Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 24 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Sharbel Makhluf
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Was this man Beethoven’s ‘Salieri’?

Wikipedia | Public Domain

John Burger - published on 04/17/17

Daniel Steibelt challenged the great composer to a duel.

The 1984 film Amadeus made Antonio Salieri practically a household word. After a couple of centuries of  relative obscurity, Salieri came to be known to moviegoers as the jealous confidant and rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Another musical great, Ludwig van Beethoven, also had a rival, though it’s unclear whether there is a filmmaker out there who is keen on telling his story on the silver screen.

The story of Daniel Steibelt came to light recently, thanks to an article at the website historycollection.co. Steibelt was “a German born classical pianist and composer“ who “apparently also had a huge ego because he challenged the one and only Beethoven to a musical duel in Vienna in 1800,” writes Lindsay Stidham.

Like Salieri, Steibelt achieved a modicum of success in his day. “He rose to great popularity with ‘La Coquette,’ a song he composed for Marie Antoinette,” Stidham writes. The young composer made his way to Vienna in 1800, where he first floated the idea of a duel with his fellow German composer, Beethoven, who accepted the challenge.

The city’s music patrons liked the idea of a duel between Steibelt and Beethoven. Each musician got a Prince to sponsor the idea.

The contest  took place at the home of Austrian nobleman Count Moritz von Fries. Steibelt brought along a string quintet, which performed a stormy composition, and with bravado, he improvised at the keyboard.

Beethoven, not to be outdone, picked up the sheet music from the string quintet, placed it on the piano upside down, and worked out his own improvisation on one of its themes, which he showed up to be overly simplistic. It was clearly the more inspired performance, and the gathering recognized it. Humiliated, Steibelt stormed out of the room while Beethoven was still playing, followed by his prince-benefactor.

Though Steibelt has been an obscure figure in recent years, he went on to have a fairly successful career, even writing music for Napoleon and Russian Czar Alexander I before his death in St. Petersburg in 1823.

But it’s the genius of Beethoven that has stood the test of time.

Tags:
Classical Music
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
nightbirde
Cerith Gardiner
8 Powerful quotes from Nightbirde that will fill you with hope
2
HEADACHE
Kathleen N. Hattrup
2 Bible verses when you’re weary down to the soul
3
FRAY JUNIPERO SERRA
John Burger
Alumni sue after this Catholic saint’s name was removed fro...
4
ŁACINA
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
5
WEB2-Benjamin_West_-_Joshua_passing_the_River_Jordan_with_the_Ark_of_the_Covenant_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Daniel Esparza
Who are the cherubim in the Bible?
6
LEONINE PRAYERS
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
5 Questions (and answers) about Pope Francis’ changes to La...
7
MACHAERUS
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.