AGE 54 - 55 [1825]

Compiled by Gary D. Evans

Last Updated: March 29, 2017 7:57 PM


VIENNA 1825 (Age 54)

           * I am that which is.
           * I am everything that is, that was, and that will be.
              No mortal man has lifted my veil.
           * He is of himself alone, and it is to this aloneness
              that all things owe their being.

       From Schiller's Die Sendung Moses, 'Moses' Mission, a philosophical conte
       in an Egyptian setting [L. Dec p118]

Beethoven continued to create masterpiece after masterpiece during this period, despite bouts of crippling illness. His brother Johann helped with managing his business dealings and helped augment Beethoven's income through negotiation and finding older works that could be published. During this time, and through devastating exacerbations of his chronic illnesses, the towering Ninth Symphony and Beethoven's Late Quartets were commissioned and created. Of those works, Beethoven considered Opus 131 in C minor to be his best work. During April of 1825, Beethoven was exceedingly ill, but with a brief cessation of symptoms for a time following. This suffering and relief from suffering is immortalized within Opus 132 (String Quartet#15) in an intensely expressed movement - the "Heiliger Dankgesang," [Holy song of thanks].

Opus 130 (String Quartet #13), completed November 1825, contained an exceptionally complex and difficult to perform finale. His publisher prevailed upon him to rewrite the finale (now referred to as The Grose Fugue) and have the former finale be published as a stand-alone work; it was reissued as Opus 133. Beethoven agreed and began the new movement, his last completed work, September 1826 - completing it November 1826. Opus 130 contains what may be the most heartbreaking music ever created, "The Cavatina."

1823 Portrait


* Highly concentrated exploration of counterpoint and polyphonic textures
* Serious interest in Bach and Handel [Anderson Letter #955]
* New awareness of church modes * utilization of baroque-style "theme types" w/ specific symbolic meanings
* A return toward instrumental recitative
* Preclassic richness of ornamentation for expressive purposes
* Heightened preoccupation w/ monothematic development and variation procedures e.g. Use of trill w/ increased emotion
* Use of simple material to contrast and reveal Aggr. dotted rhythmic polyphonic textures --> irresistible motion & unbearable strain.
* Per Kidderman - This style can be interpreted as an attempt to unify binary tension between: "personal suffering and celestial ... and
The aesthetic world enlarged to embrace the anaesthetic - the world beyond"



Op 127: String Quartet #12 in Eb

(completed Jan) Prince Nikolaus Galitzin [1794-1866] from St. Petersburg, commissioned: quartet in Eb op127. After 127 in early 1825, Beethoven wrote op132 in a. The quartet in Bb was begun at same time. Op130 was completed in November with the finale, the great fugue. (Later changed to an independent work- op133 at the request of the publisher.) Engrossed in fugal form as had Bach in his late life. Of the Grosse Fugue, Beethoven wrote, " When the instruments have to struggle with monstrous difficulties...when each has different figures to cut across each other... amid a host of dissonances... when the Babylonian confusion is complete, the result is a concert only Moroccans can enjoy."
Op 130: String Quartet #13 in Bb (begun ~ June, completed Nov) (5th mvmnt - Cavatina, B. inscribed below 8 bars of most wrenching portion the word beklemmt = afflicted or oppressed. Holz stated B. remarked he could be brought to tears by thinking of it.) (Galitzen pd 50 Ducats for 1st of the set, but hadn't paid balance by B's death)
Op 131: String Quartet #14 in #c Begun Dec 15; Completed 1826
Op 132: String Quartet #15 in a (Molto Adagio = "feeling new strength" during his illness) (~ time of WoO 189) ("Heiliger Dankgesang" for op132 to mark his recovery in mid May) (Entire quartet compl. July-Aug; purchased by Moritz Schlesinger Sept 10th for 80 Ducats).
Op 133: String Quartet "Grosse Fuge" (begun Aug23, completed Nov.) (Initially as the finale for op130)
WoO 35: Untexted canon: Duet in A for 2 violins (Aug)
WoO 61a: Allegretto quasi andante in g Sept. 27
WoO 85: Waltz for Piano in D  
WoO 86: Ecossaise for Piano in Eb  
WoO 188: "Gott ist eine feste Burg" (Jan)
WoO 189: 4-part canon "Doktor, sperrt das Tor" (May) (Humorous: sent to Dr. Braunhofer on May 13th. Composed May 11 telling him B. still felt very weak. In B's hand: "Written in Baden on May 11th, 1825. Helenenthal, by the second Anton Bridge, towards siechenfeld.")
WoO 190: 2-part canon "Ich war hier, Doktor" (June 4) Beethoven visited the home of his physician - Dr. Braunhofer - who was not at home; Beethoven left this cannon as a note to him.
WoO 191: 3-part canon "Kuhl, nicht lau" (Nov) (At dinner party Sept 2, cannon based on Kuhlau's name using the B-A-C-B motif. It was written out and sent to him Sept 3)
WoO 192: Puzzle canon "Ars longa, vita brevis" (Nov) (for Smart Sept 16th) As Beethoven & Sir George Smart parted after one week of dinners, etc. they took a coach to the departure point where the stage coach was to meet them. From Smart's recollections: "B. wrote out the cannon as fast as his pen could write in about two minutes of time as I stood at the door ready to depart" [Hamburger p240]
WoO 193: Puzzle canon "Ars longa, vita brevis" ???
WoO 194 canon "Si non per portas" (Sep)
WoO 195 "Freu' dich des Lebens" (Dec) (for Theodor Molt)
WoO 197 "Da ist das Werk" Sept.
WoO 203: Puzzle canon "Das schone zu dem Guten" (musical motto)
WoO 204: Musical joke "Holz, Holz geigt die Quartette so" (In - Sept)
WoO 205h: "Tobias, Tobias" (letter to Haslinger #1365 - set to music)
Hess 91: arr of Opferlied op121b for soprano, choir and piano.  
Hess 92: Bundeslied op 122 for voice and piano  
Hess 302: Canon "Uns geht es kannibalisch wohl als wie fuenfhundert Saeuen" for four voices  
NC Overature on B-A-C-H - incomplete  
Unclassified: Musical quip "Ach Tobias" (in letter to Haslinger #1457)


After the previous complex dealings, B. formally agreed to pub. of the Missa and the 9th w/ the written statement: "I, the undersigned, declare by virtue of my signature that Bernhard Schotts Sohne at Mainz are the sole rightful publishers of my grand solumn Mass and also of my grand symphony in D minor. In addition, I accept these editions as the only rightful and correct ones." [L. Dec. p64-5]
Jan 16
Beethoven sent Mass and 9th Symphony to Schott's
Jan 22
Beethoven sent 2 cannons WoO 180 and WoO 187 to Schott's for their journal Caecilia and as a joke, added a 'romantic biography' of Tobias Haslinger which backfired: Schott's actually published it as a true 'biography.'
Feb ?
op127 completed, work begun on op132 ?? Jan ??
Feb 4
Overture 'Die Weihe des Hauses' op124 sent to Schott's with subsequent work sent March-April.
Mar 5
Johann Stricher (who knew B. for 30+ years) wrote to Carl Peters: "What am I to say about Beethoven's behavior to you and how can I endeavor to excuse it? This I can only do by letting you have his own opinion of himself which he expressed in my home: 'Everything I do apart from music is badly done and is stupid' " [Anderson#2 1152, Man of His Word pg175]
Mar 6
Quartet op127 performed - it was not well received in Vienna; there were 3 better perf's later in the month 4/20, 4/23.
Mar 19
B. informed Neate: London trip postponed.
Mar 21
9th Symphony performed in London, for the first time, under direction of Sir George Smart (the finale was sung in Italian.)
Mar 20,23
Repeat performance from Mar 6 of Quartet op127 under Joseph Bohm - very well received. (B. sent the performers this humorous note: "Best ones! Each of you is herewith given his part and is bound by oath, and indeed pledged on his honor, to do his best to distinguish himself and to vie with his neighbor in excellence each participant is to sign this sheet." There names followed: "Schuppanzigh, Weiss, Linke ('the grandmaster's accursed violoncello'), - Holz ('the last but only in signing')" [L. Dec p66]
Several more successful performances of op 127 by Mayseder's quartet in several private houses [L. Dec p66]
Moved briefly to the inner city (one month only thru May) Krugerstrasse 13 [4th floor]
Karl left the Univ., moved out of B's house & entered Polytechnic Institute to study commerce. Deputy dir.- Reisser appointed Karl's co-guardian in place of Peters. Karl lodged w/ Matthias Schlemmer (a Viennese official.)
Bagatelles op126, and 'Der Kuss' op128 published
Apr 9
Letter to Ries: "...I must get out into the country soon; only in the country can I thrive at this time of year..." [Wegeler/Ries p140]
'Namensfeier' Overture published
B. fell ill for 1mo. w/ severe GI sxs. & plan to travel to London canceled.
(Dr. Braunhofer's rx'ed strict diet: "no wine, no coffee, no spices of any kind. I'll arrange matters with the cook... you must stick to the diet, you won't starve on it ... you must do some work during the daytime so that you can sleep at night. If you want to recover completely and live a long life, you must live according to nature. You are very liable to inflammatory attacks and have narrowly escaped a severe inflammation of the bowels - the predisposition is still in your body... I can promise you that if you drink any spirits, you will be lying weak and exhausted on your back in a few hours." [L. Dec p67]
May 7
B. moved at Dr. Braunhofer's suggestion, to Baden (thru Oct) where op132 compl. in July & began work on op130. SchloB Gutenbrunn, Eremitage. (Today Sanatorium Gutenbrunn) w/o Karl who remained in Vienna (visited on Sun's)
May 11
Wrote to Braunhofer asking if he could drink white wine again [L.Dec p67]
May 13
While in Baden, B.wrote Dr. of his spitting up blood felt to come from his airway and complaining of nosebleeds, "as was the case several times last winter". (Letter closed with a humorous canon WoO189 composed May 11th: "Dr. close the door to death! Music will also help in my hour of need."
Beethoven had temporary recovery from an exacerbation of his now chronic illness - began composing 'Heiliger Dankgesang' of the Quartet op132 to mark his relief from suffering.

While in Baden, B. wrote several letters to Karl in Vienna, some w/ pathos regarding his condition & others angry as Karl did not visit often & visited his mother against B's wishes. :


"I am getting thinner and thinner and feel ailing rather than well, and I have no doctor, not a single sympathetic soul at hand. If you can manage to come on Sundays, please do. But I don't want to interfere with your plans in any way, if only I were certain that your Sundays away from me were well apent. Indeed I must learn to give up everything ... oh! Where have I not been wounded, nay more, cut to the heart?!" [L.Dec p67/ Letters III p1199]


"...Spoilt as you are, it would do you no harm to strive after simplicity and truthfulness at last; for my heart has suffered to much by your sly conduct towards me and it is difficult for me to forget..." "...God is my witness, I dream only of one thing, to be entirely rid of you and this wretched Brother of mine and this abominable family which has been foisted upon me..." [letter May 31st - Hamburger p232-3]


Work begun on Quartet op130
June 4
WoO 190 written when Beethoven attempted to visit his physician, Dr. Braunhofer, at his home. As the doctor was not in, a musical canon was left as a note to him: 'Ich war hier, Doktor."
Jun 10
Wrote to Bernard "That awful 4th floor, O God, without a wife ..." [Anderson#1387]
Holz (2nd violin -Schuppanzigh's quartet) became close associate.
Op 132 completed
Songs Op121b and 122 published
op 115 and Overture Op124 sent to Prince Galitzin with op124 dedicated to him.
Moritz Schlesinger, visiting Vienna, saw B. in Baden - was probably lured by B's work on 2 new grand violin quartets (op132 & op130). (Op132 was eventually purchased by Schlesinger on Sept 10th for 80 ducats.)
Aug 3

Beethoven, then in Baden, was visited by a Dutchman, Samson Moses de Boes (1771-1839), who was delighted with music and who had an adopted son who was enrolled in school for painting - thus he donated to the academy, and may have that academy connection as an entry vehicle to Beethoven. Beethoven may have believed that he was from the institute that had elected him a correspondent in 1809. The man was an amateur cello player. (B. had just completed his string quartet in a minor op132, and was then sketching op130). Beethoven made time for the man, and had a long conversation via the conversation books. Beethoven ended the meeting by giving de Boes a lithographic portrait of himself (possibly the crayon drawing by Stephan Decker or possibly the engraving by Hofel after Louis Letrone from 1814), along with a 2-part canon in A major (8 measures long without words), WoO 35. (A sketch of this was found between sketch leaves of the 3rd movement of op 130)

This is from a letter written approximately 18 months later by de Boer dated 3/15/1827: "I visited the same little town of Baden, three hours above Vienna. (I had to write everything down for this artist, because hardly had I spoken a single word when he said to me that he was completely deprived of his hearing.) After having a conversation on art for a while, this great man showed me a tiny pocket-sized book, which was lined for the language of music and which, on several pages, was filled with small musical notes in pencil. "Look," he said to me, "that's the product of my walk. When I, for the benefit of my health, take walks during the summer, once or twice a week, this little book is of some comfort to me when a good musical idea emerges. The life of an artist is short to reach the goal that he has set for himself, and well spent hours are very scarce. Not for the money of Lichtenstein (one of the most well-known and rich noblemen of Austria) would I want to skip a single day's work as a composer." [B.Jrnl - Winter 1999 v14#2]

Aug 23
Grosse Fuge op133 begun, initially as the finale to op130
Aug 25
Gerhard & St. von Breuning out walking - saw B.; joyful reunion on their meeting & the friendship was renewed after more than a decade (Stephan then married to 2nd wife, Constanze; they were raising 3 children.) (Stephan by then was court councilor & lived in Rothes Haus, diagonally across from where B. to move at end of Sept. (Fully moved by Oct15] B spent many nights with them & B. became close to enthusiastic Gerhard, age12. (Per her daughter, Frau v. Breuning was embarrassed by B's behavior, his "animated gestures, his loud voice and his indifference towards others" [L.Dec p72]
By this time, Karl Holz had become B's constant companion & completely took Schindler's place as his aid. (Note: B. had met mention that Holz was a heavy drinker in a letter to Karl; this may have influenced his own drinking at the time. Schindler implied this). [L.Dec p69]
Holz agreed to spy on Karl & wrote in B's conv. book: "I have lured him into a beer house to see whether he drinks a lot, but that does not seem to be so. Now I will get him to play billiards, and shall see at once whether he has been playing a lot!" [L.Dec p68]
Sept 2
Danish comp. Kuhlau visited B. in Baden; had dinner party w/ Holz, Haslinger, etc. Champagne drunk & Canon WoO191 composed (on B-A-C-H theme which he was considering for a possible overture at the time.) [L.Dec p70] (Sufficient drink was had that Kuhlau did not recall how he arrived home or how he got to bed.) [L.Dec p70]
Sept 3
Beethoven wrote out the cannon composed the night before and sent it to Kuhlau
Sept 4
Moritz Schlesinger visited Beethoven and asked for publication rights for the latest quartets.
Sept 7
Quartet op132 given 1st rehearsal.
Sept 9
1st op132 performance to a small private group of approximately 14 people
Sept 10
Schlessinger purchased the a minor quartet for 80 ducats (op132)
Sept 11
2nd perf. of op132 to a larger group than 2 days earlier.
Sept 13
2nd perf. of op132 at the Inn Zum Wilden Mann where Schlesinger lodging. He gave a dinner party after the concert, attended by Sir George Smart, B. & nephew Karl, & members of the quartet as well as Czerny and flautist Sedlacek. B. quite animated; invited Smart to visit him in Baden the following week. B. played extemporaneously; described by Smart as "full of genius." Smart also wrote: "When he arose at the conclusion of his playing, he appeared greatly agitated. No one could be more agreeable than he was - plenty of jokes. He was in the highest of spirits..." [L.Dec p71]
Sept 14
] B. wrote from Baden to Karl in Vienna: "...I know, too, that later you will not feel inclined to stay with me. Naturally, for I do things rather too decently. Last Sunday, too, you borrowed another 1 fl. 15 kr. From the housekeeper, this ancient, vulgar baggage. I had already forbidden it. But that's the way with all things. I had made do with the morning coat for two years: true, I have the disgusting habit of putting on an old coat at home. But as for Mr. Karl, why, shame on it! and why? That old money-bag Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven only exists for that purpose..." ..."Incidentally, have no fear: I shall always provide for you incessantly, as I do now..."
Sept 16
Smart visited B. from Sept 16 thru the 20th (?24th) in Baden. He & Karl tried to persuade B. to go off to London.
Sept 24?20
Bidding Smart goodbye at the coach; Smart gave B. his diamond pin and in return B. immediately wrote a canon 'Ars longa, vita brevis' WoO192 for him: " fast as his pen would write in about two minutes..." [B.Jrnl Winter 1999 v14#2]
After receiving B's Sept 14th letter, Karl disappeared for several days; he stayed w/ his mother (?the entire time or part of?); caused B. to become very anxious about his welfare. (Karl subseq. sent B. a letter of apology [see Hamburger p241])
Oct 5

B having received Karl's apology sent him a joyful reply [Hamburger p241-2]


"Dear beloved son, I have just received your letter, already full of apprehension and resolved to hasten to Vienna already to-day. Thank God, it is not necessary. Only obey me, and love, like spiritual joy, coupled with human joy, will always be with us, and you will couple your inner being with the outer one; yet it is better still that the former should have precedence over the latter. Il fait trop froid. On Saturday, then, I shall see you. Let me know whether you are coming in the morning or the afternoon, when I shall hasten to meet you." "A thousand times I embrace and kiss you, not my prodigal, but my new-born son..."


B. wrote to Matthias Schlemmer w/ whose family Karl staying - Karl not to go out at night w/o B's perm. Tried control by with- holding spending $ (Karl debt), etc, threats.
Oct 15

B. moved from Baden back to Vienna, to Altes Schwarzspanierhaus #200 (2nd fl) ?? #200 Alsergrund am glacis ?? (Today: Schwarzspanierstrasse 15) where he remained until his death in 1827. (The structure was demolished in 1904 - was a 3 story building. B's flat had 6 rooms: servant's area, housekeeping section, kitchen, 3 rooms where he lived and worked: music room, study, bedroom. The bedroom contained 2 pianos. It was in this house that Beethoven sketched the 10th Symphony. The original green door is on display at the Molkerbastei memorial site Note Stephen von Breuning and his son Gerhard, age 12 lived across the street to the right.)

Oct ??
Karl attended carnival ball. B. wanted to attend but was dissuaded by Karl Holz who instead acted as a chaperon)
Karl wrote to B. of drastic action(?suicide)
Oct - mid

Evidently responding to a note from Karl suggesting some drastic action (? suicide), B. wrote to him:


"My dear son, "No more, I beg of you! Only come into my arms! You will not hear a single harsh word. Oh, God, do not seek your own undoing! You will always be received lovingly..." ... "My word of honor, there will be no reproaches, as in any case these would be fruitless now! You may expect only the most loving care and support from me..." [Letters III p 1258]


Karl varied between depression & defiance
Karl attempted to withdraw from B. but B. would wait for him at Polytechnic gate and escort him arm in arm.
Karl Holz married.
Nov 6
1st public performance of Quartet op132 at a benefit concert for Linke. The concert also included a performance of the 'Archduke' Trio op97
Nov 25
Beethoven wrote to Peters offering a return of the 360 fl he was paid 3 years earlier (1822) or instead offered to send him a quartet. Peters chose to take the refund payment.
Nov 29
B. elected Honorary Member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music)
Overture 'Die Weihe des Hauses' published
Dec 15
Theme of opening fugue of op131 written in conversation book and composition began.