All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Artistic Maturity (1805-1815)

The Immortal Beloved Letter

However, chance has it that the same year, 1810, Beethoven met a person to which he will forever be linked in friendship. That person was Bettina Brentano-Arnim, the sister-in-law of the daughter of a certain Birckenstock, one of Austria’s important Enlightenment representatives. Bettina, a person with remarkable intellectual qualities, appreciated Beethoven from their first encounter, the feeling being mutual. She will facilitate the meeting between Beethoven and another giant of German culture – Goethe. They will meet in the summer of 1812 in the Czech resort, Teplitz.

Moreover, Beethoven’s visit in Teplitz was not important solely because of the meeting with Goethe, but also because of an enigmatic letter, which later caused so many comments and suppositions. This document is known under the name of "Letter to the Immortal Beloved". To this very day, it was impossible to establish who was the addressee of this letter and under what circumstances it got back to Beethoven. It was established that it was written in Teplitz in 1812, while biographers dated it before that. This letter was found the day after Beethoven’s death in the secret compartment of an old drawer, together with a picture of Tereza Brunswick, as well as other documents and valuables. The letter was either sent to the addressee and was later returned, or it was never sent altogether.

The letter may have been addressed to Tereza Brunswick. This woman undoubtedly played a positive role in Beethoven’s life. They were linked through a yearlong friendship and affection for each other. In order to understand why the 42-year-old composer wrote his 37-year-old friend such a letter, one must restore the entire process of their reciprocal relations. The event itself is all the more remarkable since Tereza Brunzwick is one of the most important and with the greatest potential of all the women who were ever the object of Beethoven’s affection.

Romain Rolland, who became acquainted with Tereza’s intimate diaries, cautiously concludes: "The assumptions about the immortal lover do not seem incompatible with what I have learned of the circumstances of that time." Besides this, Romain Rolland admits that there are a great number of bizarre coincidences, which may point towards Tereza as the immortal lover. Romain Rolland later changes his view regarding this, inclining to believe that the addressee of the letter is an unknown woman.

One of the most recent theories regarding the Immortal Beloved is the one of Maynard Solomon. The biographer considers that the letters were addressed to Antonie Brentano. There are several clues that indicate this hypothesis as there are some that go against it. So the mystery remains.

Beethoven and Goethe

Going back to Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz, it is safe to say that during the first days he lived alone, solely minding his health. The atmosphere there created by the gathered aristocracy annoyed the composer. On July 14th he wrote to an acquaintance about Teplitz: "There are few people and among these, none of them stands apart. That is why I live alone! Alone! Alone!" Nevertheless, his solitude soon ended. On July 24th Bettina Brettano and her husband came to Teplitz. His greatest joy, however, was around July 15th when Goethe came to visit him. Goethe wrote down in his journal several meetings he had with the composer. On July 19th the poet visited him and wrote to his wife: "I have never met such solemn an artist, so energetic and so profound. I can only imagine how amazing he behaves with those around him." The next day they both took a long walk.

On July 21st, after his second visit to Beethoven, Goethe wrote in his journal: "He played wonderfully." On July 23rd, the poet visited the composer again. But by the end of Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz the relationship between the two deteriorated. Two weeks after his meeting with Goethe, Beethoven wrote in a letter: "The atmosphere at court is much to the liking of Goethe, more than a poet should. Is there any point in talking about the ridiculous infatuation of virtuosos, when poets, who should be regarded as the nation’s first tutors, forget everything for the sake of their own pleasure?"

In his turn, in a letter to a friend, composer Zelter from Berlin, Goethe let him know of his meeting with Beethoven: "I met Beethoven. His talent astonished me; nevertheless, he unfortunately has a tumultuous personality, which is not completely wrong in thinking the world repulsive, but undoubtedly he makes no effort to render it more pleasant to himself or to others. He must be shown forgiveness and compassion, for he is loosing his hearing, thing that affects less his musical side, but more his social one. As laconic as he usually is, he is even more so due to his disability."

The Separation of Two Great Minds

But the event that permanently altered the relationship between the two was the encounter of a group of aristocrats on the streets of Teplitz. Bettina Brettano tells the story of that encounter as such: "As they were walking together, Beethoven and Goethe crossed paths with the empress, the dukes and their cortege. So Beethoven said to Goethe: Keep walking as you did until now, holding my arm, they must make way for us, not the other way around. Goethe thought differently; he drew his hand, took off his hat and stepped aside, while Beethoven, hands in pockets, went right through the dukes and their cortege, barely miming a saluting gesture. They drew aside to make way for him, saluting him friendlily. Waiting for Goethe who had let the dukes pass, Beethoven told him: «I have waited for you because I respect you and I admire your work, but you have shown too great an esteem to those people.»"

Clearly, this led to a tacit rupture in their relationship. Subsequently, Goethe never mentioned Beethoven’s name again and after a few years he never returned one of the composer’s letters. Nevertheless, Beethoven held the highest respect for the poet, even trying to rekindle the old friendship, but his efforts were in vain.

Best 5 Beethoven Books

  1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris; Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005).
  2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon; 2nd Rev edition (September 1, 2001).
  3. Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood; W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 30, 2005).
  4. Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon; 1 edition (October 4, 2004).
  5. Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler; Dover Publications; n.e.of "Beethoven as I Knew Him: A Biography"edition (September 3, 1996).