All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: 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

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Artistic Maturity (1805-1815)

Deafness and Lost Loves

The period between 1805 and 1815 is that of full artistic maturity. This is when he wrote many of his most valuable works: Symphony IV, Symphony No.5, Symphony No.7, numerous piano concertos (Op. 78, 79, 81), overtures and quartets. On a personal level, things were not going so well. In 1806, when deafness set in, Beethoven said:"May your deafness not be a secret, not even where art is concerned."

Whereas love is concerned, Beethoven continuously looked for happiness, without much success however. After his relationship with Giulietta Giucciardi, he was captivated for several years by a certain countess Josephine Deym. This young widow was one of Giulietta’s cousins and the sister of Franz and Teresa Brunswick. For a while, Josephine took piano lessons with Beethoven and was a pretty good singer. The composer shared with her his most intimate thoughts. In 1805 their relationship altered, perhaps because her family would not have accepted a marriage between Beethoven and Josephine.

It is likely that during the 1806-1809 period a close friendship developed between the composer and Therese Brunswick. To this very day, the exact nature of their relationship is uncertain. However it’s certain that this remarkable woman was devoted to Beethoven her whole life and for a while she even responded to his passionate feelings. Apparently, love was not to bring Beethoven long lasting happiness.

Financial Problems and Protectors

Moreover, these sentimental problems were overlapped by financial ones. Beethoven’s protectors, as much as they appreciated his music, were not quick to make his life easier. A relevant episode in this respect is linked to the subordination on January 1st 1807 of the imperial theatre houses and of the Viennese Theatre to a committee made up of representatives of the nobility. Taking Count Lobkowitz’s advice, Beethoven applies for the position of permanent composer of the imperial theatres. The nobility, not only did not accept Beethoven’s proposition, but didn’t even write him back. Subsequently, Beethoven developed a powerful feeling of resentment towards the nobility in general. It must be said that some of the members of the committee, like Lobkowitz, genuinely treasured Beethoven. Nevertheless their efforts to convince the others that Beethoven could perform his duties honorably must have been insufficient.

After having been rejected, Beethoven started thinking more and more seriously about moving to another city. In the fall of 1808, he was offered a position as chapel maestro at the court of Jerome Bonaparte, the king of Westphalia. His repulsion towards Vienna and the significant financial advantages promised at Kassel (the capital of Westphalia) determined Beethoven to accept the position.

In order to stop him from leaving Vienna, the Archduke Rudolf, Count Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz, upon interventions from the composer’s friends, pledged to pay Beethoven a pension of 4000 florins a year. He accepted and remained in Vienna. But even from the start his pension came irregularly; only Archduke Rudolf paid his share at the established date. Kinsky, called for military duty that year, systematically forgot to pay and Lobkowitz stopped paying in September 1811. Around that same period Kinsky fell off his horse and died. His successors refused to continue the payments for Beethoven’s pension. In the end, in 1815, after insistent pressure, Beethoven received for several years a large amount of money, which should have covered his debts. All in all, this period was somewhat better financially since the composer got some money through selling his author’s rights to editors.

Beethoven and Therese Malfatti

In 1810, Beethoven’s life was marked by an event that caused him much suffering. In the spring of 1809, the forty-year-old composer fell in love with a student – the beautiful eighteen-year-old Therese Malfatti. The composer considered the esteem and devotion Tereza held for him to be love. So confident in his future with this young girl, Beethoven even thought of marriage (in a letter to his good friend Wegeler, he asked for his birth certificate from Bonn required for marriage).

The Legend of Fur Elise

But his wish never came true. In fact there is a small story related to this. In the spring of 1810 he was invited to the Malfatti household for a party thrown by Therese’s father for his acquaintances and business partners. Beethoven wanted to propose marriage to her on that night after playing a bagatelle he had composed especially for her. Unfortunately he got so drunk that night that he was unable to play or to propose to anyone. All he could do is write Therese’s name on the title page of the bagatelle. He wrote : "Fur Therese", but in almost illegible writing. When the manuscript was found (on Therese’s death) it was published but since the writing was illegible it became "Fur Elise"...

Best 5 Beethoven Books

  1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris; Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005).
  2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon; 2nd Rev edition (September 1, 2001).
  3. Beethoven: 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; 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).