Beethoven to singer: Get me out of the 2nd night of Fidelio

Beethoven to singer: Get me out of the 2nd night of Fidelio


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2020

The Beethoven-Haus Bonn has received the gift of a letter from the composer.

In it, Beethoven asks the singer Friedrich Sebastian Mayer, who sang Pizarro in the world premiere of Fidelio, to get Ignaz von Seyfried to conduct the second night as he wanted to ‘watch and hear’ from the audience. He then launches into a rant about musicians who ignore his requirements. Sounds familiar.

The letter was brought to the Beethoven-Haus by a private collector who wanted to have it authenticated and restored, but wound up leaving it to the museum.


  • Dander says:

    Beethoven often complained about folk ignoring or getting his detailed expression and phrasing markings wrong. He could accept the odd bum note, but kicked arse rightly if they ignored what he actually wrote.

    Bit like our Bojo making up quotes in the Times, for which he got the sack!

    • Horace Rumpole says:

      Yes Bojo et al should have gone to the executioner’s chopping block by now with all those porkies he told and the complete bollix he made of covid-19, PPE contracts and test, track n trace. Jolyon Maugham QC is on his case at last.

    • Bum Note says:

      Yes Beethoven once said the odd bum note was not that important, he often hit a bum note in concerts, but getting expression markings etc wrong was a real criminal offence. I think he would have approved of Les Dawson.

    • We privatize your value says:

      I fail to see why you need to bring up Johnson, it must be a compulsion, since he has nothing to do with the subject, or in common with Beethoven!

    • Marfisa says:

      Have mercy! Haven’t we all had enough of irrelevant comments about Trump already, that we now have to suffer irrelevant comments about Johnson? Please, please keep politics out of it unless they actually have something to do with the topic.

    • St. Patrick's Aunt says:

      Polonius in Hamlet says brexity is the soul of wit, clearly if one composes a symphony lasting more than an hour, the audience may well end up in the land of nod, then one must have something interesting to say. Beethoven’s are all well under an hour, apart from the ninth, there is no waffle or padding in his unlike say Bruckner and Mahler.

      • Marfisa says:

        But Brexit is nevertheless going on for a very long time (rather as Polonius did)! Beethoven would have been all for it, especially when counting the accumulated royalties on the EU anthem.

  • Remo Mazzetti Jr says:

    One sidenote: Beethoven’s one and only opera was never called “Leonora” in Beethoven’s lifetime. It was only after Richard Strauss conducted a revival of the original 1805 version of the opera in 1905 that the publisher decided to call the original version ‘Leonora ” to distinguish it from the definitive version of 1814. Beethoven wanted to call it Leonora, but since Ferdinand Paer had recently written his own “Leonora ” based on the same story, Beethoven’s publisher convinced him to call it Fidelio.