AGE 55 - 56 [1826]

Compiled by Gary D. Evans

Last Updated: April 4, 2017 6:19 PM

 

   

THE LAST DECADE
VIENNA 1826 (Age 55) 


     THREE INSCRIPTIONS UNDER GLASS ON
       HIS DESKTOP IN THESE LATER YEARS:

           * 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] 

 

March 1827 - Mortally Ill

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."

LATE STYLE CAN BE CHARACTERIZED AS:

* 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"


 

WORKS CREATED
Op 130: String Quartet in B New finale (begun 9,completed 11/20 ? 11/22). The new op 130 finale was Beethoven's last opus quality composition.

Op 131: String Quartet #14 in #c

(compl. 5/20) (Ded. to Baron von Stutterheim in gratitude re: allowing Karl into his regiment.)
Op 134: Piano duet (4 hands) arrangement of op133 [see April 25] Completed in August
Op 135: String Quartet #16 in F, "Serious" (begun July, completed Oct 13 - see letter to Haslinger Oct 13, 1826 [Hamburger p250]
WoO 196: "Es mus sein" (July) For Ignaz Dembscher - Dembscher had requested a copy of the Quartet in bB op 130 from B. B. would not give it to him because Dembscher hadn't subscribed to Schuppanzigh's concerts. When informed by Holz that he would have to pay the subscription fee of 50 florins to receive the quartet, Dembscher replied, "muss es sein?" Holz related the story to B. who found the story amusing & immediately improvised a canon w/ the text "es muss sein, ja, es muss sein, Heraus, Heraus, ..." (it must be, yes, it must be, Out with the money, Out, Out, ...) This theme was used in the finale of op 135)
WoO 197: "Da ist das Werk" (Sept)
WoO 205i: "Bester Tobias" (musical setting of letter #1534 to Haslinger)
WoO 205j "Ester aller Tobiasse" Musical setting to Haslinger letter 1536 - 10th of a set of 10 musical quips from Beethoven's letters. "First above all, Tobias" in an Oct 13 letter to him. (see: unheard beethoven)
WoO 205k: "Erster aller Tobiasse" (musical setting of letter #1536 to Haslinger)
Hess 277 "Esel aller Esel" (Sept)
WoO62: String Quartet in C Begun Nov. This was Beethoven's last WoO quality composition
WoO198: Canon "Wir irren allesamt" Composed Dec 4th or 5th. This was last completed work

 

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
DATE
LIFE NOTES
Jan 9
Quartet op130 just completed with Grosse Fuge as the finale -- handed to Mathias Artaria for publication.
Jan
Theme of var's of op131 in conv. book
Jan - late
Eyesight & intestinal complaints
Early
Per Holz, B. very interested in Handel's Saul and in ancient Hebrew music.
Early
B. continued close to the von Breunings, who were now neighbors. Constanze helped establish order in his home; With her guidance, B. hired a devoted cook "Sali" (she later also assumed nursing rolls). B & von Breunings took regular Sun. walks when B nicknamed Gerhard: Hosenknopf (trouser button) - kept so close to his father. Also named him Areil (after Shakespeare's "Tempest" given his youthful rapid gait.
Feb-Mar
Anton Braunhofer, one of Vienna's leading physicians tx'ed for "rheumatism" & "gout" slowed compl of op131 st.quartet in #c.
Feb ?
Quartet op127 published
Feb
Quartet op132 sent to Galitzin
Feb
Tremate op116 published
March
Quartet op130/133 sent to Galitzin
Mar 21
1st perf. of op130 by Schuppanzigh quartet w/ cavatina & 2nd & 4th movement well received but fugue finale went poorly. Publisher Artaria subsequently persuaded B. to compose another w/ orig. pub. as op133 (for a fee to be paid).
Mar-late
Anton Halm asked if he could arrange a piano duet from the op130 finale - Beethoven agreed.
Apr 6
Schott's offered and Beethoven accepted 80 Ducats for Quartet op131
Apr 25
Halm delivered his piano duet arrangement of the op130 finale to Beethoven who was not satisfied with its quality and wrote his own - op134 [L.Dec p73]
April
Beethoven decided upon Kuffner's proposal for a text on Saul rather than Barnard's oratorio text for 'Der Sieg des kreuzes'
Sum
Karl contemptuous of B.;visiting w/mother & forbidden friend Niemetz secretly.
Sum
Brother Johann invited B. to Gneixendorf to his estate in the country, "Wasserhof" [Ira Brilliant Center exhibit 1997] - B. replied: "I will not come. Your brother ??????!!!! Ludwig"
June-late
B. Ill w/ eye, abd. symptoms & Joint pains.
July
Work began on String Quartet op135.
July
Overture to 'Konig Stephan' and 'Elegischer Gesang' published
July-late
Karl had severe arg. w/ B.; struck him and left house in passionate terror & rage then stayed at Schlemmer's home.
July 27
Karl worried about upcoming examinations, worried about debts & overwhelmed by B's recriminations - decided to commit suicide - bought a gun and hid it in his room. His state of mind was known causing the gun to be found in a drawer by Matthias Schlemmer and removed. Beethoven was informed of the finding and Karl's state of mind.
July 29
Saturday. Karl pawned his watch and bought 2 more pistols and traveled directly to Baden, carrying the gun, without returning home.
July 30
Sunday. He wrote a suicide note to Beethoven & to Niemetz; climbed the tower of the Rauhenstein ruins [G.v.Breuning p83] & shot himself in head w/ both pistols at same time - one shot missed, 2nd struck scalp resulting in scalp/periosteum wound w/o penetration; was found bleeding and conscious. He was carried to his mother's lodging where his injuries were initially treated. [L.Dec p76]
Aug 1
B. sent Karl a letter: "Merely because you have at least obeyed me, all is forgiven and forgotten. More about this orally! Quite calm to-day! Do not think that I am dominated by any thought but that of your well-being, and judge me accordingly. Whatever you do, don't take any steps which will make you unhappy and kill me before my time. I could get no sleep until about three o'clock, for I was coughing all night. I embrace you cordially and am convinced that very soon you will cease to misjudge me. It is in this light, too that I interpret your conduct yesterday. I expect you at one o'clock to-day without fail. Only, do not give me any further cause for sorrow or anxiety. Meanwhile, farewell. Your true and faithful father. We shall be alone; for that reason I do not wish Holz to come, the more as I wish that nothing shall transpire about yesterday. Do not fail to come-do not let my poor heart bleed any longer! [Hamburger p245]
Aug 6
Taken to his mother's home - cared for. B. described as shattered [Kerman p85]?? 6 days after shooting -- Is this correct ??
Aug 7
Karl taken to the hospital for further care (remained there until Sept 25). Police notified and B. notified. B. was crushed and upset. He later made inquiry at the Vienna General Hospital and spoke w/ the rounding MD Ignaz Seng who offered this conversation w/ B. at that time: "He said dryly: 'Are you Assistant Dr. Seng? The office referred me to you. Is my scoundrel of a nephew in your ward?' ... And as I was taking him up, he went on: 'Actually, I didn't want to see him; he doesn't deserve it, he has caused me too much trouble, but ...' and then he continued talking about the catastrophe and the change in his nephew's life and how he had spoiled him w/ too much kindness, etc." During hospitalization it was determined that as Karl still wanted military carrier he would enter when leaving hosp. (v. Breuning was able to contact a friend and set it up - see Sept)
Aug
Beethoven's piano duet arrangement of the Grosse Fuge was completed. (Publishing rights sold to Mathias Artaria for 12 Ducats on Sept 5th)
Aug
Steiner retired and in his place, his assistant Haslinger took control of the publishing house.
Aug 12
Quartet op131 sent to Schott's (Beethoven had earlier described it as having been 'finished' on May 20th.)
Aug - late
9th Symphony published by Schott's
Sept-early
News of Karl's attempt & his statements of B's torment of him became common knowledge [L.Dec p77]
Sept 9
B.resigned guardianship of Karl with Stephan von Breuning assuming that duty.
Sept 9-20
New finale to op 130 begun and completed Nov 20th. The new op 130 finale was Beethoven's last opus quality composition.
Sept-late

B. sent letter to Karl Holz: "...I am fatigued, and joy will evade me for a long time, the present expenses, and those that will be required later, worry me, all my hopes are vanishing. I had hoped to enjoy the company of one who might be like me, at least in my good qualities." Manuscript copy of 9th symphony ded and sent to the King of Prussia (it was to be dedicated to the Emperor of Russia but he died Dec 1, 1825.)

Sept 20
Letter to Tobias Haslinger to obtain Clementi piano method for Gerhard von Breuning taking lessons then w/ Anton Heller: ---------------------- (Anderson III p1250 #1432) To the noble Mr. Tobias Halinger formerly B.r.a.t. now art manufacturer, Dear Mr. North American music dealer as well as retailer! I am here for only half a day and ask you what the Clementi piano method costs, translated into German; please let me know at once, and whether you have it yourself, or where it can be found? Most excellent Sir; Hm, Hm, Hm! Live well in your freshly varnished place of business, see to it that the former den is turned into a beer hall, because all beer-drinkers are good musicians and should order from you. Yours very truly, Beethoven [note: B.r.o.t.=Brwt="Bierwirt"=ale house proprietor)
Sept 24
While walking w/ Stephan, son Gerhard & Gerhard's tutor - Waniek during the afternoon, the group passed an infantry soldier. B. remarked: "A slave who has sold his freedom for five Kreutzer a day." Upon returning home in the evening that same day they crossed over plowed fields, w/ B. humming melodies to himself while stumbling awkwardly along, gladly accepting help now & again. On arriving at the von Bruenings home in Rothes Haus, the group separated with B. going of w/ Gerhard's tutor having been invited for soup and eggs. There B. spoke about Karl saying, among other things: "My Karl was in a boarding school; all they turn out is hothouse plants." Karl left hospital; planned to enter mil. via von Breuning connections to regimental officer, Baron von Stutterheim. 1st Had to wait for Karl's scar to heal, hair to regrow. (B. later showed his gratitude to Stutterheim by dedicating the #c quartet (op131) to him.) Upon Stephan's advice & w/ brother Johann's invit. to holiday in Gneixendorf at Johann's country estate near Krems. B., chronically ill (ascites/periph. Edema), left w/ Johann & Karl. Arrived after overnight stop for sleep. Quality of food & lodging was poor in Gneixendorf. (The room was cold w/ little or no heating; food of poor quality). After 3 days, notice was given that he would have to pay for room & board: "If you want to live with us, you can have everything for 40 gulden C.M. monthly, that makes 500 gulden C.M. for the whole year" [G.v.B.p86] B. spent much time walking in open fields; at dawn & evenings worked on last comps. Health faded while there w/ further c/o abd. discomf., thirst, anorexia. (Wrote Dr. Braunhofer re:back pain also.) Johann had asked for money to stay after having inviting them to his estate; B. thus decided to return w/ Karl to Vienna by November.
Sept 25
Karl left hospital; planned to enter mil. via von Breuning connections to regimental officer, Baron von Stutterheim. 1st Had to wait for Karl's scar to heal, hair to regrow. (B. later showed his gratitude to Stutterheim by dedicating the #c quartet (op131) to him.)
Sept 28
Upon Stephan's advice & w/ brother Johann's invit. to holiday in Gneixendorf at Johann's country estate near Krems. B., chronically ill (ascites/periph. Edema), left w/ Johann & Karl.
Sept 29
Arrived after overnight stop for sleep.
Oct-Nov
Quality of food & lodging was poor in Gneixendorf. (The room was cold w/ little or no heating; food of poor quality). After 3 days, notice was given that he would have to pay for room & board: "If you want to live with us, you can have everything for 40 gulden C.M. monthly, that makes 500 gulden C.M. for the whole year" [G.v.B.p86] B. spent much time walking in open fields; at dawn & evenings worked on last comps. Health faded while there w/ further c/o abd. discomf., thirst, anorexia. (Wrote Dr. Braunhofer re:back pain also.) Johann had asked for money to stay after having inviting them to his estate; B. thus decided to return w/ Karl to Vienna by November.
Oct 7
B. sent letter to Wegeler: Thanking him and his wife "Lorchen" for their recent letter and stating deep friendship as well as reality of relationship: "...If we have drifted apart, this is due to the devious way of all things: each one of us must endeavor to pursue and fulfill the purpose of his own destiny..." "...I still hope to bring forth a few more great works into the world and then to finish my earthly course like an old child somewhere or other among kind people."
Oct
"...not only roaming the countryside in the throws of creation (and frightening the cattle) but sitting at his table, conducting with his arms and beating time with his feet, much to the amusement of the cook who was making his bed" [L. Decade pg.130]
Oct
Therese arranged for a helper for B - the son of one of Johann's vine-dresser (Michael Krenn). B. took an intense liking of him, helped him out of small troubles, gave him money and expressed an interest in taking him to Vienna while B. continued to fair less well with Karl - ongoing arguments and recriminations. On the other hand, they intermittently got along well even playing a piano duet. [L.Dec p78]
Oct 13
Beethoven informed Haslinger that he had completed String Quartet op135. Beethoven then turned to writing new, simpler finale to op130.
Oct - mid
Beethoven sent metronome markings for the 9th Symphony to Schott's
Oct 30
Quartet op135 sent to Schlesinger (Beethoven wrote out the individual instrument parts himself as there were no copyists in Gneixendorf at the time.)
Nov
Johann recalled that B's illness progressed while there: "his belly becomes larger and larger, and he wore a bandage over it for a long time" [L.Dec p78]
Nov
String Quartet WoO62 begun. This was Beethoven's last WoO quality composition.
Nov 22
Completed new op130 finale (previous finale published as separate work - op133 Grosse Fugue) and sent it to Mathias Artaria. Beethoven was in a depressed & withdrawn state; local people found his eccentric behaviors comical.
Nov-end
Johann wrote Beethoven a note that Karl should leave and join his regiment. Karl and Beethoven were not anxious to leave however [L.Dec p78]
Dec 1

Beethoven and his brother Johann had a violent argument at Johann's estate in Gneixendorf. Beethoven reacted with rage and stormed out, immediately leaving with Karl for Vienna despite the very cold, and stormy weather, inadequate transportation - a crude, open mild-cart, and inappropriate clothing: Beethoven was dressed in summer clothes. (Johann refused an available closed coach per Schindler.) Beethoven spent the night in a primitive, unheated Inn room along the way and by the time he arrived in Vienna the next day, he had become quite ill with fever, side pain, cough, gastrointestinal distress, etc. [L.Dec p79] (Likely ascites w/ secondary pulmonary atelectasis and/or pneumonia and possible sepsis.)

Dec 2
Arrived in Vienna - physician was immed. called for.
Dec 4-5
Canon "Wir irren allesamt" WoO198 (composed Dec 4th or 5th) (This was last completed work)
Dec 5
Drs. Braunhofer & Staudenheim called but did not attend. Karl Holz called Dr. Wawruch who later described B's condition: "I found B. afflicted with serious symptoms of inflammation of the lungs. His face glowed, he spat blood, his breathing threatened to choke him and a painful stitch in his side made lying on his back painful." [L.Dec p79]
Dec 9
B. felt much impr'ed (short time) - able to get out of bed, read and write briefly.
Dec 10
B. again incr. ill w/ jaundice & evolving ascites. Karl remained at bedside thru December w/ Johann and his wife; the von Breunings including Gerhard often present. Wawruch described B: "...Trembling and shivering he bent double owing to the pains which raged in his liver and intestines, and his feet, hitherto moderately swollen, became enormous. From this time a dropsy developed, and there was an increase of jaundice." [L.Dec p79]
Dec 10
Johann arrived at B's bedside.
Dec - mid
B. disliked Wawruch as did others present, he was aloof & seemed unconcerned. B. muttered "ass" under breath w/ his visits.
Dec 14
B. received Stumpff's gift of Arnold's 40 vol. ed. Of Handel (London, cf Sept.1824) (Received mid Feb 1827 per Gerhard von Breuning [Hamburger p255]
Dec 14
Stephan von Breuning left w/ Karl to join Stutterheim's regiment (providing equip. for him).
Dec-late
Schindler offered help after long absence & took on Holz's (now married) duties.
Dec 20
B. underwent 1st of several surgical drainages (by Dr. Seyfert - chief surgeon at hospital) to reduce abd. swelling/pain & reduce work of breathing. (25 lbs removed w/ subseq. estimated 125 + lbs drainage).
Dec - end
Remained mortally ill. --------------------------- Description of room: 2 windows in the room with the bed against the wall and facing antichamber door. Head of bedsted was against the back wall so that he faced the two windows and his left side was toward the middle of the room. ---------------------------