Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

CHAPTER 7

THE GENERAL OF THE MUSICIANS

FROM 1816 to 1818 there was an almost complete break in Beethoven’s creative work. What no good woman, no ‘Immortal Beloved,’ had ever done, Johanna the Bad and the small Karl accomplished - they brought Beethoven to earth, and kept him there, in an endless round of litigation, intrigue, agitation, anguish and anger. The mother constantly tried to get back her child; Beethoven was even more determined she should have no control, and beat her off fiercely. He was quite prepared to be generous over money matters and to allow her to see Karl at intervals, but where moral training was concerned he was adamant, for he loathed her lightness that could be bought (it was said) for twenty gulden, and he despised her bribery and lies. It is almost impossible for Anglo-Saxon countries to realize the extent to which intrigue was carried on in old Vienna. The system was as much a matter of course as natchai under the old Russian empire. Any one who cares to read such an independent account as that given by Lady Frances Shelley in her diary for 1816 will see how the upper world floated on intrigue, while the demi-monde and underworld wallowed in it. Anything was possible in a city and time where such a grim episode could happen as that of the Countess Erdödy, her two sons, one daughter and the tutor Brauchle, who was suspected of causing the boys’ death and of driving the girl to attempted suicide. Thayer and Hevesy, who learned the story from the police reports, can only hint at it. Yet it is relevant here, because the Countess Erdödy was one of Beethoven’s best friends up to the time when she was banished from Austria, and the years of the tragedy coincide with those of Beethoven’s struggle against Johanna for Karl.

Beethoven was thus amply justified in his fears, if not in his methods with Karl. The Magic Flute had always been his favourite Mozart opera; he now fitted its circumstances to his own. Johanna was the wicked Queen of Night, he was the wise high priest Sarastro and Karl was Pamina, the child whom Sarastro would save from the mother’s machinations. The allegory did not work out on all fours. In the opera Sarastro, as supreme arbiter, had no opposition to contend with save that of the Queen of Night, while Pamina was absolutely docile to the ordeals imposed on her. Beethoven, on the other hand, was compelled to go to law as the plaintiff and to fight the case right up through the courts for three years before he obtained sole rights over Karl. Meanwhile Karl, far from maidenly docility, was an unregenerate, deceitful little boy, who found himself in the unpleasant position of a wish-bone or cracker, which people are pulling at opposite ends. He may well have felt, as a schoolboy once reported Agag to have said when he was hewn in pieces: ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear.’

On first receiving the sole care of Karl, Beethoven had put him into an excellent private school owned by Giannatasio del Rio. The loyalty and good sense of Giannatasio were severely tried, but remained staunch against the attacks of the Queen of Night, and he and Beethoven struck up a firm friendship. Giannatasio was a sensible man: Beethoven’s ideas on education were wise and humane; he was anxious that Karl, whom he thought very gifted, should not be overworked as he himself had been. Unfortunately the experiment of a school domicile was not altogether successful and Beethoven decided to make a home for the boy himself. How incapable he was of doing such a thing may be gleaned from Fanny Giannatasio’s journal. She, with her father, sister and Carl had been invited to visit Beethoven at Baden in September 1816.

Although our host had been informed of our coming, we soon noticed that no arrangement had been made for our entertainment. ... When we came to his lodgings in the afternoon a walk was proposed; but our host would not go along, excusing himself, saying he had a great deal to do; but he promised to follow and join us, and did so. But when we came back in the evening there was not a sign of entertainment to be seen. B. muttered excuses and accusations against the persons who had been charged with the arrangements and helped us to settle ourselves. Oh, how interesting it was! to move a light sofa with his help. A rather large room in which his piano stood, was cleared for us girls to use as a bedroom. ... In the morning a very prosaic noise roused us out of our poetical mood! B. appeared soon with a scratched face, and complained that he had had a quarrel with his servant, who was going away. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘how he has maltreated me!’

Fanny and her sister were the proverbial little pitchers with long ears. When the party presently went for a walk in the Helenenthal, the girls, strolling on ahead, overheard their father advising Beethoven to rescue himself from his difficulties by marrying. Beethoven’s reply is significant beyond its immediate application. ‘Five years ago’ he said, ‘he had made the acquaintance of a person, union with whom he would have considered the greatest happiness of his life. It was not to be thought of, almost an impossibility, a chimera - nevertheless it is now as on the first day. ... It had never reached a confession, but he could not get it out of his mind.’

It? She? Amalie Sebald? Beethoven had known her just five years. Proof too that Amalie was not the ‘Immortal Beloved’ because almost the only sure thing about the famous letter is that it was written following a declaration of love.

Months slipped by and still the disturbance in Beethoven’s life continued. The wretched child Karl was as guiltless as Newton’s dog Diamond of the loss he was inflicting on the world, but Beethoven became practically non-creative through worry and distress. He wrote letters, letters, letters: letters on litigation, his ill-health, his domestic troubles. He made pathetic efforts to gather practical information about running a household. ‘What ought one to give two servants to eat at dinner and supper both as to quantity and quality? How often ought one to give them roast meat? ... How much wine and beer?’ were a few of the unaccustomed questions he wrestled with. Friends tried to help him by finding him servants. Good Zmeskall, as usual, was on the spot and was rewarded by a letter that began: ‘Dear Z., Your non-recommendation of the servants engaged by me I can also not recommend. ... All projects concerning my nephew have foundered because of these miserable persons.’ To Giannatasio he wrote: ‘Valued Friend. My household greatly resembles a shipwreck or threatens to; in brief I have been so swindled in reference to these people.’

To Frau Nanette Streicher (his sheet-anchor against these calamities) he wrote: ‘I thank you for your interest in me. Matters are already better - meanwhile I have endured much today from N. [the maid Nanni] but have thrown half a dozen books at her head as a New Year’s gift.’ Then later: ‘Yesterday the infernal tricks commenced. I made short work of it, and threw at her my heavy chair which stands by the bed; for that I was at peace the whole day.’

Perhaps most striking of all is his letter to Zmeskall giving him the dedication of the magnificent F minor string Quartet, Op. 95, a letter in every way as characteristic as the Quartet, which Mendelssohn always said was the most Beethovenish thing he ever wrote.

16th December, 1816.

Here, dear Z., you will receive my friendly declaration which I hope will be a precious souvenir of our long-continued friendship and be accepted as a proof of my respect and not as an end of a long-spun thread (for you belong to my earliest friends in Vienna). Farewell. - Abstain from the decayed fortresses, the attack exhausts more than that on the well-preserved.

As ever,

Your friend,

BEETHOVEN

N.B. If you have a moment’s time please tell me how much a livery will cost now (without cloak), with hat and boot money.

The most extraordinary changes have taken place, the man, thank God, has gone to the devil, but on the other hand the wife seems disposed to attach herself all the more closely!!

How could a child be happy in such an atmosphere, and how could a man of Beethoven’s absent-mindedness keep the boy in even a reasonable degree of physical cleanliness? Karl was miserable, and even became verminous at one time.

The story of those years would read like a knock-about farce, except that it was actually a searching tragedy. Beethoven had come to love Karl passionately. All his starved instinct of fatherhood, all his protective habits towards kith and kin, concentrated upon the child with an intensity near to the terrible intentness of insanity. A young mother sometimes goes through agonies of fear over the care of her first child until, as years advance, the increasing risks of life are less felt because custom has brought confidence. Beethoven took over his ‘son’ at an age when all the risks and responsibilities had to be faced simultaneously. Between his feats, his feeling of eternal isolation due to his deafness, and the constant heart-stabs which he endured at finding his exquisite love returned with tepid affection, Beethoven suffered tortures. That some of them were unnecessary and that Beethoven felt them more keenly than other men would have done in his position is simply to say that he was Beethoven - a matter neither he nor Karl could alter.

To pry out the secrets of a soul in pain is near to sacrilege. Yet by the light of the music which at length emerged from this purgatory, one understands that in his own suffering as an unloved father, Beethoven’s thoughts turned to the Fatherhood of God, as when in the old morality play of Everyman, God says: ‘I perceive here in My Majesty how that My creatures be to Me unkind.’

Whatever historians may write of Beethoven’s great Mass in D having originated from his desire to pay a tribute to the Archduke Rudolph on his enthronement as Archbishop of Olmutz in 1820, I feel convinced the work would never have been imagined if the words of the Mass had not chimed with Beethoven’s mood. Where the belief in immortality (et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum) lies at the heart of Bach’s B minor Mass, a sure knowledge of God as the all-loving Father (Pater Omnipotens) lies at the heart of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in D major. Sketched in the summer of 1818, two years did not suffice for the completion of the Mass. Two years might be enough for Fidelio, but the Mass required five.

To 1818 belong the piano Sonata in B flat major, Op. 106; and some small things. For a composer who had mainly to depend on his pen for his own and a boy’s livelihood these lean years must have been a gnawing anxiety. They palliate, though they do not justify, his very unpleasant treatment of the Philharmonic Society of London, when he palmed off old overtures as new, haggled over prices and made unfounded accusations.

Meanwhile Karl’s affairs continued to be a curse. Somewhere at the end of 1818 the naughty child ran away to his mother. Beethoven wrote of this to the Archduke Rudolph ‘A terrible occurrence has recently taken place in my family affairs which for a time robbed me of all my reasoning powers.’ At the end of March Beethoven surrendered his guardianship. By July he had to resume it, for Councillor von Tuscher, who had undertaken it, had more than enough in a short time. In 1819 the council deprived Beethoven of the guardianship and assigned Karl jointly to his mother and the official sequestrator. Beethoven fought the case, first against the council, then against the court of appeal and on 8th April 1820 secured a final victory. He and Hofrat Peters were appointed co-guardians. The ‘Queen of Night’ appealed to the emperor without success. So at last came some peace for the harassed composer.

Nothing rouses a stronger sense of Beethoven’s greatness than the nature of the music which he brought with him out of great tribulation. The piano Sonatas in E major, Op. 109 (1820), A flat major, Op. 110 (1821) and C minor, Op. 111 (1822); the stupendous Missa Solemnis; the ninth Symphony, in D minor (123), in which joy not only shall, but does, ‘overtake us as a flood’ - these were his works, full of blessing and consolation.

Though in a way the development of great men is always continuous, Beethoven’s music shows clearly three successive phases or periods, divided from each other by the Rubicons of the two terrible griefs of his life. Thus the first period includes the time up to 1800 and the disaster of his deafness; the second that up to 1815 and the legacy of Karl; the third extends to Beethoven’s death in 1827. In the first, Beethoven saw the maternal world from the material standpoint; in the second he saw the material world from the spiritual standpoint; in the third he saw the spiritual world from the spiritual standpoint.

The majority of mankind live in three dimensions. A minority, the saints and seers, attempt to live in four and make this practicable by reducing the lower dimensions to a minimum. Hermits, monks and fakirs deliberately divorce themselves from common life. Beethoven could do nothing of the kind, and in consequence was cruelly battered by the cross-currents of his existence.

Schindler, a young student who out of devotion to Beethoven’s music became a sort of famulus to the master, records that towards the end of August 1819 he and the musician Horsalka went to visit Beethoven at Mödling.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon. As we entered we learned that in the morning both servants had gone away, and that there had been a quarrel after midnight which had disturbed all the neighbours, because as a consequence of a long vigil both had gone to sleep and the food which had been prepared had become unpalatable. In the living-room, behind a locked door, we heard the master singing parts of the fugue of the Credo singing, howling, stamping. After we had been listening a long time to this almost awful scene ... the door opened and Beethoven stood before us with distorted features, calculated to excite fear. He looked as if he had been in mortal combat with the whole host of contrapuntists, his everlasting enemies. His first utterances were confused, as if he had been disagreeably surprised at our having overheard him. Then he reached the day’s happenings, and with obvious restraint he remarked: ‘Pretty doings, these! Everybody has run away and I haven’t had anything to eat since yesternoon:

Here is another example of his unworldliness, which happened next year-1820. Beethoven then staying at Baden, got up early and went out. Absentmindedly he walked on until evening; then, having lost his way and having had nothing to eat, he was seen looking in at the windows of the houses. The alarmed inhabitants called the local constable, who arrested him. ‘I am Beethoven,’ said the composer. ‘Of course, why not! You’re a tramp: the Beethoven doesn’t look so,’ was the reply, and he was locked up. The next stage of the story is that as the Commissioner of Police was enjoying himself with a little party in a tavern garden, a constable arrived saying: ‘Mr. Commissioner, we have arrested somebody who gives us no peace. He keeps on yelling that he is Beethoven; but he’s a ragamuffin, has an old coat and no hat ... nothing to identify him by.’ The Commissioner ordered the man to be kept under arrest till morning and retired to rest himself. At 11 p.m. he was waked by a policeman saying: ‘The prisoner keeps demanding that Herzog, the musical director of Wiener Neustadt, shall be fetched to identify him.’ At this the Commissioner was wise enough to get up, dress and fetch Herzog in the middle of the night. The instant Herzog saw the ‘tramp’ he exclaimed: ‘That is Beethoven!’ The comedy ended by Herzog entertaining Beethoven at his house and the Commissioner sending the guest home next morning in the magisterial state-coach!

In 1822 Fidelio was revived. Towards the end of the same year Beethoven received a request from a new patron, Prince Galitzin, to compose one, two or three string quartets, for which Galitzin would pay any sum that Beethoven liked to fix and he would accept the dedication gratefully.

Life has curious symmetries. As a lad Beethoven had been taken to play to Mozart. Now, in 1823, a young prodigy called Franz Liszt was brought to play to Beethoven. Like Mozart, the older man was sceptical. What won him, it is said, was Liszt’s astonishing performance of preludes and fugues from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, transposing them into any key chosen by Beethoven. Playing the ‘Forty-eight’ had been Beethoven’s own great feat as a boy.

During this same 1823 Beethoven was considerably occupied over getting together subscriptions for the publication of the Missa Solemnis. Goethe was among those who did not subscribe. He ignored Beethoven’s letter, just as he never noticed Schubert!

Beethoven was now going forward with the great ninth Symphony, his setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy. By February 1824 it was complete. On 7th May it was performed for the first time at a grand concert organized by Beethoven at the request of thirty of his friends. On the evening every one attended - except the imperial family. Even poor Zmeskall, now bedridden, was carried there in a sedan chair. For once the Viennese recognized an historic occasion. They went wild with excitement, and it was in that tumult that Fraulein Unger, the singer, suddenly saw that Beethoven heard nothing, and gently turned him round to the audience.

All his friends had cooperated to make the concert a success, yet the money results were poor. The composer was bitterly disappointed and did not hesitate to say he had been cheated. Few scenes in his life are more repellent than that in which, having invited Umlauf, Schuppanzigh and Schindler to dine with him at a restaurant, he abused them and the laws of hospitality by levelling the most insulting charges at them. Yet later his penitence was so genuine that - as usually happened - he won them back.

For years Beethoven had never been what one could call a ‘well’ man. Now he complained still more frequently of various maladies. But he had commenced the great E flat major string Quartet, Op. 127, in 1824, and by March 1825 it was ready. Somewhere about this time, Carl Holz the violinist had come into Beethoven’s circle as an intimate - a friendship viewed askance by older friends, since Holz was a merry fellow, suspected of leading Beethoven into intemperate habits. The best denial of the charge is that during 1825 Beethoven composed the B flat major and A minor string Quartets, Opp. 130 and 132 - both the works of a mental Titan.

Nephew Karl was now nineteen, and gadded about Vienna like the most accomplished young rake. It was said he knew every woman of bad repute in the town. Beethoven endured agonies of anxiety, from which sprang fresh volleys of reproaches Karl riposted, even to the extent, it is believed, of striking his foster-father. Then in 1826, desperate from his debts and the whole miserable business, Karl did what many young Austrians were apt to do when in difficulty - he attempted suicide. For some time he had threatened; then one day at the end of July he gave the slip to those who would have saved him, went to the ruins of Rauhenstein near Vienna in the Helenenthal - a peculiarly mean choice of locality, for the Helenenthal was one of Beethoven’s favourite spots - and shot himself in the heat. He was not killed, only wounded, but to Beethoven the shock was indescribable: he was stricken to the heart. Suicide was a crime under the Austrian code. Thus, besides the wretched medical details, police intervention had to be dealt with. Beethoven was haunted by the fear of other secrets being disclosed, the secret of how Karl had stolen his books, and some worse crime unknown to this day. When Frau von Breuning heard the story from him, and asked if Karl was dead, ‘No,’ he replied, ‘it was a glancing shot; he lives, and there is hope he will be saved. But the disgrace he has brought upon me! And I loved him so.’

Beethoven had once written in his journal: ‘He who would reap tears should sow love.’ He now became suddenly bowed and broken, as if he had grown very old ... Beethoven who had always resisted suicide himself because ‘no man has a right to take his own life so long as he can still accomplish one good action.’

By the last week of September Karl recovered sufficiently to be taken to the country to recuperate, prior to entering the army, which had now been decided on as his career. Johann van Beethoven, who had come to Vienna, invited his brother and Karl to return with him to his lately acquired estate at Gneixendorf. It seemed a good plan, so all three set off. Beethoven had completed the marvellous C sharp minor Quartet in July, just before Karl’s attempted suicide, and had sketched the F major, Op. 135. At Gneixendorf he began to feel the shadows falling on himself, but looked for some respite yet. In October he wrote to Wegeler: ‘I hope still to bring some great works into the world, and then, like an old child, to end my earthly career amongst good men.’ He completed the F major Quartet, but otherwise the visit was wretched. He was unwell, full of self-reproach for Karl’s debacle, terribly apprehensive for Karl’s future. He had but a modest fortune to give the young man - seven out of the eight bonds of a thousand florins each which he had saved from the affluent times of the congress. He accordingly urged the prosperous Johann - who had made money out of army contracts - to will his property to Karl. Johann had no intention of doing anything of the kind, and fierce quarrels ensued. About 1st December they culminated in one so furious that Beethoven shook off the dust of the house from his shoes, refused to wait for a proper carriage - Johann did not lend him the closed coach - and, taking Karl with him, hastened back to Vienna in arctic weather. He arrived on 2nd December, ill from rage and exposure, and went straight to bed in his lodging at the Schwarzspanierhaus. No one seems to have taken the master seriously, thinking perhaps it was a case of ‘Wolf! wolf!’ and Karl went off to play billiards instead of calling in a doctor. Finally Beethoven sent for Holz, who summoned Professor Wawruch - a doctor new to the case but the only one then available. Pneumonia seems to have been the malady at the moment. Beethoven was snatched back from that only to pass through four months of a mortal illness which baffled the physicians, but which modern diagnosis pronounces to have been cirrhosis of the liver.

They were months of dreary pain and physical squalor. The surgeons who tapped Beethoven five times for dropsy were careless and insanitary even by the standards of those days. His nurses allowed him to be devoured by vermin. Karl and Johann, who came to Vienna on hearing of his brother’s illness and helped to look after him, were comfortless as kith and kin.

The New Year - 1827 - was ushered in by a violent quarrel between Beethoven and Karl - the last, for on 2nd January Karl went to join his regiment. The friends came out better. Stephan von Breuning, his wife and his son Gerhard (a charming child who had the good sense to bring Beethoven some insect powder), Schindler, Holz, Dr. Malfatti (now stiffly reconciled to his old friend), were among his visitors, and once Franz Schubert came, moved almost beyond speech by the sight of the dying master.

Beethoven lay there, quite unafraid of death, still planning his tenth symphony and pathetically resolved that whatever his own severe poverty, nothing should induce him to use a penny of the inheritance set apart for Karl. He still made grim jests, but he was terribly lonely, and turned to reading his old loves the classics. Such presents as friends made him - Handel’s complete works, a case of wine, the picture of Haydn’s birthplace - pleased him exceedingly. By February his funds were so low that he wrote letters to his London friends Stumpff, Moscheles and Smart asking them to use their influence with the Philharmonic Society for a benefit concert on his behalf. On 14th March no answer had arrived, so he wrote again to Moscheles. The words are those of one in extremis:

Whither is this to lead, and what is to become of me if this continues for a while longer? Verily, a hard lot has befallen me! But I yield to the will of fate and only pray God so to order it in His Divine Will that so long as I must endure this death in life I may be protected against want. This will give me strength to endure my lot, hard and terrible as it may be, with submission to the will of the Most High.

From the time when he was a boy of fifteen Beethoven had learned not to fear death. Long ago he had learned to trust God. ‘God has never deserted me. Somebody will be found to close my eyes he had written to Karl more than a year before his last illness.

His trust was not betrayed. On 15th March the help arrived. The Philharmonic Society, whose musical perceptions Beethoven had despised, here showed a prompt grasp of realities and an amazing kindness. Without waiting for a concert (which could come later) they had dispatched a gift of a hundred pounds! Beethoven received it with touching gratitude. ‘My dear, good Moscheles: I cannot describe to you in words with what feelings I read your letter of 1st March. The generosity with which the Philharmonic Society anticipated my petition has touched me in the inner-most depth of my soul,’ dictated Beethoven. He was past help, but at least he had the joy of knowing it had come. The English money paid for his funeral.

His old friend Hummel, hearing of Beethoven’s illness, hurried with his wife across Germany to his bedside. The act pleased Beethoven, though the sight of Hummel’s married happiness made him very wistful. ‘You are a lucky man, you have a wife who takes care of you - but poor me’ he sighed heavily.

The portrait of Therese von Brunswick was still with him, the miniature of Giulietta Guicciardi and the letter to the Immortal Beloved lay hidden in the secret drawer of his bureau. Not one woman who had meant anything in his life was there at its end. Only the score of Fidelio, the opera which enshrined his dream of a wife, lay in a corner beneath a pile of papers

There had been a short time when, under Dr. Malfatti’s treatment of iced punch, the patient’s condition improved, but by the end of February all hope had gone. On 24th March Beethoven, long aloof from organised religion, consented to receive the last rites of the Church. He did so devoutly, thanking the priest for the comfort he had brought. After the latter had left, he said to Breuning and Schindler: ‘Plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est.’

Did he mean the close of his own life? Or the ceremonies of a ritual which he regarded as a mere shell upon religion? No one knows. Later in the day he lapsed into unconsciousness. Occasionally he roused a little. Once he said: ‘Strange, I feel as if up to now I had written no more than a few notes.’

Dear old Zmeskall, bedridden in his own lodging, was kept informed of affairs at the Schwarzspanierhaus. He wrote to another friend who, his heart told him, still loved Beethoven: ‘Our beloved Beethoven is struggling with death. It is dropsy; five operations already. His nephew was in prison, now they have made a musketeer of him. The nephew’s education has cost his uncle his peace of mind and his fortune.

The letter was to Therese von Brunswick. Peace be on Zmeskall’s memory for that kind act.

In ancient mythology, and in the Greece of the War of Liberation, a belief still held that when a hero died the heavens showed portents. Only three years before, as Byron lay dying at Missalonghi, an April thunderstorm had broken over the island. Night was coming on: the lightning lit up the dark outline of islands and lagoon. Soldiers and shepherds sheltering in their huts exclaimed: ‘Byron is dead.’ It was so.

Beethoven, the hero, similarly departed. It was late afternoon on 26th March; Frau van Beethoven (one of the sisters-in-law) and Hüttenbrenner, the friend of Schubert, were watching alone by the dying man. Soon after five ‘there came a flash of lightning accompanied by a peal of thunder which garishly illuminated the death-chamber’ said Hüttenbrenner. ‘Beethoven opened his eyes, lifted his right hand and looked up for several seconds with his fist clenched and a very serious threatening expression. ... When he let the raised hand sink to the bed, his eyes closed halfway. My right hand was under his head, my left rested on his breast. Not another breath, not a heart-beat more.’

Three days after, on 29th March, Beethoven was buried in the Währing cemetery. His friends and the common people made of the funeral a great farewell rite. The schools were closed. Twenty thousand people crowded the square in front of the Schwarzspanierhaus. The coffin, under a richly embroidered pall lay in state in the courtyard of the house. Nine priests were there and all the musicians, singers, poets and actors of Vienna. They wore complete mourning, white roses were fastened by bands of crape to their sleeves and they carried draped torches. In the deep silence of the waiting multitude the sound of music - Beethoven’s own Equali for All Souls’ Day, now arranged for voices - rose through the still air with overpowering effect. When it ceased, the procession moved off to the church of the Minorites in the Alsastrasse. A stranger, seeing the enormous crowds, asked an old woman what it was all about. ‘Do you not know?’ she replied. ‘They are burying the general of the musicians.’ Hummel and Kreutzer walked among the pall-bearers, Schubert among the torchbearers. After the service, so imposing in its musical ritual was over, the coffin was placed in a four-horse hearse, and the procession followed it slowly to Währing, where again a vast crowd waited. At the cemetery gates the actor Anschutz recited the funeral oration, written by Grillparzer. Then entering, and without further speech or music (for they were forbidden by Währing rules), the coffin was silently lowered into the grave. Three laurel wreaths were placed upon it by Hummel. Thus in silence, which Mozart called ‘the most beautiful thing in music’ Beethoven was laid to rest.

Many years after the Viennese prepared a musicians’ Valhalla in their new Zentral Friedhof. Beethoven was translated thither, but the old design for his monument was retained. It is a slender obelisk rising from a base on which stands the one word BEETHOVEN; above is a lyre and at the summit a butterfly, with wings outspread, set in a circle - emblems of the liberated soul and of eternity.

 

 

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