Beethoven’s Letters 1790-1826 Volume 1 by Lady Wallace

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Since undertaking the translation of Dr. Ludwig Nohl’s valuable edition of “Beethoven’s Letters,” an additional collection has been published by Dr. Ludwig Ritter von Koechel, consisting of many interesting letters addressed by Beethoven to his illustrious pupil, H.R.H. the Archduke Rudolph, Cardinal-Archbishop of Olmuetz. These I have inserted in chronological order, and marked with the letter K., in order to distinguish them from the correspondence edited by Dr. Nohl. I have only omitted a few brief notes, consisting merely of apologies for non-attendance on the Archduke.

The artistic value of these newly discovered treasures will no doubt be as highly appreciated in this country as in the great _maestro’s_ Father-land.

I must also express my gratitude to Dr. Th.G. v. Karajan, for permitting an engraving to be made expressly for this work, from an original Beethoven portrait in his possession, now for the first time given to the public. The grand and thoughtful countenance forms a fitting introduction to letters so truly depicting the brilliant, fitful genius of the sublime master, as well as the touching sadness and gloom pervading his life, which his devotion to Art alone brightened, through many bitter trials and harassing cares.

The love of Beethoven’s music is now become so universal in England, that I make no doubt his Letters will receive a hearty welcome from all those whose spirits have been elevated and soothed by the genius of this illustrious man.


AINDERBY HALL, March 28, 1866.





In accompanying the present edition of the Letters of Ludwig van Beethoven with a few introductory remarks, I at once acknowledge that the compilation of these letters has cost me no slight sacrifices. I must also, however, mention that an unexpected Christmas donation, generously bestowed on me with a view to further my efforts to promote the science of music, enabled me to undertake one of the journeys necessary for my purpose, and also to complete the revision of the Letters and of the press, in the milder air and repose of a country residence, long since recommended to me for the restoration of my health, undermined by overwork.

That, in spite of every effort, I have not succeeded in seeing the original of each letter, or even discovering the place where it exists, may well be excused, taking into consideration the slender capabilities of an individual, and the astonishing manner in which Beethoven’s Letters are dispersed all over the world. At the same time, I must state that not only have the hitherto inaccessible treasures of Anton Schindler’s “Beethoven’s Nachlass” been placed at my disposal, but also other letters from private sources, owing to various happy chances, and the kindness and complaisance of collectors of autographs. I know better, however, than most people–being in a position to do so–that in the present work there can be no pretension to any thing approaching to a complete collection of Beethoven’s Letters. The master, so fond of writing, though he often rather amusingly accuses himself of being a lazy correspondent, may very probably have sent forth at least double the amount of the letters here given, and there is no doubt whatever that a much larger number are still extant in the originals. The only thing that can be done at this moment, however, is to make the attempt to bring to light, at all events, the letters that could be discovered in Germany. The mass of those which I gradually accumulated, and now offer to the public (with the exception of some insignificant notes), appeared to me sufficiently numerous and important to interest the world, and also to form a substantial nucleus for any letters that may hereafter be discovered. On the other hand, as many of Beethoven’s Letters slumber in foreign lands, especially in the unapproachable cabinets of curiosities belonging to various close-fisted English collectors, an entire edition of the correspondence could only be effected by a most disproportionate outlay of time and expense.

When revising the text of the Letters, it seemed to me needless perpetually to impair the pleasure of the reader by retaining the mistakes in orthography; but enough of the style of writing of that day is adhered to, to prevent its peculiar charm being entirely destroyed. Distorted and incorrect as Beethoven’s mode of expression sometimes is, I have not presumed to alter his grammar, or rather syntax, in the smallest degree: who would presume to do so with an individuality which, even amid startling clumsiness of style, displays those inherent intellectual powers that often did violence to language as well as to his fellow-men? Cyclopean masses of rock are here hurled with Cyclopean force; but hard and massive as they are, the man is not to be envied whose heart is not touched by these glowing fragments, flung apparently at random right and left, like meteors, by a mighty intellectual being, however perverse the treatment language may have received from him.

The great peculiarity, however, in this strange mode of expression is, that even such incongruous language faithfully reflects the mind of the man whose nature was of prophetic depth and heroic force; and who that knows anything of the creative genius of a Beethoven can deny him these attributes?

The antique dignity pervading the whole man, the ethical contemplation of life forming the basis of his nature, prevented even a momentary wish on my part to efface a single word of the oft-recurring expressions so painfully harsh, bordering on the unaesthetic, and even on the repulsive, provoked by his wrath against the meanness of men. In the last part of these genuine documents, we learn with a feeling of sadness, and with almost a tragic sensation, how low was the standard of moral worth, or rather how great was the positive unworthiness, of the intimate society surrounding the master, and with what difficulty he could maintain the purity of the nobler part of his being in such an atmosphere. The manner, indeed, in which he strives to do so, fluctuating between explosions of harshness and almost weak yieldingness, while striving to master the base thoughts and conduct of these men, though never entirely succeeding in doing so, is often more a diverting than an offensive spectacle. In my opinion, nevertheless, even this less pleasing aspect of the Letters ought not to be in the slightest degree softened (which it has hitherto been, owing to false views of propriety and morality), for it is no moral deformity here displayed. Indeed, even when the irritable master has recourse to expressions repugnant to our sense of conventionality, and which may well be called harsh and rough, still the wrath that seizes on our hero is a just and righteous wrath, and we disregard it, just as in Nature, whose grandeur constantly elevates us above the inevitable stains of an earthly soil. The coarseness and ill-breeding, which would claim toleration because this great man now and then showed such feelings, must beware of doing so, being certain to make shipwreck when coming in contact with the massive rock of true morality on which, with all his faults and deficiencies, Beethoven’s being was surely grounded. Often, indeed, when absorbed in the unsophisticated and genuine utterances of this great man, it seems as if these peculiarities and strange asperities were the results of some mysterious law of Nature, so that we are inclined to adopt the paradox by which a wit once described the singular groundwork of our nature,–“The faults of man are the night in which he rests from his virtues.”

Indeed, I think that the lofty morality of such natures is not fully evident until we are obliged to confess with regret, that even the great ones of the earth must pay their tribute to humanity, and really do pay it (which is the distinction between them and base and petty characters), without being ever entirely hurled from their pedestal of dignity and virtue. The soul of that man cannot fail to be elevated, who can seize the real spirit of the scattered pages that a happy chance has preserved for us. If not fettered by petty feelings, he will quickly surmount the casual obstacles and stumbling-blocks which the first perusal of these Letters may seem to present, and quickly feel himself transported at a single stride into a stream, where a strange roaring and rushing is heard, but above which loftier tones resound with magic and exciting power. For a peculiar life breathes in these lines; an under-current runs through their apparently unconnected import, uniting them as with an electric chain, and with firmer links than any mere coherence of subjects could have effected. I experienced this myself, to the most remarkable degree, when I first made the attempt to arrange, in accordance with their period and substance, the hundreds of individual pages bearing neither date nor address, and I was soon convinced that a connecting text (such as Mozart’s Letters have, and ought to have) would be here entirely superfluous, as even the best biographical commentary would be very dry work, interrupting the electric current of the whole, and thus destroying its peculiar effect.

And now, what is this spirit which, for an intelligent mind, binds together these scattered fragments into a whole, and what is its actual power? I cannot tell; but I feel to this day just as I felt to the innermost depths of my heart in the days of my youth when I first heard a symphony of Beethoven’s,–that a spirit breathes from it bearing us aloft with giant power out of the oppressive atmosphere of sense, stirring to its inmost recesses the heart of man, bringing him to the full consciousness of his loftier being, and of the undying within him. And even more distinctly than when a new world was thus disclosed to his youthful feelings is the _man_ fully conscious that not only was this a new world to him, but a new world of feeling in itself, revealing to the spirit phases of its own, which, till Beethoven appeared, had never before been fathomed. Call it by what name you will, when one of the great works of the sublime master is heard, whether indicative of proud self-consciousness, freedom, spring, love, storm, or battle, it grasps the soul with singular force, and enlarges the laboring breast. Whether a man understands music or not, every one who has a heart beating within his breast will feel with enchantment that here is concentrated the utmost promised to us by the most imaginative of our poets, in bright visions of happiness and freedom. Even the only great hero of action, who in those memorable days is worthy to stand beside the great master of harmony, having diffused among mankind new and priceless earthly treasures, sinks in the scale when we compare these with the celestial treasures of a purified and deeper feeling, and a more free, enlarged, and sublime view of the world, struggling gradually and distinctly upwards out of the mere frivolity of an art devoid of words to express itself, and impressing its stamp on the spirit of the age. They convey, too, the knowledge of this brightest victory of genuine German intellect to those for whom the sweet Muse of Music is as a book with seven seals, and reveal, likewise, a more profound sense of Beethoven’s being to many who already, through the sweet tones they have imbibed, enjoy some dawning conviction of the master’s grandeur, and who now more and more eagerly lend a listening ear to the intellectual clearly worded strains so skilfully interwoven, thus soon to arrive at the full and blissful comprehension of those grand outpourings of the spirit, and finally to add another bright delight to the enjoyment of those who already know and love Beethoven. All these may be regarded as the objects I had in view when I undertook to edit his Letters, which have also bestowed on myself the best recompense of my labors, in the humble conviction that by this means I may have vividly reawakened in the remembrance of many the mighty mission which our age is called on to perform for the development of our race, even in the realm of harmony,–more especially in our Father-land.


March, 1865.




1. To the Elector of Cologne, Frederick Maximilian. 2. To Dr. Schade, Augsburg
3. To the Elector Maximilian Francis 4. To Eleonore von Breuning, Bonn
5. To the Same
6. To Herr Schenk
7. To Dr. Wegeler, Vienna
8. To the Same
9. Lines written in the Album of L. von Breuning 10. To Baron Zmeskall von Domanowecz
11. Ukase to Zmeskall, Schuppanzigh, and Lichnowsky 12. To Pastor Amenda, Courland
13. To the Same
14. To Wegeler
15. To Countess Giulietta Guicciardi 16. To Matthisson
17. To Frau Frank, Vienna
18. To Wegeler
19. To Kapellmeister Hofmeister, Leipzig 20. To the Same
21. To the Same
22. To the Same
23. Dedication to Dr. Schmidt
24. To Ferdinand Ries
25. To Herr Hofmeister, Leipzig
26. To Carl and Johann Beethoven
27. Notice
28. To Ferdinand Ries
29. To Herr Hofmeister, Leipzig
30. Caution
31. To Ries
32. To the Same
33. To the Same
34. To the Same
35. To the Composer Leidesdorf, Vienna 36. To Ries
37. To the Same
38. To the Same
39. To Messrs. Artaria & Co.
40. To Princess Liechtenstein
41. To Herr Meyer
42. Testimonial for C. Czerny
43. To Herr Roeckel
44. To Herr Collin, Court Secretary and Poet 45. To Herr Gleichenstein
46. To the Directors of the Court Theatre 47. To Count Franz von Oppersdorf
48. Notice of a Memorial to the Archduke Rudolph, Prince Kinsky, and Prince Lobkowitz
49. Memorial to the Same
50. To Zmeskall
51. To Ferdinand Ries
52. To Zmeskall
53. To the Same
54. To the Same
55. To the Same
56. To the Same
57. To the Same
58. To the Same
59. To Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall 60. To the Same
61. To Baroness von Drossdick
62. To Mdlle. de Gerardi
63. To Zmeskall
64. To Wegeler
65. To Zmeskall
66. To Bettina Brentano
67. To the Same
68. To Zmeskall
69. To the Same
70. To the Archduke Rudolph
71. To a Dear Friend
72. To the Dramatic Poet Treitschke 73. To Zmeskall
74. To the Same
75. To the Same
76. To the Same
77. To the Same
78. To the Same
79. To the Same
80. To Kammerprocurator Varenna, Gratz 81. To Zmeskall
82. To the Same
83. To Varenna, Gratz
84. To Zmeskall
85. To Varenna
86. To Archduke Rudolph
87. To the Same
88. To Varenna, Gratz
89. To Joseph Freiherr von Schweiger 90. To Varenna, Gratz
91. Lines written in the Album of Mdme. Auguste Sebald 92. To Archduke Rudolph
93. To Bettina von Arnim
94. To Princess Kinsky
95. To Archduke Rudolph
96. To the Same
97. To the Same
98. To Princess Kinsky
99. To the Same
100. To Zmeskall
101. To Herr Joseph Varenna, Gratz
102. To the Same
103. To Zmeskall
104. To the Same
105. To the Same
106. To the Same
107. To the Same
108. To the Same
109. To the Same
110. To Archduke Rudolph
111. To the Same
112. To the Same
113. To Freiherr Josef von Schweiger 114. To Herr von Baumeister
115. To Zmeskall
116. Letter of Thanks
117. To the Archduke Rudolph
118. To the Same
119. To the Same
120. To Treitschke
121. To the Same
122. To the Same
123. To Count Lichnowsky.
124. To the Same
125. To the Archduke Rudolph
126. To the Same
127. Deposition
128. To Dr. Kauka, Prague.
129. Address and Appeal to London Artists 130. To Dr. Kauka
131. To Count Moritz Lichnowsky
132. To the Archduke Rudolph
133. To the Same
134. To the Same
135. To the Same
136. To the Same
137. To the Same
138. To the Same
139. To the Same
140. To Dr. Kauka
141. To the Same
142. To the Same
143. To the Members of the Landrecht 144. To Baron von Pasqualati
145. To Dr. Kauka
146. To the Archduke Rudolph



147. Music written in Spohr’s Album
148. To Dr. Kauka
149. To the Same
150. To the Same
151. To Mr. Salomon, London
152. To the Archduke Rudolph
153. To the Same
154. To the Same
155. To the Same
156. To the Same
157. To the Same
158. To Mr. Birchall, Music Publisher, London 159. To Zmeskall
160. To the Archduke Rudolph
161. To Messrs. Birchall, London
162. To Herr Ries
163. To Zmeskall
164. To Mdlle. Milder-Hauptmann
165. To Ries
166. To Mr. Birchall, London
167. To Czerny
168. To the Same
169. To Ries, London
170. To Giannatasio del Rio, Vienna 171. To the Same
172. To the Same
173. To the Same
174. To Ferdinand Ries, London
175. To the Same
176. Power of Attorney
177. To Ferdinand Ries
178. To Giannatasio del Rio
179. To the Same
180. To the Archduke Rudolph
181. To Mr. Birchall London
182. To the Same
183. To Giannatasio del Rio
184. To the Same
185. To Zmeskall
186. To Dr. Kauka
187. Query
188. To Giannatasio del Rio
189. To the Same
190. To Wegeler
191. To Mr. Birchall, London
192. To Zmeskall
193. To the Archduke Rudolph
194. To Freiherr von Schweiger
195. To Giannatasio del Rio
196. To the Same
197. To the Same
198. To the Same
199. To Herr Tschischka
200. To Mr. Birchall
201. To Zmeskall
202. To Frau von Streicher
203. To the Same
204. To the Same
205. To the Same
206. To the Same
207. To the Archduke Rudolph
208. To Giannatasio del Rio
209. To the Same
210. To the Same
211. To Hofrath von Mosel
212. To S.A. Steiner, Music Publisher, Vienna 213. To the Same
214. To the Same
215. To Zmeskall


1783 TO 1815.






Music from my fourth year has ever been my favorite pursuit. Thus early introduced to the sweet Muse, who attuned my soul to pure harmony, I loved her, and sometimes ventured to think that I was beloved by her in return. I have now attained my eleventh year, and my Muse often whispered to me in hours of inspiration,–Try to write down the harmonies in your soul. Only eleven years old! thought I; does the character of an author befit me? and what would more mature artists say? I felt some trepidation; but my Muse willed it–so I obeyed, and wrote.

May I now, therefore, Illustrious Prince, presume to lay the first-fruits of my juvenile labors at the foot of your throne? and may I hope that you will condescend to cast an encouraging and kindly glance on them? You will; for Art and Science have ever found in you a judicious protector and a generous patron, and rising talent has always prospered under your fostering and fatherly care. Encouraged by this cheering conviction, I venture to approach you with these my youthful efforts. Accept them as the pure offering of childlike reverence, and graciously vouchsafe to regard with indulgence them and their youthful composer,


[Footnote 1: The dedication affixed to this work, “Three Sonatas for the Piano, dedicated to my illustrious master, Maximilian Friedrich, Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, by Ludwig van Beethoven in his eleventh year,” is probably not written by the boy himself, but is given here as an amusing contrast to his subsequent ideas with regard to the homage due to rank.]



Bonn, 1787. Autumn.


I can easily imagine what you must think of me, and I cannot deny that you have too good grounds for an unfavorable opinion. I shall not, however, attempt to justify myself, until I have explained to you the reasons why my apologies should be accepted. I must tell you that from the time I left Augsburg[1] my cheerfulness, as well as my health, began to decline; the nearer I came to my native city, the more frequent were the letters from my father, urging me to travel with all possible speed, as my mother’s health was in a most precarious condition. I therefore hurried forwards as fast as I could, although myself far from well. My longing once more to see my dying mother overcame every obstacle, and assisted me in surmounting the greatest difficulties. I found my mother indeed still alive, but in the most deplorable state; her disease was consumption, and about seven weeks ago, after much pain and suffering, she died [July 17]. She was indeed a kind, loving mother to me, and my best friend. Ah! who was happier than I, when I could still utter the sweet name of mother, and it was heard? But to whom can I now say it? Only to the silent form resembling her, evoked by the power of imagination. I have passed very few pleasant hours since my arrival here, having during the whole time been suffering from asthma, which may, I fear, eventually turn to consumption; to this is added melancholy,–almost as great an evil as my malady itself. Imagine yourself in my place, and then I shall hope to receive your forgiveness for my long silence. You showed me extreme kindness and friendship by lending me three Carolins in Augsburg, but I must entreat your indulgence for a time. My journey cost me a great deal, and I have not the smallest hopes of earning anything here. Fate is not propitious to me in Bonn. Pardon my intruding on you so long with my affairs, but all that I have said was necessary for my own justification.

I do entreat you not to deprive me of your valuable friendship; nothing do I wish so much as in any degree to become worthy of your regard. I am, with all esteem, your obedient servant and friend,


_Cologne Court Organist._

[Footnote 1: On his return from Vienna, whither Max Franz had sent him for the further cultivation of his talents.]





Some years ago your Highness was pleased to grant a pension to my father, the Court tenor Van Beethoven, and further graciously to decree that 100 R. Thalers of his salary should be allotted to me, for the purpose of maintaining, clothing, and educating my two younger brothers, and also defraying the debts incurred by our father. It was my intention to present this decree to your Highness’s treasurer, but my father earnestly implored me to desist from doing so, that he might not be thus publicly proclaimed incapable himself of supporting his family, adding that he would engage to pay me the 25 R.T. quarterly, which he punctually did. After his death, however (in December last), wishing to reap the benefit of your Highness’s gracious boon, by presenting the decree, I was startled to find that my father had destroyed it.

I therefore, with all dutiful respect, entreat your Highness to renew this decree, and to order the paymaster of your Highness’s treasury to grant me the last quarter of this benevolent addition to my salary (due the beginning of February). I have the honor to remain,

Your Highness’s most obedient and faithful servant,


_Court Organist._

[Footnote 1: An electoral decree was issued in compliance with this request on May 3, 1793.]



Vienna, Nov. 2, 1793.


A year of my stay in this capital has nearly elapsed before you receive a letter from me, and yet the most vivid remembrance of you is ever present with me. I have often conversed in thought with you and your dear family, though not always in the happy mood I could have wished, for that fatal misunderstanding still hovered before me, and my conduct at that time is now hateful in my sight. But so it was, and how much would I give to have the power wholly to obliterate from my life a mode of acting so degrading to myself, and so contrary to the usual tenor of my character!

Many circumstances, indeed, contributed to estrange us, and I suspect that those tale-bearers who repeated alternately to you and to me our mutual expressions were the chief obstacles to any good understanding between us. Each believed that what was said proceeded from deliberate conviction, whereas it arose only from anger, fanned by others; so we were both mistaken. Your good and noble disposition, my dear friend, is sufficient security that you have long since forgiven me. We are told that the best proof of sincere contrition is to acknowledge our faults; and this is what I wish to do. Let us now draw a veil over the whole affair, learning one lesson from it,–that when friends are at variance, it is always better to employ no mediator, but to communicate directly with each other.

With this you will receive a dedication from me [the variations on “Se vuol ballare”]. My sole wish is that the work were greater and more worthy of you. I was applied to here to publish this little work, and I take advantage of the opportunity, my beloved Eleonore, to give you a proof of my regard and friendship for yourself, and also a token of my enduring remembrance of your family. Pray then accept this trifle, and do not forget that it is offered by a devoted friend. Oh! if it only gives you pleasure, my wishes will be fulfilled. May it in some degree recall the time when I passed so many happy hours in your house! Perhaps it may serve to remind you of me till I return, though this is indeed a distant prospect. Oh! how we shall then rejoice together, my dear Eleonore! You will, I trust, find your friend a happier man, all former forbidding, careworn furrows smoothed away by time and better fortune.

When you see B. Koch [subsequently Countess Belderbusch], pray say that it is unkind in her never once to have written to me. I wrote to her twice, and three times to Malchus (afterwards Westphalian Minister of Finance), but no answer. Tell her that if she does not choose to write herself, I beg that she will at least urge Malchus to do so. At the close of my letter I venture to make one more request–I am anxious to be so fortunate as again to possess an Angola waistcoat knitted by your own hand, my dear friend. Forgive my indiscreet request; it proceeds from my great love for all that comes from you; and I may privately admit that a little vanity is connected with it, namely, that I may say I possess something from the best and most admired young lady in Bonn. I still have the one you were so good as to give me in Bonn; but change of fashion has made it look so antiquated, that I can only treasure it in my wardrobe as your gift, and thus still very dear to me. You would make me very happy by soon writing me a kind letter. If mine cause you any pleasure, I promise you to do as you wish, and write as often as it lies in my power; indeed everything is acceptable to me that can serve to show you how truly I am your admiring and sincere friend,


P.S. The variations are rather difficult to play, especially the shake in the _Coda_; but do not be alarmed at this, being so contrived that you only require to play the shake, and leave out the other notes, which also occur in the violin part. I never would have written it in this way, had I not occasionally observed that there was a certain individual in Vienna who, when I extemporized the previous evening, not unfrequently wrote down next day many of the peculiarities of my music, adopting them as his own [for instance, the Abbe Gelinek]. Concluding, therefore, that some of these things would soon appear, I resolved to anticipate this. Another reason also was to puzzle some of the pianoforte teachers here, many of whom are my mortal foes; so I wished to revenge myself on them in this way, knowing that they would occasionally be asked to play the variations, when these gentlemen would not appear to much advantage.




The beautiful neckcloth, embroidered by your own hand, was the greatest possible surprise to me; yet, welcome as the gift was, it awakened within me feelings of sadness. Its effect was to recall former days, and to put me to shame by your noble conduct to me. I, indeed, little thought that you still considered me worthy of your remembrance.

Oh! if you could have witnessed my emotions yesterday when this incident occurred, you would not think that I exaggerate in saying that such a token of your recollection brought tears to my eyes, and made me feel very sad. Little as I may deserve favor in your eyes, believe me, my dear _friend_, (let me still call you so,) I have suffered, and still suffer severely from the privation of your friendship. Never can I forget you and your dear mother. You were so kind to me that your loss neither can nor will be easily replaced. I know what I have forfeited, and what you were to me, but in order to fill up this blank I must recur to scenes equally painful for you to hear and for me to detail.

As a slight requital of your kind _souvenir_, I take the liberty to send you some variations, and a Rondo with violin accompaniment. I have a great deal to do, or I would long since have transcribed the Sonata I promised you. It is as yet a mere sketch in manuscript, and to copy it would be a difficult task even for the clever and practised Paraquin [counter-bass in the Electoral orchestra]. You can have the Rondo copied, and return the score. What I now send is the only one of my works at all suitable for you; besides, as you are going to Kerpen [where an uncle of the family lived], I thought these trifles might cause you pleasure.

Farewell, my friend; for it is impossible for me to give you any other name. However indifferent I may be to you, believe me, I shall ever continue to revere you and your mother as I have always done. If I can in any way contribute to the fulfilment of a wish of yours, do not fail to let me know, for I have no other means of testifying my gratitude for past friendship.

I wish you an agreeable journey, and that your dear mother may return entirely restored to health! Think sometimes of your affectionate friend,




June, 1794.


I did not know that I was to set off to-day to Eisenstadt. I should like to have talked to you again. In the mean time rest assured of my gratitude for your obliging services. I shall endeavor, so far as it lies in my power, to requite them. I hope soon to see you, and once more to enjoy the pleasure of your society. Farewell, and do not entirely forget your


[Footnote 1: Schenk, afterwards celebrated as the composer of the “Dorf Barbier,” was for some time Beethoven’s teacher in composition. This note appears to have been written in June, 1794, and first printed in the “Freischuetz,” No. 183, about 1836, at the time of Schenk’s death, when his connection with Beethoven was mentioned.]



… In what an odious light have you exhibited me to myself! Oh! I acknowledge it, I do not deserve your friendship. It was no intentional or deliberate malice that induced me to act towards you as I did, but inexcusable thoughtlessness alone.

I say no more. I am coming to throw myself into your arms, and to entreat you to restore me my lost friend; and you will give him back to me, to your penitent, loving, and ever-grateful


[Footnote 1: Dr. Wegeler, in answer to my request that he would send me the entire letter, replied that “the passages omitted in the letter consisted chiefly in eulogiums of his father, and enthusiastic expressions of friendship, which did not seem to him to be of any value; but besides this, the same reasons that induced his father to give only a portion of the letter were imperative with him also.” I do not wish to contest the point with the possessor of the letter; still I may remark that all the utterances and letters of a great man belong to the world at large, and that in a case like the present, the conscientious biographer, who strives faithfully to portray such a man, is alone entitled to decide what portion of these communications is fitted for publication, and what is not. Any considerations of a personal character seem to me very trivial.]



Vienna, May 1797.

God speed you, my dear friend! I owe you a letter which you shall shortly have, and my newest music besides, _I am going on well; indeed, I may say every day better._ Greet those to whom it will give pleasure from me. Farewell, and do not forget your




Vienna, Oct. 1, 1797.

Truth for the wise,
Beauty for a feeling heart,
And both for each other.


Never can I forget the time I passed with you, not only in Bonn, but here. Continue your friendship towards me, for you shall always find me the same true friend,





[Music: Alto, Tenor, Bass clefs, C Major, 4/4 time, Grave. ALTO. Ba-ron.
TENORE. Ba-ron.
BASSO. Ba-ron. Ba-ron. Ba-ron.]


Desire the guitar-player to come to me to-day. Amenda (instead of an _amende_ [fine], which he sometimes deserves for not observing his rests properly) must persuade this popular guitarist to visit me, and if possible to come at five o’clock this evening; if not then, at five or six o’clock to-morrow morning; but he must not waken me if I chance to be still asleep. _Adieu, mon ami a bon marche._ Perhaps we may meet at the “Swan”?

[Footnote 1: As it appears from the following letters that Amenda was again at home in 1800, the date of this note is thus ascertained. It is undoubtedly addressed to Baron Zmeskall von Domanowecz, Royal Court Secretary, a good violoncello-player, and one of Beethoven’s earliest friends in Vienna. The “guitarist” was probably the celebrated Giuliani, who lived in Vienna.]


The musical Count is from this day forth _cashiered_ with infamy. The first violin [Schuppanzigh] ruthlessly transported to _Siberia_. The Baron [see No. 10] for a whole month _strictly interdicted from asking questions_; no longer to be so hasty, and to devote himself exclusively to his _ipse miserum_.[1]


[Footnote 1: Written in gigantic characters in pencil on a large sheet of paper. The “musical Count” is probably Count Moritz Lichnowsky, brother of Prince Carl Lichnowsky, in whose house were held those musical performances in which Beethoven’s works were first produced. Even at that time he behaved in a very dictatorial manner to those gentlemen when his compositions were badly executed. Thence the name given him by Haydn of “The Great Mogul.”]



Does Amenda think that I can ever forget him, because I do not write? in fact, never have written to him?–as if the memory of our friends could only thus be preserved! The _best man I ever knew_ has a thousand times recurred to my thoughts! Two persons alone once possessed my whole love, one of whom still lives, and you are now the third. How can my remembrance of you ever fade? You will shortly receive a long letter about my present circumstances and all that can interest you. Farewell, beloved, good, and noble friend! Ever continue your love and friendship towards me, just as I shall ever be your faithful






I received and read your last letter with deep emotion, and with mingled pain and pleasure. To what can I compare your fidelity and devotion to me? Ah! it is indeed delightful that you still continue to love me so well. I know how to prize you, and to distinguish you from all others; you are not like my Vienna friends. No! you are one of those whom the soil of my fatherland is wont to bring forth; how often I wish that you were with me, for your Beethoven is very unhappy. You must know that one of my most precious faculties, that of hearing, is become very defective; even while you were still with me I felt indications of this, though I said nothing; but it is now much worse. Whether I shall ever be cured remains yet to be seen; it is supposed to proceed from the state of my digestive organs, but I am almost entirely recovered in that respect. I hope indeed that my hearing may improve, but I scarcely think so, for attacks of this kind are the most incurable of all. How sad my life must now be!–forced to shun all that is most dear and precious to me, and to live with such miserable egotists as —-, &c. I can with truth say that of all my friends Lichnowsky [Prince Carl] is the most genuine. He last year settled 600 florins on me, which, together with the good sale of my works, enables me to live free from care as to my maintenance. All that I now write I can dispose of five times over, and be well paid into the bargain. I have been writing a good deal latterly, and as I hear that you have ordered some pianos from —-, I will send you some of my compositions in the packing-case of one of these instruments, by which means they will not cost you so much.

To my great comfort, a person has returned here with whom I can enjoy the pleasures of society and disinterested friendship,–one of the friends of my youth [Stephan von Breuning]. I have often spoken to him of you, and told him that since I left my fatherland, you are one of those to whom my heart specially clings. Z. [Zmeskall?] does not seem quite to please him; he is, and always will be, too weak for true friendship, and I look on him and —- as mere instruments on which I play as I please, but never can they bear noble testimony to my inner and outward energies, or feel true sympathy with me; I value them only in so far as their services deserve. Oh! how happy should I now be, had I my full sense of hearing; I would then hasten to you; whereas, as it is, I must withdraw from everything. My best years will thus pass away, without effecting what my talents and powers might have enabled me to perform. How melancholy is the resignation in which I must take refuge! I had determined to rise superior to all this, but how is it possible? If in the course of six months my malady be pronounced incurable then, Amenda! I shall appeal to you to leave all else and come to me, when I intend to travel (my affliction is less distressing when playing and composing, and most so in intercourse with others), and you must be my companion. I have a conviction that good fortune will not forsake me, for to what may I not at present aspire? Since you were here I have written everything except operas and church music. You will not, I know, refuse my petition; you will help your friend to bear his burden and his calamity. I have also very much perfected my pianoforte playing, and I hope that a journey of this kind may possibly contribute to your own success in life, and you would thenceforth always remain with me. I duly received all your letters, and though I did not reply to them, you were constantly present with me, and my heart beats as tenderly as ever for you. I beg you will keep the fact of my deafness a profound secret, and not confide it to any human being. Write to me frequently; your letters, however short, console and cheer me; so I shall soon hope to hear from you.

Do not give your quartet to any one [in F, Op. 18, No. 1], as I have altered it very much, having only now succeeded in writing quartets properly; this you will at once perceive when you receive it. Now, farewell, my dear kind friend! If by any chance I can serve you here, I need not say that you have only to command me.

Your faithful and truly attached




Vienna, June 29, 1800.


How much I thank you for your remembrance of me, little as I deserve it, or have sought to deserve it; and yet you are so kind that you allow nothing, not even my unpardonable neglect, to discourage you, always remaining the same true, good, and faithful friend. That I can ever forget you or yours, once so dear and precious to me, do not for a moment believe. There are times when I find myself longing to see you again, and wishing that I could go to stay with you. My father-land, that lovely region where I first saw the light, is still as distinct and beauteous in my eyes as when I quitted you; in short, I shall esteem the time when I once more see you, and again greet Father Rhine, as one of the happiest periods of my life. When this may be I cannot yet tell; but at all events I may say that you shall not see me again till I have become eminent, not only as an artist, but better and more perfect as a man; and if the condition of our father-land be then more prosperous, my art shall be entirely devoted to the benefit of the poor. Oh, blissful moment!–how happy do I esteem myself that I can expedite it and bring it to pass!

You desire to know something of my position; well! it is by no means bad. However incredible it may appear, I must tell you that Lichnowsky has been, and still is, my warmest friend (slight dissensions occurred occasionally between us, and yet they only served to strengthen our friendship). He settled on me last year the sum of 600 florins, for which I am to draw on him till I can procure some suitable situation. My compositions are very profitable, and I may really say that I have almost more commissions than it is possible for me to execute. I can have six or seven publishers or more for every piece, if I choose; they no longer bargain with me–I demand, and they pay–so you see this is a very good thing. For instance, I have a friend in distress, and my purse does not admit of my assisting him at once; but I have only to sit down and write, and in a short time he is relieved. I am also become more economical than formerly. If I finally settle here, I don’t doubt I shall be able to secure a particular day every year for a concert, of which I have already given several. That malicious demon, however, bad health, has been a stumbling-block in my path; my hearing during the last three years has become gradually worse. The chief cause of this infirmity proceeds from the state of my digestive organs, which, as you know, were formerly bad enough, but have latterly become much worse, and being constantly afflicted with diarrhoea, has brought on extreme weakness. Frank [Director of the General Hospital] strove to restore the tone of my digestion by tonics, and my hearing by oil of almonds; but alas! these did me no good whatever; my hearing became worse, and my digestion continued in its former plight. This went on till the autumn of last year, when I was often reduced to utter despair. Then some medical _asinus_ recommended me cold baths, but a more judicious doctor the tepid ones of the Danube, which did wonders for me; my digestion improved, but my hearing remained the same, or in fact rather got worse. I did indeed pass a miserable winter; I suffered from most dreadful spasms, and sank back into my former condition. Thus it went on till about a month ago, when I consulted Vering [an army surgeon], under the belief that my maladies required surgical advice; besides, I had every confidence in him. He succeeded in almost entirely checking the violent diarrhoea, and ordered me the tepid baths of the Danube, into which I pour some strengthening mixture. He gave me no medicine, except some digestive pills four days ago, and a lotion for my ears. I certainly do feel better and stronger, but my ears are buzzing and ringing perpetually, day and night. I can with truth say that my life is very wretched; for nearly two years past I have avoided all society, because I find it impossible to say to people, _I am deaf!_ In any other profession this might be more tolerable, but in mine such a condition is truly frightful. Besides, what would my enemies say to this?–and they are not few in number.

To give you some idea of my extraordinary deafness, I must tell you that in the theatre I am obliged to lean close up against the orchestra in order to understand the actors, and when a little way off I hear none of the high notes of instruments or singers. It is most astonishing that in conversation some people never seem to observe this; being subject to fits of absence, they attribute it to that cause. I often can scarcely hear a person if speaking low; I can distinguish the tones, but not the words, and yet I feel it intolerable if any one shouts to me. Heaven alone knows how it is to end! Vering declares that I shall certainly improve, even if I be not entirely restored. How often have I cursed my existence! Plutarch led me to resignation. I shall strive if possible to set Fate at defiance, although there must be moments in my life when I cannot fail to be the most unhappy of God’s creatures. I entreat you to say nothing of my affliction to any one, not even to Lorchen [see Nos. 4 and 5]. I confide the secret to you alone, and entreat you some day to correspond with Vering on the subject. If I continue in the same state, I shall come to you in the ensuing spring, when you must engage a house for me somewhere in the country, amid beautiful scenery, and I shall then become a rustic for a year, which may perhaps effect a change. Resignation!–what a miserable refuge! and yet it is my sole remaining one. You will forgive my thus appealing to your kindly sympathies at a time when your own position is sad enough. Stephan Breuning is here, and we are together almost every day; it does me so much good to revive old feelings! He has really become a capital good fellow, not devoid of talent, and his heart, like that of us all, pretty much in the right place. [See No. 13.]

I have very charming rooms at present, adjoining the Bastei [the ramparts], and peculiarly valuable to me on account of my health [at Baron Pasqualati’s]. I do really think I shall be able to arrange that Breuning shall come to me. You shall have your Antiochus [a picture], and plenty of my music besides–if, indeed, it will not cost you too much. Your love of art does honestly rejoice me. Only say how it is to be done, and I will send you all my works, which now amount to a considerable number, and are daily increasing. I beg you will let me have my grandfather’s portrait as soon as possible by the post, in return for which I send you that of his grandson, your loving and attached Beethoven. It has been brought out here by Artaria, who, as well as many other publishers, has often urged this on me. I intend soon to write to Stoffeln [Christoph von Breuning], and plainly admonish him about his surly humor. I mean to sound in his ears our old friendship, and to insist on his promising me not to annoy you further in your sad circumstances. I will also write to the amiable Lorchen. Never have I forgotten one of you, my kind friends, though you did not hear from me; but you know well that writing never was my _forte_, even my best friends having received no letters from me for years. I live wholly in my music, and scarcely is one work finished when another is begun; indeed, I am now often at work on three or four things at the same time. Do write to me frequently, and I will strive to find time to write to you also. Give my remembrances to all, especially to the kind Frau Hofraethin [von Breuning], and say to her that I am still subject to an occasional _raptus_. As for K—-, I am not at all surprised at the change in her: Fortune rolls like a ball, and does not always stop before the best and noblest. As to Ries [Court musician in Bonn], to whom pray cordially remember me, I must say one word. I will write to you more particularly about his son [Ferdinand], although I believe that he would be more likely to succeed in Paris than in Vienna, which is already overstocked, and where even those of the highest merit find it a hard matter to maintain themselves. By next autumn or winter, I shall be able to see what can be done for him, because then all the world returns to town. Farewell, my kind, faithful Wegeler! Rest assured of the love and friendship of your




Morning, July 6, 1800.


Only a few words to-day, written with a pencil (your own). My residence cannot be settled till to-morrow. What a tiresome loss of time! Why this deep grief when necessity compels?–can our love exist without sacrifices, and by refraining from desiring all things? Can you alter the fact that you are not wholly mine, nor I wholly yours? Ah! contemplate the beauties of Nature, and reconcile your spirit to the inevitable. Love demands all, and has a right to do so, and thus it is _I feel towards you_ and _you towards me_; but you do not sufficiently remember that I must live both _for you_ and _for myself_. Were we wholly united, you would feel this sorrow as little as I should. My journey was terrible. I did not arrive here till four o’clock yesterday morning, as no horses were to be had. The drivers chose another route; but what a dreadful one it was! At the last stage I was warned not to travel through the night, and to beware of a certain wood, but this only incited me to go forward, and I was wrong. The carriage broke down, owing to the execrable roads, mere deep rough country lanes, and had it not been for the postilions I must have been left by the wayside. Esterhazy, travelling the usual road, had the same fate with eight horses, whereas I had only four. Still I felt a certain degree of pleasure, which I invariably do when I have happily surmounted any difficulty. But I must now pass from the outer to the inner man. We shall, I trust, soon meet again; to-day I cannot impart to you all the reflections I have made, during the last few days, on my life; were our hearts closely united forever, none of these would occur to me. My heart is overflowing with all I have to say to you. Ah! there are moments when I find that speech is actually nothing. Take courage! Continue to be ever my true and only love, my all! as I am yours. The gods must ordain what is further to be and shall be!

Your faithful


Monday Evening, July 6.

You grieve! dearest of all beings! I have just heard that the letters must be sent off very early. Mondays and Thursdays are the only days when the post goes to K. from here. You grieve! Ah! where I am, there you are ever with me; how earnestly shall I strive to pass my life with you, and what a life will it be!!! Whereas now!! without you!! and persecuted by the kindness of others, which I neither deserve nor try to deserve! The servility of man towards his fellow-man pains me, and when I regard myself as a component part of the universe, what am I, what is he who is called the greatest?–and yet herein are displayed the godlike feelings of humanity!–I weep in thinking that you will receive no intelligence from me till probably Saturday. However dearly you may love me, I love you more fondly still. Never conceal your feelings from me. Good-night! As a patient at these baths, I must now go to rest [a few words are here effaced by Beethoven himself]. Oh, heavens! so near, and yet so far! Is not our love a truly celestial mansion, but firm as the vault of heaven itself?

July 7.


Even before I rise, my thoughts throng to you, my immortal beloved!–sometimes full of joy, and yet again sad, waiting to see whether Fate will hear us. I must live either wholly with you, or not at all. Indeed I have resolved to wander far from you [see No. 13] till the moment arrives when I can fly into your arms, and feel that they are my home, and send forth my soul in unison with yours into the realm of spirits. Alas! it must be so! You will take courage, for you know my fidelity. Never can another possess my heart–never, never! Oh, heavens! Why must I fly from her I so fondly love? and yet my existence in W. was as miserable as here. Your love made me the most happy and yet the most unhappy of men. At my age, life requires a uniform equality; can this be found in our mutual relations? My angel! I have this moment heard that the post goes every day, so I must conclude, that you may get this letter the sooner. Be calm! for we can only attain our object of living together by the calm contemplation of our existence. Continue to love me. Yesterday, to-day, what longings for you, what tears for you! for you! for you! my life! my all! Farewell! Oh! love me forever, and never doubt the faithful heart of your lover, L.

Ever thine.
Ever mine.
Ever each other’s.

[Footnote 1: These letters to his “immortal beloved,” to whom the C sharp minor Sonata is dedicated, appear here for the first time in their integrity, in accordance with the originals written in pencil on fine notepaper, and given in Schindler’s _Beethoven’s Nachlass_. There has been much discussion about the date. It is certified, in the first place, in the church register which Alex. Thayer saw in Vienna, that Giulietta was married to Count Gallenberg in 1801; and in the next place, the 6th of July falls on a Monday in 1800. The other reasons which induce me decidedly to fix this latter year as the date of the letter, I mean to give at full length in the second volume of _Beethoven’s Biography_. I may also state that Beethoven was at baths in Hungary at that time. Whether the K—- in the second letter means Komorn, I cannot tell.]



Vienna, August 4, 1800.


You will receive with this one of my compositions published some years since, and yet, to my shame, you probably have never heard of it. I cannot attempt to excuse myself, or to explain why I dedicated a work to you which came direct from my heart, but never acquainted you with its existence, unless indeed in this way, that at first I did not know where you lived, and partly also from diffidence, which led me to think I might have been premature in dedicating a work to you before ascertaining that you approved of it. Indeed, even now I send you “Adelaide” with a feeling of timidity. You know yourself what changes the lapse of some years brings forth in an artist who continues to make progress; the greater the advances we make in art, the less are we satisfied with our works of an earlier date. My most ardent wish will be fulfilled if you are not dissatisfied with the manner in which I have set your heavenly “Adelaide” to music, and are incited by it soon to compose a similar poem; and if you do not consider my request too indiscreet, I would ask you to send it to me forthwith, that I may exert all my energies to approach your lovely poetry in merit. Pray regard the dedication as a token of the pleasure which your “Adelaide” conferred on me, as well as of the appreciation and intense delight your poetry always has inspired, and _always will inspire in me_.

When playing “Adelaide,” sometimes recall

Your sincere admirer,




October, 1800.


At the second announcement of our concert, you must remind your husband that the public should be made acquainted with the names of those whose talents are to contribute to this concert. Such is the custom here; and indeed, were it not so, what is there to attract a larger audience? which is after all our chief object. Punto [the celebrated horn-player, for whom Beethoven wrote Sonata 17] is not a little indignant about the omission, and I must say he has reason to be so; but even before seeing him it was my intention to have reminded you of this, for I can only explain the mistake by great haste or great forgetfulness. Be so good, then, dear lady, as to attend to my hint; otherwise you will certainly expose yourself to _many annoyances_. Being at last convinced in my own mind, and by others, that I shall not be quite superfluous in this concert, I know that not only I, but also Punto, Simoni [a tenorist], and Galvani will demand that the public should be apprised of our zeal for this charitable object; otherwise we must all conclude that we are not wanted.





Vienna, Nov. 16, 1800.


I thank you for this fresh proof of your interest in me, especially as I so little deserve it. You wish to know how I am, and what remedies I use. Unwilling as I always feel to discuss this subject, still I feel less reluctant to do so with you than with any other person. For some months past Vering has ordered me to apply blisters on both arms, of a particular kind of bark, with which you are probably acquainted,–a disagreeable remedy, independent of the pain, as it deprives me of the free use of my arms for a couple of days at a time, till the blisters have drawn sufficiently. The ringing and buzzing in my ears have certainly rather decreased, particularly in the left ear, in which the malady first commenced, but my hearing is not at all improved; in fact I fear that it is become rather worse. My health is better, and after using the tepid baths for a time, I feel pretty well for eight or ten days. I seldom take tonics, but I have begun applications of herbs, according to your advice. Vering will not hear of plunge baths, but I am much dissatisfied with him; he is neither so attentive nor so indulgent as he ought to be to such a malady; if I did not go to him, which is no easy matter, I should never see him at all. What is your opinion of Schmidt [an army surgeon]? I am unwilling to make any change, but it seems to me that Vering is too much of a practitioner to acquire new ideas by reading. On this point Schmidt appears to be a very different man, and would probably be less negligent with regard to my case. I hear wonders of galvanism; what do you say to it? A physician told me that he knew a deaf and dumb child whose hearing was restored by it (in Berlin), and likewise a man who had been deaf for seven years, and recovered his hearing. I am told that your friend Schmidt is at this moment making experiments on the subject.

I am now leading a somewhat more agreeable life, as of late I have been associating more with other people. You could scarcely believe what a sad and dreary life mine has been for the last two years; my defective hearing everywhere pursuing me like a spectre, making me fly from every one, and appear a misanthrope; and yet no one is in reality less so! This change has been wrought by a lovely fascinating girl [undoubtedly Giulietta], who loves me and whom I love. I have once more had some blissful moments during the last two years, and it is the first time I ever felt that marriage could make me happy. Unluckily, she is not in my rank of life, and indeed at this moment I can marry no one; I must first bestir myself actively in the world. Had it not been for my deafness, I would have travelled half round the globe ere now, and this I must still do. For me there is no pleasure so great as to promote and to pursue my art.

Do not suppose that I could be happy with you. What indeed could make me happier? Your very solicitude would distress me; I should read your compassion every moment in your countenance, which would make me only still more unhappy. What were my thoughts amid the glorious scenery of my father-land? The hope alone of a happier future, which would have been mine but for this affliction! Oh! I could span the world were I only free from this! I feel that my youth is only now commencing. Have I not always been an infirm creature? For some time past my bodily strength has been increasing, and it is the same with my mental powers. I feel, though I cannot describe it, that I daily approach the object I have in view, in which alone can your Beethoven live. No rest for him!–I know of none but in sleep, and I do grudge being obliged to sacrifice more time to it than formerly.[1] Were I only half cured of my malady, then I would come to you, and, as a more perfect and mature man, renew our old friendship.

You should then see me as happy as I am ever destined to be here below–not unhappy. No! that I could not endure; I will boldly meet my fate, never shall it succeed in crushing me. Oh! it is so glorious to live one’s life a thousand times over! I feel that I am no longer made for a quiet existence. You will write to me as soon as possible? Pray try to prevail on Steffen [von Breuning] to seek an appointment from the Teutonic Order somewhere. Life here is too harassing for his health; besides, he is so isolated that I do not see how he is ever to get on. You know the kind of existence here. I do not take it upon myself to say that society would dispel his lassitude, but he cannot be persuaded to go anywhere. A short time since, I had some music in my house, but our friend Steffen stayed away. Do recommend him to be more calm and self-possessed, which I have in vain tried to effect; otherwise he can neither enjoy health nor happiness. Tell me in your next letter whether you care about my sending you a large selection of music; you can indeed dispose of what you do not want, and thus repay the expense of the carriage, and have my portrait into the bargain. Say all that is kind and amiable from me to Lorchen, and also to mamma and Christoph. You still have some regard for me? Always rely on the love as well as the friendship of your


[Footnote 1: “Too much sleep is hurtful” is marked by a thick score in the Odyssey (45, 393) by Beethoven’s hand. See Schindler’s _Beethoven’s Nachlass_.]



Vienna, Dec. 15, 1800.


I have often intended to answer your proposals, but am frightfully lazy about all correspondence; so it is usually a good while before I can make up my mind to write dry letters instead of music. I have, however, at last forced myself to answer your application. _Pro primo_, I must tell you how much I regret that you, my much-loved brother in the science of music, did not give me some hint, so that I might have offered you my quartets, as well as many other things that I have now disposed of. But if you are as conscientious, my dear brother, as many other publishers, who grind to death us poor composers, you will know pretty well how to derive ample profit when the works appear. I now briefly state what you can have from me. 1st. A Septet, _per il violino, viola, violoncello, contra-basso, clarinetto, corno, fagotto;–tutti obbligati_ (I can write nothing that is not _obbligato_, having come into the world with an _obbligato_ accompaniment!) This Septet pleases very much. For more general use it might be arranged for one more _violino, viola_, and _violoncello_, instead of the three wind-instruments, _fagotto, clarinetto_, and _corno_.[2] 2d. A Grand Symphony with full orchestra [the 1st]. 3rd. A pianoforte Concerto [Op. 19], which I by no means assert to be one of my best, any more than the one Mollo is to publish here [Op. 15], (this is for the benefit of the Leipzig critics!) because _I reserve the best for myself_ till I set off on my travels; still the work will not disgrace you to publish. 4th. A Grand Solo Sonata [Op. 22]. These are all I can part with at this moment; a little later you can have a quintet for stringed instruments, and probably some quartets also, and other pieces that I have not at present beside me. In your answer you can yourself fix the prices; and as you are neither an _Italian_ nor a _Jew_, nor am I either, we shall no doubt quickly agree. Farewell, and rest assured,

My dear brother in art, of the esteem of your


[Footnote 1: The letters to Hofmeister, formerly of Vienna, who conducted the correspondence with Beethoven in the name of the firm of “Hofmeister & Kuehnel, Bureau de Musique,” are given here as they first appeared in 1837 in the _Neue Zeitschrift fuer Musik_. On applying to the present representative of that firm, I was told that those who now possess these letters decline giving them out of their own hands, and that no copyist can be found able to decipher or transcribe them correctly.]

[Footnote 2: This last phrase is not in the copy before me, but in Marx’s _Biography_, who appears to have seen the original.]



Vienna, Jan. 15 (or thereabouts), 1801.

I read your letter, dear brother and friend, with much pleasure, and I thank you for your good opinion of me and of my works, and hope I may continue to deserve it. I also beg you to present all due thanks to Herr K. [Kuehnel] for his politeness and friendship towards me. I, on my part, rejoice in your undertakings, and am glad that when works of art do turn out profitable, they fall to the share of true artists, rather than to that of mere tradesmen.

Your intention to publish Sebastian Bach’s works really gladdens my heart, which beats with devotion for the lofty and grand productions of this our father of the science of harmony, and I trust I shall soon see them appear. I hope when golden peace is proclaimed, and your subscription list opened, to procure you many subscribers here.[1]

With regard to our own transactions, as you wish to know my proposals, they are as follows. I offer you at present the following works:–The Septet (which I already wrote to you about), 20 ducats; Symphony, 20 ducats; Concerto, 10 ducats; Grand Solo Sonata, _allegro, adagio, minuetto, rondo_, 20 ducats. This Sonata [Op. 22] is well up to the mark, my dear brother!

Now for explanations. You may perhaps be surprised that I make no difference of price between the sonata, septet, and symphony. I do so because I find that a septet or a symphony has not so great a sale as a sonata, though a symphony ought unquestionably to be of the most value. (N.B. The septet consists of a short introductory _adagio_, an _allegro, adagio, minuetto, andante_, with variations, _minuetto_, and another short _adagio_ preceding a _presto_.) I only ask ten ducats for the concerto, for, as I already wrote to you, I do not consider it one of my best. I cannot think that, taken as a whole, you will consider these prices exorbitant; at least, I have endeavored to make them as moderate as possible for you.

With regard to the banker’s draft, as you give me my choice, I beg you will make it payable by Germueller or Schueller. The entire sum for the four works will amount to 70 ducats; I understand no currency but Vienna ducats, so how many dollars in gold they make in your money is no affair of mine, for really I am a very bad man of business and accountant. Now this _troublesome_ business is concluded;–I call it so, heartily wishing that it could be otherwise here below! There ought to be only one grand _depot_ of art in the world, to which the artist might repair with his works, and on presenting them receive what he required; but as it now is, one must be half a tradesman besides–and how is this to be endured? Good heavens! I may well call it _troublesome_!

As for the Leipzig oxen,[2] let them talk!–they certainly will make no man immortal by their prating, and as little can they deprive of immortality those whom Apollo destines to attain it.

Now may Heaven preserve you and your colleagues! I have been unwell for some time; so it is rather difficult for me at present to write even music, much more letters. I trust we shall have frequent opportunities to assure each other how truly you are my friend, and I yours.

I hope for a speedy answer. Adieu!


[Footnote 1: I have at this moment in my hands this edition of Bach, bound in one thick volume, together with the first part of Naegeli’s edition of the _Wohltemperirtes Clavier_, also three books of exercises (D, G, and C minor), the _Toccata in D Minor_, and _Twice Fifteen Inventions_.]

[Footnote 2: It is thus that Schindler supplies the gap. It is probably an allusion to the _Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung_, founded about three years previously.]



Vienna, April 22, 1801.

You have indeed too good cause to complain not a little of me. My excuse is that I have been ill, and in addition had so much to do, that I could scarcely even think of what I was to send you. Moreover, the only thing in me that resembles a genius is, that my papers are never in very good order, and yet no one but myself can succeed in arranging them. For instance, in the score of the concerto, the piano part, according to my usual custom, was not yet written down; so, owing to my hurry, you will receive it in my own very illegible writing. In order that the works may follow as nearly as possible in their proper order, I have marked the numbers to be placed on each, as follows:–

Solo Sonata, Op. 22.
Symphony, Op. 21.
Septet, Op. 20.
Concerto, Op. 19.

I will send you their various titles shortly.

Put me down as a subscriber to Sebastian Bach’s works [see Letter 20], and also Prince Lichnowsky. The arrangement of Mozart’s Sonatas as quartets will do you much credit, and no doubt be profitable also. I wish I could contribute more to the promotion of such an undertaking, but I am an irregular man, and too apt, even with the best intentions, to forget everything; I have, however, mentioned the matter to various people, and I everywhere find them well disposed towards it. It would be a good thing if you would arrange the septet you are about to publish as a quintet, with a flute part, for instance; this would be an advantage to amateurs of the flute, who have already importuned me on the subject, and who would swarm round it like insects and banquet on it.

Now to tell you something of myself. I have written a ballet [“Prometheus”], in which the ballet-master has not done his part so well as might be. The F—- von L—- has also bestowed on us a production which by no means corresponds with the ideas of his genius conveyed by the newspaper reports. F—- seems to have taken Herr M—- (Wenzel Mueller?) as his ideal at the Kusperle, yet without even rising to his level. Such are the fine prospects before us poor people who strive to struggle upwards! My dear friend, pray lose no time in bringing the work before the notice of the public, and write to me soon, that I may know whether by my delay I have entirely forfeited your confidence for the future. Say all that is civil and kind to your partner, Kuehnel. Everything shall henceforth be sent finished, and in quick succession. So now farewell, and continue your regards for

Your friend and brother,




Vienna, June, 1801.

I am rather surprised at the communication you have desired your business agent here to make to me; I may well feel offended at your believing me capable of so mean a trick. It would have been a very different thing had I sold my works to rapacious shopkeepers, and then secretly made another good speculation; but, from _one artist to another_, it is rather a strong measure to suspect me of such a proceeding! The whole thing seems to be either a device to put me to the test, or a mere suspicion. In any event I may tell you that before you received the septet from me I had sent it to Mr. Salomon in London (to be played at his own concert, which I did solely from friendship), with the express injunction to beware of its getting into other hands, as it was my intention to have it engraved in Germany, and, if you choose, you can apply to him for the confirmation of this. But to give you a further proof of my integrity, “I herewith give you the faithful assurance that I have neither sold the septet, the symphony, the concerto, nor the sonata to any one but to Messrs. Hofmeister and Kuehnel, and that they may consider them to be their own exclusive property. And to this I pledge my honor.” You may make what use you please of this guarantee.

Moreover, I believe Salomon to be as incapable of the baseness of engraving the septet as I am of selling it to him. I was so scrupulous in the matter, that when applied to by various publishers to sanction a pianoforte arrangement of the septet, I at once declined, though I do not even know whether you proposed making use of it in this way. Here follow the long-promised titles of the works. There will no doubt be a good deal to alter and to amend in them; but this I leave to you. I shall soon expect a letter from you, and, I hope, the works likewise, which I wish to see engraved, as others have appeared, and are about to appear, in connection with these numbers. I look on your statement as founded on mere rumors, which you have believed with too much facility, or based entirely on supposition, induced by having perchance heard that I had sent the work to Salomon; I cannot, therefore, but feel some coolness towards such a credulous friend, though I still subscribe myself

Your friend,






Je sens parfaitement bien, que la Celebrite de Votre nom ainsi que l’amitie dont Vous m’honorez, exigeroient de moi la dedicace d’un bien plus important ouvrage. La seule chose qui a pu me determiner a Vous offrir celui-ci de preference, c’est qu’il me paroit d’une execution plus facile et par la meme plus propre a contribuer a la Satisfaction dont Vous jouissez dans l’aimable Cercle de Votre Famille.–C’est surtout, lorsque les heureux talents d’une fille cherie se seront developpes davantage, que je me flatte de voir ce but atteint. Heureux si j’y ai reussi et si dans cette faible marque de ma haute estime et de ma gratitude Vous reconnoissez toute la vivacite et la cordialite de mes sentiments.


[Footnote 1: Grand Trio, Op. 38.]





I send you herewith the four parts corrected by me; please compare the others already written out with these. I also enclose a letter to Count Browne. I have told him that he must make an advance to you of fifty ducats, to enable you to get your outfit. This is absolutely necessary, so it cannot offend him; for after being equipped, you are to go with him to Baden on the Monday of the ensuing week. I must, however, reproach you for not having had recourse to me long ago. Am I not your true friend? Why did you conceal your necessities from me? No friend of mine shall ever be in need, so long as I have anything myself. I would already have sent you a small sum, did I not rely on Browne; if he fails us, then apply at once to your


[Footnote 1: Ries names 1801 as the date of this letter, and it was no doubt during that summer that Count Browne was in Baden. Ries’s father had assisted the Beethoven family in every way in his power at the time of the mother’s death.]



Vienna, April 8, 1802.

Do you mean to go post-haste to the devil, gentlemen, by proposing that I should write _such_ a _sonata_? During the revolutionary fever, a thing of the kind might have been appropriate, but now, when everything is falling again into the beaten track, and Bonaparte has concluded a _Concordat_ with the Pope–such a sonata as this? If it were a _missa pro Sancta Maria a tre voci_, or a _vesper_, &c., then I would at once take up my pen and write a _Credo in unum_, in gigantic semibreves. But, good heavens! such a sonata, in this fresh dawning Christian epoch. No, no!–it won’t do, and I will have none of it.

Now for my answer in quickest _tempo_. The lady can have a sonata from me, and I am willing to adopt the general outlines of her plan in an _aesthetical_ point of view, without adhering to the keys named. The price to be five ducats; for this sum she can keep the work a year for her own amusement, without either of us being entitled to publish it. After the lapse of a year, the sonata to revert to me–that is, I can and will then publish it, when, if she considers it any distinction, she may request me to dedicate it to her.

I now, gentlemen, commend you to the grace of God. My Sonata [Op. 22] is well engraved, but you have been a fine time about it! I hope you will usher my Septet into the world a little quicker, as the P—- is waiting for it, and you know the Empress has it; and when there are in this imperial city people like —-, I cannot be answerable for the result; so lose no time!

Herr —- [Mollo?] has lately published my Quartets [Op. 18] full of faults and _errata_, both large and small, which swarm in them like fish in the sea; that is, they are innumerable. _Questo e un piacere per un autore_–this is what I call engraving [_stechen_, stinging] with a vengeance.[1] In truth, my skin is a mass of punctures and scratches from this fine edition of my Quartets! Now farewell, and think of me as I do of you. Till death, your faithful


[Footnote 1: In reference to the musical piracy at that time very prevalent in Austria.]



Heiligenstadt, Oct. 6, 1802.

Oh! ye who think or declare me to be hostile, morose, and misanthropical, how unjust you are, and how little you know the secret cause of what appears thus to you! My heart and mind were ever from childhood prone to the most tender feelings of affection, and I was always disposed to accomplish something great. But you must remember that six years ago I was attacked by an incurable malady, aggravated by unskilful physicians, deluded from year to year, too, by the hope of relief, and at length forced to the conviction of a _lasting affliction_ (the cure of which may go on for years, and perhaps after all prove impracticable).

Born with a passionate and excitable temperament, keenly susceptible to the pleasures of society, I was yet obliged early in life to isolate myself, and to pass my existence in solitude. If I at any time resolved to surmount all this, oh! how cruelly was I again repelled by the experience, sadder than ever, of my defective hearing!–and yet I found it impossible to say to others: Speak louder; shout! for I am deaf! Alas! how could I proclaim the deficiency of a sense which ought to have been more perfect with me than with other men,–a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, to an extent, indeed, that few of my profession ever enjoyed! Alas, I cannot do this! Forgive me therefore when you see me withdraw from you with whom I would so gladly mingle. My misfortune is doubly severe from causing me to be misunderstood. No longer can I enjoy recreation in social intercourse, refined conversation, or mutual outpourings of thought. Completely isolated, I only enter society when compelled to do so. I must live like an exile. In company I am assailed by the most painful apprehensions, from the dread of being exposed to the risk of my condition being observed. It was the same during the last six months I spent in the country. My intelligent physician recommended me to spare my hearing as much as possible, which was quite in accordance with my present disposition, though sometimes, tempted by my natural inclination for society, I allowed myself to be beguiled into it. But what humiliation when any one beside me heard a flute in the far distance, while I heard _nothing_, or when others heard _a shepherd singing_, and I still heard _nothing_! Such things brought me to the verge of desperation, and wellnigh caused me to put an end to my life. _Art! art_ alone, deterred me. Ah! how could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce?[2] And thus I spared this miserable life–so utterly miserable that any sudden change may reduce me at any moment from my best condition into the worst. It is decreed that I must now choose _Patience_ for my guide! This I have done. I hope the resolve will not fail me, steadfastly to persevere till it may please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread of my life. Perhaps I may get better, perhaps not. I am prepared for either. Constrained to become a philosopher in my twenty-eighth year![3] This is no slight trial, and more severe on an artist than on any one else. God looks into my heart, He searches it, and knows that love for man and feelings of benevolence have their abode there! Oh! ye who may one day read this, think that you have done me injustice, and let any one similarly afflicted be consoled, by finding one like himself, who, in defiance of all the obstacles of Nature, has done all in his power to be included in the ranks of estimable artists and men. My brothers Carl and Johann, as soon as I am no more, if Professor Schmidt [see Nos. 18 and 23] be still alive, beg him in my name to describe my malady, and to add these pages to the analysis of my disease, that at least, so far as possible, the world may be reconciled to me after my death. I also hereby declare you both heirs of my small fortune (if so it may be called). Share it fairly, agree together and assist each other. You know that anything you did to give me pain has been long forgiven. I thank you, my brother Carl in particular, for the attachment you have shown me of late. My wish is that you may enjoy a happier life, and one more free from care, than mine has been. Recommend _Virtue_ to your children; that alone, and not wealth, can ensure happiness. I speak from experience. It was _Virtue_ alone which sustained me in my misery; I have to thank her and Art for not having ended my life by suicide. Farewell! Love each other. I gratefully thank all my friends, especially Prince Lichnowsky and Professor Schmidt. I wish one of you to keep Prince L—-‘s instruments; but I trust this will give rise to no dissension between you. If you think it more beneficial, however, you have only to dispose of them. How much I shall rejoice if I can serve you even in the grave! So be it then! I joyfully hasten to meet Death. If he comes before I have had the opportunity of developing all my artistic powers, then, notwithstanding my cruel fate, he will come too early for me, and I should wish for him at a more distant period; but even then I shall be content, for his advent will release me from a state of endless suffering. Come when he may, I shall meet him with courage. Farewell! Do not quite forget me, even in death; I deserve this from you, because during my life I so often thought of you, and wished to make you happy. Amen!


(_Written on the Outside._)

Thus, then, I take leave of you, and with sadness too. The fond hope I brought with me here, of being to a certain degree cured, now utterly forsakes me. As autumn leaves fall and wither, so are my hopes blighted. Almost as I came, I depart. Even the lofty courage that so often animated me in the lovely days of summer is gone forever. O Providence! vouchsafe me one day of pure felicity! How long have I been estranged from the glad echo of true joy! When! O my God! when shall I again feel it in the temple of Nature and of man?–never? Ah! that would be too hard!


To be read and fulfilled after my death by my brothers Carl and Johann.

[Footnote 1: This beautiful letter I regret not to have seen in the original, it being in the possession of the violin _virtuoso_ Ernst, in London. I have adhered to the version given in the Leipzig _Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung_, Oct. 1827.]

[Footnote 2: A large portion of the _Eroica_ was written in the course of this summer, but not completed till August, 1804.]

[Footnote 3: Beethoven did not at that time know in what year he was born. See the subsequent letter of May 2, 1810. He was then far advanced in his thirty-third year.]



November, 1802.

I owe it to the public and to myself to state that the two quintets in C and E flat major–one of these (arranged from a symphony of mine) published by Herr Mollo in Vienna, and the other (taken from my Septet, Op. 20) by Herr Hofmeister in Leipzig–are not original quintets, but only versions of the aforesaid works given by the publishers. Arrangements in these days (so fruitful in–arrangements) an author will find it vain to contend against; but we may at least justly demand that the fact should be mentioned in the title-page, neither to injure the reputation of the author nor to deceive the public. This notice is given to prevent anything of the kind in future. I also beg to announce that shortly a new original quintet of my composition, in C major, Op. 29, will appear at Breitkopf & Haertel’s in Leipzig.




Summer of 1803.

You no doubt are aware that I am here. Go to Stein, and ask if he can send me an instrument, on hire. I am afraid of bringing mine here. Come to me this evening about seven o’clock. I lodge in Oberdoebling, on the left side of the street, No. 4, going down the hill towards Heiligenstadt.



Vienna, Sept. 22, 1803.

I hereby declare all the works you have ordered to be your property. The list of these shall be made out and sent to you with my signature, as the proof of their being your own. I also agree to accept the sum of fifty ducats for them. Are you satisfied?

Perhaps, instead of the variations with violoncello and violin,[1] I may send you variations for the piano, arranged as a duet on a song of mine; but Goethe’s poetry must also be engraved, as I wrote these variations in an album, and consider them better than the others. Are you satisfied?

The arrangements are not by me, though I have revised and much improved various passages; but I do not wish you to say that I have arranged them, for it would be false, and I have neither time nor patience to do so. Are you satisfied?

Now farewell! I sincerely wish that all may go well with you. I would gladly make you a present of all my works, if I could do so and still get on in the world; but–remember most people are provided for, and know what they have to live on, while, good heavens! where can an appointment be found at the Imperial Court for such a _parvum talentum com ego_?

Your friend,


[Footnote 1: These are the six variations in D, on the air _Ich denke Dein_ written in 1800 in the album of the Countesses Josephine Deym and Therese of Brunswick.]



November, 1803.

Herr Carl Zulehner, a piratical engraver in Mayence, has announced an edition of my collected works for the pianoforte and also stringed instruments. I consider it my duty publicly to inform all friends of music that I have no share whatever in this edition.

I would never have in any way authorized any collection of my works (which, moreover, I consider premature) without previously consulting the publishers of single pieces, and ensuring that correctness in which editions of my individual works are so deficient. I must also observe that this illegal edition cannot be complete, as several new works of mine are shortly to appear in Paris, and these Herr Zulehner, being a French subject, dare not pirate. I intend to take another opportunity of enumerating the details of the collection of my works to be brought out under my own auspices and careful revision.





Be so good as to make out a list of the mistakes and send it at once to Simrock, and say that the work must appear as soon as possible. I will send him the Sonata [Op. 47] and the Concerto the day after to-morrow.


[Footnote 1: Ries relates that the three following notes refer to the pianoforte Sonata, Op. 31, No. 1, carefully engraved by Naegeli in Zurich, which Beethoven consequently sent forthwith to Simrock in Bonn, desiring him to bring out “_une edition tres-correcte_” of the work. He also states that Beethoven was residing in Heiligenstadt at the time the work was first sent [see No. 26]. In Nottebohm’s _Skizzenbuch von Beethoven_, he says (p. 43) that the first notice of the appearance of this sonata was on May 21st, 1803; but Simrock writes to me that the date of the document making over the sonata to him is 1804.]



I must again ask you to undertake the disagreeable task of making a fair copy of the errors in the Zurich Sonata. I have got your list of _errata_ “_auf der Wieden_.”




The signs are wrongly marked, and many of the notes misplaced; so be careful! or your labor will be vain. _Ch’ a detto l’ amato bene?_




May I beg you to be so obliging as to copy this _andante_ [in the Kreuzer Sonata] for me, however indifferently? I must send it off to-morrow, and as Heaven alone knows what its fate may then be, I wish to get it transcribed. But I must have it back to-morrow about one o’clock. The cause of my troubling you is that one of my copyists is already very much occupied with various things of importance, and the other is ill.




Let the bearer of this, Herr Ries, have some easy duets, and, better still, let him have them for nothing. Conduct yourself in accordance with the reformed doctrines. Farewell!



[Footnote 1: Date unknown. Leidesdorf was also a music-seller.]



Baden, July 14, 1804.


If you can find me better lodgings, I shall be very glad. Tell my brothers not to engage these at once; I have a great desire to get one in a spacious, quiet square or on the Bastei. It it really inexcusable in my brother not to have provided wine, as it is so beneficial and necessary to me. I shall take care to be present at the rehearsal on Wednesday. I am not pleased to hear that it is to be at Schuppanzigh’s. He may well be grateful to me if my impertinences make him thinner! Farewell, dear Ries! We have bad weather here, and I am not safe from visitors; so I must take flight in order to be alone.

Your true friend,




Baden, July, 1804.


As Breuning [see Nos. 13, 14, and 18] by his conduct has not scrupled to display my character to you and the house-steward as that of a mean, petty, base man, I beg you will convey my reply at once in person to Breuning. I answer only one point, the first in his letter, and I do so solely because it is the only mode of justifying myself in your eyes. Say also to him that I had no intention of reproaching him on account of the delay of the notice