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.

Quotes[edit]

  • 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)
  • Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.
    • Conversations (January 1804)
  • Muß es sein? Es muß sein.
    • Must it be? It must be.
    • Epigraph to string quartet in F Major, Opus 135.
  • 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 1820)
  • The day-to-day exhausted me!
    • to Karl von Baden, August 23, 1823
  • 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.


Attributed[edit]

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

Quotes about Beethoven[edit]

  • As usual he submitted to the interminable entreaties and finally was dragged almost by force to the pianoforte by the ladies. Angrily he tears the second violin part of one of the Pleyel quartets from the music-stand where it still lay open, throws it upon the rack of the pianoforte, and begins to improvise. We had never heard him extemporize more brilliantly, with more originality or more grandly than on that evening. But throughout the entire improvisation there ran in the middle voices, like a thread, or cantus firmus, the insignificant notes, wholly insignificant in themselves, which he found on the page of the quartet, which by chance lay open on the music stand; on them he built up the most daring melodies and harmonies, in the most brilliant concert style. Old Pleyel could only give expression to his amazement by kissing his hands. After such improvisations Beethoven was wont to break out into a loud and satisfied laugh.
  • His improvisation was most brilliant and striking. In whatever company he might chance to be, he knew how to produce such an effect upon every hearer that frequently not an eye remained dry, while many would break out into large sobs; for there was something wonderful in his expression in addition to the beauty and originality of his ideas and his spirited style of rendering them. After ending an improvisation of this kind he would burst into loud laughter and banter his hearers on the emotion he had caused in them. "You are fools!" he would say. Sometimes he would feel himself insulted by these indications of sympathy. "Who could live among such spoiled children?" he would cry, and only on that account (as he told me) he declined to accept an invitation which the King of Prussia gave him after one of the extempore performances above described.
    • Carl Czerny, quoted by Lewis Lockwood, "Beethoven, Florestan, and the Varieties of Heroism," Beethoven and His World (2000) ed. Scott G. Burnham & Michael P. Steinberg
  • 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.
  • Beethoven did not always plumb the depths. He was not always busy with major problems and the most significant spiritual experiences. Such works, as the fourth, sixth, and eighth symphonies depict states of mind that require no such intensity of realization. It is significant that they were all written comparatively quickly... They are not in the main line of Beethoven's spiritual development.
    • Lewis Lockwood, "Beethoven, Florestan, and the Varieties of Heroism," Beethoven and His World (2000) ed. Scott G. Burnham & Michael P. Steinberg
  • A colossus beyond the grasp of most mortals, with his totally uncompromising power, his unsensual and uningratiating way with music as with people.
  • 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."
  • ...orgy of vulgar noises.
    • Louis Spohr, description of Fifth Symphony as quoted by Michael Brooks, Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science (2012)
  • 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.
  • 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.

External links[edit]

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