Ludwig van Beethoven

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A portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized December 17 1770, died March 26 1827) was a German composer who lived predominantly in Vienna, Austria. He was a major musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras. Beethoven is widely regarded as one of history's greatest composers.


  • I want to seize fate by the throat.
    • Letter to F.G. Wegeler, 16 November, 1801.
  • There ought to be but one large art warehouse in the world, to which the artist could carry his art-works, and from which he could carry away whatever he needed. As it is, one must be half a tradesman.
    • Conversations (January 1801)
  • Musik höhere Offenbarung ist als alle Weisheit und Philosophie.[1]
    • Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
    • As reported by Bettina von Arnim in a letter to Goethe, 28 May 1810.
    • Goethe's Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde: Seinem Denkmal, Volume 2, Dümmler, 1835, p. 193.
  • Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess?
  • Fahre fort, übe nicht allein die Kunst, sondern dringe auch in ihr Inneres; sie verdient es, denn nur die Kunst und die Wissenschaft erhöhen den Menschen bis zur Gottheit.
    • Don't only practise your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.
    • Letter to Emilie, July 17, 1812.
    • Quoted in Musical news, Vol. 3 (1892), p. 627
  • The world is a king, and like a king, desires flattery in return for favor; but true art is selfish and perverse — it will not submit to the mold of flattery.
    • Conversations (March 1879)
  • Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est. (Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.)
    • Said on his deathbed, 1827
  • Ich werde im Himmel hören! (I will hear in heaven!)
    • Said on his deathbed, 1827, as cited from the book Last Words.
  • The day-to-day exhausted me!
    • to Karl von Baden, August 23, 1823
  • Muß es sein? Es muß sein.
    • Must it be? It must be.
    • Epigraph to string quartet in F Major, Opus 135.
  • Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.
    • Conversations (January 1804)

About Beethoven[edit]

  • Another equally true saying of Schumann is that, compared with Beethoven, Schubert is as a woman to a man. For it must be confessed that one's attitudes towards him is almost always that of sympathy, attraction, and love, rarely that of embarrassment or fear. Here and there only, as in the Rosamund B minor Entr'acte, or the Finale of the 10th symphony, does he compel his listeners with an irrestistible power; and yet how different is this compulsion from the strong, fierce, merciless coercion, with which Beethoven forces you along, and bows and bends you to his will.
    • Sir George Grove in his Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn (London:Macmillan, 1951), p. 238.
  • When his friends, says Czerny, speak to him of his youthful renown, he replies: "Ah, nonsense! I have never thought of writing for renown and glory. What I have in my heart must out; that is why I write."
  • You are going to Vienna in fulfillment of your long-frustrated wishes. The Genius of Mozart is mourning and weeping over the death of her pupil. She has found a refuge but no occupation with the inexhaustible Haydn; through him she wishes to form a union with another. With the help of assiduous labor you shall receive Mozart's spirit from Haydn's hands.
  • If the question [about if there were only one composer in the world I could play] is purely ‘original’ works, no transcriptions, then Beethoven.
  • I forswore my model, Beethoven; his last Symphony I deemed the keystone of a whole great epoch of art, beyond whose limits no man could hope to press, and within which no man could attain to independence.
  • A colossus beyond the grasp of most mortals, with his totally uncompromising power, his unsensual and uningratiating way with music as with people.


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

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