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"An die ferne Geliebte", Liederkreis von Alois Jeitteles für Singstimme und Klavier op. 98

Listening samples
1. Auf dem Hügel sitz' ich, spähend (365 kB)
2. Wo die Berge so blau (365 kB)
3. Leichte Segler in den Höhen (365 kB)
4. Diese Wolken in den Höhen (298 kB)
5. Es kehret der Maien, es blühet die Au (365 kB)
6. Nimm sie hin denn, diese Lieder (365 kB)

Jahresanfang bis April 1816
dedicated to Franz Joseph Maximilian Fürst Lobkowitz

Text poet: Alois Jeitteles

Beethoven finished the song cycle "To the distant beloved" op. 98, in April 1816. A hard year laid behind him. Around 1814/15 the composer was at the peak of his public success, celebrated by the leaders of the European courts during the Vienna Congress. 1815, however, turned into a bad year. Beethoven fell into a deep depression, both in a psychic and artistic way. His health was in a poor state and his hearing deteriorated. On January 25th, 1815, he gave the last concert where he played the piano. His bad hearing made any further performances together with other musicians and even solo performances impossible. The awareness of not being able to partake in public music life led to a depression which he expressed in a letter to his friend Brauchle written in September 1815: "Annoyed and more sensitive than all others and burdened with my bad hearing, I find human contact very painful." (Quote from BGA 835). Furthermore and despite his success, Beethoven's financial situation worsened due to worries about his dying brother whose family the composer supported since his brother had become unemployed. Regarding his artistic accomplishments, Beethoven was not content either. His idea about pure art was particularly extreme and he had very high quality standards.

In spite of his success at the Vienna Congress, the works on which his glory was based on - mainly "Wellington's victory" op. 91 and "The glorious moment" op. 136 - can be regarded as regular-quality music, rather motivated by the political circumstances of that time, and not as the best pieces of his oeuvre. Beethoven certainly knew how much he had distanced himself from his own standards and the great compositions of the first decade of the century: Symphonies, sonatas, string quartets and concerts.

Around 1815/16 he managed to overcome his creative and psychic crisis and his will to live returned. He composed chamber music as if a more conservative form should be taken on after the loud symphonies of the congress time: Cello sonatas op. 102, piano sonata op 101 and the song cycle op. 98. A new era of his life and work began. "To the distant beloved" - Beethoven named the autograph "To the distant beloved" - was long time believed to express the state of mind of the composer, who, in his heart, said good-bye to a love impossible. New research results from Birgit Lodes, however, allow the conclusion that the distant beloved does not refer to Beethoven's own relationships but to the dedicatee's (Price Lobkowitz, a singer known in Vienna) wife who died in January in 1816. (J.R.)

Music manuscripts
Autograph, op. 98, BH 69

First editions
Originalausgabe, op. 98, Steiner, 2610, HCB C Md 64
Originalausgabe, op. 98, Steiner, 2610; Teilscan, C 252 / 105,4
Originalausgabe, op. 98, Steiner, 2610; Teilscan, Geyr 35 a
Titelauflage, op. 98, Haslinger, 2610; Teilscan, C 98 / 2
Titelauflage, op. 98, Steiner, 2610; Teilscan, C 98 / 10
Titelauflage, op. 98, Steiner, 2610, C 98 / 1

Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Written documents
Billet an Sigmund Anton Steiner, Wien, nach dem 4. Mai 1816, HCB BBr 120
Brief an Tobias Haslinger, Wien, 29. Dezember 1816, HCB BBr 20
Brief an Karl Peters, Wien, 8. Januar 1817, HCB Br 182
Brief an Sigmund Anton Steiner, Wien, nach dem 9. Januar 1817, HCB BBr 55

Franz Joseph Maximilian Fürst von Lobkowitz ( 1772-1816) - Fotografie eines wohl von Friedrich Oelenhainz stammenden Ölgemäldes, um 1935?, NE 81, Band I, Nr. 173

Bibliographic data in library catalogue

Manuscript sources in other libraries
Großbritannien, London: The British Library
USA, Princeton (N. J.): William H. Scheide private collection, in: Princeton University Library

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E-Mail: bibliothek@beethoven-haus-bonn.de