This concert expedition of the two violinists, as narrated in Spohr’s “Autobiography,” was full of interesting and romantic episodes. Both master and pupil were of amorous and susceptible temperaments, and their affairs were rarely regulated by a common sense of prudence. Spohr relates with delightful naivete the circumstances under which he fell successively in love, and the rapidity with which he recovered from these fitful spasms of the tender passion. Herr Eck, in addition to his tendency to intrigues with the fairer half of creation, was also of a quarrelsome and exacting disposition, and the general result was ceaseless squabbling with authorities and musical societies in nearly every city they visited. In spite of these drawbacks, however, the two violinists gained both in fame and purse, and were everywhere well received. If Herr Eck carried off the palm over the boyish Spohr as a mere executant, the impression everywhere gained ground that the latter was by far the superior in real depth of musical science, and many of his own violin concertos were received with the heartiest applause. The concert tour came to an end at St. Petersburg in a singular way. Eck fell in love with a daughter of a member of the imperial orchestra, but the idea of marriage did not enter into his project. As the young lady soon felt the unfortunate results of her indiscretion, her parents complained to the Empress, at whose instance Eck was given the choice of marrying the girl or taking an enforced journey to Siberia. He chose the former, and determined to remain in St. Petersburg, where he was offered the first violin of the imperial orchestra. Poor Eck found he had married a shrew, and, between matrimonial discords and ill health brought on by years of excess, he became the victim of a nervous fever, which resulted in lunacy and confinement in a mad-house.
Spohr returned to his native town in July, 1803, and his first meeting with his family was a curious one. “I arrived,” he says, “at two o’clock in the morning. I landed at the Petri gate, crossed the Ocker in a boat, and hastened to my grandmother’s garden, but found that the house and garden doors were locked. As my knocking didn’t arouse any one, I climbed over the garden wall and laid myself down in a summer-house at the end of the garden. Wearied by the long journey, I soon fell asleep, and, notwithstanding my hard couch, would probably have slept for a long while had not my aunts in their morning walk discovered me. Much alarmed, they ran and told my grandmother that a man was asleep in the summer-house. Returning together, the three approached nearer, and, recognizing me, I was awakened amid joyous expressions, embraces, and kisses. At first, I did not recollect where I was, but soon recognized my dear relations, and rejoiced at being once again in the home and scenes of my childhood.”