Wednesday, March 4th, 2015...4:45 pm

A very Smart copy

Jump to Comments

Aschenbrödel : manuscript libretto. TS 8103.588 1825Sir George Smart (1776-1867) was an English conductor, organist (quite successful though he declined to use the pedals), pedagogue and composer. He was active on the London music scene for more a half century and calculated towards the end of his life that he had taught precisely 1262 music students and presided over at least 1494 concerts.

Best known today for his adventurous forays into Continental music, Sir George was the first or among the first to perform many works by Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven. He journeyed to Vienna in 1825 to personally ask Beethoven for the speeds, established with a metronome, at which the composer meant for his symphonies to be performed. As this account by the Beethoven Haus Bonn illustrates the two men became friends and exchanged gifts of jewelry and music during and after their encounter. It was for Sir George that Beethoven composed a beautifully wrought miniature piece of choral music, the canon Ars longa, vita brevis (WoO 192).

Aschenbrödel : manuscript libretto. TS 8103.588 1825

After visiting Beethoven in Vienna Sir George joined his friend Lord Clanwilliam in Berlin for a whirl of concerts, organ loft tours and musicians’ salons. Perhaps as a souvenir of attending the Königsstädtisches Theater for a performance of Rossini’s La cenerentola, Sir George acquired a handwritten copy of the libretto. This Englishman’s German translation of an Italian opera is now part of the John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection of the Harvard Theatre Collection [TS 8103.588 1825]. It is sewn into contemporary stiffened brown wrappers, the composer and translator’s names and the German title, Aschenbrödel, written on the front in a different hand. Inside, the copyist’s hand is fine and neat. Characteristically, Sir George wrote several lines about the evening in his huge and very detailed travel journal: “Herr Spitzeder, as Don Magnifico, was perfect, his comic acting, particularly in the scene where he is a little drunk, and his fine bass voice are delightful. I like him better than any comic buffo I have yet scene, he is most comic without being coarse. The band went excellently, though now and then it was too loud for the voices.”

This post was contributed by Christina Linklater, Project
Music Cataloger.

Aschenbrödel : manuscript libretto. TS 8103.588 1825

Comments are closed.