In the autumn of 1826 Beethoven had stayed in Gneixendorf. The grief and annoyances with respect to his nephew Karl gave him no respite. On December 2nd he decided to return to Vienna. His health had considerably deteriorated. He required the services of his physician at once. In lieu of the doctors usually taking care of him he sought the advice of Dr. Wawruch, a very conscientious and experienced practitioner who apparently treated pulmonary diseases with success. Unhappily, however, a vomiting spell complicated the situation and was followed by dropsy. This marked the beginning of an agony of more than three months.
DR. ANDREAS IGNAZ WAWRUCH (1772-1842) Lithograph by F. Wolf He was a professor at the University of Vienna and treated Beethoven during his last illness. After the death of his illustrious patient he wrote a "Medical review: Beethoven's Last Period of Life," published after Wawruch's death. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
JOHANN SEIBERT Lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber Wawruch decided to call this in famous surgeon for consultation. Seibert performed four successive operations on Beethoven which were to free him from suffocating attacks resulting from dropsy. ( National Library, Vienna)
JOHANN VON MALFATTI (1775-1859) Lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber He won a reputation as a doctor during the Congress of Vienna and treated Beethoven from 1809. The master composed a cantata for him which was first performed on June 24, 1814. Later they had serious disagreements. However, upon the insistence of Schindler, Malfatti consented to treat Beethoven during his last illness, and a touching reconciliation took place at the sickbed. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
NANETTE SCHECHNER-WAAGEN (1806-1860) Lithograph by Joseph Lanzedelly This excellent singer was a member of the Vienna Opera to which she had belonged since 1825. She paid Beethoven a visit. When she found him on his sickbed she complied with his wish to sing the great aria of Leonore from "Fidelio" for him. "You certainly are a great artist, and I thank you for this beautiful hour," said Beethoven carried away with joy. ( Society of Friends of Music, Vienna)
SKETCHES FOR A SCHERZO TO THE TENTH SYMPHONY No sooner was the Ninth Symphony completed than Beethoven projected the composition of a Tenth. Since 1825 he had made the sketches for the work which can be found in his notebooks. Suddenly one day when he was again in pressing need of money he received an advance of 100 pounds sterling toward a new symphony, commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society. Notwithstanding his bad state of health, he immediately tried to compose the work. He jotted down a Scherzo, entitling it "Presto." On the following page he wrote the first measures of a fugue on the name Bach. The inscriptions are hardly decipherable to the reader but for Beethoven they had a precise meaning. (Former State Library, Berlin)
THE LAST PAGE OF MUSIC WRITTEN BY BEETHOVEN During the course of his last illness Beethoven incessantly spoke of the music he wanted to compose and which only he, as he said, could compose. He filled his sketchbooks with sketches for a Tenth Symphony. Schindler wrote at the bottom of this page: "These notes are the last ones Beethoven wrote approximately ten to twelve days before his death. He wrote them in my presence." (Former State Library, Berlin)
ANSELM HÜTTENBRENNER (1784-1868) Lithograph by Joseph Teltscher Beethoven had met the composer when both were working with Salieri. Theirs was a solid friendship. Salieri saw the composer frequently and Beethoven died during one of Hüttenbrenner's visits on March 26, 1827. ( National Library, Vienna)
LETTER TESTAMENT OF BEETHOVEN TO HIS VIENNESE ADVOCATE DR. BACH (January 3, 1827) With this document Beethoven institutes his "beloved nephew Karl" as universal heir. The attorney Johann Baptist Bach was to assume the guardianship of the young man after Beethoven's death. ( Municipal Archive, Vienna)
LETTER OF BEETHOVEN TO BARON JOHANN BAPTIST PASQUALATI (March 14, 1827) His friend Pasqualati was a merchant who had amassed a fortune. He had been Beethoven's counselor in financial and family affairs. Within the period of 1804 to 1814 Beethoven lived, on various occasions, in the Baron's home, Mölkerbastei 8. Beethoven dedicated the "Elegiac Chant," opus 118, to him in memory of his deceased wife. Twelve days before his death-on March 14, 1827--Beethoven sent a letter to Pasqualati thanking him for victuals which the Baron had sent him, and letting him know what he was permitted to eat. ( National Library, Vienna)
ONE OF THE LAST SIGNATURES OF BEETHOVEN (March 20, 1827) This is the agreement pertaining to the String Quartet, opus 131, made with Schott & Sons, Mainz. It was signed six days before the composer's death. ( City Library, Mainz)
BEETHOVEN'S LAST TESTAMENT (March 23, 1827) Beethoven, tormented by the destiny of his nephew, through this Testament made three days before his death proved his generosity toward Karl. He had long meditated about this affair and communicated his intentions to his brother Johann and to his friend Breuning. When these two men knew that Beethoven's end was approaching they, aided by Schindler, put the pen in his hand, so that the moribund master could sign his last wishes. ( Municipal Archive, Vienna)
BEETHOVEN IN AGONY Pencil drawing by Joseph Teltscher Hiller, who together with his wife had paid Beethoven a visit writes thereafter ( March 23, 1827): "The sight of this extraordinary man was horrible . . . he was lying there pale and miserable and at times sighing deeply. No word came from his lips and his forehead was wet with perspiration . . ."
BEETHOVEN ON HIS DEATHBED Pencil drawing by Joseph Teltscher On March 24, 1827 the composer, after having received the sacraments, sank into a deep coma. He lived another two days; death came on March 26, 1827 about five o'clock in the afternoon while a tremendous storm was raging over Vienna. Anselm Hüttenbrenner was holding the head of the dying master. The only other person present was his sister-in-law, the wife of Johann van Beethoven. (Both drawings were owned last by Stefan Zweig)
BEETHOVEN ON HIS DEATHBED Lithograph by Joseph Danhauser after his own drawing Danhauser, commissioned to take the Beethoven death mask, used that opportunity for the above drawing made on March 28, 1827; at the same time he painted the hands of the deceased. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
BEETHOVEN'S HANDS Sketch by Joseph Danhauser This work was created at Beethoven's deathbed on March 28, 1827. ( Historical Museum of the City of Vienna)
BEETHOVEN'S DEATH MASK A mold by Joseph Danhauser Before Danhauser took the death mask on March 28, 1827 the physician in charge of the autopsy had removed the inner and outer ears from the corpse in order to try to establish the causes of Beethoven's deafness. No doubt this surgery had considerably changed his face, already strongly marked by grave illness. (Beethovenhaus, Bonn)