Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11/23 The Immortal Beloved Letter (Autograph)

Around 1812 Beethoven wrote a long letter (10 pages) to some woman who he was obviously quite taken with.  Sadly we will never know for certain who it was.  However the letter itself was discovered after Beethoven's death in a secret drawer where he also kept the Heiligenstadt Testament, some savings and some pictures.  Based on these images, I feel that these were a "rough draft" copy which he then copied out in a neater style and then sent to the lady in question.  That would explain why he had a copy in his desk.

Or maybe Beethoven found out she slept with Daniel Steibelt and he never sent it - who knows?
Here is the "Immortal Beloved Letter" - click on the images for a larger size:
July 6
In the morning-

My angel, my all
my self - only a few
words today, and indeed with pencil
(with yours)
only tomorrow is my lodging positively fixed
what a worthless waste
of time on such - why
this deep grief, where
necessity speaks -
can our love exist but
by sacrifices
by not demanding everything
can you change it, that you
not completely mine. I am not
completely yours - Oh God
look upon beautiful nature
and calm your soul
over what must be - love
demands everything and completely with good reason.
so it is for me with you, for you
with me - only you forget
so easily, that I must live for myself and
for you, were
we wholly united, you would
feel this painfulness
just as little as I -

my trip was frightful.
I arrived here only at 4
o'clock yesterday morning.
because they lacked horses,
the postal service chose another
route but what a
horrible way, at the next to the
last station they warned
me about traveling at night,
made me afraid of a forest,
but this only
provoked me - and I was
mistaken, the coach had
to break down
on the terrible route,
a mere bottomless
country road and the without 2 such postil-
lions as I had, I would have
been stranded on the way

Esterhazy on the
other customary route
here had the same fate
with 8 horses, as I with
four - still I had
some pleasure again.
as always, whenever I fortunately
survive something - now quickly
to interior from exterior.
we will probably see each other soon.
even today I cannot
convey to you observances,
which I made during these
few days about my
life - were
our hearts always close
together, I would of course make none of the sort
my heart is full of much
to tell you - Oh - there
are still moments when I find
that speech is nothing
at all - cheer up -
remain my faithful only
treasure, my all, as I for you
the rest the gods must
send what must
and should be for us -- your faithful
ludwig -
Monday evening on July 6 -

You are suffering you my dearest
creature - just now I notice
that letters must be posted
very early in the morning.
Mondays - Thursdays -
the only days on which
the mail goes from here
to K - you are suffering -Oh, wherever
I am, you are with me.
I say to myself and to you, arrange
that I can live with you.
what a life!!!! as it is!!!!
without you - Persecuted by
the kindness of people here
and there, which I think - I want
to deserve just as little
as I deserve it - Humility
of man to
man - it pains
me - and when I regard myself
in the framework
of the universe
what am I and what is
he - whom one
calls the Greatest -
and yet - herein is
again the divine spark
of man - I
weep when I think
that you will probably
not receive the first
news of me until
Saturday - as much as you
love me - I love you
even more deeply but - but
never hide yourself from

me - good night - as
one bathing I must go to
sleep o go with
go with
so near! so far! is
not our love a true
heavenly edifice -
but also firm, like
the firmament -
good morning on July 7 -
while still in bed thoughts
thrust themselves toward you my
eternally beloved
now and then happy
then again sad.
awaiting fate.
if it will grant us a favorable hearing -
I can only live either
wholly with you or not at all.
yes I have resolved
to stray about
in the distance, until I
can fly into your arms
and call myself
entirely at home with you.
can send my soul
embraced by you
into the realm of spirits -
yes unfortunately it must be - you
will compose yourself all the more
since you know my faithfulness
to you, never can another
own my heart,
never - never - O God why
have to separate oneself,
what one loves so, and yet my
life in V [ienna] as it is now is a
miserable life - Your
love makes me the most happy
and the most unhappy
at once - at my age I would
need some conformity
regularity of life - can

this exist in our
relationship? -- Angel, right now
I hear that the mail
goes every day -
and I must therefore
close, so that you
will receive the L [etter] immediately -
be calm, only through
quiet contemplation of our
existence can we
reach our goal
to live together -
be patient -love me -
today - yesterday -
What longing with
tears for you -
you - you my
love - my
all - fare-
well - o continue
to love me - never
misjudge the most faithful
heart of your
forever yours
forever mine
forever us 

(Translated text from Dominique Prevot's superb site.  

I'm not going to write more about the Immortal Beloved, there's plenty of material out there on it (including a fascinating and possibly libelous movie with Gary Oldman) but despite several biographer's attempts we may never know who she was, if she ever got this letter, or how she replied.  Yet he saved it till his dying day....


  1. According to Maynard Solomon, the Immortal Beloved is Antonia Brentano (he proves this theory in his biography, which contains more or less 40 pages rich in evidence about this subject).

    News from Italy :) Now Daily Mozart is a real blog: http://dailymozart.blogspot.com/

  2. Hi Kraus! I prefer it as a mystery ;)

    The Mozart blog looks great! I'll update my links later...

  3. Maynard Solomon is not the last word on the Immortal Beloved mystery---there are other theories which are also rich with circumstantial evidence, proposed by other Beethoven scholars.

    1. Hi! I really like your beethoven profile picture. It cracks me up! Did you draw it? I love looking at it. Do you think you can send me a better quality version of your artwork? I downloaded a copy of your profile picture but it's too dang small. What do you think?

    2. To Gwen: Please reply here.

  4. (he proves this theory in his biography, which contains more or less 40 pages rich in evidence about this subject).

    he does? unequivocably? Does anyone?

  5. Thanks for the great blog! This seems to be the only place on the web where one can view a photo of the entire letter in high quality. Where did you get it?

  6. Thanks! I scanned them from a book by Robert Bory.

  7. Thank you so much. This story consumes me!

  8. Solomon is wrong. The letter was to Josephine Brunsvik.

    "That Beethoven's famous Letter to the "Immortal Beloved" was to Josephine Brunsvik, his one and only Beloved, is now a fact, so obvious that one wonders why - especially in America - the truth had been veiled behind so much fantastic speculation and even denunciation.Marie-Elisabeth Tellenbach, musician, musicologist, historian and a Beethoven scholar of international repute, not only clears aside all this debris, but, based on many years of meticulous research, shows that Beethoven's love of Josephine was not only reflected in his letters and diary, but left traces in his music that speak in notes what words cannot express.With explanations, annotations and amendments by the translator, John E Klapproth (author of "Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine!")."







    The letters Beethoven wrote to the countess are in the exact same style of the IB letters- same sentiments expressed.

    Free ebook: