In 1802 Bridgetower obtained leave to visit his mother in Dresden.
He gave concerts there on 24 July 1802 and 18 March 1803. They were
so successful that, having obtained an extension of leave, he went
to Vienna in April 1803.
In Vienna, supported by stylish performances and his Royal connections,
he was welcomed into the 'highest musical circles'. Prince Lichnowsky,
a Polish aristocrat and Beethoven's patron, introduced him to the
great composer, who had already begun sketching the first two movements
of what was to become the Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin in
A (Op.47), the 'Kreutzer' sonata.
Listen to the Kreutzer Sonata, performed by Bronislaw Huberman
in the 1930s. It was first performed at
a concert given by Bridgetower at the Augarten-Halle in Vienna on
24 May 1803, Beethoven himself playing the piano part. The sonata
was copied out from Beethoven's original hurried notation, and was
barely finished in time. The piano part of the first movement was
only sketched, and Bridgetower was required to read the violin part
of the second movement from Beethoven's manuscript. He did this
with aplomb, delighting an audience which included Prince Esterházy,
Count Razumovsky (the Russian admiral turned diplomat and friend
of Beethoven) and the British ambassador.
Bridgetower's own memorandum of the event, written on a copy of
the manuscript, records an alteration he introduced in the violin
part (imitating the passage-work of the piano in the first movement).
This pleased Beethoven so much that "he jumped up exclaiming, 'Noch
einmal, mein lieber Bursch!' ('Once more, my dear fellow!')". He
also presented Bridgetower with his tuning fork, which is now in
the British Library. Listen
to the sound of Beethoven's tuning fork.
Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips
Next - 'Life as a professional musician'