Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved[s].Posted: May 2, 2012
I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been really busy having diarrhea. This is because of all of the crippling fear regarding my post-graduate life. I’ve been spending hours upon hours researching employment opportunities in fields I don’t understand like “public relations”, and combing Craigslist using the search term: “theatre” only to find receptionist positions at home theater installation companies.
But, as you can see, I’m here, I’m writing. So, you know what must have happened. Yes; I am now employed. Kind of. For $400 a month, but still. It happened. I’m going to be doing theatre things that I care about and that excite me (yes) in a dope west coast location and I couldn’t. Be. More. Pumped.
So, since I no longer spend hours a day pooping and job searching, I thought I’d channel my excitement towards writing a post for the historical scandals blog that I supposedly write for! Shall we? We shall.
Beethoven [BAY-t-oh-ven]. You may know the name from a popular movie starring that really big dog that my friend Laura just told me is called a “St. Bernard.” He is also a famous composer of music from history who (you probably remember from 3rd grade social studies) was deaf. Starting when Beethoven was 26, he was plagued with “tinnitus” which is a word that means “ringing in the ears.” This is where me and ol’ Beethoven can really relate because last semester I had an ear infection, and my ears were ringing a lot, too and it was the pits. So, you know, compadres.
With your implied permission, I’m going to kind of gloss over Beethoven’s early life and career (and by gloss over, I mean ignore entirely) and just skip right to the part where he does it with girls.
If you’re cultured, you may have heard of the song “Moonlight Sonata.” In The Pianist (which I have never seen because it came out when I didn’t see movies that would make me feel sad), Adrien Brody apparently plays the song while, you know, shit’s getting blown up or whatever. It’s also in a lot of other movies and is one of the most famous pieces of music ever. Pandora that shit.
Beethoven (not the dog, the musician) wrote it in his early thirties and dedicated it to the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, which is real awkward because she was all rich and a countess and he was all not royal and a musician. He met Julie through her cousins, Therese and Josephine Brunsvik. (Remember them, they’ll be important a few sentences from now.) She became his “student”, and he became infatuated. Kind of in a weird way. (Because so often infatuation is totally normal and unweird.) But even if Julie was feeling it, too, things could never have worked out between them because of all of the ass-clay issues-ay.
One of Ludwig’s most famous non-musical works was a love letter addressed to his “Immortal Beloved.” It starts, “My angel, my everything, my very self.” While this is gooey and stupid, it also makes my insides feel warm and my heart feel a little bigger than usual, so you know, it’s nice or whatever. Beethy’s biographer Anton Schindler (unrelated to Oskar of the List), claims that the Moonlight Sonata dedicatee, Julie, was also the recipient of the famous 1812 (unrelated to the War of) letter. However, many people disagree on this point, because Beethoven was sort of falling in love with bitches all over the place during this time. (The other reason why people disagree on this point is because Schindler was apparently really fond of making things up and forging documents. So, you know, woops.)
In the 1950s some “scientists” used “science” to determine the year and location of the letter. (No one knew that it was written in 1812 until then because the mysterioso musician was all picollo about dating things…did those musical words not really mean anything? Whatever.) Now knowing the year the letter was written, scholars have been able to narrow the list of potential recipients down to, like, six ladies. So, you know, not entirely helpful.
What seems most likely is that he wrote it for either Josephine Brunsvik, Giulietta’s cousin, Therese Brunsvik, Josie’s sister, or Antonie Brentano (nick named Toni) who was the wife of one of Ludwig’s BFFs and an art-collecting, philanthropic badass. Most people have totally discounted the Toni theory, but those who support it use one very sexy piece of evidence to support their claim: Beethoven lived in the same hotel as Toni and her Hubby for a little bit. Ok, so it’s not that sexy or really evidence at all, but I could imagine some heated midnight trysts in a dark corner pushed up against an ice machine, amiright??
Thirteen love letters from Beethoven to Josephine from the period when she was a widow (because Beethoven was a fucking mensche) have been published and confirmed as real. These seem to have stopped, though, in 1810 when Josie was married off to a new guy, Baron von Someone. So, it sort of seems like maybe Josie wasn’t the immortal one afterall. But Beethoven def had a hard on for her from like 1799 to 1810, and she was good and married for a lot of that time (from the beginning until 1804). Therese Brunsvik said of the two love birds, “They were born for each other, and if both were still alive, they would be united.” OOOhhh, doesn’t that just break your heart a little??
But SNAP, some people think that Therese was actually Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved.” She was, after all, the dedicatee of Sonata #24 (not quite as important at #14, but whatevs), and she, in turn, was dedicated to Beethoven as a friend for many years. So she probably gave him a handy or two, right?
Other possible addressees include:
Therese Malfatti who was Beethoven’s 18 year old piano student. He allegedly proposed to her, too, probably while teaching her to play chopsticks ifyouknowwhatimsayinnnng. Anna-Marie Erdödy (who doesn’t have a Wiki page) and novelist Bettina von Arnim also make the list. In the 1994 film “Immortal Beloved,” Beethoven’s sister-in-law Johanna von Beethoven is the secret “Beloved.” Which is extra funny because she and Ludwig’s brother were like “courting” for a while and he got the local government to force them to get married because she had an illegitimate baby from a previous “relationship.”
FUN FACT: When Beethoven’s bro died, he and Johanna got joint custody of her second son Karl. Beethy wanted sole custody because Jo, you know, had a kid out of wedlock and been convicted of theft. Ludwig thought bitch had loose morals and he told the courts all about them. Eventually, he got sole custody of Karl, but his overbearing morality as a guardian figure was so much for the kid that he attempted suicide when he was a teenager! He survived and after that little Goethian episode, he went to live with his mom.
What have we learned here? Beethoven loved being in love. He loved being in love so much that we don’t know who his “immortal beloved” is. Not to criticize one of the greatest musical geniuses since Katy Perry, but a little more specificity would have made the guy more ON KEY in his famous NOTE.