b♭–c♯–d), this would seem very much like raw material for what became the movement's epilogue (see Example 2, mm. 106–10).17 At the same time, as Edelmann convincingly argues, the sketch on page 9 also proves to be one basis for the principal theme, which (after several intermediate stages) begins to appear clearly on page 12, staves 5–6.18 

Example 1

Example 2

On page 8 of Grasnick 2, one finds the passage with the French inscription Virneisel read as “il prend le tombeau.” This may be aligned with measures 96–97 of the Adagio, where the principal theme sounds for the first time in a “male range” and in the reinstated tonic D minor (see Example 3). The remaining inscriptions occur in a sketch that follows directly in Grasnick 2 (p. 8, staves 15–16). Here one recognizes the raw material for measures 102–6 (again, see Example 2). The anguished thirty-second-note vortex over Neapolitan harmony (far more concentrated in the version given to Amenda, mm. 102–4) stems from the figuration Beethoven labeled “dese[s]poir.” And the measures Beethoven labeled “il se tue” match measures 105–6 in the Amenda version, with the sf on beat 1 and the theatrical plunge in the first violin.

Example 3

I thus find myself in substantial agreement with Edelmann's placements of these inscriptions on the last page of the score.19 And I am persuaded by his argument that Beethoven derived the main body of the movement from the materials of the eventual coda; hence, there need not be a program that governs the whole sonata structure for Beethoven's statement (in whatever approximation Wiedemann remembered it) to be true: “I was thinking as I wrote of the scene in the burial vault from Romeo and Juliet.”

French Versions of Romeo and Juliet

The language of Beethoven's inscriptions has suggested to some that he might have had a French source in mind—perhaps Daniel Steibelt's hugely popular opera Roméo et Juliette, premiered at Paris's Théâtre Feydeau on September 11, 1793.20 Steibelt (1765–1823) surely carried the published score with him on his European tour, which took him to Vienna in 1800, about a year after Beethoven composed his quartet.21 Even if Beethoven had earlier access to the score, the alterations to Shakespeare's story that were introduced by Steibelt's librettist (and patron), the vicomte Joseph-Alexandre de Ségur, rule it out as a potential model for the Adagio. The vault scene, which takes up the whole of act 3, culminates in a tableau that brings together Capulet and his followers, a Castilian grandee named Don Fernand (to whom Capulet has promised his daughter in marriage if Fernand avenges the death of Tybalt) and his followers, and Roméo. The burial vault must be a capacious one! Capulet wants to slay Roméo on the spot, but Don Fernand points out that Roméo, alone and unarmed, can hardly defend himself and even leads his retinue over to Roméo's side. The gesture is all the more generous since Don Fernand has been Roméo's rival for Juliet's love (there being no Count Paris in this telling of the tale). Swords are crossed, when suddenly the stage fills with young girls and Juliette revives. A shocked standstill (to diminished seventh harmony built on C♭) is followed by a chorus of astonishment and then … spoken dialogue, in the eventual course of which Cébas (the Friar Lawrence character transformed into a lawyer) persuades Capulet to give his blessing to the union—in other words, a happy ending, crowned with a final chorus in D major. This mob scene is nothing like “the parting of two lovers.”22 

There are arguably more points of contact with what was the first and for a while the most popular French adaptation of the play for the spoken stage, by Jean-François Ducis (1733–1814), whose Roméo et Juliette premiered at the Comédie-Française on July 27, 1772.23 Ducis rewrote the play in the alexandrine verse that was considered indispensable for French stage tragedies, and imposed on it the unity of time, by beginning the story toward its middle and having preceding action recalled on stage. He also pruned the dramatis personae to five—Roméo, Juliette, Montaigu, Capulet, and Escalus (renamed Ferdinand and changed from a prince into a duke)24—plus two confidants (Albéric and Flavie), to whom Roméo and Juliette could speak their minds. Paris and Tybalt are frequently discussed but never appear on stage. “It goes without saying that the colourful array of domestics, roisterers, ecclesiastics and apothecaries … have vanished without trace.”25 Such changes are not just reflections of neoclassical taste. Ducis read no English, and so had to rely on the only French rendition of the play then in print—a plot summary of some 800 words within the eight-volume collection published by Pierre-Antoine de La Place (1707–93) as Le théâtre anglois (1745–49).26 La Place's aim had not been to produce stageworthy translations but to give French readers some sense of what Shakespeare's plays were about. He provided prose renderings of ten plays (with some of their scenes synopsized) and summarized the rest—thirteen tragedies and historical plays at the end of Volume 3, and thirteen “tragi-comédies et comédies” at the end of Volume 4. The summary of Romeo and Juliet is accurate so far as it goes, but it begins with the action of act 1, scene 5 (the masked ball given by Capulet). There is no mention of Rosaline (Romeo's first-act infatuation), nor of Juliet's mother, nor of Benvolio. Mercutio and Juliet's nurse are each mentioned once. Even the balcony scene is discarded. (Such simplifications would become common in subsequent eighteenth-century adaptations, as we shall see.) When it came to turning Romeo and Juliet (back) into a play, Ducis had precious little Shakespeare to go on, and so he made most of it up, leaning heavily on the story of Count Ugolino in Canto 23 of Dante's Inferno as translated by Jean-François Marmontel.27 One early nineteenth-century English critic would remark, in evident exasperation, that “excepting the names of the lovers, of the two contending families and of the town in which the scene passes, Ducis might well have called it Titus Andronicus!”28 

The burial vault scene in Ducis begins with a monologue by Juliette, who has already taken poison. Roméo enters, having (so he thinks) moved his father to reconciliation with the Capulets. Juliette, however, has in her hands a note revealing this reconciliation to be a ruse: the Montaigus really intend to slaughter her family. To forestall this, Juliette has decided to remove the object of contention by ending her life. Roméo proposes a double suicide: “Expirons, mais ensemble. Avant de m'assoupir, / Que je te voie encore à mon dernier soupir” (Let us die, but together. Before slumbering, may I see you still upon sighing my last).29 (“Les derniers soupirs” was the phrase Nottebohm noticed in Beethoven's sketches.) Roméo draws his dagger to accomplish his part of the task, declaring, “Un désespoir tranquille a passé dans mon sein” (A tranquil despair has entered my breast). Juliette urges him rather to live, and offers herself as his wife, with the tombstones as witnesses. She then dies in his arms, whereupon Roméo stabs himself. The stage direction is “(Il se tue.)” That makes three phrases familiar to us from Beethoven's sketches, and they may represent so many coincidences. I have no evidence for Beethoven's knowledge of Ducis, whose version reverses the order and means of suicide familiar to us from Shakespeare. If Beethoven did encounter this adaptation, it may have put certain phrases into his head—phrases that, so to speak, would have come with the tragic territory. (Sketches, not being scholarly papers, usually forgo footnotes!)

The force of coincidence seems all the stronger (or stranger) when one considers that Beethoven's sketchbook shares more French phrases with the tomb scene in Ducis than it does with the tomb scene in a translation of Shakespeare's works by Pierre Letourneur (1737–88).30 Letourneur's translation began to appear in 1776 (four years after Ducis's stage adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) and had reached twenty volumes by 1783. The translation of Romeo and Juliet (1778) is in prose rather than alexandrine verse, and its main text adopts David Garrick's revision of act 5, from its opening dirge for the funeral of Juliet to the parting dialogue between Romeo and Juliet, the latter having awakened immediately after Romeo has swallowed the poison.31 A translation of Shakespeare's original (or most of it) is included in the supplementary notes to the volume. The only words shared between this translation and Beethoven's sketches are “tombeau” and “désespoir” (Romeo addresses the vial of poison as “Pilote du désespoir”).32 Letourneur's translation of Garrick's revision uses those same two words but in a different context: in response to the reviving Juliette's question “Qui est là?” (Garrick: “who's there!”), Romeo replies, “Ton époux; c'est ton Romeo, Juliette, qui passe du désespoir à une joie ineffable. Sors de ce tombeau, fuyons ensemble” (Garrick: “Thy husband; / It is thy Romeo, love; rais'd from despair / To joys unutterable! quit, quit this place, / And let us fly together—”).33 Such instances of agreement truly do seem coincidental, even inevitable under the circumstances. There is no counterpart in Letourneur to “les dernier soupirs,” nor is his stage direction “Il expire en embrassant Juliette” likely to have been the model for Beethoven's “Il se tue.”34 

Shakespeare in Germany: Three General Themes

Before we move on to German versions of the play, it would be well to review three overarching ideas in the German reception of Shakespeare during the eighteenth century (and especially during the latter half of that century). The first idea, championed by Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700–1766) and his students, was that serious German theater ought to follow the lead of French neoclassical dramatists (Corneille, Racine), in terms of choice of subject matter and observance of the Aristotelian unities. The second idea, diametrically opposed to the first, was championed by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–81), and then with greater rhetorical heat by participants in the Sturm und Drang movement. It held that Shakespeare provided the model of a dramatic genius unfettered by neoclassical constraints, and that German authors seeking to revive their national literature ought to imitate him, to “tap some (but not too much) of the rude and barbaric energy of this unrefined genius.”35 The third idea was that Shakespeare's plays were better read than staged, better imagined than performed. Among the reasons adduced were their putative untranslatability into German and their sheer unruliness, which posed practical difficulties—the huge casts, the numerous changes of scene, the characterizations that exploded existing notions of theatrical specialty (or “Fach”), not to mention the demands on the attention span of theatergoers looking for an evening's entertainment. Paradigmatic here are certain episodes from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, set in the 1770s. Wilhelm's description of Shakespeare's plays as “strange monstrosities” that “transcend all probability and overstep all propriety” captures the qualities that both fascinated the radically inclined and impeded staged productions. When Wilhelm makes a complete performance of Hamlet a condition of his joining the theater company, the stage director, Serlo, points to the practical impossibilities of the undertaking and declares how little impact it would have upon an audience that appreciates only piecemeal episodes and not aesthetic wholes. “We achieve just as much by plays that are cut as by ones that aren't.”36 At a time when theater directors took for granted the necessity of refashioning any stage work to meet local exigencies, Shakespeare's plays were presented to spectators in guises that bore more or less tenuous resemblance to their originals.

For German speakers looking to satisfy their curiosity about these plays, the pathbreaking translation was that of Christoph Martin Wieland (1733–1813), published in eight volumes between 1762 and 1766.37 Inferring from Shakespeare's disregard of classical rules that form (including poetical form) was expendable, Wieland gave up trying to produce metrical renderings after a single play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. What mattered was the content, the meaning, so the rest of his twenty-two translations (of the thirty-six plays then acknowledged as Shakespeare's) were in prose.38 Sometimes the prose was inspired; sometimes, little more than a paraphrase or even a synopsis. But the impact was huge: according to Simon Williams, Wieland's translations were “probably more widely read than any other published drama in Germany.”39 And they were the usual basis for the adaptations that arose whenever a German theater troupe embarked on a performance of Shakespeare.

The critical reviews, however, were mixed. On the conservative side, the playwright Christian Felix Weiße (1726–1804, best known to musicologists for his collaborations with Johann Adam Hiller) questioned the very proposition of translating entire plays by Shakespeare, because that might inspire German imitators to revive characters and situations that he regarded as bygone aberrations, from Hanswurst figures and raving kings to witches’ dances.40 More radically inclined poets—increasingly able to read Shakespeare in the original English—faulted Wieland's failure to capture the range and depth and agility of Shakespeare's language. And they faulted what was a delicacy verging on prudishness, for Wieland omitted (or summarized) Shakespeare's comic digressions, sanitized his characters’ bawdiness, and glossed over their wordplay. In his footnotes Wieland not only cited alternate readings but also reprimanded Shakespeare for his supposed crudities and irregularities, thereby earning the particular derision of the Sturm und Drang brigade.

For these young writers gathered around Herder and Goethe in Strasbourg ca. 1770, Shakespeare's plays proved that classical dramatic genres no longer mattered. “Away with dramatic categorization!” Heinrich von Gerstenberg urged.41 Shakespeare grasped life whole, capturing humans as they are—not as they would hope to be or fear to seem. As early as 1759, in the seventeenth of his “Letters Concerning the Latest Literature,” Lessing had declared that the English made better models for German dramatists than the French did.42 Only a decade later, Goethe joined Herder in declaring that any dramatic norms founded in ancient Greek culture were irrelevant for their culture. Once he read Shakespeare, Goethe “hesitated not a moment to renounce rule-bound theater.”43 Herder published his pathbreaking essay “Shakespear” in a collection he titled Von deutscher Art und Kunst (1773); the collection also included his essay on folk poetry and Goethe's essay on Strasbourg Cathedral. Herder's opening image involuntarily conjures Caspar David Friedrich's arch-Romantic painting Walker above the Sea of Fog (1818), not to mention later encomia about Beethoven:

If this uncanny picture occurs to me in connection with any man—“perched high atop a rocky crag! at his feet, storm, gale, and roaring sea; but his head in the radiance of heaven!”—that man is Shakespeare! With the addendum, of course, that below, at the deepest foot of his craggy throne, huddles a muttering mob that explicates, salvages, condemns, excuses, worships, slanders, translates, and blasphemes him—and all of these he does not hear!44 

In this essay he mentions Romeo and Juliet (“the sweet play of love”) only once in passing,45 but in a letter to his wife, Herder singled out Wieland's translation of this play as his least felicitous.46 

A number of concerns of the Sturm und Drang circle were addressed in a translation by Johann Joachim Eschenburg, published in thirteen volumes in Zurich in 1775–82.47 When Wieland declined his publisher's request to produce a new, corrected (and completed) edition of his translation, the publisher approached Eschenburg, a professor in Braunschweig. Eschenburg described his daunting task in the preface to his edition: “to carefully sift through what was already translated and correct that; to fill in gaps, insofar as the particular character of the two languages would permit; and to add the fourteen plays still lacking.”48 The gaps were the passages that Wieland had either summarized or omitted, on account of their raciness, wordplay, or presumed irrelevancy. Eschenburg added footnotes, not to wag a remonstrative finger but to clarify meanings that had become obscure even in English. He also provided an essay for each play, which included a source study and a review of any similar or derivative works.49 Like Wieland, Eschenburg eschewed metrical translations, and his renditions were as little conceived for actual staging as Wieland's had been. Reading his survey of contemporary adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, one senses no indignation at changes wrought to the original play. He too seems to have taken it for granted that adaptation was necessary and even a sign of viability; after all, one of the operatic versions he reviewed was to a libretto by himself!

Eschenburg's translation was complete by 1782, which is about the time the young Beethoven began to frequent the Breuning household—virtually his second home during his adolescence. As his childhood friend Franz Wegeler would note, Beethoven was soon treated as a child of the house, spending not only the better part of his days there but many a night as well.50 For all we know, that cultivated family had the Wieland translation and/or Eschenburg's revised and completed version on its bookshelves. It is pleasant to suppose that Beethoven may have gained his earliest impression of Shakespeare there—but while possible, it is unprovable. At some point, Beethoven would himself acquire the Mannheim edition of Eschenburg's translation as a whole or in part.51 Meanwhile, the most popular German stage versions of Romeo and Juliet had both been offered in Bonn, and it is to these that I now turn.

Shakespeare in Germany: Three Stage Versions

German theater historian Ernst Leopold Stahl observed that no other masterwork of Shakespeare's had as much difficulty in establishing itself on German stages in its original form as Romeo and Juliet.52 One reason for that difficulty was the success of Christian Felix Weiße's transformation of the story into a five-act “bürgerliches Trauerspiel”—a bourgeois or domestic tragedy along lines popularized by the plays of Denis Diderot—premiered and published in Leipzig in 1767.53 Weiße knew his Shakespeare well enough to fault the sources Shakespeare had used and to praise the sources he had ignored—in particular those that allowed Juliet to awaken before Romeo's poison had taken its full effect. His foreword is instructive. He assumes general familiarity with the play (presumably from Wieland's translation) but asserts that it was never Shakespeare's triumph. Apart from the issue of dramatic sources, Weiße charges that Shakespeare had

overloaded his play with many trivial, superfluous, and dramatically unnecessary things: the wit in many passages overflows to the point of childishness. The frequent recourse to rhyme weakens the verisimilitude of natural conversation so essential to dramatic dialogue, especially where scene and action are taken from domestic life. Finally, it is (as Garrick put it) so full of “Jingle and Quibble” that nowadays not even English theaters dare to present it without major and significant alterations.54 

For his part, Weiße had tried to make an altogether new play in German prose, taking as his guides Luigi Da Porto (1485–1529) and Matteo Bandello (1485–1561)—rather than Shakespeare.55 Weiße's version “quickly found its way into the repertoires of most of the travelling actors and was probably in its time the most successful tragedy yet written for the German stage.”56 His strictures about Shakespeare were apparently shared by the majority of German theatergoers, who seem to have preferred adaptations that imposed neoclassical regularities. Weiße (much like Ducis) centralized the action in the Capulet household (to approximate unity of place), and reduced the number of characters to eight (three of them almost incidental). The action was made to unfold within twenty-four hours; indeed, as noted by Stahl, the references to clock time that Weiße planted into the dialogue prompt the image of a stopwatch ticking.57 “Schon schlug die Glocke zwölfe” (the bell has already struck twelve), observes Julie in the opening line of the play.58 She is waiting for Romeo, and their leave-taking before he goes into exile is where the action of the play begins, the ball, the balcony scene, Tybalt's death, and the secret wedding all being recalled as past events. In act 5 the dying Romeo wonders about the time, sees that it is half past eleven, and murmurs, “In einer halben Stunde” (in half an hour), presumably reckoning when the poison will take its effect.59 Every dramatic thread is neatly tied, every event made as probable as possible.60 

Surprisingly, Weiße's orderly play circulated with three different endings. In the earliest version, the double suicide is followed by two scenes in which the fathers arrive and, in shock at the deaths of their only children, seek each other's forgiveness and reconciliation.61 But even in the first edition of the play, Weiße acknowledged that, in actual performance, the two scenes had not held the spectators’ attention, much as they might satisfy a reader's desire for completeness. And so in recent performances by Koch's troupe in Leipzig, the scenes had been omitted and the end of scene 5 revised accordingly.62 Still, scenes 6 and 7 appear here as an integral part of the tragedy. A second version of the ending appears in the next printing of the play, published as part of Weiße's Beytrag zum deutschen Theater.63 Here, Weiße explicitly identified the end of scene 5 as the “Ende des Trauerspiels” and included scenes 6 and 7 only as an appendix for the benefit of readers, who were presumably in a calmer frame of mind than spectators in a playhouse.64 Yet a third version arose in Vienna, in which a happy ending is pulled like a rabbit out of a hat.65 Benvoglio (the Friar Lawrence figure who is not a friar but a “Veronese physician”)66 prevents Julie from stabbing herself, produces an antidote to Romeo's poison, and celebrates the reconciliation of the fathers with praises to God. If Romeo and Juliet was the play that had the most difficulty in establishing itself on German stages in its original form, the scene in the burial vault was the one most susceptible to alteration.

Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann (1743–96), director of the court theater in Bonn from 1778 to 1784, occasionally fancied himself a critic with Sturm und Drang sympathies. In 1775 he had enthused about all that Goethe had learned from Shakespeare—his declaration of war on the unities and on theatrical illusion in favor of rich and powerful dialogue, sharply drawn characters of strong interest, comprehensive knowledge of the human heart, and, above all, Nature naked as it is.67 But as a practical man of the theater, even Großmann never attempted to stage Romeo and Juliet in anything like its original form. Weiße's was the only spoken version he produced (with which ending I cannot say), and this version was known in Bonn; Großmann's troupe offered it there on March 16, 1780, and repeated it in Cologne the following June.68 

It seems unlikely that the young Beethoven saw either production, but there can be no doubt about his knowledge of the Romeo und Julie of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter (1746–97), a three-act “Schauspiel mit Gesang”—the “Gesang” being by Georg Benda—first performed in Gotha, on September 25, 1776.69 This singspiel version was given four times in Bonn between 1782 and 1790: on May 8, 1782, on February 22, 1784 (possibly with Beethoven playing harpsichord in the orchestra), during Carnival 1789, and on November 7, 1789. For the latter two performances Beethoven would have been playing viola in the orchestra. It was much appreciated, to judge from a review in the Gazette de Bonn of the last of these performances.70 This was surely the stage version with which Beethoven was most familiar. And, apart from the C minor dirge at the beginning of act 3 for the funeral of Juliet, it is also the version least relevant to his string quartet op. 18, no. 1, because Gotter too made the ending a happy one. As Gotter admitted in his preface, “The following singspiel has almost nothing except its title and plot in common with the famous German tragedy of this name. The title and plot, though, belong to Shakespeare.” By “famous German tragedy,” Gotter meant Weiße's play. He went on: “With regard to the ending I have followed neither the Englishman nor the German. In part, considerations of musical economy seemed not to permit retention of the all too tragic catastrophe; in part, consideration of the singers’ abilities prompted this change and several others as well.”71 Gotter overstated his claim of difference from Weiße: he too imposed the unities, and he reduced the number of characters still further by excluding Juliet's mother and Romeo's father. It is Capulet who is moved by the unexpected appearance of his daughter to give his blessing to her union with Romeo, and he resolves to “press [Romeo's] father to my breast and not release him until we are reconciled.”72 There is a joyful closing number, and the show is over.

As might be imagined, the “Stürmer und Dränger” took a dim view of this version. Benda's music was generally liked, but not the libretto. Responding to a production by the Seyler troupe in Frankfurt, the dramatist Heinrich Leopold Wagner (1747–79) observed that “the composition once again is by Herr Kapelldirektor Benda, and it does him honor; but does it do the audience any honor to dilute Shakespeare's spirit [Geist, in the alcoholic sense of the word] with nineteen-twentieths water before administering it to them?” The ending, according to this critic, was a concession to “the dallying taste of our public, who want to be amused in the theater but not moved.”73 Composer and critic Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814), after ecstatically praising the music, resorted to wishful thinking: “If only the poet had not so irresponsibly shredded his material [a deft pun on “Stoff,” which means both fabric and subject] into a well-behaved, ordinary operatic costume! … Would he please change the ending, and leave it as it is in Shakespeare and Weiße!”74 Gotter had little reason to do so, since his opera dominated German stages as completely as Weiße's domestic tragedy; these were the only forms in which most German audiences could experience Romeo and Juliet in the theater before the mid-1790s.

This includes audiences in the imperial capital, Vienna, where eleven performances of Weiße's “bürgerliches Trauerspiel” are documented between the years 1772 and 1789, presumably with the happy ending published there. According to Franz Brüggemann, this ending was the responsibility of Franz Heufeld (1731–95) rather than Weiße.75 Heufeld also produced an adaptation of Hamlet for the Hoftheater in January 1773 that did to that play what Weiße had done to Romeo and Juliet, imposing on it neoclassical conventions and shifting the focus from anything faintly political to domestic issues.76 Once Joseph II reconstituted the Burgtheater as a “national theater” in 1776, the neoclassicizing ideas of Gottsched, reinforced by the Briefe über die wienerische Schaubühne (“Letters concerning the Viennese stage,” 1768) of Josef von Sonnenfels, so molded the emperor's outlook that Shakespeare—or at least unedited Shakespeare— “was not welcome in such an environment.”77 Moreover, the vigorous support given to Shakespeare by authors of the Sturm und Drang made him politically suspect in Joseph's eyes.78 

Under such circumstances, one should not be surprised by how little Shakespeare was on offer at the court theaters during Beethoven's first years in Vienna. Heufeld's version of Hamlet had been replaced by Friedrich Ludwig Schröder's, which achieved forty-eight performances between Beethoven's arrival in November 1792 and 1810.79,König Lear (also in an adaptation by Schröder) had five performances between 1793 and 1796. And that was all—until a three-act Giulietta e Romeo by Nicola Zingarelli (1752–1837) was mounted at the Kärntnertortheater on April 7, 1797, and received thirteen further performances that year alone.80 The librettist was Giuseppe Maria Foppa (1760–1845), who (according to the “Argomento” printed in the original libretto) found his source for the tale in Girolamo Dalla Corte's Storie di Verona (Book 10), “which event has already served for an English tragedy by Shakespeare and for a French one by Ducis, as it now serves for a melodrama.”81 Foppa's spelling of the English name as “Sakespear” does not suggest direct contact with Shakespeare's play, and his scene in the burial vault differs significantly from that of Ducis, although one scholar has argued for Foppa's direct knowledge of the French source.82 What is striking is the alternative filiation provided for the story, one in which the progenitor is not Da Porto or Bandello but Girolamo Dalla Corte of a generation later (his Storie were published in 1596), and in which the dramatic offspring (on a more or less equal footing) are Shakespeare, Ducis, and Foppa. The characters are as severely pruned by Foppa as they are by other eighteenth-century adapters (including Ducis), only six remaining: Everardo Cappellio; Giulietta, “sua figlia”; Romeo Montecchio; Gilberto, “amico delle due fazioni” (standing in for Friar Lawrence); Matilde, Giulietta's confidante; and Teobaldo, not the cousin but the intended of Giulietta; plus a chorus representing either family according to the dramatic circumstance.

Hadamowsky's claim that the 1797 Viennese performances of Giulietta e Romeo used a German translation of the libretto seems mistaken. On April 12, amid general trepidation over the advance of Napoleon's troops toward Vienna, the Wiener Zeitung printed the following notice of the local premiere:

In the Imperial-Royal Court Theater near the Kärntnerthor, the first performance of a grand opera seria in three acts, titled Romeo e Giulie, was given on Friday of last week, the 7th of the month. The music is by the kapellmeister Zingarelli, and the sets are by Lorenz Sacchetti. In that performance the most praiseworthily famous virtuoso Herr Crescentini showed himself here for the very first time and to excellent advantage, and thus confirmed to the fullest the great reputation that his extremely rare artistic merit has long since spread abroad. A general, loudly erupting cheer was the surest proof of the satisfaction of both the upper and lower class of spectators.83 

It seems highly unlikely that the genre would have been designated “opera seria” or the title given in Italian had the performance been in German, quite apart from the participation of the illustrious musico Girolamo Crescentini, who had created the role of Romeo in Milan and, since the production of April 1796 in Reggio Emilia, had been substituting his own version of the aria “Ombra adorata, aspetta” in act 3, scene 1—the scene that most closely matches act 5, scene 3, in Shakespeare's tragedy.84 Moreover, the Italian libretto was reprinted in Vienna in 1797, whereas the earliest known German translation stems from the following year.85 

Unlike Weiße's play as doctored by Heufeld, and unlike drammi per musica generally, Foppa's libretto does not involve a happy outcome. Billed from the start as a tragedia per musica, Giulietta e Romeo may well have been the first opportunity Viennese audiences had to witness a stage production of the story with a tragic ending.86 To judge from the number of performances within the year, the production (and Crescentini's participation in it) inspired great interest. In the first scene of Foppa and Zingarelli's act 3, Romeo arrives at the Capulets’ graveyard with a chorus of Montague retainers. After an obbligato recitative (Larghetto, common time, C minor, “Ecco il luogo: ecco l'urna”), Romeo opens Giulietta's tomb. The retainers intone a mournful chorus (Andante, 3/8, C minor, “Lugubri gemiti”), the second portion of which (Larghetto, common time, C minor modulating to E-flat major) is punctuated with interjections by Romeo (“O mia Giulietta … Io l'ho perduta”), somewhat in the manner of the opening scene of Calzabigi and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. And like Orfeo, Romeo bids his retainers depart (“Non più, compagni: andate”) so that he can mourn alone, which he does, at great length, in an F minor obbligato recitative in which a solo bassoon is prominent. Romeo then addresses a brief arioso to his beloved (Andante sostenuto, 3/8, F major, “Idolo del mio cor”). With a quickening of tempo, he takes his suicidal decision in further accompanied recitative (Allegro, 4/4, F major, “Ma che vale il mio duol?”). He swallows the poison and throws the vial aside, claiming, “Tranquillo io son.”87 The music matches his profession of contentment; the tempo returns to Andante sostenuto, the key is D major, and a solo flute enhances the orchestral interludes. From this point onward, it becomes difficult to imagine this version of the vault scene as a model for Beethoven. It does bring to mind that “lightning before death” of which Romeo speaks in Shakespeare's act 5, scene 3.88 That lightning, however, is far longer than a flash, for it also comprises Crescentini's showstopping substitute aria, “Ombra adorata, aspetta,” addressed by Romeo to the spouse he imagines to be waiting for him in the hereafter.89 The remarkable thing is that, after Giulietta awakens, their dialogue continues in E-flat major, despite the tragic circumstances. And the concluding duet (Sostenuto, 2/4, “Ahimè già vengo meno”) begins in that same key, with obbligato horns and clarinets, moving into the parallel minor only for Romeo's explanation of his suicide by poisoning (“Sappi, che un rio veleno / già mi serpeggia in seno, / opra del mio furor”—An evil poison is already coiled within my breast, the wages of my fury). Romeo's final words take us back to Beethoven's sketchbook inscription “les derniers soupirs,” but the music in no way anticipates Beethoven's:

Solo mi puoi compiangere,
Idolo … amato … e caro;
Le forze … più non reggono …
Vedimi … oh dio … spirar.
          (muore)
 
(You can but lament my fate, dear, beloved idol. My powers are failing. See me, O God, breathe my last.)

It is indeed a “parting of two lovers,” but it is squarely in E-flat major. Beethoven must have had something else in mind as he composed his D minor Adagio.90 

Shakespeare in Germany: Two Translations

As already noted, Beethoven could have gained a clear idea of what happens in Shakespeare's vault scene from either or both of two German translations, Wieland's and Eschenburg's. In act 5, scene 3, Count Paris enters the churchyard to place flowers at Juliet's tomb. Romeo arrives with tools to open that tomb. They fight, and Romeo prevails. Paris's dying request—“If thou be merciful, / Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet”—is granted by Romeo: “Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred.” Then begins Romeo's monologue, with which the inscriptions in Grasnick 2 do seem to align. Wieland's and Eschenburg's prose renditions are presented in parallel format in Table 1.91 Eschenburg's is the fuller, more detailed of the two. And five lines before the end, with the words “Du verzweifelnder Steuermann” (Thou desperate pilot), it supplies an image missing from Wieland that might accord with Beethoven's inscription “dese[s]poir.”

Table 1

Romeo's monologue in act 5, scene 3, of Romeo and Juliet, in the translations of Wieland and Eschenburg

WielandEschenburg
 Wie oft ist es schon begegnet, daß Sterbende kurz vor ihrem lezten Augenblik Wie oft sind Leute noch aufgeräumt, wenn sie schon dem Tode ganz nahe sind! 
 noch aufgeräumt gewesen sind— Das nennen ihre Wärter 
 O gönne mir noch einen Blitz vor dem Tode. O! wie kann ich dieß 
 einen solchen Augenblik!—Meine Geliebte, mein Weib, einen Blitz nennen—Oh! meine Geliebte, mein Weib, 
der Tod, der den Honig deines Athems aufgesogen, der Tod, der den Honig deines Athems einsog, 
 hat noch keine Gewalt über deine Schönheit gehabt; hat noch keine Gewalt über deine Schönheit gehabt: 
 du bist nicht besiegt; noch schwebt die purpurne Fahne du bist nicht überwältigt; noch schwebt die purpurne Fahne 
 der Schönheit auf deinen Lippen und Wangen, der Schönheit auf deinen Lippen und Wangen, 
 und die blasse Flagge des Todes ist hier noch nicht aufgestekt— und die blasse Flagge des Todes ist hier noch nicht aufgesteckt— 
10 Tybalt, ligst du hier in deinem blutigen Leichen-Tuch? Tybalt, liegst du hier in deinem blutigen Leichentuche?— 
 O was kan ich mehr thun, wie kan ich dich besser rächen, O! was kann ich dir mehr zu Gefallen thun, 
 als eben diese Hand, die dein jugendliches Leben geendigt hat, als wenn ich mit eben der Hand, die dein jugendliches Leben endigte, 
 gegen deinen Mörder zu gebrauchen? dem das Leben nehme, der dein Feind war?— 
 Vergieb mir, theurer Vetter!—Ach! liebste Juliette, Vergieb mir, Vetter!—Ach! liebste Julie, 
15 warum bist du noch so schön? Soll ich glauben, warum bist du noch so schön? Soll ichs glauben?— 
  Ich will es glauben—komm, lieg’ in meinen Armen— 
 der unwesentliche Tod sey in dich verliebt worden, daß der bestandlose Tod verliebt sey, 
 und das dürre scheußliche Ungeheuer unterhalte und daß dieß dürre, scheußliche Ungeheuer 
 dich hier im Dunkeln, um seine Liebste zu seyn? dich hier im Dunkeln unterhalte, um seine Liebste zu seyn!— 
20 Aus Furcht es möchte so seyn, will ich immer bey dir bleiben, Aus Furcht, es möchte so seyn, will ich immer bey dir bleiben, 
 und von diesem Augenblik diesen Palast der düstern Nacht und von nun an diesen Pallast der düstern Nacht 
 nimmermehr verlassen; hier, hier will ich bleiben, nie wieder verlassen; hier, hier will ich bleiben, 
 bey den Würmern, die deine Kammer-Mädchen sind; bey den Würmern, die deine Aufwärterinnen sind! 
 hier will ich eine immerwährende Ruhe finden, o! hier will ich meine immerwährende Ruhe finden, 
25 wenn ich das tyrannische Joch erboßter Sterne und das Joch der unglücklichen Gestirne 
 von diesem Lebens-überdrüssigen Fleisch abgeschüttelt habe. Mein Auge, von diesem der Welt müden Fleisch abschütteln. Ihr Augen, 
 sieh’ sie zum leztenmal an; umfanget sie zum leztenmal, seht zum letztenmal! ihr Arme, nehmt eure letzte 
 meine Arme, und ihr, siegelt, o meine Lippen, Umarmung! und ihr, meine Lippen, die Thüren 
 mit dem lezten Kuß dem wuchernden Tod des Athems, versiegelt mit einem rechtmäßigen Kusse 
30 eine Verschreibung, die nie wieder abgelößt werden kan— dem wuchernden Tod eine immerwährende Verschreibung! 
  Komm, bittrer Führer! komm, unangenehmer Wegweiser! 
  Du verzweifelnder Steuermann, lauf izt auf einmal 
  mit meinem seekranken, müden Schiffe an die zerschmetternden Klippen! 
  Hier ist Glück zu erwarten, wohin du dich auch verschlägst. (Er trinkt das Gift.) 
35 Diß, meine Liebe, trink ich dir zu!—o ehrlicher Apotheker, Dieß bring ich meiner Geliebten!—O! ehrlicher Apotheker, 
 deine Tränke würken gut—Noch diesen Kuß. dein Trank wirkt schnell. So, mit einem Kusse, sterb’ ich. (Er stirbt.) 
WielandEschenburg
 Wie oft ist es schon begegnet, daß Sterbende kurz vor ihrem lezten Augenblik Wie oft sind Leute noch aufgeräumt, wenn sie schon dem Tode ganz nahe sind! 
 noch aufgeräumt gewesen sind— Das nennen ihre Wärter 
 O gönne mir noch einen Blitz vor dem Tode. O! wie kann ich dieß 
 einen solchen Augenblik!—Meine Geliebte, mein Weib, einen Blitz nennen—Oh! meine Geliebte, mein Weib, 
der Tod, der den Honig deines Athems aufgesogen, der Tod, der den Honig deines Athems einsog, 
 hat noch keine Gewalt über deine Schönheit gehabt; hat noch keine Gewalt über deine Schönheit gehabt: 
 du bist nicht besiegt; noch schwebt die purpurne Fahne du bist nicht überwältigt; noch schwebt die purpurne Fahne 
 der Schönheit auf deinen Lippen und Wangen, der Schönheit auf deinen Lippen und Wangen, 
 und die blasse Flagge des Todes ist hier noch nicht aufgestekt— und die blasse Flagge des Todes ist hier noch nicht aufgesteckt— 
10 Tybalt, ligst du hier in deinem blutigen Leichen-Tuch? Tybalt, liegst du hier in deinem blutigen Leichentuche?— 
 O was kan ich mehr thun, wie kan ich dich besser rächen, O! was kann ich dir mehr zu Gefallen thun, 
 als eben diese Hand, die dein jugendliches Leben geendigt hat, als wenn ich mit eben der Hand, die dein jugendliches Leben endigte, 
 gegen deinen Mörder zu gebrauchen? dem das Leben nehme, der dein Feind war?— 
 Vergieb mir, theurer Vetter!—Ach! liebste Juliette, Vergieb mir, Vetter!—Ach! liebste Julie, 
15 warum bist du noch so schön? Soll ich glauben, warum bist du noch so schön? Soll ichs glauben?— 
  Ich will es glauben—komm, lieg’ in meinen Armen— 
 der unwesentliche Tod sey in dich verliebt worden, daß der bestandlose Tod verliebt sey, 
 und das dürre scheußliche Ungeheuer unterhalte und daß dieß dürre, scheußliche Ungeheuer 
 dich hier im Dunkeln, um seine Liebste zu seyn? dich hier im Dunkeln unterhalte, um seine Liebste zu seyn!— 
20 Aus Furcht es möchte so seyn, will ich immer bey dir bleiben, Aus Furcht, es möchte so seyn, will ich immer bey dir bleiben, 
 und von diesem Augenblik diesen Palast der düstern Nacht und von nun an diesen Pallast der düstern Nacht 
 nimmermehr verlassen; hier, hier will ich bleiben, nie wieder verlassen; hier, hier will ich bleiben, 
 bey den Würmern, die deine Kammer-Mädchen sind; bey den Würmern, die deine Aufwärterinnen sind! 
 hier will ich eine immerwährende Ruhe finden, o! hier will ich meine immerwährende Ruhe finden, 
25 wenn ich das tyrannische Joch erboßter Sterne und das Joch der unglücklichen Gestirne 
 von diesem Lebens-überdrüssigen Fleisch abgeschüttelt habe. Mein Auge, von diesem der Welt müden Fleisch abschütteln. Ihr Augen, 
 sieh’ sie zum leztenmal an; umfanget sie zum leztenmal, seht zum letztenmal! ihr Arme, nehmt eure letzte 
 meine Arme, und ihr, siegelt, o meine Lippen, Umarmung! und ihr, meine Lippen, die Thüren 
 mit dem lezten Kuß dem wuchernden Tod des Athems, versiegelt mit einem rechtmäßigen Kusse 
30 eine Verschreibung, die nie wieder abgelößt werden kan— dem wuchernden Tod eine immerwährende Verschreibung! 
  Komm, bittrer Führer! komm, unangenehmer Wegweiser! 
  Du verzweifelnder Steuermann, lauf izt auf einmal 
  mit meinem seekranken, müden Schiffe an die zerschmetternden Klippen! 
  Hier ist Glück zu erwarten, wohin du dich auch verschlägst. (Er trinkt das Gift.) 
35 Diß, meine Liebe, trink ich dir zu!—o ehrlicher Apotheker, Dieß bring ich meiner Geliebten!—O! ehrlicher Apotheker, 
 deine Tränke würken gut—Noch diesen Kuß. dein Trank wirkt schnell. So, mit einem Kusse, sterb’ ich. (Er stirbt.) 

We know that Beethoven owned at least four volumes (or rather, two double volumes) of the Eschenburg translation.92 What we do not know is when or how he acquired them. Anton Schindler was the first to draw attention to the “unmistakable marks of careful reading” in Beethoven's books in the form of underlinings, some in this very play. Yet if Beethoven had acquired his copy before composing the Adagio of op. 18, no. 1, one might expect to find some annotation of act 5, scene 3—some marking to indicate special significance, perchance a creative intention. But the underlined passages in Romeo und Julia are all in act 2.93 There is Romeo's declaration in scene 2: “Was die Liebe thun kann, dazu hat sie auch den Muth” (“And what love can do, that dares love attempt”). There is Julia's impatient musing in scene 5: “Die Boten der Liebe sollten Gedanken seyn, die zehnmal schneller fortschlüpfen, als Sonnenstrahlen, wenn sie über dämmernde Hügel die Schatten der Nacht zurückscheuchen” (“Love's heralds should be thoughts, / Which ten times faster glides than the sun's beams / Driving back shadows over low'ring hills”). And finally, Friar Lawrence's words of wisdom to the equally impatient Romeo in scene 6:

Dergleichen gewaltsame Freuden nehmen gemeiniglich ein gewaltsames Ende, und sterben mitten in ihrem Triumph, wie Feuer und Pulver, die, so bald sie sich küssen, verzehrt werden. Des süssesten Honigs wird man eben seiner Süßigkeit wegen überdrüßig, und der Geschmack daran verliert sich mitten im Genuß. Liebe also mit Mäßigung, damit du lange lieben mögest.

(These violent delights have violent ends / And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, / Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey / Is loathesome in his own deliciousness / And in the taste confounds the appetite. / Therefore love moderately: long love doth so …

Whatever personal significance these passages may have had for Beethoven (perhaps in connection with one of the candidates for the title of “Immortal Beloved”), they are irrelevant to the dramatic “content” of the Adagio. To be sure, Eschenburg's prose rendering gives a fuller account than Wieland's as to what was going on in the vault scene. But to judge from the very passages underlined in Beethoven's copy, Eschenburg's prose seems ungainly at best by comparison with Shakespeare's blank verse. Whether that prose would have sufficed to fire Beethoven's creative imagination is a question that eludes a definite answer. But one line of speculation, one not to my knowledge previously considered, remains.

Shakespeare in Germany: A Third Translation

As is well known, in February 1796 Beethoven set off with Karl Lichnowsky on an extended tour that took him first to Prague, then (apparently after a brief return to Vienna)94 onward to Dresden, Leipzig, and eventually Berlin. His arrival in Berlin is usually dated to May 1796. It was in that very city and, I believe, in that very month that the former kapellmeister of the royal court opera, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, now out of official favor and trying to make ends meet through tireless journalistic endeavor,95 published a sample of a translation-in-progress in his latest, short-lived monthly, Deutschland. It was a metrical rendering in German of act 5, scene 3, of Romeo and Juliet—precisely the scene in question here—signed by August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845).96 

This was not the very first metrical German translation of the play; that had been provided in 1758 by a Swiss translator, Simon Grynaeus (1725–99), on the basis of Garrick's adaptation. While one modern scholar has adjudged it “the most substantial achievement in Shakespearean translation to that point, written as it was in fairly creditable blank verse,”97 contemporary criticism took a dimmer view of Grynaeus's efforts: “They are sometimes so clumsy, the harmony and phrasing so spoilt—in short, so Swiss—that we would prefer by far a euphonious prose instead of these verses.”98 That was the challenge taken up by Wieland shortly thereafter. It seems doubtful that Beethoven would have even known, much less been inspired by, Grynaeus's translation, which was “of symbolic importance, but of minimal influence.”99 

Schlegel's was another story. The parallel juxtaposition shown in Table 2 suggests the pliancy with which Schlegel's blank verse matches Shakespeare's.100 To be sure, the German requires an extra line or two, but nothing in Shakespeare is left out; the metrical pulse is sustained, the English cadence respected. And this rendition appeared in print, in Berlin, in the very month in which Beethoven arrived in that city.

Table 2

Romeo's monologue in act 5, scene 3, of Romeo and Juliet, in Schlegel's translation and in Shakespeare's text

SchlegelShakespeare
 Wie oft sind Menschen, schon des Todes Raub, How oft when men are at the point of death 
 Noch fröhlich worden! Ihre Warter nennens Have they been merry! Which their keepers call 
 Den letzten Lebensblitz. Wohl mag nun dies A lightning before death. O, how may I 
 Ein Blitz mir heißen.—O mein Herz! mein Weib! Call this a lightning? O my love, my wife! 
Der Tod, der deines Odems Balsam sog, Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, 
 Hat über deine Schönheit nichts vermocht. Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. 
 Noch bist du nicht besiegt: der Schönheit Fahne Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet 
 Weht purpurn noch auf Lipp’ und Wange dir; Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, 
 Hier pflanzte nicht der Tod sein bleiches Banner. And death's pale flag is not advanced there. 
10 Liegst du da, Tybalt, in dem blutgen Tuch? Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet? 
 O welchen größern Dienst kann ich dir thun, O, what more favor can I do to thee 
 Als mit der Hand, die deine Jugend fällte, Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain 
 Des Jugend, der dein Feind war, zu zerreißen? To sunder his that was thine enemy? 
 Vergieb mir, Vetter!—Liebe Julie, Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet, 
15 Warum bist du so schön noch? Soll ich glauben, Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe[— 
 Ja, glauben will [ich] (Komm, lieg mir im Arm!) I will believe (come lie thou in my arms)] 
 Der körperlose Tod entbrenn’ in Liebe, That unsubstantial death is amorous, 
 Und der verhaßte hagre Unhold halte And that the lean abhorred monster keeps 
 Als seine Buhle hier im Dunkel dich. Thee here in dark to be his paramour? 
20 Aus Furcht davor will ich dich nie verlassen, For fear of that I still will stay with thee 
 Und will aus diesem Pallast dichter Nacht And never from this pallet of dim night 
 Nie wieder weichen: hier, hier will ich bleiben Depart again. Here, here will I remain 
 Mit Würmern, so dir Dienerinnen sind. With worms that are thy chambermaids. O, here 
 O hier bau’ ich die ew'ge Ruhstatt mir, Will I set up my everlasting rest 
25 Und schütte von dem lebensmüden Leibe And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars 
 Das Joch feindseeliger Gestirne.—Augen, From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last! 
 Blickt euer Letztes!—Arme, nehmt die letzte Arms, take your last embrace! And, lips, O you 
 Umarmung! Und, o Lippen, ihr, die Thore  
 Des Odems, siegelt mit rechtmäß'gem Kusse The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss 
30 Den ewigen Vertrag dem Wuchrer Tod. A dateless bargain to engrossing death! 
 Komm, bittrer Führer! widriger Gefährt! Come, bitter conduct; come, unsavory guide! 
 Verzweifelter Pilot! Nun treib’ auf Einmahl Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on 
 Dein Sturm=erkranktes Schiff in Felsenbrandung! The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark! 
 Dies auf dein Wohl, wo du auch stranden magst! [Here's to thy health, where'er thou tumblest in;] 
35 Dies meiner Lieben! (Er trinkt) O wackrer Apotheker! Here's to my love! [Drinks.] O true apothecary! 
 Dein Trank wirkt schnell.—Und so im Kusse sterb’ ich. Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. 
    (Er stirbt)    [Falls.
SchlegelShakespeare
 Wie oft sind Menschen, schon des Todes Raub, How oft when men are at the point of death 
 Noch fröhlich worden! Ihre Warter nennens Have they been merry! Which their keepers call 
 Den letzten Lebensblitz. Wohl mag nun dies A lightning before death. O, how may I 
 Ein Blitz mir heißen.—O mein Herz! mein Weib! Call this a lightning? O my love, my wife! 
Der Tod, der deines Odems Balsam sog, Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, 
 Hat über deine Schönheit nichts vermocht. Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. 
 Noch bist du nicht besiegt: der Schönheit Fahne Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet 
 Weht purpurn noch auf Lipp’ und Wange dir; Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, 
 Hier pflanzte nicht der Tod sein bleiches Banner. And death's pale flag is not advanced there. 
10 Liegst du da, Tybalt, in dem blutgen Tuch? Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet? 
 O welchen größern Dienst kann ich dir thun, O, what more favor can I do to thee 
 Als mit der Hand, die deine Jugend fällte, Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain 
 Des Jugend, der dein Feind war, zu zerreißen? To sunder his that was thine enemy? 
 Vergieb mir, Vetter!—Liebe Julie, Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet, 
15 Warum bist du so schön noch? Soll ich glauben, Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe[— 
 Ja, glauben will [ich] (Komm, lieg mir im Arm!) I will believe (come lie thou in my arms)] 
 Der körperlose Tod entbrenn’ in Liebe, That unsubstantial death is amorous, 
 Und der verhaßte hagre Unhold halte And that the lean abhorred monster keeps 
 Als seine Buhle hier im Dunkel dich. Thee here in dark to be his paramour? 
20 Aus Furcht davor will ich dich nie verlassen, For fear of that I still will stay with thee 
 Und will aus diesem Pallast dichter Nacht And never from this pallet of dim night 
 Nie wieder weichen: hier, hier will ich bleiben Depart again. Here, here will I remain 
 Mit Würmern, so dir Dienerinnen sind. With worms that are thy chambermaids. O, here 
 O hier bau’ ich die ew'ge Ruhstatt mir, Will I set up my everlasting rest 
25 Und schütte von dem lebensmüden Leibe And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars 
 Das Joch feindseeliger Gestirne.—Augen, From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last! 
 Blickt euer Letztes!—Arme, nehmt die letzte Arms, take your last embrace! And, lips, O you 
 Umarmung! Und, o Lippen, ihr, die Thore  
 Des Odems, siegelt mit rechtmäß'gem Kusse The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss 
30 Den ewigen Vertrag dem Wuchrer Tod. A dateless bargain to engrossing death! 
 Komm, bittrer Führer! widriger Gefährt! Come, bitter conduct; come, unsavory guide! 
 Verzweifelter Pilot! Nun treib’ auf Einmahl Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on 
 Dein Sturm=erkranktes Schiff in Felsenbrandung! The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark! 
 Dies auf dein Wohl, wo du auch stranden magst! [Here's to thy health, where'er thou tumblest in;] 
35 Dies meiner Lieben! (Er trinkt) O wackrer Apotheker! Here's to my love! [Drinks.] O true apothecary! 
 Dein Trank wirkt schnell.—Und so im Kusse sterb’ ich. Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. 
    (Er stirbt)    [Falls.

What might have alerted Beethoven to Schlegel's translation? He evidently paid close enough attention to theatrical circumstances in Berlin to infer how gladly variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” would be looked upon by Friedrich Wilhelm II, who had had to wait three years for Die Zauberflöte to be staged at his Nationaltheater.101 And if Beethoven paid such attention, he would quickly have noticed (if he did not know already) that one of the leading ladies at the Nationaltheater was Friederike Unzelmann (1768–1815), whom he had known in Bonn as Fritze Großmann. Friederike had moved to Bonn with her mother, Karoline, when her stepfather, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, assumed direction of the electoral court theater in November 1778.102 There she had learnt to act and to sing (the latter probably from court organist and Beethoven's own teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe).103 After Großmann had launched his own theater in Frankfurt in August 1783, leaving his wife behind to direct the troupe in Bonn, Friederike had taken on increasingly significant roles. At the same juncture, the young Beethoven seems to have assumed some responsibility as harpsichordist in the orchestra, if only during rehearsals.104 Then, in quick succession in 1784, came the deaths of chief minister Belderbusch (January 2), who superintended the court theater, of Karoline Großmann (March 29), who directed it, and of elector Max Friedrich (April 15), who paid for it. The new elector, Maximilian Franz, imposed the usual six-month mourning period with closure of the theater, and disbanded the troupe with one month's wages. Großmann moved everyone to Frankfurt, where Karl Unzelmann joined the troupe, then courted Großmann's stepdaughter, and in February 1786 married her.105 The couple were recruited to Friedrich Wilhelm's newly founded Nationaltheater in April 1788. Whereas Karl was at his best in comic characters, Friederike seemed to do everything well; she was equal to Mozart's great soprano roles but also to those of Ophelia, Klärchen, Maria Stuart, and Lady Macbeth. Even Juliet was in her repertory—albeit the Juliet of Gotter and Benda, not of Shakespeare. It was during a performance of Gotter's singspiel in September 1793 that her singing voice unexpectedly failed her. By the time Beethoven journeyed to Berlin in 1796 she had shifted the focus of her career to the spoken theater. No evidence survives of any meeting between Beethoven and Friederike Unzelmann. Still, it is easy to suppose that Beethoven would have sought contact with his erstwhile colleague, and that she could have made him aware of Schlegel's translation project. After 1801, when Schlegel moved to Berlin, he and Friederike would become close friends, Schlegel addressing half a dozen poems to her.

Then again, if Beethoven, who would later claim to have striven since his childhood “to grasp the meaning of the better, wiser spirits of every age,”106 were by any chance keeping up with Schiller's literary monthly Die Horen, he would have witnessed a slow explosion of articles and translation samples attesting to Schlegel's intensive engagement with Shakespeare during the years 1796–97, as listed in Table 3. The culmination of this activity was Volume 1 of Schlegel's complete translation of Shakespeare, the very first play of which was Romeo und Julia, followed by an extended discussion of the work in Die Horen the very next month. One year later, Beethoven would set to work on his string quartets.

Table 3

Articles on and translations of Shakespeare by August Wilhelm Schlegel published in 1796–97

March 1796 “Scenen aus Romeo und Julie von Shakespeare: Probe einer neuen, metrischen Übersetzung dieses Dichters,” Die Horen 5, no. 3 (1796): 92–104 [act 2, scenes 1–3] 
April 1796 “Etwas über William Shakespeare bey Gelegenheit Wilhelm Meisters,” Die Horen 5, no. 4 (1796): 57–112 
May 1796 “Probe einer neuen Uebersetzung von Shakespeare's Werken: Aus Romeo und Julie, die dritte Scene des fünften Akts,” Deutschland 2, no. 5 (1796): 248–59 
June 1796 “Scenen aus Shakespeare: Der Sturm,” Die Horen 5, no. 6 (1796): 61–82 
April 1797 “Aus Shakespeares Julius Cäsar,” Die Horen 10, no. 4 (1797): 17–42 [act 3, scenes 1–3] 
May 1797 Shakspeare's Dramatische Werke übersetzt von August Wilhelm Schlegel, vol. 1, Romeo und Julia, Ein Sommernachtstraum (Berlin, 1797) 
June 1797 “Über Shakespeare's Romeo und Julie,” Die Horen 10, no. 6 (1797): 18–48 
March 1796 “Scenen aus Romeo und Julie von Shakespeare: Probe einer neuen, metrischen Übersetzung dieses Dichters,” Die Horen 5, no. 3 (1796): 92–104 [act 2, scenes 1–3] 
April 1796 “Etwas über William Shakespeare bey Gelegenheit Wilhelm Meisters,” Die Horen 5, no. 4 (1796): 57–112 
May 1796 “Probe einer neuen Uebersetzung von Shakespeare's Werken: Aus Romeo und Julie, die dritte Scene des fünften Akts,” Deutschland 2, no. 5 (1796): 248–59 
June 1796 “Scenen aus Shakespeare: Der Sturm,” Die Horen 5, no. 6 (1796): 61–82 
April 1797 “Aus Shakespeares Julius Cäsar,” Die Horen 10, no. 4 (1797): 17–42 [act 3, scenes 1–3] 
May 1797 Shakspeare's Dramatische Werke übersetzt von August Wilhelm Schlegel, vol. 1, Romeo und Julia, Ein Sommernachtstraum (Berlin, 1797) 
June 1797 “Über Shakespeare's Romeo und Julie,” Die Horen 10, no. 6 (1797): 18–48 

If he had followed Schlegel's work to this point, Beethoven would have read not only the first undiluted, unrevised, “un-Enlightened” translations of Shakespeare into German, but also the most cogent explanation of Shakespearean dramaturgy then available in any language. Schlegel's essay on Romeo and Juliet eloquently justifies the necessity of every character pruned out of eighteenth-century adaptations, the necessity of Shakespeare's unmediated juxtapositions of serious and comic, lofty and lowbrow (see the Adagio cantabile of op. 18, no. 2, for what Beethoven may have learned from that!), and above all the necessity for the scene in the burial vault to be staged exactly the way Shakespeare wrote it—pace the alterations of Garrick (for which Schlegel had harsh words).107 And so, if Beethoven had that scene in mind as he composed the Adagio of op. 18, no. 1, we can, thanks to August Wilhelm Schlegel, be reasonably sure that he imagined something closer to Shakespeare in letter and spirit than any other version accessible to him. In many respects, then, this would provide the most satisfying answer to the initial question, Which vault scene, which Romeo and Juliet? But is it the best answer?

As we have seen, Beethoven probably first encountered the story with a happy ending, since he participated in productions of Gotter and Benda's “Schauspiel mit Gesang” in Bonn. Along the way he may have read or seen Weiße's play. If he was curious to find out what was really happening in Shakespeare, he could consult the translations of Wieland and Eschenburg, the latter of which he eventually purchased (as a whole or in part) or received as a gift. It seems highly likely that he saw at least one of the thirteen performances of Zingarelli's opera given in Vienna in 1797. The opera would have kept the subject matter fresh for him, and in a way that gave ample dramatic room for Romeo's tragedy: for most of act 3, scene 1, Romeo is alone with Giulietta's supposed corpse. As pleasant as it would be to speculate that Foppa's “Argomento” might have brought Ducis's version to Beethoven's attention at just the right moment for him to slip into French while sketching the Adagio, I cannot do so, for that “Argomento” is (exceptionally) not included in the Italian libretto printed for Vienna. I am therefore at a loss to explain the phrases shared between Ducis's tomb scene and Beethoven's sketches. In any case, an encounter with Schlegel's translation seems a likely galvanizing factor, if perhaps not the only factor.

We know that Schindler thought otherwise. Describing Beethoven's personal library, he not only declared that Beethoven owned “the complete works of Shakespeare in the Eschenburg translation”; he further averred that Beethoven “refused to have anything to do with Schlegel's translation of the great Briton: he pronounced it stiff, forced, and at times too far from the original.”108 On this alleged assessment of Schlegel we have only Schindler's word. I have no knowledge of Schindler's command of English, but to judge from the excerpts considered here, it is Eschenburg's prose that is more likely to seem stiff and forced, however conscientious. We might allow the possibility that Schindler is reporting a viewpoint of Beethoven's last years; but for earlier years we have not Schindler's word but Beethoven's: his letter of late May 1810 to Therese Malfatti.109 This missive, replete with tender sentiment, is virtually a letter of courtship. When at length he asks if she has read Goethe's Wilhelm Meister or Schlegel's translation of Shakespeare (the ninth volume of which appeared in 1810),110 Beethoven underlines the question. And he offers to send her these volumes: “You will soon receive a few other compositions of mine; and in these you will not have to complain too much about difficulties—Have you read Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and Shakespeare in Schlegel's translation? One has so much leisure in the country. Perhaps you would like me to send you these works.”111 Would Beethoven have wooed a young lady with a Shakespeare translation he found stiff and forced? At any rate, he did not offer to send her Eschenburg's translation!

By this time, of course, Schlegel himself had visited Vienna, had become acquainted with several of Beethoven's friends (Heinrich von Collin, Prince Lobkowitz), and had delivered his course of lectures “On Dramatic Art and Literature” in the Universitätssaal (1808). Roger Paulin has called these lectures “the culmination of the process whereby Shakespeare was made into a German national poet.”112 Was Beethoven present? Many of his friends and acquaintances were.

As so often, coincidence rounds out this story in a tantalizing way. In 1818 Schlegel was appointed to a professorship in Bonn, at the university founded by elector Maximilian Franz and, for a semester, attended by Beethoven. In 1835 Schlegel was named president of a committee to garner international funding for a Beethoven monument in Bonn—an effort that finally bore fruit ten years later, several months after Schlegel's death.113 Could Schlegel have suspected, as he led the drive to translate Beethoven into bronze, that his own first attempt to translate Shakespeare into German might have inspired Beethoven's first attempt to translate Shakespeare into music?

 

Notes

Notes
This article arose as the keynote address for the Seventh New Beethoven Research Conference in Rochester, NY. I am grateful to the organizers (David Levy, Joanna Biermann, Julia Ronge, William Kinderman, and William Meredith) for their kind invitation and to the many colleagues who gave critical and encouraging feedback on that occasion. My debt to the entire editorial process of this Journal is immense; from external readers’ reports through final copyediting phases, the fusion of thoroughness and good humor has been unexampled. My thanks go also to John Charles Britton, music setter (and guitarist) extraordinaire. This article is dedicated to the memory of Ellis Dye, my beloved German teacher at Macalester College, 1971–75.
1.
We might date the meeting between mid-April 1799, when Beethoven finished drafting the quartet, and June 25, when he gave Amenda a set of manuscript parts for it, shortly before Amenda's return to Courland; see Dorfmüller, Gertsch, and Ronge, Ludwig van Beethoven, 1:99 and 104, where Beethoven's dedication to Amenda is transcribed. In what follows, these manuscript parts will be referred to as the “Amenda version.” Beethoven would revise the quartet in summer/fall 1800, and publication followed ca. June 1801. Beethoven would ask Amenda in July 1801 not to circulate the version he had given him; see note 3 below.
2.
Wiedemann, Musicalische Effectmittel und Tonmalerei, 21n: “Ein Freund Beethovens, der jetzt verstorbene Propst A. in Kurland, erzählte mir eine hieher gehörige Anekdote. Als Beethoven sein bekanntes Streichquartett in F-dur componirt hatte, spielte er dem Freunde das herrliche Adagio (D-moll 9/8 Tact) vor, und fragte ihn darauf, was er sich dabei gedacht habe. Es hat mir, war die Antwort, den Abschied zweier Liebenden geschildert.—Wohl, entgegnete Beethoven, ich habe mir dabei die Scene im Grabgewölbe aus Romeo und Julia gedacht.” See also Edelmann, “Die poetische Idee,” 247. Unless otherwise noted, translations are mine.
3.
Lenz, Beethoven: Eine Kunst-Studie, pt. 4, 17: “der große, zum Akademiker in St. Petersburg erwählte Sprachkenner und Kunstfreund.” The context for Lenz's reference to the story is a wrongheaded argument that Beethoven's letter of July 1, [1801], with its admonition “Be sure not to hand on to anybody your quartet” (“dein Quartett gieb ja nicht weiter”), cannot have referred to op. 18, no. 1. Lenz did not know that Beethoven had in fact given Amenda an earlier version of that quartet. He was trying to infer the year of the letter by locating an appropriate stylistic advance (“For only now have I learnt how to write quartets”—“indem ich erst jezt recht quartetten zu schreiben weiß”), which he thought could only be perceived between opus 18 and opus 59. Beethoven, Briefwechsel: Gesamtausgabe (hereafter BGA), 1:84–86, letter no. 67, here 86; translations from Beethoven, Letters, 1:63–65, letter no. 53, here 65.
4.
Thayer, Ludwig van Beethoven's Leben (ed. Deiters), 2:114. Thayer was trying to solve the same problem as Lenz: to which quartet did the incompletely dated letter to Amenda refer? Thayer did not mention Wiedemann as the source of the story.
5.
See, for example, Thayer, Ludwig van Beethoven's Leben (ed. Riemann), 2:186; Thayer, Life of Ludwig van Beethoven, 1:272–73; and Thayer, Thayer's Life of Beethoven, 261.
6.
Edelmann, “Die poetische Idee,” 249.
7.
Grasnick 1 and 2, the first sketchbooks used by Beethoven, record his work on four of the quartets of opus 18. The books came to the Berlin Royal Library from the estate of F. A. Grasnick in 1879; see Johnson, Tyson, and Winter, Beethoven Sketchbooks, 77, 84. That Nottebohm studied them shortly thereafter is suggested by the first sentence of his essay “Zwei Skizzenbücher aus den Jahren 1798 und 1799”—“Two sketchbooks have recently become accessible” (“Vor Kurzem sind zwei Skizzenbücher zugänglich geworden”). The essay was published only after Nottebohm's death, in his Zweite Beethoveniana: Nachgelassene Aufsätze (1887). The passage in question is presented on page 485, thus: “An unused sketch for the close of the Adagio [transcription of four measures] is noteworthy for its inscription [i.e., “les derniers soupirs”]. This last is apt to support the statement (based on a story of Amenda's) that Beethoven had the grave scene from Romeo and Juliet in mind as he composed the Adagio” (“Eine nicht benutzte Skizze zum Schluss des Adagios (S. 9) ist wegen ihrer Ueberschrift merkwürdig. Letztere ist geeignet, die auf einer Erzählung Amenda's beruhende Mittheilung, Beethoven habe bei der Composition des Adagios die Grabesscene aus Romeo und Julie vorgeschwebt, zu unterstützen”). This stops short of an endorsement on Nottebohm's part, and he immediately turns to a different sketch.
8.
Virneisel, Beethoven: Ein Skizzenbuch, 1:46–47, 2:8–9. Subsequent references to the sketches are based on this edition.
9.
Jander, “Crypt Scene,” and Owen Jander, “Putting the Program Back in Program Music,” New York Times, September 3, 1989, section 2, 17, 27; Schwager, “Beethoven's Programs.” See also Titcomb, “Beethoven and Shakespeare.”
10.
Kinderman, Beethoven, 64, 106; Lockwood, Beethoven, 164–65, based on Edelmann, “Die poetische Idee,” 265.
11.
Schering, Beethoven in neuer Deutung, 16: “Dieser Satz ist tatsächlich wie ein idealer Dialog im Sinne von Rede und Gegenrede und einem Ineinandergreifen der Stimmen angelegt. … Als eigentliche Romeo-Musik aber ist er schon deshalb nicht anzusehen, weil ein solcher Dialog an jener Stelle bei Shakespeare überhaupt nicht vorkommt: Romeo stirbt, bevor Julia erwacht.” Instead, Schering associated Romeo and Juliet with opus 74.
12.
Bryant, “Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet: Introduction,” 479. Bryant's is the English-language edition of the play that I have used for the present study and from which all quotations from the play are taken: Shakespeare, Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, 487–523. The Cushman sisters were American actresses who played Romeo (Charlotte) and Juliet (Susan) with great success at London's Haymarket Theatre, beginning on December 30, 1845. On Charlotte (regarded as the more gifted of the two), see “Charlotte Cushman, Cross-Dressing Tragedienne of the 19th Century,” New England Historical Society website, accessed September 16, 2017, http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/charlotte-cushman-cross-dressing-tragedienne-of-the-19th-century/.
13.
Summarizing the diversity of the operatic renderings alone, Winton Dean noted, “The lovers are the only constant factors; all the other characters disappear in one version or another”: Dean, “Shakespeare and Opera,” 145. Introducing her valuable overview, Jenny Davidson observes, “It can be dizzying to contemplate the extent to which individual plays of Shakespeare's were supplanted for eighteenth-century audiences by adaptations now virtually unknown to most readers”: Davidson, “Shakespeare Adaptation,” 186. Davidson does not consider adaptations of Romeo and Juliet.
14.
Schwager, “Beethoven's Programs,” 54. By extension, the “last sighs” in Schwager's reading are Juliet's rather than Romeo's.
15.
The tendency in Beethoven's sketches to fix closing passages before beginnings was noted in Cahn, “Aspekte der Schlußgestaltung,” 19.
16.
See note 7 above.
17.
The measure numbers refer to the first (or Amenda) version of the Adagio, which matches the final version measure for measure. The Amenda version is available in Beethoven, Werke, VI/3/1, 133–38, but the score in Examples 2 and 3 is based on the manuscript parts at Beethoven-Haus Bonn (BH 84), https://www.beethoven.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=15123&template=dokseite_digitales_archiv_de&_dokid=wm42&_seite=1-1 (accessed July 27, 2018). The sketch is transcribed from the facsimile in Virneisel, Beethoven: Ein Skizzenbuch, 1:46–47. Examples 2 and 3 are conceptually inspired by Myron Schwager's Examples 2 and 3 (“Beethoven's Programs,” 52–53), but with the sketches (re)aligned with the Amenda version and certain transcription errors emended.
18.
Edelmann, “Die poetische Idee,” 254–56, esp. Examples 12–13.
19.
Ibid., 249–54.
20.
Jander, Beethoven's “Orpheus” Concerto, 36; Jander's suggestion is repeated in Kramer, “Beethovens Streichquartette,” 241. My remarks in what follows are based on the score published in Paris by Boyer et Nadermann in 1793(?). I am grateful to the staff of the Music Library at the University of Michigan for their assistance in examining a copy of this score held in the Rare Books collection. In this version, Roméo et Juliette is identified on the title page as an “opéra en trois actes, en prose”; it is clearly an opéra-comique, with spoken dialogue. Its original version, submitted to the Académie royale de musique, had sung recitatives, which were restored for a production in St. Petersburg in 1817; see Keys, Les adaptations musicales de Shakespeare, 47, and Dawes, Hagberg, and Lindeman, “Steibelt, Daniel.”
21.
Steibelt gave concerts in Hamburg on October 9, 1799, and in Dresden on February 4, 1800, then continued to Prague, Berlin, and Vienna, where the notorious encounter with Beethoven chez Count Fries took place; see Dawes, Hagberg, and Lindeman, “Steibelt, Daniel.” Steibelt was back in Paris by August 1800. The genesis of op. 18, no. 1, is dated to February–mid-April 1799 in Dorfmüller, Gertsch, and Ronge, Ludwig van Beethoven, 1:99.
22.
The transformation of even a sympathetic cleric into a lawyer is not surprising, given the circumstances of revolutionary Paris. One year before Ségur and Steibelt's operatic rendering came Tout pour lamour, ou Juliette et Roméo, by Jacques-Marie Boutet de Monvel and Nicolas Dalayrac, presented at the Comédie-Italienne on July 7, 1792; see Keys, Les adaptations musicales de Shakespeare, 42. As Keys also points out (41n2), the title seems to have been taken from John Dryden's All for Love of 1678—an adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra! The libretto to this “drame lyrique en quatre actes en prose” was never published, which may attest to a lukewarm reception. On the basis of a contemporary score, Keys describes the improbable alterations to the plot (44–46), including its happy ending (“chœur d'allégresse et de réconciliation,” 46).
23.
The premiere was followed by frequent revivals and revisions. I have consulted online an edition published in Paris by Ruault in 1777; act 5 begins on page 45. The title page of this edition makes no mention of Shakespeare. I am grateful to Dexter Edge for alerting me to this source. The most useful recent study on Ducis is Golder, Shakespeare for the Age of Reason.
24.
This may be the precedent for the Don Fernand in Ségur and Steibelt's operatic version.
25.
Golder, Shakespeare for the Age of Reason, 80.
26.
La Place, Le théâtre anglois, 3:534–40, the last of his “Analyses, ou sommaires des Tragédies, ou Pièces historiques, de Shakespeare, non traduites” (3:469). (The pagination of this publication varies between printings, but the summary of Romeo and Juliet invariably appears at the end of Volume 3.) According to Isabelle Schwartz-Gastine, Ducis took La Place as his source for six plays based on Shakespeare, acknowledging the debt in the preface to his version of Hamlet: Schwartz-Gastine, “Romeo and Juliet on the French Stage,” 82. La Place owed his fluency in English to his having been educated at the English Jesuit College of St. Omer (ibid., 78).
27.
See Golder, Shakespeare for the Age of Reason, 78–80, and Keys, Les adaptations musicales de Shakespeare, 40.
28.
Quoted in Golder, Shakespeare for the Age of Reason, 79.
29.
Ducis, Roméo et Juliette, 47.
30.
Shakespeare, Shakespeare traduit de l'anglois, vol. 4.
31.
Ibid., 4:402–21; Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (rev. Garrick), 58–67. Garrick's Romeo and Juliet was first produced at Drury Lane in 1748, and was published as Romeo and Juliet: By Shakespear: With Some Alterations and an Additional Scene in London in that same year. Subsequent editions (with further changes) appeared in 1750 and 1769. Garrick's revisions, which earned the praise of both Letourneur and the German translator Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743–1820), “held the stage until well into the nineteenth century.” See De Bruyn, “Reference Guide to Shakespeare,” 394. Garrick's early editions do not identify the music used for the dirge, but Letourneur claims that it was “set to music by the famous Handel,” music that “provided the model for Corelli in his Roman Dies Irae” (“mis en musique par le fameux Handel, & qui a servi de modèle à Corelli, pour le Dies Iræ de Rome”): Shakespeare, Shakespeare traduit de l'anglois, 4:402.
32.
Shakespeare, Shakespeare traduit de l'anglois, 4:435.
33.
Ibid., 4:419; Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (rev. Garrick), 65.
34.
Shakespeare, Shakespeare traduit de l'anglois, 4:435.
35.
Paulin, “Shakespeare and Germany,” 315.
36.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, 105, 177 (translation modified).
37.
Shakespeare, Shakspear: Theatralische Werke.
38.
See Stadler, Wielands Shakespeare, 25. Stadler goes on to question whether the German language of the 1760s even commanded the poetical resources for a satisfactory metrical rendering of Shakespeare. See also Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:54, and Williams, “Romeo and Juliet in Germany,” 67.
39.
Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:52.
40.
See Stadler, Wielands Shakespeare, 78.
41.
Gerstenberg, Briefe über Merkwürdigkeiten der Litteratur, 112: “Weg mit der Claßification des Drama!”
42.
“After the Oedipus of Sophocles no play in the world can have more power over our passions than Othello, King Lear, Hamlet”: Lessing, “Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend,” 616 (“Nach dem Oedipus des Sophokles muß in der Welt kein Stück mehr Gewalt über unsere Leidenschaften haben als Othello, als König Lear, als Hamlet”).
43.
Goethe, “Zum Shakespeares Tag,” in Atkins, Age of Goethe, 156: “Ich zweifelte keinen Augenblick, dem regelmäßigen Theater zu entsagen.” The unity of place he described as “fearful as a dungeon” (“kerkermäßig ängstlich”), the unities of action and time as “burdensome fetters on our imagination” (“lästige Fesseln unsrer Einbildungskraft”). The essay originated in October 1771 as a speech offered to Goethe's family in Frankfurt, to honor Shakespeare's name day.
44.
Herder, “Shakespear,” 73: “Wenn bey einem Manne mir jenes ungeheure Bild einfällt: ‘hoch auf einem Felsengipfel sitzend! zu seinen Füssen, Sturm, Ungewitter und Brausen des Meers; aber sein Haupt in den Strahlen des Himmels!’ so ists bey Shakespear!—Nur freylich auch mit dem Zusatz, wie unten am tiefsten Fusse seines Felsenthrones Haufen murmeln, die ihn—erklären, retten, verdammen, entschuldigen, anbeten, verläumden, übersetzen und lästern!—und die Er alle nicht höret!”
45.
Ibid., 102: “das süsse Stück der Liebe.”
46.
“Among all of Shakespeare's plays none failed so miserably at Wieland's hands as Romeo and Juliet. The reason is perhaps that Wieland himself never experienced a love like Romeo's”: quoted in Koberstein, “Shakspeare's allmähliches Bekanntwerden,” 206n60 (“Unter allen Shakspeare'schen Stücken ist Wielanden keins so verunglückt als ‘Romeo u. Julie.’ Der Grund ist vielleicht der, daß Wieland selbst nie eine Romeo-Liebe gefühlt hat”). Soon thereafter Herder would fashion Julius Caesar into an opera libretto, Brutus. Gluck declined to set it, and although it was set by Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (Herder's colleague at the court of Bückeberg), that music is lost. See Burden, “Shakespeare and Opera,” 216.
47.
Shakespeare, William Shakespear's Schauspiele: Neue Ausgabe. The designation “neue Ausgabe” presupposes Wieland's translation as the “old” edition. The first twelve volumes appeared in 1775–77; these constituted the basis for Shakespeare, Willhelm [sic] Shakespears Schauspiele: Neue verbesserte Auflage, published in Mannheim and Strasbourg in 1778–83. This “new, improved” edition was the edition owned by Beethoven (see note 51 below). Volume 13 of Eschenburg's translation appeared only in 1782; it contained doubtful works and Eschenburg's documentation of the controversy surrounding the “new, improved” edition.
48.
Shakespeare, William Shakespear's Schauspiele: Neue Ausgabe, 1:6: “das schon Uebersetzte sorgfältig durchzusehen und zu berichtigen, die Lücken, so viel es das Genie beyder Sprachen nur immer vertrüge, auszufüllen, und die noch fehlenden vierzehn Stücke hinzuzuthun.”
49.
The essays on the various plays are distributed rather erratically through the volumes of the Mannheim edition owned by Beethoven. The translation of Romeo and Juliet appears in Volume 9 but the matching essay appears in Volume 12, which contains the translation of Macbeth and the corresponding essay, followed by unpaginated essays on Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Coriolanus, and Julius Caesar. The last dozen pages of the essay on Romeo and Juliet are devoted to contemporary reworkings, including an admiring account of David Garrick's adaptation and a translation into German of Garrick's added dialogue for Romeo and Juliet in act 5. Eschenburg provides briefer descriptions for adaptations by James Howard, Thomas Otway, Theophilus Cibber, Thomas Sheridan, Lope de Vega, and Christian Felix Weiße—plus a “rather feeble” (“ziemlich schwache”) anonymous French imitation of Weiße. His own Romeo e Giulia: Dramma per musica in due atti, elaborating a sketch by the Duke of Braunschweig, was put into Italian by one Sanseverino and published in Berlin in 1773. Eschenburg complains that Sanseverino had taken too much credit for the libretto, especially for having solved the challenge of telling the story with only three characters (!). He lastly cites a new “deutsches Singspiel” by Gotter, which he has not yet seen. Eschenburg adds Ducis to the above list, in the context of a comprehensive “Catalog of Adaptations, Imitations, and Translations of Shakespeare's Plays” (“Verzeichniß der Umarbeitungen, Nachahmungen, und Uebersetzungen Shakespearischer Schauspiele”), in Ueber W. Shakspeare, 457.
50.
See Wegeler and Ries, Biographische Notizen, 9–11, and Schiedermair, Der junge Beethoven, 174–75. According to Wegeler, Beethoven made his first acquaintance with German literature, especially with German poets, amid the Breuning family.
51.
This edition included hundreds of improvements for which the Mannheim professor Gabriel Eckert was responsible. Eckert also corrected over 2,000 misprints in the Zurich edition. On this edition and the controversy surrounding it, see Meyen, Johann Joachim Eschenburg, 41–44. It speaks volumes that, when Eschenburg prepared a revised edition of his Shakespeare translation in 1798–1805, he adopted some 270 of Eckert's corrections without attribution. When Schindler claimed that Beethoven “had the complete works of Shakespeare in the Eschenburg translation,” he either did not know of the distinction between the two editions or did not consider it significant: Schindler, Beethoven as I Knew Him, 378. In any case, only volumes 3–4 and 9–10 of Beethoven's copy (two double volumes out of eleven) survive, bequeathed by Schindler himself to the Royal Library in Berlin; see Bartlitz, Die Beethoven-Sammlung, 210–11. Copies of those volumes have been acquired by the Beethoven-Haus as part of their reconstruction of the composer's personal library. I am grateful to Stefanie Kuban and Dorothea Geffert for their kind assistance in the consultation of these volumes, and to Dr. Julia Ronge for further information about Beethoven's encounters with Shakespeare.
52.
Stahl, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater, 63.
53.
Weiße, Romeo und Julie (1768). The premiere was given by the troupe of actor and impresario Heinrich Gottfried Koch on April 27, 1767. J. G. Dyk's edition of the play was available that year at the autumn fair in Leipzig with the publication date given as 1768. See Brüggemann, Die Aufnahme Shakespeares, 234. This useful compilation contains, in addition to Weiße's Romeo und Julie, Wieland's translation of Lear, Gottlieb Stephanie's adaptation of Macbeth (premiered in Vienna, November 2, 1772), and Friedrich Ludwig Schröder's unusually faithful rendition of Hamlet (Hamburg, November 20, 1776).
54.
Weiße, Romeo und Julie (1768), [v]: “Im Gegentheil hat er sein Stück mit vielen trivialen, überflüssigen und zur Handlung unnöthigen Dingen überladen: der Witz fließt in manchen Stellen so über, daß er ins Kindische verfällt. Die häufigen Reime, die er dazwischen mengt, schwächen die Wahrscheinlichkeit der natürlichen Unterredung, die im dramatischen Dialog so unentbehrlich ist, hauptsächlich wo die Scene und Handlung aus dem häuslichen Leben genommen sind: endlich ist es, wie Garrick davon sagt, so voll Jingle und Quibble gepfropft, daß man in neuern Zeiten es selbst nicht auf dem englischen Theater ohne große und wichtige Veränderungen vorzustellen gewagt hat.” The English phrase is taken from the “Advertisement” (dated September 29, 1750) that precedes Garrick's own adaptation of Romeo and Juliet: “the Design was to clear the Original as much as possible, from the Jingle and Quibble which were always thought a great Objection to performing it”: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (rev. Garrick), 5. By “Jingle” he meant the occasional recourse to end-rhyme; by “Quibble,” the recourse to wordplay. A shorter version of Weiße's foreword (roughly its first half) appears in Weiße, Trauerspiele, pt. 4, 99–101.
55.
On Da Porto and Bandello (who were acquainted with one another), see Romeo and Juliet before Shakespeare, 2–5. Garrick, whose version Weiße obviously knew, had also appealed to the authority of Bandello in restoring the final dialogue that Shakespeare had “injudiciously left out”: quoted from Garrick's “Advertisement” to the 1753 reprint of his adaptation in Burden, “Shakespeare and Opera,” 217.
56.
Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:58, based on Stahl, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater, 61.
57.
Stahl, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater, 60.
58.
Weiße, Romeo und Julie (1768), 1.
59.
Ibid., 132.
60.
See Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:60. Elsewhere, Williams notes the shift in dramatic focus “from the erotic vitality of Romeo and Juliet's love to the relationship between Julie and her parents … the natural demesne of the bürgerliches Trauerspiel”: Williams, “Romeo and Juliet in Germany,” 69.
61.
Weiße, Romeo und Julie (1768), 144–52.
62.
Ibid., [vii–viii], 143.
63.
Weiße, Beytrag zum deutschen Theater, pt. 5.
64.
A still later print of the play omits scenes 6 and 7 without any notice: Weiße, Trauerspiele, pt. 4.
65.
Weiße, Romeo und Julie [1769].
66.
Ibid., “Spielende Personen”: “Ein Veronesischer Arzt.”
67.
The comments appeared in the first of Großmann's “Briefe über verschiedene Gegenstände der Bühne,” Theater-Zeitung 15 (February 22, 1775), reprinted in Großmann, Briefe über verschiedene Gegenstände, 7–13, here 10–11. See also Rüppel, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, 104, 107.
68.
“Fortsetzung des in den dramaturgischen Nachrichten zu Bonn,” 13, 17.
69.
For a facsimile edition, see Gotter, Romeo und Julie (1986). See also Bauman's valuable “Opera versus Drama.”
70.
“The play performed on Saturday was Romeo and Juliet by Mr. Gotter, with music that the celebrated Benda had the skill to adapt so perfectly to the subject. Generally speaking, the play was well acted, but Miss Keilholz the elder captured the entire interest of the spectators in the role of Julie, which she played and sang with as much nobility as sentiment and expression. Never have her stature, her face, and her voice appeared to better advantage. The public lavished on her applause verging on ecstasy when she sang the aria (so engaging and so sublime) ‘Meinen Romeo zu sehen’ (I would see Romeo again). Although hers had been among the most fatiguing of roles, she had nonetheless graciously to accede to the public's wishes by encoring this beautiful piece”: Gazette de Bonn 180 (November 10, 1789): [734] (“La pièce que l'on a représentée samedi, étoit Romeo & Julie de Mr. Gotter, avec la musique que le célébre [sic] Benda a eu l'art d'adapter si parfaitement au sujet. La pièce a été généralement bien jouée, mais Mademoiselle Keilholz l'ainée a réuni sur elle tout l'intérêt des spectateurs, dans le rôle de Julie qu'elle a joué & chanté avec autant de Noblesse que de sentiment & d'expression. Jamais sa taille, sa figure & sa voix n'ont paru avec plus d'avantage. Le public lui a prodigué des applaudissemens, qui ont été jusqu'au transport, lorsqu'elle a chanté l'air si interessant [sic] & si sublime meinen Romeo zu sehen (je reverrois Romeo.) Quoique son rôle ait été des plus fatiguans, elle a du néanmoins se conformer avec complaisance au desir du public en repétant [sic] ce beau morceau”). I consulted the Gazette online at http://digitale-sammlungen.ulb.uni-bonn.de/ulbbnz/periodical/pageview/917095 (accessed July 13, 2018). I am grateful to Dr. Julia Ronge for alerting me to this source.
71.
Gotter, Romeo und Julie (1780), [3–4]: “Das nachstehende Singspiel hat mit dem berühmten deutschen Trauerspiele dieses Namens fast nichts, als Namen und Fabel gemein. Namen und Fabel aber gehören Shakespear. … In Ansehung des Ausgangs bin ich weder dem Engländer, noch dem Deutschen gefolgt. Theils schien mir die musikalische Oekonomie die Beybehaltung der allzu tragischen Katastrophe nicht zu erlauben; theils hat mich zu dieser, wie zu mehrern Abweichungen … die Rücksicht auf die Fähigkeiten der Sänger bewogen.” On the basis of Adelung's Versuch eines vollständigen grammatisch-kritischen Wörterbuches der hochdeutschen Mundart, Thomas Bauman interprets “Oekonomie” as the suitable disposition of ends and means: Bauman, “Opera versus Drama,” 198.
72.
Gotter, Romeo und Julie (1780), 34: “So will ich deinen Vater an mein Herz drücken, und nicht ablassen, bis ich ihn versöhne.”
73.
Wagner, Briefe, 177, 179: “die Komposition ist wieder vom Herrn Kapelldirektor Benda, und macht ihm Ehre: Ob's aber dem Publikum zur Ehre gereicht, daß man den Geist Shakespears, um ihn ihm beyzubringen, erst mit neunzehn zwanzigstel Wasser versetzen”; “dem tändelnden Geschmack unsers Publikums zu lieb, das im Schauspielsaal nur amüsirt, ja nicht gerührt seyn will.” Abel Seyler's troupe in Frankfurt was virtually the same company that Großmann gathered in Bonn the following year, and both Großmann and his music director, Beethoven's future teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748–98), would have been involved in this production.
74.
Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek 40 (1780): 129–30: “Hätte nur der Dichter den Stoff nicht so unverantwortlich zu einem wohlgesitteten Alltagsoperngewande zerschnitzelt! … Möchte doch der Dichter den Ausgang noch ändern wollen, ihn so lassen, wie er in Shakespeare und Weiße ist!” The review itself is signed only “Vb,” but it is attributed to Reichardt in both Bauman, “Opera versus Drama,” 198, and Radecke, Theatermusik—Musiktheater, 308.
75.
Brüggemann, Die Aufnahme Shakespeares, 235. On Viennese performances of Weiße, see Hadamowsky, Die Wiener Hoftheater, 1:107 (no. 964).
76.
See Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:69–72, 108–11. With regard to the Hamlet adaptation, Williams notes that “Shakespeare wrote a resonant political tragedy, [whereas] Heufeld produced domestic intrigue, which involves nothing more than characters’ personal concerns” (70).
77.
Ibid., 109.
78.
Ibid., 110.
79.
The actor, playwright, and director Friedrich Ludwig Schröder (1744–1816) was engaged by the Burgtheater from 1780 to 1784 between long stints in Hamburg. He is widely acknowledged to have been the model for Goethe's character Serlo in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Unlike most other adapters of Shakespeare, Schröder read English. See Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:4, 75, and 111n10 (where one also reads that “There were no new productions of Shakespeare [at the Burgtheater] between 1789 and 1808, when Schiller's Macbeth was staged”).
80.
The work had received its first performance at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on January 30, 1796. A facsimile of the title page of the libretto printed for this performance is available at http://www.librettidopera.it/giul_rom/immagine_05.html (accessed July 14, 2018); for a transcription of this libretto, see Foppa, Giulietta, e Romeo (Libretti d'opera italiani). For documentation of the earliest performances, see De Bei, “Giulietta e Romeo,” 82–83. De Bei lists an autograph manuscript of the score held in the Ricordi archives (Milan), a manuscript at the Milan Conservatory, and another manuscript in Bologna: ibid., 123. For the musical sources I myself consulted, see note 86 below.
81.
Foppa, Giulietta, e Romeo (Libretti d'opera italiani), 5: “Ciò è tratto dalle Storie di Verona di Girolamo Dalla Corte nel tomo II cap. 10, e questo fatto ha servito ad una tragedia inglese di Sakespear, e ad una francese di Ducis, come serve ora per melodramma.” The “Argomento” is also transcribed in De Bei, “Giulietta e Romeo,” 73–74. De Bei notes that it continued to be printed in librettos right down to the last Milanese performances in 1829.
82.
De Bei, “Giulietta e Romeo,” 75–78.
83.
Wiener Zeitung, April 12, 1797, 1113: “Im kais. kön. Hoftheater nächst dem Kärntherthor [sic] ist in voriger Woche Freytag den 7. dieses zum erstenmal aufgeführt worden, eine grosse Opera seria in drey Aufzügen, betitelt: Romeo e Giulie. Die Musik ist vom Herrn Kapellmeister Zingarelli, und die Dekorazionen sind vom Herrn Lorenz Sacchetti. Dabey zeigte sich das erstemal hier der rühmlichst bekannte Virtuos, Hr. Crescentini, mit ausgezeichnetem Vorzuge, und bestättigte aufs vollkommenste den grossen Ruf, welcher von seinem äusserst seltenen Kunstwerthe sich überall schon längst verbreitet hat. Ein allgemeiner lautausgebrochener Beyfallszuruf war der sicherste Beweis von der Zufriedenheit der höhern und mindern Zuschauerklasse.” I consulted the Wiener Zeitung online at http://anno.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno?aid=wrz&datum=17970412&seite=13&zoom=33 (accessed July 14, 2018).
84.
See De Bei, “Giulietta e Romeo,” 97. Hadamowsky references a “Theaterzettel” with cast in the collection of the Theatermuseum, Vienna, which I have been unable to find in the catalog of the Austrian National Library: Hadamowsky, Die Wiener Hoftheater, 1:107 (no. 963). Zingarelli's participation is confirmed in a highly interesting review in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung 6 (May 9, 1804), cols. 543–44, and in a historical overview of the Hoftheater in the same periodical in 1822: “Uebersicht der Geschichte der kaiserlich königlichen Hoftheater in Wien, bis zum Jahre 1818; besonders in Hinsicht auf die Oper (Fortsetzung),” ibid., 24 (May 8, 1822), col. 301. Moreover, on June 14, 1797, the Wiener Zeitung announced (p. 2719 [1719]) that, on account of the illness of Mme Willmann Galvani, Crescentini (still in Vienna) would perform Romeo e Giulia again for his own benefit, with two new arias to be inserted into act 2.
85.
Foppa, Giulietta e Romeo (1797); [Foppa], Julie, und Romeo. The German translation (a copy of which is preserved in the Schatz Collection at the Library of Congress) was prepared for a production in Bolzano during Carnival 1798. De Bei (“Giulietta e Romeo,” 80, 83) refers to it as the earliest German version. It follows Foppa right down to the syllable count.
86.
On the relatively new genre designation “tragedia per musica, see Feldman, Opera and Sovereignty, 386–87. For the following description of the music, two editions of act 3, scene 1, have been put at my disposal by colleagues whom it is a pleasure to thank here. Mr. Paul Abdullah, doctoral candidate in musicology at Case Western Reserve University, kindly sent a scan of a transcription (made in 1911 for the Music Division at the Library of Congress) of a manuscript copy then held in Darmstadt, Hof- und Landesbibliothek. Mr. Jacobsen Woollen (Vienna) shared a scan of the scene from an edition prepared by Renzo Bez for a recent production at the Theater an der Wien. Textual quotations are derived from the latter, verified against the libretto printed for the first Viennese performance (see note 85 above).
87.
The phrase brings to mind Roméo's declaration in Ducis, “Un désespoir tranquille a passé dans mon sein.”
88.
“How oft when men are at the point of death / Have they been merry! Which their keepers call / A lightning before death. O, how may I / Call this a lightning?”
89.
De Bei (“Giulietta e Romeo,” 101) gives the incipits of five different versions of the aria—four of them by Zingarelli, one by Crescentini. It was Crescentini's version that prevailed. Coincidentally, that substitute aria would be celebrated in the second of E. T. A. Hoffmann's Kreisleriana, “Ombra adorata!,” a letter of thanks from Johannes Kreisler to a sympathetic colleague who has, in response to a woeful glance from Kreisler, taken Kreisler's place at the keyboard in a concert that was to begin with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Anticipating that the emotional strain of hearing Beethoven would be too much for Kreisler, the friend has rearranged the program on the fly, so that it begins with a “short, insignificant overture” (“eine kurze unbedeutende Ouvertüre”) and continues with precisely the recitative and aria under discussion here: Hoffmann, Kreisleriana, 29.
90.
Just as Weiße found it expedient to cut his final scenes of parental reconciliation in staged productions, so too subsequent productions of Giulietta e Romeo often ended the opera after the duet; see De Bei's synoptic table in “Giulietta e Romeo,” 98–99.
91.
The extracts from the prose translations of Wieland and Eschenburg in Table 1 are divided into lines that match, as closely as possible, the line divisions of Shakespeare and of A. W. Schlegel as shown in Table 2. To facilitate comparison of the four texts, line numbers have been added. Wieland's text is taken from Shakespeare, Shakspear: Theatralische Werke, vol. 7, and Eschenburg's from Shakespeare, Willhelm [sic] Shakespears Schauspiele: Neue verbesserte Auflage, vol. 9. Some gaps in Wieland's text (by comparison with Eschenburg) may have arisen from Wieland's less secure grasp of English. One, however, at line 34, is the result of Eschenburg's having based his translation on The Plays of William Shakespeare, edited by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens, which was printed in 1773.
92.
As pointed out in note 51 above, Schindler would claim that Beethoven “had the complete works of Shakespeare in the Eschenburg translation. Most of the volumes showed unmistakable marks of careful reading.” The two surviving double volumes (3–4 and 9–10) were among the books that Schindler himself preserved, and he bequeathed them to the Royal Library in Berlin. (It cannot be ruled out that Schindler himself supplied some of those “marks of careful reading.”) If Beethoven owned other volumes of Shakespeare in translation, they were either dispersed in the auction of November 5, 1827, or stolen between Beethoven's death and that auction. See Schindler, Beethoven as I Knew Him, 378, 392n305.
93.
In what follows, I have been guided with respect to the extent of Beethoven's underlining by Leitzmann, Ludwig van Beethoven, 2:274. The quoted passages themselves are transcribed from Shakespeare, Willhelm [sic] Shakespears Schauspiele: Neue verbesserte Auflage, 9:281, 308, 313.
94.
As argued in Kopitz and Cadenbach, Beethoven aus der Sicht seiner Zeitgenossen, 1:529–30. On the concert tour of 1796, see Johnson, “Music for Prague and Berlin.”
95.
The circumstances of Reichardt's fall from royal grace in January 1793 are related in Brachvogel, Geschichte des königlichen Theaters, 2:321–22.
96.
Schlegel, “Probe einer neuen Uebersetzung.” This publication is exceptional insofar as Schlegel usually contributed to Schiller's Die Horen, a bitter rival of Reichardt's monthly, as shown in Table 3. Both Goethe and Schiller had harsh words for Reichardt, some fashioned into biting distichs. See Salmen, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 181, and more generally, Beetz, “Vergiftete Gastgeschenke.”
97.
Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:51; see also Williams, “Romeo and Juliet in Germany,” 65–66. This Simon Grynaeus is not to be confused with the sixteenth-century biblical scholar and Reformation theologian of the same name.
98.
Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften und der freyen Künste 6, no. 1 (1760), quoted in Bauman, “Opera versus Drama,” 188n2: “Sie sind bisweilen so holpricht, die Harmonie, und der Abschnitt so verabsäumt, kurz, so—schweizerisch, dass wir eine wohlklingende Prose, diesen Versen weit vorziehen würden.”
99.
Williams, “Romeo and Juliet in Germany,” 66.
100.
The translation is taken from Schlegel, “Probe einer neuen Uebersetzung,” 253–54. In Shakespeare's text, the lines in square brackets are supplied from the edition of the play by Johnson and Steevens, which Schlegel was following here: Shakespeare, Plays of William Shakespeare, 10:166, 169.
101.
See Brachvogel, Geschichte des königlichen Theaters, 2:346–48, and Kapp, Geschichte der Staatsoper Berlin, 22–24. The variations for cello and piano amounted to a clever piece of flattery of the monarch, who was both a cellist and a great lover of Mozart. They were probably performed at court together with the opus 5 cello sonatas during Beethoven's visit to Berlin.
102.
There has not been a monograph on Friederike Unzelmann since Laskus, Friederike Bethmann-Unzelmann (1927). An eyewitness account of her professional activities in Bonn can be gleaned from Neefe's biographical sketch of her mother (reprinted in Maurer and Maurer, Dokumente zur Bonner Theatergeschichte, 141–227; see especially Karoline's letters on 152–99). Details of her career between Bonn and Berlin are available in Rüppel, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann. For her career in Berlin, I have relied on Brachvogel, Geschichte des königlichen Theaters, vol. 2.
103.
See Laskus, Friederike Bethmann-Unzelmann, 17.
104.
Endorsing Beethoven's petition of February 15, 1784 (now lost), the court steward Count Salm-Reifferscheid noted that “the suppliant has been amply proved and found capable to play the court organ as he has done in the absence of Organist Neefe, also at rehearsals of the plays and elsewhere and will continue to do so in the future”: Thayer, Thayer's Life of Beethoven, 70 (my emphasis). In the original document, the phrase italicized here is “bald zu der Comoedienprob”; see Schiedermair, Der junge Beethoven, 165.
105.
See Rüppel, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, 343.
106.
BGA, 2:88–90, letter no. 408, here 88: “habe ich mich doch bestrebt von Kindheit an, den Sinn der bessern und weisen jedes Zeitalters zu fassen.”
107.
Schlegel, “Über Shakespeare's Romeo und Julie.”
108.
Schindler, Beethoven as I Knew Him, 378.
109.
BGA, 2:122–24, letter no. 442; Beethoven, Letters, 1:272–74, letter no. 258.
110.
Eight volumes of Schlegel's translation had appeared by Michaelmas 1801. After a nine-year hiatus, the ninth (the last for which Schlegel was responsible) appeared in 1810, perhaps by the time Beethoven wrote to Therese. Thereafter, Ludwig Tieck, and then Tieck's daughter Dorothea together with Wolf von Baudissin, continued the translation. See Williams, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1:150–51.
111.
BGA, 2:123: “Bald erhalten sie einige andere Kompositionen von mir, wobey sie nicht zu sehr über schwierigkeiten klagen sollen—haben sie Göthes Wilhelm Meister gelesen, den von schlegel übersezten schakespear? auf dem Lande hat man so viele Muße, es wird ihnen vieleicht angenehm seyn, wenn ich ihnen diese Werke schicke.” Translation from Beethoven, Letters, 1:273.
112.
Paulin, “Shakespeare and Germany,” 314. As early as 1796, Schlegel had “boldly declared that, next to the English, [Shakespeare] belongs to no other people so properly as to the Germans. … He is no stranger to us; we need not depart one step from our character to call him entirely our own”: Schlegel, “Etwas über William Shakespeare,” 79 (“man darf kühnlich behaupten, daß er nächst den Engländern keinem Volke so eigenthümlich angehört, wie den Deutschen. … Nein, er ist uns nicht fremd: wir brauchen keinen Schritt aus unserm Charakter herauszugehn, um ihn ganz unser nennen zu dürfen”).
113.
See Comini, Changing Image of Beethoven, 315–16.

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