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Vienna

::: Beethoven in Vienna :::

In 1792 it is finally time for Beethoven to study again in Vienna, this time with Haydn, who personally invited him. Mozart died in 1791. The famous Haydn was impressed by the young talent when he stayed in Bonn on his first trip to England.

Friends and acquaintances write as a farewell in Beethoven's "Stammbuch", a kind of poetry album for someone who goes far away. Count Waldstein writes in the historical words that if Ludwig does his best, 'he will receive Mozart's spirit from Haydn's hands'.

While Napoleon's troops occupy the Rheinland, Beethoven arrives, traveling through the enemy lines, in Vienna, where lessons with Haydn soon begin. He also takes lessons with Albrechtsberger and Salieri, partly because he is not very satisfied with Haydn. He claims to have learned nothing with Haydn.



Joseph Haydn


Beethoven soon becomes a welcome guest with noble families, but more because of his virtuoso and unusual piano playing than through his compositions. He participates in various piano competitions. He usually plays away his competitors, which does not always make him loved, but it does give him the reputation of a devil pianist. During that time he pays a lot of attention to his appearance, he dresses to the latest fashion and takes dancing lessons.

In 1794, Beethoven finds that the three piano trios composed and dedicated to Haydn are of such good quality that he considers them worthy of his first opus number. The young genius is ready!

In 1795 Beethoven performs in public at the Burgtheater for the first time. In the meantime both brothers, who now call themselves Carl and Johann, have also come to Vienna. Stephan von Breuning will join them in 1801 and, like the Beethoven brothers, will settle permanently in Vienna. Many people from the Rheinland flee for the Napoleonic occupier to Vienna.



Vienna in 1795


In 1796, Ludwig and his patron Prince Lichnowsky, with whom he also moved in, went on a music journey. The tour takes via Prague, Dresden and Leipzig to Berlin, where Beethoven composes the two cello sonatas for the famous cellist Jean-Louis Duport. He carries them out with him for the King of Prussia.

This will prove to be his furthest and longest foreign tour. There will be some short music trips in the coming years to Pressburg (Bratislava), Budapest, Prague and Grätz. England remains an option all the time, but it will never happen. In the meantime, the number of compositions is growing steadily.

Many variations, whether or not with an opus number, see the light of day in these years. In 1799 he worked on the first symphony and string quartets. His success is growing steadily and the future is beaming at him.




Prince Lichnowksky


In a long letter to Franz Wegeler, dated June 29, 1801, Beethoven shares for the first time with someone the secret of his diminishing hearing. Two days later a similar letter follows to Carl Amenda, Beethoven's dear friend, who has returned to his native country, present-day Latvia. However, he asks both friends not to mention it. Even Wegeler's wife, his childhood friend Leonore von Breuning, is not allowed to know.




Franz Wegeler



In October 1801 Ferdinand Ries arrives in Vienna. He is the gifted son of Franz Ries, member of the orchestra of the Elector and violin teacher of Beethoven in his Bonn-years. Franz Ries intensively supported the Beethoven family after the mother's death. Beethoven has not forgotten this and immediately accepts Ferdinand as a student and protector. Ferdinand in turn does administrative jobs for Beethoven. Beethoven will always have people in his area who want to perform unpaid handicrafts and services for him. Beethoven and Ries get along well. Throughout his life, Ries will be one of Beethoven's greatest admirers and ambassador.




Ferdinand Ries



In the summer of 1802, Beethoven traveled to Heiligenstadt, a village just outside Vienna. This on the advice of a doctor, in the hope that rural peace would improve his hearing. When at the end of his stay he finds that his hearing has not improved at all, he becomes so desperate that he thinks of suicide. He writes a kind of testament in which he puts his feelings of despair on paper. Apparently he has written off this depression, because he decides to live on. He thinks he is obliged to donate everything that is in him to musicality to humanity before he can leave this life.

This document, made famous as the Heiligenstädter Testament, was found in his legacy. It is an impressive and moving proof of Beethoven's despair, struggle and victory for his increasing deafness. He has never put down his disability, because over the years he has continued to try out tools to be able to hear something.

However, things are different in 1805. In 1799, Beethoven had become acquainted with the sisters Josephine and Therese von Brunswick and gave them piano lessons during their stay in Vienna.



Josephine von Brunswick


After Josephine marries Count Deym, contact continues, both with her and with her sister Therese and her brother Franz. After Josephine became a widow in 1805, the relationship between her and Beethoven deepened. This is evident from the correspondence of thirteen letters, in which Beethoven's feelings for Josephine become more and more passionate, while Josephine, among other things because of her vulnerable position - she had four young children - takes a much more reserved approach. Beethoven gives her the song An die Hoffnung. To this day, Josephine is one of the serious candidates for the 'Unsterbliche Geliebte' (immortal mistress). For years it has been assumed that her sister Therese was Beethoven's Unsterbliche Geliebte.

Musically, Beethoven is doing well. He is full of creativity and zest for work and his productivity is enormous.
Beethoven therefore composes the third symphony, better known as "Eroïca", which he wants to dedicate to Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he greatly admires. However, when he learns that Napoleon has crowned himself emperor in Paris, he becomes furious and tears apart the title page of the symphony with the assignment to Bonaparte. This symphony causes a musical earthquake among the contemporaries and is considered a milestone in the history of music.


Napoleon Bonaparte



Beethoven, however, is already busy again with his first opera, called Leonore. In the meantime he is also working on the Fifth symphony and the Fourth piano concerto. November 1805 Leonore premieres. Vienna has since been occupied by French troops. The imperial family and the nobility have fled to safer places and Beethoven's public consists mainly of French soldiers. The opera flops and also a second version, which is performed about half a year later, is not really successful. Only in 1814 will Fidelio, the third version, become a great success and remain a very popular opera despite all the criticism over the centuries. Especially in times of war and oppression, the meaning of the story appeals to people and gives them support. Immediately after World War II, Fidelio was performed at very many theaters in Europe.

In 1806, brother Carl married Johanna Reiss, which resulted in a removal between the two brothers. Carl has always been Beethoven's favorite brother, but Beethoven cannot agree with this woman's choice. More than three months after the wedding, Beethoven's cousin Karl van Beethoven is born.

During a trip that year with Prince Lichnowsky to Upper Silesia (now Slovakia), Beethoven has a quarrel with his patron and returns headlong to Vienna. He would have sent the Prince the following letter: 'Prince, what you are, you are by chance and birth. Princes have always been there and thousands will come. Beethoven, however, there is only ONE!' According to the story, at home he would have thrown the prince's bust. Later they reconciled again.

In 1808, Johann van Beethoven, who became rich during the French occupation, buys a pharmacy in Linz. Beethoven himself is offered by Napoleon's brother, Jerôme Bonaparte and King of Westphalia, to become a Kapellmeister in Kassel for an annual salary of 600 ducats and his own orchestra. Beethoven is considering accepting this offer and leave Vienna.

At the end of the year, on December 22, Beethoven gives his illustrious benefit concert at the Theater an der Wien. On the program are the Fifth and Sixth symphony, the aria Ah Perfido, the Gloria and Sanctus from the Mass in C, an improvisation by Beethoven himself on the grand piano, the Fourth piano concerto and finally the Choir fantasy specially composed for this occasion. The concert lasts from 6.30 am to 10.30 am, but too little has been rehearsed and it is freezing cold. Even the greatest Beethoven enthusiast is happy that the concert has ended.

In February 1809, Beethoven was offered a contract in which he was offered an annual fee of 4,000 florins for the duration of his life by Archduke Rudolph von Habsburg, the youngest brother of the emperor and the most important student of Beethoven, and the Princes Lobkowitz and Kinsky. In this way, they want to prevent the composer from leaving for Kassel and give him the chance to be able to devote himself to his compositions undisturbed and without financial worries in Vienna. The only thing opposite: Beethoven must reside on Habsburg territory, with the exception of concert trips. Beethoven accepts this offer and stays in Vienna.

In May 1810, Beethoven asked his friend Wegeler, who now lives in Koblenz, to send him a copy of his baptism certificate. Beethoven has wedding plans. The chosen one is not Josephine von Brunswick, because she has slowly withdrawn from Beethoven's advances. It is Thérèse Malfatti, a family member of Beethoven's doctor, and she receives the 'Für Elise' bagatelle from him. It is now almost unanimously agreed that 'Für Thérèse' was on the assignment. Beethoven's terrible manuscript erroneously read Elise. Unfortunately, neither Thérèse nor her family find salvation in a union with the composer and the marriage does not take place. When the baptismal deed arrives, there is no longer a question of marriage. And Beethoven thinks he received the baptismal certificate from his deceased brother Ludwig Maria, because he thinks he was born in 1772.



Thérèse Malfatti



In June 1811, after being ill for a long time, Beethoven went to the spa town of Teplitz in Bohemia on medical advice. He meets a number of new and old friends there. He also gets to know Amalie Sebald. The two people are charmed by each other. Beethoven sends her, because he has to keep the bed almost constantly, pretty charming notes. In the meantime, a hefty devaluation of money has taken place, as a result of which Beethoven's annual money has also fallen considerably in value. To make matters worse, Prince Lobkowitz is placed under guardianship and Prince Kinsky dies a year later after a fall from his horse. Beethoven is forced to still receive his annual money through litigation.

Goethe and Beethoven spend a week in Teplitz. The two greatest men of their time certainly respect each other, but they are too different in character to create a good friendship. Beethoven believes that a poet as important as Goethe loves the court scent too much. Goethe, in turn, does not hide his admiration for Beethoven. However, he writes to a friend that although Beethoven's talent has surprised him, he is unfortunately an uncontrolled person who has no inequality to abhor the world, but does not make it more pleasing to himself and others. Beethoven, however, will continue to cherish for his entire life an almost humble worship for Goethe. Goethe, on the other hand, is aloof. He recognizes Beethoven's greatness, but at the same time he is concerned about the emotionality of his music.

On July 25, 1812, Beethoven arrives in Carlsbad and resides there in the same house as the Brentano family. Together they leave for Franzensbad in early August, after which Beethoven returns to Carlsbad and later to Teplitz and the Brentano's to Vienna. They return to Frankfurt for good in November of that year; however, a friendship of many years remains between them and Beethoven. Beethoven is going to set things up in Linz before returning to Vienna for the winter. He wants to call his brother Johann, who lives with his housekeeper Therese Obermeyer, to order. However, Johann marries Therese instead of expelling her. This sister-in-law cannot find any mercy in Beethoven's eyes either. He thinks she is just a fat pig and the fact that she has an illegitimate child only increases his aversion. Finally he drips to Vienna.

At the request of Mälzel, the inventor of the precursor of the metronome, Beethoven composes Wellington's Victory. It will be Beethoven's greatest success during his life and he deserves well. In May 1814, Beethoven (presumably) performs for the last time as a pianist when he performs the Erzherzogtrio together with Schuppanzigh, among others. In the meantime, Napoleon has been defeated and banished to Elba, and the great ones of Europe are meeting in Vienna under the leadership of Metternich. This event has gone down in history as the Viennese Congress. In addition to politics and changing the map of Europe, the gentlemen are also very interested in entertainment. Beethoven is therefore a welcome guest and frequently present.


Wellington's Victory


After the success of Welllington's Victory, Beethoven goes to work on Fidelio, with the help of Treitschke, completely to work, including a new overture. The job is not easy for him and he thinks he has earned the martyr's crown. The renewed opera will be performed in the presence of the various heads of state and will be a success this time. Also a performance of the Seventh symphony and Wellington's Victory is received with enthusiasm by the dignitaries. Beethoven is at the height of his fame and he earns a lot of money, for which he buys shares.

However, he is doing a lot less privately. He even started to keep a diary in 1813, while he actually hates writing. Apart from two cello sonatas and the song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, he composes few important works. His hearing is getting worse and his favorite brother Carl is seriously ill. Carl has tuberculosis and he dies in November 1815. In his will he states that his wife Johanna and his brother Ludwig will share custody of son Karl.

For years, Beethoven and Johanna will fight each other through the courts with the custody of the child as their starting point. In view of her dubious way of life, Beethoven does not consider Johanna to be a mother capable of raising her child well. Apparently he finds himself, an almost entirely deaf bachelor with a chaotic lifestyle and an uncertain income, the right person to educate Karl van Beethoven.

In June 1817, Beethoven, through his student Ferdinand Ries, now living in London, is invited to come to England. Beethoven accepts the invitation from the Philharmonic Society of London. However, he cancels the trip the following year due to his poor health and starts composing the Hammerklaviersonate. From England he is offered a six octave grand piano by the firm of Broadwood & Sons. In the meantime, custody of his nephew has been assigned to him and he removes the child from the boarding school of Giannatasio del Rio and takes him home.

In 1818, Beethoven became so deaf that he was forced to use scriptures, because normal conversation with others is no longer possible; these are the so-called 'Konversationshefte'. A good number of these notebooks have been preserved and published in eleven volumes. These scriptures provide an intimate and penetrating picture of Beethoven's private life during the last nine years of his life. However, there is little to be found about his music. When Karl has run away to his mother, it comes to custody again. Beethoven cannot prove that the 'van' in his name indicates noble status, as a result of which the case is referred to a lower court and Beethoven loses custody of Karl. However, after he wrote a long letter to the Court of Appèl, he finally got custody of his cousin in 1821. This lingering issue has lasted around five years and has undermined it considerably psychologically.

In 1821, after a short recovery, Beethoven fell ill again and did not continue to feel well. In July it becomes clear that he is suffering from jaundice. In a letter to Franz Brentano of 12 November 1821, he announced that he had recovered and that the Missa Solemnis was ready. A great tinker starts with this mass. Beethoven offers him several publishers at the same time. Partly on the advice of brother Johann, however, he decided not to have the mass published, but to offer handwritten copies to the most important European courts. In this way he hopes to earn more money for Mass, which he has worked on for years and which he himself calls his most important work. Ten registrations follow and eventually the mass is issued by Schott in Mainz (Germany).

Before the opening of the Theater an der Josephstadt in October 1822, Beethoven reworked his music for Die Ruinen von Athen, added a new overture to it and the piece was now called Die Weihe des Hauses. In the following year, the Philharmonic Society asks him to compose a symphony and the Russian Prince Gallitzin asks three string quartets by Beethoven's hand. That will be the opus numbers 129, 130 and 132. In the meantime, the Diabelli variants are ready and are being issued. They have become 33 instead of one. In 1819 the publisher Anton Diabelli had asked a large number of composers to compile a variation on his simple waltz. Beethoven initially refused to participate. Afterwards he got such pleasure from it that he composed 33 pieces in two stages. This brilliant work belongs to the top of the art of variation.

Around February 1824 the Ninth symphony, destined for London, was completed. Because Beethoven has threatened to have the premiere of the symphony take place elsewhere, a number of prominent Viennese music lovers make a request to Beethoven via local magazines to hold the premiere in Vienna. Beethoven yields and on May 7, 1824 a concert is given in the Vienna Kärntnertor Theater in which, among other things, the entire Ninth Symphony is performed. The concert is a huge success; the room is sold out except for the royal box. Due to his deafness, Beethoven can no longer conduct himself, but he is on stage to indicate the tempi. When the applause breaks loose, the alto Caroline Unger has to turn it around to receive the applause, because he no longer hears it. The proceeds of the concert are disappointing and Beethoven accuses his unpaid secretary, the violinist Anton Schindler, of theft and shows him the door. Schindler will, however, still play an important role, which will have far-reaching consequences for the future.

The relationship between Beethoven and his cousin Karl is getting worse. Karl's study results leave something to be desired and Beethoven tries to guard Karl in an exaggerated way against the evil in the world. In addition, he is quite possessive in his love for the boy and he demands that he hardly see his mother. Karl wants to become a soldier, but that is not to be discussed with the uncle, who calls himself Karl's father. Beethoven hates everything that is military. Beethoven's plans to travel to London are canceled again. In mid-April, Beethoven suffers from severe stomach problems and is put on a strict diet. He has been struggling all his life with rather painful intestinal complaints.

Karl has since left the university and is now attending the Polytechnic school. He no longer lives with his uncle, who has placed him in a household. Beethoven constantly has Karls gauges checked. He does not leave town for the first time in years in the summer, but continues to live in Vienna to be close to his cousin. On July 30, 1826, Karl tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. His attempt failed, but he has a serious head injury. Beethoven, totally unsettled, gives custody in favor of his good friend Stephan von Breuning.

Beethoven starts his last quartet and sends the completed quartet to the publisher. In anticipation of his departure to his regiment in Iglau -Karl will eventually become a soldier- he will travel with Beethoven to Gneixendorf near Krems at the end of September, where Johann van Beethoven has an estate. Beethoven composes a new final for this opus 130. The original finale is given its own opus number as Grosse Fuge opus 133.

On the return trip to Vienna in early December they spend the night in an ice-cold inn and Beethoven falls ill. He appears to have contracted a pneumonia, but recovers unexpectedly quickly. But then fate strikes and his state of health takes a definitive turn. He has jaundice and dropsy; his body and especially his belly and feet are seriously swollen. He can hardly work anymore, so he has hardly any income. At the beginning of January 1827 Karl leaves for Iglau; he will never see his uncle again.

Beethoven undergoes four punctures to remove the fluid from his stomach. His liver is seriously hardened. Meanwhile, Anton Schindler has returned to Beethoven's circle and he performs all kinds of services for him. Despite the fact that Beethoven's circle of friends, partly due to his reclusive way of life, has thinned out considerably, he receives a lot of visitors. Striking are the visits from young Gerhard von Breuning, son of friend Stephan von Breuning. Years later he will put his memoirs on paper under the title Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause, after Beethoven's last home.

Beethoven receives £ 100 from the Philharmonic Society of London as a contribution to medical expenses. His friend Stumpff in England sends him the forty-volume edition of the works of Handel, which Beethoven is extremely happy with. On March 23, 1827, he wrote with his last powers an appendix for his will.

Beethoven dies on March 26, 1827 between 5 and 6 pm. According to visitor Anselm Huettenbrenner, a friend of Franz Schubert, a storm started in the late afternoon; there was a flash of lightning, followed by a huge thunderbolt. Beethoven, who was already unaware, opened his eyes and raised his right hand. He looked up for a few seconds, his fist clenched, a very serious and threatening expression on his face. When he dropped his hand back on the bed, he half closed his eyes and was dead.

Beethoven is buried on March 29, 1827 at the Währinger Ortsfriedhof. The funeral procession departs with immense interest from the death house in Schwarzspanierstrasse to the Alserkirche (Dreifältigkeitskirche), where the blessing will take place. The attendance is unprecedentedly large for a funeral of a non-royal person. The opinion is estimated at around 20,000 people; the schools are free and the army must be deployed to bring order to the chaos. A burial speech by Franz Grillparzer is read out at the cemetery. Beethoven's remains are dug up twice. The first time for research in 1863; the second time in 1888 to transfer his body and that of Franz Schubert to the graves of honor at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. The old gravestones of both composers, however, are still in what is now called the Schubert Park.




Beethoven's last resting place at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna


After Beethoven's death, Anton Schindler took it from Beethoven's home; Beethoven's "Konversationshefte". With his biography of Beethoven, he has scared many old friends of Beethoven against him. In order to be right and to present himself as a much more important person in Beethoven's life than he had been, he added fictitious conversations and notes to Beethoven's death in many places in the scriptures. With this, he contributed to the myth formation that arose after Beethoven's death, but he also provided incorrect information about the interpretation of Beethoven's works. The person who could have become Beethoven's largest biographer is now entering history as a forger.




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