Sunday, 27 March 2016


Excerpt of Ludwig van Beethoven's 1813 letter to the
Countess of Fuchs, Maria Eleonora.
SOURCE: Beethoven-Haus Bonn; Digital Archives
The museum acquired the historic letter Tuesday
(March 22, 2016)
The historic Beethoven-Haus Museum at Bonn has recently acquired a letter written by the 19th century classical era composer, penned in 1813 to a Maria Eleonora, Countess of Fuchs – an acquisition made possible through a joint collaboration between the Federal Government Commissioner of Culture and Media; the Ministry of Family, Youth Culture and Sport of North Rhine-Westphalia; and the German Cultural Foundation. The acquisition, procured from the hands of a private owner, coincides with the Beethoven-Haus’ much advanced advertisements of the late composer's 250th anniversary (since birth) in the museums home state - occurring in December of 2020 - which is sure to be quite the musical spectacle in Beethoven’s native Bonn.

According to curators at the Beethoven-Haus museum, the letter, believed to have been unsent, was “unusually emotional” in tone, in contrast to the composers known writings, and are quite intimate in nature: The Countess Fuchs (1786-1842), was sister-in-law to Giulietta Guicciardi, a one-time paramour and emotional rock to the often melancholic composer (she had aided a dismal Beethoven during a time of great despair in which he toyed with visions of suicide in the premier years of the 19th century).

Now, eleven years later, in January of 1813, Ludwig would sit with pen in hand, this time to express his grievances with the Countess Maria Eleonora.

As the letter to the Countess suggests, Beethoven would
undergo a period of self isolation during which he would
seldom appear in public. It is said that during this period of
mental and physical deterioration, the composer began to
pay a decreasing amount of attention to his own person,
with those close to the icon declaring Beethoven to be in a
frequent state of discord with his own appearance, seeming
to others to be disheveled and unkempt. This portrait dates
from 1815, and was painted under the brush of
Willibrord Mähler.
The very intimate exchange details both a physically and mentally frustrated composer. According to the letter, Beethoven expresses a feeling of lackluster productivity from a creative standpoint. His politically inspired pieces that had achieved much acclaim during the period in question, to Beethoven at least, were lacking in compositional technique (in reality, in the year 1813 Beethoven could arguably considered at the very Zenith of his career). In addition to this personal tribulation, the folksong arrangements the German icon was composing during the same period proved to be rather unsatisfactory for the composer’s ego: it has been well documented that in spite of repeated demands for the text associated with the melodies, the Scottish patron to which he was employed cited tradition in refusing to do so. The period in question would also see the eventual shift in compositional style as reflected most notably in the composers later works and, as such, the letter itself, whilst relatively intimate in nature is of utmost significance to both the Beethoven-Haus museum and to present and future progenitors of classical music.

Beethoven’s letter to the Countess also details of an unspecified invitation of which the composer, due to lack of finance, a desire to isolate from the outside world and a “torn heart” would not be in attendance. Full of despair, the composer expresses sacrifice over fear of “d[ying] of hunger,” a mournful sense of loss at his ailing brother’s[1] imminent death, and openly questions his place – and worth – in society as his own mental state deteriorates.

How one is moved to pity.
Oh Beethoven, if only you knew how much you were, and continue to be appreciated:

Brussels Philharmonic & the Vlaams Radio Koor (Flemish Radio Choir) defiantly stand in unison for Brussels - and for greater Europe - following the March 2016  terrorist attacks at Belgium.
 Performing before local spectators and press at Brussel’s Place de la Bourse, the orchestra and choir featured an empowering performance of An die Freude (Ode to Joy) from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

[1]The brother mentioned in Beethoven's letter to the Countess is that of Kaspar Karl Beethoven, who had taken ill in 1812 with Tuberculosis, and would linger in deteriorating health until his death roughly three years later in November of 1815.

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