The German Ideal

Misha Donat

  • Carl Maria von Weber: Writings on Music edited by John Warrack, translated by Martin Cooper
    Cambridge, 402 pp, £35.00, December 1981, ISBN 0 521 22892 1

The reader of this scrupulously-edited volume will look in vain for the source of the most famous critical observation attributed to Weber – made apropos of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, that its creator was now ‘ripe for the madhouse’. The remark was quoted by Anton Schindler in the revised edition of his far from reliable biographical reminiscences of Beethoven, originally published in 1840. Schindler was unable to trace the origin of Weber’s comment, and had to content himself with offering his readers the promise that it would turn up ‘sooner or later’ among the composer’s posthumous papers. He also printed an extract from Weber’s unfinished novel, Tonkünstlers Leben, in which the composer-hero dreams himself transported to a concert hall, where a furious orchestral argument is taking place:

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