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Monday, February 22, 2010

A Riddle's Solution

The riddle of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved has haunted musicologists, biographers and admirers for a long time. Who was the adressee of the composer's passionate letter that begins with the words "my angel, my all, my very self"? It took a painstaking investigation by Maynard Solomon to answer the question. After reading his work on Beethoven (New York 1977/1998) I am convinced that the Immortal Beloved was Antonie Brentano. She was 32 and a married mother of four children when Beethoven fell in love with her. So, like all of Beethoven's affairs, it was a hopeless love. Antonie ("Toni") Brentano was the sister-in-law of Bettina ("Goethe's infant correspondent") and Clemens Brentano, the romantic poet. The famous German jurist, Friedrich Carl von Savigny, and the poet Achim von Arnim were brothers-in-law of Beethoven's love of his life. The German Geistesleben was closely connected.



  2. The Hide and Seek playing which around Beethoven is still taking place seems to be half way between Pasternak's despair and Giacomo Casanova's (and Mozart's) "unbearable lightness of being".

    It is shameful that, among so many books on Beethoven, Maynard Solomon's book in Germany hasn't the fame it deserves and is nearly unavailable! It is such a good book, I know no better book on Beethoven. In Italy this book was promoted as an add on the edition of Beethovens complete work in cds.

    Isn't it amazing that everyone knew everyone? This gives you an idea of how few persons the really pointful creative minority did consist of even in a time, when Germany was at its best.

  3. @ epitimaios
    …Everyone knew everyone….
    What is the basis of the german Geistesleben, nowadays? I presume, that our VIP´s of brain know each other very well, but not personally. They read what the others write and they meet at conventions, but they don´t know each other privately, there is no feeling of Entre-Nous such as in the old salons of Paris. Today we still have some salons, mostly directed by members of Adel und Banken (aristocrats and bankers). You will be invited as a future client and there you can hear somebody talking very seriously about his area of expertise. At the speech´s end you may ask questions, but this environment is different from a fertile breeding ground with open minded friends in art and sciences.

  4. @cs

    I suppose your observation is right, yes. Above all, specialization of knowledge leads to a sectorialization which is unavoidable and doesn't facilitate comunication, while in Goethe's and Beethoven's time an academic had been studying often everything which could be studied. One simply knew so few things then, that it was still possible to touch everything during a studium generale.

    But to this unavoidable sectorialization of today adds another one which could be avoided, since it is due to disorientation, especially in visual arts and music.

    But there are also customs. I don't know the english speaking TV world, but I notice that in the german TV the stars sometimes show up for 10 minutes, and then they go away. Sometimes the show master even dismisses them! In Italy you will always see that any star is after his show sitting down somewhere and you will have occasion do se him or her sit there during the evening. This little things are what give us our reputation to be cold people. It is so rude to treat a star as a service provider who has to go away after his job.

    Silvio Berlusconi is not only very much friend with Putin. He is witness to the marriage of one of Aznar's descendents and of one of Erdogan's as well! And he has a secretary whose only task is to follow all his godchildren.

    On the other hand I am surprised how small the world can be! It is amazing how much our choices bring together people of a certain kind. Elective affinities lead to similar itineries. Therefore I think, after all it is very easy as well today, that very special people meet and start to have spiritual exchange and relationships.
    And to physical selecting places today can we add blogs which make the difference.

    Then in a second moment, in privat places may be there are even breeding places we do not know much of today, because only in 50 years someone will tell us about.