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Beethoven, the Man and the Artist, As Revealed in His Own Words by Ludwig van Beethoven, edited by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel:

22. "Always the same old story: the Germans can not put together a good libretto."

     (To C. M. von Weber, concerning the book of "Euryanthe," at Baden, in
October, 1823. Mozart said: "Verses are the most indispensable thing for
music, but rhymes, for the sake of rhymes, the most injurious. Those who
go to work so pedantically will assuredly come to grief, along with the

23. "It is difficult to find a good poem. Grillparzer has promised to write one for me,—indeed, he has already written one; but we can not understand each other. I want something entirely different than he."

     (In the spring of 1825, to Ludwig Rellstab, who was intending to write
an opera-book for Beethoven. It may not be amiss to recall the fact
that Mozart examined over one hundred librettos, according to his own
statement, before he decided to compose "The Marriage of Figaro.")

24. "It is the duty of every composer to be familiar with all poets, old and new, and himself choose the best and most fitting for his purposes."

     (In a recommendation of Kandler's "Anthology.")

25. "The genre would give me little concern provided the subject were attractive to me. It must be such that I can go to work on it with love and ardor. I could not compose operas like 'Don Juan' and 'Figaro;' toward them I feel too great a repugnance. I could never have chosen such subjects; they are too frivolous."

     (In the spring of 1825, to Ludwig Rellstab.)

26. "I need a text which stimulates me; it must be something moral, uplifting. Texts such as Mozart composed I should never have been able to set to music. I could never have got myself into a mood for licentious texts. I have received many librettos, but, as I have said, none that met my wishes."

     (To young Gerhard von Breuning.)

27. "I know the text is extremely bad, but after one has conceived an entity out of even a bad text, it is difficult to make changes in details without disturbing the unity. If it is a single word, on which occasionally great weight is laid, it must be permitted to stand. He is a bad author who can not, or will not try to make something as good as possible; if this is not the case petty changes will certainly not improve the whole."

     (Teplitz, August 23, 1811, to Hartel, the publisher, who wanted some
changes made in the hook of "The Mount of Olives.")

28. "Good heavens! Do they think in Saxony that the words make good music? If an inappropriate word can spoil the music, which is true, then we ought to be glad when we find that words and music are one and not try to improve matters even if the verbal expression is commonplace—dixi."

     (January 28, to Gottfried Hartel, who had undertaken to make changes in
the book of "The Mount of Olives" despite the prohibition of Beethoven.)

29. "Goethe's poems exert a great power over me not only because of their contents but also because of their rhythms; I am stimulated to compose by this language, which builds itself up to higher orders as if through spiritual agencies, and bears in itself the secret of harmonies."

     (Reported as an expression of Beethoven's by Bettina von Arnim to

30. "Schiller's poems are difficult to set to music. The composer must be able to rise far above the poet. Who can do that in the case of Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier."

     (1809, after Beethoven had made his experiences with the "Hymn to Joy"
and "Egmont.")