Robert Haslinger, or Tobias as he is better know, was born in 1787 in Zell (near Zell-hof, Austria) and died on 18 June 1842 in Vienna. He was an editor and a close friend of Beethoven. After spending his boyhood in Salzburg, he was trained in music by Franz Xaver Gloggl in Linz. In 1810 he was living in Vienna where he dedicated most of his time to music, and his works for piano were published, largely thanks to his friend’s publishers in that town. In 1813 Sigmund Anton Steiner (1773-1838) engaged him as manager of his art and music shop and two years later he became Steiner’s partner. On 11 March 1826 Haslinger became the director of the company and obtained a license to trade under his own name. Later he employed fifty people at the premises in the Paternostergasschen, and was followed into the business by his son Karl (1816-1868).
Beethoven’s correspondence contains many letters and notes addressed to Haslinger. The earliest known is dated 1815 and the last is dated 7 December 1826. Beethoven wrote for him the canon “O Tobias! O Tobias! Dominus Haslinger! o! o!” (WoO 182) and other musical sketches, which may be found in the letters (WoO 205 c, g-k). Many of Beethoven’s own works were published by Haslinger. Haslinger visited Beethoven during his last illness and was one of the torchbearers at his funeral. The pocket watch belonging to Tobias Haslinger is now in possession of Armando Orlandi (plate 11). It has a diameter of 53 mm and a weight of 97 grams. The gilt brass verge movement with round pillars and elaborately pierced full-width cock is signed by Bevil, Ipswich 20195. Bevil was a watchmaker who was very active in London and Ipswich at the end on the 18th century and during the first 30 years of the 19th century. The verge is decorated with a flower pattern so well refined that it is reminiscent of the contemporary productions of Markwick Markham; it is also worthy of note that its movement is identical to other contemporary watches made by Robinson in London (one example dated 1833 is still existing) and it is possible to confirm that the ibauche used for the Haslinger watch was of a type largely used by watch makers due to its durability and adaptability. The dial is of ivory enamel with Roman numbers and it is decorated with a miniature landscape painted in oils depicting a castle on the bank of a small river. On the back of the case is the inscription “T. Haslinger Wien. 1824”, whose style is similar to that used for inscribing watches made in Great Britain at the time, rather than the gothic script used in Germany (plate 12). This is yet another possible, if tenuous link between Beethoven and Great Britain, bearing in mind that 1824 was year of the first performance of the 9th Symphony (op. 125). In this instance Moscheles might have been the main agent in the acquisition and delivery of this handsome gift. There is no any sign of warranty. It was customary to engrave some reference to a repair on the inside of the watch case (in this instance of gilded brass) but there is no evidence of any such engraving, so it would seem that the watch has not needed repair sincel824. Inside the back of the watch case there is small piece of paper with handwritten words (plate 12), very difficult to read: “Fu[e]r meinen / Freund Tobias / Seit [?] 1824” and followed by an undecipherable signature, maybe “Schumann” (surely not Robert!).
Every reader will be aware that history’s most important, most revered Beethoven scholar is the American Alexander Wheelock Thayer (born in South Natick, Massachusetts, October 17 or 22,1817; died in Trieste, Italy, July 15,1897)34. He wrote his monumental and authoritative Life of Ludwig van Beethoven in three volumes which were published in German in 1866, 1872 and 1879, which is an extremely detailed and accurate portrayal of Beethoven’s life. His English manuscript was translated by his friend Hermann Deiters (1833-1907), whom he met when he was in Bonn in 1860s. Thayer’s adoration of Beethoven seems to have developed while he was at Harvard, and Beethoven had been dead for only 16 years by the time Thayer graduated from Harvard to take up position as a law librarian.
In 1849 he travelled to Germany, collecting material for this work. He returned to the US in late 1851, joining the staff of the New York Tribune. In 1854 he went again to Europe where he spent much of the remainder of his life. In 1862 Thayer was appointed to the US Legation in Vienna, and in 1865 he became consul in Trieste, a position he held until his death. Thayer earned his living as the United States Consul in Trieste, which then was part of the Austrian Empire. During his many years there, from the end of 1864 to 1897, he resided in an apartment on the second floor of the Palazzo Ralli at via Belpoggio no. 2, on the coastal drive, and when he died, he was buried in Trieste. While based in the city, Thayer sought every opportunity to return to Austria and Germany to work on his monumental biography of Beethoven.
The watch still has its splendid gold chain from the same period (marine net type) with snap-hook, “T” buttonhole and safety ring. The colour is slightly different (a darker yellow) and the weight is 38 grams. The chain of this watch is visible in a photo of A. W. Thayer dated 1897, the last year of his life. The watch case is made of 18 carat gold and has on the back a typical design of a shield, into which the owner’s initials would usually be engraved. On the other side there is an anonymous “guilloche” pattern. Inside the cuvette are the following words which identify the watch type: Repetition Remontoir Ancre leves visibles 22 rubis Balancier compensateur Spiral Breguet N°99550 The pocket watch has striking mechanism for the hour and the quarter, a Crown watchmaking; the lever for pallets is visible on the upper part of the movement and it has 22 jewels (rubies). The balance is constructed of two different materials, steel and brass, to compensate for thermal expansion and contraction.
It has been recently checked and repaired by Armando Orlandi; it was shown at the Special Exhibition on A. W. Thayer at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn (19th May to 5th September 2010): “Dedicated to Beethoven, the MAN” Beethoven’s biographer Alexander Wheelock Thayer. The dial is of white enamel with Roman tunes and second hand at VI. Two of the three pointers are decorated with three small diamonds.
The house of A M I Sandoz37 & Son was active in Geneva in the 19th century and there are records that mention it from the 1820s through to the 1870s. In 1835, the business was operating from No. 55 Rue Rousseau in Geneva, as watchmakers that specialized in beautifully crafted complicated pieces. The firm was also registered as winner of a silver medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878. The British Museum keeps a Sandoz watch having a chronometer movement from the end of the 19th century with cut, compensated two arm balance, helical hairspring with terminal curve and decorated bridges in the form of a bird with outstretched wings.
During Beethoven’s lifetime (1770-1827), the art of horology was subjected to considerable evolution. It was due both to historical influences and to the influence of Abraham Louis Breguet, whose work was at the peak of its excellence during the period 1794-1823. He was born in 1747 at Neuchatel (Switzerland) and he stands as far to the forefront of horology as Beethoven does for music: Breguet was the most important and intuitive figure in horologic history, as his innovations such the anti-shock system for the balancer verge or cylinder, the perpetual calendar, the “gong clock” etc., show. External influences also have to be taken into consideration, especially the continual wars, first within Revolutionary France and then during the Napoleonic era against the powers of the Entente. These conflicts, apart from some short breaks of a few months, ran from 1789 to 1815. As result of military demand, the watchmakers were requested to improve the mechanism of their products, and also to improve upon ballistic calculation in artillery. It was during that time that the French introduced the system of Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribevaul. Other important and active contemporaries were Bergmiller in Paris, and the Robert family. Also during this period there was a considerable demand for mechanical dolls, the Flotenuhr (musical clock) and the first metronome. If Breguet was the foremost exponent of the art of mass horology, Pierre Jaquet-Droz from Neuchatel was the foremost innovator in the manufacture of the mechanical automaton. While visiting the museum in Neuchatel one may find much of interest so far as mechanical music is concerned:
Cette “Musicienne” possede un corps, une tete, des bras et des doigts capables d’accomplir differents mouvements naturels. Elle est apte, en outre, a executer sur un petit orgue cinq morceaux differents avec beaucoup de precision: la tete et les yeux peuvent bouger dans toutes les directions. Elle peut regarder, alternativement, la partition et ses propres doigts. A la fin de chaque morceau, la gra-cieuse musicienne fait la r£v£rence au public, en bougeant la tete et en inclinant le corps. La gorge bouge egalement, comme si elle respirait, et les spectateurs ont reellement cette impression.40
The museum also exhibits Flotenuhren, which are horological instruments able to reproduce music written on rolls. This coincidence leads directly to the fact that Beethoven was a friend of Count Deym (1752-1804). He was an eclectic person who was forced to leave Vienna after killing an opponent in a duel, and he returned only in 1790 to open the famous “Gallery of the Wonders”, otherwise known as the Ka-binett of the Hofstatuarius Muller. The Gallery was a great success, so much so that in 1796 it had to be reorganized within larger rooms, including the so-called Miillersches Kunst Cabinet.
In a newspaper of the time the following report appears:
Eine Schlafende auf einem Bett, das des Abends durch alabasterne Lampen sanft beleuchtet wurde und hinter demselben ertont die entziickendste Musik, die fur den Ort und die Vorstellung eigens komponiert wurde.41
Beethoven composed some pieces for Flotenuhr (WoO 33). The first, an Adagio assai in F, is the best known and it perfectly depicts the image of a sleeping girl. The second is a Scherzo in G major, the third an Allegro in G major. (The fourth and fifth are respectively Allegro non piu molto and Allegretto (Minuetto). They are perhaps composed for piano.) More interesting is the Grenadiermarsch for Flotenuhr (Hess 107), written somewhere between 1809 and 1819, and described by G. Kinsky in his article Beethoven und die Flotenuhr: mit einem ungedruckten Marsch des Meisters written in 1927.42 This march was transcribed to a roll for Flotenuhr and was preserved in the Heyer Museum in Cologne (rif. Roll 7, No. 2061). The first two sections, consisting of 20 bars, are not Beethoven’s, but were composed by Haydn and transcribed by Peter Niemecz. This is an interesting twist of history, since Haydn himself wrote music for Flotenuhr (Hob. XIX: 1/6). The rather limited quality of the music aside, Beethoven’s favour towards this type of mechanical instrument shows him to have been well in touch with the wider cultural Zeitgeist of the late 18th century and the first part of the 19th.
The friendship between Beethoven and the “Hofmaschinist” Johann Malzel (Malzl) (1772-1838) is well documented. The term “machinist” usually referred to an inventor of musical clocks. In fact Maelzel manufactured automata, Flotenuhren, and the well-known Panharmonicon. Beethoven allegedly composed the piece.
Wellingtons Sieg (The “Battle Symphony”, op. 91) specifically to be played on this behemoth mechanical orchestral organ in celebration of the Duke of Wellington’s victory over the French at the Battle of Vittoria. Rewritten for orchestra, it was first performed in 1813 and later caused a bitter conflict between the two men, when Malzel claimed ownership of the piece. Previously, during less contentious times, Malzel had constructed several ear trumpets to attempt to help Beethoven with his hearing.43
The Panharmonicon44 could imitate all the regular orchestral instruments as well as produce sound effects such as gunfire and cannon shots. To judge from the two surviving photographs, preserved in Alexander Buchner’s seminal monograph, Vom Glockenspiel zum Pianola, the style of the Panharmonicon was similar to many later mechanical orchestras, with pinned barrels storing the note information, and a variety of pipes and percussion producers. Prince Esterhazy may have been wealthy enough to employ Josef Haydn and his merry men, but orchestrators provided the lower strata of fashionable society with a neat and uncomplaining substitute for hungry musicians.
In 1815, Malzel constructed and patented a portable metronome, to this day known as Malzel’s Metronome. The metronome had been invented earlier (about 1812) by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel, and Malzel used several of Winkel’s construction ideas. The metronome is an instrument that was originally pyramid-shaped, with a clockwork pendulum mechanism used to indicate the exact tempo in which a work should be performed. It has a double pendulum whose pace can be altered by sliding the upper weight up or down. The sliding bob indicates the rate of oscillation by means of calibrations on the pendulum. The system was so simple and perfect that it was not subjected to modification until the 1970s when the introduction of electronics consigned the clockwork metronome to antiquity, if not complete disuse.
Ludwig van Beethoven was the first well-known composer to indicate specific metronome markings in his music, as reported in a table entitled Die Tempo’s sammtlicher Satze aller Symphonien des Hrn L. v. Beethoven vom Verf selbst nach Maelzels Metronom bestimmt from issue no. 51 of the Allgemeine musikalische Zei-tung,A5 dated 17 December 1817, but many performances of his music still vary widely from his tempo indications, particularly in slow movements.
In conclusion it can be said that Beethoven, during his life, was a man of contemporary eighteenth-century culture, both in his music and in his private life, choosing a watch a vergue (typical of the 18th century), appreciating the Spieluhr and the mechanical organ, using antiquated spectacles and wearing big neckties a la Titus.