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Ludwig van Beethoven, "Germania", Schlussgesang für Bass, Chor und Orchester zu Friedrich Treitschkes Singspiel "Die Gute Nachricht" WoO 94, Partitur, Autograph, Fragment

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 73

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Nationalism and patriotism

Friedrich Treitschke's patriotic Singspiel (German opera with spoken dialogues) "Germania" was composed in 1814 when the allies marched into France. Different Viennese composers contributed incidental music, Beethoven was asked to write the closing song. Germania is celebrated in the five verse hymn. Beethoven conceived his work following a strophic form (as was the text). All five verses were to be sung to the same music. Because of this he still refers to it as a "Lied" in letters to Treitschke of the period, when telling him of the closing song for the Singspiel. During rehearsals the performers seem to have noticed a deviation in the metre of the text, which Beethoven had obviously overseen: in the last verse Emperor Franz is honoured. To emphasis the emperor's name, Treitschke interrupts the rhythm of the line in the previous verse and sets the emphasis in the text in a different place. Beethoven's setting of the text purely as a strophic song did not take this into account. This meant it did not scan properly. Apparently there were independent attempts in the rehearsals to correct this mistake, which very much upset the composer. He wrote angrily to Treitschke in April 1814: "By the way, I shall not be the slightest bit offended if you want to have it set to music again by Gyrowetz or somebody else, but I should prefer Weinmüller. For I lay not claims whatever to it. At the same time I refuse to allow another, whoever he may be, to alter my compositions." (From the translation by Emily Anderson, 1961.). After this Beethoven himself undertook to change and even to compose a new part for the fifth verse so that it scanned properly. The autograph score shown here shows the newly composed version. The title "(zur letzten Strophe gehörig)" "(belonging to the last verse)" was to enable it to be put in the correct place. Beethoven wrote the name and voice of the soloist "Basso Weinmüller" on the first page above the solo voice part. Carl Friedrich Weinmüller also sang the part of Rocco in the 1814 production of Beethoven's Fidelio. (J.R.)

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