Steibelt, Daniel


Steibelt, Daniel

Ouverture de La Vestale (arrangée pour le piano forte avec accompagnement de violon ad libitum)


Daniel Steibelt

(Berlin, 22 October 1765 – St Petersburg, 20 September (o.s. 2 October) 1823)

Ouverture de La Vestale
(arrangée pour le piano forte avec accompagnement de violon ad libitum)

Daniel Steibelt, a French who was German-born, is mostly known because of the infamous improvisation duel he took on with Ludwig van Beethoven, in Vienna in 1800 – a duel which he lost disgracefully. These sorts of improvisation contests were highly popular among Vienna’s aristocracy. The musical showdown between Steibelt and Beethoven was described by Ferdinand Ries in his Biographische Notizen über L. v. Beethoven (Koblenz, 1838). However, it is a dishonour to Steibelt to reduce him to this anecdote. As a renowned piano virtuoso, he performed all over Europe, while creating a large and interesting oeuvre of hundreds of published piano pieces, including eight remarkable piano concertos. On top of that, he also composed chamber music, lieder, operas and ballets.

In accordance with the tastes of that era, Steibelt also arranged various popular opera fragments, like this ouverture of La Vestale (1807) by Gaspare Spontini (1774-1851). It is unclear when exactly Steibelt wrote this arrangement, but he must have been in Paris when La Vestale was performed there on 15 December 1807. Just like Spontini, he was courting Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Joséphine at the time. He is said to have performed for Napoleon already in 1797, and to commemorate his victory in the battle of Austerlitz (1805), he composed the ballet Le triomphe de Mars. It was for that same occasion that Spontini would write L’eccelsa gara, of which the score was retrieved in 2015, in the Castle d’Ursel in Hingene. Both Steibelt and Spontini also dedicated compositions to Joséphine Bonaparte: the former a Grande sonate, the latter his opera Milton (1804). More than likely, however, Steibelt wrote this arrangement during one of his stays in Brussels, given that the piece is published by Louis-Joseph Terry (1760-1834), the publisher who settled in Brussels around 1780 and started publishing scores in 1820. The arrangement remains loyal to the original, except some measures. The violin section, which wasn’t published separately and which follows the melody of the piano section, was ad libitum, as was the norm in those days.

Jan Dewilde
(translation: Jasmien Dewilde)

Facsimile of a score belonging to the library of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp (KVC 18775). This score was published in collaboration with the non-profit Study Centre for Flemish Music ( and the Province of Antwerp, and is part of a larger project concerning four original manuscripts by Gaspare Spontini that were discovered in the Castle d’Ursel in Hingene.


Read Flemish preface > HERE


Score No.






Go to Top