Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio,” took on many forms from the original version which premiered in 1805 to the complete version, regarded as one of the best operas of the times, which premiered in 1815. For the final version, Beethoven brought in famed librettist Georg Friedrich Treitschke. The article “The Composition of “Und spur’ ich” in Beethoven’s Fidelio” discusses the legitimacy of the claims Georg made, after Beethoven’s death that the aria, Und spur’ ich, was written predominantly in one evening at his own house. The article first outlines Georg’s claim in depth.
After the claim is stated the author, Barry Cooper, discusses at length the likelihood of the claim being true based on facts known of the aria and Beethoven’s tendencies. As a whole an organized thesis is stated, and the remainder of the article is spent proving the claim, while also considering counterpoints to the issue. Overall, the article is exquisitely organized, and presents each individual point well. The first portion of the article explains Georg Treitscke’s account of the events which took place preceding and after Beethoven’s writing of “Und spur’ ich.Order now
” Georg states in “Thayer’s life of Beethoven,” Beethoven came to me about seven o’clock in the evening. After we had discussed other things, he asked me how matters stood with the aria. It was just finished; I handed it to him. He read, ran up and down the room, muttered, growled, as was his habit instead of singing-and tore open the piano… The hours passed, but Beethoven improvised on. Supper, which he had intended to share with us, was served, but he did not let himself be disturbed. It was late when he embraced me, and declining the meal, he hurried home.
The next day the admirable composition was finished. Cooper agrees in the article, this is a beautiful picture painted of Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time, writing an aria in such perfect time and inspiration, but the point is raised as to how accurate this claim may be. Cooper sets out to prove whether this was actually the case and by what means it can be proven. Throughout the remainder of the article, Cooper brings up key evidence intended to prove Georg’s statements correct. The largest case Cooper presents deals with Beethoven’s personal sketch book, “Dessauer.
” This book was Beethoven’s composition sketch-book for serious musical thought, as opposed to others he kept for drafting and brain storming. In the sketch-book, it is shown that “Und spur’ ich” comes after the Act II finale; though in the opera it arrives at the beginning of Act II. This ties in perfectly with Georg’s claim that the piece had been causing both Beethoven and himself many problems for quite sometime and putting them behind schedule. In addition, the fact that the aria’s sketches were in a span of five pages further proves the point showing it was probably written in a short period of time.
Cooper then admits the remainder of Georg’s claims are less easy to prove, however, some evidence can be compiled. Some articles of evidence are the writing materials used in the sketches of the revised compositions. It is noticed that the writing materials switch between both mediums and colors on the pages of the sketch-book. Cooper goes on through much detail to prove that, in the sketch-book, the “Und spur’ ich” aria must postdate all of the finale sketches that occupied the preceding 51 pages.
In addition, the melodrama sketches in ink must postdate the aria’s composition, since on of them on page 88 even incorporates a motif of the aria. The last point mentioned in Cooper’s argument for Georg Treitschke’s case is the spacing of the aria in the sketch-book. The draft is spaced very widely giving the impression of having been written down in a hurry, which is what could be expected if the piece was written at Georg’s home in an evening. All the motifs are present, as they should be, since Treitschke claimed to have heard them from another room. In addition, each bar belongs to the final version of the aria, with few exceptions.
Cooper also alludes to the ending of the sketch-book entries on the aria, especially the fact that there are signs of Beethoven noting last minute details to be worked out the next day, so as not to forget anything. Though inconclusive, this could show Beethoven to be in a hurry, possibly due to the hour getting late in the night. After reading the article a number of times and really analyzing it, I feel as though Barry Cooper presents his case exquisitely. He clearly outlines the points he will attempt to make throughout the paper in a well thought out introduction, complete with somewhat of a thesis.
He proceeds to then make each point through the paper clearly, presenting all facts with full explanations, almost anticipating questions or inquiries the reader might have. From start to finish, the paper is organized clearly and states its point to a convincing length, without wasting readers’ time on miniscule details. Barry Cooper does a great job of writing an informative paper on the origins of “Und spur’ ich” in the last revision of the opera Fidelio by Beethoven, in the formalist approach to musicology.