О себе и своем характере

Beethoven, the Man and the Artist, As Revealed in His Own Words by Ludwig van Beethoven, edited by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel:

160. "I shall print a request in all the newspapers that henceforth all artists refrain from painting my picture without my knowledge; I never thought that my own face would bring me embarrassment."

     (About 1803, to Christine Gerardi, because without his knowledge a
portrait of him had been made somewhere—in a cafe, probably.)

161. "Pity that I do not understand the art of war as well as I do the art of music; I should yet conquer Napoleon!"

     (To Krumpholz, the violinist, when he informed Beethoven of the victory
of Napoleon at Jena.)

162. "If I were a general and knew as much about strategy as I, a composer, know about counterpoint, I'd give you fellows something to do."

     (Called out behind the back of a French officer, his fist doubled,
on May 12, 1809, when the French had occupied Vienna. Reported by a
witness, W. Rust.)

163. "Camillus, if I am not mistaken, was the name of the Roman who drove the wicked Gauls from Rome. At such a cost I would also take the name if I could drive them wherever I found them to where they belong."

     (To Pleyel, publisher, in Paris, April, 1807.)

164. "I love most the realm of mind which, to me, is the highest of all spiritual and temporal monarchies."

     (To Advocate Kauka in the summer of 1814. He had been speaking about the
monarchs represented in the Congress of Vienna.)

165. "I shall not come in person, since that would be a sort of farewell, and farewells I have always avoided."

     (January 24, 1818, to Giannatasio del Rio, on taking his nephew Karl out
of the latter institute.)

166. "I hope still to bring a few large works into the world, and then, like an old child, to end my earthly career somewhere among good people."

     (October 6, 1802, to Wegeler.)

167. "O ye men, who think or declare me to be hostile, morose or misanthropical, what injustice ye do me. Ye know not the secret cause of what thus appears to you. My heart and mind were from childhood disposed for the tender feelings of benevolence; I was always wishing to accomplish great deeds."

     (October 6, 1802, in the so-called Heiligenstadt Will.)

168. "Divinity, thou lookest into my heart, thou knowest it, thou knowest that love for mankind and a desire to do good have their abode there. O ye men, when one day ye read this think that ye have wronged me, and may the unfortunate console himself with the thought that he has found one of his kind who, despite all the obstacles which nature put in his path, yet did all in his power to be accepted in the ranks of worthy artists and men!"

     (From the Heiligenstadt Will.)

169. "I spend all my mornings with the muses;—and they bless me also in my walks."

     (October 12, 1835, to his nephew Karl.)

170. "Concerning myself nothing,—that is, from nothing nothing."

     (October 19, 1815, to Countess Erdody.)

[A possible allusion to the line, "Nothing can come of nothing." from Shakespeare's "King Lear," Act 1, scene 1]

171. "Beethoven can write, thank God; but do nothing else on earth."

     (December 22, 1822, to Ferdinand Ries, in London.)

172. "Mentally I often frame an answer, but when I come to write it down I generally throw the pen aside, since I am not able to write what I feel."

     (October 7, 1826, to his friend Wegeler, in Coblenz. "The better sort
of people, I think, know me anyhow." He is excusing his laziness in

173. "I have the gift to conceal my sensitiveness touching a multitude of things; but when I am provoked at a moment when I am more sensitive than usual to anger, I burst out more violently than anybody else."

     (July 24, 1804, to Ries, in reporting to him a quarrel with Stephan von

174. "X. is completely changed since I threw half a dozen books at her head. Perhaps something of their contents accidentally got into her head or her wicked heart."

     (To Mme. Streicher, who often had to put Beethoven's house in order.)

175. "I can have no intercourse, and do not want to have any, with persons who are not willing to believe in me because I have not yet made a wide reputation."

     (To Prince Lobkowitz, about 1798. A cavalier had failed to show him
proper respect in the Prince's salon.)

176. "Many a vigorous and unconsidered word drops from my mouth, for which reason I am considered mad."

     (In the summer of 1880, to Dr. Muller, of Bremen, who was paying him a

177. "I will grapple with Fate; it shall not quite bear me down. O, it is lovely to live life a thousand times!"

     (November 16, 1800, or 1801, to Wegeler.)

178. "Morality is the strength of men who distinguish themselves over others, and it is mine."

     (In a communication to his friend, Baron Zmeskall.)

179. "I, too, am a king!"

     (Said to Holz, when the latter begged him not to sell the ring which
King Frederick William III, of Prussia, had sent to him instead of money
or an order in return for the dedication of the ninth symphony. "Master,
keep the ring," Holz had said, "it is from a king." Beethoven made his
remark "with indescribable dignity and self-consciousness.")

[On his deathbed he said to little Gerhard von Breuning: "Know that I am an artist."]

[At the height of the popular infatuation for Rossini (1822) he said to his friends: "Well, they will not be able to rob me of my place in the history of art."]

180. "Prince, what you are you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been thousands of princes and will be thousands more; there is only one Beethoven!"

     (According to tradition, from a letter which he wrote to Prince
Lichnowsky when the latter attempted to persuade him to play for some
French officers on his estate in Silesia. Beethoven went at night to
Troppau, carrying the manuscript of the (so-called) "Appassionata"
sonata, which suffered from the rain.)

181. "My nobility is here, and here (pointing to his heart and head)."

     (Reported by Schindler. In the lawsuit against his sister-in-law (the
mother of nephew Karl) Beethoven had been called on to prove that the
"van" in his name was a badge of nobility.)

182. "You write that somebody has said that I am the natural son of the late King of Prussia. The same thing was said to me long ago, but I have made it a rule never to write anything about myself or answer anything that is said about me."

     (October 7, 1826, to Wegeler.)

["I leave it to you to give the world an account of myself and especially my mother." The statement had appeared in Brockhaus's "Lexicon."]

183. "To me the highest thing, after God, is my honor."

     (July 26, 1822, to the publisher Peters, in Leipzig.)

184. "I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must out; that is the reason why I compose."

     (Remark to Karl Czerny, reported in his autobiography.)

185. "I do not desire that you shall esteem me greater as an artist, but better and more perfect as a man; when the condition of our country is somewhat better, then my art shall be devoted to the welfare of the poor."

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler, in Bonn, writing of his return to
his native land.)

186. "Perhaps the only thing that looks like genius about me is that my affairs are not always in the best of order, and that in this respect nobody can be of help but myself."

     (April 22, 1801, to Hofmeister, in Leipzig excusing himself for
dilatoriness in sending him these compositions: the Pianoforte sonata
op. 22, the symphony op. 21, the septet op. 20 and the concerto op. 19.)

187. "I am free from all small vanities. Only in the divine art is the lever which gives me power to sacrifice the best part of my life to the celestial muses."

     (September 9, 1824, to George Nigeli, in Zurich.)

188. "Inasmuch as the purpose of the undersigned throughout his career has not been selfish but the promotion of the interests of art, the elevation of popular taste and the flight of his own genius toward loftier ideals and perfection, it was inevitable that he should frequently sacrifice his own advantages and profit to the muse."

     (December, 1804, to the Director of the Court Theatre, applying for an
engagement which was never effected.)

189. "From my earliest childhood my zeal to serve suffering humanity with my art was never content with any kind of a subterfuge; and no other reward is needed than the internal satisfaction which always accompanies such a deed."

     (To Procurator Varenna, who had asked him for compositions to be played
at a charity concert in Graz.)

190. "There is no greater pleasure for me than to practice and exhibit my art."

     (November 16, 1800, or 1801, to Wegeler.)

191. "I recognize no other accomplishments or advantages than those which place one amongst the better class of men; where I find them, there is my home."

     (Teplitz, July 17, 1812, to his little admirer, Emile M., in H.)

192. "From childhood I learned to love virtue, and everything beautiful and good."

     (About 1808, to Frau Marie Bigot.)

193. "It is one of my foremost principles never to occupy any other relations than those of friendship with the wife of another man. I should never want to fill my heart with distrust towards those who may chance some day to share my fate with me, and thus destroy the loveliest and purest life for myself."

     (About 1808, to Frau Marie Bigot, after she had declined his invitation
to drive with him.)

194. "In my solitude here I miss my roommate, at least at evening and noon, when the human animal is obliged to assimilate that which is necessary to the production of the intellectual, and which I prefer to do in company with another."

     (Teplitz, September 6, 1811, to Tiedge.)

195. "It was not intentional and premeditated malice which led me to act toward you as I did; it was my unpardonable carelessness."

     (To Wegeler.)

196. "I am not bad; hot blood is my wickedness, my crime is youthfulness. I am not bad, really not bad; even though wild surges often accuse my heart, it still is good. To do good wherever we can, to love liberty above all things, and never to deny truth though it be at the throne itself.—Think occasionally of the friend who honors you."

     (Written in the autograph album of a Herr Bocke.)

197. "It is a singular sensation to see and hear one's self praised, and then to be conscious of one's own imperfections as I am. I always regard such occasions as admonitions to get nearer the unattainable goal set for us by art and nature, hard as it may be."

     (To Mdlle. de Girardi, who had sung his praises in a poem.)

198. "It is my sincere desire that whatever shall be said of me hereafter shall adhere strictly to the truth in every respect regardless of who may be hurt thereby, me not excepted."

     (Reported by Schindler, who also relates that when Beethoven handed him
documents to be used in the biography a week before his death, he said
to him and Breuning: "But in all things severely the truth; for that I
hold you to a strict accountability.")

199. "Now you can help me to find a wife. If you find a beautiful woman in F. who, mayhap, endows my music with a sigh,—but she must be no Elise Burger—make a provisional engagement. But she must be beautiful, for I can love only the beautiful; otherwise I might love myself."

     (In 1809, to Baron von Gleichenstein. As for the personal reference it
seems likely that Beethoven referred to Elise Burger, second wife of
the poet G. August Burger, with whom he had got acquainted after she had
been divorced and become an elocutionist.)

200. "Am I not a true friend? Why do you conceal your necessities from me? No friend of mine must suffer so long as I have anything."

     (To Ferdinand Ries, in 1801. Ries's father had been kind to Beethoven on
the death of his mother in 1787.)

201. "I would rather forget what I owe to myself than what I owe to others."

     (To Frau Streicher, in the summer of 1817.)

202. "I never practice revenge. When I must antagonize others I do no more than is necessary to protect myself against them, or prevent them from doing further evil."

     (To Frau Streicher, in reference to the troubles which his servants gave
him, many of which, no doubt, were due to faults of his own, excusable
in a man in his condition of health.)

203. "Be convinced that mankind, even in your case, will always be sacred to me."

     (To Czapka, Magisterial Councillor, August, 1826, in the matter of his
nephew's attempt at suicide.)

204. "H. is, and always will be, too weak for friendship, and I look upon him and Y. as mere instruments upon which I play when I feel like it; but they can never be witnesses of my internal and external activities, and just as little real participants. I value them according as they do me service."

     (Summer of 1800, to the friend of his youth, Pastor Amenda. H. was
probably the faithful Baron Zmeskall von Domanovecz.)

205. "If it amuses them to talk and write about me in that manner, let them go on."

     (Reported by Schindler as referring to critics who had declared him ripe
for the madhouse.)

206. "To your gentlemen critics I recommend a little more foresight and shrewdness, particularly in respect of the products of younger authors, as many a one, who might otherwise make progress, may be frightened off. So far as I am concerned I am far from thinking myself so perfect as not to be able to endure faulting; yet at the beginning the clamor of your critic was so debasing that I could scarcely discuss the matter when I compared myself with others, but had to remain quiet and think: they do not understand. I was the more able to remain quiet when I recalled how men were praised who signify little among those who know, and who have almost disappeared despite their good points. Well, pax vobiscum, peace to them and me,—I would never have mentioned a syllable had you not begun."

     (April 22, 1801, to Breitkopf and Hartel, publishers of the "Allgemeine
Musik Zeitung.")

207. "Who was happier than I when I could still pronounce the sweet word 'mother' and have it heard? To whom can I speak it now?"

     (September 15, 1787, from Bonn to Dr. Schade, of Augsburg, who had aided
him in his return journey from Vienna to Bonn. His mother had died on
July 17, 1787.)

208. "I seldom go anywhere since it was always impossible for me to associate with people where there was not a certain exchange of ideas."

     (February 15, 1817, to Brentano of Frankfurt.)

209. "Not a word about rest! I know of none except in sleep, and sorry enough am I that I am obliged to yield up more to it than formerly."

     (November 16, 1801, or 1802, to Wegeler. In Homer's "Odyssey" Beethoven
thickly underscored the words: "Too much sleep is injurious." XV, 393.)

210. "Rest assured that you are dealing with a true artist who likes to be paid decently, it is true, but who loves his own reputation and also the fame of his art; who is never satisfied with himself and who strives continually to make even greater progress in his art."

     (November 23, 1809, to George Thomson, of Edinburgh, for whom Beethoven
arranged the Scotch songs.)

211. "My motto is always: nulla die sine linea; and if I permit the muse to go to sleep it is only that she may awake strengthened."

     (October 7, 1826, to Wegeler.)

212. "There is no treatise likely to be too learned for me. Without laying claim to real learning it is yet true that since my childhood I have striven to learn the minds of the best and wisest of every period of time. It is a disgrace for every artist who does not try to do as much."

     (November 2, 1809, to Breitkopf and Hartel, of Leipzig.)

213. "Without wishing in the least to set myself up as an exemplar I assure you that I lived in a small and insignificant place, and made out of myself nearly all that I was there and am here;—this to your comfort in case you feel the need of making progress in art."

     (Baden, July 6, 1804, to Herr Wiedebein, of Brunswick, who had asked
if it was advisable for a music teacher and student to make his home in

214. "There is much on earth to be done,—do it soon! I must not continue my present everyday life,—art asks this sacrifice also. Take rest in diversion in order to work more energetically."

     (Diary, 1814.)

215. "The daily grind exhausts me."

     (Baden, August 23, 1823, to his nephew Karl.)