Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11/9 Beethoven's Last Apartment

I never tire of hearing about how Beethoven lived.  Maybe because it makes him so human...?  Bach and Mozart's music  sometimes seem too divine to "stick", but Beethoven was clearly a human who reached sublimity with his skin and bones.  Anyways - Beethoven's last apartment at the Schwarzspanier House sounds below like the home of the absent-minded professor - yet here was true genius....

From Gerhard von Breuning's remembrances:

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"As I remember it, the one-windowed ante-chamber had some chairs up against the wall, a simple dinner table, a credenza, and above it the half-length picture of his paternal grandfather Ludwig, of whom Beethoven was so fond. The grandfather is shown in a green fur outfit, with a music note book in his hand. This was the picture that at one time was in pawn in the tavern at Bonn, and was the only item from his parents’ estate that Beethoven had sent on to Vienna.

"The one-windowed room to the left (Music Room) had no furniture, except the unused desk on the right by the window and, on the end wall, just a large picture of Beethoven himself (the one with the lyre and the temple of the Galitzin hill).On the floor, in disorder, were piles of music,engraved or manuscript, his own compositions and those of others. The room was hardly ever entered by anyone. I went in sometimes, out of curiosity or boredom or now and then because Beethoven had sent me in there to fetch something, and I would pick my way among the heaps of stuff. At my tender age I had no idea in those days of the treasures that were there; only half a year later, after Beethoven’s death, how many manuscripts, some of them with still unpublished material, were scattered to the winds for a few gulden!

"The two rooms to the right of the ante-chamber were Beethoven’s actual living quarters. He slept and had his pianos in the first one, and the second was his study, where his last works were created (e.g., the Galitzin quartets).
"In the center of the first room (Bedroom), with two windows, were two pianos, set curve to curve. With the keyboard towards the door was the English piano that people from the London Philharmonic Society had once sent him as a gift. The names of the donors, among whom I remember Kalkbrenner, Moscheles and Broadwood, were written in ink on the sound board, under the soprano strings. This piano, from the Broadwood factory, only went up to C. On the other side, with the keyboard facing the door of the study, or composition room, was a grand piano from the Graf factory in Vienna, reaching up to F, lent to Beethoven to use. Above its keyboard and action was a sort of trumpet, like a prompter’s box, made in the shape of a bent sound board of thin wood; the idea was to concentrate the sound waves of the instrument in the ears of the player. Against the pillar between the windows was a chest of drawers; on top of that, up against the wall, was a four-shelf bookcase, painted black, with books and papers; in front of it, on top of the chest of drawers, were several ear trumpets and two violins. All this was in disorder and hopelessly covered with dust. Beethoven’s bed, a bedside table, a table and a clothes horse next to the stove completed the equipment of the room.

"The last room (one-windowed) was Beethoven’s work room (Composing Room). Here he sat at a table some distance from the window, just in front of the entrance door, with his face towards the door of the large room and the right side of his body towards the window. In this small room there was, along with other chests, the high, narrow and very simple bookcase or clothes chiffonier, once owned by Fraulein Annacker and now the property of A. W. Thayer."
From Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards

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