THE book which I present to the public herewith is part of a series of iconographies which I have been editing for more than twenty years. They are concerned with the great masters of music.
Just as the preceding works such as "The Life of Franz Liszt in Pictures", "Life and Work of Richard Wagner in Pictures", "Life and Work of W. A. Mozart in Pictures", and "Life of Chopin in Pictures" began with a brief biographical survey, so does this book, the fifth of the series. The survey serves as a guide to those wishing to study the 200 pages of documents compiled here. My labor consisted chiefly of the collection of the approximately 550 portraits, engravings and documents of various sorts. Their juxtaposition in one volume reflects the agitated and tragic life of Beethoven, from his birth in Bonn, in 1770, to his demise in Vienna fifty-seven years later.
This important pictorial material is ordered chronologically. The reproductions carry commentaries. The biography achieved by such a compilation is divided into chapters with titles and subtitles corresponding to the chief periods of the composer's life.
Of the portraits of Beethoven and members of his family, those whose authenticity is doubtful are eliminated. This holds true particularly for the apocryphal portraits of his parents and for the miniature supposedly representing Ludwig van Beethoven and ascribed to the painter Gerhard Kügelgen. Furthermore, I have confined the material to the portraits created during the composer's lifetime or signed by artists who knew the master personally. Therefore one should not look for any of those innumerable pictures, medals or sculptures made long after his death. On the other hand, despite patient research I did not always succeed in obtaining the portraits of relatives, friends or interpreters whose inclusion would have been interesting. I am referring principally to Karl van Beethoven, the master's brother, Zmeskall, his faithful friend, and several others. Yet I was fortunate enough to rediscover a portrait of the violinist Karl Holz who for a while was Beethoven's closest friend replacing Schindler. To this day this portrait has remained practically unknown.
As concerns the various dwellings of Beethoven in Vienna and its environs, I have incorporated reproductions of the pictures made in Beethoven's time only. Unfortunately, but a few are extant which have captured the familiar places that Beethoven filled with his spirit. Notwithstanding-in order to preserve the character of historical documentation-I discarded the idea of adding modern photographs and reproductions, and refer those interested to the work of Bertha Koch entitled "Beethovenstätten in Wien und Umgebung".
One exception from this rule seemed to be in order: it concerns the house in Bonn in which Beethoven was born; such a picture has to be included in this book in view of the fact that neither painting nor drawing exists which would show it as of the end of the eighteenth century.
OF the numerous problems with which the author of this book was confronted, one of the most delicate to resolve was the question posed by Beethoven's astounding handwriting. The reading of certain letters and of his conversation books is extremely difficult even for people well acquainted with the German language. Was the author to deprive his readers of a great number of reproductions of documents written by the master himself, handwritten documents the very sight of which would afford the reader most touching revelations? We arrived at a solution that seemed satisfactory. On some separate pages an English translation of these documents from Beethoven's hand is provided which the reader can place vis-à-vis the reproductions he finds on the pages of the album.
During my work another problem-this one of purely historical nature-attracted my attention. Everybody knows that for more than a century several well known musicologists have tried to determine to whom the famous letter to the "Immortal Beloved", a moving document of ten pages filled with glowing passion, was addressed. It was found among Beethoven's papers after his death.
Schindler, Beethoven's close friend and first biographer, daringly contended no other than the Countess Guicciardi could be addressed. Her parents stubbornly had opposed her marriage to the composer. Theodor von Frimmel chose the singer Magdalena Wildmann, the American Alexander Wheelock Thayer, Therese von Brunswick; Madame La Mara, on the other hand, believed the "Immortal" to have been Josephine, Therese's sister. With less justification other researches suggested Bettina Brentano, Goethe's famous young friend, or the beautiful Therese Malfatti and the singer Amalie Sebald. All these conjectures gradually proved untenable. Consequently, the French scholar Prod'homme a few years ago could state at the end of a well documented essay on the enigma of the "Immortal Beloved": "One must forget the desire to unveil the secret surrounding this 'Immortal Beloved', this creature comparable to an angel transfigured by the glowing phantasy of her lover and to whom Beethoven rushed that rainy summer day of 1812 through the Bohemian forest . . . History and scholarship are silent and obstinate and fail to give us the key to this mystery but keep her name a secret so that it will remain unknown."
However, repeated defeats did not discourage new investigations. An Israeli author, Siegmund Kasnelson, published a book of 450 pages in 1954 supposedly proving once and forever that Josephine von Brunswick, whose name was first Countess Deym, later Baroness von Stackelberg, was Beethoven "Immortal Beloved", as La Mara had contended. Beyond that, Kasnelson even believed he had proof that Beethoven was the father of the Baroness' last child, the little Minona von Stackelberg, born April 8, 1813. Professor Dr. Joseph Schmidt-Görg, director of the Beethoven Archive and of the Beethoven House in Bonn, answered, in August, 1957, these sensational claims by publishing "Thirteen Unknown Letters of Beethoven to Josephine Countess Deym née Brunswick" ( ≪Dreizehn unbekannte Briefe Beethovens an Josephine Gräfin Deym geb. Brunswick≫ ) which had recently been received in the collection supervised by him. He declared Kasnelson's "revelations" untenable.
This verdict was made by so competent an authority that it cannot be contradicted!
My research on the one hand was facilitated to a large extent by the indefatigable cooperation of my collaborators (of whom I shall speak later in this introduction), yet, on the other hand, it was made extraordinarily difficult due to the consequences of the last war. It is generally known that the former Preussische Staatsbibliothek in Berlin ( Prussian State Library) owned the majority of Beethoven's autographs and manuscripts. Those responsible for the conservation of these important treasures had distributed them, for safety reasons, to various places so as to prevent destruction through bombing as much as possible. After the occupation of Germany by the foreign armies and the division into two completely different zones it was relatively easy to compile and order those manuscripts and autographs kept in West Germany. However, there were numerous manuscripts and autographs hidden in East Germany during the war which had fallen into unknown hands and had disappeared. Even today the management of the new Deutsche Staatsbibliothek which in East Berlin has replaced the former Preussische Staatsbibliothek, feels compelled to give evasive answers to inquiries pertaining to certain manuscripts.
I have decided to designate as property of the Former State Library in Berlin all documents, autographs and manuscripts which at the beginning of the war, 1939, were in the possession of that institution, hoping that one day all these treasures will be reunited.
TO turn to still a different complex of problems: I should like to stress the inestimable service rendered me by the newly published monumental œuvre ≪Thematisch-Bibliographisches Verzeichnis aller vollendeten Werke Ludwig van Beethovens≫ ("ThematicBibliographical Catalog of all Completed Works of Ludwig van Beethoven") by the eminent musicologist Georg Kinsky, particularly as concerns the difficult questions of first editions of Beethoven's compositions and the dates of their publication. Heretofore researchers in studying these problematical matters had to rely on such outdated works as the ≪Chronologisches Verzeichnis der Werke Ludwig van Beethovens≫ ("Chronological Catalog of the Works of Ludwig van Beethoven") published in 1865 by the American Alexander Wheelock Thayer, or ≪Thematisches Verzeichnis der im Druck erschienenen Werke von Ludwig van Beethoven≫ ("Thematic Catalog of the Published Works of Ludwig van Beethoven") by Gustav Nottebohm (the second edition of which dates from 1868). Beethoven research in ninety years, however, has made considerable progress so that many corrections of and additions to these old sources became necessary in the course of time.
The work of Kinsky, now available, and to which the author dedicated part of his life without seeing the publication of this, his life's work, is for Beethoven what the last edition of the Köchel Catalog, the work of Einstein, is for Mozart. The care bestowed upon this monumental work, and particularly the new and fastidious numbering system applied for the first time to the works not provided with opus numbers by the master, make Kinsky's research an achievement for which musicians must show humble respect, approval and admiration.
This new system of numbering has been applied here in cases where we treat of a composition of Beethoven which heretofore was not signified by an opus number. In addition, and again leaning on Kinsky's scholarly work, I have corrected the dates of compositions and publications as given by Thayer and Nottebohm where it seemed important. These corrections, in other words, concern dates considered definitive before Kinsky presented the results of his research.
AND, now I should like to be permitted the discharge of a pleasant duty: to express my gratitude to my principal collaborators who made my investigations easier and who gave of their best to be of assistance to me.
First I must mention Dr. Hans Carl Bodmer of Zürich, recently deceased, the trailblazer of this book. He received me several times with utmost cordiality in his beautiful residence at the Bärengasse where he collected with the most admirable patience and infallible knowledge autographs, manuscripts, portraits and souvenirs of the master of Bonn. It is the most beautiful collection ever owned by a private individual. He generously put his incredible treasures at my disposal and permitted my photographing and reproducing everything I desired, including objects never published and still completely unknown. With greatest interest he followed my investigations, was happy with my discoveries and impatiently anticipated the publication of this book. Unfortunately he was not to see the results of my labor, and his premature death throws a shadow over this work. Further, I should like to thank another generous collector, Mr. Antony van Hoboken of Ascona, who once more opened his extraordinary library of first editions of music and permitted my browsing among his treasures.
The meanwhile deceased Gerhard Wegeler of Koblenz, Mrs. Erna Wegeler of GarmischPartenkirchen-both descendants of Beethoven's intimate friend Franz-Gerhard Wegeler-Baronvon Boeselager of Heimerzheim, Baron von Gleichenstein of Lahr, Breisgau, M. Alfred Cortot of Lausanne, and the Messrs. Aloys Mooser and Dr. Willy Tappolet of Geneva have put portraits, personal souvenirs of Beethoven and miscellaneous documents at my disposal.
In Bonn Professor Dr. Schmid-Görg, director of the Beethoven Archive and the Beethoven House and his associates Dr. Dagmar Weise and Dr. E.-A. Balling received me most cordially, as did the directress of the Bonn Municipal Archive, Dr. Ennen, and Dr. Oediger, director of the State Archive Düsseldorf, and Mr. de Roo, director and curator of the Mecheln Archive. The directress of the Archive of the Society of Music in Vienna, Dr. Hedwig Kraus, too, has given me excellent assistance, as have Professor Dr. Josef Gregor, director of the Theatrical Collection of the Austrian National Library and his associates Professor Dr. Hans Pauer, director of Engravings and Portraits, and Professor Dr. Novak, director of the Music Collection. It is an especial honor to assure them of my gratitude.
Dr. Glück, director of the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna and his associate Dr. May, Dr. Mitringer, director of the Municipal Library of Vienna, Dr. Hans JaegerSunstenau, director of the Archive of the City of Vienna, as well as Dr. Luithlen, director of the Ancient Instruments Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna, have assisted me in my research with maximum cooperation.
Finally, Dr. Cremer, director of the Westdeutsche Bibliothek in Marburg, Dr. Virneisel in Tübingen, director of the depository of the former Prussian State Library of Berlin, M. Fédoroff of the Bibliothèque de l'Opéra de Paris and Dr. Auguste Bouvier, director of the Bibliothèque publique et universitaire in Geneva, as well as Dr. D.-C. Parker of Glasgow have my unadulterated thankfulness.
It is a great pleasure indeed to thank these unselfish colleagues here in print.