Friday, September 17, 2010

9/17 Beethoven "Tell-All" Books

Josephine von Brunsvick-Deym
(possible Immortal Beloved?)
There are many books about Beethoven, probably over a thousand even if you only count ones published in English, German and French.  Fortunately, there are quite a few available to read for free from the internet, and some you can download.

Here's just a few written by Beethoven's contemporaries.  Some of these tend to be of the "biographical romance" style, so may not be EXACTLY honest.

Beethoven Depicted by his Contemporaries 
 "Beethoven was dressed in a jacket and trousers of long, dark goat's hair, which at once reminded me of the description of Robinson Crusoe I had just been reading. He had a shock of jet black hair (cut d la Titus) standing straight upright. A beard of several days' growth made his naturally dark face still blacker. I noticed also, with a child's quick observation, that he had cotton wool, which seemed to have been dipped in some yellow fluid, in both ears."
By Ludwig Nohl (this has a good variety of different writings, probably the best overall).
Giulietta Guicciardi

Furioso; or, Passages from the life of Ludwig van Beethoven
"He looked round. It was Adelaide. He looked at her with an unutterable expression. Was she not the goal of all his dreams? And she was alone. His heart beat fast, while his breath seemed to fail him.

He sprang up with a deep blush, and putting his hand to his brow seemed to struggle for utterance. But tongue and lips refused their office. His limbs failed him. Then falling upon one knee, he seized the girl's hand, covered it with kisses, inarticulately murmuring, " I love!"

The young countess screamed with terror, and struggled to free her hand from his grasp. A side door suddenly opened. The count and the countess rushed in. Their indignation knew no bounds. The count threw himself between them, thundering forth, " Madman! away, out of my house!" "
 By Franz Gerhard Wegeler (written by B's childhood friend, except that his friend was really old when he wrote this, so not sure how trustworthy this might be.  Fun reading tho.)

An Unrequited Love: From the Diary of a Young Lady
" May 27th.—He was with us the evening before last, but his conduct is at times so very moody and unfriendly that I feel shy with him, and dare not venture to be on the intimate terms that we all so much enjoyed in the winter. Circumstances are in fault, I have no doubt; but the hope I once indulged in, that Beethoven might become our devoted friend, can scarcely be realised now that he cools towards us at the very first misunderstanding."
By Fanny Giannatasio del Rio (one of B's lady friends, not as steamy as you might was 'unrequited' after all).

Beethoven: A Biographical Romance
"Beethoven answered not a word. He was pale as death. Thick drops of cold sweat rested upon his forehead. His eyes stared, fixed with horror, and his features took in the stiffness of marble. Within, with a horrible pain, came up the cry, " The cloud! the black cloud !" Beethoven, Beethoven, man of tone, thou shalt hear nothing more! thou shalt hear nothing more! Great God, thou art growing deaf!"
By Heribert Rau (didn't read this one yet, looks pretty "dramatized")

The Life of Beethoven 
"...I was walking with him over the Graben, when we met M. Schenk, then far advanced between sixty and seventy. Beethoven, transported with joy to see his old friend still among the living, seized his hand, hastened with him into a neighbouring tavern called the Bugle Horn, and conducted us into a back room, where, as in a catacomb, it was necessary to burn a light even at noon-day. There we shut ourselves in, and Beethoven began to open all the recesses of his heart to his respected corrector. More talkative than he often was, a multitude of stories and anecdotes of long by-gone times presented themselves to his recollection, and among the rest the affair with Haydn ; and Beethoven, who had now raised himself to the sovereignty in the realm of music, loaded the modest composer of the Dorfbarbier, who was living in narrow circumstances, with professions of his warmest thanks for the kindness which he had formerly shown him. Their parting, after that memorable hour, as if for life, was deeply affecting; and, in fact, from that day, they never beheld one another again."
by Anton Schindler (the notorious Schindler who was B's friend and assistant for much of B's later years.  Too bad he forged so many of B's letters. This link actually points to a different book, but it reprints the Schindler book in its entirety as part of it.)

Beethoven, The Man And The Artist: As Revealed in His Own Words 
"They are incessantly talking about the C-sharp minor sonata ("Moonlight", op. 27, No. 2); on my word I have written better ones. The F-sharp major sonata ("To Therese", op. 78) is a different thing!"
By Friedrich Kerst, Henry Edward Krehbiel  (Forgotten Books reprint(Project Gutenberg book)
(fascinating collection of quotes by B himself.  From the horse's mouth, so to speak)

There are dozens more "e-books" floating around the web, some other time I'll round up the music-related ones....

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