8 December 1813

Ludwig Beethoven’s First Benefit Concert for the Austrian and Bavarian Disabled Soldiers of the Battle of Hanau

Vienna: University Hall

Tickets: 10 and 5 florins


Symphony No.7 in A major Beethoven
March with Orchestral AccompanimentMechanical Trumpet: Mr. Mälzel 
March with Orchestral AccompanimentMechanical Trumpet: Mr. Mälzel 
The Battle of Vitoria Beethoven
Principal Instrumentalists: Messrs. Giuliani, Hummel, Mälzel, Mayseder, Meyerbeer, Moscheles, Salieri, Schuppanzigh, Siboni, Spohr
Conductor: Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven


Programme Notes: Moscheles performed the cymbals. Meyeberbeer and Hummel the drums


Anton Schindler: ….when Beethoven, in the autumn of 1813, was preparing for the performance of his “Battle of Vittoria,” and his A major Symphony, both which works he had just completed. The performance of these, with some other pieces of his composition, took place on the 8th, and again on the 12th of December, in the same year, in the hall of the University, for the benefit of the Austrian and Bavarian soldiers disabled in the battle of Hanau. A letter of thanks to all the co-operators in those two concerts, written by Beethoven’s own hand, and destined for insertion in “The Wienen Zeitung,” lies before me, and possesses historical interest. Owing to the length of this document, I can only venture here to introduce a few extracts from it. After Beethoven has, at the opening of this address, expressed his thanks for the assistance he has received, he proceeds thus: “It was a rare assemblage of eminent performers, each of whom was inspired solely by the idea of being able to contribute by his talents something towards the benefit of the country; and who, without any order of precedence, co-operated, even in subordinate places, in the execution of the whole. . . . On me devolved the conduct of the whole, because the music was of my composition: had it been by any one else, I should have taken my place at the great drum, just as cheerfully as M. Hummel did; * for we were all actuated solely by the pure feeling of patriotism, and willingness to exert our abilities for those who had sacrificed so much for us.” Respecting the composition of the orchestra, Beethoven expressly says, “M. Schuppanzigh was at the head of the first violins, M. Spohr and M. Mayseder co-operated in the second and third places; M. Salieri, the chief kapellmeister, beat time to the drums and the cannonades; and Messrs. Siboni and Giuliani were likewise stationed in subordinate places.

* I [Moscheles] must claim for my friend Meyerbeer the place here assigned to Hummel, who had to act in the cannonade; and this I may the more firmly assert, as, the cymbals having been intrusted to me, Meyerbeer and I had to play from one and the same part.—ED. [Anton Schindler, The Life of Beethoven, ed. Ignaz Moscheles (Boston: Oliver Ditson Company, 1840), 58-59.]

Letter: Ludwig van Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph

[Beginning of December 1813]

…. Hence I must decide to give two concerts; my former resolve only to give such concerts for benevolent purposes, I have had to abandon, for self-maintenance will not allow of it. The University Hall would be the most advantageous and the most honourable for my present purpose, and my most humble request consists in this, that your Imperial Highness would graciously send a word to the Rector magnificus of the University through Baron Schweiger ; in that case I should  certainly get the Hall. Awaiting your gracious compliance with my request, I remain,

Your Imperial Highness’s most,


Ludwig van Beethoven

[A. C. Kalischer, Beethoven’s Letters. A Critical Edition with Explanatory Notes, trans. J. S. Shedlock, vol. 1, 2 vols (London: J. M. Dent & Co.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1909), 298-299.]

Letter: Ludwig van Beethoven to Baron Joseph von Schweiger

[Beginning of December 1813]

Dear friend! I have to-day in writing requested the most gracious master to plead for me, so that I may have the University Hall for two concerts which I am thinking of giving, and, since everything remains as before, must give.  Whatever good or evil fortune may come, I always look upon you as my best friend, and have therefore begged the Archduke to get you to speak for me in his name to the present Rector of the University. Whatever may be the result, I beg you to make known to me as soon as possible the decision of our most gracious master, so that I may see how I canextricate myself and my art from this fatal position—this evening I will come to the Archduke.

Your friend,


[A. C. Kalischer, Beethoven’s Letters. A Critical Edition with Explanatory Notes, trans. J. S. Shedlock, vol. 1, 2 vols (London: J. M. Dent & Co.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1909), 299.]

Letter of thanks by Beethoven

I consider it my duty to thank all the worthy members who took part in the concerts given on the 8th and 12th of December for the benefit of the Imperial Austrian, and Royal Bavarian warriors wounded at the battle of Hainau, for the zeal displayed by them in so worthy a cause. (It was a rare union of distinguished artists, in which each and all, fired with the thought of being able to be of some service to the fatherland, without any order of precedence, and even in subordinate places, worked together, and with excellent results.) Herr Schuppanzigh stood at the head of the first violins, and by his fiery, expressive playing carried with him the whole orchestra; also the chief  capellmeister, Herr Salieri, did not hesitate to beat time for the drums and canonnades, while Herr Spohr and Herr Mayseder, each through his art worthy of the highest leadership, sat at second and third desks. Herren Siboni and Giuliani also occupied subordinate places. (The conductorship of the whole fell to me because I had composed the music; had it been by some one else, I would as willingly, as Herr Hummel, have taken charge of the bass-drum, for we were all animated by pure feelings of love for our country, and joyfully devoted our powers for those who had sacrificed so much for us.)  (Herr Maelzel indeed deserves special thanks, in that he, as enterpriser, first conceived the idea of this concert, while to him afterwards fell the most trying part, viz., making the necessary preliminary arrangements and attending to all details.) And I must also specially thank him, for through this concert he gave me the opportunity [to produce] this composition solely composed for this public benefit, and works handed over to him and to see fulfilled—the ardent wish long entertained by me, in the present circumstances, to be able to place an important work of mine (it is well known that the idea of the work on Wellington was my own idea) on the altar of the Vaterland. As, however, a list will shortly be printed of all who co-operated on this occasion, and of what parts they undertook, the public will see for itself with what noble self-denial a number of great artists worked together for one great aim.

The coming together of the chief M. [Masters] was through my encouragement.

[A. C. Kalischer, Beethoven’s Letters. A Critical Edition with Explanatory Notes, trans. J. S. Shedlock, vol. 1, 2 vols (London: J. M. Dent & Co.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1909), 300-301.]


Oesterreichisch-Kaiserliche pirivilegirte Wiener Zeitung (December 9, 1813): 33.


Herr van Beethoven hat durch die am vorigen, Sonntage, nach dem Wunsche vieler Freunde der Kunst und seiner genialisches Komposizionen, im Redouten-Saale veranstaltete Aufführung seiner, vorher zwey Mahl in dem Saale der Universität, mit rauschendem Beyfalle gehörten neuesten Arbeiten, dem kunstliebenden, zahlreich versammelten Publikum ein wahrhaftes Fest gegeben. Er halte zu gedachten Komposiziönen, welche aus eine neuen grossen Symphonie, und der Siegeschlacht bey Vittoria, bestehen, einen neuen feyerlichen Einzugs-Marsch mit Chören, und eine noch gehörte Baß-Arie, mit Begleitung des Chors, hinzugesetzt, welche der Hofkapellen- und Kammersanger, Hr. Weinmüller, mit eben der Bereitwilligkeit übernommen hat, mit der sich wieder die vorzüglichsten ausübenden Künstler, aus Liebe und Freundschaft für den vortrefflichen Compositor herbeylieffen, das Orchester und die Leitung desselben, mit den mannigfaltigsten Instrumenten, zu übernehmen. Der Beyfall war allgemein und ging bis zur höchsten Entzückung. Viele Theile mußten wiederhohlt werden. Der Wunsch sprach sich einstimmig aus allen Zuhörern aus, diese Komposizionen noch öfter zu hören, und unseren vaterländischen Künstler in Arbeiten seiner geistvollen Erfindung noch öfter preisen und bewundern zu können.

Oesterreichischer Beobachter (December 11, 1813): 1784.

Wien, den 8. December.

Dem, durch sein ausgezeichnetes mechanisches Genie bekannten Künstler J Mälzel verdankten heute die Freunde und Kenner der Musik und besonders der Compositionen unsers Beethoven einen höchst erstenlichen, ausgezeichneten Genuß. Er hatte nämlich eine musikalische Academie zum Besten der in der Schlacht bei Hanau invalid geworden kaiserl. öfterr. und königl. baier. Krieger unternommen, und durch diese edle Bestimmung die ausgezeichnetsten Künstler unserer Hauptstadt zur thätigen Theilnahme an derselben bewogen. Zuerst wurde eine große, tiefgedachte, meisterhafte Symphonie von Beethoven aufgeführt; dann begleitete der mechanische-Trompeter, ein Meisterstück von Mälzels sinnreicher Kunst, zwei von dem ganzen Orchester gespielte Märsche, und zum Schluße wurde wieder eine große Composition von Beethoven: Wellingtons Sieg bei Vittoria, aufgeführt. Es ist hier weder Ort noch Zeit den alten Streit auszugleichen, ob die Musik die Mittel habe, Handlungen, oder Ereignisse, als da find Schleckten, Feuersbrunst, Waffersnothie darzustellen; so viel ist gewiß, daß Beethoven’s Composition von wahrhaft herrlicher, siegender Wirkung war daß sie sich durch die lebends, sie Charakterstück aussprach und gewiß J. der gestehen mußte, daß wenn Etwas der Art je zuläßig, es nur so und nicht anders zuläßig ist. Man hörte die franzostischen und englischen Heere anrücken; jene mit ihrem Marlborough s’en va-t en guerre to; diese mit ihrem herrlichen Britannia rule thy waves zc. Immer näher wälzt sich das Schlachtgewühl, das Geräusch des Kleingewehrfeuers und der Donner des Geschußes; immer Lebendiger wird das Getöse, immer bißiger der Kampf, bis es zum Sturm und Sieß geht, das Getümmel allmälig verhallt, und die Geschlagenen abziehen. Eigenthümlich und höchst bedeutend ist bei der Entscheldung der Schlacht die Wiederkehr des Marlborough zc. Der zweite Theilder Composition drückt die Siegesfeier des Wellington’schen Herres aus, und macht mit dem dazwischen tönenden God save the king, den unwiderstichlichsten Eindruck.—Eine besondere Freude gewährte es nächstdem, Beethoven dirigiren, und unseren Salieri und Siboni die Artillerie dieser musikalischen Schlacht leiten zu sehen; so wie die Aufmerksamkeit, die freudige Mitwirkung, ja wir möchten sagen, die Tapferkeit aller theilnehmenden Künstler bei der Aufführung, die Worzüge des Ganzen, nicht anders als erhöhen konnte. Es war vorauszusehen, daß viele, die wegen der späten Ankündigung der Akademie nicht dabei anwesend seyn konnten, den Unternehmer, Hrn. Mälzel, bewegen würden, sie noch einmal zu wiederholen und wir freuen uns ankündigen zu könne, daß dieß auf allgemeines Verlangen, Sonntags den 12. Um die Mittagstunde geschehen wird. Die Eintritts Preise werden, wie bei dem ersten Male 10 und 5 fl. Seyn.

The Musical World, vol. 48 (March 26, 1870): 209.

On that great day for music, the 18th December, 1813, when Beethoven’s seventh symphony was first produced in the University Hall, for the benefit of the Austrian soldiers wounded at Hanau, Moscheles was amongst the throng of artists who pressed forward to assist their chief, and he played the cymbals by the side of Meyerbeer and Hummel who had the drums. Although, as may be imagined from the instructors under whom he placed himself.