All About Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven's death and funerals in Vienna. The History of Beethoven.


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Home>Life of Beethoven>Beethoven's Last Years

Beethoven's Last Days. The 1815-1827 Period.

The Last Day

News also arrived from the shores of the Rhine: editor Schott sent him from Manz a case of wine. But, Beethovenís condition was so bad at this point that he barely took a sip of that wine.
     On March 24th Beethoven signed his last will and testament, leaving everything he had to his nephew Karl. On the 26th, Breuning and Schindler went to see about a burial place at the cemetery, leaving Hutenbrenner alone with the now dying Beethoven.
     Here is how Romain Rolland describes Beethovenís final day: "That day was tragic. There were heavy clouds in the skyÖ around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the murky clouds cast darkness in the entire room. Suddenly a terrible storm started, with blizzard and snowÖ thunder made the room shudder, illuminating it with the cursed reflection of lightning on snow. Beethoven opened his eyes and with a threatening gesture raised his right arm towards the sky with his fist clenched. The expression of his face was horrifying. His hand fell to the ground. His eyes closed. Beethoven was no more."

The Funerals

     The funeral took place on March 29th. The buildingís huge yard, which had numerous tenants and which was also known as ďthe black Spaniardís houseĒ, was full of people. It was a sunny spring day that would become a sad part of history. Beetoven's casket was followed by twenty thousand people, almost the tenth part of Viennaís entire population at that time. All schools were closed in sign of mourning. At Wahring cemetery, actor Anschutz, who had personally knew the composer, gave an open-hearted speech, edited by poet Grillparzer: " He was an artist and a man, a man in the highest sense of the word. He was a loner, never finding a life partner to his stature. But his heart was up to the very end close to the whole of humanity. That is how he was, how he died and how he will always remain for eternity. Leave discontent behind and shroud yourselves in sublime feelings, all you who find yourselves standing here before the tomb of a man about whom we can say, as of no other man before him: he accomplished great deeds, he knew no foulness. Go home not sad, but full of peace. Take a small flower from his grave, in the memory of the man he was and the great things he accomplished. And in the future, when you will be overwhelmed by the power of his creation, call back in your mind the image of todayÖ "
Beethoven's funerals.      At the graveyard, speeches were forbidden by the authorities. Thousands of people sorrowfully watched the simple casket be lowered in the ground.The life of the great composer had just ended. The history of Beethoven had just began.
     On April 3rd, Mozartís Requiem was performed in one of Viennaís churches in the memory of the deceased.

The Belongings

In the summer of the same year, Beethovenís belongings, among which there were also his manuscripts, were sold at auction. This auction was held in August when the composerís admirers were out of Vienna. The manuscripts were in their most part acquired by two editors Hasslinger and Artaria, who got them practically for free. Hence the manuscript of Symphony V was sold for only 6 florins.
     The fate of Beethovenís manuscripts is truly sad. After Stephan Vreuningís death, six weeks after Beethovenís own death, Schindler alone was left to establish the true value of the composerís remaining documents. But he had failed to keep Beethovenís house sealed after his death. For several months, the late composerís house could be visited by practically anybody: his manuscripts were either jumbled or stolen; the composerís patrimony was not even inventoried. A great deal of documents was lost due to the negligence of his nephew Karl and his family and their complete disregard for Beethovenís manuscripts. Schindler himself destroyed a great deal of the remaining conversational notebooks.The lost documents could have cast some light into the composerís life and work

The Revolutionary Composer

And so we part from one of mankindís greatest artists. The noble eminence of the revolutionary composer was for many decades a paradigm of heroic life, pledged to artistic truth and pure passion. His works are now a part of music history. Beethovenís sublime distinction is to this very day an example for all artists.

    Continue to Chronological List of Events


Read more about Beethoven's Life

Best 5 Beethoven Books

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

1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris;

2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon;

3. Beetoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood;

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

5. Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler;

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