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´╗┐Title: Beethoven im eigenen Wort. English - Beethoven, the Man and the Artist, as Revealed in His Own Words
Author: Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827
Language: English
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By Ludwig van Beethoven

Edited by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel

This edition of "Beethoven: the Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his
own Words," was translated into English and published in 1905 by B.W.
Huebsch. It was also republished unabridged by Dover Publications, Inc.,
in a 1964 edition, ISBN 0-486-21261-0.




Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is widely considered to be one of the
pre-eminent classical music figures of the Western world. This German
musical genius created numerous works that are firmly entrenched in the
repertoire. Except for a weakness in composing vocal and operatic music
(to which he himself admitted, notwithstanding a few vocal works like
the opera "Fidelio" and the song "Adelaide,"), Beethoven had complete
mastery of the artform. He left his stamp in 9 symphonies, 5 piano
concertos, 10 violin sonatas, 32 piano sonatas, numerous string quartets
and dozens of other key works. Many of his works are ingeniously
imaginative and innovative, such as his 3rd symphony (the "Eroica"), his
9th Violin Sonata (the "Kreutzer"), his "Waldstein" piano sonata, his
4th and 5th piano concertos, or his "Grosse Fugue" for string quartet.
(Of course, each of Beethoven's works adds its own unique detail to
Beethoven's grand musical paradigm.)

It is difficult to sum up briefly what his musical works represent or
symbolize, since taken together they encompass a vast system of thought.
Generally, however, those who apprehend his music sense that it reflects
their own personal yearnings and sufferings. It egoistically, and always
intelligently, "discusses" with its listener his or her feelings in the
wake of personal failure and personal triumph, from the lowest depths
of despair to the highest heights of happy or triumphant fulfillment.
In his music, he represents the feelings felt by those attempting to
achieve their goals within their societies, whether they are competing
for love, status, money, power, mates and/or any other things
individuals feel naturally inclined to attempt to acquire.

In a thematic sense, Beethoven does not promote anarchist ideas. The
listener cannot, in listening to Beethoven's music, apprehend ideas
which, if applied, would compromise the welfare of his society. The
music is thus "civically responsible," as is the music of Bach or
Mozart. For Beethoven, the society exists as a bulwark with which the
individual must function in harmony, or at least not function such as
to harm or destroy it. And, should the society marginalize or hurt
the individual, as it often does, the individual must, according to
Beethoven, humbly accept this, never considering the alternative act
of attempting to harm or destroy the society in the wake of his or her
personal frustrations. But, thanks to Beethoven, such an individual
is provided with the means to sooth his or her misery in the wake of
feeling "hurt" at the hands of society. The means is this music and
the euphoric pleasure that it can provide to minds possessing the
psycho-intellectual "wiring" needed to apprehend it.

Some post-World-War-II composers, such as the late, LSD-using John Cage,
reject the music of Beethoven because of its predominant reliance on
"beauty" as way of communicating idealized concepts. Also, since the
music intimately reflects the cravings and thought-processes of
the natural human mind, which in numerous ways is emotionally and
intellectually irrational, the music may itself be consequently

The following book consists of brief biographical commentaries about
Beethoven, each followed by sections of quotations attributed to the
muse. In these quotes, Beethoven demonstrates his intense preoccupation
(or obsession) with thinking artistically and intelligently, and with
helping to alleviate man's suffering by providing man with musical
artworks that could enlighten him, so as to become educated enough to
pull himself out of his misery. He felt immediate, strong disdain at any
artistic statement that was not truly intelligent and artistic, such
as, in his view, the music of Rossini. Although not prudish, he had
high standards when it came to marriage, and was morally against
"reproductory pleasure" for its own sake, or any form of adultery. He
never married. Interestingly, experimental psychologists have discovered
that people who have an intense love of humanity or are preoccupied with
working to serve humanity tend to have difficulty forming intimate bonds
with people on a personal level.



This little book came into existence as if it were by chance. The
author had devoted himself for a long time to the study of Beethoven and
carefully scrutinized all manner of books, publications, manuscripts,
etc., in order to derive the greatest possible information about the
hero. He can say confidently that he conned every existing publication
of value. His notes made during his readings grew voluminous, and also
his amazement at the wealth of Beethoven's observations comparatively
unknown to his admirers because hidden away, like concealed violets, in
books which have been long out of print and for whose reproduction there
is no urgent call. These observations are of the utmost importance for
the understanding of Beethoven, in whom man and artist are inseparably
united. Within the pages of this little book are included all of them
which seemed to possess value, either as expressions of universal
truths or as evidence of the character of Beethoven or his compositions.
Beethoven is brought more directly before our knowledge by these his own
words than by the diffuse books which have been written about him. For
this reason the compiler has added only the necessary explanatory notes,
and (on the advice of professional friends) the remarks introductory to
the various subdivisions of the book. He dispensed with a biographical
introduction; there are plenty of succinct biographies, which set forth
the circumstances of the master's life easily to be had. Those who wish
to penetrate farther into the subject would do well to read the great
work by Thayer, the foundation of all Beethoven biography (in the new
revision now making by Deiters), or the critical biography by Marx, as
revised by Behncke. In sifting the material it was found that it fell
naturally into thirteen subdivisions. In arranging the succession
of utterances care was had to group related subjects. By this means
unnecessary interruptions in the train of thought were avoided and
interesting comparisons made possible. To this end it was important that
time, place and circumstances of every word should be conscientiously
set down.

Concerning the selection of material let it be said that in all cases
of doubt the authenticity of every utterance was proved; Beethoven is
easily recognizable in the form and contents of his sayings. Attention
must be directed to two matters in particular: after considerable
reflection the compiler decided to include in the collection a few
quotations which Beethoven copied from books which he read. From the
fact that he took the trouble to write them down, we may assume that
they had a fascination for him, and were greeted with lively emotion as
being admirable expressions of thoughts which had moved him. They are
very few, and the fact that they are quotations is plainly indicated. By
copying them into his note-books Beethoven as much as stored them away
in the thesaurus of his thoughts, and so they may well have a place
here. A word touching the use of the three famous letters to Bettina
von Arnim, the peculiarities of which differentiate them from the entire
mass of Beethoven's correspondence and compel an inquiry into their
genuineness: As a correspondent Bettina von Arnim has a poor reputation
since the discovery of her pretty forgery, "Goethes Briefwechsel mit
einem Kinde" (Goethe's Correspondence with a Child). In this alleged
"Correspondence" she made use of fragmentary material which was genuine,
pieced it out with her own inventions, and even went so far as to
turn into letters poems written by Goethe to her and other women. The
genuineness of a poem by Beethoven to Bettina is indubitable; it will
be found in the chapter entitled "Concerning Texts." Doubt was thrown on
the letters immediately on their appearance in 1839.

Bettina could have dissipated all suspicion had she produced the
originals and remained silent. One letter, however, that dated February
10, 1811, afterward came to light. Bettina had given it to Philipp von
Nathusius. It had always been thought the most likely one, of the set
to be authentic; the compiler has therefore, used it without hesitation.
From the other letters, in which a mixture of the genuine and the
fictitious must be assumed so long as the originals are not produced,
passages have been taken which might have been thus constructed by
Beethoven. On the contrary, the voluminous communications of Bettina
to Goethe, in which she relates her conversations with Beethoven, were
scarcely used. It is significant, so far as these are concerned, that,
according to Bettina's own statement, when she read the letter to him
before sending it off, Beethoven cried out, "Did I really say that? If
so I must have had a raptus."

In conclusion the compiler directs attention to the fact that in a few
cases utterances which have been transmitted to us only in an indirect
form have been altered to present them in a direct form, in as much
as their contents seemed too valuable to omit simply because their
production involved a trifling change in form.

--Elberfeld, October, 1904. Fr. K.


Beethoven's relation to art might almost be described as personal. Art
was his goddess to whom he made petition, to whom he rendered thanks,
whom he defended. He praised her as his savior in times of despair;
by his own confession it was only the prospect of her comforts that
prevented him from laying violent hands on himself. Read his words
and you shall find that it was his art that was his companion in his
wanderings through field and forest, the sharer of the solitude to which
his deafness condemned him. The concepts Nature and Art were intimately
bound up in his mind. His lofty and idealistic conception of art led him
to proclaim the purity of his goddess with the hot zeal of a priestly
fanatic. Every form of pseudo or bastard art stirred him with hatred to
the bottom of his soul; hence his furious onslaughts on mere virtuosity
and all efforts from influential sources to utilize art for other than
purely artistic purposes. And his art rewarded his devotion richly; she
made his sorrowful life worth living with gifts of purest joy:

"To Beethoven music was not only a manifestation of the beautiful, an
art, it was akin to religion. He felt himself to be a prophet, a seer.
All the misanthropy engendered by his unhappy relations with mankind,
could not shake his devotion to this ideal which had sprung in to
Beethoven from truest artistic apprehension and been nurtured by
enforced introspection and philosophic reflection."

     ("Music and Manners," page 237. H. E. K.)

1. "'Tis said, that art is long, and life but fleeting:--Nay; life is
long, and brief the span of art; If e're her breath vouchsafes with gods
a meeting, A moment's favor 'tis of which we've had a part."

     (Conversation-book, March, 1820. Probably a quotation.)

2. "The world is a king, and, like a king, desires flattery in return
for favor; but true art is selfish and perverse--it will not submit to
the mould of flattery."

     (Conversation-book, March, 1820. When Baron van Braun expressed the
opinion that the opera "Fidelio" would eventually win the enthusiasm of
the upper tiers, Beethoven said, "I do not write for the galleries!" He
never permitted himself to be persuaded to make concessions to the taste
of the masses.)

3. "Continue to translate yourself to the heaven of art; there is no
more undisturbed, unmixed, purer happiness than may thus be attained."

     (August 19, 1817, to Xavier Schnyder, who vainly sought instruction from
Beethoven in 1811, though he was pleasantly received.)

4. "Go on; do not practice art alone but penetrate to her heart; she
deserves it, for art and science only can raise man to godhood."

     (Teplitz, July 17, 1812, to his ten years' old admirer, Emilie M. in H.)

5. "True art is imperishable and the true artist finds profound delight
in grand productions of genius."

     (March 15, 1823, to Cherubini, to whom he also wrote, "I prize your
works more than all others written for the stage." The letter asked
Cherubini to interest himself in obtaining a subscription from King
Louis XVIII for the Solemn Mass in D).

[Cherubini declared that he had never received the letter. That it
was not only the hope of obtaining a favor which prompted Beethoven to
express so high an admiration for Cherubini, is plain from a remark made
by the English musician Cipriani Potter to A. W. Thayer in 1861. I found
it in Thayer's note-books which were placed in my hands for examination
after his death.

One day Potter asked, "Who is the greatest living composer, yourself
excepted?" Beethoven seemed puzzled for a moment, and then exclaimed,
"Cherubini." H. E. K.]

6. "Truth exists for the wise; beauty for the susceptible heart. They
belong together--are complementary."

     (Written in the autograph book of his friend, Lenz von Breuning, in

7. "When I open my eyes, a sigh involuntarily escapes me, for all that I
see runs counter to my religion; perforce I despise the world which does
not intuitively feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom
and philosophy."

     (Remark made to Bettina von Arnim, in 1810, concerning Viennese society.
Report in a letter by Bettina to Goethe on May 28, 1810.)

8. "Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this
great goddess?"

     (August 11, 1810, to Bettina von Arnim.)

9. "In the country I know no lovelier delight than quartet music."

     (To Archduke Rudolph, in a letter addressed to Baden on July 24, 1813.)

10. "Nothing but art, cut to form like old-fashioned hoop-skirts. I
never feel entirely well except when I am among scenes of unspoiled

     (September 24, 1826, to Breuning, while promenading with Breuning's
family in the Schonbrunner Garden, after calling attention to the alleys
of trees "trimmed like walls, in the French manner.")

11. "Nature knows no quiescence; and true art walks with her hand
in hand; her sister--from whom heaven forefend us!--is called

     (From notes in the lesson book of Archduke Rudolph, following some
remarks on the expansion of the expressive capacity of music.)


Beethoven was a true son of the Rhine in his love for nature. As a boy
he had taken extended trips, sometimes occupying days, with his father
"through the Rhenish localities ever lastingly dear to me." In his days
of physical health Nature was his instructress in art; "I may not come
without my banner," he used to say when he set out upon his wanderings
even in his latest years, and never without his note books. In the
scenes of nature he found his marvelous motives and themes; brook, birds
and tree sang to him. In a few special cases he has himself recorded the

But when he was excluded more and more from communion with his fellow
men because of his increasing deafness, until, finally, he could
communicate only by writing with others (hence the conversation-books,
which will be cited often in this little volume), he fled for refuge to
nature. Out in the woods he again became naively happy; to him the woods
were a Holy of Holies, a Home of the Mysteries. Forest and mountain-vale
heard his sighs; there he unburdened his heavy-laden heart. When his
friends need comfort he recommends a retreat to nature. Nearly every
summer he leaves hot and dusty Vienna and seeks a quiet spot in the
beautiful neighborhood. To call a retired and reposeful little spot his
own is his burning desire.

12. On the Kahlenberg, 1812, end of September:

          Almighty One
          In the woods
          I am blessed.
          Happy every one
          In the woods.
          Every tree speaks
          Through Thee.

          O God!
          What glory in the
          On the Heights
          is Peace,--
          Peace to serve

     (This poetic exclamation, accompanied by a few notes, is on a page of
music paper owned by Joseph Joachim.)

13. "How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under
trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Woods,
trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires."

     (To Baroness von Drossdick.)

14. "O God! send your glance into beautiful nature and comfort your
moody thoughts touching that which must be."

     (To the "Immortal Beloved," July 6, in the morning.)

[Thayer has spoiled the story so long believed, and still spooking
in the books of careless writers, that the "Immortal Beloved" was the
Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom the C-sharp minor sonata is
dedicated. The real person to whom the love-letters were addressed was
the Countess Brunswick to whom Beethoven was engaged to be married when
he composed the fourth Symphony. H. E. K.]

15. "My miserable hearing does not trouble me here. In the country it
seems as if every tree said to me: 'Holy! holy!' Who can give complete
expression to the ecstasy of the woods! O, the sweet stillness of the

     (July, 1814; he had gone to Baden after the benefit performance of

16. "My fatherland, the beautiful locality in which I saw the light of
the world, appears before me vividly and just as beautiful as when I
left you; I shall count it the happiest experience of my life when I
shall again be able to see you, and greet our Father Rhine."

     (Vienna, June 29, to Wegeler, in Bonn.)

[In 1825 Beethoven said to his pupil Ries, "Fare well in the Rhine
country which is ever dear to me," and in 1826 wrote to Schott, the
publisher in Mayence, about the "Rhine country which I so long to see

17. "Bruhl, at 'The Lamb'--how lovely to see my native country again!"

     (Diary, 1812-1818.)

18. "A little house here, so small as to yield one's self a little
room,--only a few days in this divine Bruehl,--longing or desire,
emancipation or fulfillment."

     (Written in 1816 in Bruehl near Modling among the sketches for the
Scherzo of the pianoforte sonata op. 10.)

[Like many another ejaculatory remark of Beethoven's, it is difficult to
understand. See Appendix. H. E. K.]

19. "When you reach the old ruins, think that Beethoven often paused
there; if you wander through the mysterious fir forests, think that.
Beethoven often poetized, or, as is said, composed there."

     (In the fall of 1817, to Mme. Streicher, who was at a cure in Baden.)

20. "Nature is a glorious school for the heart! It is well; I shall be a
scholar in this school and bring an eager heart to her instruction. Here
I shall learn wisdom, the only wisdom that is free from disgust; here I
shall learn to know God and find a foretaste of heaven in His knowledge.
Among these occupations my earthly days shall flow peacefully along
until I am accepted into that world where I shall no longer be a
student, but a knower of wisdom."

     (Copied into his diary, in 1818, from Sturm's "Betrachtungen uber die
Werke Gottes in der Natur.")

21. "Soon autumn will be here. Then I wish to be like unto a fruitful
tree which pours rich stores of fruit into our laps! But in the winter
of existence, when I shall be gray and sated with life, I desire for
myself the good fortune that my repose be as honorable and beneficent as
the repose of nature in the winter time."

     (Copied from the same work of Sturm's.)


Not even a Beethoven was spared the tormenting question of texts for
composition. It is fortunate for posterity that he did not exhaust his
energies in setting inefficient libretti, that he did not believe that
good music would suffice to command success in spite of bad texts. The
majority of his works belong to the field of purely instrumental music.
Beethoven often gave expression to the belief that words were a less
capable medium of proclamation for feelings than music. Nevertheless
it may be observed that he looked upon an opera, or lyric drama, as the
crowning work of his life. He was in communication with the best poets
of his time concerning opera texts. A letter of his on the subject was
found in the blood-spotted pocketbook of Theodor Komer. The conclusion
of his creative labors was to be a setting of Goethe's "Faust;" except
"Fidelio," however, he gave us no opera. His songs are not many although
he sought carefully for appropriate texts. Unhappily the gift of poetry
was not vouchsafed him.

22. "Always the same old story: the Germans can not put together a good

     (To C. M. von Weber, concerning the book of "Euryanthe," at Baden, in
October, 1823. Mozart said: "Verses are the most indispensable thing for
music, but rhymes, for the sake of rhymes, the most injurious. Those who
go to work so pedantically will assuredly come to grief, along with the

23. "It is difficult to find a good poem. Grillparzer has promised to
write one for me,--indeed, he has already written one; but we can not
understand each other. I want something entirely different than he."

     (In the spring of 1825, to Ludwig Rellstab, who was intending to write
an opera-book for Beethoven. It may not be amiss to recall the fact
that Mozart examined over one hundred librettos, according to his own
statement, before he decided to compose "The Marriage of Figaro.")

24. "It is the duty of every composer to be familiar with all poets, old
and new, and himself choose the best and most fitting for his purposes."

     (In a recommendation of Kandler's "Anthology.")

25. "The genre would give me little concern provided the subject were
attractive to me. It must be such that I can go to work on it with love
and ardor. I could not compose operas like 'Don Juan' and 'Figaro;'
toward them I feel too great a repugnance. I could never have chosen
such subjects; they are too frivolous."

     (In the spring of 1825, to Ludwig Rellstab.)

26. "I need a text which stimulates me; it must be something moral,
uplifting. Texts such as Mozart composed I should never have been
able to set to music. I could never have got myself into a mood for
licentious texts. I have received many librettos, but, as I have said,
none that met my wishes."

     (To young Gerhard von Breuning.)

27. "I know the text is extremely bad, but after one has conceived
an entity out of even a bad text, it is difficult to make changes in
details without disturbing the unity. If it is a single word, on which
occasionally great weight is laid, it must be permitted to stand. He is
a bad author who can not, or will not try to make something as good
as possible; if this is not the case petty changes will certainly not
improve the whole."

     (Teplitz, August 23, 1811, to Hartel, the publisher, who wanted some
changes made in the hook of "The Mount of Olives.")

28. "Good heavens! Do they think in Saxony that the words make good
music? If an inappropriate word can spoil the music, which is true, then
we ought to be glad when we find that words and music are one and
not try to improve matters even if the verbal expression is

     (January 28, to Gottfried Hartel, who had undertaken to make changes in
the book of "The Mount of Olives" despite the prohibition of Beethoven.)

29. "Goethe's poems exert a great power over me not only because of
their contents but also because of their rhythms; I am stimulated to
compose by this language, which builds itself up to higher orders as
if through spiritual agencies, and bears in itself the secret of

     (Reported as an expression of Beethoven's by Bettina von Arnim to

30. "Schiller's poems are difficult to set to music. The composer must
be able to rise far above the poet. Who can do that in the case of
Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier."

     (1809, after Beethoven had made his experiences with the "Hymn to Joy"
and "Egmont.")


Wiseacres not infrequently accused Beethoven of want of regularity in
his compositions. In various ways and at divers times he gave vigorous
utterance to his opinions of such pedantry. He was not the most
tractable of pupils, especially in Vienna, where, although he was
highly praised as a player, he took lessons in counterpoint from
Albrechtsberger. He did not endure long with Papa Haydn. He detested the
study of fugue in particular; the fugue was to him a symbol of narrow
coercion which choked all emotion. Mere formal beauty, moreover, was
nothing to him. Over and over again he emphasizes soul, feeling,
direct and immediate life, as the first necessity of an art work. It
is therefore not strange that under certain circumstances he ignored
conventional forms in sonata and symphony. An irrepressible impulse
toward freedom is the most prominent peculiarity of the man and artist
Beethoven; nearly all of his observations, no matter what their subject,
radiate the word "Liberty." In his remarks about composing there is a
complete exposition of his method of work.

31. "As regards me, great heavens! my dominion is in the air; the tones
whirl like the wind, and often there is a like whirl in my soul."

     (February 13, 1814, to Count Brunswick, in Buda.)

32. "Then the loveliest themes slipped out of your eyes into my heart,
themes which shall only then delight the world when Beethoven conducts
no longer."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

33. "I always have a picture in my mind when composing, and follow its

     (In 1815, to Neate, while promenading with him in Baden and talking
about the "Pastoral" symphony.)

[Ries relates: "While composing Beethoven frequently thought of an
object, although he often laughed at musical delineation and scolded
about petty things of the sort. In this respect 'The Creation' and 'The
Seasons' were many times a butt, though without depreciation of Haydn's
loftier merits. Haydn's choruses and other works were loudly praised by

34. "The texts which you sent me are least of all fitted for song. The
description of a picture belongs to the field of painting; in this the
poet can count himself more fortunate than my muse for his territory
is not so restricted as mine in this respect, though mine, on the
other hand, extends into other regions, and my dominion is not easily

     (Nussdorf, July 15, 1817, to Wilhelm Gerhard, who had sent him some
Anacreontic songs for composition.)

35. "Carried too far, all delineation in instrumental music loses in

     (A remark in the sketches for the "Pastoral" symphony, preserved in the
Royal Library in Berlin.)

[Mozart said: "Even in the most terrifying moments music must never
offend the ear."]

36. "Yes, yes, then they are amazed and put their heads together because
they never found it in any book on thorough bass."

     (To Ries when the critics accused him of making grammatical blunders in

37. "No devil can compel me to write only cadences of such a kind."

     (From notes written in his years of study. Beethoven called the
composition of fugues "the art of making musical skeletons.")

38. "Good singing was my guide; I strove to write as flowingly as
possible and trusted in my ability to justify myself before the
judgment-seat of sound reason and pure taste."

     (From notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph.)

39. "Does he believe that I think of a wretched fiddle when the spirit
speaks to me?"

     (To his friend, the admirable violinist Schuppanzigh, when the latter
complained of the difficulty of a passage in one of his works.)

[Beethoven here addresses his friend in the third person, which is the
customary style of address for the German nobility and others towards
inferiors in rank. H. E. K.]

40. "The Scotch songs show how unconstrainedly irregular melodies can be
treated with the help of harmony."

     (Diary, 1812-1818. Since 1809 Beethoven had arranged Folksongs for
Thomson of Edinburgh.)

41. "To write true church music, look through the old monkish chorals,
etc., also the most correct translations of the periods, and perfect
prosody in the Catholic Psalms and hymns generally."

     (Diary, 1818.)

42. "Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor. Nego! On
the contrary I find that in the soft scales the major third at the
close has a glorious and uncommonly quieting effect. Joy follows sorrow,
sunshine--rain. It affects me as if I were looking up to the silvery
glistering of the evening star."

     (From Archduke Rudolph's book of instruction.)

43. "Rigorists, and devotees of antiquity, relegate the perfect fourth
to the list of dissonances. Tastes differ. To my ear it gives not the
least offence combined with other tones."

     (From Archduke Rudolph's book of instruction, compiled in 1809.)

44. "When the gentlemen can think of nothing new, and can go no further,
they quickly call in a diminished seventh chord to help them out of the

     (A remark made to Schindler.)

45. "My dear boy, the startling effects which many credit to the natural
genius of the composer, are often achieved with the greatest ease by the
use and resolution of the diminished seventh chords."

     (Reported by Karl Friederich Hirsch, a pupil of Beethoven in the winter
of 1816. He was a grandson of Albrechtsberger who had given lessons to

46. "In order to become a capable composer one must have already learned
harmony and counterpoint at the age of from seven to eleven years,
so that when the fancy and emotions awake one shall know what to do
according to the rules."

     (Reported by Schindler as having been put into the mouth of Beethoven by
a newspaper of Vienna. Schindler says: "When Beethoven came to Vienna he
knew no counterpoint, and little harmony.")

47. "So far as mistakes are concerned it was never necessary for me to
learn thorough-bass; my feelings were so sensitive from childhood that
I practiced counterpoint without knowing that it must be so or could be

     (Note on a sheet containing directions for the use of fourths in
suspensions--probably intended for the instruction of Archduke Rudolph.)

48. "Continue, Your Royal Highness, to write down briefly your
occasional ideas while at the pianoforte. For this a little table
alongside the pianoforte is necessary. By this means not only is the
fancy strengthened, but one learns to hold fast in a moment the
most remote conceptions. It is also necessary to compose without the
pianoforte; say often a simple chord melody, with simple harmonies, then
figurate according to the rules of counterpoint, and beyond them; this
will give Y. R. H. no headache, but, on the contrary, feeling yourself
thus in the midst of art, a great pleasure."

     (July 1, 1823, to his pupil Archduke Rudolph.)

49. "The bad habit, which has clung to me from childhood, of always
writing down a musical thought which occurs to me, good or bad, has
often been harmful to me."

     (July 23, 1815, to Archduke Rudolph, while excusing himself for not
having visited H.R.H., on the ground that he had been occupied in noting
a musical idea which had occurred to him.)

50. "As is my habit, the pianoforte part of the concerto (op. 19) was
not written out in the score; I have just written it, wherefore,
in order to expedite matters, you receive it in my not too legible

     (April 22, 1801, to the publisher Hofmeister, in Leipzig.)

51. "Correspondence, as you know, was never my forte; some of my best
friends have not had a letter from me in years. I live only in my notes
(compositions), and one is scarcely finished when another is begun. As I
am working now I often compose three, even four, pieces simultaneously."

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler, in Bonn.)

52. "I never write a work continuously, without interruption. I
am always working on several at the same time, taking up one, then

     (June 1, 1816, to Medical Inspector Dr. Karl von Bursy, when the latter
asked about an opera (the book by Berge, sent to Beethoven by Amenda),
which was never written.)

53. "I must accustom myself to think out at once the whole, as soon as
it shows itself, with all the voices, in my head."

     (Note in a sketch-book of 1810, containing studies for the music to
"Egmont" and the great Trio in B-flat, op. 97. H. E. K.)

54. "I carry my thoughts about me for a long time, often a very long
time, before I write them down; meanwhile my memory is so faithful that
I am sure never to forget, not even in years, a theme that has once
occurred to me. I change many things, discard, and try again until I
am satisfied. Then, however, there begins in my head the development
in every direction, and, in as much as I know exactly what I want, the
fundamental idea never deserts me,--it arises before me, grows,--I see
and hear the picture in all its extent and dimensions stand before my
mind like a cast, and there remains for me nothing but the labor of
writing it down, which is quickly accomplished when I have the time, for
I sometimes take up other work, but never to the confusion of one with
the other.

"You will ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot tell you with
certainty; they come unsummoned, directly, indirectly,--I could seize
them with my hands,--out in the open air; in the woods; while walking;
in the silence of the nights; early in the morning; incited by moods,
which are translated by the poet into words, by me into tones that
sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes."

     (Said to Louis Schlosser, a young musician, whom Beethoven honored with
his friendship in 1822-23.)

55. "On the whole, the carrying out of several voices in strict
relationship mutually hinders their progress."

     (Fall of 1812, in the Diary of 1812-18.)

56. "Few as are the claims which I make upon such things I shall still
accept the dedication of your beautiful work with pleasure. You ask,
however, that I also play the part of a critic, without thinking that
I must myself submit to criticism! With Voltaire I believe that 'a few
fly-bites can not stop a spirited horse.' In this respect I beg of you
to follow my example. In order not to approach you surreptitiously, but
openly as always, I say that in future works of the character you might
give more heed to the individualization of the voices."

     (Vienna, May 10, 1826. To whom the letter was sent is not known, though
from the manner of address it is plain that he was of the nobility.)

57. "Your variations show talent, but I must fault you for having
changed the theme. Why? What man loves must not be taken away from
him;--moreover to do this is to make changes before variations."

     (Baden, July 6, 1804, to Wiedebein, a teacher of music in Brunswick.)

58. "I am not in the habit of rewriting my compositions. I never did it
because I am profoundly convinced that every change of detail changes
the character of the whole."

     (February 19, 1813, to George Thomson, who had requested some changes in
compositions submitted to him for publication.)

59. "One must not hold one's self so divine as to be unwilling
occasionally to make improvements in one's creations."

     (March 4, 1809, to Breitkopf and Hartel, when indicating a few changes
which he wished to have made in the symphonies op. 67 and op. 68.)

60. "The unnatural rage for transcribing pianoforte pieces for string
instruments (instruments that are in every respect so different from
each other) ought to end. I stoutly maintain that only Mozart could have
transcribed his own works, and Haydn; and without putting myself on a
level with these great men I assert the same thing about my pianoforte
sonatas. Not only must entire passages be elided and changed, but
additions must be made; and right here lies the rock of offence to
overcome which one must be the master of himself or be possessed of
the same skill and inventiveness. I transcribed but a single sonata for
string quartet, and I am sure that no one will easily do it after me."

     (July 13, 1809, in an announcement of several compositions, among them
the quintet op. 29.)

61. "Were it not that my income brings in nothing, I should compose
nothing but grand symphonies, church music, or, at the outside, quartets
in addition."

     (December 20, 1822, to Peters, publisher, in Leipzig. His income had
been reduced from 4,000 to 800 florins by the depreciation of Austrian

[Here, in the original, is one of the puns which Beethoven was fond of
making: "Ware mein Gehalt nicht ganzlich ohne Gehalt." H. E. K.]


While reading Beethoven's views on the subject of how music ought to be
performed, it is but natural to inquire about his own manner of playing.
On this point Ries, his best pupil, reports:

"In general Beethoven played his own compositions very capriciously, yet
he adhered, on the whole, strictly to the beat and only at times, but
seldom, accelerated the tempo a trifle. Occasionally he would retard
the tempo in a crescendo, which produced a very beautiful and striking
effect. While playing he would give a passage, now in the right hand,
now in the left, a beautiful expression which was simply inimitable; but
it was rarely indeed that he added a note or an ornament."

Of his playing when still a young man one of his hearers said that it
was in the slow movements particularly that it charmed everybody. Almost
unanimously his contemporaries give him the palm for his improvisations.
Ries says:

"His extemporizations were the most extraordinary things that one could
hear. No artist that I ever heard came at all near the height which
Beethoven attained. The wealth of ideas which forced themselves on him,
the caprices to which he surrendered himself, the variety of treatment,
the difficulties, were inexhaustible."

His playing was not technically perfect. He let many a note "fall under
the table," but without marring the effect of his playing. Concerning
this we have a remark of his own in No. 75. Somewhat critical is
Czerny's report:

"Extraordinary as his extempore playing was it was less successful in
the performance of printed compositions; for, since he never took the
time or had the patience to practice anything, his success depended
mostly on chance and mood; and since, also, his manner of playing
as well as composing was ahead of his time, the weak and imperfect
pianofortes of his time could not withstand his gigantic style. It was
because of this that Hummel's purling and brilliant manner of play, well
adapted to the period, was more intelligible and attractive to the great
public. But Beethoven's playing in adagios and legato, in the sustained
style, made an almost magical impression on every hearer, and, so far
as I know, it has never been surpassed." Czerny's remark about the
pianofortes of Beethoven's day explains Beethoven's judgment on his
own pianoforte sonatas. He composed for the sonorous pianoforte of the
future,--the pianoforte building today.

The following anecdote, told by Czerny, will be read with pleasure.
Pleyel, a famous musician, came to Vienna from Paris in 1805, and
had his latest quartets performed in the palace of Prince Lobkowitz.
Beethoven was present and was asked to play something. "As usual, he
submitted to the interminable entreaties and finally was dragged almost
by force to the pianoforte by the ladies. Angrily he tears the second
violin part of one of the Pleyel quartets from the music-stand where it
still lay open, throws it upon the rack of the pianoforte, and begins
to improvise. We had never heard him extemporize more brilliantly, with
more originality or more grandly than on that evening.

"But throughout the entire improvisation there ran in the middle voices,
like a thread, or cantus firmus, the insignificant notes, wholly
insignificant in themselves, which he found on the page of the quartet,
which by chance lay open on the music-stand; on them he built up the
most daring melodies and harmonies, in the most brilliant concert style.
Old Pleyel could only give expression to his amazement by kissing his
hands. After such improvisations Beethoven was wont to break out into a
loud and satisfied laugh."

Czerny says further of his playing: "In rapidity of scale passages,
trills, leaps, etc., no one equaled him,--not even Hummel. His attitude
at the pianoforte was perfectly quiet and dignified, with no approach to
grimace, except to bend down a little towards the keys as his deafness
increased; his fingers were very powerful, not long, and broadened at
the tips by much playing; for he told me often that in his youth he had
practiced stupendously, mostly till past midnight. In teaching he laid
great stress on a correct position of the fingers (according to the
Emanuel Bach method, in which he instructed me); he himself could barely
span a tenth. He made frequent use of the pedal, much more frequently
than is indicated in his compositions. His reading of the scores of
Handel and Gluck and the fugues of Bach was unique, inasmuch as he put a
polyphony and spirit into the former which gave the works a new form."

In his later years the deaf master could no longer hear his own playing
which therefore came to have a pitifully painful effect. Concerning his
manner of conducting, Seyfried says: "It would no wise do to make our
master a model in conducting, and the orchestra had to take great care
lest it be led astray by its mentor; for he had an eye only for his
composition and strove unceasingly by means of manifold gesticulations
to bring out the expression which he desired. Often when he reached a
forte he gave a violent down beat even if the note were an unaccented
one. He was in the habit of marking a diminuendo by crouching down lower
and lower, and at a pianissimo he almost crept under the stand. With a
crescendo he, too, grew, rising as if out of a stage trap, and with
the entrance of a fortissimo he stood on his toes and seemed to take on
gigantic proportions, while he waved his arms about as if trying to soar
upwards to the clouds. Everything about him was in activity; not a
part of his organization remained idle, and the whole man seemed like a
perpetuum mobile. Concerning expression, the little nuances, the equable
division of light and shade, as also an effective tempo rubato, he was
extremely exact and gladly discussed them with the individual members of
the orchestra without showing vexation or anger."

62. "It has always been known that the greatest pianoforte players
were also the greatest composers; but how did they play? Not like the
pianists of today who prance up and down the key-board with passages
in which they have exercised themselves,--putsch, putsch, putsch;--what
does that mean? Nothing. When the true pianoforte virtuosi played it
was always something homogeneous, an entity; it could be transcribed and
then it appeared as a well thought-out work. That is pianoforte playing;
the other is nothing!"

     (In conversation with Tomaschek, October, 1814.)

63. "Candidly I am not a friend of Allegri di bravura and such, since
they do nothing but promote mechanism."

     (Hetzendorf, July 16, 1823, to Ries in London.)

64. "The great pianists have nothing but technique and affectation."

     (Fall of 1817, to Marie Pachler-Koschak, a pianist whom Beethoven
regarded very highly. "You will play the sonatas in F major and C minor,
for me, will you not?")

65. "As a rule, in the case of these gentlemen, all reason and feeling
are generally lost in the nimbleness of their fingers."

     (Reported by Schindler as a remark of Beethoven's concerning pianoforte

66. "Habit may depreciate the most brilliant talents."

     (In 1812 to his pupil, Archduke Rudolph, whom he warns against too
zealous a devotion to music.)

67. "You will have to play a long time yet before you realize that you
can not play at all."

     (July, 1808. Reported by Rust as having been said to a young man who
played for Beethoven.)

68. "One must be something if one wishes to put on appearances."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

69. "These pianoforte players have their coteries whom they often join;
there they are praised continually,--and there's an end of art!"

     (Conversation with Tomaschek, October, 1814.)

70. "We Germans have too few dramatically trained singers for the part
of Leonore. They are too cold and unfeeling; the Italians sing and act
with body and soul."

     (1824, in Baden, to Freudenberg, an organist from Breslau.)

71. "If he is a master of his instrument I rank an organist amongst
the first of virtuosi. I too, played the organ a great deal when I
was young, but my nerves would not stand the power of the gigantic

     (To Freudenberg, in Baden.)

72. "I never wrote noisy music. For my instrumental works I need an
orchestra of about sixty good musicians. I am convinced that only such a
number can bring out the quickly changing graduations in performance."

     (Reported by Schindler.)

73. "A Requiem ought to be quiet music,--it needs no trump of doom;
memories of the dead require no hubbub."

     (Reported by Holz to Fanny von Ponsing, in Baden, summer of 1858.
According to the same authority Beethoven valued Cherubini's "Requiem"
more highly than any other.)

74. "No metronome at all! He who has sound feeling needs none, and he
who has not will get no help from the metronome;--he'll run away with
the orchestra anyway."

     (Reported by Schindler. It had been found that Beethoven himself
had sent different metronomic indications to the publisher and the
Philharmonic Society of London.)

75. "In reading rapidly a multitude of misprints may pass unnoticed
because you are familiar with the language."

     (To Wegeler, who had expressed wonder at Beethoven's rapid primavista
playing, when it was impossible to see each individual note.)

76. "The poet writes his monologue or dialogue in a certain, continuous
rhythm, but the elocutionist in order to insure an understanding of the
sense of the lines, must make pauses and interruptions at places where
the poet was not permitted to indicate it by punctuation. The
same manner of declamation can be applied to music, and admits of
modification only according to the number of performers."

     (Reported by Schindler, Beethoven's faithful factotum.)

77. "With respect to his playing with you, when he has acquired the
proper mode of fingering and plays in time and plays the notes with
tolerable correctness, only then direct his attention to the matter
of interpretation; and when he has gotten this far do not stop him for
little mistakes, but point them out at the end of the piece. Although
I have myself given very little instruction I have always followed this
method which quickly makes musicians, and that, after all, is one of the
first objects of art."

     (To Czerny, who was teaching music to Beethoven's nephew Karl.)

78. "Always place the hands at the key-board so that the fingers can not
be raised higher than is necessary; only in this way is it possible to
produce a singing tone."

     (Reported by Schindler as Beethoven's view on pianoforte instruction.
He hated a staccato style of playing and dubbed it "finger dancing" and
"throwing the hands in the air.")

[PG Editor's Note: #79 was skipped in the 1905 edition--error?]


80. "I haven't a single friend; I must live alone. But well I know that
God is nearer to me than to the others of my art; I associate with Him
without fear, I have always recognized and understood Him, and I have
no fear for my music,--it can meet no evil fate. Those who understand it
must become free from all the miseries that the others drag with them."

     (To Bettina von Arnim. [Bettina's letter to Goethe, May 28, 1810.])

81. "The variations will prove a little difficult to play, particularly
the trills in the coda; but let that not frighten you. It is so disposed
that you need play only the trills, omitting the other notes because
they are also in the violin part. I would never have written a thing
of this kind had I not often noticed here and there in Vienna a man
who after I had improvised of an evening would write down some of my
peculiarities and make boast of them next day. Foreseeing that these
things would soon appear in print I made up my mind to anticipate
them. Another purpose which I had was to embarrass the local pianoforte
masters. Many of them are my mortal enemies, and I wanted to have my
revenge in this way, for I knew in advance that the variations would be
put before them, and that they would make exhibitions of themselves."

     (Vienna, November 2, 1793, to Eleonore von Breuning, in dedicating to
her the variations in F major, "Se vuol ballare." [The pianist whom
Beethoven accuses of stealing his thunder was Abbe Gelinek.])

82. "The time in which I wrote my sonatas (the first ones of the second
period) was more poetical than the present (1823); such hints were
therefore unnecessary. Every one at that time felt in the Largo of the
third sonata in D (op. 10) the pictured soulstate of a melancholy being,
with all the nuances of light and shade which occur in a delineation
of melancholy and its phases, without requiring a key in the shape of a
superscription; and everybody then saw in the two sonatas (op. 14) the
picture of a contest between two principles, or a dialogue between two
persons, because it was so obvious."

     (In answer to Schindler's question why he had not indicated the poetical
conceits underlying his sonatas by superscriptions or titles.)

83. "This sonata has a clean face (literally: 'has washed itself'), my
dear brother!"

     (January, 1801, to Hofmeister, publisher in Leipzig to whom he offers
the sonata, op. 22, for 20 ducats.)

84. "They are incessantly talking about the C-sharp minor sonata (op.
27, No. 2); on my word I have written better ones. The F-sharp major
sonata (op. 78) is a different thing!"

     (A remark to Czerny.)

[The C-sharp minor sonata is that popularly known as the "Moonlight
Sonata," a title which is wholly without warrant. Its origin is due to
Rellstab, who, in describing the first movement, drew a picture of a
small boat in the moonlight on Lake Lucerne. In Vienna a tradition that
Beethoven had composed it in an arbor gave rise to the title "Arbor
sonata." Titles of this character work much mischief in the amateur mind
by giving rise to fantastic conceptions of the contents of the music. H.
E. K.]

85. "The thing which my brother can have from me is 1, a Septett per il
Violino, Viola, Violoncello, Contrabasso, Clarinetto, Cornto, Fagotto,
tutti obligati; for I can not write anything that is not obligato,
having come into the world with obligato accompaniment."

     (December 15, 1800, to Hofmeister, publisher, in Leipzig.)

86. "I am but little satisfied with my works thus far; from today I
shall adopt a new course."

     (Reported by Carl Czerny in his autobiography in 1842. Concerning the
time at which the remark was made, Czerny says: "It was said about 1803,
when B. had composed op. 28      (the pianoforte sonata in D) to his friend
Krumpholz (a violinist). Shortly afterward there appeared the sonatas
     (now op. 31) in which a partial fulfillment of his resolution may be

87. "Read Shakespeare's 'Tempest.'"

     (An answer to Schindler's question as to what poetical conceit underlay
the sonatas in F minor. Beethoven used playfully to call the little son
of Breuning, the friend of his youth, A&Z, because he employed him often
as a messenger.)

["Schindler relates that when once he asked Beethoven to tell him what
the F minor and D minor (op. 31, No. 2) meant, he received for an answer
only the enigmatical remark: 'Read Shakespeare's "Tempest."' Many a
student and commentator has since read the 'Tempest' in the hope of
finding a clew to the emotional contents which Beethoven believed to
be in the two works, so singularly associated, only to find himself
baffled. It is a fancy, which rests, perhaps, too much on outward
things, but still one full of suggestion, that had Beethoven said: 'Hear
my C minor symphony,' he would have given a better starting-point to
the imagination of those who are seeking to know what the F minor sonata
means. Most obviously it means music, but it means music that is an
expression of one of those psychological struggles which Beethoven felt
called upon more and more to delineate as he was more and more shut out
from the companionship of the external world. Such struggles are in the
truest sense of the word tempests. The motive, which, according to the
story, Beethoven himself said, indicates, in the symphony, the rappings
of Fate at the door of human existence, is common to two works which
are also related in their spiritual contents. Singularly enough, too,
in both cases the struggle which is begun in the first movement and
continued in the third, is interrupted by a period of calm, reassuring,
soul-fortifying aspiration, which, in the symphony as well as in the
sonata, takes the form of a theme with variations."--"How to Listen to
Music," page 29. H. E. K.]

88. "Sinfonia Pastorella. He who has ever had a notion of country life
can imagine for himself without many superscriptions what the composer
is after. Even without a description the whole, which is more sentiment
than tone painting, will be recognized."

     (A note among the sketches for the "Pastoral" symphony preserved in the
Royal Library at Berlin.)

[There are other notes of similar import among the sketches referred to
which can profitably be introduced here:

"The hearer should be allowed to discover the situations;"

"Sinfonia caracteristica, or a recollection of country life;"

"Pastoral Symphony: No picture, but something in which the emotions are
expressed which are aroused in men by the pleasure of the country (or)
in which some feelings of country life are set forth."

When, finally, the work was given to the publisher, Beethoven included
in the title an admonitory explanation which should have everlasting
validity: "Pastoral Symphony: more expression of feeling than painting."
H. E. K.]

89. "My 'Fidelio' was not understood by the public, but I know that it
will yet be appreciated; for though I am well aware of the value of my
'Fidelio' I know just as well that the symphony is my real element. When
sounds ring in me I always hear the full orchestra; I can ask anything
of instrumentalists, but when writing for the voice I must continually
ask myself: 'Can that be sung?'

     (A remark made in 1823 or 1824 to Griesinger.)

90. "Thus Fate knocks at the portals!"

     (Reported by Schindler as Beethoven's explanation of the opening of the
symphony in C minor.)

["Hofrath Kueffner told him (Krenn) that he once lived with Beethoven in
Heiligenstadt, and that they were in the habit evenings of going down
to Nussdorf to eat a fish supper in the Gasthaus 'Zur Rose.' One evening
when B. was in a good humor, Kueffner began: `Tell me frankly which is
your favorite among your symphonies?' B.      (in good humor) 'Eh! Eh! The
Eroica.' K. 'I should have guessed the C minor.' B. 'No; the Eroica.'"
From Thayer's notebook. See "Music and Manners in the Classical Period."

91. "The solo sonatas (op. 109-ll?) are perhaps the best, but also the
last, music that I composed for the pianoforte. It is and always will be
an unsatisfactory instrument. I shall hereafter follow the example of my
grandmaster Handel, and every year write only an oratorio and a concerto
for some string or wind instrument, provided I shall have finished my
tenth symphony (C minor) and Requiem."

     (Reported by Holz. As to the tenth symphony see note to No. 95.)

92. "God knows why it is that my pianoforte music always makes the worst
impression on me, especially when it is played badly."

     (June 2, 1804. A note among the sketches for the "Leonore" overture.)

93. "Never did my own music produce such an effect upon me; even now
when I recall this work it still costs me a tear."

     (Reported by Holz. The reference is to the Cavatina from the quartet
in B-flat, op. 130, which Beethoven thought the crown of all quartet
movements and his favorite composition. When alone and undisturbed
he was fond of playing his favorite pianoforte Andante--that from the
sonata op. 28.)

94. "I do not write what I most desire to, but that which I need to
because of money. But this is not saying that I write only for money.
When the present period is past, I hope at last to write that which is
the highest thing for me as well as art,--'Faust.'"

     (From a conversation-book used in 1823. To Buhler, tutor in the house
of a merchant, who was seeking information about an oratorio which
Beethoven had been commissioned to write by the Handel and Haydn Society
of Boston.)

95. "Ha! 'Faust;' that would be a piece of work! Something might come
out of that! But for some time I have been big with three other large
works. Much is already sketched out, that is, in my head. I must be rid
of them first:--two large symphonies differing from each other, and each
differing from all the others, and an oratorio. And this will take a
long time, you see, for a considerable time I have had trouble to get
myself to write. I sit and think, and think I've long had the thing, but
it will not on the paper. I dread the beginning of these large works.
Once into the work, and it goes."

     (In the summer of 1822, to Rochlitz, at Baden. The symphonies referred
to are the ninth and tenth. They existed only in Beethoven's mind and a
few sketches. In it he intended to combine antique and modern views of

["In the text Greek mythology, cantique ecclesiastique; in the Allegro,
a Bacchic festival."      (Sketchbook of 1818)]

[The oratorio was to have been called "The Victory of the Cross." It was
not written. Schindler wrote to Moscheles in London about Beethoven in
the last weeks of his life: "He said much about the plan of the tenth
symphony. As the work had shaped itself in his imagination it might have
become a musical monstrosity, compared with which his other symphonies
would have been mere opuscula."]


96. "How eagerly mankind withdraws from the poor artist what it has once
given him;--and Zeus, from whom one might ask an invitation to sup on
ambrosia, lives no longer."

     (In the summer of 1814, to Kauka, an advocate who represented him in the
lawsuit against the heirs of Kinsky.)

97. "I love straightforwardness and uprightness, and believe that
the artist ought not to be belittled; for, alas! brilliant as fame is
externally, it is not always the privilege of the artist to be Jupiter's
guest on Olympus all the time. Unfortunately vulgar humanity drags him
down only too often and too rudely from the pure upper ether."

     (June 5, 1852, to C. F. Peters, music publisher, in Leipzig when
treating with him touching a complete edition of his works.)

98. "The true artist has no pride; unhappily he realizes that art has
no limitations, he feels darkly how far he is from the goal, and while,
perhaps he is admired by others, he grieves that he has not yet reached
the point where the better genius shall shine before him like a distant

     (Teplitz, July 17, to an admirer ten years old.)

99. "You yourself know what a change is wrought by a few years in the
case of an artist who is continually pushing forward. The greater the
progress which one makes in art, the less is one satisfied with one's
old works."

     (Vienna, August 4, 1800, to Mathisson, in the dedication of his setting
of "Adelaide." "My most ardent wish will be fulfilled if you are not
displeased with the musical composition of your heavenly 'Adelaide.'")

100. "Those composers are exemplars who unite nature and art in their

     (Baden, in 1824, to Freudenberg, organist from Breslau.)

101. "What will be the judgment a century hence concerning the lauded
works of our favorite composers today? Inasmuch as nearly everything is
subject to the changes of time, and, more's the pity, the fashions of
time, only that which is good and true, will endure like a rock, and no
wanton hand will ever venture to defile it. Then let every man do that
which is right, strive with all his might toward the goal which can
never be attained, develop to the last breath the gifts with which a
gracious Creator has endowed him, and never cease to learn; for 'Life is
short, art eternal!'"

     (From the notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph.)

102. "Famous artists always labor under an embarrassment;--therefore
first works are the best, though they may have sprung out of dark

     (Conversation-book of 1840.)

103. "A musician is also a poet; he also can feel himself transported by
a pair of eyes into another and more beautiful world where greater souls
make sport of him and set him right difficult tasks."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

104. "I told Goethe my opinion as to how applause affects men like us,
and that we want our equals to hear us understandingly! Emotion suits
women only; music ought to strike fire from the soul of a man."

     (August 15, 1810, to Bettina von Arnim.)

105. "Most people are touched by anything good; but they do not partake
of the artist's nature; artists are ardent, they do not weep."

     (Reported to Goethe by Bettina von Arnim, May 28, 1810.)

106. "L'art unit tout le monde,--how much more the true artist!"

     (March 15, 1823, to Cherubini, in Paris.)

107. "Only the artist, or the free scholar, carries his happiness within

     (Reported by Karl von Bursy as part of a conversation in 1816.)

108. "There ought to be only one large art warehouse in the world, to
which the artist could carry his art-works and from which he could carry
away whatever he needed. As it is one must be half a tradesman."

     (January, 1801, to Hofmeister, in Leipzig.)


The opinion of artist on artists is a dubious quantity. Recall the
startling criticisms of Bocklin on his associates in art made public
by the memoirs of his friends after his death. Such judgments are often
one-sided, not without prejudice, and mostly the expression of impulse.
It is a different matter when the artist speaks about the disciples of
another art than his own, even if the opinions which Bocklin and Wagner
held of each other are not a favorable example. Where Beethoven speaks
of other composers we must read with clear and open eyes; but even
here there will be much with which we can be in accord, especially
his judgment on Rossini, whom he hated so intensely, and whose airy,
sense-bewitching art seduced the Viennese from Beethoven. Interesting
and also characteristic of the man is the attitude which he
adopted towards the poets of his time. In general he estimated his
contemporaries as highly as they deserved.

109. "Do not tear the laurel wreaths from the heads of Handel, Haydn and
Mozart; they belong to them,--not yet to me."

     (Teplitz, July 17, 1852, to his ten-year-old admirer, Emilie M., who had
given him a portfolio made by herself.)

110. "Pure church music ought to be performed by voices only, except a
'Gloria,' or some similar text. For this reason I prefer Palestrina;
but it is folly to imitate him without having his genius and religious
views; it would be difficult, if not impossible, too, for the singers of
today to sing his long notes in a sustained and pure manner."

     (To Freudenberg, in 1824.)

111. "Handel is the unattained master of all masters. Go and learn from
him how to achieve vast effects with simple means."

     (Reported by Seyfried. On his death-bed, about the middle of February,
1827, he said to young Gerhard von Breuning, on receiving Handel's
works: "Handel is the greatest and ablest of all composers; from him I
can still learn. Bring me the books!")

112. "Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover
my head and kneel on his grave."

     (Fall of 1823, to J. A. Stumpff, harp maker of London, who acted very
nobly toward Beethoven in his last days. It was he who rejoiced the
dying composer by sending him the forty volumes of Handel's works (see

["Cipriani Potter, to A. W. T., February 27, 1861. Beethoven used to
walk across the fields to Vienna very often. B. would stop, look about
and express his love for nature. One day Potter asked: 'Who is the
greatest living composer, yourself excepted?' Beethoven seemed puzzled
for a moment, and then exclaimed: 'Cherubini!' Potter went on: 'And of
dead authors?' B.--He had always considered Mozart as such, but since he
had been made acquainted with Handel he put him at the head." From A.
W. Thayer's notebook, reprinted in "Music and Manners in the Classical
Period," page 208. H.E.K.]

113. "Heaven forbid that I should take a journal in which sport is made
of the manes of such a revered one."

     (Conversation-book of 1825, in reference to a criticism of Handel.)

114. "That you are going to publish Sebastian Bach's works is something
which does good to my heart, which beats in love of the great and lofty
art of this ancestral father of harmony; I want to see them soon."

     (January, 1801, to Hofmeister, in Leipzig.)

115. "Of Emanuel Bach's clavier works I have only a few, yet they must
be not only a real delight to every true artist, but also serve him for
study purposes; and it is for me a great pleasure to play works that I
have never seen, or seldom see, for real art lovers."

     (July 26, 1809, to Gottfried Hartel, of Leipzig in ordering all the
scores of Haydn, Mozart and the two Bachs.)

116. "See, my dear Hummel, the birthplace of Haydn. I received it as a
gift today, and it gives me great pleasure. A mean peasant hut, in which
so great a man was born!"

     (Remarked on his death-bed to his friend Hummel.)

117. "I have always reckoned myself among the greatest admirers of
Mozart, and shall do so till the day of my death."

     (February 6, 1886, to Abbe Maximilian Stadler, who had sent him his
essay on Mozart's "Requiem.")

118. "Cramer, Cramer! We shall never be able to compose anything like

     (To Cramer, after the two had heard Mozart's concerto in C-minor at a
concert in the Augarten.)

119. "'Die Zauberflote' will always remain Mozart's greatest work, for
in it he for the first time showed himself to be a German musician. 'Don
Juan' still has the complete Italian cut; besides our sacred art
ought never permit itself to be degraded to the level of a foil for so
scandalous a subject."

     (A remark reported by Seyfried.)

["Hozalka says that in 1820-21, as near as he can recollect, the wife
of a Major Baumgarten took boy boarders in the house then standing where
the Musikverein's Saal now is, and that Beethoven's nephew was placed
with her. Her sister, Baronin Born, lived with her. One evening Hozalka,
then a young man, called there and found only Baronin Born at home. Soon
another caller came and stayed to tea. It was Beethoven. Among other
topics Mozart came on the tapis, and the Born asked Beethoven (in
writing, of course) which of Mozart's operas he thought most of. 'Die
Zauberflote' said Beethoven, and, suddenly clasping his hands and
throwing up his eyes, exclaimed: 'Oh, Mozart!'" From A. W. Thayer's
notebooks, reprinted in "Music and Manners in the Classical Period,"
page 198. H. E. K.]

120. "Say all conceivable pretty things to Cherubini,--that there is
nothing I so ardently desire as that we should soon get another opera
from him, and that of all our contemporaries I have the highest regard
for him."

     (May 6, 1823, to Louis Schlasser, afterward chapel master in Darmstadt,
who was about to undertake a journey to Paris. See note to No. 112.)

121. "Among all the composers alive Cherubini is the most worthy of
respect. I am in complete agreement, too, with his conception of the
'Requiem,' and if ever I come to write one I shall take note of many

     (Remark reported by Seyfried. See No. 112.)

122. "Whoever studies Clementi thoroughly has simultaneously also
learned Mozart and other authors; inversely, however, this is not the

     (Reported by Schindler.)

123. "There is much good in Spontini; he understands theatrical effect
and martial noises admirably.

"Spohr is so rich in dissonances; pleasure in his music is marred by his
chromatic melody.

"His name ought not to be Bach (brook), but Ocean, because of his
infinite and inexhaustible wealth of tonal combinations and harmonies.
Bach is the ideal of an organist."

     (In Baden, 1824, to Freudenberg.)

124. "The little man, otherwise so gentle,--I never would have credited
him with such a thing. Now Weber must write operas in earnest, one after
the other, without caring too much for refinement! Kaspar, the monster,
looms up like a house; wherever the devil sticks in his claw we feel

     (To Rochlitz, at Baden, in the summer of 1823.)

125. "There you are, you rascal; you're a devil of a fellow, God bless
you!... Weber, you always were a fine fellow."

     (Beethoven's hearty greeting to Karl Maria von Weber, in October, 1823.)

126. "K. M. Weber began too learn too late; art did not have a chance
to develop naturally in him, and his single and obvious striving is to
appear brilliant."

     (A remark reported by Seyfried.)

127. "'Euryanthe' is an accumulation of diminished seventh chords--all
little backdoors!"

     (Remarked to Schindler about Weber's opera.)

128. "Truly, a divine spark dwells in Schubert!"

     (Said to Schindler when the latter made him acquainted with the "Songs
of Ossian," "Die Junge Nonne," "Die Burgschaft," of Schubert's "Grenzen
der Menschheit," and other songs.)

129. "There is nothing in Meyerbeer; he hasn't the courage to strike at
the right time."

     (To Tomaschek, in October, 1814, in a conversation about the "Battle of
Victoria," at the performance of which, in 1813, Meyerbeer had played
the big drum.)

130. "Rossini is a talented and a melodious composer, his music suits
the frivolous and sensuous spirit of the times, and his productivity is
such that he needs only as many weeks as the Germans do years to write
an opera."

     (In 1824, at Baden, to Freudenberg.)

131. "This rascal Rossini, who is not respected by a single master of
his art!"

     (Conversation-book, 1825.)

132. "Rossini would have become a great composer if his teacher had
frequently applied some blows ad posteriora."

     (Reported by Schindler. Beethoven had been reading the score of "Il
Barbiere di Siviglia.")

133. "The Bohemians are born musicians. The Italians ought to take
them as models. What have they to show for their famous conservatories?
Behold! their idol, Rossini! If Dame Fortune had not given him a pretty
talent and amiable melodies by the bushel, what he learned at school
would have brought him nothing but potatoes for his big belly."

     (In a conversation-book at Haslinger's music shop, where Beethoven
frequently visited.)

136. "Goethe has killed Klopstock for me. You wonder? Now you laugh?
Ah, because I have read Klopstock. I carried him about with me for years
when I walked. What besides? Well, I didn't always understand him. He
skips about so; and he always begins so far away, above or below; always
Maestoso! D-flat major! Isn't, it so? But he's great, nevertheless, and
uplifts the soul. When I couldn't understand him I sort of guessed at

     (To Rochlitz, in 1822.)

135. "As for me I prefer to set Homer, Klopstock, Schiller, to music; if
it is difficult to do, these immortal poets at least deserve it."

     (To the directorate of the "Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde" of Vienna,
January, 1824, in negotiations for an oratorio, "The Victory of the
Cross" [which he had been commissioned to write by the Handel and Haydn
Society of Boston. H. E. K.].)

136. "Goethe and Schiller are my favorite poets, as also Ossian
and Homer, the latter of whom, unfortunately, I can read only in

     (August 8, 1809, to Breitkopf and Hartel.)

137. "Who can sufficiently thank a great poet,--the most valuable jewel
of a nation!"

     (February 10, 1811, to Bettina von Arnim. The reference was to Goethe.)

138. "When you write to Goethe about me search out all the words which
can express my deepest reverence and admiration. I am myself about to
write to him about 'Egmont' for which I have composed the music, purely
out of love for his poems which make me happy."

     (February 10, 1811, to Bettina von Arnim.)

139. "I would have gone to death, yes, ten times to death for Goethe.
Then, when I was in the height of my enthusiasm, I thought out my
'Egmont' music. Goethe,--he lives and wants us all to live with him. It
is for that reason that he can be composed. Nobody is so easily composed
as he. But I do not like to compose songs."

     (To Rochlitz, in 1822, when Beethoven recalled Goethe's amiability in

140. "Goethe is too fond of the atmosphere of the court; fonder than
becomes a poet. There is little room for sport over the absurdities of
the virtuosi, when poets, who ought to be looked upon as the foremost
teachers of the nation, can forget everything else in the enjoyment of
court glitter."

     (Franzensbrunn, August 9, 1812, to Gottfried Hartel of Leipzig.)

141. "When two persons like Goethe and I meet these grand folk must be
made to see what our sort consider great."

     (August 15, 1812, in a description of how haughtily he, and how humbly
Goethe, had behaved in the presence of the Imperial court.)

142. "Since that summer in Carlsbad I read Goethe every day,--when I
read at all."

     (Remarked to Rochlitz.)

143. "Goethe ought not to write more; he will meet the fate of the
singers. Nevertheless he will remain the foremost poet of Germany."

     (Conversationbook, 1818.)

144. "Can you lend me the 'Theory of Colors' for a few weeks? It is an
important work. His last things are insipid."

     (Conversation-book, 1820.)

145. "After all the fellow writes for money only."

     (Reported by Schindler as having been said by Beethoven when, on his
death-bed, he angrily threw a book of Walter Scott's aside.)

146. "He, too, then, is nothing better than an ordinary man! Now he will
trample on all human rights only to humor his ambition; he will place
himself above all others,--become a tyrant!"

     (With these words, as testified to by Ries, an eye-witness, Beethoven
tore the title-page from the score of his "Eroica" symphony (which bore
a dedication to Bonaparte) when the news reached him that Napoleon had
declared himself emperor.)

147. "I believe that so long as the Austrian has his brown beer and
sausage he will not revolt."

     (To Simrock, publisher, in Bonn, August 2, 1794.)

148. "Why do you sell nothing but music? Why did you not long ago follow
my well-meant advice? Do get wise, and find your raison. Instead of a
hundred-weight of paper order genuine unwatered Regensburger, float
this much-liked article of trade down the Danube, serve it in measures,
half-measures and seidels at cheap prices, throw in at intervals
sausages, rolls, radishes, butter and cheese, invite the hungry and
thirsty with letters an ell long on a sign: 'Musical Beer House,' and
you will have so many guests at all hours of the day that one will hold
the door open for the other and your office will never be empty."

     (To Haslinger, the music publisher, when the latter had complained about
the indifference of the Viennese to music.)


Beethoven's observations on this subject were called out by his
experiences in securing an education for his nephew Karl, son of his
like-named brother, a duty which devolved on him on the death of his
brother in the winter of 1815. He loved his nephew almost to idolatry,
and hoped that he would honor the name of Beethoven in the future. But
there was a frivolous vein in Karl, inherited probably from his
mother, who was on easy footing with morality both before and after her
husband's death. She sought with all her might to rid her son of
the guardianship of his uncle. Karl was sent to various educational
institutions and to these Beethoven sent many letters containing advice
and instructions. The nephew grew to be more and more a care, not wholly
without fault of the master. His passionate nature led to many quarrels
between the two, all of which were followed by periods of extravagant
fondness. Karl neglected his studies, led a frivolous life, was fond of
billiards and the coffee-houses which were then generally popular,
and finally, in the summer of 1826, made an attempt at suicide in the
Helenental near Baden, which caused his social ostracism. When he was
found he cried out: "I went to the bad because my uncle wanted to better

Beethoven succeeded in persuading Baron von Stutterheim, commander of
an infantry regiment at Iglau, to accept him as an aspirant for military
office. In later life he became a respected official and man. So
Beethoven himself was vouchsafed only an ill regulated education. His
dissolute father treated him now harshly, now gently. His mother, who
died early, was a silent sufferer, had thoroughly understood her son,
and to her his love was devotion itself. He labored unwearyingly at his
own intellectual and moral advancement until his death.

It seems difficult to reconcile his almost extravagant estimate of the
greatest possible liberty in the development of man with his demands for
strict constraint to which he frequently gives expression; but he had
recognized that it is necessary to grow out of restraint into liberty.
His model as a sensitive and sympathetic educator was his motherly
friend, the wife of Court Councillor von Breuning in Bonn, of whom he
once said: "She knew how to keep the insects off the blossoms."

Beethoven's views on musical education are to be found in the chapters
"On Composition" and "On Performing Music."

149. "Like the State, each man must have his own constitution."

     (Diary, 1815.)

150. "Recommend virtue to your children; that, alone can bring
happiness; not wealth,--I speak from experience. It was virtue alone
that bore me up in my misery; to her and my art I owe that I did not end
my life by self-murder."

     (October 6, 1802, to his brothers Karl and Johann [the so-called
Heiligenstadt Will].)

151. "I know no more sacred duty than to rear and educate a child."

     (January 7, 1820, in a communication to the Court of Appeals in the suit
touching the guardianship of his nephew Karl.)

152. "Nature's weaknesses are nature's endowments; reason, the guide,
must seek to lead and lessen them."

     (Diary, 1817.)

153. "It is man's habit to hold his fellow man in esteem because he
committed no greater errors."

     (May 6, 1811, to Breitkopf and Hartel, in a letter complaining of faulty
printing in some of his compositions.)

154. "There is nothing more efficient in enforcing obedience upon others
than the belief on their part that you are wiser than they...Without
tears fathers can not inculcate virtue in their children, or teachers
learning and wisdom in their pupils; even the laws, by compelling tears
from the citizens, compel them also to strive for justice."

     (Diary, 1815.)

155. "It is only becoming in a youth to combine his duties toward
education and advancement with those which he owes to his benefactor and
supporter; this I did toward my parents."

     (May 19, 1825, to his nephew Karl.)

156. "You can not honor the memory of your father better than to
continue your studies with the greatest zeal, and strive to become an
honest and excellent man."

     (To his nephew, 1816-18.)

157. "Let your conduct always be amiable; through art and science the
best and noblest of men are bound together and your future vocation will
not exclude you."

     (Baden, July 18, 1825, to his nephew, who had decided to become a

158. "It is very true that a drop will hollow a stone; a thousand
lovely impressions are obliterated when children are placed in wooden
institutions while they might receive from their parents the most
soulful impressions which would continue to exert their influence till
the latest age."

     (Diary, spring of 1817. Beethoven was dissatisfied with Giannatasio's
school in which he had placed his nephew. "Karl is a different child
after he has been with me a few hours"      (Diary). In 1826, after the
attempt at suicide, Beethoven said to Breuning: "My Karl was in an
institute; educational institutions furnish forth only hot house

159. "Drops of water wear away a stone in time, not by force but by
continual falling. Only through tireless industry are the sciences
achieved so that one can truthfully say: no day without its line,--nulla
dies sine linea."

     (1799, in a sketch for a theoretical handbook for Archduke Rudolph.)


So open-hearted and straightforward a character as Beethoven could not
have pictured himself with less reserve or greater truthfulness than he
did during his life. Frankness toward himself, frankness toward others
(though sometimes it went to the extreme of rudeness and ill-breeding)
was his motto. The joyous nature which was his as a lad, and which was
not at all averse to a merry prank now and then, underwent a change when
he began to lose his hearing. The dread of deafness and its consequences
drove him nearly to despair, so that he sometimes contemplated suicide.
Increasing hardness of hearing gradually made him reserved, morose and
gloomy. With the progress of the malady his disposition and character
underwent a decided change,--a fact which may be said to account for the
contradictions in his conduct and utterances. It made him suspicious,
distrustful; in his later years he imagined himself cheated and
deceived in the most trifling matters by relatives, friends, publishers,

Nevertheless Beethoven's whole soul was filled with a high idealism
which penetrated through the miseries of his daily life; it was full,
too, of a great love toward humanity in general and his unworthy nephew
in particular. Towards his publishers he often appeared covetous and
grasping, seeking to rake and scrape together all the money possible;
but this was only for the purpose of assuring the future of his nephew.
At the same time, in a merry moment, he would load down his table with
all that kitchen and cellar could provide, for the reflection of his
friends. Thus he oscillated continuously between two extremes; but the
power which swung the pendulum was always the aural malady. He grew
peevish and capricious towards his best friends, rude, even brutal at
times in his treatment of them; only in the next moment to overwhelm
them most pathetically with attentions. Till the end of his life he
remained a sufferer from his passionate disposition over which he
gradually obtained control until, at the end, one could almost speak of
a sunny clarification of his nature.

He has heedlessly been accused of having led a dissolute life, of
having been an intemperate drinker. There would be no necessity of
contradicting such a charge even if there were a scintilla of evidence
to support it; a drinker is not necessarily a dishonorable man, least of
all a musician who drinks. But, the fact of the matter is that it is
not true. If once Beethoven wrote a merry note about merrymaking with
friends, let us rejoice that occasions did sometimes occur, though but
rarely, when the heart of the sufferer was temporarily gladdened.

He was a strict moralist, as is particularly evidenced by the notes in
his journal which have not been made public. In many things which befell
him in his daily life he was as ingenuous as a child. His personality,
on the whole, presented itself in such a manner as to invite the
intellectual and social Philistine to call him a fool.

160. "I shall print a request in all the newspapers that henceforth all
artists refrain from painting my picture without my knowledge; I never
thought that my own face would bring me embarrassment."

     (About 1803, to Christine Gerardi, because without his knowledge a
portrait of him had been made somewhere--in a cafe, probably.)

161. "Pity that I do not understand the art of war as well as I do the
art of music; I should yet conquer Napoleon!"

     (To Krumpholz, the violinist, when he informed Beethoven of the victory
of Napoleon at Jena.)

162. "If I were a general and knew as much about strategy as I, a
composer, know about counterpoint, I'd give you fellows something to

     (Called out behind the back of a French officer, his fist doubled,
on May 12, 1809, when the French had occupied Vienna. Reported by a
witness, W. Rust.)

163. "Camillus, if I am not mistaken, was the name of the Roman who
drove the wicked Gauls from Rome. At such a cost I would also take the
name if I could drive them wherever I found them to where they belong."

     (To Pleyel, publisher, in Paris, April, 1807.)

164. "I love most the realm of mind which, to me, is the highest of all
spiritual and temporal monarchies."

     (To Advocate Kauka in the summer of 1814. He had been speaking about the
monarchs represented in the Congress of Vienna.)

165. "I shall not come in person, since that would be a sort of
farewell, and farewells I have always avoided."

     (January 24, 1818, to Giannatasio del Rio, on taking his nephew Karl out
of the latter institute.)

166. "I hope still to bring a few large works into the world, and
then, like an old child, to end my earthly career somewhere among good

     (October 6, 1802, to Wegeler.)

167. "O ye men, who think or declare me to be hostile, morose or
misanthropical, what injustice ye do me. Ye know not the secret cause of
what thus appears to you. My heart and mind were from childhood
disposed for the tender feelings of benevolence; I was always wishing to
accomplish great deeds."

     (October 6, 1802, in the so-called Heiligenstadt Will.)

168. "Divinity, thou lookest into my heart, thou knowest it, thou
knowest that love for mankind and a desire to do good have their abode
there. O ye men, when one day ye read this think that ye have wronged
me, and may the unfortunate console himself with the thought that he has
found one of his kind who, despite all the obstacles which nature put in
his path, yet did all in his power to be accepted in the ranks of worthy
artists and men!"

     (From the Heiligenstadt Will.)

169. "I spend all my mornings with the muses;--and they bless me also in
my walks."

     (October 12, 1835, to his nephew Karl.)

170. "Concerning myself nothing,--that is, from nothing nothing."

     (October 19, 1815, to Countess Erdody.)

[A possible allusion to the line, "Nothing can come of nothing." from
Shakespeare's "King Lear," Act 1, scene 1]

171. "Beethoven can write, thank God; but do nothing else on earth."

     (December 22, 1822, to Ferdinand Ries, in London.)

172. "Mentally I often frame an answer, but when I come to write it down
I generally throw the pen aside, since I am not able to write what I

     (October 7, 1826, to his friend Wegeler, in Coblenz. "The better sort
of people, I think, know me anyhow." He is excusing his laziness in

173. "I have the gift to conceal my sensitiveness touching a multitude
of things; but when I am provoked at a moment when I am more sensitive
than usual to anger, I burst out more violently than anybody else."

     (July 24, 1804, to Ries, in reporting to him a quarrel with Stephan von

174. "X. is completely changed since I threw half a dozen books at her
head. Perhaps something of their contents accidentally got into her head
or her wicked heart."

     (To Mme. Streicher, who often had to put Beethoven's house in order.)

175. "I can have no intercourse, and do not want to have any, with
persons who are not willing to believe in me because I have not yet made
a wide reputation."

     (To Prince Lobkowitz, about 1798. A cavalier had failed to show him
proper respect in the Prince's salon.)

176. "Many a vigorous and unconsidered word drops from my mouth, for
which reason I am considered mad."

     (In the summer of 1880, to Dr. Muller, of Bremen, who was paying him a

177. "I will grapple with Fate; it shall not quite bear me down. O, it
is lovely to live life a thousand times!"

     (November 16, 1800, or 1801, to Wegeler.)

178. "Morality is the strength of men who distinguish themselves over
others, and it is mine."

     (In a communication to his friend, Baron Zmeskall.)

179. "I, too, am a king!"

     (Said to Holz, when the latter begged him not to sell the ring which
King Frederick William III, of Prussia, had sent to him instead of money
or an order in return for the dedication of the ninth symphony. "Master,
keep the ring," Holz had said, "it is from a king." Beethoven made his
remark "with indescribable dignity and self-consciousness.")

[On his deathbed he said to little Gerhard von Breuning: "Know that I am
an artist."]

[At the height of the popular infatuation for Rossini (1822) he said to
his friends: "Well, they will not be able to rob me of my place in the
history of art."]

180. "Prince, what you are you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am
through my own efforts. There have been thousands of princes and will be
thousands more; there is only one Beethoven!"

     (According to tradition, from a letter which he wrote to Prince
Lichnowsky when the latter attempted to persuade him to play for some
French officers on his estate in Silesia. Beethoven went at night to
Troppau, carrying the manuscript of the (so-called) "Appassionata"
sonata, which suffered from the rain.)

181. "My nobility is here, and here (pointing to his heart and head)."

     (Reported by Schindler. In the lawsuit against his sister-in-law (the
mother of nephew Karl) Beethoven had been called on to prove that the
"van" in his name was a badge of nobility.)

182. "You write that somebody has said that I am the natural son of the
late King of Prussia. The same thing was said to me long ago, but I have
made it a rule never to write anything about myself or answer anything
that is said about me."

     (October 7, 1826, to Wegeler.)

["I leave it to you to give the world an account of myself and
especially my mother." The statement had appeared in Brockhaus's

183. "To me the highest thing, after God, is my honor."

     (July 26, 1822, to the publisher Peters, in Leipzig.)

184. "I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I
have in my heart must out; that is the reason why I compose."

     (Remark to Karl Czerny, reported in his autobiography.)

185. "I do not desire that you shall esteem me greater as an artist, but
better and more perfect as a man; when the condition of our country
is somewhat better, then my art shall be devoted to the welfare of the

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler, in Bonn, writing of his return to
his native land.)

186. "Perhaps the only thing that looks like genius about me is that my
affairs are not always in the best of order, and that in this respect
nobody can be of help but myself."

     (April 22, 1801, to Hofmeister, in Leipzig excusing himself for
dilatoriness in sending him these compositions: the Pianoforte sonata
op. 22, the symphony op. 21, the septet op. 20 and the concerto op. 19.)

187. "I am free from all small vanities. Only in the divine art is the
lever which gives me power to sacrifice the best part of my life to the
celestial muses."

     (September 9, 1824, to George Nigeli, in Zurich.)

188. "Inasmuch as the purpose of the undersigned throughout his career
has not been selfish but the promotion of the interests of art, the
elevation of popular taste and the flight of his own genius toward
loftier ideals and perfection, it was inevitable that he should
frequently sacrifice his own advantages and profit to the muse."

     (December, 1804, to the Director of the Court Theatre, applying for an
engagement which was never effected.)

189. "From my earliest childhood my zeal to serve suffering humanity
with my art was never content with any kind of a subterfuge; and no
other reward is needed than the internal satisfaction which always
accompanies such a deed."

     (To Procurator Varenna, who had asked him for compositions to be played
at a charity concert in Graz.)

190. "There is no greater pleasure for me than to practice and exhibit
my art."

     (November 16, 1800, or 1801, to Wegeler.)

191. "I recognize no other accomplishments or advantages than those
which place one amongst the better class of men; where I find them,
there is my home."

     (Teplitz, July 17, 1812, to his little admirer, Emile M., in H.)

192. "From childhood I learned to love virtue, and everything beautiful
and good."

     (About 1808, to Frau Marie Bigot.)

193. "It is one of my foremost principles never to occupy any other
relations than those of friendship with the wife of another man. I
should never want to fill my heart with distrust towards those who may
chance some day to share my fate with me, and thus destroy the loveliest
and purest life for myself."

     (About 1808, to Frau Marie Bigot, after she had declined his invitation
to drive with him.)

194. "In my solitude here I miss my roommate, at least at evening and
noon, when the human animal is obliged to assimilate that which is
necessary to the production of the intellectual, and which I prefer to
do in company with another."

     (Teplitz, September 6, 1811, to Tiedge.)

195. "It was not intentional and premeditated malice which led me to act
toward you as I did; it was my unpardonable carelessness."

     (To Wegeler.)

196. "I am not bad; hot blood is my wickedness, my crime is
youthfulness. I am not bad, really not bad; even though wild surges
often accuse my heart, it still is good. To do good wherever we can, to
love liberty above all things, and never to deny truth though it be at
the throne itself.--Think occasionally of the friend who honors you."

     (Written in the autograph album of a Herr Bocke.)

197. "It is a singular sensation to see and hear one's self praised, and
then to be conscious of one's own imperfections as I am. I always regard
such occasions as admonitions to get nearer the unattainable goal set
for us by art and nature, hard as it may be."

     (To Mdlle. de Girardi, who had sung his praises in a poem.)

198. "It is my sincere desire that whatever shall be said of me
hereafter shall adhere strictly to the truth in every respect regardless
of who may be hurt thereby, me not excepted."

     (Reported by Schindler, who also relates that when Beethoven handed him
documents to be used in the biography a week before his death, he said
to him and Breuning: "But in all things severely the truth; for that I
hold you to a strict accountability.")

199. "Now you can help me to find a wife. If you find a beautiful woman
in F. who, mayhap, endows my music with a sigh,--but she must be no
Elise Burger--make a provisional engagement. But she must be beautiful,
for I can love only the beautiful; otherwise I might love myself."

     (In 1809, to Baron von Gleichenstein. As for the personal reference it
seems likely that Beethoven referred to Elise Burger, second wife of
the poet G. August Burger, with whom he had got acquainted after she had
been divorced and become an elocutionist.)

200. "Am I not a true friend? Why do you conceal your necessities from
me? No friend of mine must suffer so long as I have anything."

     (To Ferdinand Ries, in 1801. Ries's father had been kind to Beethoven on
the death of his mother in 1787.)

201. "I would rather forget what I owe to myself than what I owe to

     (To Frau Streicher, in the summer of 1817.)

202. "I never practice revenge. When I must antagonize others I do no
more than is necessary to protect myself against them, or prevent them
from doing further evil."

     (To Frau Streicher, in reference to the troubles which his servants gave
him, many of which, no doubt, were due to faults of his own, excusable
in a man in his condition of health.)

203. "Be convinced that mankind, even in your case, will always be
sacred to me."

     (To Czapka, Magisterial Councillor, August, 1826, in the matter of his
nephew's attempt at suicide.)

204. "H. is, and always will be, too weak for friendship, and I look
upon him and Y. as mere instruments upon which I play when I feel
like it; but they can never be witnesses of my internal and external
activities, and just as little real participants. I value them according
as they do me service."

     (Summer of 1800, to the friend of his youth, Pastor Amenda. H. was
probably the faithful Baron Zmeskall von Domanovecz.)

205. "If it amuses them to talk and write about me in that manner, let
them go on."

     (Reported by Schindler as referring to critics who had declared him ripe
for the madhouse.)

206. "To your gentlemen critics I recommend a little more foresight and
shrewdness, particularly in respect of the products of younger authors,
as many a one, who might otherwise make progress, may be frightened off.
So far as I am concerned I am far from thinking myself so perfect as not
to be able to endure faulting; yet at the beginning the clamor of your
critic was so debasing that I could scarcely discuss the matter when I
compared myself with others, but had to remain quiet and think: they do
not understand. I was the more able to remain quiet when I recalled how
men were praised who signify little among those who know, and who have
almost disappeared despite their good points. Well, pax vobiscum, peace
to them and me,--I would never have mentioned a syllable had you not

     (April 22, 1801, to Breitkopf and Hartel, publishers of the "Allgemeine
Musik Zeitung.")

207. "Who was happier than I when I could still pronounce the sweet word
'mother' and have it heard? To whom can I speak it now?"

     (September 15, 1787, from Bonn to Dr. Schade, of Augsburg, who had aided
him in his return journey from Vienna to Bonn. His mother had died on
July 17, 1787.)

208. "I seldom go anywhere since it was always impossible for me to
associate with people where there was not a certain exchange of ideas."

     (February 15, 1817, to Brentano of Frankfurt.)

209. "Not a word about rest! I know of none except in sleep, and sorry
enough am I that I am obliged to yield up more to it than formerly."

     (November 16, 1801, or 1802, to Wegeler. In Homer's "Odyssey" Beethoven
thickly underscored the words: "Too much sleep is injurious." XV, 393.)

210. "Rest assured that you are dealing with a true artist who likes to
be paid decently, it is true, but who loves his own reputation and also
the fame of his art; who is never satisfied with himself and who strives
continually to make even greater progress in his art."

     (November 23, 1809, to George Thomson, of Edinburgh, for whom Beethoven
arranged the Scotch songs.)

211. "My motto is always: nulla die sine linea; and if I permit the muse
to go to sleep it is only that she may awake strengthened."

     (October 7, 1826, to Wegeler.)

212. "There is no treatise likely to be too learned for me. Without
laying claim to real learning it is yet true that since my childhood I
have striven to learn the minds of the best and wisest of every period
of time. It is a disgrace for every artist who does not try to do as

     (November 2, 1809, to Breitkopf and Hartel, of Leipzig.)

213. "Without wishing in the least to set myself up as an exemplar I
assure you that I lived in a small and insignificant place, and made out
of myself nearly all that I was there and am here;--this to your comfort
in case you feel the need of making progress in art."

     (Baden, July 6, 1804, to Herr Wiedebein, of Brunswick, who had asked
if it was advisable for a music teacher and student to make his home in

214. "There is much on earth to be done,--do it soon! I must not
continue my present everyday life,--art asks this sacrifice also. Take
rest in diversion in order to work more energetically."

     (Diary, 1814.)

215. "The daily grind exhausts me."

     (Baden, August 23, 1823, to his nephew Karl.)


216. "Compelled to be a philosopher as early as my 28th year;--it is not
an easy matter,--more difficult for the artist than any other man."

     (October 6, 1802; the Heiligenstadt Will.)

217. "Compelled to contemplate a lasting malady, born with an ardent
and lively temperament, susceptible to the diversions of society, I was
obliged at an early date to isolate myself and live a life of solitude."

     (From the same.)

218. "It was impossible for me to say to others: speak louder; shout!
for I am deaf. Ah! was it possible for me to proclaim a deficiency in
that one sense which in my case ought to have been more perfect than
in all others, which I had once possessed in greatest perfection, to
a degree of perfection, indeed, which few of my profession have ever

     (From the same.)

219. "For me there can be no recreation in human society, refined
conversation, mutual exchange of thoughts and feelings; only so far as
necessity compels may I give myself to society,--I must live like an

     (From the same.)

220. "How great was the humiliation when one who stood beside me heard
the distant sound of a shepherd's pipe, and I heard nothing; or heard
the shepherd singing, and I heard nothing. Such experiences brought me
to the verge of despair;--but little more and I should have put an end
to my life. Art, art alone deterred me."

     (From the same.)

221. "I may say that I live a wretched existence. For almost two years
I have avoided all social gatherings because it is impossible for me to
tell the people I am deaf. If my vocation were anything else it might be
more endurable, but under the circumstances the condition is terrible;
besides what would my enemies say,--they are not few in number! To
give you an idea of this singular deafness let me tell you that in the
theatre I must lean over close to the orchestra in order to understand
the actor; if I am a little remote from them I do not hear the high
tones of instruments and voices; it is remarkable that there are persons
who have not observed it, but because I am generally absent-minded my
conduct is ascribed to that."

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler. "To you only do I confide this as a
secret." Concerning his deafness see Appendix.)

222. "My defective hearing appeared everywhere before me like a ghost; I
fled from the presence of men, was obliged to appear to be a misanthrope
although I am so little such."

     (November 16, 1801, or 1800, to Wegeler, in writing to him about his
happy love. "Unfortunately, she is not of my station in life.")

223. "Truly, a hard lot has befallen me! Yet I accept the decree of
Fate, and continually pray to God to grant that as long as I must endure
this death in life, I may be preserved from want."

     (March 14, 1827, to Moscheles, after Beethoven had undergone the fourth
operation for dropsy and was confronting the fifth. He died on March 26,

224. "Live alone in your art! Restricted though you be by your defective
sense, this is still the only existence for you."

     (Diary, 1816.)

225. "Dissatisfied with many things, more susceptible than any other
person and tormented by my deafness, I often find only suffering in the
association with others."

     (In 1815, to Brauchle, tutor in the house of Countess Erdody.)

226. "I have emptied a cup of bitter suffering and already won martyrdom
in art through the kindness of art's disciples and my art associates."

     (In the summer of 1814, to Advocate Kauka. "Socrates and Jesus were my
exemplars," he remarks in a conversation-book of 1819.)

227. "Perfect the ear trumpets as far as possible, and then travel; this
you owe to yourself, to mankind and to the Almighty! Only thus can you
develop all that is still locked within you;--and a little court,--a
little chapel,--writing the music and having it performed to the glory
of the Almighty, the Eternal, the Infinite---"

     (Diary, 1815. Beethoven was hoping to receive an appointment as
chapelmaster from his former pupil, Archduke Rudolph, Archbishop of

228. "God help me. Thou seest me deserted by all mankind. I do not want
to do wrong,--hear my prayer to be with my Karl in the future for which
there seems to be no possibility now. O, harsh Fate, cruel destiny. No,
my unhappy condition will never end. 'This I feel and recognize clearly:
Life is not the greatest of blessings; but the greatest of evils is
guilt.' (From Schiller's "Braut von Messina"). There is no salvation
for you except to hasten away from here; only by this means can you lift
yourself again to the heights of your art whereas you are here sinking
to the commonplace,--and a symphony--and then away,--away,--meanwhile
fund the salaries which can be done for years. Work during the summer
preparatory to travel; only thus can you do the great work for your poor
nephew; later travel through Italy, Sicily, with a few other artists."

     (Diary, spring of 1817. The salaries were the annuities paid him for
several years by Archduke Rudolph, Prince Rinsky and Prince Lobkowitz.
Seume's "Spaziergang nach Syrakus" was a favorite book of Beethoven's
and inspired him in a desire to make a similar tour, but nothing came of

229. "You must not be a man like other men: not for yourself, only for
others; for you there is no more happiness except in yourself, in your
art.--O God, give me strength to overcome myself, nothing must hold me
to this life."

     (Beginning of the Diary, 1812-18.)

230. "Leave operas and all else alone, write only for your orphan, and
then a cowl to close this unhappy life."

     (Diary, 1816.)

231. "I have often cursed my existence; Plutarch taught me resignation.
I shall, if possible, defy Fate, though there will be hours in my life
when I shall be the most miserable of God's creatures. Resignation! What
a wretched resort; yet it is the only one left me!"

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler.)

232. "Patience, they tell me, I must now choose for a guide. I have
done so. It shall be my resolve, lastingly, I hope, to endure until
it pleases the implacable Parca: to break the thread. There may be
improvement,--perhaps not,--I am prepared."

     (From the Heiligenstadt Will.)

233. "Let all that is called life be offered to the sublime and become
a sanctuary of art. Let me live, even through artificial means, so they
can be found."

     (Diary, 1814, when Beethoven was being celebrated extraordinarily by the
royalties and dignitaries gathered at the Congress of Vienna.)

234. "Ah! it seemed impossible for me to leave the world until I had
produced all that I felt called upon to produce; and so I prolonged this
wretched existence."

     (From the Heiligenstadt Will.)

235. "With joy shall I hasten forward to meet death; if he comes before
I shall have had an opportunity to develop all my artistic capabilities,
he will come too early in spite of my harsh fate, and I shall probably
wish him to come at a later date. But even then I shall be content, for
will he not release me from endless suffering? Come when you please, I
shall meet you bravely."

     (From the Heiligenstadt Will.)

236. "Apollo and the muses will not yet permit me to be delivered
over to the grim skeleton, for I owe them so much, and I must, on any
departure for the Elysian Fields, leave behind me all that the spirit
has inspired and commanded to be finished."

     (September 17, 1824, to Schott, music publisher in Mayence.)

237. "Had I not read somewhere that it is not pending man to part
voluntarily from his life so long as there is a good deed which he can
perform, I should long since have been no more, and by my own hand. O,
how beautiful life is, but in my case it is poisoned."

     (May 2, 1810, to his friend Wegeler, to whom he is lamenting over "the
demon that has set up his habitat in my ears.")

238. "I must abandon wholly the fond hope, which I brought hither, to be
cured at least in a degree. As the fallen autumn leaves have withered,
so are now my hopes blighted. I depart in almost the same condition
in which I came; even the lofty courage which often animated me in the
beautiful days of summer has disappeared."

     (From the Will. Beethoven had tried the cure at Heiligenstadt.)

239. "All week long I had to suffer and endure like a saint. Away with
this rabble! What a reproach to our civilization that we need what we
despise and must always know it near!"

     (In 1825, complaining of the misery caused by his domestics.)

240. "The best thing to do not to think of your malady is to keep

     (Diary, 1812-18.)

241. "It is no comfort for men of the better sort to say to them that
others also suffer; but, alas! comparisons must always be made, though
they only teach that we all suffer, that is err, only in different

     (In 1816, to Countess Erdody, on the death of her son.)

242. "The portraits of Handel, Bach, Gluck, Mozart and Haydn in my
room,--they may help me to make claim on toleration."

     (Diary, 1815-16.)

243. "God, who knows my innermost soul, and knows how sacredly I have
fulfilled all the duties but upon me as man by humanity, God and nature
will surely some day relieve me from these afflictions."

     (July 18, 1821, to Archduke Rudolph, from Unterubling.)

244. "Friendship and similar sentiments bring only wounds to me. Well,
so be it; for you, poor Beethoven, there is no outward happiness; you
must create it within you,--only in the world of ideality shall you find

     (About 1808, to Baron von Gleichenstein, by whom he thought himself

245. "You are living on a quiet sea, or already in the safe harbor; you
do not feel the distress of a friend out in the raging storm,--or you
must not feel it."

     (In 1811, to his friend Gleichenstein, when Beethoven was in love with
the Baron's sister-in-law, Therese Malfatti.)

246. "I must have a confidant at my side lest life become a burden."

     (July 4, 1812, to Count Brunswick, whom he is urging to make a tour with
him, probably to Teplitz.)

247. "Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men.
At my age I need a certain uniformity and equableness of life; can such
exist in our relationship?"

     (June 7, 1800      (?), to the "Immortal Beloved.")

248. "O Providence! vouchsafe me one day of pure joy! Long has the echo
of perfect felicity been absent from my heart. When O, when, O Thou
Divine One, shall I feel it again in nature's temple and man's? Never?
Ah! that would be too hard!"

     (Conclusion of the Heiligenstadt Will.)


249. "Freedom,--progress, is purpose in the art-world as in universal
creation, and if we moderns have not the hardihood of our ancestors,
refinement of manners has surely accomplished something."

     (Middling, July 29, 1819, to Archduke Rudolph.)

250. "The boundaries are not yet fixed which shall call out to talent
and industry: thus far and no further!"

     (Reported by Schindler.)

251. "You know that the sensitive spirit must not be bound to miserable

     (In the summer of 1814, to Johann Kauka, the advocate who represented
him in the prosecution of his claims against the heirs of Prince

252. "Art, the persecuted one, always finds an asylum. Did not Daedalus,
shut up in the labyrinth, invent the wings which carried him out into
the open air? O, I shall find them, too, these wings!"

     (February 19, 1812, to Zmeskall, when, in 1811, by decree of the
Treasury, the value of the Austrian currency was depreciated one-fifth,
and the annuity which Beethoven received from Archduke Rudolph and the
Princes Lobkowitz and Kinsky reduced to 800 florins.)

253. "Show me the course where at the goal there stands the palm of
victory! Lend sublimity to my loftiest thoughts, bring to them truths
that shall live forever!"

     (Diary, 1814, while working on "Fidelio.")

254. "Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man
has no nobler or more valuable possession than time; therefore never put
off till tomorrow what you can do today."

     (From the notes in Archduke Rudolph's instruction book.)

255. "This is the mark of distinction of a truly admirable man:
steadfastness in times of trouble."

     (Diary, 1816.)

256. "Courage, so it be righteous, will gain all things."

     (April, 1815, to Countess Erdody.)

257. "Force, which is a unit, will always prevail against the majority
which is divided."

     (Conversation-book, 1819.)

258. "Kings and Princes can create professors and councillors, and
confer orders and decorations; but they can not create great men,
spirits that rise above the earthly rabble; these they can not create,
and therefore they are to be respected."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

259. "Man, help yourself!"

     (Written under the words: "Fine, with the help of God," which Moscheles
had written at the end of a pianoforte arrangement of a portion of

260. "If I could give as definite expression to my thoughts about my
illness as to my thoughts in music, I would soon help myself."

     (September, 1812, to Amalie Sebald, a patient at the cure in Teplitz.)

261. "Follow the advice of others only in the rarest cases."

     (Diary, 1816.)

262. "The moral law in us, and the starry sky above us."--Kant.

     (Conversation-book, February, 1820.)

[Literally the passage in Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason" reads as
follows: "Two things fill the soul with ever new and increasing wonder
and reverence the oftener the mind dwells upon them:--the starry sky
above me and the moral law in me."]

263. "Blessed is he who has overcome all passions and then proceeds
energetically to perform his duties under all circumstances careless of
success! Let the motive lie in the deed, not in the outcome. Be not one
of those whose spring of action is the hope of reward. Do not let
your life pass in inactivity. Be industrious, do your duty, banish all
thoughts as to the results, be they good or evil; for such equanimity is
attention to intellectual things. Seek an asylum only in Wisdom; for
he who is wretched and unhappy is so only in consequence of things. The
truly wise man does not concern himself with the good and evil of
this world. Therefore endeavor diligently to preserve this use of your
reason--for in the affairs of this world, such a use is a precious art."

     (Diary. Though essentially in the language of Beethoven there is
evidence that the passage was inspired by something that he had read.)

264. "The just man must be able also to suffer injustice without
deviating in the least from the right course."

     (To the Viennese magistrate in the matter of Karl's education.)

265. "Man's humility towards man pains me; and yet when I consider
myself in connection with the universe, what am I and what is he whom we
call the greatest? And yet here, again, lies the divine element in man."

     (To the "Immortal Beloved," July 6      (1800?).)

266. "Only the praise of one who has enjoyed praise can give pleasure."

     (Conversation-book, 1825.)

267. "Nothing is more intolerable than to be compelled to accuse one's
self of one's own errors."

     (Teplitz, September 6, 1811, to Tiedge. Beethoven regrets that through
his own fault he had not made Tiedge's acquaintance on an earlier

268. "What greater gift can man receive than fame, praise and

     (Diary, 1816-17. After Pliny, Epist. III.)

269. "Frequently it seems as if I should almost go mad over my
undeserved fame; fortune seeks me out and I almost fear new misfortune
on that account."

     (July, 1810, to his friend Zmeskall. "Every day there come new inquiries
from strangers, new acquaintances new relationships.")

270. "The world must give one recognition,--it is not always unjust. I
care nothing for it because I have a higher goal."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

271. "I have the more turned my gaze upwards; but for our own sakes
and for others we are obliged to turn our attention sometimes to lower
things; this, too, is a part of human destiny."

     (February 8, 1823, to Zelter, with whom he is negotiating the sale of a
copy of the Mass in D.)

272. "Why so many dishes? Man is certainly very little higher than the
other animals if his chief delights are those of the table."

     (Reported by J. A. Stumpff, in the "Harmonicon" of 1824. He dined with
Beethoven in Baden.)

273. "Whoever tells a lie is not pure of heart, and such a person can
not cook a clean soup."

     (To Mme. Streicher, in 1817, or 1818, after having dismissed an
otherwise good housekeeper because she had told a falsehood to spare his

274. "Vice walks through paths full of present lusts and persuades
many to follow it. Virtue pursues a steep path and is less seductive to
mankind, especially if at another place there are persons who call them
to a gently declining road."

     (Diary, 1815.)

275. "Sensual enjoyment without a union of soul is bestial and will
always remain bestial."

     (Diary, 1812-18.)

276. "Men are not only together when they are with each other; even the
distant and the dead live with us."

     (To Therese Malfatti, later Baroness von Drossdick, to whom in the
country he sent Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister" and Schlegel's translation of

277. "There is no goodness except the possession of a good soul, which
may be seen in all things, from which one need not seek to hide."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

278. "The foundation of friendship demands the greatest likeness of
human souls and hearts."

     (Baden, July 24, 1804, to Ries, describing his quarrel with Breuning.)

279. "True friendship can rest only on the union of like natures."

     (Diary, 1812-18.)

280. "The people say nothing; they are merely people. As a rule they
only see themselves in others, and what they see is nothing; away with
them! The good and the beautiful needs no people,--it exists without
outward help, and this seems to be the reason of our enduring

     (September 16, 1812, to Amalie Sebald, in Teplitz, who had playfully
called him a tyrant.)

281. "Look, my dear Ries; these are the great connoisseurs who affect
to be able to judge of any piece of music so correctly and keenly. Give
them but the name of their favorite,--they need no more!"

     (To his pupil Ries, who had, as a joke, played a mediocre march at a
gathering at Count Browne's and announced it to be a composition by
Beethoven. When the march was praised beyond measure Beethoven broke out
into a grim laugh.)

282. "Do not let all men see the contempt which they deserve; we do not
know when we may need them."

     (Note in the Diary of 1814, after having had an unpleasant experience
with his "friend" Bertolini. "Henceforth never step inside his house;
shame on you to ask anything from such an one.")

283. "Our Time stands in need of powerful minds who will scourge these
petty, malicious and miserable scoundrels,--much as my heart resents
doing injury to a fellow man."

     (In 1825, to his nephew, in reference to the publication of a satirical
canon on the Viennese publisher, Haslinger, by Schott, of Mayence.)

284. "Today is Sunday. Shall I read something for you from the Gospels?
'Love ye one another!'"

     (To Frau Streicher.)

285. "Hate reacts on those who nourish it."

     (Diary, 1812-18.)

286. "When friends get into a quarrel it is always best not to call in
an intermediary, but to have friend turn to friend direct."

     (Vienna, November 2, 1793, to Eleonore von Breuning, of Bonn.)

287. "There are reasons for the conduct of men which one is not always
willing to explain, but which, nevertheless, are based on ineradicable

     (In 1815, to Brauchle.)

288. "I was formerly inconsiderate and hasty in the expression of my
opinions, and thereby I made enemies. Now I pass judgment on no one,
and, indeed, for the reason that I do not wish to do any one harm.
Moreover, in the last instance I always think: if it is something decent
it will maintain itself in spite of all attack and envy; if there is
nothing good and sound at the bottom of it, it will fall to pieces of
itself, bolster it up as one may."

     (In a conversation with Tomaschek, in October, 1814.)

289. "Even the most sacred friendship may harbor secrets, but you ought
not to misinterpret the secret of a friend because you can not guess

     (About 1808, to Frau Marie Bigot.)

290. "You are happy; it is my wish that you remain so, for every man is
best placed in his sphere."

     (Bonn, July 13, 1825, to his brother Johann, landowner in Gneisendorf.)

291. "One must not measure the cost of the useful."

     (To his nephew Karl in a discussion touching the purchase of an
expensive book.)

292. "It is not my custom to prattle away my purposes, since every
intention once betrayed is no longer one's own."

     (To Frau Streicher.)

293. "How stupidity and wretchedness always go in pairs!"

     (Diary, 1817.)

[Beethoven was greatly vexed by his servants.]

294. "Hope nourishes me; it nourishes half the world, and has been my
neighbor all my life, else what had become of me!"

     (August 11, 1810, to Bettina von Arnim.)

295. "Fortune is round like a globe, hence, naturally, does not always
fall on the noblest and best."

     (Vienna, July 29, 1800, to Wegeler.)

296. "Show your power, Fate! We are not our own masters; what is decided
must be,--and so be it!"

     (Diary, 1818.)

297. "Eternal Providence omnisciently directs the good and evil fortunes
of mortal men."

     (Diary, 1818.)

298. "With tranquility, O God, will I submit myself to changes, and
place all my trust in Thy unalterable mercy and goodness."

     (Diary, 1818.)

299. "All misfortune is mysterious and greatest when viewed alone;
discussed with others it seems more endurable because one becomes
entirely familiar with the things one dreads, and feels as if one had
overcome it."

     (Diary, 1816.)

300. "One must not flee for protection to poverty against the loss of
riches, nor to a lack of friendship against the loss of friends, nor by
abstention from procreation against the death of children, but to reason
against everything."

     (Diary, 1816.)

301. "I share deeply with you the righteous sorrow over the death of
your wife. It seems to me that such a parting, which confronts nearly
every married man, ought to keep one in the ranks of the unmarried."

     (May 20, 1811, to Gottfried Hartel, of Leipzig.)

302. "He who is afflicted with a malady which he can not alter, but
which gradually brings him nearer and nearer to death, without which he
would have lived longer, ought to reflect that murder or another cause
might have killed him even more quickly."

     (Diary, 1812-18.)

303. "We finite ones with infinite souls are born only for sorrows and
joy and it might almost be said that the best of us receive joy through

     (October 19, 1815, to Countess Erdody.)

304. "He is a base man who does not know how to die; I knew it as a boy
of fifteen."

     (In the spring of 1816, to Miss Fanny Giannatasio del Rio, when
Beethoven felt ill and spoke of dying. It is not known that he was ever
near death in his youth.)

305. "A second and third generation recompenses me three and fourfold
for the ill-will which I had to endure from my former contemporaries."

     (Copied into his Diary from Goethe's "West-ostlicher Divan.")


    "My hour at last is come;
     Yet not ingloriously or passively
     I die, but first will do some valiant deed,
     Of which mankind shall hear in after

     ("The Iliad" [Bryant's translation], Book XXII, 375-378.)

     (Copied into his Diary, 1815.)

307. "Fate gave man the courage of endurance."

     (Diary, 1814.)


     "Portia--How far that little candle throws his beams!
      So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

     (Marked in his copy of Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice.")


     "And on the day that one becomes a
     The Thunderer, Jove, takes half his
         worth away."--Homer.

     ("The Odyssey" [Bryant's translation], Book XVII, 392-393. Marked by


    "Short is the life of man, and whoso
     A cruel heart, devising cruel things,
     On him men call down evil from the
     While living, and pursue him, when he
     With scoffs. But whoso is of generous
     And harbors generous aims, his guests
     His praises far and wide to all
     And numberless are they who call him

     ("The Odyssey" [Bryant's translation], Book XIX, 408-415. Copied into
his diary, 1818.)


Beethoven was through and through a religious man, though not in the
confessional sense. Reared in the Catholic faith he early attained to an
independent opinion on religious things. It must be borne in mind that
his youth fell in the period of enlightenment and rationalism. When at
a later date he composed the grand Mass in honor of his esteemed pupil
Archduke Rudolph,--he hoped to obtain from him a chapelmastership when
the Archduke became Archbishop of Olmutz, but in vain,--he gave it forms
and dimensions which deviated from the ritual.

In all things liberty was the fundamental principle of Beethoven's life.
His favorite book was Sturm's "Observations Concerning God's Works in
Nature"      (Betrachtungen uber die Werke Gottes in der Natur), which he
recommended to the priests for wide distribution among the people. He
saw the hand of God in even the most insignificant natural phenomenon.
God was to him the Supreme Being whom he had jubilantly hymned in
the choral portion of the Ninth Symphony in the words of Schiller:
"Brothers, beyond you starry canopy there must dwell a loving Father!"
Beethoven's relationship to God was that of a child toward his loving
father to whom he confides all his joys as well as sorrows.

It is said that once he narrowly escaped excommunication for having said
that Jesus was only a poor human being and a Jew. Haydn, ingenuously
pious, is reported to have called Beethoven an atheist.

He consented to the calling in of a priest on his death-bed.
Eye-witnesses testify that the customary function was performed most
impressively and edifyingly and that Beethoven expressed his thanks
to the officiating priest with heartiness. After he had left the room
Beethoven said to his friends: "Plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est,"
the phrase with which antique dramas were concluded. From this fact
the statement has been made that Beethoven wished to characterize the
sacrament of extreme unction as a comedy. This is contradicted, however,
by his conduct during its administration. It is more probable that he
wished to designate his life as a drama; in this sense, at any rate, the
words were accepted by his friends. Schindler says emphatically: "The
last days were in all respects remarkable, and he looked forward to
death with truly Socratic wisdom and peace of mind."

[I append a description of the death scene as I found it in the
notebooks of A. W. Thayer which were placed in my hands for examination
after the death of Beethoven's greatest biographer in 1897:

"June 5, 1860, I was in Graz and saw Huttenbrenner (Anselm) who gave me
the following particulars: ...In the winter of 1826-27 his friends wrote
him from Vienna, that if he wished to see Beethoven again alive he must
hurry thither from Graz. He hastened to Vienna, arriving a few
days before Beethoven's death. Early in the afternoon of March 26,
Huttenbrenner went into the dying man's room. He mentioned as persons
whom he saw there, Stephen v. Breuning and Gerhard, Schindler, Telscher
and Carl's mother (this seems to be a mistake, i.e. if Mrs. v. Beethoven
is right). Beethoven had then long been senseless. Telscher began
drawing the dying face of Beethoven. This grated on Breuning's feelings,
and he remonstrated with him, and he put up his papers and left (?).

"Then Breuning and Schindler left to go out to Wohring to select a grave.
(Just after the five--I got this from Breuning himself--when it grew
dark with the sudden storm Gerhard, who had been standing at the window,
ran home to his teacher.)

"Afterward Gerhard v. B. went home, and there remained in the room only
Huttenbrenner and Mrs. van Beethoven. The storm passed over, covering
the Glacis with snow and sleet. As it passed away a flash of lightning
lighted up everything. This was followed by an awful clap of thunder.
Huttenbrenner had been sitting on the side of the bed sustaining
Beethoven's head--holding it up with his right arm His breathing was
already very much impeded, and he had been for hours dying. At this
startling, awful peal of thunder, the dying man suddenly raised his
head from Huttenbrenner's arm, stretched out his own right arm
majestically--like a general giving orders to an army. This was but for
an instant; the arm sunk back; he fell back. Beethoven was dead.

"Another talk with Huttenbrenner. It seems that Beethoven was at his
last gasp, one eye already closed. At the stroke of lightning and the
thunder peal he raised his arm with a doubled-up fist; the expression of
his eyes and face was that of one defying death,--a look of defiance and
power of resistance.

"He must have had his arm under the pillow. I must ask him.

"I did ask him; he had his arm around B.'s neck." H. E. K.]

311. "I am that which is. I am all that was, that is, and that shall be.
No mortal man has ever lifted the veil of me. He is solely of himself,
and to this Only One all things owe their existence."

     (Beethoven's creed. He had found it in Champollion's "The Paintings
of Egypt," where it is set down as an inscription on a temple to the
goddess Neith. Beethoven had his copy framed and kept it constantly
before him on his writing desk. "The relic was a great treasure in his

312. "Wrapped in the shadows of eternal solitude, in the impenetrable
darkness of the thicket, impenetrable, immeasurable, unapproachable,
formlessly extended. Before spirit was breathed (into things) his
spirit was, and his only. As mortal eyes (to compare finite and infinite
things) look into a shining mirror."

     (Copied, evidently, from an unidentified work, by Beethoven; though
possibly original with him.)

313. "It was not the fortuitous meeting of the chordal atoms that made
the world; if order and beauty are reflected in the constitution of the
universe, then there is a God."

     (Diary, 1816.)

314. "He who is above,--O, He is, and without Him there is nothing."


315. "Go to the devil with your 'gracious Sir!' There is only one who
can be called gracious, and that is God."

     (About 1824 or 1825, to Rampel, a copyist, who, apparently, had been
a little too obsequious in his address to Beethoven. [As is customary
among the Viennese to this day. H. E. K.])

316. "What is all this compared with the great Tonemaster above!
above! above! and righteously the Most High, whereas here below all is
mockery,--dwarfs,--and yet Most High!!"

     (To Schott, publisher in Mayence, in 1822--the same year in which
Beethoven copied the Egyptian inscription.)

317. "There is no loftier mission than to approach the Divinity nearer
than other men, and to disseminate the divine rays among mankind."

     (August, 1823, to Archduke Rudolph.)

318. "Heaven rules over the destiny of men and monsters (literally,
human and inhuman beings), and so it will guide me, too, to the better
things of life."

     (September 11, 1811, to the poet Elsie von der Recke.)

319. "It's the same with humanity; here, too (in suffering), he must
show his strength, i.e. endure without knowing or feeling his nullity,
and reach his perfection again for which the Most High wishes to make us

     (May 13, 1816, to Countess Erdody, who was suffering from incurable

320. "Religion and thorough-bass are settled things concerning which
there should be no disputing."

     (Reported by Schindler.)

331. "All things flowed clear and pure out of God. Though often darkly
led to evil by passion, I returned, through penance and purification
to the pure fountain,--to God,--and to your art. In this I was never
impelled by selfishness; may it always be so. The trees bend low under
the weight of fruit, the clouds descend when they are filled with
salutary rains, and the benefactors of humanity are not puffed up by
their wealth."

     (Diary, 1815. The first portion seems to be a quotation, but Beethoven
continues after the dash most characteristically in his own words and a
change of person.)

322. "God is immaterial, and for this reason transcends every
conception. Since He is invisible He can have no form. But from what
we observe in His work we may conclude that He is eternal, omnipotent,
omniscient and omnipresent."

     (Copied, with the remark: "From Indian literature" from an unidentified
work, into the Diary of 1816.)

323. "In praise of Thy goodness I must confess that Thou didst try with
all Thy means to draw me to Thee. Sometimes it pleased Thee to let me
feel the heavy hand of Thy displeasure and to humiliate my proud heart
by manifold castigations. Sickness and misfortune didst Thou send upon
me to turn my thoughts to my errantries.--One thing, only, O Father, do
I ask: cease not to labor for my betterment. In whatsoever manner it be,
let me turn to Thee and become fruitful in good works."

     (Copied into the Diary from Sturm's book, "Observations Concerning the
Works of God in Nature.")


Some observations may finally be acceptable touching Beethoven's general
culture to which the thoughts of the reader must naturally have been
directed by the excerpts from his writings set forth in the preceding
pages. His own words betray the fact that he was not privileged to enjoy
a thorough school-training and was thus compelled to the end of his days
to make good the deficiencies in his learning. As a lad at Bonn he had
attended the so-called Tirocinium, a sort of preparatory school for the
Gymnasium, and acquired a small knowledge of Latin. Later he made great
efforts to acquire French, a language essential to intercourse in the
upper circles of society. He never established intimate relations
with the rules of German. He used small initials for substantives, or
capitalized verbs and adjectives according as they appeared important
to him. His punctuation was arbitrary; generally he drew a perpendicular
line between his words, letting it suffice for a comma or period as
the case might be (a proceeding which adds not a little to the
embarrassments of him who seeks to translate his sometimes mystical

It is said that a man's bookcase bears evidence of his education and
intellectual interests. Beethoven also had books,--not many, but a
characteristic collection. From his faithful friend and voluntary
servant Schindler we have a report on this subject. Of the books
of which he was possessed at the time of his death there have been
preserved four volumes of translations of Shakespeare's works, Homer's
"Odyssey" in the translation of J. H. Voss, Sturm's "Observations"
     (several times referred to in the preceding pages), and Goethe's
"West-ostlicher Divan." These books are frequently marked and annotated
in lead pencil, thus bearing witness to the subjects which interested
Beethoven. From them, and volumes which he had borrowed, many passages
were copied by him into his daily journal. Besides these books Schindler
mentions Homer's "Iliad," Goethe's poems, "Wilhelm Melster" and "Faust,"
Schiller's dramas and poems, Tiedge's "Urania," volumes of poems by
Matthisson and Seume, and Nina d'Aubigny's "Letters to Natalia on
Singing,"--a book to which Beethoven attached great value. These books
have disappeared, as well as others which Beethoven valued. We do
not know what became of the volumes of Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and
Xenophon, or the writings of Pliny, Euripides, Quintilian, Ovid, Horace,
Ossian, Milton and Thomson, traces of which are found in Beethoven's

The catalogue made for the auction sale of his posthumous effects on
September 7, 1827, included forty-four works of which the censorship
seized five as prohibited writings, namely, Seume's "Foot Journey to
Syracuse," the Apocrypha, Kotzebue's "On the Nobility," W.E.
Muller's "Paris in its Zenith"      (1816), and "Views on Religion and
Ecclesiasticism." Burney's "General History of Music" was also in his
library, the gift, probably of an English admirer.

In his later years Beethoven was obliged to use the oft-quoted
"conversation-books" in his intercourse with friends and strangers
alike who wrote down their questions. Of these little books Schindler
preserved no less than 134, which are now in the Royal Library in
Berlin. Naturally Beethoven answered the written questions orally as a
rule. An idea of Beethoven's opinions can occasionally be gathered from
the context of the questions, but frequently we are left in the dark.

Beethoven's own characterization of his deafness as "singular" is
significant. Often, even in his later years, he was able to hear a
little and for a time. One might almost speak of a periodical visitation
of the "demon." In his biography Marx gives the following description
of the malady: "As early as 1816 it is found that he is incapable
of conducting his own works; in 1824 he could not hear the storm
of applause from a great audience; but in 1822 he still improvises
marvelously in social circles; in 1826 he studies their parts in the
Ninth Symphony and Solemn Mass with Sontag and Ungher, and in 1825 he
listens critically to a performance of the quartet in A-minor, op. 132."

It is to be assumed that in such urgent cases his willpower temporarily
gave new tension to the gradually atrophying aural nerves (it is said
that he was still able to hear single or a few voices with his left
ear but could not apprehend masses), but this was not the case in less
important moments, as the conversation-books prove. In these books a few
answers are also written down, naturally enough in cases not intended
for the ears of strangers. At various times Beethoven kept a diary in
which he entered his most intimate thoughts, especially those designed
for his own encouragement. Many of these appear in the preceding pages.
In these instances more than in any others his expressions are obscure,
detached and, through indifference, faulty in construction. For the
greater part they are remarks thrown upon the paper in great haste.

                END OF THIS EDITION

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