For my brothers Carl and Johann Beethoven
Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or
misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me? You do not know the
secret cause which makes me seem that way to you.
From childhood on, me heart and soul have been full of the tender
feeling of goodwill, and I was ever inclined to accomplish great
But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted,
made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived
with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect
of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be
impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even
susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled
to withdraw myself, to live life alone.
If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly I was I
flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet
it was impossible for me to say to people, "Speak louder,
shout, for I am deaf." Ah, how could I possibly admit an
infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me
than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection,
a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed.--Oh
I cannot do it; therefore forgive me when you see me draw back
when I would have gladly mingled with you.
My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be
misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow
men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas.
I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can
mix with society only as much as true necessity demands.
If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and
I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be
Thus it has been during the last six months which I have spent
in the country. By ordering me to spare my hearing as much as
possible, my intelligent doctor almost fell in with my own present
frame of mind, though sometimes I ran counter to it by yielding
to my desire for companionship.
But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me
heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone
standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard
nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard
Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that
and I would have ended me life -- it was only my art that held
Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had
brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this
wretched existence -- truly wretched for so susceptible a body,
which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition
to the very worst.
-- Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide,
and I have done so -- I hope my determination will remain firm
to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the
Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready. -- Forced
to become a philosopher already in my twenty-eighth year, oh it
is not easy, and for the artist much more difficult than for anyone
Divine one, thou seest me inmost soul thou knowest that therein
dwells the love of mankind and the desire to do good'. Oh fellow
men, when at some point you read this, consider then that you
have done me an injustice; someone who has had misfortune man
console himself to find a similar case to his, who despite all
the limitations of Nature nevertheless did everything within his
powers to become accepted among worthy artists and men.
'You, my brothers Carl and [Johann], as soon as I am dead, if
Dr. Schmidt is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my
malady, and attach this written documentation to his account of
my illness so that so far as it possible at least the world may
become reconciled to me after my death'.
At the same time, I declare you two to be the heirs to my small
fortune (if so it can be called); divide it fairly; bear with
and help each other. What injury you have done me you know was
long ago forgiven.
To you, brother Carl, I give special thanks for the attachment
you have shown me of late. It is my wish that you may have a better
and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children;
it alone, not money, can make them happy.
I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery.
Thanks to it and to my art, I did not end my life by suicide --
Farewell and love each other -- I thank all my friends, particularly
Prince Lichnowsky's and Professor Schmidt.
-- I would like the instruments from Prince L. to be preserved
by one of you, but not to be the cause of strife between you,
and as soon as they can serve you a better purpose, then sell
How happy I shall be if can still be helpful to you in my grave
-- so be it. -- With joy I hasten to meed death. -- If it comes
before I have had the chance to develop all my artistic capacities,
it will still be coming too soon despite my harsh fate, and I
should probably wish it later -- yet even so I should be happy,
for would it not free me from a state of endless suffering?
-- Come when thou wilt, I shall meed thee bravely. -- Farewell
and do not wholly forget me when I am dead; I deserve this from
you, for during my lifetime I was thinking of you often and of
ways to make you happy -- please be so --
Ludwig von Beethoven
October 6th, 1802
There is a Bösendorfer in
front of Beethovens house in Heiligenstadt
One day mr
Bösendorfer came personally to deliver a keyboard to mr Beethoven.
Unfortunately he was not at home or too busy composing to hear
the doorbell ring.
Grand Piano remained in front of the house.
Next day the residents of Heiligenstadt raised their eyebrows
to that thing in the middle of the road.
Not that they had not heard Beethoven play before, but now the
chickens had laid their eggs in the instrument it sounded remarkably
could not hear anything at all around him. No cackling chickens
or singing shepherd boys. Maybe he never heard of Bösendorfer
Not many people
knew Beethoven wrote his testament in this house.
There is a Fazioli